CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS

  • This Holiday JetSmarter with Sergey Petrossov Posted by Admin

    Sergey Petrossov

    If you are a busy professional that travels a lot for work, you just may need to ditch your commercial flights and book a private jet. Labeled as the Uber of jet travel, JetSmarter has built a platform that allows you to grab a seat on a jet with a few taps on your phone. Sergey Petrossov, CEO of JetSmarter, came up with the idea after a few frustrating moments of booking his own private travel. The company is now sporting a valuation of $1.5 billion with the help of investors such as Jay-Z and the Saudi Royal Family. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on how they plan to take over the traveling industry.

    Petrossov, who is based in Florida, flies often for work. With offices in London, Zurich and Dubai, it was important to be able to pick-up and go without a hassle. The first customers who tried the app booking service were Petrossov’s friends who soon gave their approval. He released a beta version of the JetSmarter app in August of 2012. By March 2013, JetSmarter officially launched and offered over 3,000 planes that could be booked within minutes.

    Having sold a previous IT company, Petrossov is no stranger to the startup world and creating a profitable model. For those who can splurge on a membership with JetSmarter, you can pay up to 70% less for a seat through using the app. Petrossov wants to make the service open to everyone. “We are not just trying to serve the one percent,” he said. “The airport experience just isn’t there any more,” proclaiming his thoughts that everyone soon will be opting for private travel over big commercial airlines. With the core demographic being 20 to 50 year olds, this may be achievable.

    “You don’t have to go through that archaic process and waiting on the phone,” Petrossov said. The membership includes a 24/7 concierge, as well as access to exclusive events. “You can go in the app, book it and pay for it. You can communicate with a certified aviation expert directly through the app. It’s an A to Z service. It really allows people to bring this industry to a digital world,” he added. These are a few more things that set JetSmarter apart. Those special perks have helped Petrossov to attract celebrity endorsements from major names including Christina Milian and Jenny McCarthy.

    So far, the business has been lucrative for Petrossov. Before JetSmarter, carriers would send empty legs from city to city. “Carriers use our platform to put hours on their planes,” he said. The app also connects to a GPS feed to provide all flights with empty seats in real time.

    With holiday travel in the air, JetSmarter sounds like a great way to make a good trip great. If you are looking to add some fabulousity to your travel plans, get more information at www.jetsmarter.com or download the app.

  • Eric Migicovsky: The Reason You Need to Have a Smartwatch Posted by Admin

    Eric Migicovsky

    Apple and Google may have jumped on the bandwagon of smartwatches most recently, but Eric Migicovsky can be noted to have started the trend. In 2008, Migicovsky rolled out his first prototype for a smartwatch. Migicovsky’s company Pebble sold thousands of smartwatches to their first customers via Kickstarter. After eight years of providing their customers with luxurious arm-wear that could connect them to the world or even keep track of their activities, Pebble was acquired for $23 million by Fitbit.

    “They’re not for everyone. For a couple of large groups of people, they are extremely useful,” Migicovsky said about who needs a smartwatch. “People who love to be connected, and want to keep up with the latest thing. They use smartwatches as their sixth sense,” he said. The watches connect to IOS and Android smartphones. If you are the type of person that doesn’t want to take out your phone to check messages or check other notifications, then you may be the right customer.

    Migicovsky went a different route when it came to raising money. Coming out of Y Combinator he thought they would easily raise $1 million. After receiving over 40 nos, he decided to use Kickstarter. That was one of the best decisions resulting in $10 million in his first round, and $20 million in a second round. Migicovsky also had the help of a senior editor at Engadget who released an article at the same time of the initial launch. Migicovsky had only hoped for about $5k from the first day of being on Kickstarter, but within hours they had raised over half a million dollars.

    Once Apple launched a smartwatch, the question of survival came up often. Migicovsky was sure Pebble supporters wouldn’t go anywhere. “We made a good product. It’s useful, functional, affordable, cool, and creative,” he said. “If you build something that people truly want and use, I believe there is long term value in that,” he continued. Pebble definitely had a community as well as a great price compared to the competition. To get you a luxury Pebble watch, it would only cost you between $99-250. Apple can start around $269 and go as high as $1500 for special editions.

    If you still aren’t convinced that a smartwatch is for you, there are a few reasons you should get one. “People who want to disconnect. They use smartwatches to keep in touch with one or two people they care about,” Migicovsky said. “The second group of people are health and fitness conscious folks,” he added. Finding the right one for you depends on your needs.

