This month the Aspirers in the Spotlight series features Alexandru Paduraru (Aspire Professionals 2018 alumnus), a 28-year-old entrepreneur with a master’s degree in Computer Science. Alexandru is a web developer converted into a business person, having been nominated in the Forbes 30 Under 30 since 2019. Currently, he is the co-founder of Creative Tim, a platform accessed by millions of developers yearly.
Aspire helped me understand that I’m not alone on this journey. There are a lot of talented and hard-working people that have the same vision and want to give back and support each other. Aspire was the common ground where we met. (Alexandru Paduraru)
1) If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
From my experience, I would recommend spending most of their time learning and trying a lot of things for long periods without expecting instant gratification. They should not waste even 1 minute on something that is not bringing value in the long run to them. When I started in 2013, I set one goal, 16 hours per day I will do something productive, that means no more Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, no more random conversation with random friends, no more TV series, etc.
When you start, no matter the age, you are like a rocket, and a rocket needs a lot of thrust and fuel to take off. You cannot put a rocket in space just by giving 60% of its power, you either go 100%, or you stay on the ground.
So I had courses at the university 6h per day, I was building websites for different clients 6h per day and 4-5h per day I was working at a side project called Creative Tim. Creative Tim became the main business in the meantime and has generated over $3.5 million since 2014. Now we have over 2 million unique web developers checking it monthly. I followed 16h per day rule for more than three years, from Monday to Sunday and never had a “real vacation”.
2) What are your non-negotiables?
- Respect – The way we treat and talk with our colleagues, customers, and partners.
- Quality – The Quality of something that the team and I create. I always put a lot of effort into anything I do, even if that is an interview, an article, a web design product, so I expect at least the people that work with me to deliver as I do.
- Personal Growth – I don’t tolerate people that don’t grow, don’t learn new things or don’t read.
3) What was the hardest decision you ever had to make?
Back in 2017, my co-founder and I had some problems, and we decided that the best thing that we can do for us, for the company, for the employees and customers was to break our business relationship. It was a hard decision as I had some choices, to leave with money, to stay with 50% of what we created, to split the team, to have 100% and no money, to close the whole company etc. many choices and variables in the game.
I was young and didn’t have experience in such situations. We had negotiations for around 3-4 months, involving lawyers as well. I gained 8kg because of stress. That was the most stressful period of my life. I decided to get the whole company and the team and continue, even if that meant we were starting with almost $0 in the bank account. I remained in good terms with the co-founder and decided that business is business, and our lives have to continue in separate ways. That was the hardest decision and the best decision of my life.
4) Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
This question is related to the previous question. It was hard. At that moment, it looks like everything that we built in the past 3-4 years would be ruined. Just imagine you put your whole energy and life into something for many years, and that was going to be destroyed. I didn’t put 100% as I said in the first question, I put 200% in building the Creative Tim brand. That was what I had in mind back then. I didn’t know if I could continue and keep the company alive if I get 100% of it. The pressure and stress were too high.
I got an offer from my partner to leave the company and get the money. It was a perfect amount of money at that time, so I could use it to start something fresh. I was too involved emotionally with the brand that we created and my colleagues. So instead of giving up the company and leaving with the money, I decided to give up the money and choose the company. Back then, I just wanted the things to stop, no matter what the result was, I wanted to have an end.
5) What is that one book that has influenced you the most?
“How to win friends and influence people” – Dale Carnegie. I read it back in 2014, and it changed my life.
6) Why should people apply for an Aspire experience? What did you gain by being part of this community?
The Aspire experience was one of the best things that I tried in my life. I met a lot of great folks who are always looking to improve themselves and to give something back to the communities they are active in. Aspire is not just a random summer camp; it is an invitation to an exclusive group of high-quality people.
“Live a few years of your life like most people won’t so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” – Unknown Person