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Posts Tagged ‘Interview’


Founders At Work: Max Levchin, PayPal

August 9th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

Max LevchinThe book Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston provides an educational, behind-the-scenes look at companies that began life as start-ups and exploded into huge companies.  She interviews the founders of Hotmail, Apple, Yahoo, Trip Advisor, Firefox, and Adobe Systems, among many others, and lets them tell their stories: how they got started, the mistakes and smart decisions they made, what they wished they’d known, etc. 

In her introduction to the book, Jessica says all of the founders she interviewed shared one quality: perseverance.  That’s a trait most small business owners share, too. And because I like to learn from others (even while making plenty of mistakes on my own), I thought sharing insights from select founders each month on this blog might be fun.  So here goes:

What you can learn from Max Levchin, Cofounder and former CTO, PayPal, launch date December 1998:

Throw out business ideas that aren’t working.  Before PayPal became a web-based payment system, it offered a service for transmitting money via PDAs.  When Max and his co-founder, Peter Thiel, realized everyone was trying to use the website, which was just a demo, for transactions, a light went off.  Max and Peter made the decision to shut down the PDA service and focus on the web-based service.

If someone warns you about potential risks, listen to them.  Max was warned about fraud from people in the banking and credit card processing systems.  They did what they could to prevent fraud, but after 6 months, chargebacks started popping up.  (I had no idea what a chargeback was, so I looked it up on PayPal’s website: Chargebacks occur when buyers ask their credit card company to reverse a transaction that has already been approved.  Fraudsters game the system by requesting a refund on goods they purchased and received.) In no time at all, PayPal got swamped with chargebacks—to the tune of $10m in losses per month.  Because the problem was so severe, Max ended up refocusing his time and energy on the fraud issue.  PayPal had to hire investigators to help track down the sources of fraud, and he and an intern built an internal system called IGOR to finally bring chargebacks down to almost nothing. 

What Max wishes they’d known.  They had no idea that fraud would become such a huge issue and require so many resources—both time, money, and people—to combat it.  As Max says in the book, they are basically a security company pretending to be a financial services company.

Free is a powerful tool to fuel growth.  Because PayPal allowed non-members to receive money without being charged a transaction fee, growth went viral.  The catch: once the money was sent to you, you got an email saying you had to become a member to actually retrieve it.  Max said, “That’s the most powerful viral driver there is.  Free money available to you.”

 Endnote: Max has left PayPal and, like many serial entrepreneurs, he has moved on to found a new venture, Slide, which sells apps for Facebook.  He is also the Chairman of Yelp.

BlogCritics and Technorati’s Dawn Olsen Gets #SmallBizCool

December 1st, 2009 :: Michael Dougherty

I’m really excited to bring you another #SmallBizCool, thought up by the great Jill Foster of WomenGrowBusiness, from the floor of BlogWorldExpo 2009. I met so many great people there, but I really got a great interview Entertainment Editor of BlogCritics and Technorai, Dawn Olsen. Dawn and I shared a lot of laughs, but she gave a great insight into what BlogCritics is all about and a little into what’s new with Technorati.

You can learn more about BlogCritics and Technorati at their websites and learn more about Dawn.

You can also reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways if you have been reading, and this time watching, thank you and stay wicked.

Ted Murphy Gets #SmallBizCool

November 12th, 2009 :: Michael Dougherty

Here comes another #SmallBizCool from the floor of BlogWorldExpo 2009. This time around I get to talk to twitter and social media legend Ted Murphy about social media and security. Ted Murphy is well known for his his Twitter and Blog Marketing Company, IZEA.

At BlogWorldExpo 2009, Ted took a few minutes to explain social media is cool and give us the update on his latest product Sponzai.

You can learn more about Ted at his website IZEA.com and you can follow Tee on Twitter @tedmurphy

You can also reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways if you have been reading, and this time watching, thank you and stay wicked.

