Meet Startup @TW

Don't Hide, Stay Humble And Other Lessons From A Serial Entrepreneur

It's easy to say life is a journey, but few people have bounced from boomtown to hinterland and back again quite like Jason Goldberg.

When Goldberg, founder and CEO of the social messaging app Pepo, used that catchall at the 2016 Meet Taipei conference and expo Thursday, he meant his stint in the White House, his epic startup failure and now his latest venture as a self-described serial entrepreneur.

In his 44 years so far, Goldberg has reached major success and failure, he told the event. Lessons from it all: maintain candor and humility.

"My belief is that is that we need to embrace failure, and to own it," Goldberg said. "It's not possible to have success without some failures."

Goldberg's speech was one of 60 by entrepreneurs and others sharing experiences at Meet Taipei. The three-day event is sponsored by Meet, part of the Taipei-based Business Next Media Group. It runs from Nov. 17-19 and highlights startup companies in Taiwan.

The event also brings together diplomats, venture capitalists and senior business people, including people such as Goldberg from overseas.

The conference is hosting 280 exhibit booths that give a stage to young Taiwanese and overseas businesses.

Goldberg, an American, led the conference attendees through the stages of the journey, calling "life an accumulation of experiences."

Goldberg left college at age 20 to work for the Bill Clinton presidential campaign of 2002, a move he described as risky. He later worked in the White House for six years before going to business school and left business school early to join his first startup.

Goldberg held several executive positions before joining a team that would create one of the first major successful e-commerce businesses -- Fab.

Fab produced and distributed furniture made by thousands of private designers. The company went online in 2011 and saw sales of US$20 million in its first six months.

Goldberg described how sales roared ahead, motivating the company to think big. However, factors such as a speedy European expansion contributed to the company's widely known demise.

As he noted in an interview with Meet before the conference, "by the third quarter of 2013 Fab was hemorrhaging money."

In his presentation Thursday, Goldberg stressed integrity in business. One element of that, he said, is communicating clearly with people.

When you encounter difficulties, he added, fight the urge to hide in a corner. Instead be open with others about whatever is happening and discuss matters candidly while trying to resolve issues, he advised.

Goldberg further encouraged budding entrepreneurs to stay humble. "An awareness of one's strengths and weaknesses is also important," he said.

After Fab sank, Goldberg went back to work. Pepo was the result of those later efforts. Pepo organizes public and private online chats, including between just two people, based on locations and discussion topics.

Pepo's service launched two weeks ago and shows early promise, Goldberg said.