Noah Kagan knows from failure. The author of How I Lost 170 Million Dollars: My Time as #30 at Facebook (Lioncrest, 2014) explained why he was fired from the social network and how he bounced back to become a successful entrepreneur in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" chat Wednesday.
Kagan, now 35, was employee No. 30 at the social network but was dismissed after nine months. He lost his 20,000 shares in Facebook stock, which would now be valued at nearly $3 million. Despite losing out on Facebook riches, he's since launched two successful companies: Sumo, which offers users free tools to automate website growth, and AppSumo, a daily deals website for online services. Kagan said Sumo is an eight-figure business and AppSumo had more than 700,000 active subscribers in 2015, Inc. reported. What's more, he also hosts a business podcast called "Noah Kagan Presents" and has a similar YouTube channel.
Here are Kagan's tips on resilience, keeping a business alive and the app he thinks the world needs right now.
Handling tough times:
After he lost his job, "What helped was keeping busy...Surrounding myself with positive people and reflecting on what I can learn from the situation."
Kagan stressed the importance of taking time to learn why something bad happened and how to improve going forward. For example, he was fired from his job because he was "more about himself than the company." He added that he "got a bit bored" and "wasn't skilled at scaling with business and dealing with mtgs / bureaucracy." When asked to elaborate, Kagan wrote that things went well in the beginning when he could approach CEO Mark Zuckerberg about ideas, but the tide turned for him when meetings grew to about 30 people.
His advice: People should determine their strengths and develop those skills instead of focusing on weaknesses.
"For instance, I'm a great starter by not as strong at finishing," Kagan wrote. "So I love being around people who can complement me."
Timing is everything:
His words to entrepreneurs were simple and direct. "Persist," Kagan wrote. "Things take time so don't give up after a month. Impressive things take years."
When it comes to the best time to start business, Kagan suggested entrepreneurs start right away. "Money is everywhere. Go make something so people are EXCITED to give it to you."
New business ideas:
He also insisted that startups must continue evolve to succeed, adding that Facebook began with a friend-to-friend sharing system operating on student schedules, but is now working with virtual reality. "Recognize where the world is heading and help create the future," he says.
Asked what was the most needed app that didn't exist yet, Kagan predicted it would be a program that helps people with personal finance. While that tip may yet inspire the next giant tech company, Kagan said that the chat was helpful for him as well. "Bonus, it helps me rethink about how I do things and want to be improving too," he wrote.