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INTRO Joined three years ago, just made my $10M USD.

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vivotivo

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Mar 30, 2021
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Hi my friends,

Brought up in a middle class family (really thankful for my parents) in the 80s but paid and studied my own way from third world country to first world. Financially broke once after my first business collapsed. I've been surfing the forum and learnt tremendously from many of you. Ten years ago I was a braggy software corporate ladder guy, ten years later now I am a low profile entrepreneur.

Today, I run a company that made me 10M USD in personal liquid assets, likely more if I sit down and count. I still go to the same cheap but tasty breakfast joint, takes public bus, and spend less than I did ten years ago. Whether I can achieve my goal comes down to discipline and consciousness rather than talent or luck.

I've faced three challenges in the journey. The first challenge thrown upon me was that many or my perception about entrepreneur was wrong. I was a want-trepreneur because it looked cool and I couldn't stand 9 - 5 in the office. I was not for it for the passion but for the glamor. The second challenge was, as an entrepreneur you don't have to fire yourself cos you are always the boss, and that gave tons of excuses because no one dare confront you. Funnily it was become an entrepreneur that took away my self-discipline, until I met FLF. The third challenge was, my own devil. I realised many times we are all doing the same thing hoping to get different results because it's easy that way. I always wanted to meet clients and social and avoided really managing company finances. I used hustling to run away from other responsibilities as the CEO of the company. I also see other CEOs have different traits, some might be like totally opposite of me and choose to avoid see client due to some stigma when clearly it will help grow the company. It's like we all have our issues to deal with.

Feel free to ask me anything.
 

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monfii

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Congrats!

What did you learn from your most dramatic failures/successes?

Did you have to create multiple companies or did you hustle until your first idea worked?

Did you use knowledge from your slowlane job to create your company, or did you do something entirely different?

Any employees?

Cheers!
 

vivotivo

Contributor
Mar 30, 2021
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Congrats!

What did you learn from your most dramatic failures/successes?

Did you have to create multiple companies or did you hustle until your first idea worked?

Did you use knowledge from your slowlane job to create your company, or did you do something entirely different?

Any employees?

Cheers!

Thank you Monfil for asking!

- What I learnt was that during my darkest failure that I had the clearest idea what I have to do next. It's like when you are left with only bullet, you will shoot bulls eyes cos else you are dead. When you have a semi automatic (successful), you shoot blanks because you think too much of yourself and lose focus/thirst.

- I had to create multiple companies, and even in a single company I hustled different ideas. If it helps I stayed on in a same company (industry) for two years before I moved on.

- In my case, slowlane experience helped me. It's like when you are in F&B, having worked as a slowlane chef helps. So yea, I launched my business in something similar to my slowlane job (non competing).

- about 100 full time and part timers.
 
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Simon Angel

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At what point exactly did you decide to move away from your corporate job to your own business?

The first business you had, you said it failed. Was that before or after your corporate job?

What's it like knowing you built something that I would assume runs itself at this point? That a good amount of people will spend a chunk of their lives working in or at your business?

I know you're probably not ecstatic about it anymore as you got used to it. But if you were to compare yourself now to 10 or 20 years ago, would you be surprised at what you've achieved?

Favorite video game(s)?
 
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vivotivo

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Mar 30, 2021
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At what point exactly did you decide to move away from your corporate job to your own business?

Hi Simon, I quit my job about ten years ago, it's been ten years of garage turned proper office today.

The first business you had, you said it failed. Was that before or after your corporate job?

After.

I was doing it part time 1) e-commerce 2)social media dating app 3) other, while juggling my corporate job but it wasn't going anywhere, so I quit and started my real first full time business. I was lucky that I was single back then so I could just throw everything at it - I still do today. And upon doing it full time I realised that's when the real work really started.

The first business didn't go anywhere and I was bankrupt despite getting 2M USD funding, then I started my second with funding and it again went no where, by the second someone crazy was willing to give me 1M without writing my first code and I still lost all his money, by the third I got funding again after hustling for a few months and this time I made sure my VCs got their handsome multiple exit. So you could say third time lucky.

