There is a saying that the way you start is not an indication of how you will finish. Most successful entrepreneurs come from humble beginnings. From being immigrants to being raised in single parent homes, life has offered some of the biggest lessons that help founders navigate the ups and downs of starting a business. Shan Sinha is the perfect example. Sinha is CEO and co-founder of Highfive, a video conferencing hardware and cloud service that makes it easy to have virtual meetings. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on how he went from dropping out of MIT to creating a successful startup.
Sinha who grew up in Texas right outside of Dallas, was raised in a single parent household with his mother and sister after his parents split. Like many single households, it was tough financially. They lived in a two bedroom apartment, and his mom worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. It was a dream for him to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he thought he would major in physics. But something else caught his eye-computer science. It also helped that his college roommates were all working at startups. One roommate came home one day with a $20k check, compensation from his startup being bought out. “I was the oldest and felt responsible for taking care of the family,” he said. Sinha dropped out of MIT to work on his first startups.
Along with his roommate, they launched a mobile enterprise application product that unfortunately was before its time. “We had no idea what we were doing then,” said Sinha. The business failed and led Sinha back to finish school. This time clearer on what he wanted to accomplish.
“The thing that was really magical was the idea of starting from nothing, creating something, and bringing it into existence,” said Sinha on launching again. “Every big company in the world started the same with two people sitting around saying there’s an idea,” he continued. And this time, Sinha struck gold with DocVerse shortly after it went to market. Founded in 2007, DocVerse was a plug-in application for Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel. Sinha was able to raise $1.3 million to get it off the ground. Google later acquired DocVerse.
As most serial entrepreneurs do, he went to the next idea- Highfive. Like many computer science majors, Sinha worked at Google and Microsoft. At both places, he worked on running enterprise apps. At Google, most meetings would happen via video. He noticed how much time was wasted to set up video conferencing for meetings, and the light bulb came on.
“Raising the initial capital wasn’t terribly challenging,” he said due to him having prior successes and coming from Google and Microsoft. They have raised over $45 million. “Highfive brings companies a way to bring easy, simple, affordable video to everyone in their organization,” he explained. It works for in-office conferences and wherever you are with a laptop. The bonus is that it only takes minutes to start your meeting. Highfive works by using a one-time purchase of hardware and monthly cloud service plan.
Sinha used the first six months of starting Highfive to get the right team, secure early investments and to get clear on the service they wanted to offer. As result, they haven’t done any major pivoting. “We had this insight for a product and we put together our initial plans in those first two to three months. Those ideas have lead to a company that’s now 70 people,” he said.
For more information on Highfive, be sure to check them out at www.highfive.com.
There have been a lot of talks over the last two years about innovation in the transportation industry. From self driving cars to purchasing a car from the comfort of your home with an app, the world wants increased safety on the roads and a faster way to get to their destination. By now you probably have heard of Hyperloop, a brewing innovation that will allow travelers to get to new cities in minutes. Rob Lloyd who is CEO at Hyperloop says this isn’t an original idea, but it is one that will change the world. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on how he plans to do that.
“It’s a fifth mode, not a replacement,” Lloyd said. Hyperloop surfaced as an idea thrown out by famous entrepreneur Elon Musk who started SpaceX and Tesla. This privately held company was first founded in 2014, and has hopes to be in full operation by 2021. Lloyd explains that this fast option to transport people and goods in a matter of minutes across cities will not replace the normal options to travel. But it could be a huge benefit to companies like Amazon and overseas brands like Alibaba. “It’s the new broadband for transportation,” Lloyd said. “There’s no schedule on Hyperloop. It’s on-demand. For high speed, we don’t stop at every destination,” he added.
Lloyd has been overseeing the testing grounds for Hyperloop which is called Devloop. The grounds are located in Las Vegas and is the playground for their engineers in addition to the 300 employees at the Los Angeles office. Lloyd has been traveling around the world giving talks about Hyperloop One always including how long it took him to travel to that destination. With Hyperloop One, Lloyd believes he can change the way we look at cities and work. “Hyperloop One redefines our concept of a city,” he said. If you could get to Los Angeles from New York in 45 minutes, that may open up your options of where you can live and work. So how does Hyperloop One actually work? “We use a motor to propel a pod through a tube very quickly. As a result, we can achieve incredible speed as in 1100 kilometers, 700 miles an hour. We have very little resistance, use less energy and go really fast,” explained Lloyd. “Nothing requires new science. It can all be built today,” he added. That may be true, but many wonder why there hasn’t been a live demo yet or if this is really going to work.