Interview with Gary Vaynerchuk, Author of “Crush It!” Part 2

October 20th, 2009 :: Michael Dougherty

Here is the part two of my interview with Gary Vaynerchuk author of “Crush It! Why now is the time to cash in on your passion”. If you missed it, you can read the first part of the interview here.

Mike Dougherty: If Misha’s grown up and she’s entering the work force, like you did, what life lessons would you pass onto her?

Gary Vaynerchuk: Well first, I would instill in her so much self esteem in her along the way, that she would be more than capable from the get go, she wouldn’t need much. That being said, you know, it comes down to really understanding that it’s all about doing what you want. There’s nothing else. There really isn’t. Cash is bullcrap and its overrated.  It’s all about happiness. Nobody was ninety-five, laying on their deathbed, and said they wished they worked more or made more money. They wished they’d spent more time with their family. They wished they did things they liked.

So, one thing I’ve been very good at, and I hope she picks up DNA wise, is I do what I want. While loving everyone else and doing all the right things for my family, the second I felt any negativity, or one percent unhappiness, with Wine Library retail I started Wine Library TV.

Do what you want. I want her to realize it’s ridiculously hard work to achieve anything worth while. There’s two ways to build the biggest building in town. One is to just build the biggest building and the other is to tear all the other buildings around you down. I think ninety percent tear and I want her in that ten percent that just builds the biggest building. That’s something somebody said to me and I’m very proud of. This older business gentleman said, that I was one of the best examples of building the biggest building. Not trying to hurt anyone else around him. I thought that was nice. It was a nice compliment and it stuck with me.

Mike Dougherty: It was very nice. So is that a key factor for you, when you do business, is to try to get the biggest bang for the buck while not causing collateral damage all around you?

Gary Vaynerchuk: Yeah, I think that’s imperative. You don’t want to hurt people. As an aggressive retailer you sometimes hurt wineries, brands, but it’s about communication and we speak to our wineries heavily.

Mike Dougherty: You’ve gone through the honeymoon phase several times with multiple projects. You’ve gotten the project done. The idea is on the table. What is your best advice for somebody who started a small business, or is in a small business, and the honeymoon phase has peaked and they are getting a little bit burnt out, and crispy, but they are still in love with the idea?

Gary Vaynerchuk: Reinvent it…slightly. It’s like sex. Dress up, right? You’re not changing your partner.

Mike Dougherty: You’re changing the experience.

Gary Vaynerchuk: Right. So spice it up. Change the displays in your store. Bring in a new product launch. Go into a new niche in your consulting business. Don’t fish where all the fish are. I mean, that’s what I did. I got into tech, because I started fishing in tech because wine places were the place that I didn’t necessarily feel like I wanted to fish at. I mean I did, but I wanted to find new ponds. And I found Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, and all these other new worlds that have been influential in my growth.

Mike Dougherty: Speaking of those, you’ve been in this for about three years now. How have you seen this little are we are in called social media this grow and change over the past three years?

Gary Vaynerchuk: Well, it got renamed from Web 2.0 [laughs]. It’s become a lot more businesslike and less kind of dreamy and zen. And that bodes well for me because I’m a business man. Actually, that bodes less well for me, because I liked when everyone was hippie about it, you know, because I’m an entrepreneur. At the end of the day, I think it’s maturing, but I still think it’s completely under appreciated and underrated. I still don’t think people really realize what’s going on.

Mike Dougherty: So when are you looking for the next book to come out?

Gary Vaynerchuk: Next year this time.

Mike Dougherty: Do you want to give away what it’s about or do you want to keep it a secret?

Gary Vaynerchuk: I’ll give you a hint that it’s focusing very heavily on contradictions.

Mike Dougherty: And to wrap it up, last question, because I like to do something weird, what’s your all time favorite wrestler from the 1980’s?

Gary Vaynerchuk: That is the easiest question I’ve been asked of all time. It’s the Macho Man Randy Savage.

Mike Dougherty: I’m a [Jimmy] Snuka guy.

Gary Vaynerchuk: Are you a Snuka guy?

Mike Dougherty: I am.

