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Success Stories: From Entrepreneur to Founder

Co-Founder of PopCap John Vechey explains his evolution from start-up entrepreneur to the founder of a large company recently sold to Electronic Arts.
VIDEO  •  HOW I GOT STARTED

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Video Transcript

00:08 John Vechey: I had gotten permission to do stuff on the side from Sierra and with one of the Pop Kit founders, Jason, who is the Creative Director we were working on a PG-13 strip poker, which is hard to describe, but it was a strip poker game with cartoon characters where they never got naked. And so we were working on that, and then other... The person I had started the first company with out of college, he also wanted to do something different. And so, basically, the three of us realized, "Hey we should do something different together because we all like working together."

00:45 Vechey: In the starting phase it's always fun because you're kind of starving to death, which is fun in its weird way. And everything has meaning. It's really... It's like the beginning stage of a relationship. No matter how bad it is, it's a fun phase, right. It's not till it gets bigger does it start to hit you that it's not always gonna be fun. Like anyone who sells their company after three years, I always... I don't judge them necessarily, but I think they haven't really gone through a cycle, more than one cycle. It's easy to emotionally get excited about, put all your energy into, sell a company after three years and then walk away. It is much harder being with a company for 11 years and really continuing to invest in it.

01:31 Vechey: At some point, people stop being entrepreneurs and they start being founders, and there's a big difference, I think, between those attitudes. No matter how hard the work was in the early days it was always fun and energetic. And no matter how much fun the work is in the later days, it's often always hard. You do a revenue forecast, and you're never like, "We are successful now." You think, "Alright, well next year we're trying to get to that. How are we gonna get to that? Oh, it's really tough and it's stressful and hard." So there's always this moving bar of raising it for you to feel like, "Oh, we're successful."

02:03 Vechey: It wasn't till a couple of years ago that I realized that we might be making a great company. Because there's a difference between a company that makes a lot of money and a company that is enduring, that really stays around. There were little hints at it. One of the first times I realized it when I went through the list of people in the company and I realized that most people were at the height of their careers in the company, like they were doing the best work. Not that they might not have better things afterwards, but they were doing the best work, being the most successful they'd ever been. And these are people that had started companies before, people who were executives before, that really, when you looked at the individual people, most of them were having a bigger impact, being more successful than they ever have been. And then I just sat back and said, "Wow, I think we might have created something kind of special."

Last updated: Oct 13, 2011




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