Under30CEO » Entrepreneur Interviews http://under30ceo.com Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:00:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.6 Under30CEO interviews successful young entrepreneurs to hear about their story and journey while starting their company. These young founders have over a million dollars a year in revenues and have been through many ups and downs to get there. These stories are meant to inspire, educate and motivate more young people to take a leap and do what they are passionate about. Under30CEO clean Under30CEO jared@under30ceo.com jared@under30ceo.com (Under30CEO) Under30CEO Interviews with Young Entrepreneurs on Starting Businesses entrepreneur, business, interview, young entrepreneur, business advice, startup advice, founder interview, ceo Under30CEO http://under30ceo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/u30logo300x250.png http://under30ceo.com/category/entrepreneurship-2/under30ceo-interviews/ Law School Dropout – Interview with LawKick’s Aaron George http://under30ceo.com/law-school-dropout-interview-lawkicks-aaron-george/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=law-school-dropout-interview-lawkicks-aaron-george http://under30ceo.com/law-school-dropout-interview-lawkicks-aaron-george/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:00:04 +0000 Michael Luchies http://under30ceo.com/?p=39293 Dropout is such a negative word. Young entrepreneurs all across the country and world are ‘dropping out’ of school, but not because they are failing.  Aaron George may have dropped out of law school, but it wasn’t to take a  job or because he couldn’t handle it. He left law school to focus on something […]

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LawKick Founders

Lawkick Founders Michael Chasin and Aaron George

Dropout is such a negative word. Young entrepreneurs all across the country and world are ‘dropping out’ of school, but not because they are failing.  Aaron George may have dropped out of law school, but it wasn’t to take a  job or because he couldn’t handle it. He left law school to focus on something he was truly passionate about – lawyers. But why work with lawyers if you don’t want to be one?

Find a problem that you’re really passionate about solving. Once you find that, the pieces fall into place and your able to make it happen if you really care about it.”

Aaron may not have wanted to become a lawyer himself, but after experiencing the problems that both lawyers and people who needed legal services faced in the current market, he found his calling to offer a solution to both sides of the equation. Aaron is co-founder of LawKick, which he describes as “an online marketplace aiming to revolutionize the legal industry by making it easier and more affordable to get legal help.”

Lawkick Logo

LawKick allows users to post what they are looking for from an attorney. Attorneys who are qualified and vetted can then view the information posted and respond with a quote. The app helps people find reliable and affordable attorneys while giving those attorneys increased visibility and the ability to compete for jobs. Gap, meet bridge.

The company was founded by Aaron George and Michael Chasin in October of 2012 and has raised over $200,000 to date.

Aaron says that he’s “always been creative and a problem solver,” but he never considered it as a possible career route. He started a few blogs and websites while in college, but it wasn’t until apps started taking off when he got hooked. Aaron founded AppVentorous, which he still works on today alongside LawKick, which is his primary focus. AppVentorous created apps include Bloody Knuckles, Shadow Quiz, Sound Pop Quiz, and Word Play Games.

Asked what the most rewarding experience of being an entrepreneur has been so far, Aaron replied, “it’s rewarding to see something that I created out there in the world and see other people using and benefiting from it.”

Although he may have dropped out of law school, there’s no giving up for Aaron George – only passion and dedication. Kudos to Aaron for recognizing that his academic path wasn’t getting him closer to who and what he wanted to be, but stopping him from getting there. If everyone could dropout from what they hate to pursue something they love, the world would be a much better place.

Get your kicks by listening to the full interview below!

Interview Highlights

  • How the co-founders went from the idea stage to launching the business.
  • An unexpected customer acquisition hurdle the company faced and how they dealt with it.
  • How LawKick is acquiring end users through providing quality content.
  • In response to the end goals with LawKick: “Of course every entrepreneur wants that exit, but it can’t really be all about the money. It’s gotta be the passion, solving the problem, and making the world a better place.”
  • Career as an entrepreneur: “ It’s a journey, not a destination. It’s all been rewarding. A lot of ups and downs.” “The entire process of being an entrepreneur is rewarding in itself.”