Gary Vaynerchuk: So Macho Man came along when every single person liked [Hulk] Hogan. And Hogan’s liker Federer, Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, and [Michael] Jordan to me. There’s just no fun in rooting for them. I want to work for it.  And so it was Macho Man for me.

Mike Dougherty: Nicely done, sir. Thank you for a great interview.

Gary Vaynerchuk: Thank you so much.

With that Gary went back to his daily hustle and I header back home to get the interview committed to paper…um…laptop. After spending some time with Gary in person, I can tell you that he is not just an online persona. What you see is what you get and that, dear reader, was refreshing and inspiring.

As I mentioned before, my review copy of “Crush It!” arrived the day of the interview. So you’ll have to wait till the end of the month for that review, but Gary was kind enough to offer two free copies of the book for me to give away. I’m going to give away the second book at the end of the review, but to earn this first copy you need to need to be the first person to respond, in a comment below, with the answer to the following questions:

1) What is the tagline of Cork’d?

2) What did Gary say his brother AJ is finally getting? And what does that mean?

3) Where do you send your receipts to get a personalized video from Gary as part of Crush It! – The Experience?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this interview so leave a comment here. You can reach me on Twitter by following me @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

Interview with Gary Vaynerchuk, Author of “Crush It!” Part 1

October 13th, 2009 :: Michael Dougherty

So there I was, no kidding, driving up to Wine Library, in Springfield, New Jersey, to meet Gary Vaynerchuk author of “Crush It! Why now is the time to cash in on your passion”. My review copy arrived the day of the interview so, with the drive and only reading one chapter that was offered online, I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to ask. I mean what do you ask a guy who’s probably been asked the same questions over and over to keep an interview like this fresh?

As I drove by Wine Library, trying to find a café with wireless to kill some time, I was in awe in the size of the building. Had I not been looking for it I might have thought it was just another office building, but knowing that this is a wine store taking up damn near a full block of real estate…I knew I was in for a great experience.

I entered Wine Library and was met by Matt, Gary’s right hand man, who took me up to Gary’s office, where Wine Library TV is filmed, and lets me know that Gary, true to his word, was in a day that was full of hustle. Matt let me know, Gary was wrapping up a business meeting for the store and would be right in to talk afterwards.

Gary exited his meeting displaying all the passion, and thunder, he’s been known for and was ready to go. After a few minutes to set things up, giving Gary an opportunity to take care of a few things, we got right into it.

We had a lot to talk about so this interview will be broken up into two parts. Next portion of the interview will be released next Tuesday. Here is the transcript of our interview:

Mike Dougherty: First question, Gary, how are you doing?

Gary Vaynerchuk: Phenominal.

Mike Dougherty: You’ve got a bunch of stuff going on today.

Gary Vaynerchuk: [laughs] Yeah, man. It’s always hustle, it’s always grind, and it’s always exciting. And things are good.

Mike Dougherty: So you’re putting out a book.

Gary Vaynerchuk: Yup.

Mike Dougherty: You’ve got CinderellaWine.

Gary Vaynerchuk: Yeah you can see a lot of chatter out about that today.

Mike Dougherty: And then the gourmet site.

Gary Vaynerchuk: The GourmetLibrary.com site. It’s funny. You know they kind of got announced together. And I think all the hype is on CinderellaWine.com. And then there is Cork’d, which I only launched a month ago.

Mike Dougherty: How are they all going at the same time? How are you going with all of this at the same time?

Gary Vaynerchuk:

Good people around me. You know, that’s always the key. And it’s what I want to do. That’s the kind of entrepreneur I am.  I want to scratch those itches. I want to do as many things as possible.

Mike Dougherty: So without giving anything away, how many irons in the fire do you actually have besides what you just launched now?

Gary Vaynerchuk: The ones that are launched now….these were my big secrets. As of August I had Cork’d, CinderellaWine, and GourmetLibrary all primed for push. They are now out. I think I’m kind of….there’s one more. There’s one more that will be out very shortly and then everyone’s going to be completely stunned by my insanity. Wine Library, Wine Library TV, the book, Cork’d, VaynerMedia, CinderellaWine, Gourmet Library, and one more really cool site.

