Ben Lerer: ‘It isn’t about the light at the end … it’s about the tunnel’
Ben Lerer has found the tunnel can be more important than the light at the end of it, he said today in his talk at Big Omaha.
Ben Lerer of Thrillist was the second speaker to take the stage at The KANEKO for Big Omaha 2012. Lerer is the co-founder of Thrillist, a digital media company; of JackThreads, a members only fashion site for men; and of Lerer Ventures, a venture capital firm that he started with his father. Lerer used his talk to tell his entrepreneurial story and also share a few lessons he learned along the way. Here are some key insights from Lerer's talk.
Recognize your strengths
For the longest time Lerer believed he was a failure. Whether it was quitting tennis as a kid, or the fact that he got a B- is every class in college because his mom said not to get any grade less than a B-. After quitting his "real job," Lerer realized he needed to step back and consider his strengths. With this revelation, Thrillist was born.
Believe you've made it
From the beginning of Thrillist, Ben and his co-founder wanted to be the "DailyCandy.com for men." In 2008 CNN.com said "DailyCandy.com was the Thrillist for women." At that moment, Lerer said, "we knew we had made it."
Lerer explained it is important to have those goals and when you reach them continue to think bigger and reach higher.
Two years ago today, Lerer and Thrillist acquired JackThreads.com. Lerer said they had realized that their content site at Thrillist created a demand in the market and they needed to find a way to bring the supply. Instead of simply doing an affiliate program or marketing partnership, Lerer and Thrillist acquired JackThreads.
He said Thrillist realized JackThreads was a great fit and it created a perfect marriage. "A virtuous cycle was born," Lerer said. "JackThreads customers became Thrillist readers and vice versa."
It's about the tunnel
When Lerer became an entrepreneur he said he was always dreaming about the light at the end of the tunnel. He longed for the day when he sold his company and had so much money that he could "crash planes into boats." He explained how he was so focused on that exit.
Today, Lerer also runs a venture capital firm, Lerer Ventures, with his father. Through this experience as well as his other entrepreneurial ventures, Lerer realized he was going about it all wrong. He realized that he already had everything he wanted. "I don't even need an alarm clock," Lerer said, "I'm so stoked to wake up every day and go to work." He had a job he loved, a team he wanted to work with, and as Lerer said, "I realized it isn't about the light at the end of the tunnel, it's about the tunnel."
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