The Key to Jumprope's Success? Not Rushing the Idea
January 2017 seemed like the perfect time for Jake Poses to start a company. He’d just left Thumbtack, the services marketplace unicorn he joined as the company’s first Project Manager five years prior, and therefore had access to capital, talented team members, and rapid growth experience. He was in his late 20s and saw many former colleagues scratching the founder itch themselves. The table was set for Jake to create his business.
But before he dove in, Jake sat down with a partner at Sequoia Capital named Bryan Schreier who told him that while he had no doubt in Jake’s ability to start a company, the biggest mistake he could make was to jump into an idea just for the sake of entrepreneurship. Jake remembers Schreier saying that people who grow and leave unicorns often make that mistake, and the lesson stuck.
Instead of spending weeks ideating and brainstorming and setting up meetings, Jake went to five continents in Q1 2017. He spent a lot of time in Myanmar, where he boated around lakes of villages on stilts and biked around mountains full of abandoned temples. He cooked with locals, went on trips with friends, traveled solo, and in general, removed himself from the burden of entrepreneurial creativity.
While out filling up his passport, Jake found himself taking a lot of videos of his travels. At some point, he realized the shorter, click-through format lent itself well to educational videos. The idea percolated, continued to spin around his mental cycles, and that’s how he knew to start Jumprope. In June 2017, he founded the how-to video tool and platform that helps individuals create and distribute content on everything from traveling to cooking to education to home DIY to fitness.
Building a company based on his own journey and natural interests has worked — millions of people viewed a Jumprope last month.
“It's not a surprise that this was the idea that I gravitated to in the sense that I've always been interested in learning and how people discover information,” Jake says. “In some ways, Jumprope is a new type of distributed media company or social media company. We're just empowering everyday people to create, frankly, better content than they're creating from their kitchens, their bathrooms, and their garages.”
By stepping away from the immediate problem and letting the idea come to him, Jake was able to create a company that ties together not just his interests, but experience. He’s a former college newspaper editor, as he led the sports section at Duke’s The Chronicle, and flirted with the idea of working in news media after school. When that didn’t happen, he instead became a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, then a private equity associate at Bain Capital and a student at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
None of those things felt like enough of a risk, though. They all felt like logical moves for someone on a corporate track. In between his first and second year at Stanford, Jake wrote a long email to Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, when the company was just four people, and told him that he had a plan to monetize the company. When Systrom told him the company wasn’t at the right point for a business intern, Jake went to Thumbtack. Eight weeks into the internship, he dropped out of Stanford to become the company’s first Project Manager, something he’d never done professionally before. By the time he left, Jake was managing almost 60 people and Thumbtack had a valuation of $1.25B.
“I feel really lucky to have gotten to go on one of these journeys of seeing multiple stages of a company and feeling like my job changed dramatically every six, eight months,” Jake said. “Seeing a company that for the first year or two had no momentum, no one wanted to give any money to, and then grow to the other side of it by raising huge rounds as the hot Silicon Valley tech company. I got to spend a reasonable amount of time in both modes and learned a lot from that.”
At Jumprope, the goal is to empower people to share their own knowledge through videos without having to learn Final Cut Pro or other complicated editing tools. The intuitive software allows creators to build and post their Jumpropes both on the platform and on other social media sites, functionality that has led to explosive growth.
Views are up more than 10x year over year, and Jumprope recently became a featured company on Google Discover next to established media brands like Vice and Vogue. The company raised a $4.5M seed round, led by Lightspeed, and is expanding in a way that points toward long-term, sustainable growth. The type of growth you see from a founder pouring themselves into a company they care about, not just something that seemed like a good market fit.
“I was definitely not ready to start a company after Thumbtack,” Jake said. “Taking that time off helped me recharge and my appetite to start a company and my openness of seeing opportunities in the world started. I needed to step away from the problem I was actually trying to solve to give my brain space the space to make connections about other things in the world."
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