Our first Silicon Valley Insights of 2016 was a smashing success! Startup powerhouse Razmig Hovaghimian joined STRV CEO David Semerad on March 29 for an intimate fireside chat where they talked about his stunning rise from “certified sandwich artist” at Subway to one of the biggest stars on the Silicon Valley startup scene. The screening hall at Cinema City Slovansky dum, where the event took place, was fully packed!
“I don’t think there’s a formula for running a startup. You don’t need to be technical, but you need someone awesome. You need an intellectually inspiring partner,” Razmig told the crowd. “It’s important to invest in these relationships, especially into people who are good to you.” He should know, having co-founded his first startup — Embrace, a non-profit that provides low-cost infant incubators to parents in developing countries — while still a student at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
“What I like about the US is that it’s OK to fail. In the US it’s about critical thinking. Stanford was very hands-on, you just go and build it. It helped that I went to Stanford, but it’s what you make out of it,” Razmig said. “Stanford was worth it. I came out of business school with a patent!”
His road to success was not easy. He moved to the US alone and practically penniless from Cairo, Egypt when he was just 16, working at as a sandwich artist at a Subway in Los Angeles and eating the $1-menu at fast food restaurants to make ends meet. He ended up getting into UC Berkeley before enrolling at Stanford.
A few years ago, Razmig sold his video-streaming startup Viki for $200 million to Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, where he serves as senior executive officer of global content and board observer. Razmig is now working on a local news startup called Ripple and tapped STRV as a design and development partner.
Asked what he looks for in business partnerships, Razmig explained that he looks for a similar DNA and mindset; people who “don’t mind taking risks or break things; people who can grow with the role.”
“I want builders. Not people who want jobs,” he said. “It’s important to have people who fight for you.”
Following the fireside chat, STVR hosted an after-party at its development office, where participants had a chance to meet Razmig in person and enjoy some food from STRV spin-off Ordr.cz, beer and a little networking.