The incredible power of networks for startups

Hassan Khajeh-Hosseini, Co-Founder and CEO, InfracostHassan Khajeh-Hosseini, Co-Founder and CEO, Infracost
Hassan Khajeh-Hosseini, Co-Founder and CEO, Infracost
In the startup world, your network will not only help you in times of stress, but if done right will act as a catalyst to your company's success. This is one of the reasons why Y-Combinator, a venture capital firm who has helped launch the likes of Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe and Reddit has become the world’s most successful startup accelerator. A few months ago, I saw how the network works firsthand.

After selling our second startup in 2019, I and my co-founders Ali Khajeh-Hosseini and Alistair Scott took some time off and started travelling.

It didn't take too long before we started brainstorming about what to build next. In January 2020 we launched our third company: CircuitOps.

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It was aimed at helping software companies hire for a specific technical role. In March 2020 as Covid-19 really hit, all budgets were frozen and a lot of people were laid off. Our startup was dead.

Networks can be a catalyst for success.Networks can be a catalyst for success.
Networks can be a catalyst for success.

We went back to brainstorming. While we did that, Alistair took parts of the code we had written for CircuitOps and opened it up for the world to see and use. It didn't take long before a community of people found the code and started using it, requesting new features and sharing it. The network effect was very powerful.

Our network of users gave us great feedback and insight on the problem space which ultimately encouraged us to apply for Y Combinator (YC). We were accepted into the W21 batch along with 350 other startups from 41 nations.

We are one of the first Scottish companies YC has funded. As we would come to learn in the first week, the majority of learnings from YC are public and free, however the network that we would be dropped into is one of the massive value adds that is reserved for YC funded companies.

We were connected with 20 other startups from the W21 batch and could immediately see how helpful the network is. Learning together about how to create a great sustainable business, we would help each other by sharing knowledge about sales, contracts, compensation packages and anything else that was in our path. It is incredibly useful to have a group of companies openly sharing their experiences and insights.

For example, imagine the first time you negotiated a raise and knew how everyone else successfully negotiated theirs. A lot of the companies in our batch even became customers of each other's products.

Two months after the batch had finished I read a blog from a publicly listed YC company and thought they could benefit from our product. I emailed the founders. Incredibly, within a few hours they were connecting me to the person responsible for the area of work we are in. This is the power of a strong network.

Our success is tied to the support of the network, and if we had more strong networks like this in Scotland, we would have more successful startups. A network of founders willing to share stories, learnings and connections.

An example of where this is starting to work is in CodeBase in Edinburgh, and I can’t wait to contribute more.

Hassan Khajeh-Hosseini, Co-Founder and CEO, Infracost

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