EnplugEmails: The 94 silly awards we gave out to our teammates

EnplugEmails are a series on my blog of actual emails sent to my teammates at Enplug. I’m sharing these because it may give other startup founders ideas.


Before the end of each year, everyone at Enplug nominates and votes for one another for the Enplug Awards. We started this award game the first year that we started the company and it’s been a fun tradition ever since. It’s a reflection of our culture to always keep things entertaining!  The awards this year ranged from “Most likely to have 10 kids” to “Most likely to give you a ride home from jail.” Here’s the email I sent out:

Subject line: SoCalTech’s Top 50 Startups and the Enplug Awards

HI TEAM,

Enplug was recognized as one of SoCalTech’s Top 50 Startups last week! Woot!
But the really really big award is the one that I’m about to announce…
This week begins the voting and nomination process for the most prestigious award on the planet, the galaxy, the universe, existence itself. You’ve been waiting for it all year. THE ENPLUG AWARDS have begun!
Enplug Awards 2014
Vote your fellow Enplugees for the honor here: http://goo.gl/forms/Q3Z3YQs60o
 We’ll send out the winners on Monday, December 29th.
Vote wisely,
Nanxi

On December 29th, I sent out the winners:

Enplug Awards 2014 Results

EnplugEmails: The 17 companies that became $1+ billion in 2014

The EnplugEmails series on my blog are real emails that I’ve sent to my teammates at Enplug. I’m sharing some of these emails because I thought they might be useful to other startup founders. Here’s the latest one:

_________________________________________________

Subject line: The New Unicorns of 2014

Hi Team,

The list of all the private companies that reached $1 billion valuations in 2014 was published on VentureBeat today. Thanks, Jessie, for sharing it with me.

There were 17 companies in total this year that reached the milestone. Investors call these companies “Unicorns” because of how rare they are. Thousands of startups are founded each year and only 17 hit a billion this year. And one is a customer!

I wanted to learn more about these companies and benchmark Enplug because we’re striving to be a Billion too. I took some notes- shared with you below. Here is my key takeaway:
 
Average time it took these companies to reach $1 billion: 9 years. From articles we read online, it sometimes seem like startups grow to be a billion dollars overnight, but that’s not the case. The company that grew to a billion the fastest on this year’s list is Slack (2 years). The longest is Good Technology (19 years). Building a startup is a marathon, and we’ve set a great pace for ourselves with what we’ve accomplished in these past two years. #everydaycounts
Pro-tip from Alex: Enplug software would benefit all the companies below. We can turn the TVs in their offices into cool, interactive displays that stream their companies’ live social media feeds.
__________________________________________________
Actifio
  • $1.1 billion
  • Founded 2009
  • Actifio is an enterprise technology company with a radically simple copy data virtualization platform.
AppDynamics
  • $1.1 billion
  • Founded 2008
  • AppDynamics develops application performance management (APM) solutions that deliver problem resolution for highly distributed applications.
AppNexus
  • $1.2 billion
  • Founded 2007
  • AppNexus provides trading solutions and powers marketplaces for Internet advertising.
Cloudera
  • Received $1 billion in funding so…valuation is at least $1 billion
  • Founded 2008
  • Cloudera is an enterprise software company that provides Apache Hadoop-based software and training to data-driven enterprises.
DocuSign
  • $1.56 billion
  • Founded 2003
  • DocuSign employs cloud-based e-signature technology to allow users to sign and send documents online.
Good Technology
  • $1+ billion
  • Founded 1996
  • Good Technology is a pioneer and world leader in secure mobility solutions for businesses.
Intarcia Therapeutics
  • $1.63 billion
  • Founded 1997
  • Intarcia Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company developing therapies for diseases that require long-term chronic treatment.
Jasper Technologies
  • $1.3 billion
  • Founded 2004
  • Jasper powers the Internet of Things across more than 1,500 enterprises, millions of devices, over 100 mobile operators and 6 continents.
Kabam
  • $1+ billion
  • Founded 2006
  • Kabam is a mobile gaming company developing free-to-play core games available on mobile devices, the web, and other platforms.
LendingClub
  • $1.5 billion
  • Founded 2007
  • Lending Club is the nation’s leading online credit marketplace, using technology to lower the cost of the traditional banking system.
Lookout
  • $1.38 bllion
  • Founded 2007
  • Protecting individuals and enterprises, Lookout predicts and stops mobile attacks before they do harm.
Lyft
  • $1+ billion
  • Founded 2012
  • You know what it is.
New Relic
  • $1.39 billion
  • Founded 2007
  • New Relic is a SaaS-based software analytics platform offering app performance management and mobile monitoring solutions.
NJoy
  • $2.5 billion
  • Founded 2006
  • E-cigs
Slack
  • $1.12 billion
  • Founded 2013. Fastest growing SaaS company in history.
  • Yes, it’s the same Slack tool we use every day to chat with each other.
Sunrun
  • $1+ billion
  • Founded 2007
  • Sunrun is a provider of residential solar electricity and solar power service.
WeWork
  • $5 billion
  • Founded 2010
  • One of Enplug’s big customers…so I’m sure you know this one.

