Founder’s Advice: The Earlier You Start, The Greater the Results

by | Jan 20, 2023

IBU is back! Welcome to IB University, our free programme to help you build the skills you need to run your own business. 

We’re kicking things off with a blog series by our founder Gerald Vanderpuye, sharing five things he wishes he knew before he set up his first company. This is number one, and we’ll post the rest over the coming weeks. So make sure you keep an eye out!



I wish I had started my first company much earlier. I had the idea – and then procrastinated for ten years before I dared to start, mostly because I needed more belief in myself and the idea. 

Ten years ago this week, I remember deciding to start. I was on a flight with Darren Norfolk, the CEO of Rackspace, my previous employer. We had just spent the evening eating seafood and drinking the best whiskey in Vienna after closing the largest sales deal the company had seen. I remember vividly having a cup of coffee, watching the sunrise on the flight and thinking… I am still not content.

It wasn’t the first time I had felt this way while working for a successful company that I loved, and I’d always wondered where it came from. Then, finally, it hit me. In the back of my mind, I knew I had this calling to leave and start something that was 100% my own. I was burning to create something that would one day give me the freedom I had always dreamed about. That idea I’d been ignoring was bubbling to the surface. 

I talked to Darren about my idea and how I felt, and he kept nodding. I could see in his eyes that he knew that feeling, that he had felt it before in his own life. Then, without hesitation, he said, “Do it! What’s the worst that can happen?”. At that moment, on that flight, I took a deep breath and finally decided to start. I decided to take the leap of faith and set up my first company Shodeck(previously BuyerDeck). Thank you, Darren.

ShoDeck was not the unicorn I wanted it to be, and it eventually folded. But! It taught me more than any university or job ever could have. It got me a network of amazing people. It allowed me to find and invest in other companies. It gave me opportunities I could never have anticipated and taught me a number of valuable lessons:

  • You don’t have to quit your job to start your own business.
  • You don’t need lots of money to start your own business.
  • You don’t even need a perfect idea to start your own business.

All you have to do is start.

You have to start now because entrepreneurship is filled with opportunities, and luck will find you once you are on that path. That’s the reward for trailblazing. 

Steve Jobs once said it’s impossible to connect the dots looking forward, only looking backwards. If you try to see how the next ten years will play out, you will find many reasons not to start. So instead, start today because it’s the path you’re meant to be on. 


From starting a business to helping it thrive, our founder Gerald has advice on every stage of the entrepreneurial journey. Make sure you sign up to our newsletter to read more of his posts!