LinkedIn Co-Founder Shares Secrets With U.S. Vet

ABC News

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman says entrepreneurship is like throwing "yourself off a cliff."

"One of the things that Silicon Valley tends to be known for is this phrase, 'Fail fast'. And the reason why you fail fast is not because you want failure, but because if you fail and learn, you can get to success in the long term much faster," he said in ABC's Standing Up For Heroes series.

A Stanford engineering grad and alum of various tech companies, Hoffman started LinkedIn in his home living room in 2002. After launching in 2003, it became the largest professional networking service, now with over 175 million members in more than 200 countries.

As an early investor in Facebook and now a partner with venture capital firm Greylock Partners, the 45-year old's estimated net worth is $2.1 billion, according to Forbes.

The venture capitalist recently swapped stories with U.S. veteran Jennifer Vollbrecht.

Vollbrecht, 26, is a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter crew chief and mechanic. In Iraq, she and her team of Marines risked their lives helping save others. Currently an integration and test engineer, she faces a new challenge of transitioning into civilian life and moving past an entry-level position.

Vollbrecht asked Hoffman, who mentors young entrepreneurs as a venture capitalist, how she can fulfill her dream of being an entrepreneur.

"One of the metaphors that I use for entrepreneurship, you may or may not have heard this already, is, you throw yourself off a cliff and you assemble an airplane on the way down," he told Vollbrecht. "In your case, it may be a helicopter. "

Well before he started LinkedIn, Hoffman was founder of the online dating site Socialnet. That site flopped but was a valuable experience that led him to his investment in social media site Facebook, and the founding of LinkedIn.

While he was CEO, Hoffman eventually led LinkedIn to profitability in 2006, a key achievement for tech startups that are known to bleed money in their first several years.

"The key thing is, to figure out where you see a problem in a way other people don't see, and evaluating whether or not that can be a company," he said.