eWebinar Co-founder and CEO Melissa Kwan has spent twelve years in startups and built three successful companies without venture capital backing. Her previous startup, a real estate tech company, was acquired in 2019. As a revenue-driven founder specializing in sales and business development, she has learned how to build companies with very few resources by automating what she can, outsourcing wherever possible, and inspiring talented people with a shared focus and enthusiasm to join her team.
Over the last decade, Melissa has come to believe that happiness should be the foundation of one’s career (not the other way around), and that the way to achieve this is by intentionally designing one’s life.
This belief was born in part from the soul-crushing experience Melissa endured as she gave the same webinar over and over again while onboarding and training customers for her previous SaaS company. She wanted to free others from the same trap by giving them a way to automate their repetitive webinars. That way they could get their time back and spend it doing something they valued, instead of being tied to Zoom all the time.
Where did the idea for eWebinar come from?
eWebinar is a webinar automation solution that saves people from doing the same webinar over and over again for things like sales demos, onboarding, and training. We turn any video into an interactive webinar that you can set on a recurring schedule or make available on demand.
I came up with the idea after personally experiencing the pain of doing the same live webinar over and over again in my previous startup. We were a bootstrapped company, which meant I was the person who was doing all of the product demos, onboarding, and trading every single day for new customers.
Every single one of those webinars was exactly the same, just for different companies. Anyone who’s run a webinar in the past knows that the attendance rate is exceptionally low, especially in the industry I was in (real estate). Our customers were independent contractors, which meant they had their own chaotic schedules. They would sign up for a webinar but not actually attend it at the time it was running.
As a result, there was no amount of webinars that I could do to educate the number of new customers that would come on board every day.
Back then, I had envisioned the perfect product that would do my job for me while I could go and do literally anything else. After the company was acquired, this was the problem that I wanted to solve once and for all. I wanted to save people from doing the same webinar over and over again, so they could spend their time doing something else they enjoyed.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I work late every single day, and I spend at least 30 minutes every night watching a brainless show on Netflix. That’s how I decompress.
A typical day is me waking up at around 10am and checking my social media and emails on my phone while I’m still in bed. Then I’ll make breakfast and look at my to-do list for the day. It’s pretty common for me to work from the moment I wake up until the moment I turn on Netflix at night.
I work pretty hard during the week, but I never work on weekends. That doesn’t mean that I won’t respond to a customer request if it’s urgent; it just means that I don’t dedicate any time on the weekend to work unless I absolutely have to.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The one thing that I believe I do better than anyone else is that I get started before I feel like I’m fully ready. So once I get started, it’s too late for me to stop!
What’s one trend that excites you?
The concept of solopreneurship excites me a lot. I’m now seeing a new class of entrepreneurs who work on their own, with a few contractors, and come up with mini projects and multiple revenue streams. I’m really envious of that because I manage a big team, and I’m actually pretty bad at managing people. If I can do something on my own and have multiple income streams that support my lifestyle, that’s really the dream.
If I knew 3 1/2 years ago what I know today, I never would have started this company. It doesn’t mean I don’t love what I’m doing now, I’m grateful for what we’ve built with eWebinar. I just mean that if I could choose over again, I would think about small projects that I could do on my own which would give me complete freedom to do as much or as little as I wanted.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I complete my to-do lists, no matter what. No matter what day it is, or how tired I am, I always finish the tasks I schedule each day. This is because I know how overwhelming it can be if you let tasks pile up every single day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself that I don’t know everything, and that I’m not the smartest person in the room. For many years when I was growing up, I felt like my parents were trying to protect me from the world, and they were telling me that I was better than I was. As a result, for many years I thought I was more capable than I actually was. It was a rude awakening when I stepped out into the real world and realized I wasn’t as capable as everybody else, and that I didn’t have the necessary experience.
I was brought up with the illusion that I knew a lot, so I closed myself off from learning new things. That’s a really unhealthy place to be. If you think you already know everything, then there’s nowhere else to grow.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Money can buy happiness. What makes me happy is freedom, and money buys freedom. I’m driven by freedom, and hence I am also driven by money. Some people really don’t like hearing that because you’re not supposed to love money. But that’s my truth.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Keep learning new things, because the world is evolving and the only way to keep up is if you continuously open yourself up to new learning opportunities.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Making friends. Building a company is so hard that you can never do it alone (even if you are a solopreneur). What makes it easier is to have other people help you and motivate you, whether it’s mentors, founder friends, or other vendors. I’ve always surrounded myself with people who are better than me and more experienced than me, who want to give back to the community. I’m constantly learning from them.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I underestimated how much money was required to get a business going from 0 to 1.
I overcame these failures because I almost went bankrupt multiple times in my previous startup and I had no choice but to keep moving forward. I realized I couldn’t simply do what I put my mind to. I actually needed to acquire the skills that were necessary to achieve my goal. That was a really difficult thing to learn, and it took me years to learn it. I’m happy that I came out better on the other end, but it could have gone the other way.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A digital time capsule. This will be my next thing.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I treated a friend to dinner. When I was broke all the time, people would buy me breakfast or coffee or dinner. Something that was so small to them actually made a huge impact on me because I never had the money to spend on myself. So now I do the same for others whenever I can.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
It would of course be eWebinar. I automate all of our product demos through eWebinar, and because of the software I never do live demos anymore. The software allows me to live my life without drowning in live meetings and live webinars on a daily basis. It’s allowed me to take a full week off with no internet access, which I’m truly grateful for. It also allows me to deliver hundreds of demos every single month without having to stand in front of a camera to actually do each demo.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Alchemist. This is the only book I’ve read over 20 times and I’m still not sick of it. It’s about a boy who goes on a journey to realize his dreams, which I think is what we’re all doing this for.
What is your favorite quote?
“At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
- In life, you can be a student or a teacher. You get to choose.
- There is no playbook, there are no rules. Once you realize that, you can start to design your life and your career around the way you want to live.
- The world is always evolving and changing. The only way to keep up is if you’re open to learning.
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.