Interview with Jon Morrow — Sitepoint Enthusiast and Successful Entrepreneur

By Andrew Neitlich


After writing the above blog (“How to raise money from investors”), Jon Morrow made a terrific post that showed he knows his entrepreneurial stuff. He was kind enough to let me interview him about his track record and success tips for Sitepoint readers.


Jon grew up in his family’s real estate business, where he still splits his time. Right now he spends half his time in real estate, and half on web development businesses. He applies the same business principles to each, and notes that his passion is web design and software development.

Listen to his achievements:

– He got into game design and development at age 12.

– He started his first game design company when he was 16, with a 22-year old partner.

– At 18, he developed a company to develop a virtual reality linguistics program. He attracted a world-renowned linguist to the company, beating out Microsoft, who also was trying to recruit this person. He won the recruiting contest by offering a small % of his company. With this person in place, he gained instant credibility and was able to attract venture capital as well as a $13 mm contract, and also interest from the President of Ecuador and PBS Publishing. Unfortunately, the company lost momentum when the VC went under and could not complete the second round of financing — right in the middle of the dot com crash.

– He claims to have been able to spot real estate trends since he was 4 years old. Right now he is involved in the family real estate business and in buying/selling luxury homes worth $1 – $5 million. He purchases homes with a constant stream of investors who let him use their credit and cash.

– Combining his passion for web/software with his knowledge of real estate, he is launching a site for real estate investors:


Part of this business includes a web presence/backend to help real estate investors attract leads, calculate financing, and handle other aspects of investing. He is working with some of the world’s best known real estate investment gurus to sell the site to their customers for him, thus using other people’s time. They can sell up to 2,000 – 20,000 sites for him per year! So he doesn’t have to charge much to make lots of money.

I was very impressed with him and want to share what I learned, and then conclude with Jon’s three pieces of advice.

1. Notice how he really does use other people’s time, money and credibility to increase value for himself. He is skilled at attracting investors, but also people with credibility (the linguist, the real estate gurus) and time (real estate gurus who sell his product for him in exchange for a cut).

2. I am impressed with how he is combining his passion with an industry he knows. Thus he has a very focused niche, along with the passion to persist.

3. The guy has a can-do attitude. Anything seems possible for him.

Here are his pieces of advice:

1. To be successful, think like a successful person. Think like who you want to be. Envision what your company will be like and what you will be like when it is successful. Then you can focus on building a company rather than staying in one spot.

2. Think like an entrepreneur and not a designer. Your business is your biggest client. Business is much more than paperwork or a corporate structure. Give your business the same service you give your customers: Help it save time, make money, build recognition. This requires lots of personal attention. To learn more, get the Emyth book by Michael Gerber. Jon can’t recommend it more highly to anyone, especially small web design owners who want to build bigger businesses.

3. Learn sales. Almost all of the successful people he

  • http://www.uw5.co.uk PeterW

    Interesting points raised and seemingly relating back to ‘where are you on the value chain’ discussion. After reading this and previous article I have started searching out ways to climb the value chain, as John seems to have done. Can anyone recommend any books (just put a reservation on emyth)? All of my previous reading has focused on workflows, design patterns etc, in an attempt to become a more effective developer but while I do enjoy interesting projects, moving up vertically in my own business would be great.

    I would definitely like to see more of this kind of thing, as well your usual articles.

  • JMorrow

    Andrew, thank you for the wonderful post. I’m honored to share my thoughts with the SitePoint community.

    One small correction: I’ve been trained in the real estate business since I was 4. I couldn’t spot trends on my own until much later.

    Still, that’s one of the most accurate articles anyone has done for me. Thanks for your professionalism.

  • Dano

    VERY good!

    After talking with all the succesful entrepreneurs that i know i ve reached the same conclussions. This blog has been all in one.

    All succesful people ALWAYS talk about selling, raising, and using other people time/experience/image/skills in their own benefit.

    I want to mention one of them:
    My mother’s husband, who has never completed his formal education, at 35 was a book seller, working for a publisher, running the streets, knocking doors…

    Now, at 65, he works 8 hours a week and he is a publisher. Authors work for him, sellers work for him, designers work for him.
    He always say that, during the first 6 years as entrepreneur, every cent that he won was invested in education: selling courses, personal image courses, communicational skills development courses, empowerment courses, managing people courses.

    The sellers who 30 years before was running the streets with him, are now working for him.
    WHy? He said “they have no entrepreneurial vission”, “They didnt believe themselves”, “they are not possitive”, “they dont want to make the hard work of positioning”

    Here, in my country (Argentina) there is a song that says “everybody wants my mountain, but the side over the shadow…”

    I hope you like my message.


  • JMorrow

    In response to PeterW, here are a few books to consider:

    Think and Grow Rich
    Rich Dad, Poor Dad
    Cash Flow Quadrant
    How to Win Friends and Influence People

    Accidental Salesperson
    Advanced Selling Techniques
    Selling to VITO
    The Guerrilla Marketing Handbook

  • http://www.sitepoint.com Mark Harbottle

    Excellent interview Andrew and congratulations Jon.

  • http://www.bittime.com transio

    Very inspirational! Thanks to you both.

  • http://www.script2please.com talash

    Jon is truly inspiring to budding entrepreneurs.

    Keep up the great work :)

  • very useful tips for those who thinks sky is the l

    very usefull tips for personal upliftment



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