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Online investor Richard Burry shares his insights from over three decades of e-commerce experience.

A black and white image of a man with his arms folded

Richard Burry, founder of Smartvu Ltd., an e-commerce investment company, took some time out to share the wisdom and experience he gained during pivotal moments in life and in business.

Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your journey as a leader in your industry?

I started working at 18 in the oil fields of Canada. I did construction and worked in the Canadian Coast Guard until I went to college in 1984. I studied data processing systems which taught programming of accounting and financial systems in mainframe languages. After graduating I started to work with the first PC systems programming accounting packages and other systems (inventory, merchandising, AR/AP, scheduling, bar coding, etc.). From programmer I worked my way up the corporate ladder to system analyst to PC department head to IT manager for a large cable company. In my free time, I ran a computer BBS connecting users around the world to share files and play games. The Internet started and I helped set up the first cable modem Internet access service at our company. I recognized the Internet as a pivotal technology that would change the world and I started my own business to provide Internet- based products.

What specific experiences or decisions in your journey do you believe have shaped your approach to business and leadership?

The decision to embrace the new Internet technology early on and create businesses on the Internet when few did was key. My background in programming business software enabled me to manage a business, and my background in technology enabled me to assemble a team of professionals to implement new products.

Can you share a story of a pivotal moment in your career that led to a significant transformation in your business or personal life?

Partnering with a company that provided credit card processing, enabled me to bring this technology to the Internet very early on and provide it as a service to other startups. It was critical technology at the time. Personally, the decision to leave a successful corporate career and chance it all to start a first business was the key move that I made that changed my life. 

What factors did you consider when making that critical decision, and how did you weigh the potential risks and rewards?

My father always said I would never get rich working for someone else. It was risky but I had helped other companies launch at the same time and I saw their success. Plus, why work 9-5 when you can work 24 hours a day running your own business. ;-)

What challenges did you face during this transformative period, and how did you overcome them?

Finding staff that could work with the new technologies was tough. There were few with experience. The technology itself was also new and people were afraid to use credit cards on the Internet. We overcame the challenges with determination and time. Everything grew up around us.

Looking back, what advice would you give to your younger self at that time, or to entrepreneurs and business leaders who might find themselves in a similar situation?

I would start my career today working on the latest transformative technologies of the day. Crypto and AI are transformative. I would learn as much as I could working with people and companies that are using them and I would look for the opportunities that they present to create new products and services. 

How has that pivotal moment influenced the way you make decisions today, and what lasting impact has it had on your business?

Sure, I try to keep learning and watching what is new in the market and where it is headed. How new technology changes businesses and what products could be provided.

In your opinion, how important is it for entrepreneurs and business leaders to have these transformative moments, and how can they best prepare for and learn from them?

There are only a few key moments when you make a critical decision in your life. Your choice of education, choice of a mate, or choice of a job for example. Each can have a huge impact on your future. Take care and put thought into these choices. You may not realize how transformative these decisions are until well into the future.


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