Two Facebook and Goldman alums-turned-founders share their best pieces of startup advice

Oars alps Laura Lisowski Cox Mia Saini Duchnowski 3Mia Saini Duchnowski, left, and Laura Lisowski Cox are the founders of Oars+Alps.Mia Saini Duchnowski, left, and Laura Lisowski Cox, are the founders of Oars+Alps.
  • Laura Lisowski Cox and Mia Saini Duchnowski are the founders of men’s skincare company Oars+Alps.
  • Oars+Alps is both of their first entrepreneurial venture, and they left full-time jobs to pursue it.
  • They advise other entrepreneurs to choose a great cofounder, and not to wait for the perfect time to start.

The founders of Oars+Alps don’t come from the world of entrepreneurship.

Laura Lisowski Cox and Mia Saini Duchnowski built their company after careers spent in more traditional jobs: Duchnowski, who holds degrees from both MIT and Harvard Business School, began her career doing research for NASA, spent two years as a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs, and most recently was a TV reporter at Bloomberg. Cox, who holds a Masters in finance from Brandeis, spent three years as a client solutions manager at Facebook.

About a year after launching their men’s skincare company — and raising nearly $US2 million between a pre-launch friends and family funding round and a post-launch seed round — they have some advice for other entrepreneurs.

To start with, “Find an amazing cofounder,” Duchnowski told Business Insider. She said working with Cox is one of the smartest decisions she’s made. She continued: “That’s important because there’s so many decisions that need to be made and you need to trust that whatever they’re owning, that they also are putting their heart into it.”

Duchnowski also emphasises the importance of working with a partner who has a complementary skill set. “Sometimes when you launch a company you have too many people who are product-focused, and it’s really important to have someone who has that marketing background,” she said of working with Cox.

Cox also cautions entrepreneurs not to wait for the perfect time to take the leap. “I think the best advice I ever got was that there’s never going to be a good time for anything,” she said. “You’re never going to optimise anyone’s schedule to make quitting your job easy, or having a kid, or breaking up with your boyfriend, or getting divorced, or launching a company, any of those things — there will never be a good time. You just have to do it.”

And, she added, “no one is going to believe in yourself more than you. If you have conviction in yourself, that will be more than enough. Because no one else is going to tell you that you’re amazing, or that you’re doing the right thing.”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.