EL 022: Lessons Learned in Entrepreneurship and Doing Business in America, with Lauris Liberts, Founder of Latvia’s Largest Social Network
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“You are never perfect. You might not know [the] finance part; you might not know the law side; and you might not be the techie; but when you adapt, you know your strengths and weaknesses, then you can pursue your goals.” – Lauris Liberts, on being an entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs, marketers, and social media experts, you are in for a treat! The CEO of Draugiem, Lauris Liberts, who rose from a busboy to building the largest social network with nearly 3 million registered users in Latvia, exemplifies so much humility. He will be the first one to admit he had more than 10 businesses that failed. Liberts feels like failures are normally less advertised but he sees them as a stepping stone that will connect him to where he wants to be.
@LaurisLiberts or email Lauris Liberts at firstname.lastname@example.org
Unlike a lot of careful planners, Lauris Liberts’ style is that he would design a product, put it out in a month or two, and then see how the market reacts to it. It might not be perfect but Liberts loves getting the customers’ firsthand feedback – it’s his motto. He believes in real, tangible products.
For those of you who are thinking about starting a business in Europe or practically anywhere in the world, Lauris Liberts brings up a good point (which my previous podcast guest Daliah Saper had brought up as well): Identify your niche is the first step towards building a sustainable and successful business.
(One of the most popular products on Startup Vitamins, the “Get Shit DONE” Mug, as mentioned in the podcast)
In this interview you’ll learn:
- 01’00” How Liberts started his first online business
- 06’01” Liberts’ failure stories and how he sees it
- 09’07” How Liberts started Draugiem in 2004
- 17’28” The future of social in Europe
- 19’51” Liberts’ Startup Vitamins
- 24’55” Book recommendation – Blue Ocean Strategy
- 26’40” Liberts’ advice/motto
Written Podcast Transcript:
Jacob: Welcome to the Enchanting Lawyer Podcast. This is Jacob Sapochnick. I’m very excited to have very, very special guest today, Lauris Liberts.
Lauris is an amazing entrepreneur from Latvia. He’s had several, several companies over there. In fact, one of his biggest companies, Draugiem, is Facebook competitor in Europe; still the most dominant competitor to Facebook in Europe even today. Recently, he moved to the US. He continues to excel in business and startups.
Lauris, welcome to our show. How are you today?
Lauris: Thank you. I’m good. Thank you very much for having me.
Jacob: Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself before you came to the US?
Lauris: As you mentioned, we still have social network back in Latvia. To be more precise, we’re not the dominant player in Europe but in a country called Latvia. We started social network called Draugiem which in English means ‘for friends’ exactly 10 years ago.
Actually, we started almost the same month as Facebook was started. We had very, very similar concept: using real names, last names, newsfeed, and apps. We’re still one of the few countries in the world that has not been taken over by Facebook. The other countries are Russia, China, these enormous [unclear 00:01:36] countries that are [unclear 00:01:39] and where Facebook is not allowed to operate.
So, we started 10 years ago and out of Draugiem we grew into other businesses. A couple of years ago I felt like we’ve accomplished what we could in Latvia because it’s a very small market. It’s only 2 million people and I was still young and I thought that I would have more options, more chances if I went abroad.
We moved to US three-and-a-half years ago. Even though we had a couple of ideas, it did not work out. But on this journey here in US we found some other businesses that are picking up and doing great.
To continue reading the complete transcript from this podcast, click here.
If you prefer to watch the discussion in action, here is my recorded interview with Lauris Liberts (please refresh your browser a few times if it isn’t loaded properly the first time):
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