Former 'Apprentice' star shares tips for business success at thinkspace in Redmond
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
June 15, 2012 · 1:44 PM
James Sun, CEO of the consumer deals company Pirq, spoke at the event entitled "Raw and Unfiltered: What it Takes to be an Entrepreneur" and shared the good and bad that comes with starting a business.
Before founding the Kirkland-based company — which currently offers deals in the greater Seattle and San Francisco areas — Sun was a finalist on Donald Trump's reality show, "The Apprentice" and hosted a British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) television show called "War on Business" that took him around the world to meet with entrepreneurs and help them grow their businesses using principles from Sun Tzu's "The Art of War."
Pirq, which was founded in February 2011, is a mobile application for smart phones and offers instant deals that require no pre-payment, unlike other similar companies such as Groupon and Living Social.
"We're the only ones who do that," Sun said.
THE PATH TOWARD SUCCESS
During his speech, one of the first things Sun spoke about was how to be successful and what success means.
"There are many combinations to success," he said, explaining that everyone's path is different.
Sun, who lives in Kirkland, also added that success doesn't always equal money if a person is not passionate about what they are doing.
"Can you master change?" Sun asked the crowd.
He said his father taught him that when setting a goal, it was important to stay on a straight path to achieving that goal. But Sun said running a business — especially one in the tech industry — is not the same as it used to be and it is necessary step off that path to keep up with all the changes.
"We literally have a pivot every day," he said, referring to the twists and turns that come with running Pirq. "You almost have to habitually learn to pivot.
A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT
In addition to Sun's speech, Thursday's event was also the grand opening of thinkspace's MIH, a new workspace on the ground floor of the thinkspace building, located at 8201 164th Ave. N.E.
With open team spaces, conference rooms, standing work stations and individual desk and computer stations, the MIH emphasizes the benefits of working in a collaborative environment.
Thinkspace Chief Operations Officer Alyssa Magnotti said the MIH allows small business owners and entrepreneurs to surround themselves with "like-minded people" with similar goals of success, even if their business ventures are different. As Magnotti put it, it is "better to work together than alone."
"It's a lot more about the people," she said about the MIH.
This aspect of the MIH aligns with thinkspace's mission to "build a strong community of entrepreneurs, tech startups, small businesses, and non-profits which share similar core values."
Redmond City Council President Pat Vache, who attended Thursday's event, agreed. As a client, he utilizes thinkspaces offices for his human resources company HR Kinections. Vache said thinkspace is a great place for exchanging ideas.
"All the resources are here to get a business started, including the opportunity to talk with people who think the same way," he said.
A MOBILE FUTURE
As its name implies the MIH also caters toward the mobile workforce — both in the variety of workspaces available and in the technological features of the hub.
Thinkspace is teaming up with HTC to create a device lab onsite with multiple mobile devices so people who are creating mobile applications can test their products without the expensive alternative of purchasing the devices themselves.
"We're really excited to be part of the local startup community," said HTC development evangelist Leigh Momii.
City of Redmond economic development manager Erika Vandenbrande was also in attendance and said the MIH could have a great impact on the city's economic vitality as the mobile applications industry is growing. She added that all of the new technology being developed is spilling over into other fields such as medicine and aerospace.
"Somebody in this room could be the next Microsoft … It's a whole new conversation happening," she said Thursday.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.