Three Lessons Jeff Bezos Taught Me About Running a Startup

Approximately twenty years ago, serendipity helped new Seattle resident Maryam Mohit take a giant leap toward her dream to start an online bookstore. That vision helped blossom due to a friend’s suggestion that she meet with “a guy named Jeff” who had a similar outlook. That person turned out to be Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Mohit soldiered on despite the attitude of friends who told her that the concept of people giving someone their credit card information over the internet would be a disaster.

Bezos asked during their initial meeting if Mohit would be able to make the website interactive, and soon after she was hired by the then-25 person company as its first web producer. She eventually became the head of a site development department with Amazon, with 200 people working under her.

During her time working with Bezos, she was able to discover three important business lessons from him:

  • Every employee from top to bottom needs to understand what it takes to do the job
  • Make a tireless commitment to customer service by making sure you listen to them
  • Keep a running list of what is working and what isn’t

Using the lessons she gained from her time at Amazon, the now-47-year-old Mohit and co-founder Claudine Ryan have created startup firm GemShare, which is an iOS app. The new company has been compared to Yelp, but differs in the fact that only people a person trusts offer the recommendations that are seen.

Mohit has adopted those principles with her new company:

  • Despite her status, she performs such mundane tasks as making copies or personally changing files that need to be fixed
  • The two founders made sure the app’s use of Facebook would not result in every “friend” being spammed
  • She and Ryan have an Excel spreadsheet of every customer’s suggestions or complaints

The app has met with strong success in app-happy San Francisco, an endorsement which will now move it to new markets in the months to come.

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