Mike Dougherty: How is VaynerMedia going by the way?

Gary Vaynerchuk: Really well. You know my brother AJ is well on his way to getting his daps, not being my brother or getting a free ride. People are starting to interact with him and realize he’s got a lot of chops. Working with NHL, the Jetts, and a lot of cool brands and really enjoying it. Consulting is hard, you know, because the way I work, speed and hustle wise, is not normal. I’m starting to realize that. And it’s obviously very different for brands that are big, corporate, and fortune 500. There are a lot of cool things going on, but I’m enjoying it.

Mike Dougherty: Nice. For someone getting into “Crush It!” for the first time, or experiencing you through Wine Library TV or maybe GaryVaynderchuk.com, what is the best advice that you can ask for them to take away from “Crush It!”?

Gary Vaynerchuk: That everything has changed. That everything I wrote in this book was not real five years ago. And that’s really important to understand, because at the end of the day everything has changed and there’s so much opportunity. The fact that cash is now not king. The fact that sweat equity and caring and hustle and innovation is…that’s a big deal. The fact is that cash has been neutralized by the growing platforms of the internet.

Mike Dougherty: How long was “Crush It!”, from beginning to end, as a journey for you?

Gary Vaynerchuk: Writing it or the thesis of the book?

Mike Dougherty: The entire process from concept to creation.

Gary Vaynerchuk: From the actual practicality of the book. Probably four months. Not to bad.

Mike Dougherty: No, not at all.

Gary Vaynerchuk: You know, this is kind of my manifesto. So I very much dictated the whole thing. I can talk a lot so I banged it out. So it wasn’t too hard.

Mike Dougherty: So talk about the things people can do if they buy multiple copies of the book.

Gary Vaynerchuk: You mean the Experience thing I did? You like that?

Mike Dougherty: I love it.

Gary Vaynerchuk: Yeah it was pretty cool. I really think this is the future of bands and content in general. You know, three books you get a wrist band. So on crushitbook.com, if you go there, you’ll see a big button that says “the experience” so you can buy three books. You can buy thirty-five books and get me to make a special video for you, which I think is pretty fun. I think it’s one hundred fifty books for a Skype call and I have this one day in December for two hundred and fifty books. Then there’s dinner and consulting for five hundred books. And so it’s just creating new and fun ways to interact with my audience. You know, it’s not the cheapest way, but for the one hundred fifty, two hundred fifty, and five hundred copies those are really for corporations. It’s going to be fun.

Mike Dougherty: Now how are you balancing all of that plus fatherhood?

Gary Vaynerchuk: That’s a great question. Not as well as I hoped, at some level right now so far, if I’m being honest and transparent. I would like to spend a little more time with Misha. Early on, it’s good that she’s still in that four months and under range. But this is a real big push for me with the book and all these launches. I’ll definitely be settling in, in 2010.

That wraps up Part One of my interview with Gary. In Part Two Gary gives the advice he’ll give to Misha when she enters the business world, his philosophy on doing business, and a really great answer to an odd question. Plus, you’ll learn how you can get a free copy of Gary’s “Crush It!”.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this interview so leave a comment here. You can reach me on Twitter by following me @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

Startup Nation Interview with Roy Dunbar, CEO of Network Solutions

July 7th, 2009 :: Steven Fisher

StartupNation just put out a 20-minute interview with Roy Dunbar, CEO of Network Solutions.

From the StartupNation web site:

“Network Solutions’ Small Business Success Index identifies six key dimensions of success and a scorecard on how small businesses are doing in each of those areas. According to the Network Solution’s study, most small businesses excel in customer service. However they score low in two of the biggest criteria for success: Raising capital and Marketing & Innovation.

Listen in to learn Roy Dunbar and host Rich Sloan’s views on how entrepreneurs can overcome those two challenges especially in the current economy. Hint: Social media and the potential it offers to budding entrepreneurs is a big part of the Marketing secret sauce. And local banks might just be superior to the national alternatives.”

