Hey, everybody. How's it goin'? I'm Chase Jarvis. Welcome to Creative Live and our 30 Days of Genius series. If you're not familiar with 30 Days of Genius, let me tell you about it. I'm sitting down with the top creatives, the top entrepreneurs in the world, unpacking their brains, and creating actionable insights to help your career, your hobby, and your life. If you're new to the series, go to creativelive.com/30, the number 3-0, Days of Genius. You can click that blue button there, and for 100%, absolutely free, we'll put one of these interviews in your inbox every day, and this series will continue on. Beyond that, my guest today, you will know him from his list of accomplishments. There's not enough time for me to list them all, but a couple of highlights. He sold his first company, I think, at 32, second one at 41 for $5.6 billion to Yahoo!. That's billion with a 'b'. He's the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theaters, Magnolia Pictures, and he's the star of ABC's Shark Ta...
nk. You know him, Mr. Mark Cuban.
What's up, Chase?
Good to see ya. Thank you so much for being here.
My pleasure. (dramatic music) (clapping)
They love you!
Mark, thank you so much!
My pleasure, Chase!
I think I did you wrong in the intro.
You're aging me. I'm aging fast enough. I don't need--
29 and 39?
Four years it took you to sell a company for--
$5.7 billion, yeah. It was just, I mean, we basically started the streaming industry.
Broadcast, it was not Broadcast.com--
It was AudioNet when we started it, and we just did audio, and then because we did video as well, and we streamed the first everything, then we had to change it to something that combinated video, so Broadcast.com and boom.
Huge deal. Well, give me the, I think a lot of the people in the universe know pieces of you. Obviously, Shark Tank's really, really been good for your personal brand, but give us a little bit of backstory. I know, from what I know about you, we've drank some wine together before.
A little bit.
We've had some time together, but start out early age, what got you started--
I've always been driven, right. I've always been about, from sellin' baseball cards, sellin' garbage bags door to door, you name it. If I could make money at it, I kind of figured it out. Went to Indiana University. Started a bar before I was 21. Got busted for underage drinking. That ended that.
You wouldn't just go to, like some of us just went to bars before we were 21. You started one.
Right, I started one, right. And then after Indiana, I went down to Dallas, got a job at a software store, taught myself how to code, got fired from that job, started a systems integration company back when low-query networks were, no one had even thought of them, so while everybody else was just worried about PCs and software, I was connecting networks, and writing multi-user applications, and wrote the first purchase order system that was used by a Walmart vendor, integrated video and still images into a database so that Zales wouldn't have to keep expensive watches in a safe. So, I wrote all these apps, and then I sold that company to CompuServe, which was part of H&R Block. Bought a lifetime pass on American Airlines, partied like a rockstar, got really, really good at it. It's a trait that I've continued on with. Then, said I was retired and just, took acting classes, acted in a bunch of B movies and commercials.
Oh, yeah, but I bought 'em out so they would never be out there. That's the honest to God truth, so you will never find 'em. You know, did episodes of Walker Texas Ranger in Dallas, and then, it was the 90s, and the internet was just starting to happen, and basketball in Indiana was really big, and so we used to listen to Indiana basketball games by having somebody put a radio next to a speaker phone, and so then we would sit on the other side with the speakerphone, drinkin' beers and listenin' to the games, and that was really the only way to get them, and there wasn't the regional sports networks, the big 10 networks and all that stuff. So, I'm like, 'Wait, this internet stuff, it's a network to network,' and I was a low-query networking guy. You know, I don't think people realize that my background was in writing multi-user applications on networks, and so it's like, okay, let's--
Figure this out.
Figure this out, yeah. And so we started originally trying to write our own code. Then we started integrating from a company called Zing and Progressive Networks. Then, Microsoft came along, and we started integrating all these different pieces, and so once we got the audio to work, and here's a little sideline. The first audio streaming, right, I mean, we did the first of everything. What we used to do was take eight-hour VCR tapes and connect 'em to radio stations and connect 'em to radios, and record 'em on eight-hour VCR, and then take the output of the audio and encode them on a PC, like a 90-megahertz Packard Bell PC, and that's how we started the whole streaming thing, and then it just blew up. Like everybody else, I taught myself HTML, set up a web server, a Netscape, and it was called AudioNet.com, and we just started goin' on CompuServe forms, whatever, saying, 'Look, if you're into Dallas sports, if you're into sports, go to AudioNet, download this app, and listen, and tell me what you think.' And then bam! The coolest part was, the radio stations we were streaming started getting calls from all over the world. Like, I'm listenin' to my local sports radio station, this was long before I bought the Mavs, and there's a dude who calls from the Aleutian Islands. I'm like, what the fuck are the Aleutian Islands, right? And I'm like, 'we got somethin' here. This is gonna be somethin' special.' And then it just blew up.
We were talkin' about that before. If you're an entrepreneur, and you're wondering if your stuff is crackin', if you have to ask the question, it's not. So put your head down and go back to work.
If people are calling you from the Aleutian Islands begging for your service--
Then you know something's goin on, right?
That means you got somethin'.
And then all of a sudden, we were a top 25 website, and everybody was writing about us, and everybody couldn't get enough of us, and that got us attention, and I had funded it with myself and some buddies, and I wrote the first $75,000 check, cause I had money from when I sold my last company, and then I had built up the company from then, or built up and made more money in the market from there, and so it just blew up. It was amazing.
Well, there's a lot of things that got you even from there to where you're here, sittin' on the couch with us, for sure.
Yeah, and then after I sold Broadcast, obviously I bought the Mavs, started the first all-definition, all high definition TV network. I mean, people don't realize that I started a company called HDNet in 2000, and back then, no one knew what high definition was, right. The only place that you saw high definition was on these $25,000 TVs that were these big monstrosities, and everybody was like, 'Why would you start a high definition television network? Those TVs are never gonna be cheaper, never gonna be affordable, never gonna be in homes.' I'm like, 'Bro, you don't get it. High-def is gonna be everywhere, right. It's all digital. It's gonna follow the same price performance curve,' and so we've had, now it's AccessTV and it's been profitable for 15 years, and been runnin' that, but it was the first all high-definition TV network, and that's just kind of what I've tried to do, just try to stay ahead of technology and just try to play that technology curve into businesses.
Great. Well, you know our audience is solo-preneurs, entrepreneurs, freelancers, people who are trying to, there are two groups of people, people trying to go from, sort of, one to 10, they want to amplify the stuff that they're already doing, and people wanna go from zero to one. They're in a desk job and like, 'How do I get out of here and start my own thing?' So, let's start out with advice to people who wanna go from zero to one, because so many people, there's this fear of taking the first step.
Right, that first step was always the hardest, right, and people were always like, 'Oh, you're such a risk taker.' I'm like, I hate risk, man. I am terrified. And literally, it is terrifying, you know, taking that first step. For me, it was easier cause I got fired, but it's really, it's about preparation. You know, we all go through this process, and tell me what you think, Chase, where you've got the idea, right, and you get that feeling in your stomach, and you get all excited, oh my God. Then you talk to a friend, and the friend goes, 'Oh, wow, that's pretty cool. I never heard of anything like that. I'd buy that.' And then you talk to some other people, and then you do the Google search, right.
