10 Quick Hits with Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian

25 Feb 2014


StartupNation inspires, educates and consistently attracts entrepreneurs and small business owners from Main Street America who want to be their own bosses and live the American Dream.

In 2012, Forbes Magazine named Alexis Ohanian “the mayor of the Internet.” Makes sense. After all, this tech entrepreneur made it big at 22 when he co-founded Reddit in 2005, went on to launch successful startups Breadpig (2007) and Hipmunk (2010), and published his first book, Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made Not Managed, in 2013.

Without Their Permission by Alexis Ohanian

Now sharing his entrepreneurial wisdom with StartupNation, Ohanian offers advice on entrepreneurship, funding, failure, logos, and – in his own words – how to “make the world suck less.”

Tell us about your book: Without Their Permission.

Without Their Permission is the book I wish I had read before I got started – it’s the blueprint for reaching your maximum potential for awesomeness online.

You write about the importance of ‘making the world suck less.’ How have you accomplished this?

I’m still working on it! But whether it’s the things I make or the things I do, I’m always trying to make the world suck a little less. It’s my own perspective on making the world a better place.

You’ve launched three successful startups – Reddit, Hipmunk, Breadpig – and advised others like Hubspot and Visual.ly. How do you manage your time?

I have an amazing team around me! And I’m addicted to getting things done. It makes me feel so good.

On top of that, you’ve invested in 99 startups! What makes a company stand out to you?

  1. Amazing founders
  2. Big market
  3. Some X-factor

What means of funding would you recommend for small businesses?

There are all kinds, but crowdfunding is probably the most interesting right now. CrowdtiltOpen is the latest in a revolution for fundraising.

What’s the biggest mistake an entrepreneur makes when seeking funding?

Not having enough traction. Remember, when you go asking for funding, you’ll get advice — ask for advice and you’ll get funding. (Tweet this!)

You’ve created three very cute and very memorable logos. How important is a logo to the success of a new business?

A great mascot won’t save a bad product, but it’ll make a good one great because people have something iconic to associate with their great experience.

What were the biggest mistakes you made in your journey, and how can other entrepreneurs avoid these?

All kinds! I talk about some of my favorites in Without Their Permission, so you’ll have to settle for my teaser about the time I wasted a year trying to build “subreddits” as individual brands with their own domain names. Building brands is hard. Build one and do an amazing job. (Tweet this!)

What’s the best advice that you can give a new entrepreneur to help them be successful?

Embrace that failure is an option. Be egoless and always shipping.

What’s next?

You’ll have to wait and see when my 200-stop tour ends! But Season 2 of Small Empires (a series about  NYC tech startups, hosted by Ohanian) is coming!

To learn more about Ohanian’s newest book, visit www.withouttheirpermission.com, or purchase it here. To keep up with Ohanian and his mission to “make the world suck less,” follow him on Twitter at @alexisohanian.

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