QEC Community: Knote Knows Best
It was exam week and like many students, Ron Glozman was frustrated that studying was really inefficient. Unlike most other students, however, he built a software that summarized his textbooks so that he could get the best grades with the least amount of time invested. The sole founder of Knote, Ron is outspoken, smart and memorable, and last year, he won $25,000 at the Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition. From its initial use case targeted at students, Knote has since evolved to focus its Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing capabilities on other professional industries that are mired in documentation to redact and summarize documents. Read on to learn more about Ron’s entrepreneurial journey, and his unconventional advice for QEC competitors.
QEC: How did you first hear about the QEC?
Ron Glozman: I heard about it through Velocity and the Waterloo entrepreneurship community. My sister also went to Queen’s, so I heard about it through her as well, and in fact, a couple of my friends did QEC the year before [I did]. They all recommended that I enter. They said, “Even if you don’t win, the judges are really smart and it’s going to help your business,” and I thought that was a huge thing. Even if you don’t win first or second place, everybody wins since everybody gets feedback. That’s so important for startups. You have to know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong.
QEC: What’s your secret formula for success?
RG: My equation is opportunity multiplied by persistence! The key to success is going to every competition you can in order to learn from it, even if you don’t win. Other people do one competition, they lose, and get discouraged. They say, “**** it, this was a bad idea.” It’s not a bad idea! You just need some improvement. So go to another competition, and maybe this time you’ll be second last, not last. Do that enough, and eventually you’ll be first or second. So I think the key to success is to keep trying, take feedback, and actually implement it.
QEC: What’s the line between taking feedback and knowing when it’s not right for you?
RG: Great question. I think there’s strength in numbers. If I hear something once, I don’t even write it down. I keep track of how many times I hear a piece of feedback, and when I hear it 5 to 10 times, I’m like, “Okay. Five to ten people who don’t know each other have independently come up with this idea.” I’m a numbers guy. That tells me that there’s something there and it might be a good idea. Even if the smartest person says something to me, I wait to hear it from at least two people.
QEC: Give this year’s QEC competitors some advice!
RG: Network! I think the biggest things I got were the people I met. Some of the judges ended up following up with me and giving me great advice. I think it comes down to meeting as many people as possible, going to all of the events, and making the most of it. Don’t sit there in a corner; socialize and make friends, both with the students and with the judges. Half of the fun was getting to know [the QEC team] and hanging out. It’s not all about going to talk to the judges about business. Just network and talk to people!
More concretely, I would say practice your pitch and make it half as long as you think it should be. Leave more time for questions. I think that’s the biggest mistake people make; they don’t leave time for questions. From one side that’s good, because less questions mean it’s less likely that [the judges] will ask you something you don’t know, but if they ask you 100 questions, and you have 100 answers, you look 100 times better. They’ll realize you thought about it and that you know your stuff.
QEC: What’s next for Knote?
RG: We just raised our seed round of $5 million, so we have money to grow. We’re going to be 40 people next year—we’re 10 people now. The amount of clients we have is increasing exponentially, my team is getting bigger. We’re going to go from being a startup to a SME (small to medium enterprise). It’s going to be interesting! Our investor was the first investor in Apple, and the first investor in Intel, so I think that means something.
QEC: In your opinion, what’s one quality that all entrepreneurs share?
RG: Stubbornness. You have to be stubborn. People will tell you It won’t work, and people will tell you it’s a horrible idea. Stubbornness is the characteristic, but the output is persistence. To win in a startup, you need to go for seven years, which means you need to persist for seven years, so you have to be stubborn. I’ve had a hundred people tell me why my business won’t work, and I’ve heard clients and investors say “no,” and you just have to be stubborn. Some people might think that’s arrogant or cocky, but you’ve got to have thick skin.
To learn more about Knote, visit their website here.
The QEC is an internationally-renowned undergraduate startup competition. It offers over $75,000 in cash prizes to its top winners, and applications are open until October 30, 2017. Apply now!