Quick-Fire Questions

  • How many hours do you spend a week working on your ventures or other entrepreneurship related projects? “At least 60-80 hours. Definitely the majority of my time.”
  • How much sleep do you get a night? “Probably 6 or 7 hours every night.”
  • What do you do in your free time to relax? “In the little free time that I do have, I enjoy snowboarding a lot. Hanging out with girlfriend , friends, beach, relaxing, sports.”
  • What is the worst business idea you’ve ever had? A ‘Hot or Not’ like mobile app. Aaron came up with the idea and started to push forward as fast as possible to get it going. Apple rejected the app. After changes and a lot of additional time and money invested in the app, it was still rejected. Aaron “found out there is no get rich quick scheme in entrepreneurship.”
  • If you could add one entrepreneur n the world to your team at LawKick, who would it be and why? “Elon Musk would be my #1 guy. He is someone who tackles these huge problems. He is an inspiration to me.”

Listen to the full interview here:

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http://under30ceo.com/law-school-dropout-interview-lawkicks-aaron-george/feed/ 0 Aaron George,ceo,entrepreneur interviews,fundraising,LawKick,Lawyers,Legal Assistance,Legal Help,Michael Chasin,startups Dropout is such a negative word. Young entrepreneurs all across the country and world are 'dropping out' of school, but not because they are failing.  Aaron George may have dropped out of law school, but it wasn't to take a  job or because he couldn't ... Dropout is such a negative word. Young entrepreneurs all across the country and world are 'dropping out' of school, but not because they are failing.  Aaron George may have dropped out of law school, but it wasn't to take a  job or because he couldn't handle it. He left law school to focus on something he was truly passionate about – lawyers. But why work with lawyers if you don't want to be one? “Find a problem that you're really passionate about solving. Once you find that, the pieces fall into place and your able to make it happen if you really care about it.” Aaron may not have wanted to become a lawyer himself, but after experiencing the problems that both lawyers and people who needed legal services faced in the current market, he found his calling to offer a solution to both sides of the equation. Aaron is co-founder of LawKick, which he describes as “an online marketplace aiming to revolutionize the legal industry by making it easier and more affordable to get legal help.” LawKick allows users to post what they are looking for from an attorney. Attorneys who are qualified and vetted can then view the information posted and respond with a quote. The app helps people find reliable and affordable attorneys while giving those attorneys increased visibility and the ability to compete for jobs. Gap, meet bridge. The company was founded by Aaron George and Michael Chasin in October of 2012 and has raised over $200,000 to date. Aaron says that he's “always been creative and a problem solver,” but he never considered it as a possible career route. He started a few blogs and websites while in college, but it wasn't until apps started taking off when he got hooked. Aaron founded AppVentorous, which he still works on today alongside LawKick, which is his primary focus. AppVentorous created apps include Bloody Knuckles, Shadow Quiz, Sound Pop Quiz, and Word Play Games. Asked what the most rewarding experience of being an entrepreneur has been so far, Aaron replied, “it's rewarding to see something that I created out there in the world and see other people using and benefiting from it.” Although he may have dropped out of law school, there's no giving up for Aaron George - only passion and dedication. Kudos to Aaron for recognizing that his academic path wasn't getting him closer to who and what he wanted to be, but stopping him from getting there. If everyone could dropout from what they hate to pursue something they love, the world would be a much better place. Get your kicks by listening to the full interview below! Interview Highlights How the co-founders went from the idea stage to launching the business. An unexpected customer acquisition hurdle the company faced and how they dealt with it. How LawKick is acquiring end users through providing quality content. In response to the end goals with LawKick: “Of course every entrepreneur wants that exit, but it can't really be all about the money. It's gotta be the passion, solving the problem, and making the world a better place.” Career as an entrepreneur: “ It's a journey, not a destination. It's all been rewarding. A lot of ups and downs.” “The entire process of being an entrepreneur is rewarding in itself.” Quick-Fire Questions How many hours do you spend a week working on your ventures or other entrepreneurship related projects? “At least 60-80 hours. Definitely the majority of my time.” How much sleep do you get a night? “Probably 6 or 7 hours every night.” What do you do in your free time to relax? “In the little free time that I do have, I enjoy snowboarding a lot. Hanging out with girlfriend , friends, beach, relaxing, sports.” What is the worst business idea you’ve ever had? A 'Hot or Not' like mobile app. Aaron came up with the idea and started to push forward as fast as possible to get it going. Apple rejected the app. After changes and a lot of additional time and money invested in the app, it was still rejected. Under30CEO clean
This Bus Runs on Passion – Interview with Ricky Berrin of SalesBus http://under30ceo.com/bus-runs-passion-interview-ricky-berrin-salesbus/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bus-runs-passion-interview-ricky-berrin-salesbus http://under30ceo.com/bus-runs-passion-interview-ricky-berrin-salesbus/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 15:00:43 +0000 Michael Luchies http://under30ceo.com/?p=39152 SalesBus Founders Rickey Berrin (left) and Seth Murphy (right) Entrepreneurs are often fueled by passion. When asked what’s important in vetting an idea to pursue as an entrepreneur, Ricky Berrin responded, “Make sure it’s something you are passionate about because you’re going to be spending a lot of time on it. The second part is […]

