“This is not going to be a boring event,” Aron Solomon promised the audience at last week’s Meet the Entrepreneurs session.

At the final instalment of Entrepreneurship 101 for 2013, three MaRS clients discussed their experiences as startup founders, their thoughts on startup communities and the big F-word in entrepreneurship. Information technology, communications and entertainment practice advisor Aron Solomon moderated the discussion and the panellists included Janice Diner, CEO of Horizon Studios Inc.; Jason Lazarou, founder of MedEngine; and Anisa Mirza, CEO and co-founder of Giveffect.

Although the panellists all took different paths to becoming entrepreneurs and are building businesses in vastly different markets, they were able to agree on a few key elements to success.

1. Start with what you know. One common trait of successful entrepreneurs is experience and the concrete knowledge that comes with it. All of the panellists created solutions for markets that they knew and in which they felt they had domain expertise. In doing so, they were able to leverage their networks and establish credibility.

2. It’s not enough to be useful. A truly good solution will solve a truly painful problem. The successful entrepreneur will be good at both identifying their customers’ pain points and listening to their customers explain their problems. The language that is used to pitch to a customer should be tailored to feel like a painkiller that targets that specific “headache.”

3. Failure is not an option. Near the end of the discussion, Aron brought up a very controversial F-word: failure. We often talk about the idea of “failing fast” and encourage startups to learn from their failures. The panellists were all adamant that these so-called failures are simply bumps in the road, and that expecting true failure is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Watch the lecture video below to hear more about the panellists’ experiences and to see their horrified reactions to the possibility of failure.

Produced by MaRS Media.

Next lecture: Lived It Lecture with Allen Lau, co-founder of Wattpad, on January 8, 2014


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“Love the problem you’re solving” and other words of wisdom from MaRS entrepreneurs