Anybody else out there?
Is anybody else doing this? And you try 50 different ways, and no one's out there. Well, the first thing I'll tell you is, just because you don't see it on Google doesn't mean 100 companies haven't gone out of business doin' the same thing, right. It may not be, there's a saying in basketball, 'you're open for a reason,' which means you can't shoot, so they're not guarding you, right. It hasn't been done for a reason, because every company who's tried it has gone out of business. So the one thing I would tell you is be careful but once you get past that stage, then what I always tell people is, one, is it somethin' you love to do? Right, because--
That's so true, cause it's gonna get hard.
It's gonna get really hard.
If you're listenin', it's gonna get hard, and if you don't love what you're doing, then it's like, when shit gets hard, that's when you're gonna like, 'Aww, man, I'm gonna fold in the towel.'
Right, right, because you don't know, right. You don't have a sense for it, and I'm a real believer that each and every one of us has somethin' we're good at, and you've got to figure out is this somethin' you're good at? You know, I've always been good at selling. I found out, I wasn't into computers when I was a kid. Then I found out when I started to teach myself how to code, it was like, 'Oh, I like this!' And I literally, I would sit there writing software, and I'd think, 'Okay, I've been workin' two hours. I better get somethin' to eat,' and it's been 24 hours, you know? It's just like, what the fuck, you know? 24 hours? I mean, okay. (laughing)
Clearly, you you're clued in, and it's not just what you care about, it's not just passion, because the circles overlapping passion and aptitude, right. You wanna be good at something. Just because you love basketball--
Doesn't mean I'm gonna be any good at it, right.
Yeah, sure. I mean, you can have fun at it, but if you're tryin' to make a business, a life, a living, then you should--
Yeah, and I always say don't follow your passion. Follow your effort. So you might think you're passionate about playing basketball, playing the guitar, drawing, design, whatever, but where you spend your time is your better indicator, because that's typically what you're good at, and nobody ever quits anything they're good at, you know. When you're good at somethin', you tend to wanna get better.
That's what you lean into. So, just take your introduction I open the episode with, as a clue here, there's so many things, and I'm finding that that's not just Mark Cuban or myself. I feel like so many people now, the way I like to talk about it is we're all becoming hyphens. You know, if our parents had one job, we will have five, and the next generation will have five at the same time. That's one of the reasons that Creative Live exists, because the education system--
You wanna learn, right?
Yeah! Currently doesn't actually provide for that, so lifelong learning and the ability to pick up new skills along the way is critical. Most people that I know are scared shitless that, 'Wait a minute. I'm cobbling together these incomes, but there's 50 or 100 people sprawled all over this place, and they are all doing all sorts of different things.' We've got startups, people, I mean, again, how many companies are you invested in? How many, you're on a television show, you've got--
I've got over 150 companies, right. Yeah, I mean my attitude is we're all free agents.
You know, and you're gonna apply your time and your skillset, whatever that is, where it's almost a time arbitrage, right. Where, in my personal time spectrum, if you wanna get corny, where am I gonna get paid the most, right, and then I'm gonna try to sell that time and hopefully, there's somebody else whose time is worth more who values me enough, right? Even where I'm at, right, if there's somebody who values my time more than I value it, and they're willing to pay me that much, I'm in, right. Look, when I got started, when I got fired, I was livin' six guys in a three-bedroom apartment. My time was worth this, right, and I worked as a bartender at night, and I did whatever I needed to do, and I wrote software and whatever I needed to write, but it's the same today, but the key is, what are you continuing to learn? What are you continuing to get good at? What can, you know, where can you sell and what can you do?
I think that people, I'm just gonna take a stab out there, when people think of Mark Cuban, done it, made it, sit back, put your feet on the table, but I have, again, in knowing you a little bit and in--
Hangin' out some.
In what I feel like I know about entrepreneurship and myself and my friends, that there's so much work that's going into your life right now, and so talk to me about, like there is the hustle, and talk about the hustle for just a minute.
I mean, I call it the grind, right. The hustle, the grind. It's nonstop, you know. I love to learn, and I love to compete, and I love to win, and there's nothin' that upsets me more than thinkin' some junior high kid is gonna kick my ass, right. So I give speeches to talk about it all the time. You think you're gonna kick my ass, but I'm gonna outwork you, and outworking somebody isn't just about putting in the hours. It's about learning and being able to take everything you've learned and crunch it together and come up with something more valuable. Like, when you talk about, 'give us the key,' and I say dollar sign, and all these people are gonna crunch different ideas with it. Who can put the best idea together? You've got to love to learn, and that's what I do, you know. The minute I get up to the minute I go to bed, unless I'm doin' something else, I'm spendin' time trying to learn.
I feel like that's one of the unsung things, is sort of stamina, perseverance and stamina. It's like, you sort of outlast everybody. Out work, outlast, out hustle. I think so many folks, well tell me why there is, tell me why is hustle a curse word to some people--
Cause they're lazy. (laughing)
Cause they're lazy? Okay. This is real.
They don't wanna, look. Either you wanna win or you don't wanna win. It's very competitive. I mean, business is the ultimate sport, but I've said this to our players over the years, right. Game's 48 minutes. You practiced. Even if it's five times a week, three hours a day, maybe you work on your game another hour, two hours a day, and you're like all in if you do that. In business, it's 24 by seven by 365 by forever, and you're competing with everybody. Business is the ultimate sport. There's nothing close. I've sat and told Michael Jordan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, all these people. Like, 'you think you're competitive? You ain't shit! (laughing) You don't know what competition is. You have an off-season.' In business, there's no off-season. There's no down time. Are you kidding me? Every one of you watching out there. If you're napping, I'm kicking your ass. That's just the way it is.
Straight up. Called you out right here.
Seriously, because, and it's not to say there's not more to life than just working all the time, because I love what I do, you know? And so if I'm reading about technology, if I'm reading about encryption, if I'm reading about whatever, big data, if I'm reading about machine vision, machine learning, I know that I've built this base of knowledge, and I can take machine vision and apply it to what I already know, and come up with something new, right. So if you don't have that layer of knowledge of the things you're really into, you're way behind.
You're way behind. So I wanted to talk about some of the comments that you just sort of alluded to. Before we do, I wanna follow up with that last statement. So, how bout when people, there's a tendency to desire this work, life balance. I actually did something different. I created a life where the things that I love to do work and life, just merged seamlessly, but is that a thing? Have you done--
It just depends where you are in your life, right.
Are you 22? Then, work life is partying versus working, right. Are you 25? Then, maybe relationships are in there a little bit. Are you married? Do you have kids? Do you have a car? Do you have a rent? Do you have a mortgage payment? First of all, the more payments you have, the less you want it.
That's interesting. Okay, so you--
There's no financial balance. There's different types of balance. There is no financial balance. You have to, if you wanna start your own business, the minute you stop living like a student, then it's all about looking good as opposed to succeeding.
So do you encourage people to live like a student?
