Before starting 33founders, I was confident that every startup was like Uber. Thus, if Donny Fausner, the Co-Founder and COO of The Venue Report, would have shared that it took the team 23 months to build a full website, I would have deeply sympathized with their immense hardship.
Nearly 100 episodes in, I’m beginning to understand that startup life is far from glamorous; Making the 23 months it took to officially launch The Venue Report a very small chapter in the startup’s story.
The Venue Report is a digital media company showcasing the world’s most special venues.
“We want to be the trusted destination for finding venue spaces, from around the world, for any type of gathering. Whether that be weddings, corporate events, a group getaway, an anniversary or birthday party, you can find venue spaces for any of the special moments in your life,” Donny shared.
After visiting 57 countries and 49 states, it feels natural that Donny would use his explorers mentality to risk everything and start his own business.
Despite his time touring with a band and serving as Vice President at Comtrade Financial, Donny’s the first to admit that none of his experiences prepared him for life as a founder.
With that in mind, he deeply subscribes to Heidi Roizen’s insight that entrepreneurs should “prepare for an imperfect path along the way.”
You have no idea what you’re getting into when you do this. Starting a business is a big feat. Cortnie and I work all the time…When you’re not working, you feel guilty because you know there’s something you have to do, and you should be working.
To combat the uncertainty, he’s assembling an extraordinary team to help you answer the question “Where should I plan my next event?”
When it comes to leadership, Donny’s adamant about not micromanaging team members.
I want them to feel like they’re creating this…I don’t believe in employees or interns. I think we are all part of a team. We’re a unit. We’re a family who’s moving together to create something great.
His highest mission as a founder is to ensure that each team member is deeply engaged in their work. To test for it, he asks these three questions:
- What do you want to do?
- Where do you want to be with The Venue Report?
- What kind of areas would you like to focus on?
Donny’s approach lends to the autonomous culture grounding today’s most responsive teams. When you implicitly trust each individual you hire you can be confident that they’ll carry out the company’s vision on their own accord.
This especially vital in creating an experimental environment where team members ‘don’t feel like they have to run every little thing by you.”
Creating a culture grounded in autonomy takes time and Donny encourages founders to cultivate it from the start.
Working closely to onboard new team members and immerse them in your processes provides for a simple transition to them owning their roles.
While training plays an essential role in cultivating autonomy, hiring initiators is a stepping stone founders simply cannot miss.
Echoing Scott Belsky’s belief that “Initiative > Experience,” Donny’s more likely to hire an action-oriented, passionate learner than an individual with a ‘10′ in skills.
It’s the special team that Cortnie and Donny are leading that’s led to The Venue Report’s 340% growth since the company’s official launch in December 2014. The team’s currently working on new premium features for their venues, including Venue Report Verified which will add exclusive video coverage to the site.
To learn more about the leadership driving The Venue Report, including how husband-wife duo Cortnie and Donny survived the early days of building a media company, tune into Donny’s episode of 33founders and follow the team on Twitter.