Running a user-generated content site like 9GAG is no easy task. With more than 70 million unique visitors every month, they sure have their fair share of kitten pictures, funny memes and haters running amok. Ray Chan, co-founder of the network shared with e27 why they “barely” listen to anything people tell them to do with the company.
Ray started off by quoting Paul Buchheit, partner of Y Combinator: “Limited life experience plus over-generalization equals to advice.” The Hong Kong-based startup was asked to join the incubator in July 2012.
This sort of irreverence seems to lean more toward the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and less toward Sir Richard Branson (with crazy antics up his sleeves all the time). Ray said, “We barely listen to anything people told us to do with our company.”
“When you run your company, almost everyone will give you advice: your team, your investors, your friends, your users or even your mom. And you’ll hear conflicting advice from time to time.”
However, the thing to do is take in all the information and make a speedy decision. Speed, he said, is one of your advantages over larger companies. Ray then explained, “It’s better to make a decision followed by mistakes and corrections than sitting there to wait for the perfect solution.”
Form the right team
If you’re hiring, it’s important that you need to understand this. Setting your goal on hitching the perfect employee is more than just a tad unattainable (unless you’re the perfect employer, of course).
Ray shared that these supposed outliers or A players aren’t everywhere. He said, “If you are not (yet) an A player, you usually don’t know many or any A players.”
So, he goes on to explain that they stick with Plan B: hire the best people they can find. He said:
“No team is the Manchester United or Miami Heat from day one. If a company sticks to the hire-only-A-players rule, it’d never hire anyone. Only when you keep moving forward, it’s more likely that you will meet players who are better than you. We were not the A team, but we are getting closer to it.”
It’s always the product
News flash: consumers like great products. Ray cited Jason Goldberg, CEO of Fab, a company which has been on every tech blog for closing their Series D round with several big Asian investors. Jason said, “It’s all about the product. Always has been. Always will be. The only thing that matters is how good your product is. All the rest is noise.”
Startup life is similar to a game of Temple Run or Subway Surfers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be disrespectful to the industry but it’s so important to keep your eyes on the prize. There is an abundance of things which serve as distractions, and if you succumb to them, you get derailed from the right track.
Ray shared, “Praises, doubts, hate, interviews, conferences… there are thousands things that can distract you. All of them are irrelevant. What you need to do is to make a great product, get people use it and love it, or in other words, find the product/market fit.”
The co-founder concluded with brevity, “Keep it simple. Stay focused and keep shipping.”
e27 reports on tech startup news, trends and personalities relevant to startup communities in Asia. They also organize the much-celebrated Echelon conferences.
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9GAG is the leading social entertainment platform that connects people with similar interests.
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