Uber is the one-button smartphone applications that will bring the driver of a high-end luxury car or SUV to the curb nearest you. And Travis Kalanick is the stubborn and brilliant UCLA-grad who has kept his startup, Uber, rolling in dozens of cities despite lawsuits and cease-and-desist letters originating from the complaints of taxi companies. Since Kalanick argues Uber is technically a software company, he defends his ride service app by saying it shouldn’t be bound by the same laws and regulations as other ride hail companies. Uber customers are also happy to speak up to defend the service they use (and pay, on average, 1.5 times more for than a ride from a taxi). So, despite the cease-and-desist letters, Kalanick presses on.
With his legendary tenacity, Kalanick is taking Uber into areas beyond rides, though. His investors are interested in the app’s ability to transport anything on a moment’s notice within local boundaries, challenging the likes of other shipping and mailing services and piquing the interest of companies like Amazon and Google.
Perseverance has earned Kalanick mixed results in the past. His first co-founding pursuit was in a peer-to-peer file search engine, similar to Napster. We know how that startup ended. The defeat of Scour seemed to fuel Kalanick’s ego. He took that loss personally and fought for years to make his second venture a $23M success. It wasn’t smooth sailing though. That success only came after fall-outs with colleagues and friends, and going without a paycheck for nearly three years. While Kalanick has reportedly said he has “1000 things more important to do” than giving an interview, we dug up some quotes from the guy who is 3.5 years into what could be his most successful startup yet.
“I got really good at negotiating from a place of weakness.”
“Every time you add complexity to your business model, it just makes it harder for suppliers and your partners to understand it.”
“Jamming on ideas, rapping on what’s next is what entrepreneurs do.”
“Stand by your principles and be comfortable with confrontation. So few people are, so when the people with the red tape come, it becomes a negotiation.”
“At the end of the day you still have to make something people want. You have find a way to produce it. You have to find a way to distribute it.”
“I have a list of the hardest, most challenging problems that our company needs to solve and I start at the top and work my way down. And I have a list of the coolest most fascinating things that we can invent and I start at the top of the list and I work my way down.”
“In a lot of ways, it’s not the money that allows you to do new things. It’s the growth and the ability to find things that people want and to use your creativity to target those.”
“When something’s fun, it’s obvious. That’s when you just need to do more of it.”
“Fear is the disease. Hustle is the antidote… Whatever it is that you’re afraid of, go after it.”
—Travis Kalanick, Founder of Uber