Learning has never been easier or more accessible than it is in the modern day. One genuine proof of that is One Month, a startup that can help you learn how to code websites, apps, and many more.
With several different courses up for grabs, One Month is quickly making a name for themselves in online education. The rise of the company to its current level of prominence is largely attributed to its tireless co-founders, Chris Castiglione and Mattan Griffel.
Starting a business is never easy, but with the right amount of effort, know-how, and determination, success can be found right around the corner. In a discussion, Chris explained how their own effort, know-how, and determination led to their company’s current successful state.
On Establishing the Business
Chris and Mattan, started One Month back in 2013. Their efforts began with validating their business concept. They released their first two online courses and gradually built up their users from there. By the time the number of users hit 4000, their much-sought after validation had finally been achieved, pushing them to scale up the business.
By the summer of 2013, One Month joined Y Combinator, which provided the startup with its first round of funding in September 2013. Before that, the company bootstrapped itself. Both Chris and Mattan considered themselves to be generalists: they both knew enough about starting a business and knew enough to code by themselves. In Chris’ opinion, this provided them with an edge. “Everything else we didn’t know fell under the ‘fake it until you make it’ category,” Chris explained.
Concerning outside support from other communities, both founders had their respective networks to draw from. While Mattan relied heavily on his entrepreneurial network for help, Chris leaned towards General Assembly, where he previously worked. The duo also had several tools and applications at their disposal. This included, but are not limited to: MailChimp for their email list, Slack for internal communication, Adroll for ads and retargeting, Zendesk for managing support tickets from their students, and various others.
On Management Styles, Productivity and Company Culture
If there was one thing Chris wished he knew all about before starting a company, it was management. “That only came about now,” Chris commented, “It came from my personal experience, reading, as well as having coaches and mentors that I meet with on a monthly basis.”
One Month, as a company, is fairly distributed with some of the staff working from New York whilst others work from California. Chris explains that they all have quarterly goals that everybody takes very seriously.
In discussing his applied style of business management, Chris reveals that he varies between several of them; calling his own style a medium of affiliative and coaching. “I like to listen and then offer help to people in order to get them unstuck.”
The style he wishes to develop more is that of an authoritative style. It may not be something he has a firm grip on yet, but it does come out during those high-pressure, meet-the-deadline moments.
“Overall, it’s a work in progress.” Chris says. “Peter Drucker once wrote an excellent essay about management styles. I love his quote, ‘management is doing things right while leadership is doing the right things.’”
On Balancing Work and Life, Advice Received and Lessons to Give
The topic of work-life balance is an interesting one to Chris, who believes people in general have a habit of living in boxes. “People look at it like ‘work starts now’ or ‘life starts now.’ For me, it’s always been a blended experience.”
Although he cannot say for certain that he doesn’t struggle with it, it helps that most of his working hours are spent on his passions. Of course, making time for family and friends is equally important. He also stresses that having clear goals help.
“Not to sound too nerdy, it’s important to have metrics that you can clearly define. For example, figure out how much time you need to spend: at the gym, at work, with friends. Try your best to focus and stick with those.”
Concerning advice he received from others, Chris recalls the words of Peter Koomen of Optimizely: ‘As soon as you get good at something, you should hire someone to do it for you.’ Such advice only served to help, particularly when tasks and responsibilities need to be delegated.
When it comes to lessons learned through the journey that others may find enlightening, Chris thinks back to another quote, this time by E.B. White: “I wake up in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.”
The biggest lesson, he believes, is being true to one’s self and doing business with honest intentions.
“We all have our reasons; get in touch with why you’re doing this.” Chris advises, “If you choose to start a business making pooper scoopers just to get rich, you better be ready to talk about shit all day, every day. If you don’t then you better find something that resonates with your heart. Otherwise, why start a company at all?”