Lessons From A Serial Entrepreneur Who Started When He Was 15 Years Old

He started cranking out companies in his teens, and before he turned 20, Albert Lai sold one of his early businesses for over a million dollars in cash. He’s now working on his 5th company, Kontagent, a Facebook funded and VC backed social analytics startup.

I asked him to come to Mixergy and talk about what he learned along the way. So he stepped into a closet — the quietest place in his office — and recorded this interview via Skype.

(Read my notes on the interview below, or check out Scott Simko’s more detailed notes.)

Albert Lai

Albert Lai


Albert Lai is currently the Founder & CEO of Kontagent, a Facebook funded viral analytics platform venture. His past businesses included CD ROM Yearbook, FrogDog, Hardware Central, MyDeskTop, BuyBuddy, Idleagent and BubbleShare.


Lessons learned

Use your disadvantages to get press

In the mid-90’s, when Albert started in business, being a young entrepreneur wasn’t considered an asset. Instead of hiding from it, Albert used it to get press. The media, he says, loves an underdog.

Little things can give you lots of credibility

When I asked him how he got credibility as a young entrepreneur without a track-record, Albert pointed out that little things, like business cards and basic marketing packages, went a long way towards communicating professionalism. Today, he advises the young entrepreneurs he mentors that a well-designed web site can keep potential clients from ever knowing that they’re still students.

You don’t have to start small

Starting out small and working your way towards the big clients can be a tough, long slog. Instead, Albert aimed for the big clients right away. He knew that if he won them, the association would help him win other clients.

Similarly, when Neil Patel was on Mixergy he said he targeted big-name bloggers because if he won them as clients, everyone else would want to work with him too.

Let hobbies turn into businesses

In high school, Albert worked on his class yearbook. Instead of the usual paper-based publication, he put his yearbook on CD-ROM. He thinks of it as a pre-Internet pressed onto a CD-ROM. It was impressive because it was probably the first its kind in the world, so it led to a business relationship with MuchMusic, Canada’s video music channel.

Lack of funding can be good for a business

Albert made an interesting admission in this interview. He said his under-funded companies, BubbleShare and MyDeskTop, did better than the ones that were well-backed. Financial constraints can help focus a business. If you listen to the interview, you’ll hear him explain how BubbleShare thrived when it started focusing on dead-simple photo-sharing via a simple interface that was inspired by Google and Craig’s List.

Full program includes

– You’ll hear details of how Albert built his businesses.

– You’ll learn how you can pair down a big, unmanageable idea into a simpler business when you see how Albert focused his vision for BubbleShare.

– You’ll learn how a failed business idea can lead to successful followup company.


Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.