Have you ever been curious about your co-worker’s salary? Well, we have the perfect cure for that. Jason Nazar is the Founder and CEO of Comparably, an online source that provides accurate compensation and culture data. Nazar is a serial entrepreneur who previously founded Docstoc, the largest content site to help small businesses. The company was acquired by Intuit in 2013.
Earlier this year, Nazar successfully landed $6.5 million in funding for Comparably. MillionaireMatch was lucky to get a one-on-one with the busy entrepreneur. Here are some of his tips for getting your startup started.
MillionaireMatch: What influenced you to start Comparably?
Jason: I spent a decade of my life between starting and selling Docstoc. Helping entrepreneurs was something I was really passionate about. As I thought about what I wanted to do as my next professional part of my life, things like company culture became important to me. Also, how to help people in their careers if they are not going to be an entrepreneur. This company [Comparably] was all about trying to create a brand to model the job market for employees and help make workplace compensation more transparent. For me it was taking up a level from what I’ve been doing the last 10 years.
MM: What is the biggest lesson you have learned when starting a new company?
Jason: It’s about your team. How great of a team you recruit. How happy they are. How focus you are. How aligned everybody is on what goal you are trying to do. People often attribute business success to the Founder, great idea, luck, or timing. The vast majority of the time comes down to the group of people that are working together. How smart and resourceful they are, as well as how hard they work. How flexible they are and how well they work can work together. Can they handle and resolve conflict? If all those things are in place that’s what makes the vast majority of the difference. I probably didn’t spend enough of the time focused on that early on in my entrepreneurial career. I focus completely on that now as a leader and manager. That’s what our platform is meant to do. We are trying to help other companies build those cohesive teams.
MM: What can new leaders look out for who are putting their teams together?
Jason: There are a couple of things. I think you have to have really high standards of who you want to work with. You should define those standards for whatever is most important for you and the early team. What value do they find important? Make sure that each new addition meets those standards.
The other thing is people need to simultaneously be able to debate. They need to have conflict, energy, passion, but you also need a system for trusting each other. You need ease and flexibility. Those are the hard things to figure out, especially when things aren’t going well.
When a business is succeeding and it’s making money or getting lots of users, customers, it cures all of the other evils. Some of the most messed up businesses are the ones with the fastest growth curve. It’s growing so quickly that the winning and success washes over the sins in lieu of that you have to be extra on point. How bonded, focused and disciplined you are as a team is what leads to success.
MM: Entrepreneurs tend to have lots of ideas. How do you decide which idea to develop?
Jason: It’s a combination of whatever you are personally most passionate about. I think you have to check that box, especially if you are going to raise venture capital and if it has the potential to be a big idea or unique enough. Not just copycat. You should always start with something you are personally passionate about and it solves a problem for a lot of people.
MM: You are always on social media. Is it essential for entrepreneurs to build an audience?
Jason: Essential, no. Beneficial, yes. I’ve seen all sorts of entrepreneurs from the charismatic sales person to the quiet engineer to the social media promoter. There no one mold. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs I know are never on social media at all. They have no presence whatsoever. If you have a following and you can leverage it to get early feedback on your product, build engagement and trust then you absolutely should.
MM: Could you give any advice to someone in the early stages of building their business and they feel like throwing in the towel and quitting?
Jason: We all face setbacks. A lot of us may feel alone and that they are failing. There’s no person, entrepreneur that hasn’t faced multiple setbacks. Those with the biggest success have faced multiple setbacks and what others may consider outright failure.
You are not alone. I think for the most part persistence is an important characteristic to being an entrepreneur. You are going to get lots of setbacks especially early on. I think you have to be able to persevere. If it’s not part of your DNA then you’re just gonna have a hard time cause being an entrepreneur is dealing with constant setbacks. If after a period of time you think, hey it’s better for me to yield here to fight a different battle to win the war somewhere else. I think there’s an important thing that people need to know when to not necessarily quit, but that my opportunity cost is best applied somewhere else.
To keep up with Jason Nazar, find him at www.jasonnazar.com.
Jerry Nemorin, Founder and CEO of LendStreet, learned about financial distress at an early age as he watched his Haitian-born parents create a life here in the United States. His passion to help those who have had a financial setback led the former Wall Street banker to launch LendStreet, a financial technology company that offers services to help consumers restructure their debt and get back on their feet.