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RickyandSethNYUEF

SalesBus Founders Rickey Berrin (left) and Seth Murphy (right)

Entrepreneurs are often fueled by passion. When asked what’s important in vetting an idea to pursue as an entrepreneur, Ricky Berrin responded, “Make sure it’s something you are passionate about because you’re going to be spending a lot of time on it. The second part is making sure what you’re building is something people actually care about and want.”

Ricky is a passionate entrepreneur who started his entrepreneurial ride at a young age selling mangos on the street with his sister. In 2012, Ricky and his team SeeMore Technology took home a share of $75,000 in NYU’s Technology Venture Competition. Since the competition, he has also been involved in the Dorm Room Fund, served as the co-president of the NYU Entrepreneurs Network, and worked in business development at The Fancy.

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for fellow young entrepreneurs?

A: “Make it happen. Go for it!”

It’s been a crazy past few years for Ricky, but so is the life of a young entrepreneur. “You may have a lot of obstacles and it’s going to be tough. You have to recognize that going in, but for me it’s been extremely rewarding and the challenges are really exciting. I think it’s probably better than any job you could get.”

SalesBus

Ricky describes what they are doing with SalesBus as “empowering individuals to become sales people for their favorite products.” The startup has created a platform where companies can post their products, which will then be sold offline in a direct selling style method by a young sales force. After running a successful a pilot program at Rutgers University last semester, the company is now launching a campus representative program on multiple campuses in the Northeast.

Ricky was working at The Fancy when he realized the strong relationship that people have with products they love through websites like The Fancy and Pinterest. Being in love with tech products and cool new toys is nothing new, but the ability to share with friends and the world has never been stronger thanks to technology and resources to do so. The power and influence of a friends’ recommendation fuels billions of dollars of purchases each year. The emergence of direct selling and multi-level marketing is a product of the effectiveness of referrals and selling to your inner circle. SalesBus is matching up direct selling with products chosen by the seller, allowing the seller to promote what they are passionate about.

We all are passionate about something. Ricky has clearly found his passion with entrepreneurship and is counting on the passion of others to share what they love to fuel SalesBus.

Jump on the bus and stay a while! Listen to the full interview with Ricky Berrin below.

