Brad Hargreaves is a true serial entrepreneur, now on his third venture. One that has already raised $100M and has scaled to at least 30 cities around the world.
On the Dealmakers Podcast Hargreaves shared his experiences taking startups full cycle, his top priorities when building a company today, how he took one company from zero to $1M in revenue in just four months, and how he raised $100M for two different ventures.
Boredom Is The Fuel Of Creativity
Brad Hargreaves can credit a lot of his success to being the product of boredom.
He grew up in a small middle of nowhere town in Arkansas. The whole county only had one traffic light. When you are bored you have to get creative.
There were two ways you could escape a small town like this. One was playing football, and he didn’t have the build for it.
The other was by competing in science competitions. Brad says his parents were very supportive of his education. That turned into him pursuing all of the academic and science competitions he could, just to get out there in the world and explore. He competed across the US, internationally, and all the way to Australia and back. An experience which definitely broadened his understanding and perspective of the world.
This naturally led him to study science in college. After spending summers in the science lab he realized that this was not how he wanted to spend the rest of his life.
He was more inspired by his entrepreneur grandfather who had built his own auto parts distribution business and chain of auto parts stores. At Yale, many of his fellow students were getting involved in business through consulting, private equity and banking. He was more comfortable with entrepreneurship.
Starting & Folding Your First Startup In College
Growing up in the middle of nowhere, Brad had also been big into video games. That became the driver for his first company, Game Studio.
They made rivalry games you might play on your phone. This was before Facebook games and the Apple AppStore. At one point he says a quarter of Ivy League students were all playing the game at the same time.
They even ended up raising some money. Yet, even before graduating, stil at just 22 years old, the 2008 crisis showed up and led to him folding the company.
It was a painful experience. One that didn’t deter him from continuing to pursue entrepreneurship at all, but which did make him keenly aware that he never wanted to go through that again.
The Two Most Important Factors To Avoid Going Bankrupt
The two big things that Brad says he took away from this experience, in addition to not wanting to have to lay people of again were:
- Make sure you start by making money
- The importance of staying incredibly disciplined on unit economics
During his first startup it wasn’t cool to try to make money. In fact, investors discouraged it. They just wanted fantastic growth at all costs. In times of great bull run it can also be very tempting to become slack on unit economics and stretch. These things are also a recipe for financial disasters.
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