VENTEUR spoke with Jean-Que Dar, a Haitian-American silicon beach techie from Miami living in Southern California, about his entrepreneurial journey. Dar is the guy behind tap. A LinkedIn-style B2B marketplace, tap. enables entertainment professionals to network, connect, and collaborate, offering features that make virtual networking in entertainment seamless, efficient, and enjoyable. According to Dar, tap. enables people to save time and money by over 421% and empowers the entertainment ecosystem to be more creative, work smarter, and achieve better results on B2C content.
The entrepreneurial journey is one of self-discovery. What have you learned about yourself while building your business?
First, I had to embrace my ethnicity as a Haitian-American.
Second, one must pursue the fullness of your heart's desires and passions to make it to the finish line. I became a lawyer because I genuinely love helping and serving others. I grew up in a very traditional Haitian household.
At our core, Haitians are a resilient mission-driven community of service providers. We enjoy cooking large five-course meals for our families with much to spare for others without food. We stay Tupperware-ready.
We build houses, buildings, and schools overnight despite not having the certification or professional background. We invent household productivity items to make life easy.
Once I shifted my focus to being true to my core about who I am, I was able to create from there. That made building my business much more accessible and enjoyable.
The software closes the opportunity gaps and loopholes in the industry's archaic networking practices. I believe the arts are iconic mediums designed to preserve the legacy of humanity. They serve as the most potent social-change agents in the world.
I created tap to equip this massive workforce with the modern business tools required to bring the stories of our human legacy to light successfully. Unfortunately, creatives are among the most underserved professionals.
Their rights are consistently obstructed by the Freedom of Speech defenses subsequently upheld by the Court's Creative Freedom laws.
Unequal access, unequal pay, and deal transparency are traditional multi-million dollar lawsuits that concern the workforce worldwide.
The entrepreneurial journey is often lonely. Have you experienced loneliness as an entrepreneur?
Bonds and friendships develop at work. Sometimes you're the only person on the payroll as a startup entrepreneur. As the team grows, entrepreneurs must maintain professional relationships with colleagues.
If friends and family participated in a pre-seed round, that same professional relationship line must be drawn to support proper company growth. Given a company's infancy and few employees, we don't have the luxury of being casual with new team members or investors.
To overcome loneliness, I find others outside my industry to be social. This includes going to my favorite venues alone and making new friends. My platform is in entertainment, so I'm always meeting someone new for dinner at amazing restaurants–a huge perk since I'm a big foodie.
The Psychological Warfare
Entrepreneurs generally sleep less, work more, and let their health slip. This combination, combined with loneliness, often results in insecurity, self-esteem issues, and low self-worth. Have you experienced any of these issues as an entrepreneur?
I believe in giving the first part of my day to myself. I start my day around 6:30 AM and meditate thrice daily to keep myself grounded and focused.
If I make it to bed at 2 AM, I cut out the gym from the next day's schedule so I can get to bed early that day. Because I enjoy working out so much, I ensure that I make it to bed by 11 PM or midnight. On Fridays after 1 PM, I close my laptop and run personal errands or do something other than work in front of the computer.
I keep my phone on, answer messages, and reply to emails remotely, but I am not at home working. I am most productive on weekends.
Weekend mornings are reserved for brunches, hikes, dog parks, flag football, and shopping.
Afternoons and evenings allow me to get caught up on work where I won't be bothered.
Newer entrepreneurs often equate their success with the success and value of their business. If their business fails, they are a failure. If their business succeeds, they are a success. Have you experienced this warped perception of reality?
I have a relationship with results, not with success or failure. I love meditation and working out because outcomes can be seen and felt in the short-term interim. If I am dissatisfied with the results of the things I love, I strategize.
More research should be done on how to get the results I desire.
The same applies to my business, except I pour more energy into my startup because I genuinely love what I do; it's all-consuming.
Except, it's hard to measure satisfaction when you're following the methods and practices of other successful founders.
Therefore, because I can see the results of my mental faculty and physical aesthetic backed by research, I know without a shadow of a doubt that my startup will succeed. My meditation practice is prepped by hours of research on goals, strategies, and methods to live a healthy life. It took me about eight months of research to find the right meditation guide.
Same with physical fitness. I researched eating right, working out, preparing meals, etc.
My startup is no different. I know where we need to be and ensure we are well-prepared to get to the next destination.
In my opinion, success and failure are relative and subjectively driven in the eye of the beholder. Results are from statistical outcomes from a consistent method. Results can be measured, reassessed, retargeted, and pursued to achieve different effects.
What are your three biggest fears as an entrepreneur, and how do you manage those fears?
1. Dying as a Nomad
I want to give back to the Universe for the space I've taken up while alive.
I want to make a difference in the lives of others.
I manage this fear by showing up as the best version of myself as I can be daily.
I check in at noon during my midday meditation and assess where I fell from grace during my evening meditation.
2. Dying Alone
I manage this fear by going out, meeting people, and saying yes to blind dates that I dread but always end up enjoying the company of a new friend.
3. Not Being Supported by Loved Ones
I manage this fear by communicating my need to be embraced by those who matter to me.
What are three mistakes you made early on as an entrepreneur, what did you learn from them, and how can others avoid these mistakes?
1. Show Up As Yourself
As a black male entrepreneur, I had to act and talk differently to be accepted.
However, after securing meetings with people, I learned I want to work with open-minded people.
2. Stay Up to Date on Industry Trends
I'm constantly reminded that Travis Kalanick is the founder of Uber. He got kicked out of his own company and learned that could never happen to Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook or Evan Spiegel of Snapchat.
We all witnessed the demise of Myspace when it failed to innovate when trends changed. So staying up to date on trends in tech, politics, and my industry is a must.
3. People Management Is the Hardest Part of the Job
New and old employees will take advantage of your kindness and status as a small company. Therefore, always be professional.
What are three things you see that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs you encounter, and how can other entrepreneurs be aware of these things from the beginning?
1. Your Product Will Change
There’s nothing you can do about it, so don't become attached to your version of the product.
2. User Data Trumps the Founder’s Opinion, Always
From creative development to software engineering, what a group of users says always wins.
2. Enjoy the Process
Being a Founder is challenging work. However, what makes it fun are the results and helping people.
What was a seemingly insurmountable obstacles you've faced as an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome them?
Funding. All Founders struggle with this. The best way to overcome it is to speak the language of the investors.
What are three ways you have managed to boost your productivity without causing burnout?
1. Proper Planning
Sunday is my 7-P day: Piss Poor Planning Produces Piss Poor Performance. My weekly goals are oriented around specifically targeted results.
2. Clock in and Out With My Team
We have a team of 33, and it's overwhelming. We all have tasks and goals outlined for the day. I clock out when my tasks are done, just like everyone else on the team.
3. Talk to Users
Our product users are the best form of motivation. Their candid feedback about what they like, love, hate, and dislike keep me on my toes and productive.
How can newer entrepreneurs develop a healthy work-life balance even when it seems like an impossible task?
Plan to achieve results, track progress, and always be ready to pivot.
What three key pieces of advice would have made your entrepreneurial journey more manageable, and why?
1. Get a Mentor in Venture Capital at the Very Beginning
Start the relationship with a VC that does not invest in your industry or niche. Be candid about needing a mentor.
2. Have a Solid Foundation at Home
Ensuring you have a support system that can assist with the necessities of life goes a very long way.
3. Approach Each Day With a Grateful Heart
We are fortunate to have the opportunity to create products that advance the lives of others.