Amin Shokrollahi has raised some serious startup capital for his tech company.
On the Dealmakers Show he shared his global journey, essential traits for entrepreneurs, and the muscles you need to work out to make it. Plus, how and why he chose to base his venture in Switzerland, and the only investor you ever need to pitch. As well as his take on how to fire someone well.
Essential Traits For Entrepreneurs
Grit, flexibility, and curiosity are essential characteristics for entrepreneurs. Fortunately, Shokrollahi has proven to get a grip on all of these.
At a very early age, Amin says his uncles who were professors began teaching him math. That he says helped to spark curiosity within him. Something he has never lost.
It has helped him step forward and embrace the unknown, as well as solve problems.
Amin was born in Tehran. At the age of five, he tested into a school for gifted students. Certainly partially thanks to his brothers and mother who supported him and were big into mathematics too.
After fourth grade, he tested into a German school in Iran, where he had to learn the German language in addition to his regular studies.
Then came the revolution. The school was closed, and he made it out on the last flight before the war broke out. At just 16 years old he landed in Germany and was stuck there. What was supposed to be escaping turned into going to boarding school there, and a whole new lifelong adventure.
After obtaining his computer science degree and pursuing his Ph.D. he sought out the US for its great universities and research facilities. He saw Berkeley as having both the best computer science and mathematics programs in the world, and that’s where he went.
Surviving The Rollercoaster & How To Fire People
After Berkeley Amin did a stint at Bell Labs. Then he had the opportunity to become Chief Scientist for a Californian startup, Digital Fountain.
He joined when they were still a small team of around 30 people. They grew. Then the dot com bust came. They were one of the survivors and managed to pick up growth again until they were acquired by Qualcomm.
As with most companies during times like these, surviving meant some serious downsizing.
This experience taught him a lot about being smart in how you scale, and the flaws in the mentality of that time which demanded growth no matter what.
These are times when you really value personal relationships with colleagues. Even if you have to ultimately fire many of them.
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