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.