Eric Yuan / Founder of Zoom Communications: Make Products that Make the Customer Happy

Eric Yuan has been deeply involved with engineering since the 90’s with a knack for innovation and collaboration. He was one of the founding engineers and VP of engineering at WebEx for over a decade. Interestingly enough, Eric and his team of engineers laid the foundation for SaaS web conferencing technology almost by accident. In the early years, WebEx was originally a custom development shop until one of the co-founders felt productivity would improve if they monitored the engineers via video conference. This sparked the idea that other companies would benefit from such a concept as well and thus the pivot to web conferencing occurred.

WebEx became the market leader in Web Conferencing and later got acquired by Cisco for $3.2 B.   After the acquisition, Eric stayed on as head of WebEx Engineering.   He realized that in order for WebEx technology to evolve, it would have to be re-engineered from scratch which was something that his upper management would not allow.  Frustrated, Eric left Cisco and started Zoom..

Despite competition from a plethora of web conferencing solutions (Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix), Eric fearlessly began to develop a new solution. As Eric enlightens, “Startups [and smaller companies] are much better for building up individual products. In larger companies, it’s a little bit harder.”

His team of over 100 engineers worked around the clock for 2 1/2 years in developing Zoom’s video conference platform.  Since their launch, Zoom has achieved unicorn status and has a valuation over $1 B. In explaining the success of Zoom, Eric declares, “You can be successful if you make a product that makes a customer happy even in a crowded market.”

You can watch the full interview with Eric here.

Kevin Nagle: Have Passion & Obsession

Kevin Nagle was able to swing by a Startup Grind Sacramento and enlighten us with some heartwarming tales of his past that contributed to the man he is today. Co-Founder of Envision Pharmaceuticals and Co-owner of the Sacramento Kings, Kevin gained recognition as Sacramento’s Executive of the Year. He’s also one of the lead investor in Sacramento Republic FC and on the board of Moneta Ventures; the Sacramento region’s biggest early phase venture fund.

Kevin Nagle speaking Startup Grind Sacramento

Born in Minnesota and raised in Long Beach, CA by a single mother in “borderline poverty,” Kevin’s ambitious attitude took shape at the age of only 6 years old. With his father out of the picture, he would collect golf balls from a nearby golf course and sell them to golfers in need. He had a plethora of jobs that he claimed all built character and humility. Kevin even recalls ducking out of sight when the popular kids would be his customers working weekends at Jack in the Box. As Kevin grew older, his entrepreneurial spirit would sharpen. He discussed how he strategically maximized profits from his older sister’s paper route and that laid the foundation for his future empire.

Entrepreneur Rule #1: “Have Passion & Obsession”

On the path to becoming a successful entrepreneur, Kevin says that a passionate attitude is mandatory. A personal example of how he demonstrated passion was early in his career. At the time he was working in corporate America making over $500 k / year with a grip of stock options. However, these perks did not fill the void in his heart and he abruptly quit shortly after entering a 3 year employment deal. He has had passion for every endeavor he embarked on which in most cases, required to make sacrifices. Still, he understood the importance of “diversifying your lifestyle” and always made it to his family’s special events.

Entrepreneur Rule #2: “Carving the market, Staking your Claim…And Thinking of the Next Generation”

Kevin’s medical background started in the pharmaceutical management benefit services where he sold his own Integrated Pharmaceutical Services (IPS) for $200 million that eventually turned into CVS Caremark. During the week of 9/11, there was limited airfare and he was stuck in Las Vegas planning for the next generation. Comparing his approach to Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, Kevin wrote a white paper outlining the vision and how his firm would be disruptive, transparent and compete with the big players on Wall Street. The early days of Envision aimed at bringing transparency to their customers and had a concept so disruptive that bigger companies falsely claimed their business models were identical to that of Envisions. Fortunately, his organization was well-capitalized and able to sustain the competition for 2 years but suffered severe losses. Refusing to throw in the towel, Kevin stuck the course and by focusing on his target market of senior citizens increased his revenue from $5 million to $78 million within a year.

Entrepreneur Rule #3: “Biggest Deal Killer is not Being Over Prepared”.

Kevin reminded us of the competitive overzealous nature of today’s market. Being able to articulate your idea in a clean and concise manner is so important to at least getting your foot in the door. He used Costco as an example and how they only allow startups 8 minutes to pitch the business idea and determine whether or not it should be on their store shelves. Therefore, Kevin firmly believes that every aspiring entrepreneur should constantly “shine their deck” and make it presentable to anyone under any circumstances. This aligns with his core principles of passion and obsession and how that will catapult you into a heightened degree of success.

Watch the full video interview for material not mentioned in this article!

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.