Entrepreneur Ben Lerer: 'I Realized I Had Been Going to Work the Wrong Way'
How I Did It: Ben Lerer
When his father, Ken Lerer, sold The Huffington Post, Ben Lerer realized it's not all about the exit.
00:07 Ben Lerer: I remember sort of having this epiphany where I realized that... I sort of realized that I had been going to work the wrong way.
In 2010, Ben Lerer co-founded Lerer Ventures, a seed stage VC, with his dad.
In 2011, Ben's father, Ken Lerer, sold the company he had co-founded, The Huffington post, to AOL.
00:28 Lerer: We were celebrating, and we were really happy. And he was stoked that he had had a really good exit and that the business had gone well, and sort of it was a fun time for the family. But I think, in the back of my mind, I was sort of looking at him and thinking that if I were in his shoes, while I'd be really happy to have made a lot of money, I might not be as excited about not getting to do what I did on a daily basis. And I could see in him that maybe he missed some of the excitement that came from running his company and from the process of selling it. And we were on vacation, and I saw it from him. He's like, "So, what are we gonna do next? What's going on? What's happening?" We're still curious, we're still reading the news, we're still following the publication that he had sold in real time, and being like, "Oh, that headline is not as good as I would had written." Like, sort of still in in the product, and I was thinking... And I took a shower. We were on a boat, I took a shower. I remember this moment being in the shower and saying... And sort of realizing that I was living backwards. I was always focused on this day in the future, when realistically, I really should have been focused on enjoying the process of building the business and should have been more self-aware.
At this point, Ben began to spend more time at Lerer Ventures--in addition to overseeing men's lifestyle site Thrillist.
01:50 Lerer: LV had started before we had sold HuffPo, but it had started as a hobby, as a fun way to sort of put our fingers into some other businesses and sort of invest in our peers and other entrepreneurs. And, I think, coming out of the HuffPo sale, it really was the place that my dad put his passion and got really, really, really excited about. And as he got excited about it, I got excited about it because in that mental shift that I'd had around my own work at Thrillist, it forced me to say... To sort of recognize life is short and so I made the commitment that I would also commit time to that, even while I was building Thrillist, and I think that that same mentality of never hoping and always living in the moment, and like, just being really sort of honest and realistic with yourself about what you're doing and how much you enjoy it is an important skill for entrepreneurs to learn, and it's something that I preach to all of the entrepreneurs that I invest in.
Today, Lerer Ventures has invested in 125 companies.
It has managed more than $30 million in its two funds.
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