When Jason Nazar was in his last year at Pepperdine University getting his dual J.D.-MBA degree, he spent much of his time working as a consultant to startups.
Their biggest frustration? An inability to find necessary documents online, from business plans to licensing agreements. So after graduating, he founded Docstoc.com, a free online database and social networking site that allows users to store, search and share virtually any type of document.
Just three years later, the site attracts 12 million users a month, and Nazar expects the business, which employs 13, to be profitable in a year. He relies on a simple principle as CEO.
“I think you need to lead by example, which establishes credible integrity and honesty at your company,” he said. “In a startup, that role is much more critical than at a large corporation because you interact with the staff and investors on a much more intimate and frequent basis.”
But as much as his success has elevated his standing in the tech community, he’s also made a name for himself as a leading booster of the local tech scene, as it tries to move out of the shadow of its Northern California rival.
“I don’t think we all should have to move to Silicon Valley to have a great career and innovative products in technology,” said Nazar, an L.A. native who attended Beverly Hills High. “What needs to be done is networking here so that we can all help each other.”
Nazar has founded and hosts a free seminar series, Startups Uncensored, that’s held at least once a month and attracts aspiring entrepreneurs who want advice, and to hook up with successful tech entrepreneurs and executives.
“I have had other people reach out and help me, so these seminars are my way of trying to pay that forward,” Nazar said. “I am not this supersuccessful person, but I might be just a step ahead of other people who want to get there.”
Indeed, Nazar’s made connections fast after deciding he wanted to start his company even though he didn’t have a tech background or degree. He was able to secure funding for Docstoc from tech heavyweights such as Robin Richards, founding president of MP3.com; Rick Smith, former managing editor at Palomar Ventures; and Brett Brewer, co-founder of Intermix.
These days, tech entrepreneurs are crediting Nazar for playing matchmaker for them.
“I’ve been on the tech scene since 1995 here, but Jason has helped me make connections,” said Jeffrey Tinsley, founder and chief executive of MyLife.com (formerly Reunion.com). “The reason though that people are so attracted to him is because he is driven, smart and just a nice guy. You feel like you can trust him.”
Friends and associates of Nazar who knew him before he entered the tech world wouldn’t be surprised at his high profile.
While at Pepperdine, he served as student body president. He also co-founded the school’s annual business plan competition that helps students develop real-life startups.
Even before Pepperdine, Nazar had a history of motivating people and engendering trust. Straight out of college at UC Santa Barbara, he decided to become a motivational speaker. He actually spent two years on the speaker circuit.
Then one night while sitting around preparing for his next engagement at the ripe old age of 24, he just knew something was not right.
“I was reading all these self-help books the night before and regurgitating them to audiences of people looking for meaning in their work and lives,” Nazar said. “And I just realized that I had to go out and experience success and failure to genuinely become a motivational speaker. I needed more life experience.”
JASON NAZAR, 31
YEARS ON THE JOB: 3
QUOTE: “I think you need to lead by example, which establishes credible integrity and honesty at your company.”