Yeah, lean and mean, right? I mean, you live mac and cheese is a staple of life. Ramen noodles is a staple of life. Roommates are a staple of life, you know. Having a beater car is a staple of life, right. I mean, you don't need to be a $100 millionaire. You need to get to the goal.
To me, that's incredible advice. That is, operating lean, and again, that earlier question we revisited. Like, if you're wondering if you've made it, you haven't.
You haven't made it. Look, I haven't made it. People are like--
Well, what is it anyway?
Yeah, people are like, 'I wanna be the next Mark Cuban.' I'm like, I'm not done being Mark Cuban, right. It's just like, 'you've done all this.' I haven't done shit, right. It's just like, there's so much more.
You're only 29. You're just getting started.
I know! Trust me, in my mind, I'm 21, but there's just so much more cause there's always opportunity. There's never a lack of opportunity. Never. If you don't think there's an opportunity there, you're an idiot, right. You haven't found it, and so it's not the opportunities. It's you, right. You know, it's like--
I think that's a hard thing for people to admit.
Well, yeah, it's like a relationship. 'Oh, no it's not me. It's you. It's not you, it's me.' It's just, no. It's out there. It's just a question of, have you dug in, right. Have you found what it is you're wired to do, because all of us are different.
Let's talk about self awareness. You know what you're wired to do. How do people discover themselves? Is there--
I'm glad you brought that up. Self awareness is probably one of the most important things, most important skillsets if you will, that anybody can have, whether you're an artist, whether you're a designer, whether you're a politician, we see a lack of self awareness in a big way, right?
Or an entrepreneur. You gotta know what you're good at, You gotta know what you're marginal at, and you gotta know what you suck at, and you've gotta find people who complement your skills. You know, and you've gotta know what type of thinker you are. You've gotta know how you work, you know, and once you start to understand who you are, then you can start finding places where you'll be successful, and you won't be lying to yourself. Entrepreneurs love to sell themselves and lie to themselves. 'I'm gonna be this. I'm gonna be that,' right? But you're not all that until you're all this--
I talk about leaning into your strengths, and not trying to fix your weaknesses. That's the way I hire.
I don't hire for lack of weakness. I hire for abundant strengths.
I always partner with people who are good at what I suck at.
What are you good at, and what do you suck at?
What I suck at is being organized, right. Like my partners have been anal people. I always partner with people who are super anal, because I'm like ready, fire, aim, and then there's somebody who has to keep me within the baselines, right, that are organized and structured, so I try to hire for that skillset. What I'm good at is taking new concepts and applying them to business. So, whether it was in the early PC era, saying 'Okay, I'm connecting these things in the low-query networks' and becoming one of the first low-query networking integrators in the country, one of the first people writing software for those applications, one of the first people doing streaming if not the first, one of the first people doing high-definition. You just name it, right. Those are the things I try to do to stay--
Seeing around the corner a little--
Yeah, seeing around the corner and then saying, 'Okay, is this a business?' And maybe trying to make that work.
What gives you that insight? Is it a character trait? Is it a learned--
Yes, it's effort.
And is it pattern recognition? Is it reading the New York Times every morning? Is it--
I mean, it's all the above. It's all the above, right. It's just loving to learn, right. To me--
It's amazing how all this stuff comes back to learning. Like, there's hustle, learning, and hustle applied to learning is gonna create--
Yeah, look. The one thing, and I say this to our basketball team, and it's the same for entrepreneurs, the one thing in life you can control, your effort.
Brilliant. So let's segue into some of the businesses. A lot of people know you from Shark Tank. I think that, we'll get to that in a second because I feel like there's a lot of businesses there that your investments are, you can't spend time with 150 companies, but what are you spending time on? I know about Cyber Dust.
Right, Cyber Dust is a big one. So--
I know about uBeam. I know about a few businesses.
Right, so my structure, the way I work, right, I've got 150 plus businesses, but I've got a lot of great people who work for me, and with all those, almost all those businesses, I get weekly or biweekly reports, bad news first, right, cause if I've invested in you, I expect good news, right. I expect you to do good things. You can write them in the email, and tell me we closed this deal, and I'll say congrats, but that's what I expect. When you have bad news, that's where I could help.
Bad news first.
Yeah, bad news always first. Let's get it out of the way, cause that's what you're stressing about.
Save the high-five for later.
Right. Because one of my other sayings, you're gettin' into all my sayings now, if you wanna be successful working for an entrepreneur, or working for anybody, reduce the stress of those around you.
That's exactly how I measure it. Utility. Are you indisposable, and if you are, I'll do anything to keep you.
Right, but if you think you're indisposable, you never are. (laughing)
This is a recurring theme. I will tell if you are.
You'll know, right? You'll know, because I'm comin' to you to give you a raise. You don't have to ask. If you think you're indispensable, you are not indispensable. If you think you're indispensable, I would bet any amount of money that you create more stress than you reduce because a lot of people measure their indispensability by how much stress is around them, because they figure if there's all kind of stress everywhere, I must be indispensable because--
We're hustlin', yeah.
Yeah, there's so much stress. Who else could deal with all this? And the reality is, if in your job there's not a lot of stress, that means things are working smoothly. That's--
And those are the people, you try and put yourself around people who help you run--
Yeah, cause I don't want stress. You know, I worked my ass off to get here so I'd have less stress, not more, so anybody who creates stress, I mean I had one guy who worked for me for a long time, and I kept on tellin' him, less stress, less stress, and I'm loyal, right. I'm very loyal, to a fault. Less stress, and it finally got to a point, you gotta go. You create so much stress for everybody around you. It's killin' us, right.
That's an amazing way of measuring just raw output, like raw, it's working or not working. It's like--
Yeah, are you creating stress? Now, people start working for me, like I'm a micromanager at the beginning, and once I trust you, just give me my weekly reports and you're good.
So go back to work, work habits. So, you like to receive weekly or biweekly regular updates?
So for me, right. So, I'm learning. I've got a few companies. So, what am I focusing on? Like you being Meredith Perry, she's the rocket scientist. She's doing her own thing.
And for those of you who don't know, Meredith Perry is with uBeam, which is wireless--
Wireless power. Yeah, and you can Google it, and I'll let her speak for it, because--
She's fascinating. (laughing)
But I've got everything from non-tech companies like AXS TV, which is all high-definition, like music geared, geared towards probably Gen-X, not even millennials, right, but we've got tons of concerts, tons of music shows. We've got a great show coming with David Hasselhoff, which is the craziest show ever.
You're bringing back the Hoff?
The Hoff is coming back, and it's all Hoff, all the time-type show where he just does this crazy, crazy stuff, right, and puts himself into crazy situations.
That means prepare yourself.
Yeah, no, it's off the charts. So, AXS TV takes up a chunk of my time. I've got this little company we were talkin' bout earlier, called Alyssa's Healthy Cookies, right.
This sounds dangerous.
No, it's amazing, right--
You talk about reducing stress. I'm one of these people who have food issues. (laughing) You know, I try to stay in good shape.
You look great by the way.
No, I've been workin' out a lot, right. And it's Alyssa's Healthy Cookies. No lie. So I've got a sweet tooth. I get sweet cravings, and if the Mavs lose a game, all I wanna do is eat junk, which, unfortunately, lately has been happenin' a lot.
