How to start a business like a startup

“I wanted to make a website,” says Rehan, a 26-year-old refugee in Tijuana, Mexico. As CEO of TechSherpa, a start-up organization for entrepreneurs, Rehan wanted to make sure his organization had the tools to help other entrepreneurs be successful. He needed a good website and he wanted it to be built in-house, not in the shadow of a traditional tech firm, with a host of painful app integrations and convoluted security options.

“We wanted to build something easy to understand,” Rehan says. “We needed a deep understanding of the marketplace. We wanted to cut through all of that and work with really awesome organizations to be sure we created this awesome, amazing, functional website.”

As he scoured forums and leading start-up communities for reference information, one influencer stood out: Duncan Ritchie, the CEO of Sage Software. Starting Sage as a software company in Portland, Oregon, Ritchie knew a thing or two about technology and managing complex projects. He had provided startup support to many local entrepreneurs and had been consulting with them on building their company’s sites.

So Rehan asked Ritchie to help. Together, they built a series of methodical steps to get Rehan’s start-up over the finish line. He hired a website creator (called “scoping) to do the detail research for site design, to purchase domain names (like and Founder and to help Rehan buy domain names in international currencies. Next, he drafted a schedule and website manual (HOLD). And finally, he got a cloud hosting company to offer him free hosting and free domain names.

Related: How to get your start-up home

Since these were startup-specific services, there was no way the company could charge, so Rehan raised money and built an account to help him pay for the website at a future date.

It was, Rehan says, “a small but big step towards realizing our goal of being the best platform for anyone to start a business in the world.”

With his first page up, Rehan was busy helping others start their own businesses. He even wanted to help them help themselves. He ended up helping an entrepreneur from the United States and a woman from Kenya navigate technology problems when they were attempting to start a new company in Mexico.

“There’s always so much work to do when a company goes live,” Rehan says. “The website is a big piece. It takes up most of your time.”

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