In 1996, Daniel Yomtobian was 17, still in high school and working at Von’s Supermarket. His plan at that time was to make it his career, to work his way up to store manager and then district manager. But his father had a friend that was doing web design in the early days of the internet. Daniel talked to him and was inspired to take a two-day class on web design and then started offering his talents as a service. He soon realized there was a value in domain names and was an early success in buying and selling URLs. One thing led to another and he started making enough money where his dreams of working for a grocery store gave way to an entrepreneurial career that has helped him become the business owner, family man and philanthropist that he has always wanted to be.
Daniel recently started an investment company called Bian Capital. Bian Capital invests in tech-focused businesses and allows Daniel to help grow the business strategically with his knowledge and experience. It’s a “roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-involved” kind of investment that suits the creative entrepreneur perfectly as he continues to evolve his career and goals to be a philanthropist. Today Daniel Yomtobian runs his operations out of Los Angeles, California, and has dealings all over the country.
Where did the idea for Bian Capital come from?
Growing up, I was underprivileged. I didn’t have a lot of opportunities. I see how people that are in compromised positions don’t have a lot of options. Now that I’ve been able to be successful independently, I want to help others. I really look for specific charities that resonate with me and that have a really positive cause. They can help others. That’s why I support them.
One that I would like to highlight is called PATH, which stands for People Assisting the Homeless. What I like about the charity is they don’t just help people on the street. They have a program where they actually provide temporary housing, food, and clothes, giving that person enough time to get on their feet and get a job so that they can be self-sustainable on their own without that program. I donate to them. I also donate to City Year which helps kids that are in school to have better tools for their education. I also support AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and FIDF (Friends of the IDF.)
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
After I am up and ready for the day, I like to play with my three young kids for about 20 minutes before I get to work and have meetings. At 1 pm, I hike in my neighborhood with my wife. Then around 5 pm, I do CrossFit and after that I eat dinner and I spend time with my wife and kids in the evening. That’s pretty much my day. I would say that 50% of my time goes into Bian Capital and the other half goes into my other ventures.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am an ideas guy. When I see lots of inefficiencies and opportunities in an area where I can create a business that brings value, first I write all my ideas down on paper. Then I talk to my development team and see how much work is involved to create it. Then I kick it off with my tech team and have them build a barebones working version of the product. I will launch it on a small scale to test the market and see if the idea has legs. If it does, then I create a company and hire a team to push forward with growing that business.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Obviously, COVID is horrible and we want to eradicate it, but one trend that does excite me is seeing how ecommerce is growing during a pandemic and allowing people to have the technology to not have to leave their homes so they can be safe and have all these services delivered to them. Ecommerce is really rising to the occasion during these trying times.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
When a problem grabs my attention, I don’t stop attacking it. I relentlessly work on figuring it out until I’ve solved it. I want to figure things out much more than other people that I’ve come across. I won’t stop when it comes to business.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
There is so little efficiency in the ad tech space that it leaves very little opportunity for companies outside of Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon. They’ve got so much of the market share. I feel like in the next few years, unless you’re one of those four, it’s going to be really hard to stay in business. A lot of people would disagree with me and say there’s still a lot of room, but I don’t think so.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I always see the glass as half full rather than half empty, and I encourage others to do the same.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Hiring the right people is a huge key because it is the human resources that matter the most in a business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early on, I really wasn’t good at hiring. Vetting the right people to work for me was a real problem. After a few years, I realized that I needed to outsource that because you can’t be good at everything. I hired a COO to help operate the business, and he had the skill set to hire the right people and that changed the business tremendously.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One idea would be to build a peer-to-peer platform to charge a fee for the expertise or knowledge of experts in any given area. If you’re in the food industry, let’s say, and you have a lot of knowledge, rather than giving someone free advice when they contact you because you have knowledge in that area, you could be part of a platform that will charge a fee to have a conversation where you can impart that knowledge. There really isn’t a platform to charge a fee for your expertise. People are always contacting me for information and advice, and I’m giving that away for free, but if there was a platform to charge, I think people would be willing to pay.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I recently spent was to buy some more bitcoin. I don’t know if it’s a good long-term investment, but I do think it’s a good short-term one. It recently went from $3,500 a bitcoin to $40,000, which is over ten-fold increase. That means if you bought $100 a couple months ago, it would be worth close to a thousand dollars today.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Slack. We use Slack for interoffice communication and now that everyone is remote because of COVID, we use it even more. We rely on it so much. It allows intercompany communication to be seamless and moves so much faster than email. In fact, we have a mandate where we’re not even allowed to send interoffice emails within our companies.
The platform helps everyone on the team see all the correspondence between parties. Instead of talking to one person about an issue, I can communicate what I have to say within a channel, and anyone that is subscribed to the channel can see it and read it and respond to it. It saves me from having to have the same conversation many times over. Everyone can know about what’s going on if it relates to their department.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
From Good to Great by James C. Collins. It talks about how to go from being a good company to being a great company. There’s a big difference between the two.
What is your favorite quote?
Warren Buffett said “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.” He was talking about how to look at the stock market. When people are buying like crazy, you should be scared and probably pull back because a problem might arise. When others are being timid, there are definitely good buying opportunities to be had.
• Always give to quality charities.
• I’m not any smarter than anyone else, I just want it more.
• If you want to be successful at anything, you’ve got to be positive. Negativity will not lead to success.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.