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EXCLUSIVE: This Entrepreneur Built A $12M Company With A 100% Remote Team. Here’s How She Runs It

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A little while ago, we did a Q&A with an amazing entrepreneur who did what all great founders do: Get frustrated with a problem. Then solve it.

The way she did this was by creating a universal, truly global co-working operation — and one that’s now grown to $12M in value, world-class investor backing and a newly minted partnership with the co-working giant itself, WeWork.

If you recall, Great Briton Leanne Beesley built and launched Coworker.com in just three years. And she runs with a 100% remote team, all the while traveling the world.

(Just check her IG. It’s super lit.)

Well, we still have more beastly Beeesley gems to share.

In Part II of this interview, Leanne breaks down how she runs a fully remote team of 19 folks across 11 countries, the biggest mistake she made, and how one minor change changed everything about her business.

For the better. Enjoy.

How do you run your team?

We’re a fully remote/distributed team of 19 people spanning across 11 countries. As a startup founder, the biggest mistake I made during our first two years of Coworker was not delegating enough or focusing on the team.

Coming from a freelancer and solopreneur background—where your worth is based on your personal output—I was totally self absorbed in my own “busy work” and my inability to delegate was a massive bottleneck hindering our growth. I cringe now looking back at how inefficiently I used to run the team. Management and leadership were definitely my major weakness.

What changed?

In late 2017 I read “High Output Management” by former Intel CEO Andrew Grove. This book totally changed our trajectory and the way I run things.

As I read through it, it dawned on me that I had been so focused on my own personal output that I wasn’t even thinking about the output of my team members. But optimizing the collective output of the team would have a much bigger impact on our growth than my own singular output ever could. It was like a light-bulb went off in my head!

Then what happened?

The next day, I totally restructured the company and the way I run the team.

What was the first thing you changed?

Instead of trying to manage everyone myself, I identified which members of our team already demonstrated leadership qualities and moved them into senior leadership roles with other team members reporting into them.

Nice.

I also created extremely detailed job descriptions for everyone, with every responsibility clearly defined along with their KPIs outlined and a list of what they need to report on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. These get updated every quarter to reflect any changes in their role.

I implemented quarterly OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) which is the same goal setting framework used by Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and tons of other major companies. This made a big impact on our growth almost immediately.

What followed then?

I started sending a Monday update to the entire team to get them pumped up for the week. This includes a video where I answer any questions they submitted through the anonymous “Ask Leanne” Google Form each week.

Super dope! Why was that helpful?

As well as sharing our KPIs from the previous week and highlights of awesome stuff different team members worked on, it’s a great opportunity for me to reinforce the vision and mission on a regular basis!

These probably all sound like obvious things that I should have been doing from the beginning, but it took a major mindset shift for me to realize I needed to do them!

You’d be surprised. I guarantee you tons of people are going “Aha!” right now.

It seems like common sense in retrospect. How else can you run a team if you’re not delegating and tracking?

Which leads me to my next question. Project management. You run a remote team exclusively. You travel all over the world. How do you run your team?

When it comes to tools, we use Slack for internal team communications and Basecamp as a project management tool. We try to use email as little as possible; it’s such a productivity killer.

From a culture perspective, we definitely all have an entrepreneurial spirit. Many of our team members are former or current entrepreneurs, and were members of co-working spaces long before they joined Coworker.

For example our Community Manager, March Brenwall, owns her own ecommerce store – MarchFifth – selling fitness themed apparel and jewelry—which her team of VAs now manage since she joined Coworker—and has been traveling around the world for years working out of co-working spaces in Asia, Europe and North America.

Do you look for that when hiring, an entrepreneurial background?

I like hiring people who have had a slightly unconventional career path, especially if they’ve taught themselves skills and built things along the way. A history of proactivity and bias towards action are key indicators for whether someone will fit well into Coworker culture.

You guys have been offering a vehicle for smaller co-working companies to play on an even field with WeWork. But you recently cut a deal with them. Why?

When we first launched Coworker in 2015, we were focused on helping freelancers and solo entrepreneurs find co-working spaces. But as we grew, we noticed more and more companies were using Coworker to find offices for their teams.

The co-working industry is diversifying as it matures because demand is increasing for all types of flexible workspace. It’s similar to the way there are so many different types of hotels, from boutique design hotels to 5-star luxury resorts. People have unique needs and look for different things in a co-working space.

We realized that if we wanted Coworker to be the ultimate destination for finding & booking co-working spaces we needed to have the full range of co-working space inventory on the platform, allowing people to filter and choose whichever is right for them.

What’s been the reaction from previous partners?

A few independent co-working space managers emailed us to express their concern when WeWork joined Coworker in July [2018], but we’ve crunched the data and it really hasn’t affected their own conversion rates at all. WeWork has a very strong brand but Coworker is a level playing field.

