#Asia I don’t want, can not, and have not changed the world by myself: Facebook Co-founder Eduardo Saverin

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In a conversation that began with humility ended with modesty Eduardo Saverin offered entrepreneurial advice and shed light on Facebook’s early days

Saverin 2 FINAL

“I am first and foremost a family man.”

And with that statement, Eduardo Saverin, Facebook Co-founder, and Founding Partner at B Capital Group immediately grounded himself to an audience full of hungry entrepreneurs, successful and unsuccessful venture capitalists and essentially the entire Tech in Asia 2016 conference who had come to hear him speak.

Before getting into the meats and bones of Saverin’s talk, the most important takeaway was a man — who started the world’s most famous startup, has an estimated net worth of US$6.6 billion, and was portrayed in a Hollywood movie — may have been the most down to earth person at the entire event.

“I am always humbled by the place the company (Facebook) has gotten to today. But, We never could have imagined where this would have taken us,” he said.

Facebook

Saverin quite openly talked about the early days of Facebook, and pinpointed two specific ‘turning points’ that helped create the giant we all know so well. And they are lessons he wanted to impart on the Founders in the audience.

“The first is product/market fit. We were building a market to serve ourselves. And we were also doing something very simple. It is important to start with a simple concept,” he said.

Also Read: Hold your breath: Alibaba just acquired controlling stake in Lazada

Amazingly, it is possible to describe Facebook in one sentence: Digitalising the traditional contact notebook or professional rolodex. It’s a simple concept. Not a simple company, but a simple concept.

As the company grew, it had the trust of old users (thanks to the decision to limit the site to .edu in the early days) so the base was not going anywhere as the company expanded and onboarded additional users.

“We were listening to [our users] through data analysis, fast iteration and A/B testing. That was really critical early point for Facebook,” said Saverin.

The second lesson was understanding, “Not all the smartest people worked for us.” Which lead to the decision to allow anyone in the world deploy an application on the Facebook platform (Zynga essentially went IPO via Facebook).

Saverin said it gave the most benefit to the users and was a key decision that led to their staying power in 2016.

Startup and Investment advice

Invest in a line, not a dot.

The metaphor from Saverin was meant as both an investment strategy and a suggestion for how entrepreneurs (who want funding) should operate in the ecosystem.

It is similar to developing any relationship; no great friendship, marriage or partnership was created on day one. It takes time, and for Saverin if that meant missing out on the next superstar company, then so be it.

“First impressions, gut instincts, can be valuable. But definitely a relationship running through time is, in my view, the best mechanism,” he said.

And entrepreneurs should approach business in the same way. Make relationships with investors long before any thoughts of fundraising are on the table.

“Being an entrepreneur can be a very lonely place, so sometimes you need someone to speak to. Whether it is just to vent or talk strategies,” said Saverin.

That type of relationship takes time.

As for himself, Saverin says his first mentor — acknowledging the cheese factor — was his father. For Saverin, being able to sit down with his father and ask him about lessons from his youth was invaluable.

Eventually, more voices became part of the guidance process. But, before Facebook took off, Saverin stressed the importance of his father as a mentor.

Also Read: Report paints a picture of what an obsessive Facebook user looks like, and it’s no surprise

As for today, Saverin finds the hardest part of being in his industry is constantly being put in the position of telling companies (which he may personally find value) that he will not be able to make an investment.

“At the end of the day, you are in a position where you have to say no to amazing entrepreneurs building great companies that may change the world,” Saverin said.

“But you have to focus. Like you tell your entrepreneurs, you also have to focus. And ultimately that requires a consistent reality of saying no to entrepreneurs.” 

Finally, the discussion wrapped up with Saverin’s thoughts about knowing the limitations of oneself. Not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur but it does not mean they can not play a role in ‘changing the world’.

Investors enable entrepreneurs, a team supports the dream and building an ecosystem provides a safety net and support system in which a company can lean when the proverbial sh**t hits the fan.

“I don’t want to change the world by myself, I can’t change the world, I have not changed the world by myself. And I want to continue that philosophy and help guide and mentor entrepreneurs.”

Photo by Kevin McSpadden

The post I don’t want, can not, and have not changed the world by myself: Facebook Co-founder Eduardo Saverin appeared first on e27.

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