“Balancing Long Term vs Short Term Performance” The 5 Lessons I Learned Being a 20-Something Founder
I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Zaborszky, Founder of BestVPN.com.
Pete Zaborszky has been invested in privacy since before Edward Snowden’s revelations. Founded in 2013, his website BestVPN.com has helped over 28 million visitors gain information on how to protect their privacy in the digital age. Together with a team of experts, BestVPN.com is dedicated to fighting for people’s privacy and freedom to use the internet when, where and how they wish.
Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I’ve always had quite a libertarian mentality, believing in the power of the individual, and I always believed in empowering the individual. It was clear in 2013 from Edward Snowden’s revelations that our freedoms online are under threat. Like Snowden, I recognize the need for people’s right to stay private and secure online (or offline for that matter). With this in mind, I founded BestVPN.com with the aim to fight for people’s privacy and freedom to use the internet when, where and how they wish.
Jean: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
The funniest thing was on a trip to visit our client overseas. They had organized a day of sightseeing the local area, including a visit to see some wild monkeys. Our head of SEO started a Facebook live stream showing the monkeys. One of the female monkeys noticed him walking towards her and instantly her maternal instinct kicked in. She wanted to protect her children and launched herself at our head of SEO screaming. She chased him for about 30 meters. Unluckily for him, the moment was all captured on Facebook live. We had a good laugh about it and he certainly learned his lesson!
Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We’ve always been ahead of the curve, most of the competition always copied us, which is a great compliment. It’s always been very important for me to be the best at what we do. I never wanted to be Burger King, who opens stores next to McDonald’s, once McDonald’s is established. I wanted to be McDonald’s, who always pushes further. Both are viable business models, but I prefer being the innovator.
Jean: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My initial investor was a great, truly visionary founder. He started his online publishing business in 1999 and built a lot of websites/tools that we use every day now, like a gas price finder, a property price finder, a global login system, and ad platform. He taught me a lot about how to build a great business. Unfortunately, while he built lots of these sites and tools, because he never focused on any of them, they never fulfilled their potential. The biggest lesson for me is, if something starts taking off, increase focus on it, don’t start something else!
Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We are currently working on a Global Privacy Index which will compare the state of cyber security across individual countries worldwide and is expected to be released later this year.
Jean: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We support a number of charities who like us, have a similar mindset devoted to protecting people’s rights online, these include Privacy International, Fight for the future and The Electronic Frontier Foundation. I’ve also invested in several founders who have promising businesses, just like I was invested in.
Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I love “How to get rich” by Felix Dennis. It’s definitely more a guide to being a hustler than to being an entrepreneur, but it’s got some amazing advice from a very wise man. For a start, despite its name, most of the book is about how difficult and pointless it is trying to acquire wealth! Which it is. Unless you can think of it as a game, you take the process too seriously. As Felix says, if everyone collected seaweed in society, he’d collect tons and tons of it. It’s all a game.
Jean: Can you share 5 of the most difficult and most rewarding parts of being a “TwentySomething founder”. Please share an example or story for each.
- Early on in my entrepreneur journey, I ran and developed a multiplayer online game. One day I got an email from a member, telling me they’d met another member on the game, found out they lived nearby, and they met up. 1 year down the line, they are getting married. They wanted to thank me for what happened. It’s something I’ll remember forever!
- For me the hardest part is “punishing” staff members. It’s very hard sitting down with someone you know day to day and telling them what they are doing isn’t good enough. It’s always something that I worry about beforehand and need a while to calm down afterwards.
- One of the other difficult parts of running a business is balancing long term vs short term performance. By this I mean, sometimes it’s really easy to sacrifice your “quality” or even reputation for short term increases in profits. Do you cut costs to increase margins, but sacrifice investment for the long run? It’s a balance that needs frequent attention to get right.
- Finally, in my early twenties I was very eager to prove myself, possibly to a fanatical degree. The success I’ve had building BestVPN.com has definitely calmed me down, and this has been really great. I’ve proved that I can do it. This gives you a calm feeling. It is very rewarding, to have proven yourself in the world.
Jean: What are the main takeaways that you would advise a twenty year old who is looking to found a business?
I’ve probably tried 20–30 maybe even 40 different ventures. You need to try things, learn from it, and move on. No-one knows how to run a business at 20. But with enough practice you get good at it. It doesn’t matter if you fail along the way. Move along, nothing to see here. Start again. Never give up.
Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
It’s quite hard to pick just one, but the one that comes to mind is Peter Thiel. He sets a great example of what it’s like to go against the crowd. Which I find is an essential part of being an entrepreneur. He is a big inspiration and has some extremely insightful things to say. The smartest people usually tell you something insightful that seems really obvious when you hear it, yet it wasn’t obvious before you heard it. Then that insight comes back into your thoughts multiple times later on. Many things Peter Thiel has said is like this.
— Published on June 27, 2018