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