Another concern is how much does something like this cost? Well, it certainly isn’t cheap. “Our company is an individual startup funded in the traditional ways a startup is funded,” Lloyd said. To date, they have raised over $275 million with their last round in December of 2017 lead by Caspian VC Partners. Even an investment from Richard Branson is included which also switched up the name a bit to Virgin Hyperloop One, of course.
We look forward to when this is all up and running and a 14 day trip from China to Russia only takes 12 hours as Lloyd proposed. Until then, it’s airlines and planes.
For more information and to keep up, check out hyperloop-one.com.
Success is usually met with a busy lifestyle. Everyone from executives to famous preachers opt for the time saving luxury of a private jet. Recently, several new companies have entered the market to give their spin on the luxury service. M2 Aviation Group is offering more than a spin, but great quality service. MillionaireMatch spoke with Bret Lockett, partner in M2 Jets and former NFL player on taking the leap into entrepreneurship. He shared with us his top tips for success.
MillionaireMatch: How did you become a partner with M2 Aviation?
Bret Lockett: My business partner and very good friend, Moshe Malamud, started the company in 2010. When we met, I was still playing football at the time.
MM: Why did you decide to get into the aviation industry?
Lockett: I always like to say people fall into a business because they are interested in it or they have a family member or friend in it. For me, it’s both. It’s something I saw the need for in the private aviation space. Even though private jets are a luxury service, most people aren’t treated the way they should be treated for paying for a luxury service like flying privately. My partner Moshe who has been flying privately for over 20 years, was tired of experiencing mechanical issues on the tarmac, and dealing with inexperienced brokers. For $20k to $30k per trip, he felt like the experience could be better. He bought his own plane and realized he had a lot of friends and colleagues that flew privately. Got his second plane, and created a niche service that is needed.
MM: What sets you apart in addition to great customer service?
Lockett: The biggest differentiation from other private aviation services is that we understand the mindset of some of the most successful people in the world. That’s who owns the company. Moshe is the former Executive Chairman of The Franklin Mint, a billion dollar company.
I’ve played in the NFL which is a something that a small percentage that play football make it to that level. When you are dealing with successful people, they have to be in a certain mindset to walk into a meeting, game or if they are an artist, hop on the stage for a concert. They have to be there with a clear mind and intentions. Understanding that time is an important thing that you can’t buy more of. We understand that making sure they are getting from point A to B as seamless as possible with the most exquisite meals, best drinks, champagne, and whatever else they require.
MM: Can you talk about other businesses that you have started?
Lockett: I started a record label when I was playing football. I also invested in a ground transportation company in Florida. Neither of them did very well. Those were my first cracks at starting a business.
MM: What did you learn from those failed businesses?
Lockett: Patience. I think that’s something we all learn soon or later in life. With my first company, a record label in which I was an artist on the label, I realized that once you take a passion to a business you actually have to have a plan and strategy-having an outcome and being able to measure the outcome. When I invested in the ground transportation company in Florida, I invested moreso as a friend than an investor. My biggest lesson there was understanding that friends are friends and business is business. If you plan to invest for business, you need to really be patient and make sure it’s something you believe in, not just the concept but the person behind the company.
MM: What additional advice would you give entrepreneurs?
Lockett: If business isn’t your background or you didn’t study business in school, you are going to have to learn by trial and error, and applying yourself. One of the best ways to accelerate yourself is to find at least three people that have done something at one of the highest levels or the highest level that you can get in contact with. I say that because most of the time you aren’t going to be able to get Elon Musk on the phone to ask him about your startup idea, but there are some people in your network who wouldn’t mind spending 30 minutes to an hour with you go over your business idea.
