In April this year, ChangeTip was acquired (or, more accurately, acqui-hired) by Airbnb.
Nick walked me through his journey as an entrepreneur and here are two important tools that stood out:
- Building the right team
- Welcome criticism and keep an open mind
Having the right team is crucial. With Sullivan’s 18 years of experience on team building, he developed a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t. A crucial point of his hiring criteria is asking if you are a good person.
“I knew that my ability to set that out would not last forever, so I invest a lot into the company's culture to calculate their values, which should match with the characteristics that define who we are.” These became the principals in which his team hires and fires.
The ability to welcome criticism and keeping an open mind is another important factor. “This allows you to resolve the common questions that are going to be raised about the quality of your idea. So once you go through these several times and fend off difficult questions, you’ll start to understand why something might not work and then develop your thesis on what is wrong,” said Sullivan. It allows you to build the ultimate pitch and assess every aspect of an idea.
Nick Sullivan created ChangeTip in 2013, a micropayment infrastructure for the web using bitcoin. Sullivan found a gap in the web when it comes to tipping small amounts of money. It is very common to tip a musician or artist on the street that piqued your interest, so why can’t this be done on the web?
“We’ve been missing a value exchange layer for the internet and since we haven’t had it, we had all different kinds of things introduced to aggregate money and the most notable one that everyone is aware of is the online advertising ecosystem. We still don’t have a way to directly connect people producing content to the people consuming content. There wasn’t a way to pay a penny or 10 cents every time I want to watch the YouTube video instead of seeing the ad,” said Sullivan.
A year after ChangeTip has been created, Sullivan chose to join Plug and Play’s Fintech accelerator program to progress his business and get recognized by top-tier corporations. “There’s been a wide range of help with past investors and accelerators, Plug and Play stands out near the top in terms of value they provide,” expressed Sullivan.