You usually hear everyone telling you to "focus, focus, focus", but it's one thing to hear it and another one to implement it. How long did it take you to understand what "focus" means?
Until one of my mentors, Dan Gertsacov, gave clear numbers. Google invests 70% of their resources in efforts that are making money already, 20% in efforts that are likely to make money because they got traction, and 10% in new experiments. When you're a startup, that means you need to focus 100% in one idea or model until it makes money. If it doesn't work, pivot, but don't experiment with more than one effort or model at a time.
You were recently featured in Bootstrapped, Profitable, & Proud, where you mentioned that you cofounded multiple companies before Voice123. What were these companies?
When I was 14 I founded by first company. It was just me, part-time. Yet, I named it "Apache AX Cibernetic Enterprise Limited", typo included. It offer data entry services for college students. When I was 20 I created Torrenegra Labs. It started as a web dev shop that eventually became a successful incubator. When I was 21 I joined Rentalo.com as co-founder of its version 2.0. Rentalo is a vacation rental marketplace.
You've bootstrapped both Voice123 and VoiceBunny (I'm convinced that doing this sets your priorities right from the beginning). Being an investor means you're also giving money to companies who might relax (there's no rush to get income when the bank account is full) in the beginning. How do you deal with this?
I prefer to invest in companies that have traction and will do well even if they don't raise capital. The money should simply allow them to grow even faster.
You recently wrote about "covertible royalties" as an alternative to equity in startups. Have you received any feedback on the idea? Are you planning to do this with future companies in your portfolio?
Plenty of it, indeed. The feedback has been all over the spectrum. Traditional VCs, specially US-based ones, don't get it. They are so fixed in the idea that companies need their money that they don't realize that there could be accelerators whose focus could be to increase sales, and not to increase capital. LatAm VCs and angels understand the idea, but most of them have been sceptical. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, tend to love it. I don't have plans of executing the idea for now, but as always, plans change.
You've in the same business with your wife for more than ten years. How do you balance work-mode vs. family-mode?
Simple: I'm the boss at work. She is the boss at home.