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The Entrepreneurist: Gene Wang

enrepreneur Gene Wang / Credit: Gene Wang | People Power

Gene Wang is the CEO and co-founder of software company People Power, which makes the Presence app that allows users to turn old electronics into fully controllable wireless video cameras.

Gene Wang has had quite a bit of experience in the business of starting companies. Wang's fifth startup venture is People Power, where he is not only the CEO but also the co-founder. It is Wang's fourth experience as CEO. BusinessNewsDaily spoke with Wang about his many entrepreneurial efforts, how he has applied what he has learned along the way and what other businesses can learn from his journey in business.

BusinessNewDaily: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Gene Wang: I thought about becoming a starving musician.  I have four CDs published on iTunes and People Power is not just a company, we also have the People Power Band.  But when I was a senior at UC Berkeley, majoring in music and computer science, I couldn’t handle the workload.  So I dropped out of music and now it’s just a fun hobby.

BND: What did your parents do for a living?

GW: My father is a world-famous linguist and my mom was a teacher, then a real estate agent, but mostly an awesome mom.

[How to Start a Business: Step-by-Step]

BND: Can you talk a little about your business career and how you got your start?
GW: After graduating, I was a programmer at Wang Laboratories.  My old boss Stan Curtis told me that he was starting a company and asked if I would like to join.  Even though I only had one month of marketing experience, he told me that I could be vice president of marketing.  That fantastic experience made me an entrepreneur for life.  People Power is my fifth startup and my fourth time as CEO. 

BND: What's the best part of owning your own business?

GW: I can manage my own schedule, work from home and go windsurfing when the wind is blowing.  More seriously, I can help build world-class products that become widely used in the world.  My personal efforts can impact the planet.  For example, at Computer Motion, we built the first robots for minimally invasive surgery.  At Photo Access, we built the fastest digital camera chip, and after Agilent acquired us, they got the design into 100 million camera phones.  At Bitfone, as the leader in device management software, we became embedded in 200 million smartphones.  Now at People Power, we have one of the most popular video apps, called Presence, which turns your old iPhone or iPad into a Wi-Fi video camera with built-in motion detection for free.  So you can make a security camera, PetCam, BabyCam, KidCam, ElderCam, or anything you want.

BND: What's the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?

GW: Running out of money.  That’s really a difficult thing for startups to survive.  Try not to do that!

BND: What previous experiences helped you in business?

GW: Being in numerous startups, and working with some great people whom I’m continuing to work with now.  The single most important ingredient of a successful startup is the team.  Being able to bring superstars from one startup to another is a huge benefit.

BND: What is the best bit of advice you have for other entrepreneurs?

GW: Be persistent.  My mascot is the cockroach.  You can stomp on a cockroach, poison it, burn it, and it will keep going.  Cockroaches will probably inherit the earth because they are survivors.  Startups are very difficult and great things happen to those who stay in business.

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Business News Daily Editor

Business News Daily was founded in 2010 as a resource for small business owners at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Our site is focused exclusively on giving small business advice, tutorials and insider insights. Business News Daily is owned by Business.com.