Come on, guys!
Yeah, we're comin' tonight! We're gettin' you! But Alyssa' Healthy Cookies. This guy, her daughter's named Alyssa, his daughter's named Alyssa, his name is Doug, sent me a cookie, right, and I'm not encouraging people to just send me food, but it got me at the right time.
Oh, that's just like a--
And it happens right. I get salsas, marinaras, this and that, oh, the family recipe, but I'm like, okay, this looks interesting, because I looked at the nutrition on the back, and there's this huge cookie for 190 calories, and it was great, but the problem was, every time you took it out of the wrapper, it would crumble. So I told them, remanufacture 'em, put 'em in a plastic little container, and make 'em more like macaroons, like bigger macaroons, and ate 'em--
Yeah, bite-sized but big enough, and so he made 'em, and so now, he makes these containers of eight that are only 350 calories for all eight cookies, 16 grams of fiber, four net carbs, tons of, 200% of your protein requirements for the day, and so every morning, literally, I eat these Alyssa' Healthy Cookies for breakfast.
Yeah, coffee or tea or whatever, right, and then if I need a snack, I literally, I take in my bag that I carry my laptop, I have a little section that's nothing but the little containers of Alyssa's, so business wise, right. It's one thing if it's just for me. We put some, he had been sellin' 'em in some local health stores in Florida. We put some in a local supermarket, Central Market, in Dallas, and they just started selling out, and just in one supermarket chain in Texas, that's it. He was doing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then, we added another. Then, another, and so this past year, he did almost $3 million in cookies.
In cookies, at like huge margin. This year, we're adding Publix. We're adding all these huge grocery stores, Krogers, so ask for Alyssa' Healthy Cookies, and it's on Amazon, Amazon Exclusives, and he'll sell, he literally can sell $10 million worth of cookies. Yeah, and he's got the oatmeal type, and he's got the vegan type.
So there's a lesson here. Put a pin, I'm gonna put a pin in like three or four things, I wanna keep going at the same time. One of these pins is, so he made a prototype. If you're wondering where to put your effort, entrepreneurs, solo-preneurs, put it into a prototype, because then you have something--
And then he found a local health food store to sell some.
There you go, and sent one to you, and then you can work on it and you can iterate from there.
And he got sales. He had some success, right. So then the next question is if I start, what do I do first? You find customers, right. Customers give you the ultimate feedback. Sales is the ultimate feedback, right. So he put 'em in the local health foods store. He did fairly well, but he couldn't get local grocery stores to carry 'em, because the complaint was they fell apart. So, he got some help from me. Took off.
Another one that's got technology for a second. So, we've talked about some of the AXS stuff. Then we got some non-tech stuff like cookies. Talk about the technology, so--
So Cyber Dust--
Right. So, I had a little battle with the SEC and the US Government, and in that battle, somebody got a hair up their ass and decided they wanted to mess with me, and there's a discovery process when they sued me, and they took every email I had, which was fine, and if I said the sky was green, they'd try to twist it around. 'Oh, you knew we'd be looking. You were just trying to mislead us,' right. I'm like, this is ridiculous. You're in a no-win situation when you're in a an adversarial situation, and so then I started looking at social media and you realize very quickly, or I realized very quickly, and this applies to everybody, the minute you hit send on an email, the minute you hit send on a text, and it doesn't matter if it's a Twitter DM, an Instagram DM, whatever, right, you don't own it anymore. So when I send Chase an email, no matter what it says, Chase, you get that email, you own it. You send me an email. I now own that email. I now own that text. I can do anything I want with it forever. Forever! Not just six weeks, not just six months, not just six years. It could be 30 years, right, and not only that. I can use it any context I want. That social media and digital footprint that we have, communications digital footprint, scared the shit outta me, right, and it should scare the shit out of everybody, because even the most benign thing could be used against you.
So does that mean, are you asking us to not participate in this stuff then?
No, it's not that you don't participate, right. It's just that you have to be very careful, right. There's a place for email. We sent emails back and forth. So, I created this messaging app called Cyber Dust, and what Cyber Dust does, it has two, several unique features. One, when you send the message, it's encrypted. That's not a big deal now for 99% of the population, but if you're doin' big business deals, if you're exchanging technology, if you're exchanging designs, and you wanna protect them, that could be a big deal because you never know, but more importantly, after the message is read, it disappears forever, right. So, if you and I exchange messages using the Cyber Dust app, once I've read it, or 24 hours, whichever comes first, if I don't get to it, it's gone forever. Now, people say, 'Well, nothing's ever gone forever. It's on the internet.' This is gone forever. The NSA--
It's not sitting at a server's house.
So on our server, it goes through our servers, not peer to peer, it's only in Random Access Memory, so if we pull the switch on the server, if we get raided and we pull the switch, it's gone just like on your laptop, if you turn off anything that's in memory, gone. It doesn't get cached. It doesn't get anywhere. We've got a patent on it, and it's the same thing on your phone, your tablet, whatever. It's not stored to any permanent storage device, so if you send me a message, and I turn off my phone, or I just click out of the app, close the app, it's gone forever.
So are you excited about messaging, or are you excited about cybersecurity, because messaging--
Well, they go hand in hand.
Okay. Messaging, I think, is gonna replace the browswer. It's gonna--
Oh, it's already blowing up, and so we're adding features to Cyber Dust that relate to that, right. So, on one hand, we can send messages, and millions of messages are being exchanged every day, and then we also had what we called Blast, so there's one to one, and then there's groups til one to 120--
Your company or whatever--
Right, whoever. Groups, buddies, whatever, talking about whatever. Like, we'll have fraternities use it now, sororities use it now for group messaging, because something gets taken out of context when you see it every day. Evan Siegel from Snapchat, his old listserv stuff came back from college days, and it happens to a lot of people. So, one to one messages are gone. Groups, the messages are gone. One to many is what we call Blast, so I have 412,000 followers on Cyber Dust, and so I can take a picture here, or I could create a message and send it to all 400,000 people, and they can even reblast it, which is kind of like a retweet, and send it to their followers, so it kinda takes off, but once it gets looked at, it disappears.
How's it different than Snapchat? Let's call out the obvious.
Well, yeah. Well, Snapchat--
Is it just, is it Snapchat for business? Is that what it is?
Well, kinda. You know, Snapchat is more geared towards kids, and our audience is typically--
You can't put a fart on it?
Yeah, yeah. It's more, you can do chat in Snapchat, but the snap, the chat in Snapchat doesn't disappear, right. It's not safe, right. Anybody, you know, if you get sued, it can get subpoenaed, and it's gonna show up. If you get sued, there's nothing for us to convey, right.
And this was in, I always tell entrepreneurs, and my own experience matches this, is the only reason I would give this advice, is that scratch your own itch, because when shit gets hard, you're gonna actually wanna solve the problem. You want to solve it for yourself and your friends, and so is this a direct descendant--
This is a scratch your own itch, yeah. Absolutely, right. So I use it for business, right. I use it if I'm talking about an employee, right. So you know, you have employees, right?
