8 lessons to build a successful start-up

Over ten years of learnings of starting and building multiple companies from the ground up

Adriaan Kolff


Starting a company is f*cking hard. The hardest thing I have ever done. But also one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

Three years ago I started MatcHR with my Co-Founder Maarten, a recruitment outsourcing company, based out of Kyiv.

Now 3 years later we are with 30 employees in 12 different countries and we expect to double in size next year.

We never raised any money, didn’t pay ourselves any salary for the first 2 years, lost 70% of our business during COVID and only this year will start to distribute real dividends.

We therefore decided to share our learnings in the form of 8 things to keep in mind when you start a company. We wrote these lessons to help you. Inspire you. And to help you avoid some of the mistakes we made.

1. You have to work your ass off

Building a start up is hard. F*cking hard. As Tony Robbins rightfully said:

“The book, the 4 hour workweek by Tim Ferris, is not a business book, it’s a lifestyle book”.

There is no shortcut to success. No one has won an Olympic gold medal on talent alone.

Elon Musk works 16 hours per week, 7 days per week.

Michael Phelps, the most awarded Olympic medalist ever, trained every single day, for 7 years long. Every single day…

When you start a company, you need to realise that you will work 80 hours per week to not have to work 40 hours per week. Not for a year, but for a long period of time.

2. Find product market fit

It is rare that you will have a perfect product market fit right out fo the gates. It is your job as a Founder to find product market fit as quickly as possible. Don’t make the mistake of hiring a sales person with the idea that this will bring you more sales. No, a sales person can only sell a product the market actually wants.



Adriaan Kolff

Co-founder of MatcHR, investor, entrepreneur. I write about entrepreneurship, recruitment & productivity. Follow me here or on LinkedIn.