Flashback: Jeff Bezos reveals first question investors asked him before funding his startup Amazon

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Published: January 19, 2020 8:21:05 PM

25 years back Jeff Bezos had quit his job at a hedge fund D.E Shaw to sell books without setting up a physical store, without seeing his customers but over a wide area network connecting computer systems located anywhere in the world a.k.a on internet.

For Bezos, there is no plan B. (Image: Reuters)

25 years back when Jeff Bezos had quit his job at a hedge fund D.E Shaw to sell books to people without setting up a physical store, without seeing his customers but over a wide area network connecting computer systems located anywhere in the world a.k.a on internet, it was perhaps obvious for him, much like any other entrepreneur, to approach investors to get some money for his business. But what wasn’t obvious was the question that investors asked him. It wasn’t about what Amazon is or the business model or target customers etc.

“When I went to meet investors, the first question I had to answer was what is the internet. None of my investors had ever heard of the internet,” Bezos said during a fireside chat in Mumbai recently with actor Shah Rukh Khan and director Zoya Akhtar. 25 years later Bezos is the world’s second-richest person with a net worth of $116 billion after Bill Gates, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His company currently has a market cap of jaw-dropping $924 billion.

However, entrepreneurship wasn’t the first thing he wanted to do. In fact, he wanted to enter multiple professions while he was growing up. “When I was in the first grade, I wanted to be an archaeologist. Then I wanted to be many different things. I also wanted to be a physicist and I went to college to study it but realised halfway through I was never going to be a great physicist. So I started studying computer science and fell in love with it and that’s how I ended up doing Amazon,” he said.

For Bezos, there is no plan B. More than a plan, according to him, it hinders entrepreneurs in being focused on plan A. If at all, Amazon hadn’t worked out, “I would have been a bartender,” he laughed. “I don’t have plan B, I don’t like plan Bs. They defocus you from plan A. Plan B should always be to make plan A work,” he said while biotechnology is one area that he had explored if he was a young college student today.

Despite being the greatest of technology entrepreneurs of the modern era, Bezos has a tinge of superstition in him. The 56-year old known for giant laughter own a pair of Texas cowboy shoes that he always wear every time he launching a space vehicle under his space organisation Blue Origin. “They have red stars on them and are very flashy and I wear them every time we launch our space vehicle. We only had one failure at the very beginning of the programme (launching space vehicles) and that’s the only time I didn’t wear the lucky boots,” he quipped.

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