RAY LI, 29
Sene, a La Brea maker of custom suits, with online fitting and 3-D scanning.
Financials: $300,000 raised
What led you to start your own business?
I did brand consulting for a number of years, helping consumer goods and technology companies transform their brands. After a while, I wanted the challenge of building something from scratch and to shape all aspects of the experience.
Where did you get the startup money?
When we first started, it was nights and weekends while working my full-time job. Then it got busy enough to go all in, and I bootstrapped it for a while using personal savings. This spring was the first time we raised a small amount from angels.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge is focus. There’s countless good things to do, but are simply a distraction from the truly mission-critical things that will drive the brand and business forward. There’s only 24 hours in a day, so it’s often more about saying no then saying yes.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
Herb Kelleher has this great quote: “Act big and you’ll get small. Act small and you’ll get big.” Don’t get caught up in the hype, just focus on making great products and growing profitably.
How many hours a day do you put in?
Ten to 14 hours a day, six days a week. And my wife and I just started a new routine of going on a half-day road trip once a week. It’s amazing to get away.
Has your youth led to any awkward situations, such as when you supervise older employees?
People typically think I’m older since I’m an owner, so it hasn’t been much of an issue.
Would you start another company?
For sure. I’m hooked.
Could you ever work for someone else?
I think flexibility is something I value a lot, so it would have to be an environment where you can still be entrepreneurial.
What do you do to unwind?
My wife and I love to go on day trips and also go hiking. Sometimes we need to get away from everything that feels familiar to truly relax.
– Caroline Anderson
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