Check out our exclusive interview with Ryan Austin, Founder & CEO of Synapse.
Where are you from originally?
I am originally from Toronto, Canada. In 2015, I moved to Houston, TX to participate in SURGE Ventures to build our product with a few large enterprise clients.
What university did you go to?
I went to York University and The University of Western Ontario. I actually dropped out in my third year after starting a successful online wholesale attire and travel e-commerce portal.
What is the idea behind your startup?
Think “UX” but for creating learning / training programs. When you hear about training or learning, people automatically think about how visually appealing the content looks. In reality, it takes a ton of research and planning to design the right experience. Currently, this is a manual process filled with excel sheets and word templates. We automate these manual efforts with our cloud-based learning design system.
What need does it fulfill?
For the two million learning designers whose job is to design learning experiences, we transition them from paper-based templates to an easy-to-use digital collaboration platform.
What exactly does it do?
Learning designers can collaborate with stakeholders to define project needs, design learning experiences and create blueprints and prototypes that guide content authoring efforts.
Who is it for?
The platform is designed for learning designers who work within Corporate and Higher Education Organizations.
What was the most challenging aspect of starting up?
The most challenging aspect to starting any business is self-doubt. Your mind tends to play tricks on you. Luckily, I’ve been through the emotions before and know how to stay focused. As an entrepreneur, you’re faced with challenges and have to stay strong-minded. That’s also the fun of being self-employed. You get to solve big problems – from making resources available where they seem impossible to creating new products that help people.
What is the next step for you and your business?
We’ve found product market fit, so we’re currently maturing our platform and preparing the business for our growth curve.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Stay focused and stay strong. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to “kick down the sand castle”. People can sometimes become their worst enemies. Don’t be disruptive to your hard work. Patience is a virtue. It can take months or years to build a business – be patient – it’s very easy to “kick down” what you create because it feels like the right thing to do. In most cases, you didn’t give it enough time.
What resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?
Mentors and advisors. Find great people who have “been there done that” and believe in you. Put them around you to increase probability of success and reward them for their investment in you.