He Sold His Startup For $54 Million, Then Gave His Family a Gift of a Lifetime
What do you do when SnapChat buys your startup and you become a millionaire? If you’re 25-year-old Garrett Gee, you put all the money in savings, sell everything you own, and take your family on an endless trip around the world.
Gee is the founder of Scan, a QR code-scanning mobile app he pitched on “Shark Tank” in 2013. He appeared on the show wearing just a hoodie and flip flops, an ensemble he wears when pitching investors.
“I wore them in every investor meeting before ‘Shark Tank,’ including my meetings with Facebook, Google, Menlo Ventures, Lady Gaga, and more,” he told NextShark in a 2013 interview. “Actually, they were part of a ‘uniform’ I put together while raising money for my company. To me, it was very important for potential investors to see me for who I really am.”
Although he failed to get a deal in the tank, Gee had already raised over $8 million in funding from various venture capital firms prior to getting on the show. After launching his company in 2011, it was acquired by SnapChat in 2014 for a whopping $54 million, making Gee an instant millionaire.
He recalled: “I kept looking at [my bank account], then looking away, then looking at it to make sure it was still there and that this was all real. I took a screenshot for my journal — OK, I took like seven screenshots for my journal. I didn’t show my wife — not at first. We were just about to have our second child so I waited about one week until she was literally in labor. Then, to take her mind off the pain, I pulled out my phone and showed her our bank account. It worked.”
About a year after, Gee — now a father of two kids, Dorothy, 3, and Manilla, 1, with his wife Jessica, 29 — were trying to figure out what to do next. At that time he was still a student and captain of the soccer team at Brigham Young University.
“A new house and cars didn’t feel right,” Gee told People. “We didn’t need that stuff. We were young, healthy and really didn’t need much of anything. So we started joking about putting our money in savings, selling everything and using those funds to travel the world. Where would we go? What would we do? And as we began to add more plans to our bucket list, it just became real.”
After putting their newfound fortune in savings, the couple held a large garage sale and sold literally everything they had except journals, photos and Gee’s lucky sandals. They made a total of $45,000 in the end, which would end up being the money they used to fund their travels.
“We will travel until that runs out,” Gee told NextShark. “We will see how long it lasts. Perhaps some of my entrepreneurial skills will come into play and I’ll figure out a way to make that money stretch further and further. Or, if I’m really good, $45K will give me enough time to make our travels fuel themselves, or better yet, profitable. Anything is possible, right? Just keep intentions pure and attitudes positive”
On why the couple decided to travel, Gee explained: “We hope to learn more about life and become better people. We are excited about the memories that we will surely create together and the opportunities around the world we will have to serve others. Already it has become clear that the world is a big, open place with endless mindsets, cultures, and beliefs, none better than the others — just different.”
The couple met in Russia in 2007 while they were serving as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and have been married since 2009.
To make sure their $45,000 travel fund lasts as long as possible, the family is living as frugally as possible.
“[Being frugal] just comes kind of natural to us. It makes us uncomfortable to be thoughtless with money,” Gee explained. “We still buy the cheapest flight we can find, even if that means waking up at 4 a.m., and we still only drink water with our meals. I believe the best way to show gratitude for the blessings in life is humility, and one of the best ways to show humility is to live frugally.”
The family has spent the last four month traveling in the South Pacific, Australia, Thailand and New Zealand. They’re currently vacationing on the beaches in Bali, Indonesia.
“My personal favorite adventure thus far was back in Tonga. For over a year I had been researching and preparing to freedive in the waters of Tonga — with humpback whales! It was the most epic moment of my life.”
When it comes to his kids’ future education, Gee is a little hesitant in settling somewhere permanently.
“I’m very open-minded to the option of not settling down,” he told NextShark. “I’m open to non-traditional forms of education. I wasn’t a very good student. The typical education system actually made me feel stupid and bad about myself and gave me less confidence in my own ability to be creative and valuable.”
He added: “But nonetheless I loved school for everything else. I loved the social life. I loved sports. I loved the challenges. So, it is kind of a toss-up. I want the best of the best for my children so hopefully I’ll soon be able to figure out what that may be.”
On whether he credits his success to hard work or luck, he said: “If you were to ask me in person I would say, ‘Oh it’s all luck.’ But, that would be a lie just to get past the question. The truth is it’s all hard work. There’s a ton of serendipitous and fortunate events where stars have aligned in order for everything to come together. But even each of those ‘lucky’ happenings can be traced back to extra efforts and hard work, extra efforts to network, extra late nights. So the harder I work, the ‘luckier’ I get.”
Gee also shared three factors to success he believes in:
1) Be impressive: success doesn’t just grace anyone and everyone. It seeks out impressive people — hard-working, talented, sincere, good-hearted people. Basically, be deserving of any success that wishes to find you.
2) Be yourself: it’s fine to learn from others and look up to those deserving, but let it stop there. The Facebook formula worked for Facebook — probably not for you. The Garrett Gee way was kinda cool for him, but not that cool. Always be learning more about yourself and always let that light shine bright!
3) Be successful: realize what success really is. That way, on your pursuit to ‘financial success’ you can enjoy real success. You can enjoy your health, your family, and the things that really determine success.
The couple plans to travel to the Maldives and Switzerland in the coming months, and Gee says he already has a new company in the works that he says is “something like never before.” He regularly blogs about his family’s adventures The Bucketlist Family.
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