Tell us about yourself?
I’m Ed Johnson, the CEO and Co-Founder of PushFar. An entrepreneur focused on helping individuals and organisations alike with all things mentoring.
At PushFar we have developed the world’s leading mentoring platform which helps individuals to find mentors and volunteer to mentor others, whilst at the same time enabling organisations and companies across the world to run and scale their own mentoring programs.
We work with an exciting array of organisations and companies, from large multinational corporations and public sector departments through to universities and colleges, charities and non-profits.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
I believe the single biggest misconception is that they either succeed or fail because of the product. The product alone has a significant part to play but the team behind it, their marketing strategies, time and dedication to promoting it are paramount to success.
Particularly when we look at startups in the tech sector, it would be easy to assume that Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat became huge because they were ingenious concepts but that simply isn’t the case.
Other apps offering similar functionality existing everywhere else but because of the teams behind them and the way they marketed themselves, these companies took off and other similar products and apps didn’t. Don’t expect to launch an app that goes viral overnight.
That happens in so few cases and the reason we here about them is because they are the exception to the rule. If your startup isn’t “going viral” that does not mean it is a failure.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
I would go back to when I started my previous venture and tell myself in no uncertain terms to slow down on the money we were spending and to watch our cash-flow!
My first venture which is still running raised in a seed investment round and we burned through the cash far too quickly. It taught me a really valuable lesson and has enabled PushFar to be really cash-flow conscious and get to a state of profitability and stability.
So, it wasn’t a failed lesson but a lesson learned.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
Honestly, probably nothing. I don’t have any “magic” formula to entrepreneurship. I suppose one area in which I’m always amazed more founders don’t follow is focusing on profitability and financial independence as early on as possible.
I see some founders raising ridiculously high levels of investment, burning through it and then going on to the next round. I can’t get my head around that.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
This hasn’t just been in the last couple of years but in the last decade I’ve focused on early mornings and getting ahead of the rush at 9am.
I find that getting into the office at 5am or 6am gives me 3-4 extra hours in the day where I can be really proactive, because by the time everyone else gets into the office and the day begins for the rest of the world, I have to be reactive to everything happening with my team, our clients and the wider world.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
Our main influences are our mentors, mentees and clients. Every company should be focusing on their ‘end-users’ as the influences.
We are driven forward by the successes and needs of our clients and the mentors and mentees who use PushFar. Everything we do with product development stems from what they need, not what we want to see.
Where do you see your business in five years?
We’re ambitious enough to firmly believe that every individual around the world can benefit from mentoring, both as a mentor and mentee.
We all have knowledge, skills and experience we can share with others to help them to develop. PushFar really is about making mentoring as accessible as possible to the world.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
There’s so much noise out there and so many people talking about “get rich quick” schemes and “hacks” to be the best. We know how important mentoring conversations are. Will they get you success immediately? Possibly.
Probably not though, and that, in itself isn’t something that sells but keeping up our message will get through and every time we hear about someone talking of mentors contributing to their success, that helps push our message even further.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
Our biggest success as a business has been hitting profitability within the first two years from launch. That is, for me, such a fundamental to startups and business.
If you can’t do that, then you aren’t going to necessarily be around in years to come. Profitability allows for further, sustainable growth.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
We use a wide range of marketing strategies but the one that works best for us is organic traffic through great content.
We have a library of over 200 mentoring and learning articles and use these across all social channels.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
Just start. There will never be the “perfect” time or the “perfect” product. If you’ve built a product and it doesn’t have a bug or two in it, then you’ve spent too long waiting to launch. Just start. Just launch.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
More mentoring for the world and for me! I started PushFar to find a mentor. I’ve been fortunate enough to find two and hope that we can continue to help others to do the same.