How Startup CEO Faces Company Building Challenges - Slava Rubin

In Chapter 9 of 13 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, crowdfunding entrepreneur and IndieGoGo CEO Slava Rubin answers "What New Challenges Are You Facing as Your Company Grows?"  He details the importance of selective recruiting in the hiring process and maintaining focus as new opportunities emerge that may not align with the vision.  He details how the company has learned to differentiate as over 300 competitors have entered the market.  Slava Rubin returns to CYF for his Year 3 interview.  As CEO and Co-Founder, Rubin has helped transform cause and project fundraising by establishing his company IndieGoGo as a global leader in crowdfunding.  He is also active in philanthropy, starting the Music Against Myeloma annual charity event to fight cancer.  He graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. 


Erik Michielsen: What new challenges are you facing as your company grows?

Slava Rubin: Company building is the number one challenge, which all about hiring the right people. It’s not okay to look and say ‘we’ll take anybody, we just need bodies’. See, that’s the beginning of the end for a great company especially one that’s our size. See, we can’t afford having just extra weight filling the spot. Everybody is a leader and everybody has to step up for different spots. So, number one is company building, number two is maintaining focus around the vision. At Indiegogo the challenge right now is not about what is the opportunity, I would say there are many opportunities to be had, the challenge is rather, what do we say no to and make sure that they we’re focusing as a team on the right things.

Erik Michielsen: You mentioned that over 300 companies have moved in to this crowd funding space, so how do you look at that as a competitive set versus look inside and just focus on your core and building that out?

Slava Rubin: Yeah, I mean, since we launched in January 2008, we now have over 300 competitors. Some competitors like to differentiate by country, so only in Australia or only in Germany or only in the US. Some like to differentiate by vertical, so only health campaigns or only cause or only theater. Some like to differentiate by business models, so free crowd funding, advertising based crowd funding or otherwise and for us the real win for the customer both the campaign owner and the funder is to create one platform where you can cross all these different verticals and have as open of a platform as possible. See, funders don’t think in vertical and they definitely don’t think in business model. They think in disposable income and they think about, ‘oh, I want to share my money or give or buy or contribute to this specific thing’ and when they see this campaign, it’s very easy to share another campaign with them and for us it’s really about having democratizing fundraising as our goal, creating a platform, which is open to anybody in the world to raise money for anything and in the process creating the best funder experience possible.