At 24-Years-Old, This Guy Has Already Built and Sold Two Companies — What Did YOU Do Today?

At 24-Years-Old, This Guy Has Already Built and Sold Two Companies — What Did YOU Do Today?

5by's Founder Greg Isenberg talks about Stumbleupon acquisition and his process of building a successful startup.

October 3, 2013
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With the rise in young people becoming more entrepreneurial, I see many aspiring entrepreneurs in their early 20’s whom are still struggling with executing an idea. Meet Greg Isenberg, in his teenage years, he was already strategizing marketing campaigns for huge corporate brands and building internet products, at 24 years of age, this man has already sold 2 companies and is an active angel investor — so what did you do today?
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Greg via email. Here, we discuss him recently selling his company 5by to Stumbleupon and his process of building a successful startup.

Congrats on selling your company 5by to Stumbleupon! How does it feel?

I’m just really stoked about continuing out building the vision on 5by. The StumbleUpon partnership helps both companies achieve their goal faster, so I’m looking forward to seeing the fruit of this relationship.

Will you continue to stay with the company after this acquisition?

Absolutely.

Even though the acquisition is still fresh, are there any cool things coming from 5by that you can reveal to us at this time?

Way more tailored video recommendations. Think Netflix for YouTube. We’re rolling out some of those features in the coming months.

So let me get this straight, you’re 24 now and you’ve already sold 2 companies. You’re also an active angel investor and have worked for huge brands including WordPress, Oakley, TechCrunch and Microsoft in their marketing initiatives. It’s clear you’re well beyond your years, how did all this get started?

I’ve been building internet products since I was 13. When most kids at the age of 13 were optimizing their slapshots in Hockey (I’m from Canada), I was optimizing PPC campaigns. Building internet products is the only thing I know and have been doing for the last decade.

Have you ever ran into trouble having people take you seriously due to your age?

Once. When I was doing internet marketing consulting when I was 18. I was in a room with executives at one of the largest beer companies in the world ready to pitch them my services. One of the SVPs told me to leave, because I couldn’t possibly be worth the money or know much about marketing strategies, at the age. I later got 1M Facebook fans for their competitor.

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Building a successful startup is hard, but being consistent in it is even harder. How do you manage to keep such a great track record?

I don’t see myself as a success, I’m just getting started. I try to hang out with people who are more successful then me all the time, to make me feel like shit and push me to be better. It’s like tennis. If you want to get better a tennis, you don’t play with someone worse than you, you play with someone better. That’s how I view my circle of friends and because of that, viewing myself as successful is the last thing I view myself.

Whats your personal formula to building a solid team?

This is my formula for building an early-stage team which I think is very different than any other stage. You need a mix of smart people who also have great attitudes and fit in culturally.

  • Step 1: Give him/her a challenge to take home. Notice how long he/she takes to complete it and how thorough the solution is.
  • Step 2: Talk to him/her about your space for more than an hour, and if he/she don’t run out of things to say, that’s a good sign. It means they are very interested in the space. That’s super important because it’s a competitive advantage ot have you’re entire team passionate about your space.
  • Step 3: Go for a beer with him/her. Does he/she fit in culturally? Is he/she funny or cool?

What is one thing young entrepreneurs need to STOP doing?

Young entrepreneurs need to always be optimizing your time. In startupland, time is of the essence, so the faster you iterate the more chance you have to succeed. Never focus on things that may make you feel good but don’t really add much value to the business. Focus on doing 3 things a day that will really impact your business and give you leverage with investors, acquirers etc..

Follow Greg:

Twitter: @GregIsenberg
Company Website: http://www.5by.com
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