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This Founder Raised $68.1 Million Last Year, But Only After Admitting to Investors: 'It's a Crazy Situation… I Don't Have Great Options'

At the beginning of 2020, John Berkowitz was determined to acquire a much bigger company, and it wasn't going well. Then the pandemic set in. But chaos worked in his favor.

This article was updated on September 16, 2021
This story appears in the June 2021 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

John Berkowitz grabbed a surfboard, paddled out into open water, and let loose nearly a year’s worth of anxiety. “I just screamed,” he says. “At the top of my lungs. It was the most incredible PTSD scream I’ve ever done.”

Courtesy of OJO Labs

Berkowitz had begun 2020 trying to acquire a larger company, which was already stressful. Then the pandemic set in, causing chaos. Investors were scared. Travel was impossible. But he pulled it off —­ raising $68.1 million, outlasting competitors, navigating cultural barriers, and transforming his business as a result.

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