Running your own startup is a challenging process, as any entrepreneur will tell you. There are ups and downs, hiccups and hesitations – and that’s even before you’ve officially opened your doors!
For today’s SMB owner, the entrepreneurial world is a varied landscape of twists and turns. But, for those who succeed, the rewards are immensely gratifying and can change your life. With all the challenges an entrepreneur faces today, a little bit of advice from those who have been there before is always welcome.
As California’s top app makers and web designers at SDI, we have unparalleled access to some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. We went ahead and compiled a list of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who every SMB owner should follow.
1. Elon Musk
This South African-born CEO of Tesla Motors developed and sold his first piece of tech at the age of 12. While it was a simple video game and his payout was only $500, it was clear from the beginning that Musk was headed for greatness. After his financial services company X.com merged with what would become PayPal (and then PayPal was bought by eBay), Musk walked way with nearly $200 million and started the now famous Tesla Motors.Tesla just released its third electric car in 12 years and the Model X SUV is prepared to hit the market soon. And it doesn’t stop – Musk’s other company SpaceX landed a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. Musk’s personal fortune now numbers close to $13.5 billion (that’s double what it was last year and 5 times what it was in 2013). Musk’s ideas always seem out of this world and unbelievable, but clearly he is doing something right so keep an eye on what he does and how he does it.
2. Evan Spiegel
In 2012, Spiegel had an idea for a class project at Stanford University. 3 years later and SnapChat is one of the world’s most popular mobile apps. At just 25 years of age, this Silicon Valley app maker is valued at $1.5 billion and is being hailed by his colleagues as the marketing genius of the Millennial Generation. Spiegel was able to see that millennials didn’t like having their personal data collected and analyzed to death, as both Google and Facebook do. Fast forward two years and SnapChat is especially popular among the 30 and under crowd (though it did have a rough start). Spiegel rewrote how internet marketing is done by creating a space for unintrusive video commercials that don’t turn off users. For those entrepreneurs who want to learn how to market to young people, look no further than Even Spiegel.
3. Elizabeth Holmes
Valued at $4.5 billion, Holmes is the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world. Her company Theranos has the holy trifecta of a successful product – their blood testing machine is quicker, less expensive, and more efficient than any competing product. After dropping out of Stanford (as did Evan Spiegel), Holmes founded Theranos with the intention of making a machine that can provide early warnings of life-threatening diseases. And she did it. Not only that, she did it so well that Walgreens signed a contract to put one of her machines in every single store they owned. Holmes completely disrupted the medical world and stands on the forefront of a wave of new medical testing machines. Even for SMB owners who aren’t involved in medical tech, Holmes’ demonstrated ability to revolutionize her industry marks her as someone to follow and study.
4. Trip Adler
Trip Adler is the CEO and co-founder of the California-based startup Scribd. The largest online library database, Scribd has over 100 million subscribers and shows no signs of flagging almost a decade after its founding. Adler showed classic business thinking when he came up with Scribd: he identified a problem (it’s difficult to publish academic papers) and came up with an idea to solve the problem (Scribd), and then followed through on the idea to create a highly successful product. Adler has shown the world that he has the ability to identify problems and solutions and, more importantly, that he can make these solutions a reality. There is no better lesson for a SMB owner to learn.
5. Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg is currently the COO of Facebook and was the first woman to sit on the FB’s board of directors. Sandberg’s history in the tech business world is exceptional and studied by college students across California (and beyond). She not only used to be the VP of Google’s Global Online Sales and Operations division but she got her start working as US Treasury Secretary’s Chief of Staff – and she was recently named on Time’s 2014 100 Most Influential People in the world. Perhaps what she is most well-known for is her book Lean In (yea, thats right she wrote a Bestselling book in the middle of everything else. Convinced of her awesomeness yet?). Sandberg wrote Lean In is a thorough guide designed to help female entrepreneurs and SMB owners survive the business world. That’s not to say men can’t learn from it: it’s an excellent and necessary source for any SMB owner trying to succeed.
6. Raj Srivastav
Raj Srivastav is the founder and CEO of Software Developers India (SDI), a top app maker in Silicon Valley. Srivastav survived the Dotcom Bust and hit the ground running. He cut his teeth in the tech world in the late 90’s with web and software design. After the Bust, Srivastav and SDI became known for their excellent web design and UIs. When apps first hit the market, Srivastav immediately recognized the potential mobile apps posed. After expanding SDI to include app making, Srivastav became as known for his quality applications as he landed large client after large client. SDI has survived and thrived in the Bay Area for over 15 years – the oldest company on this list and a testament to Srivastav’s excellent leadership abilities. Srivastav has shown that he has what it takes to survive in the shark tank known as Silicon Valley with decades of success.
If you’d like to pick Srivastav’s brain or seek advice on your phenomenal SMB idea, you can reach him at (408)802.2885 or simply email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get a free business plan or business quote. Contact us now to get expert startup and SMB advice from industry insiders.