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    #6 - How This Silicon Valley Outsider Hustled His Way to $750M Exit - Meet Vungle's Jack Smith

    By being an early user on new platforms, consistently posting and engaging, one can attract attention, connections, and potential opportunities, leading to partnerships and new doors opening.

    enJuly 31, 2019

    About this Episode

    Jack Smith (@_jacksmith) is the most clever entrepreneur I know. He’s cofounded multiple startups: Vungle, Coin, Shyp. With Vungle recently selling for $750M. We talk about his early businesses as a kid, selling prank itching powder on the playground - all the way to his infamous “LinkedIn Hack” that got him his first $120k investment check. Got feedback or questions? Email me at Puri.shaan@gmail.com  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Success in entrepreneurship requires adaptability, cleverness, and creativity to overcome challenges and identify market demand. It's not just about the desire for money, but the pursuit of freedom and success.
    • Pursue your own path, be resourceful, and embrace independence in order to find success in entrepreneurship. Be willing to learn, adapt, and take risks in unfamiliar territory.
    • Allocating time for browsing and discovering new things online can lead to opportunities and breakthroughs, sparking unique business ideas and connections with like-minded individuals.
    • Don't be deterred by negative opinions, express your own opinions courageously, offer specific ways of help, persist through challenges, and don't let failures or lack of connections discourage you from pursuing your goals.
    • Strategic thinking and resourcefulness, combined with the courage to take unconventional approaches, can open doors to significant opportunities, even with limited resources.
    • Taking unconventional approaches, demonstrating creativity, persistence, and a willingness to take risks can help individuals achieve their goals and differentiate themselves from others.
    • Success in business requires being flexible, open-minded, and willing to take risks, even when starting with a flawed idea. Listening to customers and solving their problems can lead to achievement.
    • Success in the app industry depends on solving pressing needs for customers, rather than just offering nice-to-have features. Providing value through engaging trailers can effectively generate new customers.
    • Questioning industry standards and prioritizing customer needs can lead to innovative solutions and a competitive advantage, even for those with limited experience in the field.
    • Selling a small portion of stock after leaving a company can provide financial stability for former employees without diluting overall company equity.
    • By being an early user on new platforms, consistently posting and engaging, one can attract attention, connections, and potential opportunities, leading to partnerships and new doors opening.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    Jack Smith's journey to success: cracking the code and thriving against challenges.

    Jack Smith's success as an entrepreneur is rooted in his cleverness and ability to crack the code in any system. Despite a challenging first investor pitch for his company Vungle, which left him feeling uncertain about its future, the company has thrived and is now set to be acquired by Blackstone for a rumored $750,000,000. Jack's entrepreneurial journey began at a young age, driven not by a desire for money, but by a pursuit of freedom and success. His early ventures, like selling "itchy bombs" made from tree seeds, showcased his resourcefulness and ability to identify market demand. This highlights the importance of adaptability and thinking creatively in pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors.

    Jack Smith: A Resourceful and Independent Entrepreneur

    Jack Smith has shown an early propensity for entrepreneurship and a strong aversion to being told what to do. From a young age, Jack found ways to make money on his own terms, whether it was selling his sippy cup or bidding on projects on freelancer websites. He was willing to take on projects he didn't even know how to do, simply because any money was valuable to him. This resourcefulness and independence has carried throughout his life and career, as he continues to find innovative solutions and explore new ventures. Jack's story reminds us of the importance of pursuing our own path and being willing to learn and adapt along the way, even if it means taking risks and venturing into unfamiliar territory.

    Embracing Procrastination: Finding Success Through Online Exploration

    Jack Smith has found success by embracing procrastination and exploring new ideas online. While many focus on productivity tips and hacks, Jack believes that allocating time for browsing and discovering new things can lead to opportunities and breakthroughs. He emphasizes the importance of not being embarrassed about procrastinating, as it allows for the possibility of stumbling upon interesting ideas or articles. For Jack, reading tech news and exploring platforms like Hacker News have been valuable sources of inspiration. By giving himself the freedom to browse and explore, Jack has found unique business ideas and formed connections with like-minded individuals. So, instead of solely prioritizing productivity, it's important to also create space for new discoveries and serendipitous moments online.

