Kris Jones is an entrepreneur, angel investor, and author.
In 1999, he started Pepperjam, an internet marketing company and affiliate network.
I’ve written about how startups take time to build and how they evolve in a post about Pinterest.
That was the case with Pepperjam, too. The idea was born out of a gourmet food business that Kris had started with his brother.
To promote the food business, Kris used SEO and PPC.
He realized that he could turn the techniques he used to promote his food business into a huge company, and that’s how Pepperjam was born.
Eventually, Pepperjam became one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. from 2000 to 2008.
Almost ten years after its launch, Kris sold the company to GSI Commerce. A year later, eBay acquired Pepperjam, which became the eBay Enterprises affiliate network.
Kris says that an entrepreneur should figure out what makes their business unique enough to give them a competitive advantage.An entrepreneur should figure out what makes their business unique enough to give them a competitive advantage. Click To Tweet
The Entrepreneurial Dream
Selling Pepperjam has played a huge part in the direction that Kris’ entrepreneurial journey has taken him next.
He launched KBJ Capital, a technology investment fund that now has over 20 portfolio companies.
Kris says his entry into the venture capital business was driven by the realization that entrepreneurship is what he is truly passionate about.
He calls this his “entrepreneurial dream,” and he says it comes true when he builds things and helps others do the same.
And for him, being able to provide opportunities to startup companies through venture capital is a way to do that.
Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs
Kris says that successful people tend to be grateful, and that gratitude is hugely important for being positive and breeding optimism. This characteristic is crucial for an early-stage founder.
Decisiveness is another key characteristic Kris looks for in founders.
The inability to make decisions can cause founders to miss opportunities, create more conflict, and be damaging to the future of the business.The inability to make decisions can cause founders to miss opportunities, create more conflict, and be damaging to the future of the business. Click To Tweet
A high level of self-awareness is also important for success. Entrepreneurs need to be honest about their weaknesses in order to build a team that complements their skillset.
Successful entrepreneurs have perseverance. Holding fast in the face of tribulations is the true mark of someone who wants to succeed.
Kris believes the ability to stay focused is the “silver bullet” to being a successful startup founder.
Many entrepreneurs tend to jump from one thing to another, but the ones who are truly successful are able to stay laser focused on what they are building.
How to Break Into the Venture Capital Industry
If you want to get into venture capital, it’s important to build up your network while adding value to the community.
The best way to do that is to add value to the venture capital community by sharing insights, finding dealflow for investors, or scouting for new startups.Add value to the venture capital community by sharing insights, finding dealflow for investors, or scouting for new startups. Click To Tweet
Start a blog to share insights and expertise with others. Get an internship at a VC firm and trade your time for experience.
When you reach out to an investor, start a valuable conversation by asking a question or adding your perspective to an article they have written. These are all ways to add value.
Take the initiative to educate yourself so that when you reach out to investors or start a blog, you have valuable thoughts and insights to contribute.
Read as much as you can, listen to interviews from successful investors, take courses, and become obsessed with learning as much as you can.