How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: Ilter Dumduz, Blys .
Current gig: Founder and CEO of Blys
Current Location: Sydney, Australia
Current mobile device: iPhone XR
Current computer: MacBook Air
One word that best describes how you work: Focused
What apps/software/tools can't you live without?
The Atlassian suite to manage our priorities across the business, Slack to communicate and collaborate internally, LastPass because I suck at memorising passwords, Evernote for all my brain dumps, and Super Habit to better understand my patterns and build more of those good habits. And obviously the Blys app for self-care - mental and physical.
What social network do you find the most useful?
Twitter for interesting conversations on business and politics. Whatsapp to keep in touch with friends and family (and some of our investors) overseas.
What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?
Knowing what helps and hinders my productivity has become vital in owning a business. Understanding yourself and what drives you is critical. I’ve become a lot more focused and better at dealing with stress now that I’m more aware of myself.
Getting past self-doubt is also an important lesson to learn. In any start-up environment, you’re bound to have doubts. You’ve gone out and taken a risk to build something new out of scraps – it’s stressful! You’ll try things that don’t work and read things that make you question your choices, but it’s all a part of the bigger picture. You learn and you grow and you become stronger.
Lastly, learning not to chase the “shiny new toy”. Particularly early on, all you see are ideas and opportunities. In all the excitement it can be easy to lose focus and chase after fleeting things. Luckily, saying “no” to an idea comes naturally to me which helps me maintain my priorities.
What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?
In the beginning, I was really surprised just how quickly we took off. Last year alone we grew 330%, which is enormous. But what’s even more surprising is how much I didn’t (and still don’t) know. I am forever learning, growing and challenging my assumptions. Knowledge is a lifelong journey, and every step I take with Blys brings something new and exciting to the table.
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I’d probably say being able to identify growth opportunities accurately and quickly, and prioritising our resources accordingly. This allows us to move as fast as possible, in the right direction. It’s the product guy in me.
What's your sleep routine like?
Getting enough sleep is tough as an entrepreneur. You’re constantly ticking things over in your brain – strategy, metrics, priorities, team. Some nights I’ll be up late working with our product team on a new feature we want to ship the next day - that’s just the reality of early stage ventures, so I’ll take sleep whenever I can.
Although, I’m getting better at looking after myself (a massage before bed definitely helps) – switching off becomes easier once you have a team around you. Sometimes I also practice mindfulness meditation to wind down. So I guess “routine” might be too strong of a word, but I have a balance.
What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?
To succeed, you need to start. And to start, all you need is an OK plan and a lot of drive and hustle.
I launched Blys with no budget, from my garage, with a couple of spreadsheets and only 2 therapists (one of whom didn’t even have a car so I had to drive her around!). We had our first booking on day 4 after we launched. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life - and we never looked back. We now have over 700 therapists doing 1,000s of bookings each month. We recently had a therapist passed the $100,000 in earnings which is an important milestone on our story so far, but only the first step of our journey to become the #1 wellness brand in the country.