John Xie created his first website at 9, At 13 he started his first startup Cirtex, which specialises in Web hosting services, video hosting services and more sophisticated types of hosting for businesses—virtual private servers and dedicated servers with expected revenue said to be about $2 million this year.
After 7 years of running the business, John Xie decided it was time to start another adventure, He co- founded Min.us with his friend Carl Hu.
Min.us is an online sharing platform that enables users to drag photos, videos, and text documents from their desktop onto the screen and then shared by a link generated in the browser. Minus lets you drag files from your desktop and folders directly to your browser to start sharing or via our desktop and mobile apps.
Hi John, Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me, How are you doing today?
No problem, I’m doing great and thanks for reaching out to me.
Can you give the readers some background information about yourself?
Sure. I grew up in Queens, NY and am currently in Boston attending Babson College as an undergrad.
So when did you first get involved in business and why did you decide to start a business of your own?
I have been passionate about technology and the web since I was in elementary school. I started my first website at the age of 9 and since then I have been pursuing my passion and have started or been involved in numerous tech related projects and it’s been an amazing journey so far. Building businesses and websites was fun, and it felt very rewarding to create something out of nothing.
Were you exposed to entrepreneurship as a child or just by the surrounding?
My father definitely had a big influence on me but in general I just felt the drive to do what I did because it was not only challenging but I was following my passion and my dream.
What advantages do you think starting a business at an early age gave you over your peers?
It’s great to start young so you have more experience by the time you’re out in the real world and out of school. Experience is everything.
How do you manage to run both Cirtex hosting and Min.us which we will get to in a minute and how did you decide it was time to leave cirtex after 7 years?
It is challenging for sure but in the end it’s all about time management, being efficient and staying up late at night. I am still running Cirtex after 7 years but Minus hit me and I think it is a great idea that will really change the way people share.
So tell us about Min.us?
Minus is the simple and universal sharing platform. We enable users to drag-n-drop files onto our website http://Min.us or via our desktop and mobile tools to share instantly from anywhere they are. Best of all it is free, and users can easily share in private or public photo galleries, collections of files, music, documents and much more, and it is very easy to collaborate as well.
How many people are involved in the business?
Carl Hu and I only at the time.
Are you guys planning in releasing any new features anytime soon?
Yes, please follow http://blog.min.us for the latest updates and sign up. We are planning to release some big updates soon that’s under the table atm.
When starting the company, what would you say has been the most difficult time and how you overcame it?
There are many challenges that you must overcome such as building a product to marketing it and getting users, but in the end it’s about sticking with your idea, beliefs and working hard to achieve the goal, and not giving up so easily. Failure is not an option, but if you fail, it’s not the end of the world.
What is an average workday like for you?
I really don’t know how to describe an average workday except that I’m always checking my emails, thinking about new ideas, brainstorming and jumping back and forth to make sure everything that needs to be done is done.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
Making the right decisions in the beginning and then sticking to it. For Minus that is simplicity and minimalism and that is something that will always be our core focus and we will never compromise or deviate away from the original goal.
What plans do you have now to expand your business further?
Listening to our users and improving Minus. Word of mouth is still the single most powerful way to market a startup, especially if you’re bootstrapping, and we want to make sure our early users are happy and continue to share Minus with their friends, family and pass the word to others.
For someone like yourself who founded a startup at 13 and have managed to build it into a profitable/successful company, what advices can you give to teen/young entrepreneurs looking to start their business?
If you have an idea or see an opportunity, go for it. Sometimes you have to believe in yourself even if everyone else tells you otherwise, and that in itself will differentiate you and your business and help you succeed.
Thanks for your time John.
No problem, it was a pleasure!