Jack Smith is one of the top startup advisors in the world. He’s originally from London, UK and has been living in Silicon Valley for half a decade and has founded companies Vungle and has help launched many popular startups like Coin, Survios, and Onfleet.
I first met Jack in 2011 through Thomas Korte’s Angelpad startup incubator. He was launching Vungle (currently a top adtech company) and I was doing a sales tool startup called Feedgen (which failed).
I pinged Jack recently and I picked his brain. Here’s the interview:
Jorge: When was the moment when you realized, “holy shit, I’m an entrepreneur. That’s what I’m going to do with my life!”?
Jack: I have generated my own money and be self-sufficient since the age of 13. From the ages of 13-17 I was a freelance web designer and I also pursued various business ideas during that time. At age 13 my parents told me that if I wanted to keep having pocket money, I’d have to help out around the house more doing chores.
I didn’t like the idea of having to do stuff that I didn’t like in order to get money, so I said that I’d stop having pocket money and would instead generate my own cash.
Jorge: How did you get involved with tech startups?
Jack: As I said, I was a web designer since the age of 13 and so moving into doing tech related businesses was a natural progression.
I had the inspiration for one of my first startups after seeing the success of Lynda.com in America (recently purchased for $1.5 Billion by LinkedIn) and trying to create something similar in Europe.
Jorge: What advice would you give young up and coming hustlers on how to get into the startup tech game?
Jack: The best way that I learn is just by doing and failing (and learning from failures). You don’t need anyone’s permission to get into the ‘startup game’, you can just start your own thing. Meeting like-minded people is also important; I’d suggest networking with people that have similar aspirations as early as you can.
Jorge: Thomas Korte (the Founder of Angelpad) told me that you and your former co-founder had the most impressive application video when you were doing Vungle. Can you retell the story?
Jack: PandoDaily has the best writeup of how we got into AngelPad: http://pando.com/2012/05/02/vungles-co-founders-hustle-their-way-to-a-2-million-seed-round/ – I don’t think that the video itself was particularly impressive; more important was how we got Thomas to watch it.
Jorge: You are an advisor to some of the most innovative startups in the valley. Companies like Survios, Coin, Onfleet are all in your portfolio of companies. In your opinion what is the role of an advisor and what characteristics do them poses?
Jack: Advisers and investors can be really helpful to a startup; but it’s important for the startup to utilize their time in the right way. For some startups like Coin; I have been extremely hands-on with helping them, as I met the founder when he just had an idea for the startup, so there was a lot of stuff to help him with.
With some other startups they only really ask for help around inflection points such as fundraising. So really it’s up to the startup to define what they need help with and enable advisers to help them.
Jorge: What 3 tips would you give someone on becoming the biggest, baddest, hustler in tech?
Jack: If you want it enough, then just put yourself out there and start connecting with people. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you want to meet/talk to. You’ll never get anything unless you try.