    “It’s all about the software,” the entrepreneur said. That would be the reason Fitbit purchased the software and operating systems of the company. You can still get a customizable watch that keeps you informed. In addition, you can still grab you a smartwatch at an affordable price with the same luxury. Check out some of the newest styles since the merge at www.fitbit.com.

  • CEO Sarah Leary, Nextdoor: When to Pivot Posted by Admin

    Sarah Leary

    Do you miss the days when people could go to their next door neighbor to borrow a cup of flour? Maybe you miss the community gatherings from time to time. Well, you have to try Nextdoor. It’s a private social network that allows you to connect with your neighbors. Co-founded by Sarah Leary, the app has connected people in over 139,000 neighborhoods across the country. Nextdoor came as a result of a previous failed app. A decision to make a pivot has lead Leary and her team to success. MillionaireMatch got the scoop, and how going in a different direction was the best decision.

    Leary had the idea of creating Fanbase, the largest online almanac for college and pro sports fans in 2008. It seemed promising as they obtained 15 million unique visitors in just a few months. Leary and her team worked on the platform for two years, but after just six months they realized they would need to make a pivot. “Pivoting sounds great. The actual pivoting sucks,” said Leary about making the decision. Her and the team even offered to just give the money back to the investors, fortunately they didn’t take it.

    “We built something that was nice to have, but it wasn’t a must have,” Leary admitted. This was one of a few mistakes made. “We wanted to create something that was a painkiller, not a vitamin,” she said. Before creating Nextdoor, Leary made sure that it was a need not just a want. They did a survey to ask people if they wanted to know more about what was going on in their neighborhood, and seventy-eight percent said yes. They dug deeper and asked about their interest level in having a network to communicate with neighbors. All information was verified that it was something that was truly needed in communities.

    But that wasn’t enough. Leary took it another step, and set up coffee meetings to connect with communities. She even did a test run with a neighborhood in Menlo Park to get feedback. They took one full year to test Nextdoor in twenty-six states. This helped answer one question that Leary was left with, “Will neighbors actually have something to talk about?” They most certainly did.

    In 2011, they officially launched Nextdoor. Leary chose an interesting marketing plan. She leaned on city officials and police departments to get the word out. Leary even reached out to the local press in these neighborhoods that the app served. “It made sense for Nextdoor,” she explained. On just the local level, over three thousand stories are generated about Nextdoor yearly.

    As a former associate at one of the largest VC firms and with a failed product, Leary had some advice for younger entrepreneurs. “Make sure it’s a big market you are going after, and know how you are going to win,” she continued. If you are looking for a investor, make sure your team is tight. While at Greylock Partners, she noticed that it was more about the people when they came in to pitch. They noticed the dynamic of the management team. “An investor will sometime bet on a team and an idea. The idea can end up changing, but they are still invested in the team,” Leary said. “They need to feel like this team is going to be able to manage the ups and downs, twists and turns if it doesn’t work out,” she added.

    Nextdoor has launched in other countries such as the Netherlands, and it continues to grow. Leary is proud to have created a product that reminds her of how she grew up. “We’ve become a real lifeline in neighborhoods,” said Leary.

    If you want to connect with your community, go to www.nextdoor.com and tell your neighbors to join too!

  • CEO Anne Wojcicki, 23andme: Fighting for Our Health Posted by Admin

    CEO Anne Wojcicki

    Healthcare is one of the most talked about topics in the U.S. What if you could know if you carry the gene for a disease? Well, the startup 23andme is empowering people to take control of their health by gaining in-depth knowledge about their health history. The company launched in 2006 giving people access to understanding the human genome. A home-based kit that collects your saliva could help you possibly prevent a hereditary disease. This is making a huge impact on the healthcare industry, and MillionaireMatch knows why. Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andme, shares her passion for giving people the tools to fight for a healthier life.

    Wojcicki, who use to work on Wall Street, was raised by a strong mother who lives by the premise of apologize later over asking for permission first. She was raised by a woman who can’t be intimidated, and that has pushed Wojcicki to question the healthcare industry. Her mother passed down this passion for taking her health into her own hands, after losing her brother at a young age. Wojcicki’s uncle died at only 18 months when he swallowed a bottle of aspirin. He was taken from doctor to doctor to only get his stomach pumped and sent home. But something was still not right. After a night of crying, Wojcicki’s grandparents finally found a hospital willing to take him. Unfortunately, it was too late. He didn’t live to come back home.

