The Secrets to Bay Area Entrepreneurs' Success

The Secrets to Bay Area Entrepreneurs' Success


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
Employees: 80
Also known as: Former 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.

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