The Place – Mitten Brewing Company: Mitten Brewing offers both an incredibly beautiful pub area (made from a renovated Victorian building at the heart of the city) and a taproom of excellent brews. Mitten specializes in “tiers” of beer. Tier one is made of traditional pale ales and IPAs that everyone will like. Tier 2 is made of more daring experiments with extra flavor – and an extra kick. Tier 3, meanwhile, is reserved for extra heavy, dark beers and those who feel a little more daring. It’s no wonder the young brewery already has a collection of awards!
The Interview – Karlis Vizulis: Karlis currently holds the position of CEO at PSI, or Performance Systematix, Inc. This company occupies a niche position in the supply line for microporous membranes and filter materials which are used for container venting, medical filtration, and other laboratory analysis processes. However, Karlis’ story goes way beyond microfilter materials – and has some very interesting points to make about how entrepreneurship can work!
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Jump Into New Opportunities
A common refrain we here from entrepreneurs is the importance of seizing the opportunity. Sometimes, this happens when you don’t even realize the opportunity is there! The most insignificant job in the world may lead to an unexpected offer or a skill you never thought you would learn. We aren’t saying that you need to say yes to everything – just that it’s okay to be desperate. Entrepreneurs can find incredible opportunities when they are desperate.
2. Process Differentiation Can Be Very Important!
One of the things PSI is known for is its advanced technology and processes, which yield a very highly refined product compared to the rest of the market. Entrepreneurs like to talk a lot about product differentiation, but that’s not always possible…and that’s okay. A better process can set your company apart just as effectively as a differentiated product, because the difference will still shine through. Whether it’s a faster delivery time, a less expensive customization process, or better standardization, don’t be afraid of the advantages the process can give you.
3. Don’t Always Worry About Your Skillset
Skills can be incredibly important to your journey. However, they may also be surprisingly irrelevant. Some of Karlis’ best opportunities came along when he wasn’t expecting them at all, regarding positions in which he had no skills! That’s another path to a successful venture. Remember, when you don’t know anything, you have a lot of opportunities to acquire new experience, and one job may lead to surprising opportunities in a different area. In other words, don’t be afraid of your own ignorance, as long as you are willing to learn.
4. Don’t Say Goodbye Too Fast
Karlis reminisces about a boss he had as a young adult who – on multiple occasions – offered him life-changing job opportunities during the final seconds of their meeting (or even later). It’s a funny story, but also a good reminder: Even when you are denied an opportunity, it pays to be patience and linger a little (within the bounds of courtesy). It is not uncommon for someone to be struck with an alternative idea or possibility that you may miss out on if you are no longer there!
5. Sometimes It’s About Who You Work With, More Than What You Do
Even if a job doesn’t do much to further your dreams, it can be worthwhile for the people you meet, the skills they can teach you (unrelated to the job itself), and the contacts they can provide. As Karlis points out, working closely with people also gives you a valuable opportunity to “vet” them for a potential move to a startup, if you find someone you work well with. Of course this involves a certain amount of risk, but it can be well worth it if you recruit people you already have a great working relationship with.
To learn more about Karlis’ journey and some very interesting stories on his immigration, work ethic, and much more, watch the full video!