Florida Polytechnic University students heard firsthand Thursday how an ambitious teenager launched a business from his parents’ basement that today processes $14 billion in credit card payments.
Students hungry for advice on starting their own business got their fill as Jared Isaacman outlined for an hour the lessons he learned on the way to becoming a three-time finalist for Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year.”
Among the lessons: take emotion out of business; surround yourself with the best; and consider the strategic implications of all decisions.
“I like to play on a bigger stage and to play a more challenging game,” Jared told his audience about the growth of Lighthouse Networks. “But you have to be ready to embrace the work that comes with it.”
Jared started his business as Harbortouch, a credit card processing company that streamlined the outdated practices of his competitors. The startup days were the hardest but also the most rewarding, Jared explained.
“The first years are the best. All you’re doing is work, but the communication is excellent and you’re sharing successes and failures together,” he said.
One of the toughest storms Harbortouch weathered was the Great Recession in 2008. Experts believed credit card purchases would actually go up, but instead people stopped buying altogether. That led to tough choices for Jared and his team as they were forced to lay off personnel as a means to save the business.
“When you’re trying to get through those low moments, focus on what you can control and don’t stress what you can’t control,” Jared said.
Sophomore Chris Mattice was among the students who had the opportunity afterward to interact one-on-one with Jared and ask questions about converting their own ideas to viable businesses.
“It was really great to see such a young person already so successful,” Chris said. “It inspired me to see that you don’t have to go the traditional route of working for years at a company to be successful.”