iMahal Interview Series: Rahul Roy
August 22, 2002

iMahal:  We have discussed a sequence of business successes for you. But have there been any failures along the way?

Roy:  Yes. Let me tell you. After my first success with the ink-mixing program I had all this money. I thought, "What am I doing to do with this money? Invest in CDs? The stock market?" Well, I decided to invest in real estate. My mentor Don Travis had investments in real estate, so it seemed a wise thing to do at the time. I invested in an apartment building, a shopping mall, and the most idiotic one, a gas station. The gas station was the interesting investment.
..I decided to invest in real estate..
It was rather far away in the town of Santa Cruz. I needed people to run it. My wife said she would never work for me because I was too demanding. I myself, as the owner, had to pass tests for auto mechanics, so I had to learn all that stuff. I paid a guy and gave him equity to run the station. My mistake was that I got so involved with my main business that I was not watching the gas station carefully enough as I kept investing more and more money in it. But it turns out that the guy was stealing from me. The guy went to jail; but that's all that I could do. I lost a lot of money on that venture. That was a big blow.

The other big blow was my partnership in the other real estate ventures. My partners quit and I could not bear all the payments myself. To avoid a bad credit rating, I had to continue to pay my share, and then go after the partnership. My share was hefty. So that's where I lost another large amount of money. The end result was that I had lost all of the money I had made from that first entrepreneurial success. My wife didn't know. None of my relatives knew. Nobody needed to know, because I had the confidence to make it back.

This time I thought I am not going to make the same mistake. So then I made more money from the Imprint venture. Then, guess what? This time, no gas station, no this or that. I put some money in the bank, some in CDs, and then a lot of it into the stock market. After all, NASDAQ was going crazy! So again, I lost a lot. I still have the confidence to make it back. So these are my ups and downs.

first job
Silicon Valley



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