Jack Jia Shares 5 Tips to Help You Build a Great Company
Jack Jia Shares 5 Tips to Help You Build a Great Company
Jack Jia is the founder and CEO of Musely. Musely is a “telemedicine technology leader providing medical treatments for skin conditions & skincare.”
Musely is another successful venture marking Jack Jia’s career. He has become a “4-time serial entrepreneur.” He has also invested in GSR Ventures, TSVC, WIN, Rally, among other ventures.
Besides leading Musely, Jack Jia also focuses his investments on the “internet, mobile, and software” spaces.
As an investor, Jack Jia has also turned his bets into “unicorns with a combined value exceeding $100 billion.”
Aside from Musely, Jack Jia also founded Baynote, which he also led as the CEO. Baynote is a “leading recommendation software company.” Beforehand, he was the “founding CTO at Interwoven.”
At Interwoven, Jack Jia founded a “leading software company that pioneered content management space and led the company to a successful IPO valued at $7 billion.”
Jack Jia’s road to Musely began as an 8-year-old boy in China, reading an article about “Silicon Valley engineers building technology and transforming the world.”
Years before Musely, Jack Jia told himself that he should go to Silicon Valley and be an entrepreneur.
After 21 years, he was able to “start my first company in Silicon Valley.” He had gone to NYU for a Ph.D. but realized it was not his goal.
So, Jack Jia traded his doctorate for a master’s degree and drove to Silicon Valley to achieve his dream, with Musely.
Check out more interviews with Silicon Valley leaders here.
Silicon Valley was and still is the heaven for entrepreneurs. Jack Jia, Musely
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Jack Jia: There is a constant debate in Silicon Valley if entrepreneurship is by nature or nurture.
For me, it is 80% nature and 20% environment or nurture.
When I was an 8-year-old boy in China, I read an article about Silicon Valley engineers building technology and transforming the world.
I told myself that I needed to go to Silicon Valley and become an entrepreneur.
At that time, China was in the middle of the Culture Revolution — poor, and empty of any technology or innovation.
It took another 21 years for me to start my first company in Silicon Valley.
I went NYU for my Ph.D. first but immediately realized that was not my dream — neither the work nor the place.
I quickly traded my Ph.D. work with a master’s degree and drove across the country to my mecca valley.
Silicon Valley was and still is the heaven for entrepreneurs. It is the 20% nurture needed for anyone with a destiny to build something from the ground up.
My first company, V-Max America, was to take the Micron Computer from a remote town in Idaho to mainstream China.
That was what the market offered me to do in the early ’90s. When the internet came a few years later, my playground got a whole lot bigger.
For 25 years, it has been a dream to reality, a hundred times over.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Jack Jia: Moments of Despair: the hardest times of my journey.
And it’s safe to say, the hardest for almost all entrepreneurs, is at the beginning (typically year 1–3) of every new company started — in my case, four of them.
The hardest times are the giant emotional ups & downs that hit you weekly, daily, and sometimes, hourly.
On Sunday, I could feel so pumped that my solution could solve world hunger, but by Monday, I could be so lost and in despair…
Initially, I didn’t understand this emotion. I thought it could be due to lack of financial security.
Interestingly, the same loss and despair came back in every startup I led, even after I was financially settled for several generations over
I eventually realized that the act of entrepreneurship is INHUMANE! Humans are pack animals.
2020 has proven that social distancing torments us to our very core. Entrepreneurship requires us to leave our pack/village/big company, and venture out to a journey on our own, and alone!
If we were to do this back in the ancient days on the plains of Africa, we would almost face certain death, taken out by lions or wilderness, the moment we left our pack.
The ability to recognize and overcome the Moments of Despair is, to me, the untold secret to success.
Without them, entrepreneurs may not work as hard, or as fast, to find solutions.
The journey of a successful startup is a zig-zag pathway, full of dead ends and impasses.
Without the founding team to work in an overdrive mode — day or night, awake or asleep — we simply cannot build a business from an idea.
So, mental and physical fitness is a prerequisite of being an entrepreneur. Eat & exercise well so your brain can take the emotional rollercoaster of a startup journey.
Regardless of your initial startup idea, success is all about “iterate fast & fail faster”. That’s how to overcome the impasses.
I was so busy and occupied that I didn’t even have time to consider giving up.
The Moments of Despair can scare us to death, but they are very energy to fuel the flywheel needed for a successful venture!
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Jack Jia: In the early days of Musely, we built our app with a few thousand skincare “Tips”.
