I had the pleasure of interviewing Simon Yu is a Co-Founder and the CEO of Storm. Simon’s own personal experience with financial hardship and the ‘gig economy’ during college, combined with his passion for blockchain, helped spark Storm’s vision — “to empower the lives of billions worldwide by allowing anyone to earn anywhere, anytime, from any device.” Storm Players (app users) have been rewarded more than 249 BTC, 570 ETH and 13M STORM since launch globally across 187 countries. In addition to speaking globally at blockchain conferences, Simon has been featured in Forbes, Reader’s Digest, Nasdaq, Business Insider, and more.
Jean: Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share your story about how you became a startup founder?
When I was 19, I had to drop out of college because I couldn’t afford the tuition. I found a full time job but still didn’t have enough money to pay for rent and living costs. I started delivering three-dollar Korean tacos out of my college apartment. Through hard work and persistence, I was able to turn the $100 I borrowed from my dad into $10,000 selling tacos. I then turned the $10,000 into $30,000 teaching myself how to trade options and used that to start a food truck. Later on, I was able to turn the investment into a $500,000 business. I became interested in cryptocurrency and blockchain when I held a position at a bank. Having operated a retail business, I was fascinated that blockchain had the potential to disrupt the multi-trillion dollar credit card payment industry. Since 2014, I have helped grow Storm from a dorm room project into a company with users across 187 countries rewarding over $2.68M in cryptocurrency rewards.
Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Storm stands out in the industry because we are one of the few companies that has had an active product utilizing blockchain since 2014. Our user growth has organically surpassed competitors as we have users across 187 countries and recognized brands on the platform including Airbnb, Uber, Instacart, and Entertainment Arts.
Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We’re excited about what we are building at Storm. Currently, we are building a platform that will allow anyone in the world to earn additional income through the Storm platform. Whether you are in an emerging country or developing country, you can complete a wide range of easy tasks like machine learning, and quality assurance testing. Completing these micro-tasks will help people around the world earn in a new way.
Jean: What do you think makes a startup successful?
The startup road is long, hard, and rocky. Listening to the market, luck in timing and persistence are the most important things that can make a startup successful.
Jean: What is one piece of advice you would give a new and upcoming startup?
My advice is to pace yourself strategically for a marathon, not a sprint. Most first time entrepreneurs are inspired by movies or success stories online and don’t realize the day to day difficulties of growing a company. When running my first business, my food truck caught on fire twice, we almost went bankrupt multiple times, and our machinery broke down countless times.
Each day as a business owner, you will have to put out fires. Having the endurance to keep is difficult. It’s easier to give up and go back to a stable job and earn a nice salary — most people will.
Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
My favorite book is Rich Dad Poor Dad. Being raised by an immigrant family I was taught that in order to succeed you need to study hard and pursue a stable job. This book changed my perspective and opened my mind to thinking differently.
Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Startup Founder” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Always Be Learning — Trends and technology continues to evolve at an exponential pace. Just because your product is successful today it doesn’t mean it will be successful tomorrow. Read the news daily, follow what your users are reading and study user behavior through social media and word of mouth. Blockbuster didn’t take Netflix seriously enough!
- Ignore Noise — Emotional stress is often times the hardest hurdle to overcome when reaching for your goal. Your friends, family members, or acquaintances might talk negatively about you and your failures. If so, ignore them.
- Know When To Throw In The Towel — Time is your most valuable asset. When something is not working, no matter how much time or money you have put in, you have to learn to stop and pivot into a new idea. (Famous company examples: Slack was originally a gaming company, Youtube was originally a dating website.)
- Focus on Cash Flow — Even when in growth mode, focus on cash flow. An idea without a potential revenue stream or a viable business model is worthless. If no one is willing to pay a reasonable amount for your product, you aren’t running a business and it will not be sustainable.
- Live in the Right Environment — Even if you were Zuckerberg and created Facebook, it would be difficult to get appropriate funding for a social network technology company if he had been in Nebraska. If you are in the technology industry, go to Silicon Valley or a tech driven city, for finance go to New York and be where your industry action is.
Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Elon Musk is my idol. He sees big problems and he drives and executes a detailed solution to solve them. Not only is he a visionary but his ability to execute quickly is inspiring. I would love to talk with him about the future of technology and learn more about his past entrepreneurial endeavors that got him to where he is today.
Connect with me on Social Media:
- Connect on Linkedin: [https://linkedin.com/in/simonyu0311/]
- Follow on Youtube: [https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdNOWVQFT0RpHKE5y7qyHQ]
- Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SimonYuSEA
Jean: This was really inspiring! Thank you so much for your time.
-Published on August 2018
Originally published at medium.com