What's it like knowing you built something that I would assume runs itself at this point?

It does run by itself, but in the software world things move so fast, and if Bill Gates can claim that Microsoft is 18 months away from bankrupt, then my business too.
That a good amount of people will spend their lives working in or at your business?

I know you're probably not ecstatic about it. But if you were to compare yourself now to 10 or 20 years ago, would you be surprised at what you've achieved?

My buddies from college always said I'll be on a magazine someday, I didn't really fathom it, but I guess they are right. I don't know if I am surprise, but I think most of my friends think I am weird when I could have worked at comfy Google-ish company that I went my own way, and that today despite what I have achieve I drive a beat up car to our high school reunion.
Favorite video game(s)?

I liked video games alot until I realised it's taking up too much time, and one day I just decided not to like em, some time in senior high. Strange right? So I am still stuck in Windows 95 games. I instantly thought of this game called GODS.

ss_35cf83847f5423c6f9df070bdffa24a271c70d5f.1920x1080.jpg
 
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MJ DeMarco

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Today, I run a company that made me 10M USD in personal liquid assets, likely more if I sit down and count. I still go to the same cheap but tasty breakfast joint, takes public bus, and spend less than I did ten years ago. Give me another ten years and I have a chance to reach 100M USD in liquid assets and maybe even give hundreds of people a job.

Congrats.

Feel free to ask me anything.

How did you make $10M USD?
Any specifics?
What industry?
What business model?
What was the story behind your first customer?
The story behind the idea and evolution?
How do you gain traction? (0 to 1M is often harder than 1M - 5M)

While appreciate the success story, posts that claim big success but lack any detail raise my BS meter.
 

Brrr

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Hi, welcome to the forum and congrats on the success! It's very impressive and you no doubt have a lot of insight. A few q's if I may:

  • When did you feel the company started to get traction and grow? Was it a gradual continuous slog or nothing then exponential?
  • Who was your most important hire? At what point did it come and what did they change/add to the business?
  • How have you had to manage your psyche as the company has grown? What areas of your personality are most different from 10 years ago? What parts of your character were the hardest to change and what ones were the most important to change in order to get to this point?
  • Did you work on the product yourself before hiring people or did you have a boss/delegator role right from the start? If the former, how did you manage losing touch with the "team" as your role evolved as CEO?
  • Lastly, do you believe that your company/product has a positive impact on the world, regardless of it fulfilling a need? If so, has that been an important part of attracting good people to the company or is it other perks?
Thanks
 

vivotivo

Contributor
Mar 30, 2021
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Congrats.

Thanks and I really appreciate this coming from the man himself.

How did you make $10M USD?

I draw an average salary so the larger part was from a personal sale of my company shares to VCs. Usually when VCs come in it is a dilution round hence the investment is made directly into the company, but there are times when founders are offered a share sales into the funding mix so I was able to sell some of my shares in the recent round. I know I didn't really "make the money" in the strictest sense, but in a silicon valley type business that is how most founders cash out because my normal salary is probably just a tad higher than what an Uber driver gets in my city.

What was the story behind your first customer?

Not exactly the first customer but probably this VC who transfer us our angel round when no termsheet or contract was signed. So basically he negotiated the terms after he transferred money into our company bank account. It's uncommon.

Hi, welcome to the forum and congrats on the success! It's very impressive and you no doubt have a lot of insight. A few q's if I may:

  • When did you feel the company started to get traction and grow? Was it a gradual continuous slog or nothing then exponential?

The app was doing ok, a few users here and there, then gold rush.

  • How have you had to manage your psyche as the company has grown? What areas of your personality are most different from 10 years ago? What parts of your character were the hardest to change and what ones were the most important to change in order to get to this point?

I have two blind spots that is really hard to change.

First is that I always play the nice guy, aka being soft. Liberal silicon valley-like startup likes a boss that is nice, but it's not always the right. Sometimes you have to tell people "don't f*ck with me". In our industry maybe Steve Jobs v.s. Bill Gates, I gravitate to the latter. Second is I tended to avoid numbers and accounting - strange given that as a tech founder I should be good at this. The second challenge is also the company bottletneck, I believe if we were to spend more time looking at usage trends, burn rate etc we will be able to target growth areas (features to add, dept to hire) much better and with it grow the company.

