An Interview with David Tao, Forbes (US & Canada 2019) Media

Bruno (HE) Mirchevski
May 15 · 12 min read

(#00019) — The key is that you keep trying and you keep iterating and you keep getting better.


The most logical thing that you can do when you run into an obstacle in life, is to try and solve it. Especially if it benefits both you and other people.

But, the thing is, this is not always the easiest approach.

To solve a problem you need to be brave and daring. You need to be ready to take a step ahead, even if you don’t know what is waiting for you at the end of the road.

Entering the entrepreneurial waters requires courage, resilience and a well-thought plan. And in reality, not everyone can do that.

There are many aspects of starting a business that can be a burden to aspiring entrepreneurs, but once you get a hold of them, the only way to go is up.

I recently had the opportunity to discuss some of these topics with David Tao, the co-founder of BarBend.com, among other things.

David is passionate about many things in his life, which led to him successfully managing all of his passions and converting them into a source of income.

Thanks to the work put in BarBend, David earned a place on Forbes’s “30 under 30 US & Canada 2019: Media” list.

His story is engaging and I am more than happy to share it with you today — Enjoy.


Bruno (HE) Mirchevski (The Logician):

Hello David, and welcome to this interview! First off, I want to thank you for being part of this mission! Now, can you introduce yourself? Who is David Tao? How did you choose your current career?

David Tao:

Credits: David Goddard Photography

Thanks for having me on Bruno. My name is David Thomas Tao, I am a partner in JAKK Media, and I am a Co-Founder and the editor of BarBend.com.

I’m also an occasional voice actor and sports color commentator.

As far as my chosen career, I originally planned on going to law school and then deferred admission to law school for two years.

During that time, I got involved in the journalism scene in New York City and was fortunate enough to write for publications including Fortune and Fortune.com.

I ended up getting an offer to become the editorial director of a site called Greatist.com, which is a health and wellness website. I was there for a couple of years and then moved more into the freelance consulting digital marketing space before I found my current business partners, with whom we co-founded BarBend, and also run a few other brands in the niche content category.

I would say the initial impetus was that I wanted to be involved in content, I wanted to be involved in something resembling journalism, and I never did end up going to law school, but I’m pretty happy where I am.


Bruno (HE) Mirchevski (The Logician):

I would also like to congratulate you for making among Forbes 30 under 30! Did you see this coming? Was this a dream come true?

David Tao:

Thank you very much. The list was a bit of a surprise. I saw it coming only so much as I had to actually apply. They have a pretty rigorous application process for the 30 under 30 list that involves not only a couple of different applications that go pretty in-depth, but you also have to get letters of recommendation from people you know, people you work with, mentors, professional contacts, etc.

The process took a few months, and I didn’t necessarily expect to make the list, but I did go through with it. So it was certainly something that I was hopeful about and it was surely a dream come true.

I remember finding out about it and waking up that morning with a bunch of texts on my phone, as well as a bunch of missed calls. I kind of slept in that morning, which is pretty rare and people were very congratulatory and it was really a whirlwind experience. So I’m very honored to make that list.


Bruno (HE) Mirchevski (The Logician):

Do you mind telling us more about BarBend? What is the mission? Why is your business important?

David Tao:

The mission is to be the world’s best and biggest resource for strength sports and strength training.

We started off as basically just a news site for some people interested in things like CrossFit, Weightlifting, Powerlifting, and Strongman.

As the team grew, the business evolved and now we produce not only news about the mentioned sports, but also training resources, and nutrition resources.

We also produce both video and written content for people who are interested not only in learning more about what’s happening in the world of strength sports and in the sports themselves, but people who are interested in strength training, be they super advanced with years of experience under their belt or people who are relatively new to strength training. Things such as how to get started, how it is accessible, etc.

I think the business is important because we really wanted to show that even though it is a niche space and a small interest group space, we can still produce quality content at the level you’d expect from a mainstream Outlet.

I think so far we’ve been able to do that. I’m very proud of our team.


Bruno (HE) Mirchevski (The Logician):

According to you, how important it is for the co-founders to know each other for a long time before they start a business together? How did you meet your co-founders? How well do you know each other?

David Tao:

I’m not sure it’s necessary for co-founders to know each other for a long time. I knew my co-founders one of them for about a year, and one of them for about six months before we actually launched BarBend.

I actually got involved with them working on some other projects where we were kind of contracting and consulting. I consider us to be very good friends. And immediately, even before we started working super closely together, I knew that we would get along and then our work styles will mesh.

The three of us co-founded BarBend in early 2016. So we’ve been together ever since. In every co-founder relationship, there are ups and downs, but we certainly know each other’s strengths. Also, I don’t want to say weakness, but we certainly know where some of us are stronger than others.

I’m super appreciative for my co-founders and I think the important thing is to know each other well. I don’t think you necessarily need to be the best of friends, but you need to know where people’s strengths lie. That’s going to help you keep the relationship stable long-term, and know who to lean on when different speed bumps come up during the businesses growth.


Bruno (HE) Mirchevski (The Logician):

How do you believe business ideas are born? What do you think mostly stops people from starting their own businesses? How can be this problem solved?

David Tao:

I believe business ideas, at least in my experience, are born because people want something. When they seek something out and they don’t find it.

That’s what happened with BarBend. I wanted really good strengths sports content. I wasn’t able to find it and we thought well, let’s create our own.

I think the toughest part about starting a business, especially in today’s day and age, is the capital and the funding.

It’s difficult to get something completely new off the ground and pour your heart, soul and your time into it without a stable financial base. And you know, if you are working to support your family or to support yourself, it doesn’t necessarily leave you a lot of money or time to actually begin the business.

