When Ben Lamm was in middle school, his mother told him to mow the lawn while she ran a few errands. Upon returning home, she found a neighborhood kid finishing the grass. When she found Ben playing video games, he said, “I gave him some of my allowance, so we all came out ahead.”
No one could argue against his business chops. As a high school senior in 1999, Lamm taught himself Macromedia Flash before it evolved into Adobe and sold his first website for $20,000. In his junior year at Baylor University, while carrying a double major of Accounting and Finance, he told one of his professors that they were going to be business partners. Never mind the latter didn’t know his student’s name. Less than two years later, the professor was working for Lamm’s first startup.
Lamm’s mind is wired differently than most. Even his personality is atypical compared to the majority of successful serial entrepreneurs, a hybrid combination of Types A and B—competitive, high-energy and ambitious, yet naturally social, authentic, fast-forward button talkative yet chill to the point of showing up for business meetings with potential investors wearing a T-shirt and flip-flops, not to mention the long hair and unkempt beard.
“Work and life are complicated enough without that extra layer of trying to be who you aren’t,” Lamm says.
For every prosperous entrepreneur, there are failed ventures. It’s the cost of playing the game. Thus far, though, Lamm has proven an exception. Each of his previous four startups have grown into wildly successful companies before selling at high profit margins.
First there was Simply Interactive, an e-learning software business Lamm launched in college. Then there was Chaotic Moon, an Austin-based creative studio that grew to more than 200 employees and $50 million in yearly revenue before being purchased by Accenture. Next was Team Chaos, a game development venture that sold to Zynga, followed by Conversable, which teamed with the likes of Whole Foods and Pizza Hut by using automated software to interact with customers via social media.
Work and life are complicated enough without that extra layer of trying to be who you aren’t.
“I know a lot of people like to say they are product people, but I’m more of a brand guy,” Lamm says. “A lot of startups won’t spend the proper time to brand. They are obsessed with revenue. You want the story to resonate. We shouldn’t need a mission statement with five bullet points.”
True to form, for his latest, and without question most ambitious enterprise, Lamm spent six months branding Hypergiant before launching in February 2018. If it is successful, there is really no way of underselling the ramifications. Simplified to the millionth exponent, the objective is Internet and data streaming in space, which is all the more relevant since not only NASA is planning to return to the moon, but such private visionaries as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos are also investing in the future of space travel. Currently, it takes eight minutes to send a signal to Mars. The goal is eight seconds.
“We wouldn’t advance society if we weren’t a curious species,” Lamm says. “We are destined to go to the stars. I fundamentally believe we will be an interplanetary species. And definitely in our lifetime, permanent residents on the moon and Mars.”
Hypergiant has created nearly 150 jobs in its first 14 months and has already added three subsidiaries to focus on different tasks, including Space Age Solutions, which is developing custom AI solutions, and Applied Sciences, which is developing AI products based on trending needs.
Hypergiant likely wouldn’t have even been created without the AI revolution, as Lamm conceptually thought of the company when more and more clients at Conversable asked him to assist with their AI demands. If Hypergiant succeeds in space, it will be heavily reliant on AI capabilities.
“We believe AI is going to be as transformative if not more than the Internet,” Lamm says. “And look what the Internet has done for the world.”
After successfully starting and selling four startups, the stakes are on another level for Lamm this time. Unlike previous forays, Hypergiant is for the long term.
“Every business I’ve built so far, I’ve thought here’s the market opportunity, here’s something I’m super interested in, here’s how we build the brand to own the category, here’s how we scale both services and products to win that, here’s the culture to do that,” Lamm says
“Hypergiant is a different beast. It’s not my intent to ever sell it. This is my legacy. If we are right, it’s a trillion-dollar company. I’m looking at this as the rest of my life.”
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2019 issue of SUCCESS magazine.