Alex Kazerani has not only done a fair amount of traveling around the world, but he has also been around the block of starting and exiting startups a few times too.
Most entrepreneurs dream of launching and maybe selling one company. Alex Kazerani has done it three times and is now building what could be his biggest company yet.
We got together for a recent episode of the Dealmakers Show. Alex walked us through his entrepreneurial journey, why he sold his companies, what he might do differently now, how he has picked his investors when to take venture debt versus equity, and how he stumbled on his latest business idea.
Falling In Love With Technology
Alex was born in Iran and then spent the rest of his early years living on six different continents and attending 11 different schools.
He spent time in France, went to boarding school in Pennsylvania, and then college in Massachusetts.
Travel is one of those great assets which help entrepreneurs gain higher-level perspectives, see opportunities to disrupt industries and understand people better.
It’s a form of data collection and gives you an appreciation for data that helps you see things for what they are, beyond your own opinions and biases. This can be especially useful when you begin applying it to assessing market sizes and opportunities.
While studying economics and international relations, Kazerani was one of the first people to get email addresses. If you can remember that far back, phone calls were obscenely expensive, real mail was slow. While his friends were interested in going into investment banking and consulting, from this moment Alex knew he wanted to get into technology.
The First Rodeo
Alex was recruited by an internet company in LA. They flew him out and put him in sales. He learned about hosting, web design, T1 connections and domain names.
Unfortunately, his boss didn’t have much of a conscience about paying people on time. So, Alex decided to go start his own company and do everything the opposite of what his old boss was doing.
While his old employer went broke, Kazerani’s startup HostPro took off. They embraced a very different management style, radical transparency, treating customers and staff fairly, and building a quality product. It was a hit.
HostPro was generating 140% cash on cash returns and was growing. Seeing the writing on the wall leading up to the crash of ‘99, and receiving a $25M offer at just 25 years old the founders cash out.
He bought the house, the boat, and all the toys. Though after six months, sitting on the beach got old, and he wanted to build a new company.
Alex’s next venture took advantage of the big shift into outsourcing and offshoring. Knowledgebase was also sold off for over $10M dollars.
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