Gonzo Arzuaga – KillerStartups Founder Shares His Values and Startup Secrets
Startup Secrets | What Makes For Startup Success?
Today we have I believe a very special interview with you. Gonzalo Arzuaga has built one of the most respected Entrepreneurial Websites online at killerstartups.com with some 600000 plus unique visitors per month. He is one of the most gifted and sincere and helpful entrepreneurs I know – an individual that gives back. In this interview he “gives back’ to the IncomeDiary readership – Thank you Gonzo! Please don’t forget to comment below – let us know which points resonated best with you!
First a few facts…
Gonzo (as he is better know in the USA due to the Muppet thing) is originally from Argentina and was born in Concordia, Entre Rios, Argentina (land of the Pope, the Queen of Holland, Messi, Ginobili, Maradona) some 42 years ago. In this 17 years doing business online, he has written 5 books, traveled the world and learned to speak a few languages (Portuguese, French, Chinese).
His hobbies include: chess, watching NBA games (Go Spurs Go!), reading and listening biographies and interviews, learning languages, writing quotes.
KillerStartups.com was started in January 2007 and currently has around 600k visitors per month.
To quote Gonzo…
We have a bunch of writers and a ton of guess contributors, growing by the idea. Our firm purpose is to bring value to internet entrepreneurs, by helping them run their startups, providing them some guidance and maybe inspiration. We like to show the backstage of things, the real side of a start up. We love when start-ups share pictures and videos of their offices, things like that.
1) What was your first Entrepreneurial venture? (When did you first realise you wanted to be an entrepreneur?)
My first real entrepreneurial venture started in 1996, pretty “late” in life (25 y.o. at that time) when I created a directory/portal/search engine for Argentina called GauchoNet (sold to Terra/Lycos in 1999.)
I didn’t even know the word entrepreneur existed back in the early ’90s. During my youth years I was always energetic, doing stuff, practicing sports (basketball, and rowing mainly), but not really business related ventures. That came later in life, basically when I discovered, and got hooked up by, technology and the internet.
2) How did you have the idea for http://www.killerstartups.com?
It was pretty obvious back in the end of 2006. The thought process was: let’s create a site where people could vote up the startups tech blogs (mostly Techcrunch, Mashable, etc) where covering. So it was a mashup of TC + Digg, both the big thing at that time. It has evolved in the last 6 years, because now we interview founders, share tips and useful advice on how to run an internet startup.
3) What is the most interesting Start Ups you have come across while running killerstartups.com ?
I guess you could assimilate them to the general startup scene, they’re no different. By far the most interesting one is Dropbox. The founder, the story, the growth, the early stumbles, the obvious need for the service until they came in with their solution, and many other things were a very powerful combination to win the #1 spot.
Yammer is a pretty interesting startup too, now acquired for $1.2Bn but it was fun to watch them evolve at that time.
One I particularly like these days is BillGuard, a pretty clever idea, not such a big business, but still, it came to mind when I read your question.
4) For Start Up success – what do you think are the three main qualities the entrepreneur (or team) should display – apart from a cracking good idea?
Mmm, actually ideas are over-hyped. Great execution is what really counts. I’ll say determination and passion are the keys to success. One of my quotes is
“Determination defeats talent! Every time!”
If you have a strong enough “why” the “how” will somehow materialize. So if you love, let’s say Hats (the “why”), it doesn’t matter that you right now don’t know nothing about Adwords, or buying traffic, or doing SEO (the “how”). You’ll figure it out later, your powerful reason will help you find your way into the “how” to do the things you need to do in order to make it with hats.
5) In your own entrepreneurial career – are you able to identify a moment when it all changed for you – a moment when you learned something, discovered something or met someone that had a huge impact on you and meant you success came your way much ‘easier’.
I guess I’ll have to go back to 1999 when after I started with $300 my mom gave me, I created something out of nothing, that was sold for millions 3 years later. Basically my realization was “it is possible, I can do it.” Also, meeting Matt Tezanos in 2003, my current partner, was one of the biggest turning points in my life. Having him on my boat made being an entrepreneur so much easier.
6) If you could only give a start up entrepreneur one piece of advice – what would it be?
Do what you’re passionate about, that’s the only secret to happiness. Maybe that’s not the shortest way to the IPO, but you’ll make enough to live your life with purpose. And at the end of your life, you’ll look back, and I can assure you you won’t regret a bit of what you’ve done.
7) If you were starting killerstartups.com again – is there anything you might have done differently?
Adding more value. I still keep thinking what’s the best way to add more value to internet entrepreneurs. Is publishing content the best way?
8) Do you have a favorite Entrepreneurial or Life Quote – or do you want to provide one of your own?
I shared one of my own previously (determination defeats talent) but there’s also one I like from my experience living in China. Mao Tse Tung said “study hard, every day aim higher, be the best that you can” (translation sucks, Chinese version is much more poetic).
9) In your opinion, what is the biggest mistake people (bloggers) make when launching their blog?
Focus in a niche you’re passionate about. And write the heck out of it. Day in, day out. Talk to expert, reach out to people. Read stuff. Study what Derek Halpern did with SocialTriggers, and Mike Stelzner did with SocialMediaExaminer. Throw Jeff Bullas into the fray, and also see what he has done. These are the three of the greatest examples of blog success, in my opinion.
10) Who inspires you and why?
Matt Tezanos, my business partner inspires me. To think bigger, to be a better person every day, to contribute to a better world. Also inspirational quotes motivate me, that’s why I created Vuible.com
Also, in a different way, Fred Wilson (VC) inspires me. He’s very successful, remains very grounded, sharing his wisdom without expecting anything in return. A very positive force to society.
My 2 examples are related to being a better human being every day, achieving my own goals, pushing harder to better myself. I like that.
11) Do you have any life time goals you would like to declare or alternatively – what would you like your legacy to be?
My goal is to become a motivational spekar in 5 languages. I guess my legacy will be thru my quotes. See my Twitter account for sharing my own quotes at @GonzoQuotes
Thanks a lot Michael, this was lots of fun!
Thank you Gonzo – we appreciate your time and valuable insights.
PS:Please comment below – let us know which points resonated best with you!
PPS: Don’t forget to check out Gonzo’s Inspiring Quotation website at: Vuible.com