Sources

Direct Selling Association

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http://under30ceo.com/bus-runs-passion-interview-ricky-berrin-salesbus/feed/ 1 Chicago Startups,entrepreneur interviews,Ricky Berrin,SalesBus,Seth Murphy,startups SalesBus Founders Rickey Berrin (left) and Seth Murphy (right) Entrepreneurs are often fueled by passion. When asked what's important in vetting an idea to pursue as an entrepreneur, Ricky Berrin responded, SalesBus Founders Rickey Berrin (left) and Seth Murphy (right) Entrepreneurs are often fueled by passion. When asked what's important in vetting an idea to pursue as an entrepreneur, Ricky Berrin responded, “Make sure it's something you are passionate about because you're going to be spending a lot of time on it. The second part is making sure what you're building is something people actually care about and want.” Ricky is a passionate entrepreneur who started his entrepreneurial ride at a young age selling mangos on the street with his sister. In 2012, Ricky and his team SeeMore Technology took home a share of $75,000 in NYU's Technology Venture Competition. Since the competition, he has also been involved in the Dorm Room Fund, served as the co-president of the NYU Entrepreneurs Network, and worked in business development at The Fancy. Q: What’s your best piece of advice for fellow young entrepreneurs? A: “Make it happen. Go for it!” It's been a crazy past few years for Ricky, but so is the life of a young entrepreneur. “You may have a lot of obstacles and it's going to be tough. You have to recognize that going in, but for me it's been extremely rewarding and the challenges are really exciting. I think it's probably better than any job you could get.” SalesBus Ricky describes what they are doing with SalesBus as “empowering individuals to become sales people for their favorite products.” The startup has created a platform where companies can post their products, which will then be sold offline in a direct selling style method by a young sales force. After running a successful a pilot program at Rutgers University last semester, the company is now launching a campus representative program on multiple campuses in the Northeast. Ricky was working at The Fancy when he realized the strong relationship that people have with products they love through websites like The Fancy and Pinterest. Being in love with tech products and cool new toys is nothing new, but the ability to share with friends and the world has never been stronger thanks to technology and resources to do so. The power and influence of a friends’ recommendation fuels billions of dollars of purchases each year. The emergence of direct selling and multi-level marketing is a product of the effectiveness of referrals and selling to your inner circle. SalesBus is matching up direct selling with products chosen by the seller, allowing the seller to promote what they are passionate about. We all are passionate about something. Ricky has clearly found his passion with entrepreneurship and is counting on the passion of others to share what they love to fuel SalesBus. Jump on the bus and stay a while! Listen to the full interview with Ricky Berrin below. You can contact Ricky at Ricky@SalesBus.com Sources Direct Selling Association Under30CEO clean
Finding the Right Spot – Interview with Spot Hero’s Jeremy Smith http://under30ceo.com/finding-right-spot-interview-spot-heros-jeremy-smith/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=finding-right-spot-interview-spot-heros-jeremy-smith http://under30ceo.com/finding-right-spot-interview-spot-heros-jeremy-smith/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 15:00:32 +0000 Michael Luchies http://under30ceo.com/?p=38807 Parking in Chicago can be as difficult as it is expensive.  In trying to find an affordable place to park while attending a Bachelor party, I discovered SpotHero. The options available to me before finding SpotHero included paying $50 a day for valet parking at the hotel, spending $6.50 an hour for metered parking, or […]

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JeremySmithpicParking in Chicago can be as difficult as it is expensive.  In trying to find an affordable place to park while attending a Bachelor party, I discovered SpotHero. The options available to me before finding SpotHero included paying $50 a day for valet parking at the hotel, spending $6.50 an hour for metered parking, or searching for a parking lot the day of, which averages $32 a day.  I found a place to park for three days near my hotel for $25. I was very impressed with the startup that is trying to “relieve the stress of parking,” as SpotHero Founder and CEO Jeremy Smith put it.

Trying to avoid valet fees was a strong motivator for me, but Jeremy had a stronger incentive to create a solution to decrease the difficult nature of finding parking in a busy city. What was it that inspired him? $3,500 in parking tickets! “I wasn’t very good at reading signs. I always thought that I’d get away with it…but I got busted every single time.  I really started developing this frustration against parking because it was costing me so much money.  I decided that I actually needed to make a solution for it and the idea for SpotHero came about.”

The urban parking spot focused startup began with serving Chicago Cubs fans.  During his time living  in the Chicago Lakeview neighborhood near Wrigley Field, Jeremy saw homeowners area rent out their yards and driveways on game days.  There was a big gap in available parking versus the high demand. The obvious need for game day parking paired with the benefit to property owners to made this a good fit.  The business was growing strong in the first year until they ran into a big problem – baseball season ended.  The startup pivoted to target parking garages in the downtown area where there was once again a need on both sides of the problem, and the business could operate throughout the entire year.

SpotHero-logo

Shifting the company’s focus to work with parking garages wasn’t an easy task.  When asked what the hardest aspect of the pivot was, Jeremy replied, “the relationship side with parking companies.  These are very old school people, so helping them understand that a few guys with a website are going to be able to help them fill their garages seemed ludicrous two years ago.”  However hard the obstacle, it’s clear that the startup has been able to overcome this hurdle and carve out a very strong niche.  If searching for a parking spot in Chicago on SpotHero, you’ll find 40-60 available parking structures.

“Being an entrepreneur means you roll up your sleeves, you get dirty. You have to figure out a way to make things happen.”

Jeremy said that his biggest accomplishment so far has been “being able to take a personal problem, see it through to actually become a product and then growing, and now scaling it.” The company is currently working on taking what is working in Chicago and bringing it into new markets.  SpotHero’s website currently lists seven cities of operation including; Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, Newark, New York City, and Washington D.C. Jeremy Smith has found the right spot while helping others find theirs.

Park here for free! Listen to the full interview with Jeremy Smith below.

Interview Highlights

- How the founding team’s desire to make things happen helped drive growth.

- The impact that their experience with Excelerate Labs (now TechStars Chicago) had on the company: “It was the most critical thing our business has done.”