Yeah, it varies--
The hardest thing ever is, if someone asks for a recommendation or you're trying to have a conversation about an employee, 'Should we fire him? Should we fire her? Should we not--
Yeah, all of that is very, very sensitive stuff.
Very sensitive, and you know if that person thinks they're fired unjustly, and so the best way to describe Cyber Dust isn't a way to avoid something. It's like a face to face conversation. So, if you and I were standing out here having this conversation, there's no record of it. There's no one taking notes. There's no one recording it. It's off into the ether once we're done. Cyber Dust is the digital version of face to face conversation.
I love that contextualization. That's powerful.
And so Snapchat. So, if you use the text part of the Snapchat, you just tap it and save it. You can save everything, right. So, just to prove a point, I've done Snapchat text conversations with people, and you just tap it, you save it, and I've got conversations that are a year, two years old, and so that's the big difference, and so we've had 100 million, $200 million deals, multiple big deals done on Cyber Dust. We've had all kinds of stuff, business done, and I've made big decisions because these are things you don't want living on forever, and so there'll be times when I'm having, and there's things you wanna save, and I'll say, 'we'll go to email,' and there's things you'll say, 'no, this is too sensitive, we'll go to Cyber Dust.'
Powerful. So, I'm gonna put a pause on the business conversation--
Let me add one more thing on Cyber Dust. Anybody who's watching, download Cyber Dust, add me. My username, Blog Maverick. One of the other things that's happened on Cyber Dust is there's a huge entrepreneurial community, because the thing about privacy is it creates honesty. If you try to put something on Twitter, Twitter's no longer a social network. Right, because it's so troll-driven. If you blast something on Cyber Dust, or you have a conversation on Cyber Dust, not everybody sees our conversation, and because of that privacy and the fact that you know it's gone--
You can have a real--
Yeah, it's real. There's no trolls. You're not, when you put something on Twitter, you know you're gonna get attacked. When you put something on a comment section, even in Instagram, you know you're gonna get attacked. When you put something even on Facebook, you know you're gonna get attacked, or someone's gonna take it out of context. When you have a conversation with entrepreneurs, and there's a whole Discover section. So you can go to the Discover section. There's someone who wants to talk about automobiles, and there's someone who has a startup in this, and a startup in that, and you can just message 'em and have a fair conversation. Now, we can't stop screenshots, and that's a question that always comes up on Apple devices. We alert you like Snapchat does, but more importantly, it doesn't show your name, right. So if there's a conversation you and I are having saying, 'Well, I love Creative Live. I'd like to make an investment,' whatever, right, and someone screenshots that as part of a group, there's no clue, there's no tracing where it came from, and so--
It doesn't say that Mark and Chase--
Mark and Chase, no there's no identification whatsoever. You have to actually tap the top of the message to see who it was, and it creates a whole separate thing. So, all that privacy creates honesty. Honesty creates better conversations, and so it's really grown into a great networking environment, and like I said, if you download Cyber Dust, add me at Blog Maverick. I wanna answer your questions, and I'll forward you to other people who can answer questions, too.
So it's really cool.
Thank you for that access. Speaking of access, and speaking of privacy, I want to put a pin in the business stuff for a second, cause a lot of what my goal with these conversations is to extract really actionable stuff, so this has been very inspirational. Let's talk about some of your personal habits. Like, you talked about how you work, your work style. Let's talk about morning routines. Are there--
I'll tell you exactly what I do, right.
Okay, so get up.
Aside from the cookies, you're making me hungry. Come on, bro.
No, the cookies go hand in hand, right? (laughing) So, get up. Get my kids off to school. You know, get the kisses and the hugs. Put on CNBC on the TV. Get my cookies, get my tea now, cause I'm tryna get off of coffee. I was drinkin' too much coffee.
New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times sittin' right there. Try to get through them, and then--
Do you love paper paper?
It's just change. It's not that I love paper, right. So, if I don't have access to them, I don't mind going online. It's just variance, right.
Don't wanna have too much screen time.
Yeah, cause I'm staring at a screen all day long, right. And so, go through those, and then literally, I'll take it to Cyber Dust, on Cyber Dust, because we have those blasts, right, we also have, we've added all these RSS features. You talk about scratch your own itch, right. So, there's 2,000 different publisher feeds that you can subscribe to, and it just sends 'em to me, so I get my, Tech Meme is a website I like that sends tech headlines. Tech Headlines, Nex Web, Tech Crunch, Mashable, Krebs on Security, you know, there's just 50 of them that I have--
And you take those in every morning.
And so what happens is, on Cyber Dust, it shows up under the blast, and you tap on it, and then just flip through 'em. When there's something that's interesting, I click to read, which saves me time from having to go to the website and go through it, or having to get the email and go through all of 'em, and so it's just faster, more efficient. So, I go through those, and then typically, whatever I have to do. I'm not a meetings guy, right. The only time I'm gonna do a meeting, unless it's something like this, or you're writing me a check. (laughing) You're writing me a check! I'll show up.
You have to show up.
I'm happy to show up. Otherwise, you're there, 'So, hi, Chase. How are the kids? What's goin' on?' Same with phone calls, right. It's just not efficient, and so I'll push you to Cyber Dust, or I'll push you to email, and I prefer Cyber Dust, again, to sell my own book, but I prefer Cyber Dust because I have to deal with it right away. Email, you put in your tickler file. You know, I just keep it as unread and it stays there forever.
Mine looks like a pile of hangers, man. It's messed up.
Right, exactly right. A pile of hangers. It's a great way to put it. And so with Cyber Dust, I just blaze through them, right. Once you open it, if you don't deal with it right then, it's gone.
It's a great forcing function--
You're exactly right. So, then, I'll go and I'll get to my email, and I'll hit delete as much as, I literally will delete, I'll get 500 emails overnight, and I'll delete 90% of 'em, and then I'll go--
Just on subject line and--
Just subject line or whatever, right. Just people who get my email and just wanna pitch me whatever. You know, I can see with the paragraph that previews, look at the preview and say (buzzer sounding) and then I'll deal with the ones that I have to. As I said earlier, I get my weekly reports and they're staggered, so I'll deal with any of the issues I have to deal with, and then that takes me to lunch, and then--
So you're really focused on the first half of the day, of getting the heavy lifting out of the way. All that stuff. Do you, if you don't take meetings, and you focus on the to-do list in the morning, this stack of shit that came in overnight, when do you take care of your biggest and most important stuff? Deal making--
All that stuff is all hand in hand.
It's all right there.
All right there, yeah. Cause I don't do phone calls. I don't do meetings. So, you know, all the people say, 'Oh, Mark, I just need 20 minute call.' No. Whatever you were gonna tell me in a phone call or in a meeting, you get your thoughts together and you put it together in an email or you send it to me via Cyber Dust.
It forces directness.
Right, that I'm gonna be organized and get right to the point. I can get right to it, and if there's somethin' that's untold or somethin' I think is missing, okay, I'll get on a phone or do a meeting, or whatever, but 99.99% of the time, that does the trick.
So, communicating in a written fashion, super critical. Is there a, do you have a personal routine that is about getting away and refresh and rejuvenate. Do you do any of that?