Here it is for your listening pleasure:

Lunch with Entrepreneurs – Episode #1 – Gourab Nanda of MyBusinessAssistant.com

June 26th, 2009 :: Steven Fisher

This is the inaugural episode of a new video series called “Lunch with Entrepreneurs” where we interview interesting entrepreneurs over good food at great restaurants. In this episode, we talk with Gourab Nanda of MyBusinessAssistant.com who has put together quite a solid service offering for small businesses looking for great solutions without all the overhead and being charged for services they don’t use.

We met at New York J&P Pizza in Mt. Airy MD which is a great small business and is legendary in the area for its New York style pizza. I had a chance to ask him why he started his business, what MyBusinessAssistant does and what advice he can offer fellow entrepreneurs. It is good stuff I invite you to watch this quick 5 minute interview.

[Run Time 5:00]

Author Denise O’Berry Provides a Financial View on the Small Business Success Index

May 5th, 2009 :: Steven Fisher

deniseoberryThe Small Business Success Index provides small business owners and entrepreneurs with best practices to improve their businesses. This is part of a series of interviews with small business owners, entrepreneurs and small business experts providing their insights about the index results.

Denise O’Berry is the author of Small Business Cash Flow: Strategies for Making Your Business a Financial Success. She has over 20 years of experience helping Fortune 500 companies build and execute successful growth strategies. In 1996, Denise opened her own consulting firm to assist small businesses in implementing some of the Fortune 500 best practices to achieve their business objectives.

She created her first blog for small businesses in 2004 and a year later was invited to offer her advice and tips on Allbusiness.com. Now Denise blogs about small business issues at http://www.deniseoberry.com.

Network Solutions: What are your initial thoughts on the Small Business Success Survey?
Denise:
The results of this survey are no surprise. The issues identified are common areas of concern for small business. I was pleased to see the high marks in customer service and compliance, but it’s clear that small business still has plenty of work to do.

Network Solutions: Out of the six dimensions used for measuring success, Capital Access and Marketing & Innovation were the two biggest inhibitors. What are your thoughts on these key challenges?
Denise:
Small business has consistently struggled with capital access and marketing issues. The current economic environment has exacerbated those issues. But small business owners are very creative. Plenty of them will find ways to fund their businesses so their dreams stay alive. They will also use that creativity to tap into low cost methods for getting the word out about their businesses.

Network Solutions: According to the results, 42% of the small business respondents expect to hold the line of discretionary spending this year.  Do you have any suggestions on how small business owners can market themselves with a shoe-string budget?
Denise:
Tap into the social media methods of marketing. One of the best ways to get the word out about a product or service is through word of mouth. Social media is perfect for this. Now, more than ever before, small business owners need to identify their marketing goals and develop a plan around low cost methods like a public relations program that integrates both offline and online strategies into their marketing activities.

Network Solutions: Only 1/3 of the survey respondents are confident of achieving profitability in this economy. What are some best practices small business can learn from Fortune 500s to sustain themselves in the current economy?
Denise:
They should pay close attention to their brand. The internet allows small businesses a more level playing field for managing their reputation and spreading the word about their brand. The actions to accomplish this goal should be part of their marketing plan.

Network Solutions: According the study, “small businesses rely on a range of Internet business solutions and computer technologies to succeed.” What online services do you think best help entrepreneurs and small businesses? Why?
Denise:
Cloud computing is a great way for small business to compete in the marketplace with minimal cost. Tapping into online services that can help them manage cash flow, payment services, and invoicing can save them a lot of time. Leveraging other online technologies that help them maximize the processes in their business, reduce time to market and outsource will help them succeed.

Network Solutions:  In your opinion, how important is it to benchmark yourself as a small business using something like the Small Business Success Index?
Denise: It’s important for small businesses to understand how they stack up to others in their market. It can confirm where they are on the success index and identify areas for improvement in addition to helping them focus on innovative strategies that can springboard them to success.