Like many entrepreneurs, the inspiration for Vitaliy Merkulov’s startup came from a need to solve a problem he had experienced. Vitaliy, a landlord, went through a very costly process of evicting a tenant. That problem motivated him to start asking around for better ways to predict bad tenants and not finding a solution, he launched Renter, what he has dubbed “Carfax for landlords.” Renterinc.com lets landlords search and review their tenants. It’s free and legal. It’s as easy as posting a review on Yelp.
Vitaliy presented his startup at 1 Million Cups Sacramento on January 4 at HackerLab. Afterwards, we found a quiet room to chat about his startup and entrepreneurship.
This interview is also available as a podcast to download.
Below are some excerpts from the interview
Key lesson-learned so far
“You can’t do it yourself. No matter how much you want to keep 100% of the company, it’s not smart to do. Most people want to do that and get greedy. But it’s all about connections, it’s all about knowing the right people who know how to do this stuff. Reach out to them. I know there’s a lot people here in Sacramento who I can just come to them and ask them what do you think about this, and they’re not like, ‘Oh sign this document and I’ll tell you.’ People are generally willing to help. That’s a really good thing. If it wasn’t for people in the startup community here we would never even be heard in Comstock’s or any of these places, so it’s very important to know that startups are built in a community. It’s a community project. You can’t be yourself unless you have a lot of money and most startup owners don’t. So that I think would be the biggest lesson we learned is that if there is a startup community in your city, take everything you can out of that. And if there isn’t, try to build one.”
What does the Sacramento startup community need to grow and take things to the next level.
“One of the biggest things, I think, for our startup, would be a reputable incubator program…. What I want to see in Sacramento is to have a professional, very top-notch incubator program, where we don’t have to drive to the Bay Area to be part of an incubator.”
Advice for other startup founders and entrepreneurs
“Most people say that startups will consume your life and it’s true. But if you learn to manage your time wisely you’re able to do it. A lot of people are scared of getting into startup because they know it’s going to be their baby, it’s going to be their life. But if you are good with your money and you’re good with your time, and you know how to manage your time wisely, then this is something that you can do. And I’ve learned it the hard way over a year. The other thing is, I would say that, startups are exciting. This is something that has been like my baby. When I was working at different companies, I worked for Apple, Intel, Sharp, these big companies, you go there, you create products, you work in a great team, but it’s not yours and you don’t have the feel for it. Whereas, if you’re doing something that you love and you feel like you’re doing something for the greater good for other people, you have passion for that and that’s the kind of life I want to live. I mean, we don’t have that many years in our life and I want to be part of something I love rather than doing something that I just do because I want to get paid.”
Vitaliy’s Presentation at 1 Million Cups