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Sami Inkinen, an elite age-grouper and founder of the fastest-growing online real estate company in the world, shares how building a company is like training for a triathlon.
When Sami Inkinen first arrived in the United States eight years ago, he knew next to nothing about real estate and didn’t own a bicycle or a wetsuit. Today, the 35-year-old Fin is both the founder and president of Trulia–the fastest growing online real estate company in the world–and a triathlete ranked second in the world among amateurs in his age group. Calling in before yet another half-ironman competition in Hawaii, Inkinen reveals to Fast Company four ways that building a successful web company is a lot like training for a triathlon.
1. Track everything
I’m a huge fan of tracking everything using key performance indicators (KPIs) so that I can keep what works and improve what doesn’t. I have nine years of daily historical data on my sleep hours, workout hours and type, sleep quality and workout performance, and wake-up heart rate. I also do weekly tests within my regular workouts to measure progress and compare heart rates or average times. At Trulia, we measure everything–from high level KPIs like customer satisfaction, net promotion score, page views, and revenue per product line to more granular things like page load time, exit rate for different pages, click-through rates, and completeness score for site content. We track over 50 KPIs on any given day.
2. Value and enjoy the process, not the outcome
While I’m driven to win–big time–in both sports and in building the company, I would do the same thing every day with a smile on my face whether the final outcome is a total failure or a huge success. Changing the world for consumers in real estate is a ton of fun–I’m not doing it to make a pile of cash or to go public. So is training for a race by running over hills on trails. For the past four years, I’ve competed in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championships. I’ve always had a hard time performing up to my abilities in that race, mainly because being a 190-lb athlete (versus, say, a 160-lb athlete) is not optimal for heat racing. But it’s a fascinating puzzle to solve; I’m learning more every year and am eager to apply those lessons to perform better in the future. I’ve been very lucky to spend my days doing what I love to do. It’s the journey that’s the most exciting.
Read more: Fast Company