When I was a kid growing up in the suburbs of Seattle, there was one event every year that constantly stuck in my memory. Because of the Pacific Northwest’s temperate climate, salmon would annually use the streams and creeks near my home as a nesting ground for their young. My parents would take me to watch as hundreds of thousands of salmon made the long journey from the ocean, desperate to reach their nesting grounds. In recent years, the community seemed to have built a fish ladder so that the salmon would have a shorter trek to where they needed to go. Of course, the salmon were unused to the new structure and the vast majority of them turned their tails and made off in the same way they always had. Every once in a while, I would see a fish that decided it was worth a shot and attempt to jump up the ladder, one energetic leap at a time. In the years following, I noticed that more and more salmon had realized the shortcut this ladder provided and they all changed their route to go in that direction instead.
Entrepreneurs, I feel, are cut from a different cloth than the rest of us. Most of us are willing to toil away endlessly in the competitive environment that is the free market, content to get the job done and perhaps, eventually make enough to raise a family. Entrepreneurs constantly stray off the beaten path and look to find their own way until eventually, other people take notice too. They are the ones willing to take the first leap up the ladder.
To move from such a broad observation to something much more specific, I can only speak from my own experience with entrepreneurs. I’ve only worked a few weeks at my new internship at Tallamond, but I’ve already been able to make this conclusion. Not being an entrepreneur myself, I can see how the founders of this company, Winston and Yongshao, were willing to innovate and push the envelope of an industry that at first glance, didn’t need it.
The airplane parts market is large, but it is incredibly disjointed. People buy and sell airplane parts daily, but it’s been done the same way for so long, that there is no attempt to notice just how inefficiently the whole process is. So many things now in our society can be purchased instantly with the push of a button online, but for people looking for specific airplane parts, the search is often complicated and fruitless.
People looking for airplane parts would have to search multiple sites and even once they found the part they are looking for, there was little guarantee that the posting was not outdated. If you prepared weeks or months ahead, it might not be as big of a problem, but the nature of the industry is that many times, parts would be required on quite the short notice. Thus, Winston and his partners saw that there was a need for a service to rectify this issue and they founded Tallamond as the solution.
Every entrepreneur must face the point in their business where they must make a decision. As innovative, as wonderful as an idea might be, it cannot go anywhere without the money to back it up. Perseverance is admirable and brave, but knowing when to admit defeat is braver by far. Luckily, Winston found his defining moment late in the summer of 2012 when the first big sale was made for upwards of $33,000. At that point he knew that the sale had confirmed what he already knew: that there was a need for the centralized marketplace for airplane parts that Tallamond provided.
People often talk about taking a great risk when starting a new business, but that risk is not blind and without reason. It is taking a gamble on your own talents and rolling the dice that the unknown path that you’ve chosen is one that will lead to greater and more fulfilling things. Luck is necessary and so is passion, but there are entrepreneurs that have varying degrees of either. The one thing they all have in common is their ability to take that first step into the unknown.