    “My hope is that having genetic information will lead to them preventing early death, or be more proactive about their health,” she said about creating the 23andme kits. Today, they have over 1 million people who have used the kits to take a deeper look at their family history. Wojcicki believes people are can be very passive about their health care. Often having major procedures without knowing all the details, from understanding why they need the procedure, to what side effects they’ll possibly have to live with. “Most healthcare companies have a responsibility to maximize the bottom line,” she said. Their job isn’t to prevent you from being sick, but more to manage and heal. That leaves 23andme to be not so popular for the business of health care.

    “If consumers were more empowered, I think they would take more responsibility for their health.” She believes people genuinely want to change their behavior. Genetics can’t prevent everything, but it does put people in the driver seat. If you could know that you do carry the gene for a preventable disease, having the knowledge may encourage you to change to a healthier lifestyle. “Genetic information is critical to your health. Health is the decision you make every single day,” she said. That would include getting the help of doctors to help you take the next steps once you understand your health history better.

    It hasn’t been a completely smooth ride for Wojcicki and her team. The FDA issued a cease and desist to claims that 23andme was under Medicare. “Being shut down in a nasty way was definitely not the high point of the company. It was a transformative moment. I saw it as a sign of success,” Wojcicki said. “If I didn’t love what I did, I would have shut down,” she continued.

    Wojcicki offered a bit of advice to entrepreneurs. “I would always recommend partnerships,” she suggested. Her and her co-founder, Linda Avey worked almost 24/7 for years to get 23andme off the ground. When they only had five people on the team, they took turns sleeping. She also said, “When you really believe in what you are doing, it sells.”

    If you want to get your kit, just visit 23andme.com. “We believe it’s really about choice. If you want to get access to something that is fundamentally yours, we believe it’s your right to get access to it,” said Wojcicki. We believe so too!

  • CEO Spotlight: Liz Dickinson of Mio Global Posted by Admin

    Liz Dickinson

    There was a time that only chest wearing heart rate monitors were available. They were uncomfortable, and would cut the skin. The chest straps would also need to be cleaned often. Today, there are several wearable monitors. Mio Global was founded in 1999 by Liz Dickinson. The Canadian company is the first to introduce a wearable monitor that continuously keeps track of the heart rate. The company recently received an investment of nearly $15 million dollars from Hydra Ventures. Dickinson has had quite a journey disrupting the industry. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on her journey to the top, and her advice to those on their climb up.

    “A step is not equivalent. One person’s step is not the same as somebody else’s,” Dickinson said on creating the most accurate device. Dickinson realized a key point that other companies overlooked. “Without intensity you really aren’t getting any data. The Mio actually takes intensity into consideration. It doesn’t matter what you do. You could be walking a dog or playing with your grandkids. Whatever activity you choose, as long as you get your heart rate up to a certain level that’s the key,” she explained.

    Creating Mio Global was also a personal need for Dickinson. “Heart rate is the best way to train. I was super busy working a corporate job, and I had 45 minutes to work out. I wanted to make sure I was burning as many calories as possible, and doing exercises that were the most efficient,” she said. Dickinson now boasts having five patents in the sports and performance industry.

    Dickinson offered advice for entrepreneurs creating hardware. Two things to think about are intellectual property and finding a manufacturer. She was sued for intellectual property infringement. As a result, the company paid out $500k to defend their product. Dickinson suggests buying intellectual property insurance. “Before your launch something, have your lawyer look at it,” she said.

    In addition to getting a lawyer to protect your ideas, find a great manufacturer. “If you can’t get the attention of a decent manufacturer, then you tend to work with a third tier or second tier. When we first started, we had to go with the manufacturer that would take us. I couldn’t understand then why products were late or why we would get the runaround when asking questions. I finally got on a plane to go to the manufacturer, and found out that they made toys. They had never made anything like our devices,” explained Dickinson. Finding a manufacturer to handle production of your products shouldn’t be terribly difficult.

    If you are launching your first hardware product, don’t be shy of going the crowdfunding route. Dickinson started with Kickstarter, and raised money that way. Why wouldn’t you just go for the big money and get an investor? “I’ve yet to meet a venture capitalist that likes to invest in hardware,” Dickinson said. “Margins are too small. Competition is too stiff, and it comes in too quickly for hardware,” she explained. So, if you do go that route there’s a secret to being successful. “Public relations is the secret to doing Kickstarter,” suggested Dickinson.

    If you are looking for cool wearable products to keep you and your heart on track for the summer, check out www.mioglobal.com.