When Ben Lamm was in middle school, his mother told him to mow the lawn while she ran a few errands. Upon returning home, she found a neighborhood kid finishing the grass. When she found Ben playing video games, he said, "I gave him some of my allowance, so we all came out ahead."
No one could argue against his business chops. As a high school senior in 1999, Lamm taught himself Macromedia Flash before it evolved into Adobe and sold his first website for $20,000. In his junior year at Baylor University, while carrying a double major of Accounting and Finance, he told one of his professors that they were going to be business partners. Never mind the latter didn't know his student's name. Less than two years later, the professor was working for Lamm's first startup.
Lamm's mind is wired differently than most. Even his personality is atypical compared to the majority of successful serial entrepreneurs, a hybrid combination of Types A and B--competitive, high-energy and ambitious, yet naturally social, authentic, fast-forward button talkative yet chill to the point of showing up for business meetings with potential investors wearing a T-shirt and flip-flops, not to mention the long hair and unkempt beard.
"Work and life are complicated enough without that extra layer of trying to be who you aren't," Lamm says.
For every prosperous entrepreneur, there are failed ventures. It's the cost of playing the game. Thus far, though, Lamm has proven an exception. Each of his previous four startups have grown into wildly successful companies before selling at high profit margins.
First there was Simply Interactive, an e-learning software business Lamm launched in college. Then there was Chaotic Moon, an Austin-based creative studio that grew to more than 200 employees and $50 million in yearly revenue before being purchased by Accenture. Next was Team Chaos, a game development venture that sold to Zynga, followed by Conversable, which teamed with the likes of Whole Foods and Pizza Hut by using automated software to interact with customers via social media.
"I know a lot of people like to say they are product people, but I'm more of a brand guy," Lamm says. "A lot of startups won't spend the proper time to brand. They are obsessed with revenue. You want the story to resonate. We shouldn't need a mission statement with five bullet points."
True to form, for his latest, and without question most ambitious enterprise, Lamm spent six months branding Hypergiant...