So when I say capital, I guess I mean capital in the sense of money to actually get it off the ground and cover expenditures. But also in the sense of time.

I think people have really good ideas. I think there are many good ideas out there, but they are not being explored because it’s difficult to find the time and to find the money to get started, while you can also still keep food on the table and support yourself and your family.

I think those are the biggest obstacle in starting businesses. I really think that so many people have great ideas and don’t think that is what’s holding them back, nor is it the desire. I think it’s just making sure they have their necessities covered, while they take that entrepreneurial risk.


Bruno (HE) Mirchevski (The Logician):

What is the most challenging and exciting part of being a young co-founder of a successful business?

David Tao:

I think the most challenging and exciting part, although I do think they’re one of the same, is having to sometimes make things up as you go.

It can be difficult if your business is a slightly different business model, if you’re doing something unique or if you’re trying to innovate or disrupt as a lot of people say.

There isn’t a necessarily defined Playbook.

You can surround yourself with mentors and knowledgeable and experienced people, but often there are problems that you have to figure out how to solve by yourself.

You have to figure it out as you go.


Bruno (HE) Mirchevski (The Logician):

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a businessperson? Why? Please explain.

David Tao:

That’s a great question. As far as people who have had a tremendous impact on me as a business person, I have two answers to that.

I think there are two people who have had a huge personal impact on me in business and they are some of my friends from college actually.

One is Alex Konrad. He’s a journalist. He actually works for Forbes, writes about VC. And the other is a friend of mine named Tyler Hall also a friend from college who works in the financing and hedge funds space.

The three of us have been friends for a long time and with most of my friends, especially most of my college friends, I don’t talk business. Our relationship is built on long-term friendship, and everything but business.

However, these are the two friends I have who are never afraid to ask me questions regarding their own careers and are never afraid to become sounding boards for my business questions.

They are in different spaces than I am. One is in a completely different industry. But that perspective is really good and often times when we come together, we talk about our jobs, we talk about things that we’re going through, and they proved to be great sounding boards because they bring such different perspectives in.

They really helped me see what I’m doing objectively or at least more objectively than I would if I didn’t have them as strong voices and influence in my life and in my career.


Bruno (HE) Mirchevski (The Logician):

What do you do in your free time? What matters in life? Who is your biggest supporter? Can you define happiness?

David Tao:

In my free time, I am an aspiring voice actor. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do that in the professional sense.

I have had paying engagements and regular engagements for much of the past year or so.

So I really do try and spend my free time working on that craft, making connections and really trying to become the best voice actor I can, with the time and resources available.

What matters in my life is knowing that I can wake up every morning having had a decent night’s sleep and excited to do what I do. If I have that feeling every day, then I think my priorities are close to being in line, if not exactly in line, and I’m lucky enough to feel that way most days.

My biggest supporter is certainly my girlfriend Jamie. She’s an incredibly supportive partner and someone who has been with me every step of the way on this entrepreneurial adventure. She is also someone who really helps me find balance and grounding in balancing the office life and personal life. I am super thankful for her.

As far as to finding happiness, I have to say it goes back to the answer I gave earlier which is “Can you wake up feeling energized and excited to do what you know is going to come over the course of the day?” I think if you can do that, probably are a pretty happy person or at least the closest definition of that as we can get.


Bruno (HE) Mirchevski (The Logician):

Where do you see yourself and your business in the next 5–10 years?

David Tao:

I don’t really think five to ten years ahead. I try and think two to three years ahead.

I see BarBend certainly as being the largest strength sports resource online. I hope so. I also see our team, having grown a bit. I see us being very heavily involved in the video aspect of that industry.

And personally, I’d like to become more of a regular voice in the space. I start doing some on-camera work and some on-camera commentary. I do a lot of commentary for BarBend through our USA weightlifting partnership.

So I’d like to explore new ways to get my thoughts out there and to get my voice and face out there in into space, just as I want to give BarBend’s name and brand and our fantastic content out there to more people.


Bruno (HE) Mirchevski (The Logician):

Finally, what is the best life advice you have ever received that you use for business too?

David Tao:

The best life advice I ever received that I use for business as well is something that I was told a lot as a kid by a few different family members including my mother, but also by a lot of other mentors in my life, especially teachers it in boarding school.

They all said, “you don’t have to get it right the first time”. You are going to try a lot of things in business and life, and you’ll fail. The key is that you keep trying and you keep iterating and you keep getting better.

It is a little different than “don’t be afraid to fail”. I think don’t be afraid to fail lacks a little bit of impetus there.

You can not be afraid to fail but that doesn’t mean you’re still trying something. But you do have to try, and you don’t have to get it right the first time but learn from that the best you can.

That’s probably the best piece of advice I’ve ever received and I did from a few different people, so I hope they were onto something.

Running a business is not just about being motivated enough, or having the proper skills and experience. It also means knowing which battles to pick and when.

Nevertheless, when you know that you can somehow contribute to society, and create a meaningful business that will both be valuable to you and to others on a long-term, my advice is to go for it.

Start small, and aim for greatness. Become a problem solver that the people need, no matter what niche you are targeting.

Ultimately, your efforts will pay off and you will have the opportunity to enjoy a job that brings you happiness and satisfaction.

And isn’t that something we all strive for in our lives?


“The Mission to Empower 1 Million Entrepreneurs”


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The Logician

Don’t follow me. I am lost too!😎

Bruno (HE) Mirchevski

Written by

The Logician (Dreamer) 👁️ Don’t follow me. I am lost too!😎 Founder of HE Group - www.hegroup.info (Investor) 📈

The Logician

Don’t follow me. I am lost too!😎

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