Entrepreneur of the Year finalist: “Never run away from a fight”

This sponsored post is part of a series of profiles on Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” finalists. Click here to keep up with the rest of the series.I met with Vlad Shmunis recently, founder and CEO of RingCentral and finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year competition. Vlad and I discussed the type of personality it takes to start a successful company, and he shared some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Vlad’s company, RingCentral, is a cloud-based phone solution for small-to-medium-sized business. The product provides a single telephonic umbrella that can cover a company’s employees in multiple locations. This allows a group of people dispersed throughout the world to appear to outsiders as if they are all in the same traditional office. RingCentral’s solution avoids the hassle and expense of deploying a traditional phone system.

Vlad said he considered RingCentral a late-stage startup that is still rapidly growing. With over 500 employees spanning multiple continents, RingCentral has succeeded because it solves a real problem with a real market. The affordable and unique solution RingCentral provides makes everyone a potential customer, which is why the company is currently serving over 100,000 businesses and counting.

What does Vlad tell young entrepreneurs? He starts with his mother’s advice: “Believe in yourself. And never shy away from a fight.” Vlad stressed that it doesn’t matter what you are doing with your startup, as long as you are confident in your vision (see the below video for more advice from Vlad’s mother that may not apply to business, but is still very important).

There is risk associated with starting any company, but Vlad urges others to go ahead and take that risk. “If you fail, you fail, but you will surely not succeed if you don’t try.” He likens starting a company to a barroom brawl that you should never back down from.

After asking Vlad about the perks of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, he explained the satisfaction of being in control of his own destiny. He continues to proclaim that a high IQ isn’t necessarily required in the startup world; but to succeed, you must be fundamentally comfortable with the likelihood that you will fall down, and trust yourself enough to know that you will get back up.

Want to be the next Ernst & Young Northern California Entrepreneur Of The Year? Provide your contact information and we’ll let you know when the nomination period opens in January 2012. Fill out the form here!

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