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Amit Tishler is an award-winning filmmaker, animator, and creative director who’s worked on some of the biggest shows for Cartoon Network, HBO, and Nickelodeon. He risked his whole career to launch his own startup—hoping to flip the entertainment industry on its head.
While Amit’s journey was successful, he admits that it wasn’t easy. It’s a challenging and emotional road that many entrepreneurs face alone. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with a team of advocates—people who will support you when things get tough. Listen to this episode to learn more about Amit’s history, how to navigate the process of fundraising, and how to build your team of advocates.
Why take on risk with a startup?
Amit is a large fan of animation and entertainment, both video games and television. But something always bothered him. Creative ideas tend to feel fragmented across platforms. When you watch a TV show—then play a video game based on that show—they feel like different products. The game feels like an alternative universe. As an adult, you may understand the nuances of licensing. But as a kid, you want to be immersed in their world. You want Spiderman to be the same across the board.
Part of the problem was that there was never a tool that allowed creators to maintain the intellectual property (IP) in a narratively cohesive fashion across all platforms. Amit sought to answer the question, “How do we create technology—or use technology—as an instrument to allow the people that own the IP...to keep their IP consistent across both platforms with consistent performance over time?” It’s a tall order. But Amit took it in stride and launched PopBase.
How to handle rejection in a startup’s journey
Amit believes this is a topic that people should talk more openly about. The startup culture has a very poisonous attitude towards failure. They like to talk about failure being “celebrated” and widely accepted—but they’re also afraid to talk about it because it’s treated as a stain on your record. That creates a culture where startup owners struggle to reach out for help when they need it—especially when it comes to raising startup capital.
Amit points out that fundraising is a challenge. But it is also emotionally tasking and there is no support in the community. It’s about self-preservation, each man for himself. But you have to be kind with your network and develop a level of trust within your community. Amit emphasizes that entrepreneurs “Need to stick to each other, they need to listen to each other, and they need to be honest about their experiences.”
Amit points out that you get rejections for a wide variety of reasons when you’re fundraising. Tech investors tend to be cowardly and sheepish—scared to say “no” because they have the fear of missing out. So founders feel like they’re being gaslit. That version of rejection is far harder because it is neither prompt nor timely. You’re trying to gain momentum, which relies on your investors. It puts entrepreneurs in a difficult limbo that impacts their mental health.
Amit emphasizes this is why you need a thick skin and the ability to recognize that everything is personal. You’re dealing with people who make exceptions for people they know and like. If they don’t know you and don’t like you, their bias may rule. They may invest in the same thing developed by a friend and you have to realize that. You must choose to have confidence in yourself and your product and don’t let rejection devastate you.
Why is the mindset of “success at all costs” so toxic? Listen to hear Amit’s thoughts.
Build a network of advocates
The difficulty of the process from the conception of an idea through fundraising is difficult. That’s why you need to build a network of advocates—people that will vouch for you. They’re the people who will give you guidance and advice. Even the people that just listen to you are those that have the potential of building your future alongside you. Your network will always support you and will help you with the next idea or pivot.
When Amit came to LA, he didn’t know anyone and had no friends. But he became friends with people who he knew he could lean on. You never know where those people will be. Friends that you met at the beginning of their careers might be the exact person you need to get a deal signed in 10 years. Amit implores you to develop relationships where you’re not afraid to ask for that kind of help, knowing they’d do the same thing for you. These people will build your future.
But how do you network to build that team of advocates? Can you make it less of a chore? Listen to the whole episode to hear what Amit’s process looks like and hear some final words of wisdom.
Listen to this episode to learn about...
- [0:29] Knowing the right time to take the leap
- [2:21] Why Amit took on risk with a startup
- [5:19] How to handle rejection in a startup’s journey
- [10:35] Why “Success at all costs” is a toxic mindset
- [13:48] Does your focus of study matter all that much?
- [15:49] Why you want to build a network of advocates
- [18:35] How to network with a purpose in mind
- [20:55] Amit’s actionable advice for listeners
Listen to our exclusive members-only bonus episode to learn more about the power of being mentally motivated and condensing your goals into smaller timelines.