MM: Did you take any lessons learned in the NFL into being an entrepreneur?
Lockett: Absolutely. It’s so synonymous it’s almost scary. As a professional athlete, nothing is guaranteed. Well, at least for me. In the NFL, there are no guaranteed contracts no matter what deal you sign. You can get released at any point during or prior to the season. Understanding that your next day is your best day, and your last day is your best day as well. Everyday that you wake up as an entrepreneur, you’re still unemployed. You still have something to prove. You’re not cracking away at a nine to five and having someone else pay you. It’s not how it works, and that’s how the NFL is. As an entrepreneur, you are going against some of the top business minds in the world, major corporations with tons of capital, people who have sold businesses and are now going into other markets, and those who have friends and resources behind them. If you don’t have those capabilities, you are going to have to figure out what your intrinsic value is and what you can bring to the table. A great way to jumpstart that is getting mentors and the right people around you, and figuring out what strengths you have and filling those weaknesses with smart people.
Not everyone is great at financials. Entrepreneurs are creative people. A lot of financial people aren’t great at being entrepreneurs, because they are so focused on the financials. You have to be able to balance both and see the big picture.
MM: What type of mindset do you have to have as an entrepreneur?
Lockett: There’s two types of people I think. There’s people that wake up and say this is the way the world is and i’m going to fit into it. Other people wake up and say this is my world, and I’m going to make it how I want it to be. As an entrepreneur, you have to be the second person. You have to be able to wake up everyday and say this is my world. I’m going to make it what I want it to be. A lot of times things are not going to go your way but, with consistent effort it will eventually happen.
It might be that it’s not meant to happen. It may not be the right time, strategy, team or the right leader which is you. You have to look at yourself and ask what skills do I need to develop to be able accomplish what I need to get to the next level. If you look at an organization that struggles, nine times out of ten it’s a leadership issue.
MM: You talk about having the right team and it being the right time, when have you had to make an uncomfortable pivot?
Lockett: The biggest pivot that I’ve made is working on myself more than working on my career. It’s never about what you do, it’s more about who you are. Instead of looking outward saying its the market, we don’t have enough market share, or not enough private jets, or enough clients I look at myself. What kind of person do I need to be to build a team of successful charter brokers to be with out clientele.What person do I have to be to be able to sit down with some of the most successful people in the world to convince them to use our service versus what they have been using for years? I always take a look inward first. If I’m doing what I need to do personally, then I’ll look at outside factors.
MM: What is next for M2, and do you have any other entrepreneurial endeavors you want to leap into?
Lockett: We’ve been able to expand from a small startup in New York with one aircraft, now we have 20. What we are looking to do in the next three years is expand our aircraft to a fleet of 30, and offer international service. We do have international clients, but we want a bigger presence.
We also want to break into the shuttle market. I believe the future of travel is headed into that direction.
I’m passionate about helping others, speaking and motivating others to live out their dreams. I was really able to live out my dream at a young age. I‘m not exactly sure what my next endeavors will be, but philanthropy is something I do and coaching. Those are some of my passions that may lead to something else.
For more information on M2 Aviation Group, be sure to check them out at m2jets.com.
You may know him as the high energy real estate broker from Million Dollar Listing New York, but Luis D. Ortiz stumbled into the market after brokering his own deal. Bravo’s popular show has opened the doors to some of New York’s most chic homes as well as the life of three real estate brokers including Ortiz. The world met Ortiz during the second season of the show, but he was already known as a filmmaker before getting in front of the camera. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on Ortiz and what it’s like being a million dollar maker.
In 2007, Ortiz was working on his second film. The New York Film Academy graduate returned from Belize disappointed in the footage he had. “To this day, no one has ever seen a cut of that film,” he said. Ortiz also recalled needing an apartment as he had been couch surfing. But having no credit in the U.S. or an income made that difficult. Ortiz was able to finagle a deal on apartment that he and his apartment in. A 475 square feet apartment in the financial district for $2400 a month that the landlord suggested they build a wall to create two bedrooms was the first deal Ortiz brokered. It may not sound like the best deal, but that moment propelled him to become a real estate success.
