31 May PeopleWise: Adam Wulf
Leaning on a background in software development and business, Adam Wulf launched several ventures after graduating from Rice University in 2005, working for several major software companies along the way. He now resides in Houston, Texas where he runs his two companies, Graceful Construction and Milestone Made, and serves as a mentor for OwlSpark.
What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
My family influenced me significantly, especially my father. My father was a veterinarian who owned his own practice. He was my biggest motivation for becoming an entrepreneur. I loved the idea of being my own boss and the independence I saw in my own father inspired me.
What was the most important thing you learned creating your first startup?
Customers. Because I am an engineer, my “default behavior is to just build build build” without any feedback on if this would really be solving a pain point in people’s lives. Because of this, I misestimated the market and people’s needs. I cannot emphasize enough how important doing those customer interviews are.
What motivates you, and has that changed since you started?
When I first started, I was motivated by visions of grandiosity and jealousy. I wanted to be the next to something big. I was also jealous. I saw these people with ideas and products that seem pretty stupid but getting multi-million dollars in funding. But, these were what motivated me in the past. Now, I “don’t care” in that I am more motivated by the impact I can have on people. I’m less motivated by what’s happening in the outside world and more motivated by the impact I can have for the people I’m working for. I value the feedback I get and the personal relationships that form.
What are your passions outside of your business?
When I’m not working on the next startup idea, I am either spending time with my family or volunteering for the Prisoner Entrepreneurship Program. With being my own boss, I am able to have exponentially more time with my wife and daughters. Another passion I have is volunteering for the Prisoner Entrepreneurship Program. This program offers an entrepreneur business degree that is condensed into 6 months to inmates and prisoners. It is very similar in structure to OwlSpark, where they have many lectures and in the end, have a pitch competition.
Although the participants are very limited in their use of the outside world, this process gives them confidence and instills positive change in them. I am rewarded with the chance to see these people change for the better and a chance to live a better life after their sentence.
What two pieces of advice do you have for the Class 7 founders?
- Don’t compare yourself to other companies, other startups, or other people.
- Focus on your next steps to make your company better, helping your customers better, and finding those customers.