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Today's Entrepreneur

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Today's Entrepreneur: Francis Pedraza

The first lesson is to take care of myself

Innovation series by Steven Loeb
October 18, 2018
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4c62

Today's entrepreneur is Francis Pedraza, CEO of Invisible.

Invisible is a company pioneering the global digital assembly line by creating a single bot that enables people to outsource their work and add more time into their day.

Pedraza founded Invisible in 2015 with an idea to give people a way to spend more time focusing on the work that matters so that they can reach their full potential.

Prior to Invisible, Pedraza was the Founder and CEO of Everest, an app founded to help people achieve personal goals.

Pedraza studied history, philosophy, and economics at Cornell University and Oxford University. 

Companies I've founded or co-founded:

Everest, Cheeky, Invisible

Companies I work or worked for:

Google

Achievements (products built, personal awards won):

-- 2015 - Present. Invisible. A single bot that can do everything. Delegate work you hate doing, and humans coordinated on our Digital Assembly Line will do it for as low as $10/hr. 
-- 2015. Cheeky. $1-a-day for an idea-a-day in your inbox. A brainstorming and startup idea discussion community. 
-- 2012-2014. Everest. An iPhone app to help people achieve personal goals. 
-- 2010. DoBand. A Livestrong band with a serial number connected to a website. You type in your number, record your good deed, then pass on your DoBand.

If you are an entrepreneur, why?

I want to change the world.

My favorite startups:

Numerai

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

Frustrating = financial stress. I've spent most of my twenties broke, stressed and praying for another check to make rent, make payroll, keep my company afloat, and keep my dream alive. Rewarding = seeing that somehow, all of this hardship and pain has made me powerful and effective as a leader. I'm not just traumatized and broken. I'm actually good at what I do. Experience is superior to raw, youthful energy.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?

The first mistake is always starting. The second mistake is to keep going. And the third mistake is to quit. If you've already made the first mistake, the key is to avoid making the third mistake. Entrepreneurship is just objectively a bad idea. An insane, no good, very bad idea. It's a romantic proposition -- and you should only do it if you can't help yourself. And then, once you've made the mistake, and you're committed to the path of pain: then learn as fast as you can and cope with the struggle as best as you can and enjoy it as much as you can. My first investor told me the 4:2 rule... You'll always spend 4 times as much money as you expect and it will takes twice as long as you expect, or vice-versa. That's been true. And the product or service is never as good as you want it to be. And your sales is never as high as you want it to be. And everything is broken. And you realize that you're not the best entrepreneur in the world. And that you will probably, almost certainly, statistically, fail. And somehow, you keep going. That decision, to keep going, is the essence of entrepreneurship -- more than any strategic or tactical insight.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

The first lesson is to take care of myself. The entrepreneur gives his life force to the company. If the entrepreneur burns out, he cannot sustain the company. So avoid burn out at all costs. There will be seasons where you feel that you are unstoppable and have unlimited energy. Be careful not to overdraw on those reserves. Because there will be seasons where you feel depleted. There is absolutely no separation between my personal and professional life. If I stop going to the gym, if I stop sleeping enough, if I stop making time for friends, if my heart is broken, if I stop making art, if I stop writing, if I don't have sources of joy and happiness, if my housing or financial situation is precarious -- it affects my work. If I don't have strategic or philosophical clarity -- it affects my work. I've pushed through all of these forms of stress and confusion, and I hope I never have to make those sacrifices again, because I know that when my needs are met, I perform at my best. The moment of glory-in-battle, the aristeia, can come when your back is up against the wall and you're desperate... but the great work comes from many days, weeks and months of chipping away... just showing up, practicing my skills, trial and error.

The second lesson is to listen carefully to your heart. "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." I think very deeply about everything, and analyze situations in great detail. And all of this thinking and analysis is very useful. But in making decisions, the most useful thing is listening very carefully, feeling very deeply, into the depth of your... soul. I don't know where the guidance comes from. I don't know if it comes from within, or from without -- from the world, from spirit, from God. Or somehow, from both. But I've become a very superstitious person. There are too many uncanny coincidences, too much serendipity, too many fingerprints of fate and destiny, to ignore. The Logos bows to The Mythos. And you have to learn to listen to the voice that says "Use the force Luke! Turn off your targeting computer." There are many leaps of faith. And I doubt. I am extremely skeptical of the "still small voice" of intuition, and this whole form of spiritual intelligence. But in spite of my extreme doubt, I cannot help but acknowledge that this "mustard seed" of faith has been essential to my entrepreneurial experience. I keep listening for the voice. I keep waiting for the insight. I keep asking the questions like prayers. And sometimes, for a moment, the clouds break and I see clearly. These brief moments of clarity are when all the great leaps of progress happen. The rest of the time you're in a desert of ambiguity.

The third lesson is to believe what you believe. Emerson's essay on Self Reliance is a must read for entrepreneurs. Many people believe things but they don't act on their beliefs. If you truly believe what you believe, you have to go all the way: and follow your thought through to its most extreme conclusion, and then act on that conclusion. Arthur curses Merlin for teaching him to think. Because the more you think, the more lonely you become. The more you doubt whether you're correct. The more you're at variance with everyone else, even those closest to you. The more you crave validation. If you don't question yourself, you're insane. If you don't stop questioning yourself, you'll go insane. So somehow you have to exist in this paradox: question yourself enough to satisfy the demands of skeptical reason, and to remind yourself that your truth is not the final or full truth, but believe what you believe enough to put your full weight behind it. Because if you don't act on your beliefs, no one will. You must have the courage of your convictions. And so Thiel says well that "courage is in shorter supply than brilliance." It is very hard to maintain the entrepreneurial sanity to question yourself enough to stay open but believe in your thinking enough to go all the way.


Related companies, investors and entrepreneurs

37219
Invisible
Startup/Business
Description: A single bot that can do everything. That’s the simple idea that everyone says is impossible without general artificial intelligenc...
Bio: I grew up in San Diego. Studied history at Cornell. After school, I started my first company, Everest -- an iPhone app to achie...
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