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Rodney Williams gave up a six-figure salary for start-up debt, and succeeded. Here's how

Key Points
  • LISNR — which develops software that enables devices to communicate via ultrasound — is being used in mobile payments, ticketing, and mobile authentication and has attracted investment from Visa and a deal with Live Nation Entertainment.
  • The company's co-founder says starting a business will result in many sleepless nights, and young entrepreneurs need to bring "delusional optimism" to the effort.
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Rodney Williams talks about the importance of optimism

Rodney Williams knows a lot about the fear that goes along with becoming an entrepreneur. Six years ago, Williams left his six-figure job at Procter & Gamble to co-found a business which required racking up six figures in debt.

The risk paid off.

Today, LISNR — which develops software that enables devices to communicate via ultrasound — is being used in mobile payments, ticketing, and mobile authentication. And the company has lined up some notable investors and business partners, including Visa and Live Nation Entertainment's Ticketmaster.

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Williams, the company's chief commercial officer, says maintaining a positive attitude guided him through the early days of LISNR. With any start-up, there are going to be many sleepless nights. Williams says you need to wake up with a smile on your face and have "delusional optimism."

Williams also said his humble upbringing, and his mother's guidance, have helped him to remain positive in times of stress, and made him more resistant to fear.

Rodney Williams, co-founder and CEO of LISNR
Source: LISNR

Williams says being African-American made his path as a young entrepreneur even more of an uphill battle, and people of color should expect they may face additional hurdles. But Williams trusts that great ideas will prevail as long as the right mindset is in place and a process is followed.

LISNR was chosen as a CNBC Disruptor 50 company in 2019 and has made the list of disruptive start-ups multiple times.

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.