We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeff Greenberg and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeff, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Entrepreneurship is inherently risky. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart as it can be terrifying at times. You’re “all in” with your own future, as well as that of your family. The stakes are huge. Once you go down that path, though, it can be hard to imagine doing anything else. It’s not the kind of job where you can turn it off at the end of the workday, but that is part of the excitement. It’s one reason I have so much respect for mega business leaders like Elon Musk. He’s achieved unbelievable success, yet he keeps risking it all in order to stay in the game. He wants to keep innovating and pushing the boundaries of what we know and the ways in which we live our lives. On a much smaller scale, we try to bring that same drive for innovation and success to FUGU every day. It’s a key motivator to keep pushing forward even during the most stressful of times. One way to mitigate the risk is to surround yourself with the right people. I’ve been fortunate in FUGU to have an incredible team who help keep us pointed in the right direction.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
FUGU partners with organizations and thought leaders to create immersive online learning destinations that draw and engage targeted consumer audiences. We are proud to be innovators in e-learning and we are always developing new and unique ways for students to master skills and interact with instructors. We’ve developed unique systems for video-based testing, student progress tracking, skill review, and content administration that set the standard for interactive learning. Our specialty is in what we refer to as real-world, actionable topics where there are skill-based physical components . We feature in-depth, long-format courses, testing, and certification on topics as diverse as Self-Defense, Kettlebell, Law Enforcement Training, Blackjack Dealing, Anger Management, Painting, Racquetball, and a host of others. We’re known for online universities such as GracieUniversity.com, one of the world’s largest martial arts learning sites, StrongFirst.SkillTrain.com, on advanced physical training and certification, CasinoQuest.SkillTrain.com, for casino player and dealer training, as well as quite a few others. When we first started there were quite a few e-learning platforms focused on corporate training and traditional topics, but we faced considerable skepticism that people could learn skills such as martial arts, sports, and art online. This was in the early days of YouTube and other channels . One of our first validations was when a Jiu-Jitsu student from the UK, who had only trained online through our system, came to the HQ of our partner in the US to test live for his Blue Belt. He was able demonstrate that his skills were not only on par with students that had learned traditionally, in some cases his were better as he was able to isolate and repeat key techniques during the learning process. Of course, now it is widely accepted that online education is an incredible medium for in-depth, personalized learning of this type. While in the beginning it was a challenge to convince investors and clients the model was viable, now the challenge is in rising above the noise. The industry is evolving at a rapid pace and we continuously evaluate and improve our systems and service to ensure it offers the best experience possible for students, instructors, and clients . We are excited about the new products we’ll be releasing soon including personalized video-based skill evaluation and participatory shows . These will take immersive online learning to a whole new level.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In OC, the Irvine Spectrum is always the go-to hang out. It has great restaurants and entertainment and enough variety that you can do something different each time you visit. For friends with children, you just can’t go wrong with Disneyland . It is always a special treat to be there when kids experience it for the first time. Of course, beaches such as Strands and Salt Creek are incredible and if you’re into surfing, Doheny Beach in Dana Point is a favorite spot. For hiking, Black Star Canyon trail and Red Rock Canyon trail are both picturesque destinations (best to wait for sunset to go to Red Rock; the setting sun lights up the rocks in an amazing way). In LA, the Arts District is a favorite with its hole-in-the-wall bars and restaurants.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There have been many people along the way that have had a significant impact on the journey. Certainly, my wife, Linda, and other family members have offered patience, encouragement, and guidance with tough decisions. There have been Board members, clients, and staff that have grown from business associates to deep friends. Their counsel has been invaluable. During FUGU’s growth, key members of the FUGU staff¬– Quin, Brad, Thyme, Mike, Greg, Yanit, and Kati—have been the backbone of the company. There would not be a FUGU without them. I am thankful that our paths crossed and I feel fortunate that they took a chance and joined our team. When I was still a confused teenager, I used to spend time with an Uncle that I was close to. At the time I had no idea what I was going to do in life. I had many passions, too many, and would continuously bounce from one to another. One day, he simply said “I imagine you owning a business one day.” That stuck with me all these years and while the journey took many twists and turns, I knew that eventually that would be the destination.