Have you ever had the chance to interview a young millionaire and learn what he thinks is the most important skill to success? I met John Xie with a group of other children journalists on June, 29th, 2015.
John Xie started his first website at age 9 and his first company at age 13. His first business, Cirtex – which he now sold – brought in about 2 million dollars annually. He is now the co-founder of Minus – a simple photo sharing company that is transforming its focus to chat apps. I had a chance to look in his office, and it looked like any other start-up business that you would find in New York. It’s an open space office with many desks, chairs and computers. There was a TV in the back in the corner with video games littering the surrounding area, there was a bottle filled with spicy sauce on the table, and I even spotted 2 bikes and a scooter!
“Soundcheck, 1… 2… 3…… ,“we were getting the camera and microphones ready . Everybody else was either perfecting their questions or exploring the office. I felt tingly in my stomach. I was going to interview a millionaire! Finally, after for what seemed like hours( it was probably only a few minutes), the interview began.
When we asked why he started his first website at age 9, Xie replied that it was completely for fun. He said that he was just trying to play with things and it just so happened that his dad was in that space at the time. He also inspired Xie a bit to try to build something of his own.
John Xie started his first company at age 13. He says that there’s no right time to start, it just depends when you have the right idea and want to do something with it. Starting younger definitely affects your school and performance so it might not always be the best time. He thinks his business really started as a part-time job, which is something he encourages others to try.
Next we asked Xie what he thought was the most important skill to succeed in the future was. “One skill… how many do I get to choose?” He joked. Xie said it is the ability to communicate well. For him, it is about to be able to communicate to the team, to the investors, and to the customers.
All startups face challenges. For Xie, it’s no exception. According to Xie, the biggest challenge was always finding the right team, and then finding the idea. “Meeting the right partner, and being the timing that you want, that all put together to create Minus which was originally a very simple, minimal, photo sharing app.” Xie started Minus in 2010 with Carl Hu.
He picked New York to start a business because he had friends and relationships there. He also said that to start a company, the best choice is New York or the West Coast. Personally, I would pick Canada. Why not? I live here already.
“The most fun thing… has to be creating new products, new things, and playing around with new ideas”. Xie also has to improve the product and making sure it’s compatible.
Do you ever wonder what millionaire think of global issues? Xie thinks that all the problems in the world-like poverty and global warming- are important and it’s hard for him to pick which one needs the most attention. He thinks that some of them have to be resolved through politics, and some of it has to be solved by people.
His plan for the future is to keep creating and and he wants to take some time to travel the world and explore different opportunities.
The experience of interviewing a millionaire was definitely amazing. He is so nice and funny and I learned so much about entrepreneurship from him.