Under his umbrella company, Community Connect, he helped start the first wave of social networking sites. Asian Avenue, Black Planet, and Mi Gente were created as a way of representing the increasing diversity on the Internet as it grew in popularity. After the dot com bubble burst in the early 2000s, he took inspiration from match.com to pivot the sites into online dating hubs. He put the company up for sale a decade after its creation, and switched to focusing on startups through Venture Capital.
He gave advice to entrepreneurs in the form of 3 rules:
1. Be open to new ideas
2. Adhere to your values and don’t waver
3. Hire great talent, and make them aspire to join your company
Five startups pitched their companies to Mr. Sun and the captivated audience:
Thinknum, a web platform for investment research collaboration. The company has access to data throughout the internet and focuses it on one platform, and uses a “freemium” model to generate revenue. Information shared on the site is public, and users must pay if they want to privatize the information posted.
Canvasly, an iOS app which organizes and aggregates children’s art with a marketplace for keepsakes. The app has a system of aggregating comments on the art, and has partnerships with brands like Disney.
Peepsout, a live webcam marketing service for bars and restaurants. The company also handles marketing through social media, and offer promotions to customers through the app to incentivize visiting the establishments.
Accern, high frequency news analysis to generate data for traders to see company trends in articles. The site is proposed as a solution to the problem of information being consumed too quickly for traders to follow.
Healthjump, a mobile and desktop platform for patients to keep track of their medical records and connect to doctors and other patients. Users can set appointments and have a digital copy of their medical record, with control over how it’s shared and who is allowed to see it. They can also socialize with other patients experiencing similar symptoms and experiences.
Ben Sun’s feedback to the company pitches mainly consisted of encouraging clearer explanations of revenue streams, and isolating whether the companies have the potential to grow into their own entities or are better off trying to be bought by larger businesses. His feedback was delivered in a clear and curious tone, and his advice effectively demonstrated his experience in entrepreneurship.