Garrett Gee: Make Your Own Career
Swim with sperm whales in Dominica—check. Visit an underground city in Turkey—check. Canyoneer in Indonesia—check. See the annual lantern festival in Thailand; swim with penguins in the Galapagos; and kayak with dolphins in Australia—check, check, check!
Known as the Bucket List Family, former BYU students Garrett and Jessica Gee and their children spoke in an assembly hosted by the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. They talked to students and locals about their road to fame while following their dreams and changing plans.
Garrett explained how after returning from an LDS mission, he explored different classes around campus. Garrett said he tried to find his niche but ended up experimenting in multiple majors and focused on taking classes he felt would give him valuable skills. He also got involved with the Rollins Center, which he felt paralleled his own business values.
“I feel like the Rollins Center was always really good at teaching more than business,” Garrett said. “There’s so many well-rounded life lessons taught about how business applies to your family, your faith, and so many other aspects, and that became a part of me without realizing it.”
Garrett began his entrepreneurial pursuits originally doing web design privately, but decided to look for new opportunities and with two other friends built Scan, an app that reads QR codes with embedded URLs to redirect users to websites. During the first launch day, Scan had two thousand downloads. That two-thousand shortly became one million, and big investors such as Facebook and Google began calling.
“I remember the first time we met with Google,” Garrett retells. “There was a long wooden table, and this big investor man comes and sits down and he has a manila envelope. He slides over the manila envelope, I open it, and there’s charts and numbers and all this technical stuff. Luckily Kirk, my cofounder, was with me. (He’s so much smarter than me.) I was like, ‘What does this mean?’ and his eyes get super big, and he’s like, ‘Basically we’re millionaires.’ And that’s when we signed our first term sheet with investors for $1.7 million to start our business.”
Overtime, Garrett realized that climbing up the corporate ladder and being a businessman wasn’t what he wanted for himself or his family. Eventually the team sold Scan to Snapchat for $54 million.
“When I left Snapchat my wife and I had a conversation about what’s next,” Garrett said. “We talked about where we wanted to spend our time and asked ourselves, ‘What’s a career where I can spend more time with my wife and children, more time doing my passions like travel and photography, and more time working on my health? From existing careers I couldn’t really pinpoint it. So we made one up and called it ‘adventure travel journalist.’”
The family compiled a bucket list, sold everything they owned, created an Instagram account and a YouTube channel, and soon enough, Garrett’s next venture had started to become a reality.
“If people knew how much thought and intention went into everything behind the Bucket List Family—it’s just like any other venture startup I’ve done where there’s goals, hopes, and overall vision,” Garrett said. “But then we start with baby steps and work up to that. In every way it’s been a venture.”
Garrett gave hope to his audience that entrepreneurial endeavors are possible when you question life, work hard, and have pure intentions: “Whatever it is about you that’s special, whatever it is about you that drives that passion inside you, if you hold on to that and don’t let the world change it, do it in your own unique way and stay true to yourself, then you can literally do anything,” Garrett said.