We didn’t know how to promote our app downloads to women. So, we hired an expert — a creative director in app advertising in San Francisco — to help us.
In the next a few weeks, he created a bunch of “funny” ads on Facebook: curious women with questions over their heads illustrating the notion of tips.
When that failed, he switched the women’s faces with all kinds of handsome or funny men. $10,000 and one month later, we realized that we committed a cardinal sin: startups are built by the founders and founding team.
No professionals or experts can help you to build one. They may enhance our offer or solution, but the core and the insights have to come from our own DIY!
In order to be great, one must have and maintain the ability to innovate and reinvent itself.
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
Jack Jia: In order to be great, one must have and maintain the ability to innovate and reinvent itself. That is easy to say but extremely hard to do. 5 things that separate great from good:
- A small band of innovators (including the CEO) on the top.
Research has shown that 99% of the tech companies will lose its edge being a great company when their founders are gone.
When my own company Interwoven hired a CEO who was not an innovator, even I, as the founding CTO, couldn’t steer the company to the next level of greatness.
- Iterate and fail fast. No matter how smart our team is, we will fail 10–100 times more than we succeed.
We encourage experiments and therefore failures, as long as we measure the outcomes, recognize the failures, control the damages, and start new tests.
Iteration is the only way to greatness! Recognizing the difference between sausage making and sausage is a key.
- Don’t build consensus and the ability to welcome many “no”s.
If innovation is understood and corralled by the whole company, it is either too late or too easy for it to be impactful.
In all the companies I started, I typically collect feedback from dozens of potential customers or experts.
If I get all “yes” on my idea, it would be a red flag. I want to hear more “no” than “yes”. And, I want to hear why they say “no”.
If my potential solutions can overcome their “no”, I may have found a breakthrough.
- A-squared team. A great company can only be built by a great team.
In all my companies, we recruit talents with an A in their craft and an A in teamwork.
These two A’s compounds their impact. A player also brings other A’s while B players will tolerate C players who would be damaging to any company.
- Empowerment is not one of the five keys. Innovation by definition is an act of a small minority who sees the future before the whole population.
If Steve Jobs had empowered the entire 50,000 Apple employees to decide what to build when he came back in the late ’90s, we’d never have seen Mac, iPhone, iPad…
Instead, empowerment will lead to mediocracy.
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Jack Jia: Innovations and disruptions require a huge amount of mental energy from our team.
Treating our work merely as a job won’t cut it. Musely happens to provide affordable skincare medications to millions of women who suffer from terrible skin conditions like Melasma on their face and body, or aging skin on their face or neck.
When we received countless feedback as the medication being the “godsend” and “holy grail” solutions to improving confidence and quality of life, we knew that we needed to embrace the social impact.
Our patients’ life-changing experiences are profound. So is the thrill felt by our team to be part of a bigger purpose and mission than merely producing beauty products.
Our mission has become bigger: to democratize the knowledge and access of skincare that works to everyone instead of the few elites.
Most businesses can find deep connections to society with their products or services.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Jack Jia: The same boring word of “iteration” is the strategy.
We try our best to keep things simple. We test every assumption or design.
Internally, we use the term “half-asleep” to judge if our UI/UX is simple enough for consumer to use in a half-asleep mode.
A trusted brand is the ultimate goal. Jack Jia
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Jack Jia: A trusted brand is the ultimate goal.
But when a brand is new, like Musely, we have to deploy other techniques to earn a consumer’s trust.
It starts with our internal culture. One of two company personas is “Sage” — we provide real science and result-based medications.
We develop our medications based on large amount of medical research, dermatologists’ clinical experiences and our own testing before any of our solutions is offered to the customers.
With our rigorous scientific approach, the efficacy of our treatments became unparalleled, when 95% of the patients failed dozens of times in the past.
Then, the word of mouth started to happen. The snowball of trust naturally formed.
Our marketing strategy became obvious: make sure we capture and preserve these tens of thousands of unsolicited reviews, before and after photos, videos, etc.
Many of them came from influencers and celebrities, also unsolicited without pay or sponsorship.
The true authenticity of the impact we made to our patients has become the cornerstone of our brand.
Musely has started to become a trusted and beloved brand among millions of women with the skin conditions we treat.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jack Jia: I am not a big fan of social media myself. Please follow Musely on Instagram or Facebook. Or connect on LinkedIn.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
The post Jack Jia Shares 5 Tips to Help You Build a Great Company first appeared on Tekrati and is written by Jerome Knyszewski