    Overcoming Negative Opinions and Embracing Contrarian Thinking for Success

    You should not let others' negative opinions deter you from pursuing your ideas and reaching out for opportunities. When Dropbox first launched, many people commented that it was a terrible idea and bound to fail. However, if you had gone against the crowd and offered your support, you could have become a co-founder of a successful company. The lesson here is to be contrarian and have the courage to express your own opinions. When reaching out to someone, it's important to provide specific ways in which you can be helpful, rather than simply asking, "How can I help?" Additionally, this story highlights the challenges of raising money, especially for new entrepreneurs in smaller ecosystems. Persistence and resilience are key in navigating these hurdles. So, don't let negativity, lack of connections, or previous failures discourage you—keep pushing forward and pursuing your goals.

    Seizing Unique Opportunities: A Startup's Journey to Success

    Sometimes taking unconventional approaches and finding creative loopholes can lead to significant opportunities. Jack Smith stumbled upon the chance to apply for a startup incubator in Silicon Valley called Angelpad, which offered a $120,000 investment to each participating company. Despite skepticism from his co-founder and the competition for the limited spot, Jack decided to give it a try. While procrastinating, he discovered a hack on LinkedIn's ad system that allowed him to target specific individuals. By creating an ad targeting the connections of the person responsible for selecting startups at Angelpad, Jack maximized his chances of getting noticed. This resourcefulness and thinking outside the box played a crucial role in their breakthrough and proved that even with limited resources, strategic thinking and seizing unique opportunities can lead to success.

    Going Above and Beyond to Stand Out

    Going the extra mile and standing out from the competition can truly make a difference. Jack Smith's experience with getting into Angelpad and Shaan Puri's story of landing a job at Monkey Inferno highlight the importance of taking unconventional approaches and doing more than what is expected. Instead of simply submitting a resume or applying through traditional means, they both went above and beyond to capture the attention of their targets. This involved creativity, persistence, and a willingness to take risks. The results speak for themselves, with Jack securing funding for his startup and Shaan eventually getting the job he desired. By thinking outside the box and demonstrating their dedication, they were able to achieve their goals and stand out from the crowd.

    Hustling and Adapting: The Path to Success in Business

    Success doesn't always come from having the perfect idea or the most impressive background. Sometimes, it's about hustling and adapting to meet the needs of potential customers. Vungle, a company that grew to over 200 employees, started with a terrible idea for an app store. However, they were able to turn things around by listening to their target audience and identifying their biggest problem: marketing and user acquisition. By pivoting their business and creating a new solution, they were able to secure funding and achieve success. This story showcases the importance of being flexible, open-minded, and willing to take risks in order to succeed in the business world.

    Solving Real Problems for Customers in the App Industry

    The key to success in the app industry lies in solving a real problem for your customers, not just providing a nice-to-have feature. The founders realized that their initial idea of helping app developers get onto blogs and reviews was not truly addressing a pressing need for their customers. However, when they introduced the concept of using video ads as a means to drive organic users, app developers were immediately excited. By comparing their new idea to the shortcomings of banner ads, they conveyed the value of showcasing their apps through engaging trailers. This not only captured the attention of potential users but also convinced app developers that this approach would effectively generate new customers. The ability to solve a customer's "cancer," rather than an "itch," was the key difference between the two ideas.

    Challenging norms for customer-focused advertising

    Sometimes having limited knowledge or experience in an industry can be an advantage. In the case of Jack Smith's advertising company, their lack of expertise in the field allowed them to approach things from a fresh perspective and focus on the needs of their customers. While the industry standard was to charge based on the number of people who saw an ad (CPM), Jack realized that app developers were more interested in acquiring users. So they took a risk and charged their clients based on the number of users they obtained instead. This simple change became a massive differentiator for them. It highlights the importance of questioning established norms and looking at things from the customer's perspective, even if it means breaking the rules.

    Selling Secondary Stock for Former Employees

    Selling secondary stock can be a viable option for individuals who have left a company and want to convert their equity into cash. While it may be less common for employees still working at a company to sell stock, it can be more acceptable once they have departed. This is because current investors want employees to remain motivated and hungry for an exit that will benefit everyone. However, in the case of a former employee like Jack Smith, the company was open to the idea of him selling a small portion of his stock to other investors. By agreeing on a reasonable valuation and selling a minimal amount, Jack was able to secure some cash without a significant impact on dilution for all parties involved. This approach provided him with financial stability and allowed him to maintain a majority of his stock and future upside potential.

