“So what do you do?”
I’ve constantly attempted to find an answer to this question that makes me sound normal, but I just can’t find it. When you say you’re an entrepreneur or that you invest into businesses, you often get that dull, blank stare suggesting the inquisitor thinks you’re unemployed (which, to some degree, is true).
Frankly, the easiest response usually goes something like, “I build businesses, some of which are successful, others of which are not”, and that is usually enough of an answer to satisfy the question. Phew. If I told them of all the businesses and investments that I’d been involved in since I was 19 years old they’d think I was either a naive idealist, a genius, or an idiot. In reality, I probably fall somewhere in the middle of all of those.
So what do I do?
I try to build or invest into projects with my friends that I think are fun, that can help others, and that I can get excited about. I have an attraction to investments and businesses that challenge traditional ways of thinking, or investments that I feel are making an impact on my community and the world.
My most recent projects include a growing multiunit real estate portfolio with my partners at Venture Companies, a tiny house construction company called Modern Tiny Living, and venture capital investing through my holdings company, RBH Holdings. I know venture capital sounds cool, but at any given time it’s either doing wonderfully (like my most recent investment, Promomash), or terribly (like my failed Vodka start-up).
One of my biggest victories to date was truly nerdy, an extremely basic collection of trivia websites called Quizfreak that, at one point, was an Alexa Top-1500 most visited website in the world. We had over 2 billion page views in the 4th quarter of 2014 alone (that’s a lot). We were offered over eight figures for our little trivia sites, and promptly turned it down because we were going for “at least a hundred million”. Whoops, watched The Social Network too many times.
After being copied about 400 times by others, most specifically Buzzfeed, these days it’s not much more than a collection of decent quizzes taken by a few million people a month. Lesson learned.
Looking ahead, I am only aligning myself with people and investors that have the same principles as I do. I spent an enormous amount of time in the first 10 years of entrepreneur-life with people that I didn’t particularly enjoy, building businesses I didn’t particularly love, and selling things I didn’t particularly have a passion for – all to “move forward” and make money. And while I reflect on that time in my life as critical to my growth and skill development, I am truly grateful I am at a place in my life now where I can solely focus on investing and working with people I care about and into businesses that move me.
That’s ultimately why I built this website. I am here to share who I am, from my businesses, to the books I’m reading, to the places I’m traveling, and the things I’m learning about myself and others. Even if you take one small thing from the site, be a bit of inspiration, a lesson, or a good book, it makes the work worth it.
If you’d like to connect with me about business, or anything else, feel free to connect with me on social media.