|Photo by Haegwan Kim|
Haegwan Kim: I want to ask you about your definition of success?
Christina Brodbeck: I think success is being happy and being excited, but of course it’s different for every single person, right? But, for me, it’s those two things. I’m not going to be happy every single moment of my life, but I think for the most part, if I feel those two things, I feel like I’ve been successful.
HK: You have your own company, Pickv. Can I ask how you measure your company’s success?
CB: Right now we’re in the middle of a relaunch here at Pickv. At the end of September, we’re going to be called theicebreak, and doing something related but yet completely different. What we’re trying to do at the base level is connect people. There’s the business side of it, which is working out the money, but for me personally that’s more secondary. I’d rather just like to create something where people are actually meeting other people.
HK: Why did you start connecting people?
CB: That was a result of my on-again off-again relationship with my boyfriend. We had broken up, and I remember this very specific moment lying in bed and I was just thinking…why can’t I just meet somebody who likes the same movies as me…and that’s where it came from.
HK: That’s really interesting. That’s really 21st century thing. You are working as an investor as well, what is your intention through your investment?
CB: I think that it’s two-sided. There’s the selfish side, and that is that it is fun. I really like early stage start-ups, and you can’t personally go out and do all of these different start-ups on your own, so it’s nice to be able to live vicariously through the start-ups that you invest in. That’s the more selfish side, but the primary reason is that it’s nice to be able to give people advice and help them succeed with their passion. If the founders are going through something and need advice on a situation, it’s nice to be able to help them succeed through that process.
HK: What do you think is the key element to be successful as an entrepreneur? Because, you are working as an advisor for start-ups. You better know some sort of advice, right?
CB: Yes, as an entrepreneur, to be successful, I guess it goes back to the same thing…what is success? Are you excited about what you’re working on? You definitely need to be excited about it. You need to be passionate about it. You need to feel that when you wake up in the morning that there is no way what I’m doing is going to fail, even if 99.9% of the statistics out there tell you that you will. You need to be excited about it, and I think if you have that, even if you do fail, you were successful.
HK: Can that advice apply to investors as well? Or is there a different component of…?
CB: Good question. I think you’ll probably get this answer if you talk to a lot of people in the industry… that is that I don’t think people necessarily do it for the money. Because realistically the amount of money you’re going to get out of it…you’re probably not going to make a lot of money. The chances of a company succeeding are not very high, but you do it, you pick those companies because you really like what they’re doing. I get really excited about it, and I think for me, I don’t think about the money first. It’s not “oh yes, this company is going to make me a ridiculous amount of money.” It’s more that they are they doing something really cool.
Of course, you would like the company to make money; I guess that’s the true business definition of if it’s successful or not. But, that’s one of those things; if you think about that on a daily basis, you’ll probably drive yourself insane. It’s the same thing if you play the stock market; if you think about it daily, you’re probably…or even less than daily, you’ll probably drive yourself crazy…unless you’re really into that.
HK: I also wanted to ask you about the conditions to make a successful company. We are now in San Francisco. Do you think here’s the best place for entrepreneurs?
CB: I think there is a certain culture here. I moved here from Illinois, and when I came here…it was awesome. In a way it felt like, oh, this is the promised land. I do think it can happen anywhere, but I do think there’s a lot of factors here that help make it a lot easier for people who have a very entrepreneurial mindset. Almost anywhere you go… to a cafe…people are always talking about other projects that they’re working on. If you’re not into it, it’s probably very annoying.
HK: [Laugh] Geeks.
CB: Yes. But, I think in California in general, regardless if you’re in LA or up here…there’s that attitude; it’s taking the American dream to a new level. That anything you want to do or anything you dream is possible. LA is the whole movie side of it. Up here, it’s more the business aspect of it, but I definitely do feel that that feeling is here.
HK: Final question, can I ask you for your advice to achieve success in general?
CB: One shouldn’t be afraid to take risks. I think you need to take risks in order to be successful. If you just stay in your same comfort zone… and I don’t mean it has to be something crazy… even if it’s just altering something small in your daily routine, just something that takes you outside of your comfort zone, I think that opens you up to all kinds of new ideas. So, number one is being able to take risks. I guess the second thing is finding what you’re passionate about, or what gets you excited, and pursue that. I tend to be idealistic, so even if it doesn’t make money, if I believe in it, and if it makes me happy, then that’s fine. For me, those are the two main things to achieve success.