Best advice: Embrace failure
serial entrepreneur john roa
Name: John Roa, 29
Current business: Founder and CEO, AKTA, Chicago
Successful companies: 3

I started my first company in high school repairing computers, and my second company in college. That was a video game media site that I eventually sold to William Morris Endeavor. We had three people when it started and ended up with 160 when I exited.

My third successful company is AKTA, a digital product design studio. We have 20 employees and seven digits in revenue. We help start-ups and large companies develop new business, products and services via apps and websites.

I also probably tried a dozen other companies that just didn't launch. But failure is not a bad thing. I think you learn exponentially more from when you screw up than from when you succeed.

When I started AKTA, I was actually trying about four ideas at the same time. One was called TrakLabs, a way for gauging the ROI of offline advertising. We pursued this idea of using vanity URLs for every advertisement, but the plan started falling apart almost immediately.

We had one client using it. But the system was difficult and the space was so competitive. The more I researched it the more I found hundreds of hurdles and I started to realize that what others made look so easy was really hard. I had just hired a couple of part-time developers and I put tens of thousands of dollars into it by the time I decided it wasn't something I wanted to do.

It was a significant failure, but I learned some really important things including what I don't like. Some people love building products that rely on organic growth, but I know that I will never go after a product like that again. I'm happy I can cross that off my list.


- Last updated July 02 2013 04:18 PM ET
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