Mike Jones, CEO of Science, is an Internet executive, investor and strategic advisor. As an active early stage investor, Mike has personally invested in over 30 startup businesses including Klout, Betterworks, Formspring, ShoeDazzle and LunchMoney to name a few. Erik Huberman, CEO of Hawke Media, talks to Mike about how he became an entrepreneur, the Silicon Beach scene and Science Media, Inc.
Erik Huberman: How did you become an entrepreneur?
Mike Jones: I came from a long history of entrepreneurs. Almost all of my close relatives are entrepreneurs; my parents are entrepreneurs, my parent’s parents and even their parents’ parents were all entrepreneurs, so it’s sort of built into my DNA. I started companies really early in high school, and then some real companies with size in college. It was just the way I was born and raised.
E: Tell me about Science.
M: We build, buy and invest in companies, most of them headquartered here in Santa Monica. We focus on two areas: companies that facilitate growth (typically targeting Millennials), and consumer products, brands and services. Some of the businesses we’ve been involved in as early investors are Dollar Shave Club and DogVacay, both that went on to raise large rounds of equity. In addition, we have a portfolio of businesses right here in Santa Monica, like HomeHero (elderly care) or HelloSociety (that also provides a world of growth services). We look for young entrepreneurs to work with and provide them with capital and a lot of structured resources. I think we’re good at building strong, long lasting businesses.
E: What made you choose Santa Monica?
M: I’ve been operating companies in Santa Monica for probably the last five or ten years. I love operating in Santa Monica. I think it provides a great community and environment for the staff and for me. I live on the Westside along with most of the founders of Science, so this is a great, convenient place to house us all.
E: What do you think of the Silicon Beach scene?
M: I think it’s great to have a community formed around entrepreneurship, it also makes it much easier for investors when they can come to one part of town and spend a lot of time meeting up with different companies. Since we’re still fairly light here on local venture capital, we really rely on San Francisco-based funds to spend a lot of time in Santa Monica. If I can make it easier on them to meet with four or five different companies within a few block radius, that’s all benefit for us.
E: How is Science changing the world?
M: We’re certainly changing it by starting locally. Our goal right now is building multiple companies in Santa Monica that will become long-term sustainable businesses and hopefully support up to thousands of jobs. For us right now, we’d like to see some pioneering businesses here based in Los Angeles and headquartered in Santa Monica, that are really leading the frontier of whatever markets we go after. From there will be expanding. We recently did a big acquisition of a company in San Francisco – the first time we’ve bought a company in San Francisco – and it’s nice for me to look at a Santa Monica based entity buying companies in the Valley versus the opposite, which is more typical.
E: Do you have one piece of advice for an entrepreneur starting their own business?
M: To be an entrepreneur, you have to be a really strong self-starter. You have to accept no excuses you give yourself to prevent you from going after whatever you’re going after. Great entrepreneurs find a way to start. They don’t let anyone’s feedback prohibit them from trying their vision. My biggest suggestion to an entrepreneur is just start going, start talking to people about what you’re doing, start trying and testing it. Find what works and put everything you have into it. It’s definitely a game of passion and dedication.
E: What’s something you’d like to share with Santa Monica?
M: Although we recognize there’s a scene here, if you’re an inhabitant of Santa Monica there’s a lot of really neat startups here you may not be aware of. Companies that are making products and services that you use every day that happen to be based right here in Santa Monica. I think it’s a neat time for the Santa Monica market to have exciting startups to connect with. I think if we can find a way connect those startups with the local community here, it’s even better to get that local community support behind what we’re all trying to do.