Life lessons, anecdotes, and bits of advice from three Bay Area entrepreneurs who made the big time.
Founded: 2009 in SoMa
Reach: 1 million-plus users who have spent $4 billion in transactions
Funding: $100 million in venture capital
Employees: 250 and counting
Also known as: Twitter cofounder
"I used to cut up magazines and make pockets for the wall. I tried to sell them to my parents. They just yelled at me for taping things to the wall. I was four.
The first time I was someone’s boss was at Twitter. I saw it as a way to do more by taking all the input from the team to craft something we’d be proud of.
It’s always easy to have an idea. What’s hard is to execute. The trick is to share the product and iterate on it very quickly.
The best companies have thousands of turning points.
I look to our board members, who are great entrepreneurial thinkers. I look to my peers for advice. But I also look to our employees—that’s where I draw the most inspiration.
I don’t have a lot of time, so I don’t go shopping. That’s not how I reward myself. Instead, I might take a walk.
I haven’t had success yet. My measure of success is to reach every person on the planet."
Founded: 2004 in Redwood City
Reach: Jewelry sold in 400 stores in 50 countries; celeb clientele including Gwyneth Paltrow
Revenue: $5–8 million projected for 2013
Funding: Personal capital
Employees: 5 in the U.S. and 15 in Mumbai
Also known as: Intellectual property lawyer
We’re conservative when it comes to cash flow. But when a big order or amazing press comes our way, we celebrate with Champagne.
Initially, I was a very soft, easy boss. Anything my employees couldn’t do, I would do. Now I have to delegate. I expect more.
When you own a company, it’s like your child. It’s constantly on your mind.
I did not take hiring seriously in the early days and settled for less on many occasions.
I work 16 to 18 hours a day so that I can stay in touch with our teams in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. But I always spend time with my kids after school.
Keep reminding yourself of the end goal. This will help you get through the day and be excited to tackle the next.
Strive for the best, despite your circumstances or resources. Mediocrity is not an option if you want to succeed.
Founded: 2007 in FiDi
Reach: Sold in 20,000 stores and college campuses
Revenue: $75 million to date
Funding: Personal capital, private equity fund, and angel investors
Also known as: Former Allbusiness.com CEO, Paragon Restaurants founder, and Oh-La-La! coffee bar franchise founder
My father brought me up to always have a job. I did everything from painting addresses on curbs and having a paper route to working in my father’s furniture store when I was 10.
It’s not who’s right. It’s what’s right. It’s sending hand-written notes, returning every call, and picking up the phone instead of emailing.
I answer every email that comes into the general inbox. It’s anonymous, so you don’t know it’s me. It keeps me connected to the brand and snackers.
Relationships matter. My father passed away when I was 16. He imparted the importance of being responsible and thoughtful. He also taught me there are no shortcuts.
Surround yourself with smart people.
My worst day is any day I have to fire an employee. It’s a necessary evil of running a business.
You have to have passion for what you’re doing. Being an entrepreneur is twice as hard as you think. If it works, it’s twice as fun.