‘I launched startupguide.com to be a resource for entrepreneurs doing good in the world’ –Hive Chairman and Founder Ryan Allis
ur new website would not have been possible had it not been for Ryan Allis, an entrepreneur, investor and author who first launched startupguide.com six years ago. We recently chatted with Ryan to find out more about his story, what motivates him and why he was happy to give us the domain for his website.
Ryan is not new to entrepreneurship. Now in his mid 30s, his career started back in the early 2000s when he was CEO and cofounder of iContact, an American company which grew to 300 employees and 70,000 customers as well as brought in $50 million in annual sales.
When iContact was acquired in 2012 for $170 million, Ryan didn’t stop there. He cofounded another startup called Connect which aimed to bring people together in real life through mobile technology. At the time, not only did he begin investing in companies which solved major human challenges, he also started sharing his experiences with others.
The birth of Startupguide.com
“I launched startupguide.com to be a resource for entrepreneurs doing good in the world,” Ryan says. “I wanted to take what I had learned and through writing, share it with the startupguide.com community.”
For about year, Ryan built up the website with an editor named Ellen Daly. Together, they took a large collection of videos Ryan had created over the previous years and turned it into an online book. These videos focused on the major lessons he had learned and touched on a wide range of topics, including money, investing and leadership.
By late 2012, startupguide.com ranked well on Google and was getting lots of page views, according to Ryan. Upon reflecting on the articles which were the most meaningful to him, Ryan says these include the ones that looked at how to make a positive impact in the world and how to solve problems that matter.
The comprehensive piece on how to be a startup CEO and run a business within the first five years also got a lot of attention, he says. Further pieces which stand out to Ryan as having special meaning include a how-to article on acquiring customers and one on the greatest innovators of all time.
Nowadays Ryan is focused on building a community of leaders with yet another venture, Hive Global. As CEO and chairman of the company, over the past five years he’s succeeded in bringing together nearly 2,000 leaders from 125 countries across the world, such as Nigeria and Pakistan.
So how did Ryan find himself handing over startupguide.com to the good folks (we like to think of ourselves as such) at Startup Guide? Our founder Sissel Hansen met him at one of his Hive summits last March and explained that we have over 20 books in startup ecosystems spanning the globe. She also said we would love to build up on his work and get it out to even more entrepreneurs out there.
I really wanted to work on something that lit me up every day.
“I’m one person and I’m focused on building Hive,” Ryan says. “I’d rather have the message carried on and there be a team of people around the world collaborating and creating an even better entrepreneurship resource that helps makes a difference.”
After Sissel and Ryan met for a second time last June when he was hosting a Hive summit in Berlin and the two had the chance to chat again, it was decided that startupguide.com would be getting a new lease on life.
Life is short
On the question of where Ryan gets his motivation from and why he’s so keen on helping others, he says that his parents “were very much into helping others.”
“My dad was a Episcopalian minister from the US and my mom was a Buddhist social worker from England that worked with autistic families,” Ryan explains, adding that he grew up in a spiritual community. He spent time at his local food bank, visited hospitals and also carried out community service projects.
As a young adult, after his college studies in software technology, he says he “had a good career for ten years in this field but something was missing.” It was then that he realized he wanted to work with people.
“When my father passed away from leukemia in 2014 right after my mom had passed away from brain cancer in 2012, it made me realize that life is short. I knew I really wanted to work on something that lit me up every day. That's why I work on Hive today and why I really care about community. It’s also why we put out the content on entrepreneurship and purpose-driven leadership through startupguide.com.”
I’d rather have the message carried on and there be a team of people around the world collaborating and creating an even better entrepreneurship resource that helps makes a difference.
Ryan says he’s open when it comes to what his hopes are for the new version of the site. Though on the question of what topics he’d generally like to see covered much more out there when it comes to entrepreneurship, he thinks there’s a need to look at two topics in particular.
“There should be more content about how to get your first customers to pay you money,” Ryan says. Most of what’s out there looks at how to raise funding, but in the first 24 months entrepreneurs should be focused on creating a business with revenue, he adds.
Another important issue that isn’t being addressed enough according to Ryan is entrepreneurship and mental health. “How to stay calm, centred and balanced even when a business is failing is an essential area to cover that no one talks about,” he says.
“A lot of entrepreneurs attach the success or failure of their business to the success or failure of themselves. If their business doesn't make it, they take it out on themselves personally and psychologically – and it's just not necessary to do that.”
In the meantime we’ve been keeping Ryan in the loop with how our new site has been progressing. If you are keen on seeing some of the pieces on his original site, you can read the majority of them here across various categories (Personal Development, Ideation, etc.). He was the original owner of startupguide.com, after all.
And just as much as he’s passionate about keeping his resource for entrepreneurs doing good wherever they are in the world alive, we’re similarly keen on inspiring and empowering people to start their own business anywhere.