Meet Derek Andersen, owner, founder and head of the largest start-up community in the world, Startup Grind. To just under half a million of entrepreneurs worldwide that the company has educated, mentored and connected, this humble visionary is very special indeed.
Having held on until the height of recession in 2009, Derek quit his internship-turned-job at Electronic Arts after the birth of his first child. And, as his father eloquently attested, at the worst possible time to do so. But despite the odds, to Derek, it was the only possible way forward. “When you work at a big company, you can only move at the speed of the elevator. I felt like I would never be able to move at the rate that I wanted to move.”
The moment he was out the door; Derek threw himself into building products. “Building something that people will pay for and that they really love is so rewarding but it’s really hard to do that. When I started, every six months I would launch something new – and it would fail spectacularly.”
Startup Grind began on the byway. Months of pizza-fuelled brainstorms resulted in their first event. After receiving four attendees, Derek was ready to throw in the towel. Instead, sat in his car at 11pm that night, he made a decision. “If I’m going to do this, I’ll try to be great at it. And if I can do that, then maybe I’ll keep going.”
Putting other projects on hold, he turned to Startup Grind. Their next event drew 40 visitors, and the numbers kept growing until they were forced to implement a cut-off at 500 attendees. Thanks to his resolve, today, Startup Grind has over 200 chapters in 80 countries. “Success for me means that I provide for my family and at the end of the day, I still have my soul. And that I don’t ruin the thing that I was actually trying to build.”
We’re pretty sure we understand.
That beautiful woman would, obviously, be my wife. If I could have some time just for her and more time for my whole family, that would be pretty idyllic.
I really need my MacBook Pro. I love it. It keeps things running and it keeps me very productive.
It is absolutely the best, most affordable food that exists on the planet! When I was in college, we used to drive five hours, sometimes, explicitly to go eat there… I have one close now and we eat there way too much.
The north shore of Oahu is my favourite beach, but I’d take a beach from the Cook Islands beach or Thailand as well. I just need sand.
I don’t have one, but I’ve heard it could be great. If I could have all the above things and a nanny too - well you just can’t beat that!
I’m convinced that having great communication skills is the single most important factor in your success. People who communicate well are basically all successful.
People say: 90% of success is just showing up. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. Occasionally, you’ll have to work well into the middle of the night, but it’ll be worth it.
There’s the whole important thing of not giving up, which everyone faces. I like to tell my team: “We will win because we will be the last ones to give up.”
I’ve built things which were all about me. It doesn’t feel like that in the moment – but if it’s not all about how to make it better, that’s what it is.