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The most successful founder in history

Bill Gross shares what he’s learned from growing 7 companies from zero to $1 billion


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In this episode of the Tony Robbins podcast, you’ll hear from Bill Gross – an entrepreneur who has started and exited from 7 COMPANIES valued at more than $1 BILLION each. He is truly one of the GREATEST entrepreneurs of ALL TIME.

Bill looks for opportunities that are BIG and broken and then brainstorms technology solutions to fix them. Twenty-three years ago, he started Idealab – a company that Tony Robbins is involved with today.

During its more than two decades, Idealab has started more than 150 companies, created more than 10,000 jobs, and had more than 45 successful IPOs and acquisitions. Bill Gross and his management teams have started and exited from 7 valued at $1B each, and their latest venture, Energy Vault, just secured $110M Series B funding from the Softbank Vision Fund to further its aim to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels. Energy Vault also just won Fast Company’s 2019 World Changing Ideas Awards in Energy.

Bill creates a new company idea EVERY single day. And what’s even better, is that he’s making an incredible impact on the world.

This episode is split into two parts. In part one of this podcast episode, you’re going to hear Bill’s Top 10 Lessons of ALL TIME as a serial entrepreneur, and then later in part 2, you’ll hear Tony’s interview with him – where he shares his advice on raising capital, how to pitch investors, and his vision for the future – and how that affects your business and your career.


[01:00] Tony’s introduction of Bill Gross
[04:55] Journey started selling candy at the bus stop
[05:20] Made $400 selling candy in junior high school
[05:50] Bough a shop smith tool to make new things
[06:43] Buying gasoline during energy crisis
[07:18] Bill’s early interest in renewable energy
[07:48] Started first company selling solar kits at 15
[08:07] The major tenet of mail order: Test everything
[09:10] Bill makes speakers in college
[09:43] GNP loud speakers pays his way through college
[10:08] Bill gets a $5,000 PC to computerize his business
[10:29] Made natural language program to make it easier to use Lotus
[11:00] Lotus acquired company for $10 million
[11:35] Bill moves to Boston to work for Lotus
[11:59] Bill’s inspiration to create educational software
[12:40] Bill starts Knowledge Venture in 1991
[13:20] Sold Knowledge Venture for $90 million in 1995
[14:08] Netscape IPO brings pportunity to talk to 30M people on internet
[15:02] The to start Idealab technology incubator
[15:30] Providing equity to employees unleashes potential
[16:01] Bill has first 12 ideas for companies
[16:40] 7/12 companies raise enough capital
[17:30] Painful lessons learned over 40 years
[17:51] Wrong timing for Evolution Robotics
[18:31] Company pivoted, and sold to iRobot
[19:00] Dream to build ergonomic vehicle to save fuel
[19:50] Starting Picassa, which sold to Google
[20:43] eSolar and GoTo – solving pain points
[21:15] The inefficiency of banner ads
[21:55] The idea of pay per click
[23:15] Lesson 1: You need to find a contrarian idea that’s true
[24:53] Lesson 2: The importance of timing
[25:49] Your timing is only right if your idea is accepted as self evident
[26:03] Example of
[26:59] Being way too early is worse than being too late
[28:00] Uber had to wait for something else to happen to exist
[28:38] Lesson 3: Don’t be dilution sensitive
[29:20] Choose the best investor, not the highest valuation
[29:34] Motivate your staff by sharing equity


[02:20] Tony introduces Bill
[02:46] Where Bill’s optimism comes from
[03:25] Finding joy in trying to fix broken thing
[03:48] Update on Carbon Capture
[04:30] Story of selling his company to Lotus
[05:13] Find a truth you know that others do not know
[05:55] Ben Rosen takes story back to Lotus
[06:25] Bill gets inspired by Multimedia PC
[06:55] How Bill created Idealab incubator
[07:45] When entrepreneurs should look for venture capital
[08:47] How Bill funded Knowledge Venture
[09:15] Showing your passion is important to show investors
[09:33] Bill’s advice on raising money
[10:36] Don’t try to raise what you need forever
[11:20] Bill’s philosophy on incentivizing employees
[12:15] Building camaraderie through incentives
[12:55] Importance of being generous in business deals
[13:20] Sharing the downsides before closing a deal
[14:16] The reasons companies succeed vs. fail
[14:45] Timing and execution matter the most
[15:36] How to know if it’s the right timing
[16:20] Missing the timing signals at
[16:45] What separates Idealab apart from other incubators
[17:24] Bill’s biggest failure that’s turned into success
[18:25] Navigating through the dot com crash
[19:00] When you should and shouldn’t take outside money
[19:31] Example: Sharing the story of EnergyVault
[20:03] How EnergyVault customers are changing the energy landscape
[20:38] The 3 technologies that will change our lives in the future
[21:48] What Bill would like to be remembered for

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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