Controversy, failure and hard decisions are part of building a business. They say it’s not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get back up. A serial entrepreneur, Naveen Jain, is one resilient businessman that knows the highs and the lows of innovation and leadership. Jain is the cofounder of Moon Express and CEO and co-founder of Viome. He rode the wave of the dot-com bubble and burst. Seen as a thought leader, MillionaireMatch got the inside scoop on how Jain goes from success to more success.
“As entrepreneurs, when you focus on things that are financially oriented meaning you want to start a company to make money, to me making money is like having an orgasm. When you focus on it you never get it. You have to enjoy the process,” Jain said. Many times you won’t be making a lot of many at the beginning, if any at all. You may even have to leave your nicely paid job to give full attention to your startup, so it’s important to be passionate about the problem you are solving.
Speaking of problems, Jain believes that all problems can be solved. His current focus is creating solutions for the healthcare and education industries. Growing up poor in India, moving to the U.S. with nothing, and not speaking English, Jain has built an audacious mindset. “I look at how far I have come from when I got started,” he said. “The biggest hurdle in our life is really our mindset. We carry this mindset of scarcity rather than the mindset of abundance. We carry this mindset of what is instead not what it can be. As an entrepreneur, I don’t look at the thing and say is the glass half empty or half full. I simply look and say do I want to fill the glass or not. If I want to fill the glass, does it really matter if it’s half empty or half full?” Jain explained. “You focus on what you want the world to be not what it is,” he added.
Mindset is very important to the success of an entrepreneur. Jain has started several companies including Infospace and Intelius. Both companies were able to scale fast, but also met many challenges including lawsuits. “If you can create any company that can help a billion people, it will be a massive company,” Jain said. He explained that it takes less time today to affect a large group of people due to technology. Instead of it taking hundreds of years like a Macy’s, it may only take about 10 to 15 years. “You don’t have to last. You simply have to know how to solve the problem,” he said.
Jain offered additional advice to entrepreneurs. “Once you have become good at something, you can only improve it incrementally. You can make it 10 percent better or 15 percent better. If you come to an industry, and you know nothing about it you are able to change it 10 to 100 times. When you are worried about not knowing anything, that is your biggest asset,” he said for those new to the startup world. He admits that he is no rocket scientist, “It is the mindset of how you think about it.”
Moon Express is the first private American company going after access to the moon. Viome is an in-home test that gives an assessment of your health through metabolic and gut testing. These are two very different companies, but Jain’s passion has him working 18 hour days. He said as an entrepreneur, you may deal with self-doubt. That is normal. “Even if the idea doesn’t work, I’m going to die trying it,” he said. We believe that.
For more information on his latest companies, visit www.moonexpress.com and www.viome.com.
Not many people can say they are a self-made billionaire, but Todd Wagner surely can. The Gary, Indiana native went from having a negative networth to selling his company to Yahoo for $5.7 billion. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on this savvy entrepreneur.
Wagner grew up being into sports. Once he got to college, he decided to major in accounting and business. This is when he would meet his future billionaire partner, Mark Cuban. Wagner went on to law school at the University of Virginia, but soon realized he hated it. Instead of taking a new direction, he accepted a job in Dallas at a law firm. Still trying to cure his dislike for law, he decided to switch firms. It was clear now, he didn’t like law.
Wagner also took a stab at real estate development, but timing was a factor. The economy was bad, which left him doing loan modifications and bankruptcies. Wagner finally decided to part ways with the law firm. He recalled how his boss responded to him resigning, “Oh please you are going to be begging for your job back in six months.”
He took the leap into being a businessman and entrepreneur. He teamed up with Cuban to create Broadcast.com, an internet radio company. Getting investors was a challenge. “We couldn’t get any smart money to invest in us. We had no venture capital money in Broadcast. We couldn’t get any,” he said.
“Every step of that journey, I wasn’t qualified. I wasn’t where I thought I belonged,” he said. Wagner, like many entrepreneurs, made some mistakes along the way too, but he doesn’t see it as failure. “I only view failure as if you dwell on it,” said Wagner. “If you pivot to the next thing, it’s not failure,” he continued. The mistakes didn’t stop him. Wagner not having a business background didn’t stop the company from growing. “We went public on the NASDAQ,” Wagner shared.
