The Foundr Podcast with Nathan Chan

When Kim Perell landed a job at a hot new internet startup in 1998, she thought she had hit the jackpot.

She loved her job and learned a lot, but when the dot-com bubble burst, the startup went bankrupt. What was once a dream company that she recruited many friends to join had become a nightmare when she had to lay off those friends, and then lose her own job too.

“In an instant, someone pushed delete on my life, and my future, my identity,” she says. “My multimillion-dollar stock went up in flames and was worth nothing.”

Perell turned to the one person she thought might give her a loan to start over: her grandmother. And sure enough, even though Nanny didn’t know what the internet was, she loaned her granddaughter $10,000, which Perell spent on a computer, a GoDaddy account for a website, and a one-way ticket to Hawaii to live with her boyfriend rent-free.

Perell launched Frontline Direct, a digital marketing company pairing brands with online advertising. Scarred from the bankruptcy, she was eager to work for herself and get back to basics, which meant focusing on profitability and growth. In 2008, Frontline Direct was acquired for $30 million, and again by Amobee, where Perell now serves as CEO.

Through all the ups and downs, Perell has learned many lessons, which she passes on to fellow entrepreneurs in her latest book, The Execution Factor: The One Skill That Drives Success. After investing in over 70 startups, she noticed one thing stood out in particular for those who succeeded: they focused on execution more than anyone else did.

For her, writing The Execution Factor was a way to pay it forward.

“If I could shortcut the system and share, based on my own experiences, what is important as an entrepreneur, that was really meaningful to me,” Perell says. “And I just felt like my grandma made a bet on me, and I was going to pay that back.”

In addition to the book, she established The Execution Factor Fund to provide seed stage funding to execution-driven startups. One hundred percent of the proceeds from her book are contributed to this fund.

(And in case you were wondering: Perell paid back the loan to her grandma.)

Key Takeaways

  • The rock bottom moment when the internet startup she worked for went bankrupt in the dot-com bubble burst
  • What she did with a $10,000 loan from her grandmother
  • Founding Frontline Direct, a digital marketing company, while living rent-free in Hawaii
  • Frontline Direct’s multimillion-dollar acquisition
  • Her new book, The Execution Factor
  • Why vision, though important, is not enough
  • The five traits you need to master execution
  • How to attract and retain great talent
  • What she looks for when investing in businesses
  • Thoughts on branding versus direct response
  • On if she felt a loss of identity after selling her business
Direct download: FP243_Kim_Perell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:33am AEST