The booking request conversion rate for co-working spaces with over 10 reviews is on average 487% higher than spaces with no reviews, and unlike on Google there are no PPC bidding wars to spiral marketing costs out of control if co-working spaces want to appear at the top of Coworker’s search results for their city.

Although we do have almost all the larger co-working space networks on Coworker, including WeWork, Tribes, Industrious, Spaces, IOS Offices, 91 Springboard, etc, these make up only 12% of the co-working spaces on Coworker.

88% of the 9200+ co-working spaces on Coworker are independent spaces so the majority of booking requests made are still to them.

In part III, Leanne breaks down her growth strategies, what lies ahead and her thoughts on the co-working industry as a whole.

ENTREPRENEURS

From Punk’d To The $200M Man: Ashton Kutcher’s Fast Rise To Silicon Valley Mogul

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Ashton Kutcher’s lived many roles, from dim-witted Michael Kelso in That’s 70’s Show to the genius billionaire Walden Schmidt in Two And a Half Men. What might surprise many is his eye for promising startups.

Kutcher has founded a successful venture capitalist firm (which turned $30M to a whopping $250M in under six years) and is an active investor in the tech space.

A-Grade Investments

Ashton Kutcher founded A-Grade Investments in 2010 with long-time friends Ron Burkle and Guy Oseary.

The VC firm has invested a little under a million in Uber to date, an investment that’s now churning 100x its value. In 2011, A-Grade invested $2.5M in Airbnb and the investment is valued at close to $100M.

Uber and Airbnb are not one-off lucky investments—A-Grade’s portfolio includes several blockbuster start-ups such as Spotify, Skype, Pinterest, and Shazam.

Silicon Valley stalwart Marc Andreessen believes a VC is one of the best if it can generate 3x returns and considers 5x return a home-run. An 8x return, like the portfolio that turned $30M to $250M, is mighty impressive.

In 2009, Andreessen invited Kutcher to invest $1M in Skype. A little after two years, Skype was acquired by Microsoft [MSFT] and Kutcher raked in a cool $4M. He quadrupled his investment when the world was still reeling under one of the worst recessions in history.

A-Grade invested in companies that have appealing founders, a problem-solving mission statement and a solid business model.

Not all you touch will turn to gold

However, investing in tech is not easy. The disruptive nature of this industry had made seasoned investors like Warren Buffett wary of the same. Similar to other VC’s, A-Grade also had its share of investment failures.

In fact, while investing in start-ups it is normal to experience more failure than success. In 2011, Kutcher’s VC invested in online fashion start-up Fab.com and saw its valuation soar to $1B and then come crashing down to $15M.

Kutcher was also the creative director (in addition to funding) of Ooma which was an unsuccessful web-based phone service. However, A-Grade has managed to offset these investment with a slew of successful ones.

Much more than just a celebrity investor

Kutcher is not a celebrity investor who takes on equity in exchange for endorsements. He is in for the real deal. Funding in tech is more miss than hit and Kutcher invests in products that he believes in.

He extensively uses Uber for travel. Kutcher stayed in Airbnb’s (before investing in the firm) to be absolutely sure if staying in a stranger’s house is as comfortable as a hotel or your own home. He then rented out Airbnb’s for a year after his divorce with Demi Moore.

He passed on investing in Snapchat twice as Kutcher confessed that he did not get it. Though Snapchat went on to become a publicly listed company, Kutcher remains unconcerned and knows that he will pass on many such investments that will go on to be successful.

Leveraged social media influence

Ashton Kutcher knows the power of social media. He was, in fact, an early adopter and the first one to have a million followers on Twitter [TWTR] way back in 2009.

While being actively involved with start-ups, Kutcher managed to use his influence on social media to voice his support for Uber when New York City’s Mayor Bill De Blasio tried to restrict Uber’s growth via regulations.

Now what?

In 2015, Liberty Media pumped in $100M and appointed Kutcher and Oseary to run this investment vehicle looking at their impressive returns. That year, Kutcher and Guy Oseary founded another VC fund Sound Ventures targeting investments in the tech space.

Sound Ventures have made 53 investments to date and has led six rounds of funding. Its latest investment was in the electric scooter start-up Bird that has already raised up to $300M.

Sound Ventures’  hit the bulls-eye with investments in Neighborly, Gusto and Robinhood. Sound Ventures has also invested in b8ta, Cedar, Calm and Modern Fertility in the last four months.

In June, the VC announced that it is looking to raise a second fund of  $150M, to up their investment ante. A successful run here will most likely propel them into the billion dollar league.

Kutcher was paid $20M for starring in the final season of Two and a Half Men. We can see that venture funding is not his second stream of income. He is passionate about tech and believes it can make a huge difference. He is in fact, all-in.

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ENTREPRENEURS

4 Types Of People To Be Around That Will Make The Hustle More Fun

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(Editor’s Note: The following article is a guest post by superstar entrepreneur and tech investor Jonathan Schultz.) 