“I realized I have the ability to connect with people and inspire people,” Ortiz said about what makes him successful. “I think there is something much bigger than brokering transactions. Never aim for money. The money will come with,” he added. Fast forward to getting a call from a Los Angeles casting director looking for a new face for Million Dollar Listing New York. “I was just focused on doing the best I could do,” he explained as to how he was found. “I believe there’s is something unique in each of us. If we take the approach of not what we think we should do to get what we think we should get. But when we do that we stop being ourselves. We make the wrong decisions, and we take the wrong approach,” Ortiz added.
With all the success, something still didn’t feel quite right anymore. In 2016, Ortiz announced he would be leaving the show after four seasons. His mind was no longer stimulated. He also admits being relieved and scared at the same time when he announced his departure from the show. Not knowing what would come next was uncomfortable. He decided to take a 26-day trip. “Being self-aware is very powerful. I realized that people, that when they saw the show I wasn’t the one who sold the most. But people would stop me on the street. Not to say that was a nice place you sold last week,” he said. Ortiz understood that he was inspiring people around the world. “I think that’s why I have succeeded. My only focus is how much can I bring to myself to grow,” he explained.
Ortiz offered his advice to young entrepreneurs, “People should focus enough to find out what gets them excited.” He also said, “I never aim for money.” His excitement allows him to do whatever it takes to get what he wants, eventually. And on the subject of rejection,“It’s not because of you. They will say no to anybody.”
We can’t wait to see what Ortiz will get into next, and we’re sure it will be successful. Check out some of the new episodes of Million Dollar Listing New York on Bravo at bravotv.com.
Men’s fashion has evolved and expanded, but Paul Smith has been a consistent brand offering men quality pieces. With big names like Armani and Versace as well as new designers popping up every day, it is a wonder how Paul Smith has been able to stay a force in the fashion industry. MillionaireMatch took a dive into the designer’s world.
Smith, who was born in Nottingham, took on bike racing at age 12. Even though he admits he wasn’t as strong and didn’t think he would be successful long-term, he raced until age 18. An accident that left him in recovery for months, lead him to think of other career options. Smith started to make silk screen t-shirts and sell them in London. Later, he met a woman who designed clothes but had no clue as to how to open up a shop. Smith, who had no previous experience, volunteered to handle the business part of opening up a brick and mortar.
Smith met his wife Pauline when he was only 21 years of age. By this time, he had been managing the shop for three years. His soon-to-be wife worked at a nearby college teaching about fashion. “Because I have lots of stability at home, I’m not searching for anything. I don’t feel the need to go to the private views and kissy, kissy parties. It doesn’t appeal to me,” he says about being married to the love of his life and how it helps him as a businessman.
The Paul Smith brand may be considered a high-end label, but Smith has his own definition of luxury. “The privilege of freedom is luxury to me. The privilege of silence and being able to make your own decisions is luxury to me,” he said. “I have a love of life. I’m not motivated by money, just the joy of life. The joy of touch, conversation, the joy of emotion and obviously it is very nice to be successful as well,” he added.
His first items for the Paul Smith brand were suits of course. The suits were designed to be worn to funerals, weddings or a job interview. By the 1980s when Smith worked with Armani, he began to shift the style to a softer look that could be worn for different occasions. Even though their options expanded, Smith was not in a hurry to open up shops everywhere. When other brands would open five stores a year, he would open only two. His tactic was to do it slow and not push, which he says has helped him stay in the game. Also, quality of his product.
“It’s always been very wearable,” he said. “Paul Smith has always been about character and individuality,” he explained. He noted some designers are more creative than his brand but lack on quality. He does encourage new designers to have a point of view. “The key to creativity is spontaneity. You just got to go for it. By the time you deliberate, someone who is in the fast lane will overtake you,” he said.
Smith still gets up for his morning swim at 5 am and heads to the office at 6 am to make sure he is plugged into the brand he loves dearly. “The satisfaction I get is that every day is a new beginning,” Smith said. The company has seemed some challenges with a loss of revenue in the last year, but Smith remains positive that Paul Smith is here to stay.
For more information on the brand, visit paulsmith.com.