If you thought 2 years to billionaire status is crazy, think again. It has been done before. But billionaires rarely thought of being billionaires. They just focused their passion in the right direction consistently and exponentially and when they became billionaires, stayed in business because that’s where their passion is.
The record (of becoming a billionaire in two years or less) looks like it was set in 1999 by Jay Walker (the founder of Priceline) who took ~1 year to get to billionaire status.
Jay, Gary, Eric, Jeff, and Mark (in the top 5) are examples of the possibilities. You can start researching how these people moved from zero to billionaires. But how many times do entrepreneurs hit it that big in life?
First some facts:
- There are 1,645 billionaires in the world (2014, Wikipedia)
- About 2/3 or just under 1,100 of them were self-made.
- There are 442 billionaires in the U.S., I will assume for simplicity they were all self-made (not true).
- There are 7.1 billion people on the planet.
- There are just over 300 Million in the U.S.
Now that means that unless you happen to fall into a rather sizable inheritance, all other things being equal you have a 0.00001549295% chance of becoming a billionaire.
1. Have a great idea related to the internet that fulfills the needs of a considerable part of the society. It could make their lives easier or save them some money.
2. Be very passionate about your idea. Eat it, drink it, breathe it & sleep with it.
3. Put you idea on paper. Scratch it, modify it, challenge it, research it, check who are doing similar thing and what don’t you like about them & remember neither Google nor Facebook were the first in their fields. They got on top of the best ones by offering better products.
4. Bite the bullet and save whatever you can to bootstrap your idea, at least to develop the skeleton.
5. Find a partner that you can be 100% sure he/she has same passion and can commit to the idea and make him a partner (50/50, 40/60) depends on what each one of you will do in the next 2 years and how much capital each contribute. You both should manage your own personal/home expenses on your own at this stage.
7. If neither of you is a technical guy (i.e. coder) for example if the idea is banking related and you are a banker and your partner is good in business development and dealing with third parties, you’ll need a very good technical partner. Negotiate with him/her to get 15-25% of equity in a certain time (based on targets). No salary too.
8. Develop the idea to a living model.
9. Go shopping for Seed funds using your prototype. You might want to sign NDA with your Angel Investors. Dream on! Drop this idea. It will show you’re scared. Be confident that no one will do it as good as you are.
10. The Angel Investor will take a huge risk to trust you, so he/she will target 7-10x ROI, so they will demand 25-30% equity for their investment. NEGOTIATE! HARD!! Any 1% extra you give away now, you’ll never get it back cheaper in the future.
10. Use some of the seed funds (normally 50k-250k) to launch your idea.
11. Hire some support staff to help you. But make sure you have enough funding for at least 3 months in the bank.
11. The initial two partner should split the work. One works on viral promotion of the idea. The second MUST work on securing the next round of investors. Use real statistics of the market response to your product. You must secure the funding as early as possible. The next round investors will be looking for 3-7x ROI.
12. When you secure the funds (sometime known as Series A or Venture Capital) you should include reasonable salaries for you and your team. This funding should be in the range of 1-2 million, for AGAIN 20-30% of equity (taken from all of you including the Angel Investor). So the structure could roughly be in this stage as: You 22.5%, Your Partner 22.5%, Coder 11.25%, Angel Investor 18.75, Venture Capitalist 25%.
13. At this stage you should be in Year 2.
14. Enhance your product. Target market share, not profitability.
15. Look for more investors. At this stage you should go for PE funds and value your company more. They will normally want non-controlling stake. So, no more 10-20% should be sold to them for 5-20 millions.
16. When I say Sell stake, I actually mean raise capital to get to that equiy structure, no funds should go out of the company YET!
17. If your product is a real JackPot (i.e. WhatsApp), you should start showing in the radar screens of BIG FISH. At this stage (3rd, 4th year of hard work), you will receive offers to acquire the company. IGNORE THEM!
18. Get to break-even point. If you need another round of funding, never give more than 10% for a good 50-100 million, IF YOU NEED THEM ONLY.
19. At Year 5, assuming you have a fantastic up trend in your revenues and starting to make a couple of millions profits with considerable market share, your investor will start talking about exit strategy. RESIST.
20. When you receive a good offer (1 billion+ for 20-50%) from a big fish, SELL and put a couple of hundred million dollars in your pocket. CONGRATS! You’re now a genuine self-made millionaire.
21. If you still own 10-12% of the company and it goes public in 1-2 years, based on P/E and DCF valuations, your remaining equity should exceed 1 billion.
22. Important notes:
22.1 This is going to be the most thrilling roller-coaster ride of your life.
22.2 Your sacrifices – family-wise – could be huge, so it’s ideal if you do it before getting married. This stress is unbearable.
22.3 At every stage prepare yourself to accept when it fails.
22.4 REMEMBER that the most valuable part of it is the experience, NOT THE MONEY.
22.5 GIVE BACK!!!