Yeah, I mean, yeah. I've got a lot of that actually. So, if there's a Mavs--
Well, I mean, let's, so there's Mark Cuban and there's the rest of the world. I want you to tell us what Mark Cuban does and then tell us what, if you have some advice for the folks at home.
Well, yeah. For me, my most stressful time right now is Mavs game, right. That's where you see me go nuts and everything. Screaming, yelling--
Fined by the NBA.
Yeah, whatever. That's, to me, where I let out all my stress. That's one element. The other time is, I'll find time to work out. So, I have some favorite TV shows. Like, I watch The Walking Dead, or Billions, or House of Cards--
Oh, man, that new season. Whoo!
Yeah, I know, and so it's just like, I'm never gonna just lay in bed to do that and just watch TV. So, I'll always make sure I'm working out. I'm on the elliptical when I'm doing that. So, that gets me an hour of cardio in, and then a couple times a week, I'll try to go play pickup basketball, and before we have a Mavs game, a home game, I'll always work out and try to get out on the court and shoot, because there's nothin' better than having your own arena, and gettin' out there and shootin' buckets, you know. (laughing)
Alright, so that's Mark Cuban. Give us some real-world advice. Do you find, and I'm not trying to look for work life balance, but do you think rejuvenation, you talked about burning stress, is that an important part of--
Yeah, you gotta have an outlet. I mean, there's no question. You have to have something that works for you, whatever that is, but I always look at it, here's the goal, right. Whatever I need to do to get that goal, that comes first.
That's priority one.
Right, and part of self awareness is understanding, 'Okay, I'm beat.' 'I'm tired,' right. So there might be a day, like if I'm traveling, like I slept in til nine this morning, right, and last night, I stayed in. Instead of everybody goin' out and partying, I literally worked out at 10 to 11. I watched Billions, that's another one of my shows, and Walking Dead on my phone while I'm working out, crashed, got up, slept in some, feel great, right.
Then, you gotta recognize when you're not effective.
Right, and so I push myself til I can't go, then I catch up, and then I start again.
I think that's very helpful. The flip side of workin' really hard, and being so driven, is that you can do really bad work when you're in those states.
Yeah, but you've gotta be able to work tired, right. (laughing) You've gotta be able to play--
Do you see these bags under my eyes?
Yeah, right. You know what I'm sayin', right. Like players know at the end of the game, the fourth quarter is where you make your money, and business is no different, and you've gotta be able to play through tired legs. You've gotta know how to shoot the ball while you're tired, and so you'll see some guys who score 15 points in a first quarter, and some guys who can score 15 points in the fourth quarter, and the better players can do it in the last three minutes when everybody's exhausted, but they're playing as hard as they can. Business is no different, right. You've gotta recognize when it's closing time. You've gotta recognize inflection points, where you will make or lose your company, your business, and at those points in time, you can't be thinkin' about rejuvenation. It doesn't matter, right. You've gotta know when the game's on a line, and be willing to just fight through the exhaustion, right. When you have a deadline, when you're stressed, there's just times when you can't rejuvenate. There's no spritzing. (laughing)
No spritzing in building a business. So you see a lot of deals, clearly. Thousands. How important is creativity? Like, to us, if a machine can do it, you shouldn't be overly focused on it, but that's the way I think. That's sort of the basis of Creative Live, but how important is it to the things that you support?
Well, creativity means a lot of different things, depending on the context, right?
Yes, it does.
So, for me, I'm creative in terms of business, right.
That's why you're on the show, man.
Right. So I can come up with new approaches. One of my best skillsets, I think, is being able to talk about, put me in a discussion about any business. I don't care how technologically advanced it is, I don't care if it's the cookie business. I'll figure it out like that, and I'll be able to understand where the pain points are, and where the upside is, and I'll drill. That's my creativity. You want me to design a logo.
No, no, no, no.
It's creativity with a small 'c.' We're talking about creativity with a big 'C.' That is a core message of this show, that there literally is creativity and genius in everyone, and it's about unpacking--
No, no, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. You've got to know what you're--
So how important is it, when you're looking at these ideas, do ideas that have that sweet spot that you identified as your skillset?
It depends on the entrepreneur at that point, so first of all, when I look at an idea, I have to say, what's the upside? How differentiated are they? How compelling is it? What is their core competency? And can the entrepreneur realize those things? So, that's part one, and so creativity within that context is, does the entrepreneur or entrepreneurs have the ability to create a solution, right, to grow that company, and to keep moving forward, right, and keep expanding it. Not all are capable of doing that. Some people, they might have done well in the first quarter of their life cycle, and they're not gonna get to the fourth quarter, and as an investor, sometimes it's hard to recognize that, and that's where you get burned more often than not, because they've done a good job with the first couple steps, and they're not gonna get to the rest.
Do you bet on ideas or people?
It depends how much involvement 'll have, right. So, with some ideas, I know if the entrepreneur is an idiot, which happens on Shark Tank some. (laughing) I can take the ball and run with it--
Spoken the truth.
Yeah, there's been some real idiots on Shark Tank, and so you can't tell. Here's some inside baseball on Shark Tank. When they walk in the door, all we know is their first names. This is Chase and Mark. Then, they go. We don't know anything else. Then, if we agree to do the deal, and the second part to that is, what's 10 to 15 minutes on air in the show might go 2 1/2 hours.
I'm aware of that timeline.
Yeah, and so then it gets shortened. It gets edited down, and if we make a deal, then we, the Sharks, have the opportunity to do due diligence, and so we'll dig into the company, but even in a due diligence process, you can't spend untold hours with the entrepreneur, and it's typically because I've done so many Shark Tank deals, 70 plus, it's usually my folks that are doing that level of due diligence, so sometimes, even after you say yes and you do your due diligence--
It comes back a no.
Yeah. Well, sometimes, 30% of the time, 35% of the time, it's a no and we don't invest, but even when you do invest, sometimes they turn out to be idiots, and so I won't identify. I won't throw 'em under the bus, but my goal, hopefully, is that if they're idiots, then I can take over the company and use my people to run it, and so I'll look for ideas if I think I could take the ball and run with it. If it's something outside my core competencies, then the idea doesn't matter, and then obviously, if I think the entrepreneur's great, then that's the best of both worlds, and so if what they sold me or what I invested in originally didn't quite pan out, then I trust them to pivot or hopefully, we've created a relationship where we can take it to another level.
Well, let's take Shark Tank off the table, then. It sounds like you do, let's take the not so talented entrepreneurs out, when you get deals that are handed to you or come across your desk very privately and personally, is that different? Is it always ideas--
Yeah, absolutely, cause I'm looking for themes, I'm looking for--
Yeah, I'm looking for something that can blow up in a big way. So, I'm investing in a lot of machine vision. I've got a company, Motion Loft, that all they do is count things and identify things in front of a video sensor. I've got another company, Wrnch, it's a horrible name, W-r-n-c-h. It's a Montreal company--
So French? (laughing)
Yeah, it's so true, too, but they're smart, and if you know what Magic Leap is, and all the AR stuff, they're a far-less expensive version of Magic Leap, and they're doing really, really amazing stuff. I've got another company, Sports Logique, another Montreal company, because McGill University does a lot of machine vision, so they train a lot of people, that just tracks objects in sports, and right now, they're big in hockey, and so just the theme like that, machine learning, artificial intelligence, trying to take these themes, and then with my foundation of knowledge and the people I have, I can invest in those companies as standalone, but also be able to apply them to what we're doing.
