By Sanne Breimer
Finding the right business partner is like finding the right relationship. You’re looking for the spark in the eyes, a sense of humour that connects you both and a mindset about life that’s in harmony with yours. For Luc Smeets and Ryan Eustice the business love story started at Tribe Theory Bali where they met. “I initially felt a connection when I first met Ryan”, Luc tells on a call from Kuala Lumpur. His eye was wounded through a scooter accident and he was still recovering, but when he and Ryan started talking to each other they noticed remarkably similar interests. From listening to the same Tim Ferris podcasts, reading Reid Hoffman books and spending time in the gym to having the same ideas about a professional career.
“Getting on well on a personal level is very important if you’re starting a business with each other. It’s as important as a marriage because as commercial partners you’ll spend a lot of time together”, Luc explains.
Ryan uses similar words a week later on a call from Bali: “Someone had said to me when you’re looking for a co-founder, the personal relationship is very important. A week later I met Luc and we immediately clicked. I noticed he has a cool mindset, he is always willing to go out of his way for other people, that’s how I am too. We could talk on a higher level of thinking together, have intelligent conversations and at the same time goofing around. He’s the kind of person it feels I know for a long time already.”
To be of tremendous value to this world
Although they just met a few months ago, in June in Canggu where they both stayed at Tribe Theory. After spending quite some time together, continuing chatting even during scooter rides to the gym or coworking space, Luc caught Ryan off guard asking him to start a business together. Luc founded different startups in the last few years. He currently runs his main business almost automatically, which gives him the freedom to travel around the world. In Bali where he stayed the last few months, he didn’t always find the connection with likeminded souls he was looking for. “A lot of people pretend they run big businesses whereas, in reality, they’re a freelancer or life coach. No offence, but in this stage of my life, I want to surround myself with people who are working on the same level or who are ahead of me, people I can emulate. I was facing my own problem of not having a mentor to guide me”, he admits.
Ryan tells laughing: “We talked about so many things and Luc shared his problem with me. At some point, he said ‘Do you see where I’m going with this?’. I ask confused ‘Do you asking me to jump on board?’. ‘Yes bro’, he answered. I always ask myself how I can be of tremendous value to this world, how the world can be a better place and I believe Hivementor contributes to that, so from that moment on I made it my priority.”
From jungle expedition to entrepreneurship
Mentorship is important in entrepreneurship but finding the right guidance is quite a struggle. Luc: “When I started googling, I came across platforms offering Silicon Valley guru’s who were a long way off my current situation. Established entrepreneurs with huge networks, where you pay 150 dollars an hour for their advice.” At Hivementor you’ll get “personal mentorship for free”, the website tells you. In addition, you need to become a mentor for someone else. Luc and Ryan focus on “online business owners with a growth mindset”. They charge a “one-time connection fee” starting at 50 dollars. The founders notice already participants booking more mentor sessions with each other quite soon after the first connection.
Ryan first participated in Luc’s existing business, which gave a good impression of how he handled work duties. The idea of ‘Hivementor’ got Ryan excited because he’d been thinking about a similar concept. Despite the fact he hadn’t been an entrepreneur before, he did build his people skills over the years leading expeditions in jungles and mountainous areas, like Middle America and the Himalayas: “I had to adapt to new situations during those travels and making other people comfortable doing that as well. I learned to solve problems and deal with people, it taught me a lot about understanding user experiences, the kind of knowledge I apply in our business now as well. Luc is more focused on matrix and details, so our skills totally complement each other.”
Teaching helps you to understand your business better
Started just a month ago, there are over 27 mentors available, 2 investors seriously interested and a large marketing team up and running in the near future. Luc noticed a lot of entrepreneurs want to give back. “On the one hand because of the gratification feeling and furthermore because being a mentor you can develop your teaching skills. Explaining your business to someone else is always helpful, you get to understand your own business better.” Their approach is very niche and personal, which initially makes scaling a bigger challenge.
“We’re focusing on hiring human capital and at the same time developing an algorithm that solves human time”, Luc explains. Hivementor is in sync with the “Law of 33 per cent” which is the optimal time-divide for growth and fulfilment. In order to grow fast and find the fulfillment, you must spend 33% of your time with people who are where you want to be, 33% with peers who are on your same level and 33% with people who are where you were. Ryan explains the reasoning behind that: “What’s not always explained is the fact that true mastery comes when you teach. You get a good understanding of your own skills. So it’s that combined with giving back to others to enable more people to grow.”
A certain loneliness is part of entrepreneurship
The collaboration between the co-founders runs smoothly, even though they’re not always based in the same location. They call each other multiple times a day and share several Whatsapp messages. Ryan focuses on acquisition and networking, Luc is busy with the hiring process and stays in the background. Their major challenge seems to be a good problem to have as Luc tells: “Doors have been opening the last few days, but choosing which options will have the most impact is difficult”.
After almost an hour of chatting, Luc concludes having a mentor solves another problem not commonly talked about: “A certain loneliness is part of entrepreneurship, which makes it more difficult to connect with people around you. The more successful you get, the harder it gets to level with people.” An open mindset is hugely favourable in that case, as Ryan’s experienced: “I was new to Bali, I was looking for a job, I wanted to learn things. Once you become part of a friend group, you create a certain degree of comfort which is a different situation. I try to remember that mindset as often as I can, because when you’re asking questions, really seeking things out, not being stuck in your own head and willing to receive things, the opportunities come naturally.” With that mindset, Ryan met Luc and the rest is history.