Freddie Laker: How does a creative, serial entrepreneur turn confidence into results?
Freddie Laker is a British-American entrepreneur and the founder of the tech startup Guide, and most recently Chameleon Collective and Code Orange. Prior to these companies, he launched the Internet service provider Laker.net and the digital agency iChameleon Group. He worked at SapientNitro (now known as SapientRazorfish) where we met in 2009, as the company's Vice President of Global Marketing Strategy.
He is also the son of Sir Freddie Laker, the founder of British airline Laker Airways.
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In this episode, you will hear firsthand, never-heard-before stories from Freddie Laker Jr., a serial entrepreneur who's daring in trying new things (especially related to computers and new forms of technologies). His origin stories growing up as a British-American, living in both countries. One important lesson he had to learn from his father, Sir Freddie Laker, when he was a teenager. The success and struggle of running multiple startups and what Freddie would have done the same or differently.
It's not your traditional MBA education, but lessons Freddie learned in real life since the age of 18.
Breaking the law
Freddie's early interest in technology sounds like every kid these days, but it was rather unusual 20 years ago. In 1994, Freddie not only started building computers on his own, but he also dropped out of college and became a DJ for a Miami based private radio station called Womb. After being shut down by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the radio station used the Internet to transfer the signal between two antennas, making it the world's first 24-hour Internet radio station. Freddie will fill you in on the details.
There is no way not to delve into Freddie's origin story as the son of a very successful entrepreneur. Following the launch of Skytrain in 1977, his father Sir Freddie Laker was knighted the following year in recognition of his services to the airline industry.
Richard Branson, the Founder of Virgin Group once said in a story he posted, "Having received help from a business mentor during his struggle to get Virgin Atlantic off the ground, Richard Branson knows all about the importance of having someone to look up to." That very person was Sir Freddie Laker.
What did Freddie learn from his father? What was the important lesson Freddie learned the hard way? (But thankful for his father later on). What was one conversation like between the two while Freddie Jr. struggled in his personal and professional life?
This conversation was a lot of things from business to family and moments, place in between.
This episode is dedicated to Sir. Freddie Laker and his family. He changed the world by enabling ordinary people to fly and the public loved him and will always remember him for it.
“Over the last 12 years since he passed away I've digitized almost 10,000 photos, news paper clippings, and letters that he left for me. In an effort to preserve and share them I've donated them to a non-profit historical society that maintains the website SirFreddieLaker.com where all of the documents can be found. It's been a true labor of love. With both a book and a documentary coming out in 2019 I thought the timing might be right to see this project truly come to life from all the people that were part of the journey.” — Freddie Laker
[07:00] Share with us something about your origin story. How and where did you grow up?
[11:00] What was most exciting for you about computers where you were a teenager?
[23:00] What kind of music and content did you stream 24/7 at the Whomb?
[24:00] How did being a pioneer in radio streaming impact your future projects? How did it feel to be living that ‘dream’?
[26:00] What was your role in your startup ‘Guide’?
[29:00] How much time and effort did you spend on ‘Guide’ and what was the connection with Sapient?
[32:00] When did you know it was the right time for changing phases in your companies? How did it work for you?
[35:00] How do you keep yourself updated, what kind of news do you read and what kind of resources do you use?
[40:00] Let’s talk about Chameleon Collective and Code Orange. What are these companies and how do they relate to each other?
[45:00] Freddie commenting on freelancing and the lifestyle of a freelancer compared to the corporate life.
[47:00] How do you go about recruiting? How could people be part of your team?
[49:00] How long how you been freelancing and running your own companies?
[51:00] What are some of the values that you inherited from your family? (father, mother, sister, etc)
[56:00] Freddie sharing the story behind Sr Freddie Laker and Laker Airways/Skytrain.
[27:00] I love innovation and product development, and I really enjoy creating things. That being said, my superpower is that I’m a sales and marketing CEO. Where I’m really gonna excel is when something starts to takeoff, I’m good at being the gasoline on the fire and taking it from this to this.
[29:00] There is a BIG difference between being able to do a lot of things, and SHOULD I be doing all those things.
[30:00] Having all that money created a false sense of security for me. It made not do things as lean and as mean as I would have done in the past.
[31:00] Raising money is a horrible process that I do NOT enjoy, and at some point it was representing 50% of the job. It is kind of like dealing with a mortgage every day. And if you are a creative person, it is NOT fun. If you could figure out a way to slow it down a little bit, and validate your idea, you could save yourself a lot of heartache.
[46:00] We actually operate on a completely flat management structure. I work with people that maybe I wouldn’t have worked for and they wouldn’t have worked for me, but this way we’ve been able to get all these alpha personalities working together. It’s mind-blowing.
[52:00] You can be confident, don’t get arrogant and remember that you could make any mistake on earth no matter how successful you’ve been and you can repeat them again. That can cause you to have a healthy dose of humility. People who don’t have humility are not able to collaborate in my opinion, because they are not able to accept that great ideas come from anywhere.