- Best piece of advice for fellow young entrepreneurs: “Pair up with someone smarter than you, get going as soon as you can and just get involved.”

- What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur? “In the early days it comes down to thinking that you can do everything yourself and you realize that you ultimately can’t. In the early days I didn’t know how to handle that tunnel vision. It’s going to be a team working together…you can’t do it all yourself.”

- If you could add one entrepreneur to your team at SpotHero, who would it be and why? “It would have to be Elon Musk. That guy is Superman. He is willing to tackle the hardest problems out there with complete disregard for any type of fear.”

Listen to the full interview here:

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http://under30ceo.com/finding-right-spot-interview-spot-heros-jeremy-smith/feed/ 1 ceo,chicago,Chicago Entrepreneur,Chicago Parking,entrepreneur interviews,Jeremy Smith,SpotHero,Spothero.com,TechStars Chicago Parking in Chicago can be as difficult as it is expensive.  In trying to find an affordable place to park while attending a Bachelor party, I discovered SpotHero. The options available to me before finding SpotHero included paying $50 a day for valet p... Parking in Chicago can be as difficult as it is expensive.  In trying to find an affordable place to park while attending a Bachelor party, I discovered SpotHero. The options available to me before finding SpotHero included paying $50 a day for valet parking at the hotel, spending $6.50 an hour for metered parking, or searching for a parking lot the day of, which averages $32 a day.  I found a place to park for three days near my hotel for $25. I was very impressed with the startup that is trying to “relieve the stress of parking,” as SpotHero Founder and CEO Jeremy Smith put it. Trying to avoid valet fees was a strong motivator for me, but Jeremy had a stronger incentive to create a solution to decrease the difficult nature of finding parking in a busy city. What was it that inspired him? $3,500 in parking tickets! “I wasn’t very good at reading signs. I always thought that I’d get away with it…but I got busted every single time.  I really started developing this frustration against parking because it was costing me so much money.  I decided that I actually needed to make a solution for it and the idea for SpotHero came about.” The urban parking spot focused startup began with serving Chicago Cubs fans.  During his time living  in the Chicago Lakeview neighborhood near Wrigley Field, Jeremy saw homeowners area rent out their yards and driveways on game days.  There was a big gap in available parking versus the high demand. The obvious need for game day parking paired with the benefit to property owners to made this a good fit.  The business was growing strong in the first year until they ran into a big problem – baseball season ended.  The startup pivoted to target parking garages in the downtown area where there was once again a need on both sides of the problem, and the business could operate throughout the entire year. Shifting the company's focus to work with parking garages wasn’t an easy task.  When asked what the hardest aspect of the pivot was, Jeremy replied, “the relationship side with parking companies.  These are very old school people, so helping them understand that a few guys with a website are going to be able to help them fill their garages seemed ludicrous two years ago.”  However hard the obstacle, it’s clear that the startup has been able to overcome this hurdle and carve out a very strong niche.  If searching for a parking spot in Chicago on SpotHero, you’ll find 40-60 available parking structures. “Being an entrepreneur means you roll up your sleeves, you get dirty. You have to figure out a way to make things happen.” Jeremy said that his biggest accomplishment so far has been “being able to take a personal problem, see it through to actually become a product and then growing, and now scaling it.” The company is currently working on taking what is working in Chicago and bringing it into new markets.  SpotHero’s website currently lists seven cities of operation including; Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, Newark, New York City, and Washington D.C. Jeremy Smith has found the right spot while helping others find theirs. Park here for free! Listen to the full interview with Jeremy Smith below. Interview Highlights - How the founding team’s desire to make things happen helped drive growth. - The impact that their experience with Excelerate Labs (now TechStars Chicago) had on the company: “It was the most critical thing our business has done.” - Best piece of advice for fellow young entrepreneurs: “Pair up with someone smarter than you, get going as soon as you can and just get involved.” - What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur? “In the early days it comes down to thinking that you can do everything yourself and you realize that you ultimately can’t. In the early days I didn’t know how to handle that tunnel vision. It’s going to be a team working together…you can’t do it all yourself.” - If you could add one entrepreneur to your team at SpotHero, Under30CEO clean
Ad Answers – Interview with Jebbit’s Tom Coburn http://under30ceo.com/ad-answers-interview-jebbits-tom-coburn/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ad-answers-interview-jebbits-tom-coburn http://under30ceo.com/ad-answers-interview-jebbits-tom-coburn/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 15:00:53 +0000 Michael Luchies http://under30ceo.com/?p=38746 We all love online advertising!  The wonderful pop-up videos, banner ads, and numerous links to click appearing while getting our daily fix of streaming television shows online makes our daily lives better, right?  Odds are that online ads and have little effect on your daily life.   Outside of an annoyance and a little bit of […]

