January 09, 2018


This week, Cory speaks to entrepreneur and investor Justin Kan, who is well known for being the founder of Justin.TV turned Twitch.TV, a live streaming powerhouse that was bought by Amazon for close to a billion dollars. He is also a partner for Y-Combinator and recently has started video Q&A platform Whale and is the CEO of legal startup Atrium. In this weeks episode, Justin tells us how he got into technology, the story of selling his first startup on eBay, the inception of his billion-dollar startup Twitch, some of the crazy moments building the company, what he’s learned and observed over the years as a founder and his strategies for recruiting top talent.

“The best founders and the best startups really base what they’re doing on constantly getting feedback from the market, from customers, and adjusting their plans accordingly.”

Justin Kan (@JustinKan) is an entrepreneur with an impressive track record. He’s the co-founder of and, and is now the founder and CEO of legal tech startup Atrium.

Cory Levy (Internapalooza, After School) talked with Justin Kan on OFF RCRD about Justin’s journey as an entrepreneur, his advice for others, and more.

When launching his first company (Kiko Software), Justin and his co-founders had little to lose. “I first started in tech when one of my friends and I decided it was a good opportunity to start a company while we were in school because we had almost no opportunity cost,” says Justin. “Our opportunity cost was playing World of Warcraft and drinking beer.”

When it came time to sell that company in 2006, several potential buyers walked away during the acquisition process, forcing Justin and his team to look at non-traditional ways of selling their business. They turned to eBay, and listed Kiko for sale with a minimum price of $50,000. A week later, the company sold for $258,100. Eight years later, Justin sold another company, but this time, it wasn’t on eBay, and it sold for $970,000,000 to Amazon.

To someone just looking at his success with Twitch and new company Atrium, it might seem like Justin doesn’t make mistakes. However, Justin is willing to discuss his failures along with advice for other young entrepreneurs and does so in his interview with Cory.

Asked where most startup founders go wrong, Justin says that some founders “don’t base what they’re doing in reality or customer feedback, or feedback from trying things.” Instead, Justin says, “they base it on their preconceived notions of how something should work or their own limited worldview or what’s in their head that they really want to create, and 1 in 20 or maybe even 1 in 10 get it right.”

Be one of the 1 in 20 to get it right by basing everything you do on real feedback, not your preconceived notions. Learn more from entrepreneurs like Justin Kan on OFF RCRD, and make sure to listen to the full conversation between Cory Levy and Justin Kan only here on OFF RCRD.

In the interview, Justin Kan and Cory Levy talk about:

  • How Justin first started in tech
  • How Justin sold his first company on eBay
  • How Twitch was born and sold
  • What Justin is working on now and how he’s trying to make it larger than Twitch
  • Advice for young entrepreneurs and people who aren’t sure what to do
  • And more!

Show Notes
  • 1:05

    Justin and Cory begin by talking about how Justin Kan first started in tech

  • 2:17

    How Justin Kan sold his first company…on eBay

  • 3:47

    From selling his first company for $258,100 to his second for nearly $1B

  • 5:05

    When Justin knew that Twitch would become something much bigger than he originally thought

  • 7:37

    Justin discusses times when he thought Twitch might not make it, including threats and lawsuits

  • 8:53

    Cory asks Justin, “What happened when you had six weeks of a runway and no fundraising insight, what did you do?”

  • 9:10

    What founders should never let a potential buyer of their company do

  • 10:18

    How Justin makes difficult decisions

  • 12:24

    Justin’s daily routine and what he tries to fit in each day

  • 13:40

    “Where have you seen startup founders fuck up the most?”

  • 15:03

    Cory and Justin talk about finding untapped talent at

  • 17:46

    “Try a bunch of different things. I generally tell people they should optimize for learning. You should go to places where you’re going to learn the most”

  • 18:27

    Why Justin wishes he would have become a better programmer

  • 19:29

    How Justin is planning on leading Atrium to become bigger than Twitch

  • 20:44

    What Justin does when he’s feeling lethargic

  • 22:13

    “I think controversy is generally irrelevant.” Hear why Justin thinks this at:

  • 24:08

    Justin’s favorite books

  • 24:59

    The people who have made the biggest impact on Justin’s career and how

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