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“Remember that there is more than one path to success” Words of Wisdom With Jack Chen, CEO of Loud-Hailer

Jack Chen
“Remember that there is more than one path to success. The most important skill set an entrepreneur must have is critical thinking. I think of it as three-dimensional chess; every day we need to provide our customers what they want and give our users what they need while helping us reach our next milestones.”
Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Jack Chen, CEO and Co-Founder of Loud-Hailer. In addition to building and managing the team at Loud-Hailer, Jack travels the country meeting with government, civic and business leaders as well as local residents, to discuss how technology can help strengthen communities in the real world by rethinking the way people access location based information as they move through a city.

Thank you for doing this! Can you tell us how did you get started?

Thank you for having me! Loud-Hailer was started when my co-founder Cimon Butler and I were watching video coverage of the Japanese tsunami. We watched a woman, stranded on the rooftop of a house that was floating out to sea, dog in one arm, and cell phone in the other.

She was in the process of being rescued from this completely devastated area, but there was no possible way that her phone, cell network, Internet or Wi-Fi would ever work in these conditions, yet she took her phone as one of the two things she saved, although there was really no way she’d be able to communicate with first responders or someone who could rescue her.

Cimon and I started thinking about a way we could give everyone the ability to create their own connectivity, with or without a carrier present. Imagine if she would have been able to communicate with the rescuers in helicopters nearby? That spark of an idea launched Loud-Hailer.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you during the course of your career?

As you go through life, you meet people of all different backgrounds and forge relationships that connect in really interesting ways.

Many of the people that work with us are people I’ve met through the years — two of our advisors are college friends, one of whom I met on my first day of college. Other team members include a college roommate as well as long-time friends and former colleagues from my previous jobs. These are people I never thought I would work with because of our diverse backgrounds, and yet, here we are. That’s how I know I am on the right path, that these relationships I‘ve developed throughout the years may seem totally random but are all connected. Everything is connected.

So what exactly does your company do?

Our technology creates human networks by connecting smart devices to each other using our software. We can connect two smart devices to each up to 250 feet apart using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) which uses the same Bluetooth chip that’s in everyone’s phone. To extend the distance, people daisy chain off of each other. If I want to message my friends who are a couple thousand feet away and there are enough people between us, their phones can help relay my message. All the transmissions are encrypted and secure, so only the intended recipients can read them. The other users won’t even know that they’re helping to relay the information.

Is there someone who made a big difference in your life who helped you get to where you are today?

It takes a village, and Loud-Hailer could not have happened without my co-founders Cimon Butler and Luca Cozza. My advice to all entrepreneurs out there: don’t try to do everything on your own, and pick your co-founders wisely. The right team will make or break your dream. We also couldn’t have happened without local leaders such as Barnaby Evans, Ryan Thorpe, Brian Ross, and Dan Williams. They share our vision of rethinking the way people connect to each other.

How have you used your success to better the world?

We think of success as achieving a number of goals, which we’re still working towards. One of those goals is to help bridge the digital divide. The pace of technology is a non-stop sprint towards bigger and more, which translates into more expensive. Those who cannot afford the latest hardware or unlimited data are left behind. Anyone with a Bluetooth device can engage with our technology, no cell contract required. Another goal we have is to level the playing field between businesses big and small.

If you could travel back in time to before you started, what 3 tips would you give yourself and why?

1. Don’t assume. When we started Loud-Hailer I assumed city governments and quasi-public organizations would have no interest in our technology and that they would be difficult to engage. Turns out cities are very interested in speaking with us and are very engaged in thinking about how they can be better connected to their residents and visitors.

2. Just about everything will take longer than you like. Pretty much a universal law of life.

3. Remember that there is more than one path to success. The most important skill set an entrepreneur must have is critical thinking. I think of it as three-dimensional chess; every day we need to provide our customers what they want and give our users what they need while helping us reach our next milestones.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

Elon Musk, because he has a tremendous ability to inspire people to care passionately about technology and to distill big ideas into simple messages that everyone can understand. He inspires such trust that despite any bumps in his quarterly performance, his consumers and his audience don’t waiver in their faith. Musk is one of the most effective communicators right now. As a CEO, one of my main jobs is communication, and I would love to have a chance to learn from him.