Limor Fried

'Success Is Not a Number,' So Don't Chase Goals That Leave You Unsatisfied

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC
6 min read

Defining “success” in terms of revenue is like jousting with windmills or trying to nail jello to a wall.

“My goal is to see young people, especially people who have not been introduced into engineering or may not have thought of themselves as somebody who would be an engineer, be inspired and be creative," said Limor Fried, the CEO and founder of Adafruit, an engineering kit manufacturing company. "As long as that is happening, I am successful.”

Fried launched Adafruit out of her dorm room at MIT in 2005. She says building and mailing engineering kits was a way for her to avoid working on her thesis project. What was a way for Fried to procrastinate has become a full-time job for her and another seven dozen people.

Related: This CEO Never Expected to Be a CEO. And She Says That's Her Secret Weapon.

Today, Adafruit works out of a 50,000 square-foot facility in lower Manhattan and is on track to do $40 million in sales in 2015. Fried grew the company without taking any outside funding.

But Fried is motivated by more than money, and she says that is what keeps her happy and Adafruit growing. “It separates me from, I think, what happens to some company owners where they start chasing goals that are a little counterproductive. They just want a revenue play,” Fried said during an interview at the Entrepreneur 360 conference in New York City. Ultimately, that may lead to profit, but it may very well also lead to feelings of emptiness and eventual burnout.

Watch this video to hear the impressive story of the birth and growth of Adafruit and why this pink-haired CEO says she has no plans to sell her company.

Related: Limor Fried of Adafruit Industries: You Can't Outsource Knowledge (Podcast)

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