LA Business Journal: 20 in their 20s

I’m very thankful to be included in LA Business Journal’s 20 in their 20s for 2014. My answers were summarized in the article, so I’ve included the uncensored version in this blog post :)

LABJ 20 in their 20s 2014

 

What led you to start your own company? A combination of rebellion, curiosity, and boredom led me to do startups. I started building things throughout my time in college. My friend introduced me to my now co-founder, David. I met David for about an hour to just chat and share ideas. I make decisions really quickly so afterwards, I did what I thought was the most logical next step: pack a U-Haul with all my stuff and move to Los Angeles to start Enplug with David.

Where did you get the startup money? My co-founders and I first funded everything from guilt-free and interest-free funds called our bank account and personal savings. After we built a prototype display running Enplug software and got customers to sign up, we went to entrepreneurs that we admired and asked them to give us money. They gave us $2.5 million.

What was the biggest challenge? Determining whether to build our internal applications for our teammates on iOS or android. We have very passionate developers on both sides so it ended with a compromise. We made everything web-based.

What was the most important lesson you learned? Work with people smarter than myself. In past companies that I’ve started, I worried when things broke because I knew I would have to fix it. With Enplug, I don’t worry when things break because there’s 34 other people there to fix it.

How many hours a day do you put in? 24 hours. I dream in Enplug. On days when I don’t dream about Enplug, I work about 17 hours. I’m single and don’t have kids so I think this is acceptable for now. My co-founders are in the same position so it’s easy to get really into work.

Does your youth lead to awkward situations, such as when you supervise older workers? The Enplug teammates that I work with who are older than me are always smarter and more experienced than me so I don’t need to supervise them.

Will you start another company? Absolutely. My co-founding team at Enplug work so well that we’ve already made a pact to work on our next companies together. We’re thinking wireless energy transferring, unless pCell does it first, or an alternative high school focused on entrepreneurship.

Could you ever work for someone else? I work for my teammates, clients, and investors every day. I love getting them results.

What do you do to relax? Work….out, but mostly just work. I play the piano and enjoy composing music. Netflix is also really good-I’m a big fan of Archer and Family Guy. A lot of us ride motorcycles so we’ll go racing down PCH.

Has it really already been 2 years?!

It’s been almost two years since I took a U-HAUL and moved my life from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I was going to start my next company with 4 people I had never met. One was a professional poker player; another built two top 10 apps as a college sophomore; another was a self-taught programmer who built a commodities trading management platform; and another was a tech guru who ran hacker sites. Today, David, Zach, Alex, and Navdeep are my co-founders, housemates, and best friends. We’ve grown to 35 teammates just in our LA headquarters. We now have teams in San Francisco, London, and Slovakia. Maybe we’ll get Enplug software up into space in the next two years.

Our design team made a lovely 60-second video (we’re the short attention span generation) about Enplug and our team. Enjoy!

 

On the Front Page of Fast Company

Our team was so thrilled when we saw that we were featured on the front of the Fast Company‘s website. Fast is one of my favorite magazines so it was truly an honor to be written about on their site. Thank you to Lisa Nicole Bell and Fast Tech Co-Editor Chris Dannen for the great article! Check it out here: www.fastcompany.com/3005041/startup-slumber-party-how-living-your-cofounders-can-save-your-company

Fast Company Article Front Page screenshot