Join Byron Deeter and Jeremy Levine from Bessemer Venture Partners as they bring together three resilient founders who built their startups during the immediate aftermath of the 2008 Recession. In this conversation, we talk to Jeff Lawson, CEO and co-founder of Twilio, Tobi Lütke, CEO and founder of Shopify, and Ben Silbermann, CEO and co-founder of Pinterest.
Key insights include:
What inspired Twilio to keep pushing even after they didn’t get any funding in the summer of 2008: “Our customers were telling us we’re on the right track,” remembered Jeff. “We should be listening to customers. And if we’re right about that, then obviously the investor thing will work itself out. No matter where you’re at as a company, focusing on your customers is the right path. Of course, it’s not everything,” said Jeff. “In 2008, there was a lot of luck involved, but we continue to follow that early lesson today.”
Why everything Shopify built was tightly connected to the fundamentals of their business and mission: “None of our customers were going out of business because they had Shopify. It was a well designed, affordable online store. In fact, a lot of people actually ended up selling online to get a second income stream,” Tobi said. “A major disruption, [like the ‘08 Recession or a global pandemic] is sort of like shaking a tree and seeing what fruit fall off.”
Founder advice on self care from Pinterest’s CEO: “If you’re a founder, your ability to build a successful company turns on your ability to take care of yourself and the people that are very important around you,” Ben said. “We’re experiencing a global health crisis. So taking care of yourself could mean delaying your startup and staying at your job and supporting your family in a way they need it, or doing it at night, etc. People shouldn’t be ashamed of that.”