Leverage gets more leverage.
Yeah, another machine vision company, Netra IO. All they do is identify brands in images, but they can process them at tens of thousandths of a second. So, they can go through anything that's public on Instagram or Facebook or any database of images that someone accumulates and say, 'okay, those are Gap jeans,' you know, that's a so and so watch, or that's a band from such and such a brand, which, for the brands, is incredibly valuable. Now, we're starting to get into a world of preprocessing, so that when you're going to stream something or make it part of something else with an image or video, you want to be able to tag it for any thousand of different reasons, so those types of themes, I look for because not only can they be standalone, but they're also leverageable for a thousand other things.
We're inside of ten minutes now. We're nine minutes left on my interview with you, and I wanna go back to the personal, because we can read a lot about you. You're a reasonably public person.
Yeah, reasonably. Yeah, right. (laughing)
Especially at a Mavs game.
What are some things that people don't know about you that they would be surprised about?
I mean, I'm a dad first. My friends from high school and college are still my best friends.
So there's family, a strong family, and then strong loyalty, all of that--
Yeah, my biggest mission in life now, and this goes to the work life balance. I waited. I didn't get married. I mean, I had girlfriends, but 'it's me or your company.' It's like, what was your name again? (laughing) You know, I made that choice, that conscious choice, and so I waited til I was in a good financial position so that I could focus on family, and I could focus on different things. What else. Love to play basketball still. Horrible piano player. Can't sing. Terrified of heights.
Terrified of heights?
Horribly. Horribly. From the time I was five years old. My dad tells this story. The first time he ever took me to a baseball game, we had tickets in the cheap seats, and by the time I got to the second level of the stadium, I was screaming and crying, and I've had friends take me on roller coasters like ten straight times. Yeah, it's crazy.
In a world where you can literally buy anything, and you're Mark Cuban, what are things that you value that you can't just buy.
Time. It's the one thing that you never own.
And it's the one thing we all have the same amount of, roughly.
I recognize that it's the most valuable asset I'll never own, and then I try to be the most judicious with that and time with my kids, and trying to appreciate them, and trying to raise them not to be entitled jerks, and their health. What else.
No, man. That's, I think time, the fact that you are judicious with your time--
Not as I should be, right, because no matter what you do, you feel like you're wastin' it, right--
I think that's also another thing. Like, do you have fears and every once in a while--
Stewart Butterfield's Slack, one of the fastest-growing startups in the world right now, worth billions, and I just heard Stewart talk in a small group, and he said, 'I'm more paranoid now than when my company wasn't working,' and so I think that the folks at home believe that if they're stressed out, or if they're hustlin' and it's not workin'--
It's a different type of stress, right. Climbing up the mountain is a whole different level of stress because you've got this goal, and you're trying to get up the mountain, right, and you've just got this single focus of trying to do it, and then when you're there, you realize that, okay I'm there, but everybody is trying to kick my ass. So, everybody is coming after you. When you're chasing somebody, it's a different set of stresses than when you're being chased. It's the NBA versus the NFL. You look at the NFL, 20 years ago, the franchises were leaving in the middle of the night. They were a mess. For a variety of different reasons, things changed, and now they're being chased, and you just see how everybody bangs on 'em, bangs on 'em. In the NBA, we're chasing them in some respects, in terms of audience and things like that.
In growth, no. We're growing faster, but they're just so much bigger, right. But all that said, they're still the king on the mountain, and when it comes to sports entertainment TV and people just wanna take shots at them, including me, and so it's a different set of stresses. Daily fantasy sports. They're cranking along. Everybody thinks they're killin' it, and then some idiots in government come along and change it for them like that, and so when you're climbing up the mountain, when you're chasing success, when you're trying to establish yourself, that's one set of stresses that is overwhelming or very, it's considerable. But when you're at the top, you're looking down and you see more things. You're more cognizant of everything around you, and that creates a unique set of stresses that is difficult as well, but I'd rather be at the top than the bottom. (laughing)
It's easier to manage the stress.
Yeah, I wouldn't say it's easier to manage, but--
It's the difference--
The worst case, it's the difference, well, you know what the difference is? What's the worst that can happen, right? One of my businesses fails, I'm okay.
You think you're gonna be okay?
Right. When I was starting off, when I'm living six guys, sleeping on the floor, it's like, 'Oh, shit.'
The worst case is no place.
Yeah, it's like, alright. I can still bartend. I can still sell. And you're thinking in your mind, well, if this doesn't work, literally, I remember, alright, this company's hiring. Should I take that job? You know, cause I'm not sure. We've only been in business three months, and it's okay, but it's not like I'm killin' it.
Give me one more thought on risk. Basically, that's what we're talkin' about right now, and--
I'm risk averse.
I'm very risk averse.
So is there, is the advice to freelancers and entrepreneurs to not take risk, or is the advice--
No the risk is to be prepared, right. The more prepared you are, the less risk there is. Most people think, I'm just gonna wing it, and that's why it's risky. I'm OCD in that I'm diving in learning everything I can. IF you--
In order to be prepared.
Yeah! If you walk in the room, and you don't know more about your business and industry than everybody else, someone's gonna kick your ass. That person who knows more isn't saying, here comes Chase. I'm just gonna let him beat me and put me out of business.
Another reason to scratch your own itch, because you have to want to know everything about the things that you care about, because if someone like Mark Cuban can come in--
I'mma kick your ass!
And know more than you in five minutes, that's a real problem.
Yeah! And so if someone else knows more than you do about your business or industry, what are you doing? How can you think you're prepared? How can you think you're not gonna lose, right, other than arrogance? Arrogance will shoot a business down faster than anything, and so 'I'm smarter, I'm better, I'm this.' That's why I hate doing business in Silicon Valley. That's why I try to avoid Y combinator companies, and I've done a couple, but I have to de-Y combinator them, cause the arrogance factor is way up here, right. They'll look over your shoulder for the next big deal. Way up here. To get in and grind, way down here. One other thing that I think is critically important for this audience. The one thing you should try to avoid at all costs is raising money.
Equity, sweat equity, is always the best equity. If you can live like a student, if you can just make your investment your time and your effort and your brain cells, right, you have a far better chance of succeeding, because nobody gives you money doesn't matter if it's me, a bank, or anybody, out of charity. Everybody wants something at some point. It may be five years. It may be 10 years. I'll give you a perfect example of that. Box.net, or box.com now. Aaron Levy sends me an email, 2005, so more than ten years ago. I gave him 250 grand, because I was a customer. You're talkin' about scratching your own itch, and they would charge me. It was like 80 bucks a month to get storage, and they gave me more storage than everybody. In 2005, this was great! So, when he sent asking me for money, I love it because you have revenue. Well, within two years, less than that, probably a year, they're in Silicon Valley, and they're talking to venture capitalists who want them to attack the market and they brought in somebody who wants them to give it away and eat the loss, and I'm like, you're gonna end up spending tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to do tens of millions in revenue. I don't like that.
