John Wu - Vice President at Novatel Wireless

You can’t do it all and you don’t have all the answers. The only way to grow is to find people smarter than you and help them embrace the same vision.

John Wu, (founder) – Seasoned wireless and IOT executive. Over 20 years in wireless and IoT industry. Led global teams that have successfully shipped products with over 4 million units annual volume and have generated over $400 million in revenue. Responsible for P&L for MiFi Labs. One of the key inventors of MiFi mobile hotspot. MiFi was selected by Time Magazine as one of the top gadgets of the century. 18 patents issued. 26 patents pending. Worked at Novatel Wireless and Motorola. Current CEO and Co-founder of Gryphon — simple, safe, super-fast wifi for modern families.

Where did the idea for MiFi device come from?

As with many ideas, MiFi came from collaborating with a bunch of really smart colleagues and trying to solve the problem of a simple to use wireless device that can connect you to the Internet from anywhere. At the time, people were using USB and PC Cards to connect to 3G networks. That worked well for laptops, but WiFi was exploding and many of the devices lacked a USB port. So we thought why not make a 3G device that can also be a WiFi hotspot. Other than making it small and portable, the one feature that made it a success was you just need to turn it on and it is automatically connected, giving you Internet access anywhere with any WiFi device. The simplicity was what made it magical.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I’m online a lot with emails, talking with and collaborating with some really smart people. I don’t always do it, but starting the day reading the Bible helps me put everything else in perspective.

How do you bring ideas to life?

An idea always starts with a problem that needs to be solved. However, your initial ideas on how to solve that problem is never the best solution or even the right solution. I always like to bring other smart people in and get their thoughts. People bring their unique perspectives and experiences that can make the product better and more relevant to more people.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I’m excited about two trends. One is the internet of things (IoT) and the other is artificial intelligence (AI) but I think they intersect. AI has come a long way in large part because of the Internet and the availability of vase amounts of information that can be fed into the deep machine learning algorithms. IoT will increase that information about our world more than 1000 fold. We will be able to gain new insights to solve some really tough problems that were just not possible before. With all that new information, security will be a huge concern – especially personal information. With IoT, every detail of a person’s live can be tracked. How do we give people the tools they need to protect their privacy while providing the convenience and promise that IoT and AI brings will be a tough and interesting problem to solve.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I try to learn from my failures. There is a lesson in every failure that will make the next thing you try a success.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

While in high school, I was a stock boy at A&P. When there was a sale, there were a lot of hustling to get the items restocked on the shelves and often times we ran out of stock that resulted in many angry customers. Looking back, there were gaps in information that made the job tough. For example, how much of the sale item did we have in stock? When did the sale start and end? Where are all the sale items in storage? The right technologies can help answer all these questions and make that stock boy’s job a lot easier.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would tell my younger self to take more risks. As someone told me, the biggest risk is not taking any.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Be open to new ideas and listen to people. You might have a really good idea, but it can always be better.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

As an entrepreneur, you often feel like you need to do it all, but learn to delegate and ask for help! You can’t do it all and you don’t have all the answers. The only way to grow is to find people smarter than you and help them embrace the same vision.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Encountering failures is a given when you are doing something new whether it’s a new product or a new business. Know that it’s a marathon. Learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A small GPS tracker the size of 2 quarters that lasts for years that can be used on any wireless network in the world with an open cloud API for developers to create various applications. This can be done in about 2 years with the new 5G IoT networks being deployed. Contact me if you are interested…

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Taking the team out for lunch. It’s a great way to say thanks and bond over food.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I use Microsoft 360. It allows me to do my work from anywhere without an IT department. I also use Linkedin to keep in touch with people I work with. Evernote is great for keeping track of my random ideas.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Build better organizations and better products that stick.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

My late granduncle and my parents. They took huge risks by coming to this country from China to find new opportunities and to build a better future for their family.

Connect:

Novatel Wireless website : http://www.enfora.com/
John Wu on Twitter: @johnwu71
John Wu on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnwu71

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