I am a serial entrepreneur. Ranker is my 5th startup in 15 years, and I'm not looking to start anything else for awhile - Ranker is pretty ambitious, and there is a LOT more that we will be doing with this platform, I think it will keep me happily occupied for quite some time.
I try to start businesses that are involved in things I am really passionate about. It makes things a lot easier when you find yourself responding to emails at 11PM on a Friday night. As you can see, I'm pretty into music - most of my prior startups were in music, and Ranker includes music (as well as much more).. Being an entrepreneur is both one of the most rewarding and most stressful things one can do - at least if you are trying to really grow businesses (it's definitely possible to have a lifestyle business where you get tons of lifestyle flexibility, don't have to work crazy hours, and make a decent living, but if you are running multiple businesses or growth companies you had better be prepared to put in the long hours). I have found the personal rewards to be much greater, and the stress much less, when I am doing something I love.
When I get an idea for a business in my head, I tend to charge ahead. This is not always the smartest thing - at numerous times in my business career, particularly when i was in my 20s, I have found myself having bitten off more than I could chew. When that happens, the only way out of it is basically to work every waking hour, which I have had to do for long stretches on numerous occasions. It's easy, and human nature, to underestimate how much time it takes to build a business. At one point I had four businesses going at once, one of them halfway across the country. I would not recommend this to anyone, it's hard to focus when you have that much going on. Ranker is 98% of my focus at this point, and I've learned the lessons of dilution. I have a thing about finishing anything I start, so no more startups on the horizon (though I have lots of ideas that I'd be happy to give to someone else who is prepared to run with them)..
But charging ahead has paid off in the long haul, to be sure. It's my nature, and it's hard to change one's nature.
I also have always put my own money into my businesses - started doing this when I didn't know any better, and I guess I have still never really learned, ha. This can sometimes be painful. But then again I'd rather bet on myself than something I have less control over. So far it has all worked out in the end.
2009 - presentYou are here (welcome).
Yes, I have included our original logo, cringeworthy as it is to me, as a reminder of how far Ranker has come . . .
- Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY2
1999 - present (I exited when the company was sold to Hearst at the end of 2006)
I started eCrush with Karen DeMars and Amy Gibby in early 1999. I had a number of other businesses going but was seeing all the articles about kids cashing in on the dot.com craze, and frankly I wanted a piece of that.
eCrush started out as an early viral app on the web - it was a way to find out if someone you had a crush on also felt the same about you. By the time we sold, it was a totally different business, www.espin.com - a teen social network. The story of eCrush is summed up here pretty well: http://www.startup-review.com/blog/ecrush-case-study-why-timing-the-ma-market-is-tricky.phpThe company was always based in a city other than my home of LA (Chicago, though the team moved to San Francisco for a year before the bubble burst). This is not something I would recommend, at least for a growth company, but we made it work. We had a very solid team, and although there were many times after the dot.com crash when I wished I hadn't started yet another business, in the end it all worked out. And the experience of taking meetings in the Bay Area dot.com world circa 2000, hearing landlords and even restaurant valets talking about their stock options, is one of those rare "interesting place at an interesting time" events I am glad to have experienced firsthand - it was every bit like that documentary startup.com