Rob Neuner first came across the idea for his company, Boost Oxygen, in the early 2000s when he was abroad and discovered the concept of supplemental oxygen canisters. After that fateful trip, Rob Neuner decided to bring these canisters to the United States with many very useful improvements. His canisters, which are widely used by athletes around the world, are easy to use with one hand and are very light weight. Having used these cans myself playing soccer in Colorado, I can attest that they do wonders. All this being said, here is my interview with Rob Neuner:
*Please note Rob Neuner’s answers are slightly edited to make them more readable*
What are one or two books that have most greatly influenced your life?
Death be not Proud - I read it in High School- for some reason it has always stuck with me. The lesson is to make the most out of your life. I also loved Pillars of the Earth- I'm a bit of History buff.
What is a quote you live by?
Easy - ‘If you don't have a plan, you have a plan to fail.
Who would you most like to have lunch with? (who is your hero?)
I don't have any heroes- but I would love to have lunch with Novak Djokovic (a professional tennis player).
What was your first business idea and what did you do with it?.
As a 10 year old in 1977 I sold coffee to people waiting on gas lines.
How did you know when you had the right idea?
When I saw the first sale at Sports Authority.
What do you wish you knew before you started your current business?
That people would benefit as much from it as they do. We started as just marketing to the sporting community (pro football players use Oxygen) - but so many other people benefit from Oxygen- we should have known this before.
How has failure helped you later in life? Can you share any specific lessons you have learned?
I lost the State Championship game senior year in high school (Bergen Catholic). I was the quarterback. I played poorly- nervously- afraid to make mistakes. After much rumination it taught me to always be aggressive. Play to win.
At what point did you know entrepreneurship was for you? How did you decide this is what you were going to do with your life regardless of the risk?
For my first job out of college I worked for the investment firm Bear Stearns. I hated the bureaucracy and incompetence. I went to business school at Fordham at night, I met an entrepreneurial friend from the Czech Republic there (1992- when a lot of things were happening in Eastern Europe), and I started selling fax machines and phone modems to Prague and Eastern Bloc. I really enjoyed it and we boot strapped it.
In your opinion, what traits make a good entrepreneur? Can one develop these traits?
You have to see the whole picture front to end. You keep hearing- "I always knew I would succeed- I was too afraid to fail- this is the secret to my success" - say about .01% of people who become successful. The other 99.99% have an idea, have some experience, or even expertise in that idea. These 99.99% are very careful with their expenses in the beginning knowing that it could fail, and if it does fail (likely), how can they not dig too deep of a financial hole. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and HP all started out of their parents' garages - just in case they failed they wouldn't have been beholden to leases and other expenses. All of these companies had 3 month, 6 month, 12 month projections, best case and worst case scenarios. All successful entrepreneurs are lucky- but they all create the opportunities for them to become lucky.
What is some of the best advice you ever received? Some of the worst?
Best- When you first start making money- save 20%. Put it away even to a bank, 401K, IRA, whatever. Every paycheck. Your 30 year old+++ self will thank you, your 50 year old self will love you. Factor that in with living expenses.
Worst- Stick with any job for at least 2 years. This advice should have been revised to 3 months- that's as long as it takes to know if you're in the right organization or if it's the right fit. The other 21 months will be a waste of time.
• Know your market and do extensive research before you start
• Most people have experience or expertise in the industry they are going into
• Be very careful with expenses when you first start, “do not dig too deep of a hole”.
• When you start making money save 20% for your future self
My Favorite Quotes:
• “If you don't have a plan, you have a plan to fail.”
• “All successful entrepreneurs are lucky- but they all create the opportunities for them to become lucky.”