And Why It’s Better to Argue With Yourself…

By Justin Choi

A deadly illness makes the zoonotic leap from a bat to a human. It shuts down schools, then entire cities, and eventually the entire world. Society sets up makeshift hospitals. We dig mass graves. Infection spreads, prompting mass social distancing initiatives and the need for martial law, which remains in effect for 18 months until a vaccine is finally produced.

This isn’t COVID-19. It’s the movie “Contagion,” and it was released in 2011. …

Today’s startup founders typically find their initial success because they are passionate and laser-focused on the development, launch, and adoption of their invention. The problem is that successful companies can’t be built and scaled on the basis of mere passion and a focus on a single product or innovation. Eventually, startups must grow and diversify, and this is where startup founders typically stumble.

Ultimately, if a startup founder wants to scale a company, that person needs to make the difficult transition from specialist to generalist. The most successful startup founders aren’t the best at “wearing multiple hats.” …

Thomas Edison wasn’t just known for his startup, the Edison Company. He was known as an inventor — and a prolific one at that. He contributed to innovations, including the phonograph, the light bulb, the motion picture camera, and others. In generating ideas and inventions that had a profound and lasting impact on the world, Edison became synonymous with invention. How do we free up the world’s best entrepreneurs to keep inventing today?

Silicon Valley isn’t producing new “Edisons” to keep inventing.

These days, Silicon Valley has become synonymous with the concept of the invention, even to the point of satire. But Silicon Valley isn’t producing new Edisons. The…

Do you have what it takes to be a miserable entrepreneur?

Elon Musk is the 2018 version of a rock star. He takes drugs, stays out late and dates famous women. He also runs four companies and is worth $20 billion. In a 2016 poll, startup founders named him their most-admired tech CEO.

But be honest, would you really want to be Elon Musk? If press reports are to be believed, his life is a hellish, sleepless slog. In a recent New York Times interview, he got emotional several times and confessed that “it is often a choice of no…

Creating a successful company has more in common with gambling than operating a sophisticated businesses.

Everyone loves a heroic tale and Silicon Valley is full of them. There’s the genius entrepreneur who dropped out of college and forever changed the way we used blood diagnoses…or not. Or the rideshare CEO that was crushing it so much that it didn’t need close oversight from its savvy board. Why mess with something that was working? Or that social network that keeps succeeding despite its CEO who missed mobile, dropped a couple billion on a VR company over a weekend, and underestimated the effect of fake news on his platform.

It’s hard to think of a group of…

As the sweeping success of Pokémon GO showed us, the lure of gaming is so powerful that it can even prompt teens to visit their local parks and get some fresh air.

This is a notable achievement because as parents and advertisers alike will tell you — this demographic does not like to be told what to do.

Nevertheless, the gaming mindset dictates much of what we do. If you’ve ever run through a list of errands and tasks to get to a reward (an ice cold beer maybe and/or some uninterrupted time on the couch), then you’ve gamified some…

Google has become such an omnipotent force in our lives that it’s almost scary. Maybe we should be scared. Maybe we should be so scared that we start de-Googling our lives a bit.

How did we get here?

To recap: In the beginning, man created Google. Man looked upon the search engine ad saw that it was good. Really good, in fact. And that was the genesis of the whole new way that Google would ultimately impact humanity and imbue Google with a Godlike status.

Perhaps that’s taking things too far. …

Every entrepreneur must choose whether to bootstrap a company or use venture capital to fuel it. I’ve traveled these two drastically different paths. I spent more than a decade building a bootstrapped, profitable cash flow business, only to put all my chips back on the table with two venture-backed companies. My journey began with an interactive agency I founded in college called Cie Digital Labs, which then went on to incubate two successful venture-backed spin-outs. Last year, Cie Games was acquired by Glu Mobile for $100M, and my current venture Nativo recently raised a $20 million Series B round.

Getting More Than I Expected

In the case of Cie Games, we had a limited window of opportunity to take a Facebook game to market. External funding was the only way to make our Car Town game, a reality.

While there was an immediate goal that justified VC funding, the transition from a bootstrapped to VC-funded proved significantly more life-changing than I could have ever anticipated. Invaluable lessons transformed my entire view of how to start, manage, and operate businesses. These learnings extended well beyond the boardroom.

Here are three lessons that became instrumental to surviving the harsh but extremely rewarding experience of being an…

Justin Choi

Founder CEO: Nativo — Head of Product Strategy: Cie Digital Labs — Founder: Cie Games (acquired)

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