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This Founder Started 20 Companies Before Finding a Successful One

May 04, 2017

Apoorva Mehta looks like the confident, successful entrepreneur so many aspire to be. He is the founder and chief executive of Instacart, an online grocery shopping service, that is quickly becoming popular in 41 big markets across the U.S. The San Francisco-based company is now valued at more than $3 billion and is funded by superstar Silicon Valley investors like Andreesen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, and Kleiner Perkins.

But what is not so apparent is that Mehta’s rise was anything but quick and easy. Before founding Instacart, he started 20 companies over a two-year stretch. Not one of those startups worked out. They all failed. But Mehta, who had worked as an engineer at Amazon, didn’t give up hope and didn’t settle for a techie job in Silicon Valley.

Speaking with Fortune’s Susie Gharib, Mehta says he was determined to create a company that would have a “meaningful impact in the world.”

“It had to be something meaningful,” he explains. “It had to make a difference. It had to be something I was truly excited every single day to wake up and get to work. Those 20 ideas were just in search for that.”

So for aspiring entrepreneurs, Mehta has some thoughtful advice.

First, success comes from passion: “You need to have that passion. You need to really care about that idea—really, a lot.”

Second, know yourself: “It is very important for you to understand who you are, what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, and what your motivations are. I have found that a lot of times people end up deceiving themselves.”

Third, company culture is crucial: “Company culture and the people you bring on early on can make or break the company. A lot of times when people don’t do that right and don’t do it early on, it really hurts them in the long run.”

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