I had the coolest opportunity to host a fireside chat with GIPHY founder Alex Chung. What a humble, intelligent, creative, honest person! He had no issue with talking about how to start a start-up, venture capitalists, angels and all the stuff that makes my head spin about business.
Alex is from the Seattle area and has been behind a number of start-ups... it's the nature of the industry.
His company is basically a Google for GIFs. (Make sure you say it with a hard G -- we're not talking peanut butter here.) His company is worth at least $600 million... but to him, it's just on paper. He joked that he still lives in a one-bedroom apartment in New York City.
The event was hosted by the Korean American Coalition, Twitter Devs of Seattle, PuPPy, and TUNE. What incredible groups of people!
These are the kind of events I live for - don't get me wrong, I love helping organizations and causes but helping facilitate real, genuine conversations is what building community is all about. Plus I don't get a ton of anxiety trying to be funny.
Alex talked very openly and honestly about what it takes to start a start-up. He is so successful and brilliant but he was able to give us a few takeaways that even the dullest bulbs can understand. I say that because when you're surrounded by a bunch of techies you tend to feel a little inadequate with a journalism degree.
Alex is not afraid of failure. Once you listen to Alex, you may start wondering if you've been playing it too safe. I mean, here's a guy who's had a number of start-ups with the understanding and acceptance that many will fail. Does it stop him? Nope.
Alex believes work should be fun. Alex will tell you that building a start-up is much like creating a band. You should surround yourself with people you like, people you want to go on a road trip with, people you like to have fun with. I know most of us can't always pick who we work with but I am going to try to go a roadtrip mode.
Alex says money isn't really all that it's cracked up to be. I mean, that's what I took from it. If your company is worth $600 million or $600, what does that change? The valuation of a company is what it's worth on paper. That being said, Alex is doing aiiight but the company so far hasn't really generated revenue. Don't worry, it's coming. I mean, Alex thought what I did for a living was cool... and the whole time I was thinking, "man, I wish I could be in charge of a multi-million dollar GIF company."
Special thanks to Matthew Benuska for the pics!
BTW, there's a tech talk November 30 at TUNE on Cassandra for Analytics!
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