Successful entrepreneurs often bring a diverse set of experiences to the table. These experiences can sometimes be highly unusual, but they generally serve to boost the entrepreneur’s resilience and passion.
For Jared Polites, the willingness to risk it all and embrace change helped him go from being a 21-year-old FBI analyst to a seven-figure entrepreneur by the age of 30.
Arguably the most interesting parts of his journey involved his ability to spot opportunities and take personal and business risks that are rooted in gut instinct.
“My first entrepreneurial endeavor was importing shirts from Asia after a friend’s dad found a lost package at the Port of Houston where he worked. This was pre-Alibaba days. We contacted the supplier in China and negotiated bulk orders. These shirts sold for three to four times the price we paid for them and introduced us to the art of the middleman,” explained Polites.
Seeking Personal Growth Through Drastic Change
After studying at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Polites initially sought out tech jobs and was interviewing with Facebook and Google when the FBI swooped in with an offer to join the agency as an analyst.
With a starting salary of less than $45,000, Polites joined the New York Field Office’s white-collar division, where he was embedded in a team of agents investigating frauds ranging from insider trading to market manipulation.
“This was an incredible experience. The only problem was that I was 23 years old and knew my retirement date and salary for the next 25 years,” says Polites. “The entrepreneurial and travel itch hit. I tried to apply to a temporary duty assignment in Afghanistan to mix things up, but was not selected.”
Sensing some stagnation, Polites resigned at the two-year mark and moved to Paris two weeks later to attend the prestigious Sciences Po Paris (The Paris Institute of Political Studies) on a scholarship to receive a master’s in finance.
“Paris got me out of my comfort zone completely and made me jump in the deep end in a new culture and society. I was also supporting myself, which was important to my personal growth. I ended up using the time to travel to over 20 countries in Europe.”
A Series of International Experiences
After graduating, Polites moved to Asia, where he worked at a leading venture capital firm and one of their portfolio companies. There he learned the art of public relations and marketing in the tech sector, as the venture-capital fund grew to 17 portfolio companies, with one raising over $50 million. Despite this growth, Polites found himself without much upside in the form of equity.
Once again sensing some stagnation, Polites used the time in Asia to travel and grow personally, but eventually tried his luck at professional poker. Spending the next year in Las Vegas and traveling, Polites played frequent 10-hour sessions at some of the top poker rooms.
Polites describes this experience as “the best money management and psychology crash course you can have.” He explains, “By my third month playing, 6 of the 10 players at the table were locals or professionals. It became a mental battle day in and day out to outsmart people who literally survive off of the game.”
After a year of grinding cash games, Polites went back into tech and joined a startup in New York City that was acquired by NBC Sports just 11 months later. During this stint, he was re-introduced to cryptocurrency by a colleague and everything fell into place.
How a One-Word Edit Changed Everything
“The truth is, I fell down the crypto rabbit hole after Ethereum jumped 150 percent in price during the 5-day verification window on Kraken where I tried to first purchase it,” explains Polites.
Feeling the momentum, Polites left his day job at the startup and began thinking about ways to professionally take advantage of the blockchain wave.
“One night I went on Upwork.com and changed my title from Tech Marketer to Blockchain Marketer, and the floodgates opened.”
This led to him joining an agency that hired him to help with marketing for an ICO that went on to raise over $30 million. The second job from Upwork was from the founder of Crypto Media Group, one of the earliest full-service blockchain marketing firms.
After coming into the news by brokering the first legal celebrity-endorsed ICO campaign, Crypto Media Group needed help expanding. Polites joined the founder in building out the company. Their first two clients brought in over $100 million from their crowdfunding campaigns.
Less than two years later, Polites has built a book of over 70 blockchain and tech clients. His work includes strategy consulting, marketing and general advisory.
Without any full-time employees or income from capital gains, Polites has been able to generate over seven figures of revenue from his sole proprietorship.
Polites on Becoming Self-Aware
With a career that has been nontraditional and anything but stable, Polites says self-awareness has been key in his journey.
“It took me a couple of office jobs to realize I would never be happy without full autonomy over my schedule and work. While there are a few jobs I would consider taking, the freedom of staying independent and agile is worth the tradeoff of stability and other benefits.”
For Polites, freedom is more important than money. With this freedom, Polites has established his home base in Barcelona, Spain, where he works out of his home office and a private members club called The Soho House.
He typically travels two weeks out of the month and is able to work remotely. Besides his primary business, Polites has invested in companies ranging from an innovative AI SaaS company to a cannabis-cultivation operation in California.
“Thinking about what kind of ideal lifestyle you want will quickly help eliminate situations or career tracks that don’t fit. Sometimes you will need to try something a few times to realize it is not for you. This is hard when stability, benefits, prestige and all of the normal incentives of a full-time job are on the line. If you can figure out what you want, you will be a step ahead,” Polites said.
Moving Forward and Continuing to Grow
When asked what is next, Polites grins. “After telling you my history, I think we both know that I have no idea,” he joked.
“In all seriousness, I want to continue working with early-stage tech founders and continue investing in innovative projects as a venture partner and angel investor. Eventually, I want to go back to school and teach at the university level. If I can help others find their path and challenge societal norms, that would be extremely rewarding.”
When asked about blockchain, Polites remarks, “This is the industry that elevated my career so I feel indebted to it as an evangelist, educator, professional and peer.”
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