His advice for building your team starting with the CEO, “It’s a lot of overlap. You want a CEO that can inspire. You want a lot of the same things in your employees, somebody that can inspire and lead. I always say that every has to sell.” Leadership is key for Wagner when it comes to creating the perfect team. Even if the idea is trendy, the team is what matters as well as how to carry out the idea. “Ideas matter, but execution is so much more important. Not every idea you have is going to stay in the original way you thought about it. I’m certain of that. I guarantee you it will change,” he said.
Wagner spends his time today focusing on philanthropy. Desiring to be more than a check writer for galas and luncheons, he launched the Todd Wagner Foundation and The Charity Network, which connects technology, charity and celebrities. He looks forward to there being more data behind charities and even award shows to celebrate those who are working for a great cause.
You can find out more about his platform at www.charitynetwork.com.
Not often do you meet a sharp businessman who has invested in some of the biggest startups and who also has a love for hip-hop. Ben Horowitz is not your regular venture capitalist. As half of Andreesen Horowitz, one of the largest venture capital firms, he knows a thing or two about surviving the ups and downs of startup life. Horowitz, who is also the author of The Hard Thing About Hard Things, shed some truth of being a CEO. MillionaireMatch got the scoop.
A product of the University of California at Berkeley, it’s no surprise that Horowitz is raw and candid in his advice about being a CEO. What drove him to write his own book was that he couldn’t find any books that could tell him what to do when all things went wrong with a business. “Running your own company is incredibly emotionally challenging,” he said. There was a time when he would wake up in the middle of the night trying to figure out a way to save a startup. He admits being a CEO is something you learn on the job. Some founders of startups he has invested in never held that role previously. “It’s easier to teach the innovator how to be a CEO than to teach a CEO how to be an innovator,” he explained. “It’s great to have someone on your board that has actually started a company and been CEO,” said Horowitz.
Since being a great leader is something that happens day to day on the job, Horowitz did have one essential tip for founders. “I think people skills seem to be highly underestimated in terms of the stability to run a company,” he said. “The ability to understand other people’s motivation, those you talk to and those you aren’t talking to,” he continued. He’s not a big fan of dual CEOs of a company. It’s too confusing, and things take too long to be approved waiting for the powers that be to agree and give the green light.
Experience working in a big organization like Facebook or Snapchat helps new graduates understand how to be great managers and leaders before they go into launching their big idea. “When you come out of school, you know some things and some you don’t know. You really have no idea how to manage or run a company. The way you learn how to run a big organization is to work for a big organization,” Horowitz advised. “You meet people, smart people. You build a reputation with. Those people who are skilled that you can draw upon, hire and work with and build something excellent. If you try to build a company with zero management skill and no network, that’s hard,” he said.
Meeting and networking with future partners and co-founders is the way to build your team for what most likely will be a bumpy ride to scaling your business. “Startups get really hard when the product gets into market. When you’re building the product, it’s all good,” he said. “The initial scale is can you make, build a great product a lot of people really want. That is different from building a great company, but if you can’t build a great product it doesn’t matter if you can build a great company,” said Horowitz.
Today, Andreesen Horowitz has invested in over 500 companies managing almost $6 billion. “We were always going to be the biggest and the best. That was the goal. There was no reason to exist if we weren’t going to do that,” he said on deciding to start the venture capital firm. They have done just that. They always have their eyes open to what could be the next big idea. Pitch meetings are serious with a “no late” policy from the staff and undivided attention, which means no checking cell phones or tablets or they’ll pay a fine up to $100. So what makes a great pitch? Well, Horowitz said, “If it looks like a good idea then it’s probably not innovative or a breakthrough.” He says it’s a “tricky process” deciding which idea will work. “The key is to have a breakthrough idea that breaks through the noise,” he said.
It may not be an easy road, but having Horowitz on your team wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Conversations about company culture is something that happens more and more these days. With sprouting companies in Silicon Valley, employees are clocking endless hours to create the next big thing. So, when you have a company that encourages taking vacations it’s normal to raise a brow in excitement and maybe even confusion. Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder and CEO of Asana, believes that less work is more productive. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on this internet entrepreneur’s way of living.
