If you're like most entrepreneurs, you're always on the lookout for the next big thing. Well, we don't make those kinds of predictions here, but let's just say we wouldn't be shocked if today's interviewee, Tony Chen, was sitting on something that you'll one day read about in a list of innovations that changed the way we do things. BuzzBlaze, Tony's company, is like having your very own Huffington Post. Everyone who's out there creating news content is your reporter, and you get to decide what gets published and what doesn't.
Tony has some outstanding insights about what it takes to make it as a young entrepreneur, and we know you're going to get a lot out of what he has to say, so without further delay, here’s the interview:
Your company, BuzzBlaze, is a fantastic idea. Can you sum up what it is for our readers?
My Co-Founder Stanley Tang and I started seven months ago with a simple idea — to build an application that enables people to discover and share content online. BuzzBlaze is a news reader for the web that delivers what we call a social news experience to our users. We were inspired by the idea of information overload, that our ability to create information has far exceeded our ability to manage it and we wanted to develop something that tackles this overwhelming availability of content across the web. On BuzzBlaze, you can add and manage content sources on an elegant dashboard interface and follow your friends to see what they are reading. It's a great way to discover new content and share it with friends.
My parents? Not particularly, but they have played a pivotal role in developing my interest for entrepreneurship. When I was just barely two years old, we moved to Canada so my life is firmly grounded in the immigrant experience. My parents are the hardest working people I know and have demonstrated an incredible tenacity in the pursuit of opportunity. Their embrace of perseverance and calculated risk may explain my zeal for entrepreneurship. I also draw inspiration from industry leaders such as Steve Jobs and founders of successful and innovative startups like Jack Dorsey. To have a vision and the courage to pursue it — that I believe is something rare but really important in this industry.
As a teen entrepreneur, do you feel like you gave up any of what it means to be a teen? Would you do it all again?
I dedicate a lot of my time and effort to pursue my entrepreneurial passion, but I don't really see myself giving up being a normal teenager. This is just the beginning of my career as a tech entrepreneur and there is no doubt that I want to pursue this in the future. So yes, I would definitely do it again, but with all the experience and knowledge I have already acquired. Whether or not your first startup succeeds is not important — it's what you learn from the experience that is far more valuable. It's just something they don't teach at school.
What three pieces of advice do you have for young entrepreneurs interested in starting their first business?
Every great idea is a part of a larger vision and I think it is important to have the determination and courage to pursue that vision. Secondly, just having a great idea will not make you successful — they say it's 10% idea, 90% execution — and for entrepreneurs, hard work is not a choice, but a way of life. Last but not least, to bring innovation, it is important to have an open mind. Creativity is an indispensible characteristic for entrepreneurs and it gives us a unique angle when tackling difficult problems.
How do you personally define success?
I see success as something less tangible and quantifiable. Success, in my opinion, is when I build something that brings value to the world and offers solutions to the problems people experience. When I have an idea for a new project, I always ask myself: "What problem will this solve?" because I want to build products that change the world. I think the technology industry today is very powerful in that it has such a great potential to drive innovation for social change and this is something I would like to be a part of.