Founder Shegun Otulana is using his big win to transform Birmingham, AL.
Otulana became acclimated with the city after moving from Nigeria in 1998 to study engineering and management information systems, ComebackTown reports. After completing his education, he pivoted from student to founder by starting a computer software company.
By 2013, his name was attached to TheraNest, a new company he started to aid mental and behavioral health providers. Seven years later, its parent company, Therapy Brands, sold for a whopping $1.2 billion.
After reaching the milestone, he decided to dedicate his next step toward focusing on scaling startups in Birmingham to boost the city’s economy. Thus, Harmony Venture Labs (HVL) became his next brainchild.
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According to the company’s website, HVL is building high-growth startups in its venture studio by introducing them to capital, talent, and expertise. In addition, their portfolio companies provide coaching and advisory services.
“I’ve witnessed entrepreneurs making the same mistakes over and over again throughout the ideation, customer validation, and product development stages of growing a company,” Otulana said, according to ComebackTown.
He continued: “I’ve found a way to avoid many common startup pitfalls by doing market validation first. You can significantly increase chances of success by ensuring there is a big enough problem in the market that people actually care about.”
Despite HVL studio only having two years under its belt, Otulana has high hopes for the future.
“It took us about seven and half years to take our prior startup to a company worth north of a billion dollars,” Otulana told ComebackTown. “But I project we can build 10 companies over the next 10 years with the insights we’ve learned.”