Life-changing moments often come when you least expect it.
For serial entrepreneur and investor Rob Gough, that moment came in his freshman year of college, when he was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer, called Ewing’s.
Doctors told Gough that he only had a 30% chance of living, but that didn’t let him lose his mindset.
“There was never a second that I thought I was going to lose it,” Gough told Business Insider.
Gough went through intense chemo therapy, which oftentimes left him in excruciating pain, unable to walk or eat for days. But after 17 months of treatment, Gough was able to fully recover and return to school.
Once he got back to school, Gough didn’t waste anytime chasing his dream, which was running his own company.
“Since I was a kid, I always wanted to run a business. When I turned 16, I wasn’t really excited about getting a car — I was excited about being able to start a business,” he said.
His first business was an online auction site called Bidaroo. Within five years, Bidaroo grew big enough to be able to sponsor an Indy 500 car for the whole season, and in 2009, he sold it to a private buyer.
In 2012, Gough launched another business called Eckim. It was a marketing company that owned two coupon sites, and in less than three years, he was able to sell it again — this time to a public company called Coupons.com for a hefty 8-figure sum.
“Anything is possible. People just don’t dream as big as they can go,” he said.
Now, Gough has turned his attention to investing, putting his own cash into growing businesses. And recently he’s made his first $US500,000 investment in a vapour business called NEWhere.com, which sells premium e-cigarette and vapour products. Gough says NEWhere.com has doubled in size over the past year, and is expected to bring in over $US10 million in sales this year.
Gough is still technically a Coupons.com employee, but he sees himself investing much more heavily in the future, potentially under his own investment firm.
“In the future, I’ll probably start a private equity firm,” he said. “My whole goal is I want $US1 billion, and I’ll make it happen in the next 7 years.”
But all financial aspirations aside, Gough says the most important lesson he’s learned through all this is rather simple: shoot for the stars.
“It takes the same amount of time and effort to build a $US10 million business as it does a $US1 billion business — it’s the same problems, same process, same headache,” he said. “People just don’t think about scalability. You can go way bigger and really have whatever you want.”