On a spring break trip to Morocco while studying abroad, Jamie Wong, co-founder and CEO of Vayable, discovered her love for travel and desire to have unique experiences. When she spoke yesterday morning at the inaugural Big Kansas City, Wong used her experiences traveling to more than 35 different countries to stress the importance of embracing originality and following passions in order to be a successful entrepreneur.
Wong and her team at Vayable—an online service that aims to help travelers have unique and meaningful experiences—work to embody her belief that “life-changing experiences are addictive.”
“This is what we do, which is empowering people to make a living doing what they love, monetizing their resources and showing travelers a unique experience they would never have been able to access in guidebooks or through traditional tour operators,” she said.
Drawing on extensive personal and professional experience, Wong shared some of her top lessons on entrepreneurship with Wednesday’s crowd:
- Validate your assumptions: Before investing resources in a new marketing strategy or product idea, confirm that it is something your consumer is actually interested in. “This will save you a lot of time and money and heartache,” Wong said.
- Play to your strengths: Wong warned entrepreneurs against focusing on the skills they would like to have rather than those they do possess: “Play to your own [strengths] and that is enough.”
- Embrace your delusions: After attending graduate school at Columbia University, Wong worked on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and realized where her true passion lay. “I wanted to be able to reach that many people and build a platform that could touch every corner of the world the way he had, and it wasn’t because that’s crazy. I am insane, but so are you because you’re here. So embrace that. Embrace your delusions, because that is the starting point of entrepreneurship.”
- Build the world you want to live in: “This, for me, is the number one lesson,” Wong said. “Because life is how you spend your time, as my grandmother used to tell me. And there’s no point going out and risking everything—the odds are stacked against you when you start a company—if you’re not actually building the world you want to live in and believe in.”
Big Kansas City is a two-and-a-half-day event that aims to inspire, educate and celebrate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the heart of the Midwest. Produced by Silicon Prairie News, it’s part of the Big Series, the nation’s most ambitious events on innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Big Kansas City Video Series is presented by NIC, Inc.
NIC Inc. is the nation’s leading provider of official government portals, online services, and secure payment processing solutions. The company’s innovative eGovernment services help reduce costs and increase efficiencies for government agencies, citizens, and businesses across the country.