Robin Richards is one of the most prolific, true serial entrepreneurs in modern American history. He has built, scaled, and exited at least half a dozen startups. His exits range from $30 million to over $300 million.
It was a great honor to be graced with his presence on this recent episode of the DealMakers Podcast. He generously shared how he has set tech IPO records, found ideas for new businesses, the value of good website domain names, the most important lessons he’s learned from each of these ventures, and his new company which has already raised $50 million. Plus, the top advice he’d give his younger self before starting a company.
Robin Richards was born and grew up in Detroit, MI. From an early age, he saw two mindsets to choose from. One was enviously looking at those who were wealthy and despising them for it. The other option is to be curious about what has created their success and learn from it. He chose the latter.
He found the kids at school whose families seemed to have more than everyone else. He asked what their parents did for a living. What their paths in life were.
The patterns he found among the most successful were that:
- Their parents had gone to college
- Their parents had been together for a very long while
- Their parents owned their own businesses
No one in Robin’s family had done anything other than work for an hourly wage for someone else. No one had gone to college. He vowed to do things differently.
He saw that he could take action by getting good grades to get into college, and then look to start his own business. All while being smart about who he associated and spent time with.
Robin was big in sports and did get into college. He took off to go to school in California. Even then, his fellow students’ parents noticed how he was different, and several asked him to come work with them when he graduated. He foresaw that was really code for working an hourly job and ending up working for his friends. He turned them down. He wanted to achieve the maximum possible in life. He decided to invent his own destiny.
Upon graduating college he started his own telemarketing business. He approached a landlord on Sunset Blvd. He offered to rent a broom closet to be his first office because the rents were just so expensive. He vowed that within three years he would rent the whole floor space.
In just two years he leased the whole floor. In five years his company was leasing three full floors of office space and had employed 3,000 people.
He had found an edge by saving salespeople time, by having others create appointments for the first and beginning to use databases and PCs.
Although he admits to making a lot of mistakes on the way, he says his biggest takeaway from this first company was to hire the best people you possibly can, and then get out of their way.
Then at the behest of legendary fund manager Bill Gross, Robin went to work on Tickets.com. They were losing money, and Bill offered him a percentage of the company for improving it. Robin repositioned the company into a venue database and event company. They grew fast and were quickly bought out by Advantix.
Both of these first two exits were for around $30 million each.
With Tickets.com, Robin says the key lesson was the speed in pivoting. It’s being decisive, and making the pivot quickly, rather than settling for moderate results.
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