We all know that hard work and dedication are keys to success. The more you’re willing to sacrifice and go the extra mile, the greater your chances are of reaching your personal goals and passions.

While there’s no denying that hard work does play a major role in reaching success, surrounding yourself with the right people will always help. We’ve all heard the saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know” … In my career, whenever I push myself to be around the positive thinkers and go-getters, it’s always up-leveled me and gave me more confidence to in turn fulfill my own dreams and ambitions.

Finding your network through all the different stages of your life and career is not only helpful in progressing your career, but it also creates amazing relationships and opportunities.

So, what type of people should you be surrounding yourself with?

THE PUZZLE PIECES

Find the network that is your perfect complement —the people that have the skills and abilities you strive for. Not only will this give you more confidence, it will help you learn the skills and abilities you may be lacking.

THE POSITIVE PEOPLE

Who doesn’t want to be around someone who’s happy and optimistic? Even though that doesn’t have to be all the time.

Surrounding yourself with positive and grateful people can have an incredible impact on your life, making you feel happier and more confident. Also, positive people are more likely to encourage you to take smart risks or move up the business ladder.

THE INNOVATORS

Dreamers and innovators are the people pushing society forward. They are the people interested in coming up with new and improved ways to solve problems and achieve success. Regardless of what field they’re working in, it’s never a bad idea to have a few outside-the-box thinkers in your social circle to help you look at things from a different perspective.

THE ANSWER SEEKERS

Just like innovators, people who constantly ask questions are the reason why we challenge old ways and come up with new ideas. When you’re surrounded by people who constantly ask questions, you’re more likely to come across the answers that you never knew you needed.

Ultimately, the people you keep in your inner circle can influence you in a number of different ways, including how you approach problems or whether you’re motivated to achieve greater things or not. Of course, this isn’t to say that everyone around you needs to be someone who’s working those extra-long hours to get to the next phase in life.

However, when you have a few business-minded people in your life, you’re more likely to inherit some of their drive, benefit from their knowledge, and even network in some of the same circles. For that reason, it’s always important to make friends who have the same goals and aspirations as yourself. It might just help you get to the top quicker.

Jonathan Schultz is an entrepreneur, real estate tech investor and influencer. He’s the co-founder of Onyx Equities, a leading private equity real estate firm, and has been voted one of the most powerful people in real estate. Follow Jon’s blog here

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ENTREPRENEURS

Law Of Attraction: 7 EPIC Conor McGregor Quotes On Success

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In less than three years, Conor McGregor has risen from an unknown entity to a global icon, smashing every financial record in the UFC — a huge reason the fight organization sold for $4.2 billion in 2016.

In November of 2016, McGregor completed what he, in his own words, had visualized throughout the whole year — hoisting two belts high atop the UFC cage in Madison Square Garden as the only two-belt world champion in the organization’s history.

Less than a year later, McGregor pocketed another $100 million as he, somehow, landed a mega-fight with undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather (despite no boxing experience) in what was projected as the first billion-dollar fight in human history.

His secret? Well, The Secret — the law of attraction.

“If you have a clear picture in your head that something is going to happen and a clear belief that it will happen no matter what then nothing can stop it. It is destined to happen. It’s perfect.”

Offering a window into Conor’s mind, we put together 7 epic quotes on the law of attraction.

1. On visualization

“This is the law of attraction. In this struggle, when things are going good and you visualize good things happening , that’s easy. What’s not easy is to do is when things are going bad and you’re visualizing the good stuff. And that’s what I was able to do. Visualizing good things in times of struggle, when you can do that, that really makes the law of attraction work.”

2. Appreciating surroundings

“You need to appreciate your surroundings and be grateful for it, and that’s when good things happen. To have that bitterness and negativity, that’s when things go bad. I think the fact that I appreciate everything and that I’m grateful for the things around me, that’s why it’s going so good for me.”

3. Manifesting

“If you can see it here,” he said at the UFC 194 press conference in December 2015. “And have the courage enough to speak it, it will happen. If you put out what you truly believe in, it will create the law of attraction and it becomes reality.”

4. Self belief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. The power of choice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Manifesting a Bentley

“Even though I was having trouble at home, even though I had no job, I was still able to feel like it was. Basically using my imagination, like a kid, using my imagination. I was driving my girlfriend’s car, shaking down the road. And I swear to God, I was sitting in traffic and visualized — holding the steering wheel, visualizing — driving a brand new car, visualizing good things.”

7. “I done everything I said I was going to do.”

“I done everything I said I was gonna do. I was LAUGHED at when I was gonna win my second world title. ‘That’s not going to happen.’ An Irishman winning a UFC [world title] — I was laughed at when I said that. And I done. It’s only January 2017 and I’m already the face of the UFC. The face of boxing. The face of the WWE. And the face of Hollywood!

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