Eden Chen, 29
Fishermen Labs, an El Segundo startup that develops apps, websites, and virtual reality and augmented reality content.
Financials: Self-funded; 2016 revenue of about $4 million, projected 2017 revenue of $8 million to $12 million.
What led you to start your own business?
I was interested in building a long-term work culture that included working with a group of intelligent makers, creating the highest-quality technology products, having a lot of fun at work but not being obsessed about always working, and giving people freedom without the burden of red tape.
Where did you get the startup money?
We bootstrapped the company and focused on cash flow early. We did not buy things before we had the money, we didn’t hire before we had contracts, and we didn’t commit to projects that we couldn’t deliver on.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
Scaling a company is more difficult than I expected. There are constant operational red flags that come up on a weekly basis, and we always need to tweak our process.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
Find people to work with that you enjoy being around, trust, and aspire to learn from. Life is too short to work with people who are entitled and think they are a big deal.
How many hours a day do you put in?
Ten to 12 hours a day during the weekday and four hours on Sunday; almost never work on Saturday.
Has your youth led to any awkward situations, such as when you supervise older employees?
About half the people that I supervise are older than me, but it hasn’t really led to awkward situations that I’m aware of. We try to focus on work merit.
Would you start another company?
Yes. I love business and building products, and I envision that I’ll continue doing that in one form or another for the rest of my life.
Could you ever work for someone else?
I think I could. When I first started Fishermen Labs, I told myself that I was doing it partly because I could never work for someone. I’ve realized that there is so much that I can learn from those older than me, and there’s a lot I can learn in a role where I’m not the boss.
What do you do to unwind?
I spend time in prayer and reading the Bible, and I play basketball.
– Caroline Anderson