By Dan Boudreaux
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The founder of food delivery app “Waitr” shares the highs and lows of starting, growing and exiting a startup.
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.
Hot on the heels of Thursday’s announcement that he was selling Waitr for $308 million, Chris Meaux, the founder and CEO of the popular food delivery app gave an audience of business professionals and entrepreneurs in Lafayette his advice on how to start and grow their own businesses.
Meaux told the crowd at Opportunity Machine’s annual OM Innovation Conference that one of the most important things he learned on his journey building Waitr is that when a start up is just getting off the ground, you can’t just pay people to make it successful.
Waitr grew up within the walls Opportunity Machine, which incubates new companies Lafayette.
“One of the mistakes I made was that I thought I could pay people to do the things that were necessary to make a start up successful and the reality is that you just can’t,” Meaux said. “Even if you have the money to pay them, they will never be as passionate about it as you will, they will never ask the questions you would, they will never develop the product the way you would. They won’t do any of those things.”
For Meaux, the responsibility when it comes to a new business, first and foremost, starts with the entrepreneur.
While he did say bringing people on people who can help you at the start, be they family or friends or invested partners, you have to lead by example and do everything at first.
“I took calls. I listened to complaints. My mother had to go do deliveries. She hated it, but she knew that if the company was going to be successful, she had to do it,” Meaux said. “If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re starting a business, these are the things that have to be done and you have to do them.”
Some other pieces of advice Meaux gave included bringing in partners who can fill in the gaps in your knowledge with their strengths, using resources like the Angel Investor Tax Credit and Economic Gardening Program from Louisiana Economic Development and how new companies can raise capital.
“You as a start up have to decide on what you give up for capital, if it’s worth what you get. Looking back on Waitr, we raised $200,000 and gave up 22 percent of the company.
Today, after you sell your company for $300 million, that was a lot of money, but what would I have been worth if I hadn’t done that,” Meaux said. “You have to weigh that. If the contribution they make is worth what you’re giving up, then it’s worth it.”
He had announced just on Thursday that Waitr was being sold to Landcadia Holdings Inc. for $308 million.
Meaux tried to drive home his most important advice for new and upcoming businesses: Even if you’re doing all the work, from CEO to marketing to accounting to customer service, you can’t create a business on your own and need support to succeed.
“The biggest thing I learned is you cannot do this alone even if you’re doing all the work… There’s someone behind you and it’s your family. Without the support of your family, you cannot be a successful entrepreneur and get through the difficult times,” Meaux said.