This is the first episode of the How do you know? podcast that features two guests and that’s not all that’s different about it.

Episode 12 includes many of the things I aspire to bring to the podcast:

  • a grounded, authentic perspective on life and building a business
  • the importance of cultivating self-awareness
  • the challenge of balancing consumption and creation in marketing
  • the dynamic of making decisions as co-founders and SO much more.

This conversation may be particularly helpful to entrepreneurs and freelancers who are building their own business. It’s definitely helped me get perspective when I slipped into comparisons between my current stage and people who’ve been doing this for years.

A mindset fit

Cristina from The CEO Library introduced me to Julian Samarjiev and Marin Gerov last July, while we were travelling in Amsterdam.

She had interviewed both Julian and Marin and told me much value they were creating by sharing their startup building journey since day one.

Over coffee, I had the opportunity to better understand their context and found that our mindsets were very similar.

The more I read and listened to what they were creating, the more interested I became in their story and the choices that shaped it.

The account of DULO’s early days is truly useful for those who want to know what it’s really like to build a startup.

That’s why I feel we, as well as anyone out there that is building something for the long-term, have a responsibility to document, share and be loud about our processes (not to mention sharing any lessons along the way that might be valuable for others), as well as the time and work that it takes to get something substantial off the ground.

This way, we can set realistic expectations and provide a proper context for anyone else out there that might be starting their own thing, preventing them from being discouraged and giving up early in their journey when comparing their start with someone else’s middle, thinking they are not where they should be.

The context and the timeline matter greatly!

There’s a lot of hard-earned wisdom in Julian and Marin’s perspective. I traced it down to how much they value independence and to their relentless focus on creating rather than consuming (or the CC syndrome, as Robert calls it).

With these two drivers in mind, Marin and Julian made a key choice about building DULO, their brand of dress shirts made from performance fabrics: they would ship fast and often and leave it to the market to decide what worked and what didn’t.

Perfectly imperfect means that things can always be better, that you’ll make small mistakes, and you’ll do 90% great work. It also means that you can be fast — listen, learn and adapt.

This brings clarity to how they make decisions as a team and it also helps them avoid confrontation and ego clashes.

Choosing speed over perfection, the DULO co-founders have managed to create an impressive volume of content.

Here are some of the assets they’ve built:

    • a great website that reflects the quality of every DULO shirt
    • a very active LinkedIn page that speaks to their audience’s needs
    • The Early Days podcast that provides context for early-stage startup founders
    • a blog packed with personal insights and stories that explain their decisions
    • a newsletter that reveals the details behind the pains and wins of building a startup, flaws and all
    • a Medium publication that further amplifies their work, challenges, and rewarding moments.

The list above is even more impressive when you consider Marin has a full-time job while Julian does a lot of freelance work. They’re actually building DULO in their spare time while documenting their process and connecting with the community.

This really makes you think about how you manage your time and resources, doesn’t it?

If you’re wondering what the source of their energy is, they boiled it down to how different the level of involvement is when you build something of your own.

What’s more, both Marin and Julian agree that being on this journey together is an important factor that strengthens their resolve. They told me counting on each other for honest feedback is essential for doing what’s best for DULO.

One of the best things about working with a co-founder is that you have another person on the other side who can critique you openly and you know that it’s coming from the right place and it’s not about ego.

Throughout the episode, Marin and Julian stayed true to their mission and provided specific details about their process and choices.

I found their perspective refreshing and highly practical. As a freelancer, now I often turn to them for inspiration when I feel I’m slipping into comparisons that might discourage me.

I hope you’ll enjoy this episode and share it with those who need it to boost their motivation and commitment.


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