Since launching in 2013, Nemorin has secured several investors to sustain the mission. From a $3.2 million seed funding from various investors to a $28 million investment from FLOCK Specialty Finance, LendStreet has been able to help consumers remove that “ big dark cloud” of debt by lowering the amount they owe and giving them more time to pay it off.
The idea for LendStreet came when Nemorin, who at the time was working on Wall Street, helped a broadcasting company buy back their own debt. He began to think how he could leverage a similar concept. A bigger push to create a start-up came months after the world watched an earthquake destroy his native home, Haiti. Nemorin traveled to Haiti soon after, witnessing the resilience of the people in his homeland to rebuild at such a devastating time. Months later he left Wall Street and enrolled in a summer program, Darden School’s i.Lab Incubator, to begin developing LendStreet.
MillionaireMatch was curious to know how Nemorin was able to get funding to help a group that most investors would shy away from. “I was naively confident that I would be able to make a case as to why this was an investable business, and why this particular business not only could make money but have a real impact,” Nemorin said. “You have got to find people who believe in you,” he continued.
Early capital will come from people who trust you and believe in your vision, but getting your first round of funding is just the beginning. “Funding isn’t success. It’s quite the opposite. Getting funding to me is just a means to an end,” Nemorin says. “Everyone strives to be sustainable,” he added. His goal is to generate enough revenue that the business sufficiently funds itself.
He admits fundraising isn’t his favorite part of the process, but he shared that there are key things that every entrepreneur should consider. “The sooner you can prove out your concept, the sooner you get somebody to pay you a dollar for your concept, service or product,” he said. “Really structure an idea that has significant value to people. Whatever service or product you are going to sell, really identify the value proposition. Make sure it’s very strong. People tend to invest in things they empathize with,” shared Nemorin. “The key component is having people believe that you are the one that’s gonna solve the problem,” he added.
We asked about the fear of failing, something that comes up for a lot of founders of start-ups. “You can’t go into entrepreneurship thinking about plan B. You are already defeated,” he said. Nemorin committed to going all in on his idea, letting his passion to help others and make an impact lead the way versus how much money he could potentially make.
This same compassion to help is a through-line and the glue for his team of 13 at LendStreet. Nemorin describes it as a “collaborative culture.” He said, “Everyone has a voice, and feels ownership over what we are doing. Everyone identifies with our mission. We foster that.”
As LendStreet continues to help those climb out of financial distress, Nemorin says they are looking to offer even more services to their customers. He envisions partnering with financial literacy providers or developing services to help prevent their customers from getting back into a tight financial spot.
The Reality TV Awards brought together some of the most popular people on television. Last week, reality stars and personalities hit the red carpet at The Avalon for a chance to win in various categories from Reality Queen to Unique Concept. Abby Lee Miller (Dance Moms), Farrah Abraham (Teen Mom), Kendall Vertes (Dance Moms), Vicki Gunvalson (Real Housewives of Orange County), Miss Nikki Baby (Love and Hip Hop Hollywood), Brooke Hogan (Hogan Knows Best) and Claudia Jordan (Real Housewives of Atlanta) were all in attendance.
MillionaireMatch spoke with the stars about their life behind the camera. Janice Dickinson, former model, was named the 2016 Hall of Fame Recipient. Dickinson was presented her award by pop artist Sham Ibrahim who was seen on E! Entertainment’s Botched, VH1’s K. Michelle: My Life and Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules. Dickinson, who labels herself as the first supermodel, was seen as a judge on America’s Next Top Model. She also had a show, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, that aired from 2006-2008. Dickinson says if she could have it her way she would be heading to Dancing With The Stars, but they haven’t made an offer yet. Earlier this year, Dickinson revealed her battle with breast cancer.
Other winners walked the carpet to talk about how much they love their fans and exposing their lives on television. Vicki Gunvalson walked away with the Reality Queen award, while Abby Lee Miller won the Villain award. Todd Chrisley won the award for Reality King and for Unique Concept, Dating Naked took the award home. The award for Overall Show went to The Amazing Race.
We also got a chance to catch the beautiful Claudia Jordan before she exited the carpet. Jordan was part of the cast of Real Housewives of Atlanta. Jordan says she would not do the show again, and is now focusing on her new brand of wine, Just Peachy Sparkling Wine, and her own cosmetic line.
For a full list of all the winners, go to www.realitytelevisionawards.com.
