Each Wednesday, the Soaring Startup Circle welcomes a different founder, CEO, or influential individual from the startup atmosphere, giving the teams the opportunity to learn from people who have a wealth of knowledge to share. On Wednesday, June 17th, Nick Rellas BC '13, Co-Founder and CEO of Drizly, welcomed the SSC to the company's new office to talk about his experiences and insights building a company from the ground up.
A giant bear's red silhouette dominates the wall of Drizly's Boston office. The animal logo, new since March, alludes to the allure of the culture from the 50's, 60's, and 70's (the era when Ralph Lauren introduced its own animal logo—the polo horse—to America). The bear is also a playful jab at the company itself—The Drizly Grizzly. The logo's balance between fun and calculated positioning incidentally encapsulates Drizly itself.
Nick Rellas BC '13 is Co-Founder and CEO of Drizly, the on-demand alcohol delivery app that raised $13 million Series A in May. Surrounded by SSC teams, he launched into Drizly's early days. He was quick to point out that building a startup isn't as glamorous as people make it seem. In fact, it's hard, hands-on work.
As he explained the importance of focus in a venture, he said, "If you try to be everything to everyone, then you're nothing to no one." It's a lesson that comes with experience—no startup becomes successful without wishing they could go back and save themselves a few months where they ventured down a path that proved to be the wrong way. For Nick and his team, the lesson was learned as the company straddled between being an alcohol delivery service and an identity verification application.
Determining focus is difficult in practice. Rellas challenged teams, "If what you're doing today doesn't get you to your Objective Key Response, then full stop." With nine direct competitors in New York city alone, the Drizly team knows that ideas are commodities and execution is key. Within your own company, Rellas explained, "You have to ask, 'Is that the guy that is going to build the team?" It is clear that Rellas has full faith in his entire Drizly team in their ability to expand to new markets.
While a young startup's OKR will change as the company further develops or pivots, the learning process never ends. "Invest in yourself," Rellas stated. For the Drizly team, this entails learning about the liquor industry inside and out. Read, talk to others, and never stop learning. No team knows everything from the start or gets things right the first time. Ambition, coupled with unrelenting determination and development of key skillets, however, can help a team win on their execution in the future.
The SSC thanks Nick for hosting the teams at Drizly for a lively discussion about his own experience and the teams' questions from their first week and a half in the program.