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Cultivating Your Passion Through Entrepreneurship with Nicholas Hinrichsen

by | Aug 17, 2020 | Q&A

Have you ever felt like you’re still trying to find where you fit or what you’re really good at?

The truth is not everyone grows up with a hobby they can stick to for life. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be good at anything anymore. It’s time for you to realize there is no age limit in learning new things and cultivating what you’re genuinely passionate about.

In this episode, entrepreneur and venture capital investor Nicholas Hinrichsen shares his experiences about finding his passion and cultivating it through entrepreneurship. Like some of us, he also had his share of struggles and doubts about finding his passion before becoming the successful entrepreneur he is today. He continues to live his life with passion and purpose through his investments and upcoming ventures. 

Tune in to this episode to discover more about Nicholas Hinrichsen’s take on finding passion as an entrepreneur.

About Nicholas

Nicholas Hinrichsen was born and raised in Germany. He used to play for Germany’s national golf team.

In 2000, he decided to move to the United States to study business at the Stanford Business School. After graduating in 2013, he joined the startup accelerator Y Combinator. He raised venture capital for his startup Carlypso in 2015 and eventually sold it to Carvana in 2017. 

Nicholas is passionate about technology ventures and excellent customer experiences. He continues to grow his passion by investing in other companies and supporting his friends. He is also currently starting a new company that helps people with refinancing auto loans through a digital platform.  

You can connect and get to know more about him through his LinkedIn.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
  1. Learn more about entrepreneurship through Nicholas Hinrichsen’s journey and success.
  2. Discover the role of passion in entrepreneurship and how you can cultivate it in you. 
  3. Gain new insights about finding your passion and getting started on an idea.

Resources

 

 

Episode Highlights

[04:10] On Finding Passion 

  • Nicholas found his passion for golf in his earlier years. 
  • When he traveled and worked in India and China, he got passionate about talking to people in the street. 
  • While at Stanford Business School, Nicholas struggled to find that one thing he is passionate about to start a company. Nonetheless, he continued to meet new, interesting people.  
  • During his time in business school, he ran into his friend Chris Coleman, who is passionate about cars. They then built and became co-founders of Carlypso. 
  • If you can’t find something you’re passionate about to start a company, find a partner who can be the specialist to your generalist personality. For Nicholas, it’s Chris Coleman.  

[12:12] Specialist vs. Generalist 

  • For specialists, their passion, which began in their early years, gives them a clear direction about their professional careers.
  • However, you can consider yourself a generalist if you didn’t grow up to be passionate about one thing. You also continue to search for what you want.
  • If you think you’re a generalist and want to start a company, don’t be hard on yourself. You can always work on your skills and grow a passion.

[15:14] Lessons from Business School

  • It is easy to get frustrated when you compare yourself to all the other brilliant people in school.
  • As an entrepreneur, it is crucial to see the bigger picture and not just focus on your spreadsheets’ littlest details.

[20:20] Defining Entrepreneurship & Entrepreneurs 

  • For Nicholas, there is no one description of an entrepreneur. Every entrepreneur today has their unique set of characteristics.
  • Entrepreneurs never take no for an answer. They continue to challenge the status quo. 
  • They are willing to hack things together.

[23:18] Making Disruptions in Entrepreneurship 

  • Nicholas shares the two types of disruption. The first is where you create a good experience for customers and expand from there. The other focuses more on a product that has never been built and sold.
  • For Nicholas, he wouldn’t consider his company a disruption in the industry. However, Carvana would be a better definition of disruption because of the excellent customer experience it provides.
  • Even with COVID-19, Carvana continues to disrupt and be relevant because it is easier and safer to buy a car online.

[32:43] Insights on Creating Customer Experience 

  • Think about cutting the steps to make things more efficient, direct, and cheaper.
  • There is an emotional component in product selling.
  • Find marketing channels that can resonate well with your customers.

[36:36] On Pivoting  

  • Nicholas and Chris considered doing fundraising to grow the company.
  • They would have focused on helping customers with bad credit get out of their situation.
  • With the turnout of events, Nicholas and Chris decided to start a new venture to continue their plans to help people with financing.
  • Pivoting is normal in your entrepreneurial journey because there will be a lot of changes you wouldn’t expect along the way.

[41:31] Do You Need a Business Plan?

  • The business plan does not matter. What does is defining the problem you want to address.
  • Expect a lot of changes and pivots that were never part of your business plan.

[44:22] Tips on How to Get Started 

  • Everything has changed since the pandemic. All things happen online, so you do not have to be in places where you usually find venture capitalists.
  • Find a platform where you can get money to develop your product.
  • Don’t invest too much of your capital. It can be risky.
  • Learn how to communicate well. Long emails don’t always work.
  • Don’t make yourself believe you understand what you’re doing. Be open to discoveries. 

[49:31] Moving to the United States

  • Nicholas shares his experience moving to the United States for business school.
  • He enjoyed traveling and getting to know new cultures. It made him a more curious person.
  • Nicholas wasn’t as confident in doing small talk and pitches as the Americans in his school. 
  • He saw the importance of diversity. 

[54:23] Nicholas’s Life After Carvana 

  • He decided to leave Carvana because he saw from his friends’ experiences that there are lots of opportunities outside America.
  • He is focusing on supporting his friends by investing in their new ventures outside the United States. 

[1:00:43] The Joy in Supporting Others’ Passion 

  • Growing up, he saw his dad find joy in giving back and creating valuable experiences for friends.
  • It is rewarding to support your friends.
  • Nicholas also finds support by exchanging thoughts and questions with friends when it comes to respective ventures and passions.

[1:04:30] What Nicholas Is Working On Right Now

  • After his experiences in car dealerships, he realized people might need help with refinancing auto loans.
  • He wants to focus on people with chronically or behaviorally bad credit. 
  • His new venture aims to promote financial literacy.
  • It is all about monitoring people’s finances and helping them make more practical decisions.

5 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

“I think it is important for an entrepreneur (to) look for step changes; you look for big differences, not small improvements.”

“The journey of an entrepreneur’s to just not take no for an answer ever because the second you do, you just agreed that the status quo is ideal, which I don’t think it is. Ever.”

“The most important part, I think, once you have a product is understanding the emotions of the customers.” 

“I think entrepreneurship, starting out companies, is all about giving yourself the opportunity to be surprised.” 

“Your plan is as good as the next six hours or so.”

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To growing and becoming all we are created to be,

Tim