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7 Questions for Shutterstock's Jon Oringer

Bootstrap billionaire Jon Oringer, founder of Shutterstock, says getting venture capital is optional. Building a great company culture is not.
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When Jon Oringer founded Shutterstock in 2003, he filled the stock-photo site with 30,000 of his own images. Today, the site has more than 30 million photos, videos, and illustrations for sale.

1. What's one rookie mistake you made early on?

I hadn't really worked in an office before Shutterstock, so I didn't have the experience of building a culture, nor did I understand how important that is for attracting and retaining the best talent. That's been a major lesson for me.

 

 

Photo Finish: Success Lessons from a Marketplace Master

Shutterstock founder Jon Oringer talks to Inc.'s Scott Gerber about the lessons he learned in creating a crowdsourced, subscription-driven marketplace.

 

2. What was the hardest lesson you learned in your first year of business?

Figuring out how to interview people so I could tell if they'd fit our hacker, entrepreneurial, data-driven company.

3. What's the toughest part of being in charge?

The decisions you make affect a lot of people. You have investors, employees, and customers who all rely on you. Being a leader is a 24-hour-a-day job.

4. What's the biggest myth in business?

That venture capital is necessary to start a business. I started Shutterstock without any outside funding; I believe in creating a lean startup. By not taking outside investors early, I was forced to use every dollar I had as efficiently as possible. And I was able to keep a large part of the company.

5. What's one skill you want to improve upon?

I still find public speaking to be a challenge. The good news is that lots of people feel that way, and you can solve it if you work at it.

6. What's your proudest accomplishment in your business?

I love meeting contributors and hearing how we inspire them to create art. I'm also proud of creating hundreds of jobs.

7. Whom do you admire most as a business leader?

Sir Martin Sorrell. He's been leading advertising company WPP for almost 30 years and continues to build it. There is nothing better I can imagine than growing this company for another 20 years.

 




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