On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, serial founder and angel investor Deron Quon discusses the human side of entrepreneurship and how a founder’s ethos can impact company culture.
Quon first turned to entrepreneurship after finding his career in asset management unfulfilling.
“I really felt like I didn't want my life to just be measured in basis points,” Quon said.
So, he and two partners founded Menus.com, with a “simple mission of trying to make it easy for people to find the things that they crave.” Over time, the startup built the largest database of restaurant menus in the country.
Seeing an opportunity, Quon and his partners used the data they’d collected at Menus.com to offer restaurants information on popular foods and ingredients that were making their way onto menus. The result: a platform for food manufacturers and chain restaurants to get insight into what their competition was offering and what customers were ordering.
Quon and his co-founders eventually sold the company to Spectrum Equity.
“I joke to people that it was an 18-year startup,” he said.
That process revealed to Quon the importance of maintaining good books and understanding the numbers, as well as the impact that personal history can have on a business.
“That's what makes entrepreneurship [and] venture human,” Quon said.
Since then, Quon has helped build L.A.-based companies including Collective Solution, a 2,700-person call center operation, and Hoopla, a short-form video marketplace.
He said he saw the opportunity to jump into the video space after Collective Solution was tapped to serve as content moderators for the growing Triller video platform.
“What I saw was that short-form video is really exploding,” he said.
As a parent, Quon said he struggled to find things for his kids to do on Yelp, and seeing the uncertainty surrounding TikTok, he wanted to see how short-form video could impact the services the world relies on.
“So I conceived of Hoopla to be a resource where I can find experiences and book them, but after watching it in short-form video,” he said. “We're attempting to create this marketplace of experiences.”
The platform allows people to watch videos of different experiences, such as yoga or surfing, before booking those events.
‘I think it's just that there are so many opportunities and problems to be solved out there,” Quon said. “I think every entrepreneur has that inkling of, ‘Why can't it be me to solve that problem?’”
Quon is also an angel investor to companies looking to raise a pre-seed or seed-stage round of funding. There, he can share hard-won lessons with others in the same boat, including how to handle failure and keep perspective.
“You have to, to not be afraid to know that these things are going to fail — that you're going to have to iterate,” he said. “I think some of the lessons learned are definitely having perspective on the journey. If money is the only end then you know, that could be… a very sad ending.”
dot.LA Editorial Fellow Kristin Snydercontributed to this post.
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This podcast is produced by L.A. Venture. The views and opinions expressed in the show are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of dot.LA or its newsroom.
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