  • Did you work on the product yourself before hiring people or did you have a boss/delegator role right from the start? If the former, how did you manage losing touch with the "team" as your role evolved as CEO?

That's a great question. I operate the sharpest when I do the "real work" and the past two years (and being inspired by FLF) I have gone back to basics and that allowed me to get back to product more than business/social stuff and it has served us well.

I recently read about Deliveroo's IPO and it mentioned about the CEO being the delivery guy for first eight months and he still does it monthly, so I hope to maintain the rolling up sleeve as long as possible.


  • Lastly, do you believe that your company/product has a positive impact on the world, regardless of it fulfilling a need? If so, has that been an important part of attracting good people to the company or is it other perks?

Not sure I wanna share my app here, but I think overall its one that is a tool so people are not wasting time on it, and I think employees can feel proud than saying they work in Facebook.

People that stayed long tend to be
- user turned employee, so people that are already using our app
- personal connection. They have a good friend already in the company, or the end up being buddies with me.
- people not expecting Google treatment (free lunch, perks) but lots of grind / hardcore work. We tell them there's no 9 - 5 so they don't even need to clock in, but they are expected to work as much as their bosses (me).
 
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sparechange

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I smell something fishy here, and I'm nowhere near the ocean baby.
 

vivotivo

Contributor
Mar 30, 2021
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The post also warrants more details certainly as @MJ DeMarco said. One of the things that FLF helped me greatly was during my transition from a 10 person company to multiples more. When it was small I could remember most to-dos and wing it, but when it started growing the cracks start to surface. I had to change many things fundamentally, things that helped was

- GSD list
- Waking up at 6
- Getting my mental health (meditation) and exercise back

Everyone grows up with prejudism and I have mine, I am not proud of it because it still lives in me, as the team grows I come across groups of people that I judge them by their upbringing more than who they are. I know its bad but I meditate to remind myself that I should give everyone a fair chance, as I would like from others.
 

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Simon Angel

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The post also warrants more details certainly as @MJ DeMarco said. One of the things that FLF helped me greatly was during my transition from a 10 person company to multiples more. When it was small I could remember most to-dos and wing it, but when it started growing the cracks start to surface. I had to change many things fundamentally, things that helped was

- GSD list
- Waking up at 6
- Getting my mental health (meditation) and exercise back

Everyone grows up with prejudism and I have mine, I am not proud of it because it still lives in me, as the team grows I come across groups of people that I judge them by their upbringing more than who they are. I know its bad but I meditate to remind myself that I should give everyone a fair chance, as I would like from others.

You seem like a nice dude and I don't agree with the rest that think you're bullshitting. However, since you're refraining from sharing your app we're just stuck with celebrating your success and reading about your subjective experiences that lack context for us. Personally, I still don't understand what you do as your posts are too vague.

Why are you so concerned about sharing your app with the forum? Afraid of copy cats? You're way more likely to find those in your company.
 

vivotivo

Contributor
Mar 30, 2021
6
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You seem like a nice dude and I don't agree with the rest that think you're bullshitting. However, since you're refraining from sharing your app we're just stuck with celebrating your success and reading about your subjective experiences that lack context for us. Personally, I still don't understand what you do as your posts are too vague.

Why are you so concerned about sharing your app with the forum? Afraid of copy cats? You're way more likely to find those in your company.

Thank you! Yea, I think I am just being paranoid of people know who I am in the forum, in truth people just couldn't give a rat's as s. I apologize for being so vague, once again and I say again that FLF really helped me along the way and I just wish to share my context.
 

Simon Angel

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Thank you! Yea, I think I am just being paranoid of people know who I am in the forum, in truth people just couldn't give a rat's as s. I apologize for being so vague, once again and I say again that FLF really helped me along the way and I just wish to share my context.

Got you. You don't need to apologize, and you don't owe anyone the specifics of your success. You can also be as vague as your heart desires. Just don't take it personally when people shit on you, lol.
 

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