An accomplished founder, Ross Saario has started up and grown eight companies in technology, services, hospitality, and retail, in the US, Europe, and Latin America. Most recently, he founded and led business travel hospitality-tech company Domicile to a successful acquisition.
“The engineer in me loves solving problems, whether it be Legos and jigsaw puzzles as a kid or building companies as an adult. I see a problem and I want to fix it,” he says.
“When you look for things that aren’t working well, it’s often good inspiration for starting a company when you experience frustration.”
In the case of Domicile, Ross saw a market need around business travel and founded the company in a startup studio to provide Airbnb-style accommodation to business travelers. Before that, Ross was a general manager at Amazon, where he oversaw several last mile delivery programs worldwide, including Amazon Lockers and pickup points.
As an experienced entrepreneur himself, Ross advises founders that the key is finding product-market fit: “It’s really important to have it early on, and you get product-market fit by iterating quickly and finding a group of customers that love your product. Then you need to work on unit economics and developing a business model that will be sustainable and scalable. In today’s macroeconomic environment you need to find a clear path to profitability much sooner.”
To Ross, the ideal founder is someone with a lot of grit.
“Obviously, you want someone that’s collaborative, a good people person, can manage a team, and is a domain expert in their business area, but the real key is grit and persistence. Is this person going to stick it out and go all in when it’s tough (and it will be tough)? Or are they going to walk away? You need to know they will double down and not give up and throw in the towel. When it’s hard, is when the true entrepreneurs shine.”
Originally from Alaska, Ross has traveled to more than 80 countries and lived in France, Peru, and Brazil. An avid outdoorsman, Ross enjoys skiing, playing soccer, biking, and tennis.
Ross holds an MBA from INSEAD as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering and operations research from Cornell University.
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