Yeah, that's backwards, and I'm gonna get diluted to nothing. So, I said, just give me my money back. I didn't even ask for schmuck insurance. I'm like Aaron, you're gonna go a different way. More power to you. Now, I got my 250 grand back, he went on, now they have a billion and a half market cap. I think I probably would have made $2 million cause I would've been diluted to nothing. I made more on that money then, but just the stress, just the taking money and continuing to take money changed who they are, so by the end of it, Aaron owns 4% of it. That's still decent money, whatever it is, but 4% of a billion and a half is $60 million, but he had a far better idea that if he just didn't chase it and chased annual investment, he could have been worth a lot more, a whole lot more.
Do you have any belief, I'll throw myself under the bus here. So, I led with, we made it profitable with Creative Live. We bootstrapped it, zero dollars, and had a super profitable business. We wanted, we decided to grow faster, and we took venture, but after we had proven the model, had a profitable business, because we could also--
But then your valuation is gonna be different than what you'd give up, yeah.
And we can write our own terms.
Yeah, that's exactly right. Then people are coming--
So, you're okay with that?
Yeah, cause people were coming to you. Now, the best situation is, you don't need it and you just grow organically, and you just put all the money into your pocket. It's like, that was my first company, and even Broadcast.com, I funded most of it, and it was only til we had people coming to us, wanting to give us money. Then, it was on our terms, and then everything else since then, I've funded myself for the most part, except when people wanted to give me money. So, yeah, sweat equity is always the best equity. The next best version of equity is customer equity, where you get customers coming in and buying from you, and that's how you're funding your growth, because that's a reinforcing, and you get to keep the equity. Third is using Kickstarter, Indiegogo as a way to support you. The last thing on the list is venture capital money.
And that's from a capitalist.
Yeah, from a venture capitalist, right, and I'm more seed angel funding, but yes, because they're not giving it to you for charity, and the minute you take that money, that's not the start right. Well, I take that back.
That's not the win, right?
Yeah, that's not the win, right. That's when the obligation really starts. You thought you had an obligation to grow and build your business before you took money from a venture capitalist, vulture capitalist? You have no idea, and so many people, particularly in Silicon Valley, they party, I just raised X amount from so and so.
Like it's an accomplishment. You don't understand. When you raise money from me, or anybody else, it's not an accomplishment. It's a reference of failure. That's the first time you've failed, because you couldn't do it organically. Now, you don't wanna go out of business, so you take the money and that's fine, right, because given the binary option of fail or take another crack at it, you take the money, but you failed. You literally have failed, because you couldn't grow your business organically, you couldn't get customers that were willing to pay you. You couldn't get enough of them, right. You couldn't keep your costs under control. People have such an overinflated value proposition on themselves. You're paying people too much, and you hear it all the time. It drives me nuts, we just hired the best so and so who used to be at bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam startups. If they were all that good, they wouldn't have been through bam, bam, bam, bam, bam startups or even the one or two that went public, or one or two that, and then, part five to that. Let's just say you're having some success. Well, we're not gonna go public, cause we don't want the scrutiny. Go fucking public! Go public. Go public. Go public. Because you're ignoring your employees when you don't. You might be able to take money, which I hate. It's like the ultimate ponzi scheme, bring in new investors to pay the owners, the founders of the company, but the employees don't get paid, right. Go public so everybody has some liquidity, your investors, your employees, friends and family, whoever it is. It just drives me crazy that people don't, and I think that hurts the economy. When Broadcast.com went public, and then when we sold it the next year, we, out of 330 employees, 300 became millionaires, at least on paper, and of those 300 millionaires, I got as many of them as I could to hedge when they were allowed to hedge, so they kept it, and so it turned out really well. You don't hear the stories anymore of such and such a company had 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000 employees when they went public, and X, 90% became millionaires or better now, cause I'm talkin' 15, 20 years ago. You don't hear those stories anymore.
You don't, you're right.
And that's horrible.
That's one of the reasons people sign up to go work real hard is to be able to cash out.
Get that end game, right? I mean, you talk about self awareness. In Silicon Valley, it's just horrible, so when I make those investments, I try to extract the Silicon Valley out of 'em. I try to wipe clean the Y-combinator. Oh, wait. In that case, since I'm on a roll, right?
You're crushing it right now. Ta-da!
Business plan competitions. Don't do them. I take that back. It's okay to do them cause you might win some money, but if you come in third out of 1,700 business plans, nobody cares. If you come in first out of a business plan competition at your school, your region, your whatever, nobody cares. It doesn't--
Because you haven't done anything.
Right, it doesn't mean anything. You just, out of all the options, the judges happened to like yours more. Now, if you walk out of there and the judge says, I'll write you a check for $100,000, great, or better yet, I'll be a customer and I'll spend $100,000? Amazing. Then, that's good, right. So, when people say, 'yeah, I entered this business plan competition and I won third and I won $1,500 or $15,000,' that's great, right, but how many of the judges gave you money? How many people became customers? How many people bought, paid for and bought your product, or use it enough where they created revenue for you? The next one is accelerators. 'I got into this accelerator!' Yeah, they just took 6% of whatever and they give you 150 grand, and you get to work here with all these other people who got put into this accelerator. There's accelerator inflation, right. The early days of Y-combinator weren't bad, right--
It was a powerful vehicle.
Because you're just one of 'em, and they were really picky, and they weren't arrogant yet. It was just a good idea. Now, there's an accelerator for coffee cups. There's an accelerator for best plants, right. (laughing) I mean, it's ridiculous, and so you've got to really, it goes to the self awareness point. You know, you can't say, 'I'm in an accelerator. I've accomplished something.' You haven't!
That is the start.
Not only is it just the start. It's also an admission you can't do it by yourself, and not that you have to do it by yourself, and not that there aren't resources available that can be good. I'm not trying to detract from that, but at the same time, the cost to create, and they're typically geared towards technology companies, the cost to create a technology company, you need a phone, probably a laptop or a desktop, decent internet connection, and an Amazon or some cloud connection. That's it. That's it. If you have a job with a tech company, you could probably steal all that. (laughing)
And do something rather than nothing is the thing that I get back to all the time. That's the zero to one group that's like, paralyzed. You will find, you will learn by doing--
Do something instead of nothing. I know better than to try and stop you when you're on a roll, but I wanna be respectful of your time today, brother, and anything you wanna tell the folks at home before we--
Just a reminder, download Cyber Dust. It's even in Windows Store, Apple, Android. Add me at Blog Maverick, B-l-o-g M-a-v-e-r-i-c-k. Add me at Blog Maverick on there. Ask me questions. I'll do any of the follow up, anything between Chase and I. If there's something you didn't think was answered, I'll answer it for you.
Gratitude. Thanks, brother.
Chase, buddy. I really enjoyed it. Thank you.
That's about a wrap. Thanks a lot for tuning in. We will see you next time. (dramatic music)