What It Means to Be a Leader at a Fast Growing Startup - Slava Rubin

In Chapter 6 of 13 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, crowdfunding entrepreneur and IndieGoGo CEO Slava Rubin answers "What Does It Mean to Be a Leader in What You Do?"  Rubin notes leadership is about taking action that otherwise might not happen.  He notes it is less about being more aggressive than others and more about doing things others do not see that need to be done.  Rubin references his venture capital fundraising efforts while trusting his team to manage operations and grow the company.  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 does it mean to be a leader in what you do?

Slava Rubin: To me leader is really about taking action where otherwise it would not happen. So, just being to be aggressive and doing something where 10 other people were about to do it maybe is not always a leader but seeing what others do not see or more importantly doing what others do not see needs to be done is really about leadership.

So, we have 19 people on our team now and I would say at different moments each one steps up as being a leader and an example for me might be that a while back we weren’t sure if we were able to raise money and, you know, we were having debates about whether or not we should be even focused on raising money because maybe what we need to do is just work on our own team and get to profitability and at some point, you know, I just said, you know, I’ll go make it happen and you guys need to help support me to run the company and we just worked together to raise the money we needed a year ago when I saw you at South-By 2011.
The fun thing is since then we’ve had some serious growth, which is, you know, I guess I have to come here every year to make sure that growth keeps happening.

Erik Michielsen: How did you use your venture capital round to finance your growth?

Slava Rubin: Yeah, so I mean from a company-building perspective we really are focused on improving the product making sure that we’re reaching out to the customers correctly and making sure that the customer experience is as good as possible. So, very specifically we went from a five-person team to a 19 person team, really made significant improvements on the actual product, the website, the customer happiness experience and just keep on looking for people to help them with making good things happen.