[quote style=”boxed”]Raise money if it will help your business grow, but don’t raise money to build your business![/quote]
Ash Kumra is an award-winning entrepreneur and public speaker who was recently recognized by the White House as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs making an impact on America. Ash is currently a co-founder of DreamItAlive.com, an online community dedicated to guiding people to create, believe and live out their dreams using virtual dreamboards. Ash is also the co-leader of the Startup California Team for Startup America, which was founded by the White House/Steve Case, and he is chairman for southern California-based Tech Coast Venture Network.
Ash has spoken to more than 10,000 people on the subjects of entrepreneurship, social media and branding for many colleges, institutions, and organizations, including the White House, TEDx, Occidental College, Chapman University, UCLA, USC, Concordia University, and UC Irvine Merage Business School. Ash is also a co-founder of digital content distribution agency DesiYou, the 2010 recipient for Best Digital Media Company by the Irvine Entrepreneur Forum. Ash is an active adviser to various consumer internet ventures.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on my venture DreamItAlive.com, an online community dedicated to helping people all over the world create, believe and live out their dreams using virtual dreamboards. You can check mine here.
Where did the idea for DreamItAlive.com come from?
One of my founders/partners, Anita Dhaliwal, had an idea of creating an online community where “dreamers” could share their aspirations, intentions and goals utilizing digital dreamboards. We, along with our other founder/partner Erin Mester, decided the world needs this community so that everyone can manifest their dreams!
What does your typical day look like?
I don’t have a typical schedule time-wise. I focus my days to have a balance of the following three things, with item #1 being 70% of each day:
- DreamItAlive.com (my main focus is on strategic partnerships and scaling the business)
- Public speaking/writing (I am currently finishing up my upcoming entrepreneurship book scheduled for release this fall 2012)
- Advisory work and giving back (I am an adviser to various consumer internet ventures and am helping to lead efforts for various entrepreneurship groups, including Tech Coast Venture Network, the largest Orange County-based entrepreneurship group, Startup California, and the Young Entrepreneurship Council)
How do you bring ideas to life?
I first like to incubate them in a quiet place, often via meditation, to visualize the outcome. I then map them out—sometimes using goal-setting tools and even adding to my own dreamboard. And then I leverage my network and resources to make them happen.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The current state of entrepreneurship. There’s never been a better time to fulfill your passion and dream venture. There seems to be more available resources, mentors, smart investors and like-minded dreamers and believers with energy to guide you.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I don’t have a “worst job,” since I learn from every experience to do better in the next one and to gain relationships. Clearly, a high-traffic retail store was one of the toughest environments I ever worked in, and I encourage everyone to try it since you have to cater immediately to customers’ needs and wants.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Nothing; everything happens for a reason. Every day I learn from the past and focus on how to be excellent moving forward.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Meditate one to two times per day. No matter how busy you are, your soul needs some “chill” time to reflect, prepare and visualize your dream life.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have had many, but one is not pivoting early enough for my first business venture. I let my ego get in the way, and I thought I could overcome this at any cost. While I did pivot later, I made a lot of mistakes in the process to deflect this. I learned that sometimes it’s okay to fail fast and move on.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There is so much opportunity in the e-book format and publishing arena. The fact that almost every major consumer tech company (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Sony, etc.) is creating more tablets and mobile phones for content consumption should tell you this.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Adapt tools like Dreamboards and meditation for school curriculum. One can’t rise solely on textbooks and structured lessons. Students also need creative time so they can dream. Why else was the term “American Dream” created?
Tell us a secret.
I love beautiful eyes, Starbucks and the smell of jasmines.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
- Linkedin keeps me connected with my network and helps me build relationships to make the world better.
- Facebook is a great communication tool for expressing my own dreams and thoughts.
- DreamItAlive.com. I think it is obvious, but to summarize, it allows me to help visualize my own purpose in life while helping others to make the world better with theirs.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. It’s a good segue into “conscious capitalism”—a system where businesses are profitable while simultaneously making the world better.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
- Deepak Chopra is the modern-age spiritual business guru.
- Tony Robbins. His focus on making you unleash your own passion is great!
- Mark Cuban is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. His journey to becoming a billionaire is no-nonsense and authentic.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh out loud literally every hour of my life, when I’m not sleeping. I laugh when I meet like-minded people, create ventures that make the world better, and get to help someone fulfill their dreams. Laughter, to me, is a sign of celebration.
Who is your hero?
Richard Branson. He is so present with what’s needed to make the world better, and he builds ventures that come from his own dreams.
Should you raise money for your business?
Raise money if it will help your business grow, but don’t raise money to build your business!
How do you find your true passion?
It’s the thing that you dream, desire and talk about non-stop. It’s something that doesn’t feel like work!