Thrive Market is an online subscription that makes healthy eating accessible and affordable. Driven by this mission, the company raised $111 million in series B financing. With only two years since launching, they boast a $100 million recurring revenue.
Founder and co-CEO, Gunnar Lovelace, shared how the passion behind Thrive Market resulted in huge profits. MillionaireMatch learned just how a yearly subscription of $59.95 turned into so much success.
The start of Thrive Market looked a bit different, as Lovelace recalls being turned down by over 50 venture capitalists. He realized he needed to change his audience. He needed an audience who could understand the need to purchase healthy food, but not have the means to do so. Over a course of two years, he met with influencers all over the country. Soon, he gained the interest of celebrities such as Deepak Chopra, Jillian Michaels, Molly Sims and the editor of a popular blog called Wellness Mama. Those 200 influencers, bloggers, and celebrities were the first investors for the company, which raised $10 million. “It was actually the best thing that happened to us, because it actually forced us to double down on our original intent of influencer marketing and relationship building,” he said on being turned down by venture capitalists.
Today, Thrive Market has over 300,000 paying members. Members have access to over 4,000 of the most popular organic and natural products for up to 50% less than the retail price. Lovelace was clear that they do not make money on the products, but on the memberships. He described Thrive Market as, “A Whole Foods, meets Costco, meets Amazon online.”
It was important for Lovelace to be able to keep the mission of offering healthy food at affordable prices, because of his upbringing. Raised in a single parent home, he watched his mother struggle to provide healthy meals on a tight budget. Thrive Market’s one-for-one model sets it apart from the overly expensive retail stores. “For every paid membership, we give a membership away to a family, veteran, teacher or student. That’s central to our business, but we do a lot more than that,” he said.
Lovelace took his mission a step further. “We just ran a campaign over the last 90 days to get food stamps online,” he said. The USDA agreed to allow people receiving public assistance to be able to purchase healthy food online. It took 300k signatures, millions of impressions on social media and a very good content marketing strategy, which the company is known for.
After the first 9 months of being in business, the company turned its attention to creating “journalistic, documentary material” for their site. They focused heavily on creating editorial content that was interesting and shareable. “As a business, we want to be synonymous with healthy living. We think it’s valuable to have people interacting with our content as a brand,” Lovelace said. They continue to use their broad network of influencers to also build brand awareness. “One of our fitness influencers is all about abs and a hot booty. It’s probably not our core brand, but that’s how she speaks to her people. If we were uptight, we wouldn’t be comfortable with her talking about that with her audience. I think that would be a missed opportunity,” he explained.
Lovelace did have some advice for new businesses who may want to take the route of using great content marketing. “I would say, early stage entrepreneurs should focus on the acquisition side,” he shared. We think that’s the best way for any new business to thrive!
Benedict Cumberbatch is winning. The Oscar-nominated actor who stars in the upcoming movie, Doctor Strange, recently announced that he and wife, Sophie Hunter, are expecting baby number two. In addition to that exciting news, Cumberbatch was honored in an intimate gathering at the Pacific Design Center for his humanitarian efforts. MillionaireMatch was able to speak to Cumberbatch about the award. Levi Meaden (Pacific Rim 2), Lala Kent (Vanderpump Rules) Megalyn Echikunwoke (White Famous), and Yvonne Orji (HBO’s Insecure) also attended the event to support the cause.
Cumberbatch has supported many organizations focused on children, education, poverty, mental and physical challenges. Afam Onyema, Co-Founder and COO of The GEANCO Foundation, chose Cumberbatch to be honored.
GEANCO, was created in 2005. The mission of the foundation is to save and transform lives in Africa. It is the only group to lead regular hip and knee replacement surgical missions for vulnerable citizens in Nigeria. GEANCO also supports education, partnering with the David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship for Girls, which was majorly funded by Oprah Winfrey. The foundation also supports Brightland Academy, a school for the underprivileged founded by Chiwetel Ejiofor’s family in Nigeria. Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, Doctor Strange) is a past honoree along with David Oyelowo (Queen of Katwe).
Cumberbatch was also recently asked to host Saturday Night Live on November 5th. You can catch Cumberbatch in the movie Doctor Strange on November 4th. He plays the famed neurosurgeon, Dr. Stephen Strange, and if that isn’t enough he soon will play Thomas Edison in the film The Current War.
The English actor married Hunter on February 14, 2015 and has one son, Christopher Carlton.