Now in its second year, Elevate has returned to Toronto, promising to connect the Canadian startup ecosystem and deliver talks from tech leaders like former Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt.
Ahead of the conference, Elevate has been interviewing its speakers to provide a sneak peek at what attendees can expect. Karan Wadhera, managing partner of Snoop Dogg-backed Casa Verde Capital, is one such speaker sharing his expertise. Wadhera spoke with Elevate about the best advice he’s ever had, and how to build a motivated team.
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What’s the most underrated advice you’ve ever received?
Pay attention to small details and make sure you’re listening.
I started my career as a trader at Goldman Sachs, and early on in your job you’re doing a lot of things that are fairly basic and rote – getting reports for senior management and getting lunch or coffee orders. You’re there to make sure your team succeeds.
Lots of people would scoff that they come from this college or that college and done so much already but spend the first few months of their job being an errand boy. But the reality is there’s importance in being detail-oriented, executing quickly after receiving direction, and understanding your clients (for me, my “client” was my boss). These are all things that end up being critical to life, but were small things I took for granted early on in my career.
What can new entrepreneurs learn from the old business world?
I think everything, to be honest with you.
The only big difference in the new business world is things move quicker. We have technology aiding us, so you can get to market ten times faster.
But the core principles are the same: it’s about building a great product, a great team, keeping track of the bottom line, and focusing on growth.
You have to question what you are doing all the time. You have to re-evaluate whether you’re on the right course.
I think it’s always worth a refresh – we definitely need to be reminded of core competencies and core principles with some level of frequency. A great and cost-efficient way to do that is to read voraciously. We have so many great lessons from past entrepreneurs, politicians, generals in the military, and others. We can learn so much from the past.
Also, the staples of great entrepreneurs remain. You have to question what you are doing all the time. You have to re-evaluate whether you’re on the right course. And you have to be diligent about building important networks and communicating effectively.
How can attendees build their networks at Elevate?
Be succinct, don’t be shy, and have good, consistent follow-up.
If you see someone you genuinely want to meet and chat with, know that we’re all there for the same reason. Clearly, networking can be awkward at times but going up to who you want to meet and introducing yourself is good.
However, reading the situation is critical. I’d love to hear your idea and what you’re working on, but chances are I don’t have an hour to spend with you at the event. So get your elevator pitch and salient points out in a few minutes.
Then have thoughtful, consistent, but not overbearing, follow up. A good investor, customer, or potential partner should come back to you relatively quickly with an affirmative or negative response, and either one will set you on the right course.
How do you keep a team motivated and connected as it scales?
I try to empower my team to do a lot.
At the end of the day, people are not working simply for economic benefit. If that’s the case, it gets old and motivation for more money isn’t enough.
We give our team members a lot of slack to learn and to run projects or investment ideas on their own. We give a lot of autonomy and that leads to ownership and empowerment.
With empowerment and autonomy, if things turn and we hit hard times, there’s much more than just the economic incentive to what you’re doing. There’s a real sense of ownership behind what you’re working on.
What impact do you want to make on the world?
There hasn’t been a new consumer staple introduced to the world in decades. To be at the forefront of [the cannabis] industry’s creation and be able to weigh-in and participate is incredibly rewarding.
From reading about great investors and entrepreneurs, I’ve always had a desire to make an impact in this world in a meaningful way. Being at this incredible intersection with cannabis – the industry is growing rapidly, there’s sweeping state-by-state legalization, and international movements like in Canada – is great. Whatever small role I have to play in this growing industry is exciting.
For example, there will be folks who are able to treat themselves without addictive opioids. There will be job creation in the industry. There will be benefits from tax revenues. It’s an incredibly important place to be and I’m proud that we’re doing something to push that growth.
This article was originally published on the Elevate blog.