Lessons Learned: Patrick Lee Throws Some Rotten Tomatoes At Your Startup


On October 24th as a part of the CoCoon Entrepreneurial Series, CoCoon hosted Patrick Lee to speak about his experiences with Rotten Tomatoes. 

Rotten Tomatoes is a leading entertainment website that rates movies before they are released to the public. The site uses 400 critic reviews to get the average critic rating. A movie with 60% rating and above would be considered a fresh movie, while a movie with below 60% would be considered rotten. A good movie would receive a tomato, while a poor movie would receive a green asterisk that was supposed to symbolize the effects of a thrown rotten tomato. Rotten Tomatoes also offers entertainment news and a searchable movie database.

Patrick discussed the beginnings and the trials and tribulations that Rotten Tomatoes navigated. Rotten Tomatoes survived both the first dot com crash of 2001 and also the after effects of 9/11. Also, Patrick discussed the growth period and revenue paths that Rotten Tomatoes tool.

The most important ideas to take away from the talk came after Patrick’s talk. Patrick has a few word of wisdom for budding entrepreneurs.

Do not double down. 

If you’re putting all your time in, then don’t put in your money. If you do both, you’re doubling your risk. Try to raise that money from someone else and if you can’t find the funding then maybe it’s just not a good idea.

Start businesses with your friends

Most startups fail because the founders don’t get along. Don’t let your business fail because of a horrible fight. Businesses should fail from legitimate reasons, not because the founders couldn’t stand each other.

A founding team is key.

You should have a least one good engineer. Someone should be technical and it should be someone you know and trust.

Go home.

Do something where your network is, where your strengths are and where you understand the culture. Even though Patrick is Chinese and speaks the language, he had a hard time building a network and working out the cultural differences. If you have to do something in Hong Kong, Patrick recommended that you play on Hong Kong’s strengths and proximity to China. Remember the Hong Kong market is relatively small in the big picture.

Written and video by Cathy Nguyen

(photo above by Jennifer Cheng)

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