Moskovitz is known for co-founding one of the world’s biggest disruptors, Facebook. He knows all too well about early mornings and late nights. He recalled not getting out much during that time. Since exiting Facebook in 2008, Moskovitz launched Asana, a web and mobile application to help teams track their work. With over 200 employees, it’s no easy task to create the right culture but Moskovitz has been successful. “We have employees who are really happy, engaged and productive,” he said. “From the beginning we were very intentional about how we built the culture. We were very reflective. We saw things that needed improvement, and we would put our focus there,” he explained. Moskovitz also has his hand on diversity, incorporating visiting historically black colleges and speaking at inclusion events. "I think in a lot of companies the issues don't get addressed until the wheels are about to fall off. You have to address them or the company’s going to blow up," he said explaining how at Asana they try to stay ahead of it.
Not only do they stay ahead, but they begin creating a culture of work-life balance from the time new employees come onboard. The provided workshops, coaching, and peer mentors help their new team members transition into a work environment that they may not be used to. "We are probably one of the only cultures where your manager will say, “hey you haven't taken a vacation, and kinda push you out the door," Moskovitz said. He encourages walks and even sabbaticals to help employees not get burnt out and to re-inspire creativity. "You have to think about those times to recharge," he said.
Taking time out must be working. In 2016, Asana had a valuation of $600 million according to TechCrunch. The company has also seen rapid growth in users, topping around 20,000 this summer. The same tools that built Asana also built Facebook, so there’s no surprise as to why the platform has been a success. One might take a look at the unique dual leadership at Asana with Moskovitz sharing final decision making with co-founder Justin Rosenstein. “We definitely complement each other’s skill set,” Moskovitz said. And if that isn’t enough, Moskovitz had one other key thing that makes Asana a great place to work. “Transparency by default is one of our values,” he said about keeping employees in the loop on acquisitions and possible changes that may happen in the company.
We have no doubt that Asana will continue to grow and breed great talent and success. If you want to get your team on Asana, check them out at www.asana.com.
The fashion industry had a rough year in 2016, but according to the McKinsey Fashion Global Index the industry continues to grow. With designers like Philipp Plein, the fashion industry will be worth $2.4 trillion. Plein, a self-taught designer, has alway put his focused on the product. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on how Plein went from law school to fashion legend.
Like many, Plein was too afraid to take the leap into a creative industry. As the son to a doctor, Plein decided to take the stable route by pursuing law. He wasn’t able to override the crave to be creative and soon found himself in the basement of his parent’s home designing. First, Plein started with furniture and later handbags. Without any formal training, he worked tirelessly. “It was tough. You have to be really self-confident,” he described his early years. “I didn’t have any clue or idea. I wasn’t working for a fashion house or big group. I’m an independent label. Being independent has it’s advantages and disadvantages, especially in the beginning. I built something out of nothing. So, in the beginning people didn’t believe in me and what I was doing. They never heard of me,” he said.
Soon that would not be the case. Lots of hard work, attention to the detail of his product, and creating pieces that are different allowed Plein to stand out. “I was really afraid no one would show up at my first show. Nobody knew who I was,” Plein said. His first show was in Milan, an evening show which is a non-peak time during fashion week. Plein decided to include an after-party which is something he still does. It was a huge success and brought visibility to his brand. “It’s important to me that people have fun. Fashion is fun,” said Plein.
“In the beginning, there was no strategy,” Plein said about building his brand. “It’s really tough nowadays to create a fashion brand. It’s a tough business. In order to be a success, you have to perform,” he explained about producing products that stand out. “Our slogan is we are born to be different,” said Plein.
He shared a few tips for those aspiring to take over the fashion world in their own special way. “I wasn’t able to pay a big salary in the beginning. The people I hired were not professionals. They didn’t come from the industry. We learned by doing,” he said encouragingly. “You will make a lot of mistakes along the way. As long as you do more things right than mistakes, you keep on surviving,” he continued. He also said that when he first started he would ask for money upfront for his products. He learned that in the furniture business. “When you are a young designer, and you put all your money into your collection and going to trade shows for exposure, you need the money. If people don’t pay you, how can you survive?” he said.
A long ways from collecting money, Plein has put his focus on retail stores. Philipp Plein stores are around the world from Beverly Hills to Amsterdam. Plein doesn’t seem like he will be slowing down anytime soon with building his fashion empire. “You have to dream, and continue dreaming. The dream keeps you going. This is the motivation,” he said.
Check out Plein’s latest line and hop into one of his stores, www.plein.com