Brian and his team went five years with little or no revenue. Revenues started flowing in year six, and now, in the 10th year, the company is doing over $5 million in revenue, growing 80% y-o-y.
Read Inspire’s journey of resilience and persistence.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Brian Loew: I grew up in Northern Virginia in the suburbs of Washington DC. Both my parents are teachers. My father is a university professor. My mother was an elementary school teacher and, later, a computer programmer. I grew up as a sort of normal suburban kid. I went to the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, which was a big influence. Then I went on to George Washington University and double majored in Physics and Economics. I was always the entrepreneurial kid.
When I was eight years old, I raised guppies and sold them. In my senior year in college, I started a company that sold computers in Africa. When I graduated, I went to work for the science journal Nature. I was in their Washington office. In 1993, the world wide web was born. I think we had one of the earliest Internet connections. It blew my mind. I called up some friends to come over to the office at night. We were just wowed by it. I was very much into publishing. I was running the publication of four monthly journals of Nature. I felt that there was a real opportunity to do publishing online. This was in the very early days of the web.
My friends and I quit our jobs and we started a web company at the end of 1994. That was my first real business. I called up a cousin who had been a successful entrepreneur and asked him how to raise money. He taught me how and invested some of his own money. I raised an angel round there and a couple of venture capital rounds, and grew a successful company out of that, which I sold in 2000.
Sramana Mitra: What was the business?
Brian Loew: It was called worldweb.net. It was an online content management software company. It was really a wild ride. I was young. I guess I did that from about 25 to 30. I had a good education but I didn’t have an MBA. I learned on the fly. I had great mentors – a couple of really successful people who were generous enough to be mentors to me. I learned a lot through success and failure. World Web grew to 150 employees from the four of us who had started it.