    Seizing Opportunities on Fast-Growing Platforms

    Being a quick and opportunistic early user on new and fast-growing platforms can lead to significant advantages. By leveraging these platforms and becoming a prominent user, one can attract attention, connections, and potential opportunities. Jack Smith's strategy of consistently posting on Product Hunt and other platforms allowed him to gain free advertising and establish himself as a top user, which led to partnerships and startup opportunities. Additionally, Shaan Puri's analogy of looking for windows and opening doors emphasizes the importance of being open to new possibilities and taking calculated risks. Instead of sticking only to known opportunities, being a door opener can lead to even more doors of opportunity.

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    The AI App Doing $6M With 1 Employee

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    Episode 579: Sam Parr ( https://twitter.com/theSamParr ) and Shaan Puri ( https://twitter.com/ShaanVP ) talk about 3 niche trends they’ve found that are guaranteed to make $1M+. Want to see Sam and Shaan’s smiling faces? Head to the MFM YouTube Channel and subscribe - http://tinyurl.com/5n7ftsy5 — Show Notes: (0:00) Shaan gets his hotness score (2:30) Reddit trend leads to $6M ARR beauty app for men (10:12) Male nail care influencers (12:42) Sam upstages Shaan's beauty score (14:00) Spin-off businesses: Med Spas (16:00) Aging influencers and modern male grooming products (20:27) The story of Teflon and Dupont's billion dollar problem (22:49) Forever chemicals are in our water (26:14) Pfas free products (29:12) A regulatory inflection point is here (33:16) Trend: Assassins with water guns (34:32) $0 - $250K MRR app (35:22) Playground virality (38:00) Trading expertise for social vouching (49:10) Exporting a profitable internal tool — Links: • Umax - https://tinyurl.com/mezh49ac • Acqua Pana - https://www.acquapanna.com • MAMAVATION - https://www.mamavation.com • Splashin - https://www.splashin.app • Splashin TikTok - https://www.tiktok.com/discover/splashin-app — Check Out Sam's Stuff: • Hampton - https://www.joinhampton.com/ • Ideation Bootcamp - https://www.ideationbootcamp.co/ • Copy That - https://copythat.com • Hampton Wealth Survey - https://joinhampton.com/wealth — Check Out Shaan's Stuff: Need to hire? You should use the same service Shaan uses to hire developers, designers, & Virtual Assistants → it’s called Shepherd (tell ‘em Shaan sent you): https://bit.ly/SupportShepherd My First Million is a HubSpot Original Podcast // Brought to you by The HubSpot Podcast Network // Production by Arie Desormeaux // Editing by Ezra Bakker Trupiano Past guests on My First Million include Rob Dyrdek, Hasan Minhaj, Balaji Srinivasan, Jake Paul, Dr. Andrew Huberman, Gary Vee, Lance Armstrong, Sophia Amoruso, Ariel Helwani, Ramit Sethi, Stanley Druckenmiller, Peter Diamandis, Dharmesh Shah, Brian Halligan, Marc Lore, Jason Calacanis, Andrew Wilkinson, Julian Shapiro, Kat Cole, Codie Sanchez, Nader Al-Naji, Steph Smith, Trung Phan, Nick Huber, Anthony Pompliano, Ben Askren, Ramon Van Meer, Brianne Kimmel, Andrew Gazdecki, Scott Belsky, Moiz Ali, Dan Held, Elaine Zelby, Michael Saylor, Ryan Begelman, Jack Butcher, Reed Duchscher, Tai Lopez, Harley Finkelstein, Alexa von Tobel, Noah Kagan, Nick Bare, Greg Isenberg, James Altucher, Randy Hetrick and more. — Other episodes you might enjoy: • #224 Rob Dyrdek - How Tracking Every Second of His Life Took Rob Drydek from 0 to $405M in Exits • #209 Gary Vaynerchuk - Why NFTS Are the Future • #178 Balaji Srinivasan - Balaji on How to Fix the Media, Cloud Cities & Crypto • #169 - How One Man Started 5, Billion Dollar Companies, Dan Gilbert's Empire, & Talking With Warren Buffett • ​​​​#218 - Why You Should Take a Think Week Like Bill Gates • Dave Portnoy vs The World, Extreme Body Monitoring, The Future of Apparel Retail, "How Much is Anthony Pompliano Worth?", and More • How Mr Beast Got 100M Views in Less Than 4 Days, The $25M Chrome Extension, and More