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Tom Coburn Headshot

We all love online advertising!  The wonderful pop-up videos, banner ads, and numerous links to click appearing while getting our daily fix of streaming television shows online makes our daily lives better, right?  Odds are that online ads and have little effect on your daily life.   Outside of an annoyance and a little bit of waster times, you quickly forget online ads and have gain lasting impression of the brands that were begging for your attention.  Jebbit co-founder Tom Coburn realized the ineffectiveness of the current forms of online ads one day while he opened a second browser instead of watching a video ad.  The advertiser whose ad was being displayed was just wasting money while also wasting Tom’s time.  The idea for Jebbit was born to battle the low impact ads that were wasting the time and money of brands and consumers.

There was a time when banner ads were all the rage, but Tom stated that click rates of static banner ads can be as low as 00.05%.  Even modern ad types are starting to lose their luster as *bounce rates range from 70-90%. Jebbit saw this as a big opportunity for a new entrant into the market and decided to offer ‘post-click engagement.’ Post-click engagement helps ensure that someone who clicks on a page engages with the brand instead of bouncing off of the page and costing the advertiser money in the process.  The model has worked very well for Jebbit, who now employs 13 full-time employees and has worked with over 100 brands, including Coca-Cola and Spotify.

Tom describes Jebbit as an “online advertising platform that allows brands to better understand (if) they are getting their message across to consumers through their online ads.”  Instead of banner ads, video ads that play before a streamed video or having an advertiser Pay Per Click (PPC), Jebbit created Cost Per Correct Answer (CPCA). CPCA engages the audience directly and is in-line with Jebbit’s beliefs that brands should never have to pay for ads unless a customer engages with the ad. “The true value doesn’t come from a click or impression but really comes from the interaction and engagement you can get from a consumer once they click and get to your website.” With CPCA, brands get the chance to ask questions to the consumer about the content they are shown and receive feedback based on their advertisements.

Jebbit Team Pic

The company’s growth has been fueled by a strong team and a dedicated founder and CEO in Tom Coburn.  Tom does not have years of experience in the industry and wasn’t even a business school student when deciding to pursue Jebbit full-time.

Tom was a biology and theology double major at Boston College and he had planned on pursuing medical school upon graduating.    With a team of several friends, Tom tried pursuing about 5-6 other business ideas before Jebbit.  After getting some early momentum, the team won the Boston College Venture Competition.  The group was accepted into the Summer@Highland program where they received office space, startup capital, and mentors.  The founders quit their ‘normal’ jobs to focus full-time on Jebbit.

“I haven’t taken a marketing or business class yet, but I’ve definitely learned a lot over the past few years.”

Tom is one of a growing number of college students who dropped out to pursue their business.  I asked Tom how a young entrepreneur can know if it’s an opportunity worth leaving school.  “At the end of the day we really just did what was going to make us the most happy every day. I don’t think it’s as much about how big the business is going to be or how successful do we know it’s going to be.  So much of that is unknown going into it.  What really allowed us to make the decision was knowing we had the security of going back to school whenever we wanted and doing what we thought was going to make us happy every day.”

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for fellow young entrepreneurs?

A: “Make sure you are doing something every day to move the business forward.”

Moving forward, Jebbit will be working on getting the word out to digital marketers and brands about the value that CPCA can provide.  The company is looking to hire additional talent in technology and sales as they continue to improve the product and scale the company.  “Over the next year we hope to become more well-known and become the standard for post-click engagement and what you do with a consumer after the click and after the impression.”

Get the full story, listen to the full interview with Tom Coburn below!

Interview Highlights

- Insights on how Jebbit is standing out in a crowded industry.

- How the name Jebbit came from an original co-founder and Tom’s mother.

- What was the worst business idea you’ve ever had? Freshman year at Boston College, as a pre-med major, Tom teamed up with several friends and partners to start a business that would allow women to give themselves an at-home pap smear test.  The group was able to get certified to host clinical trials, but the business fell apart due to not being the right fit.

- If you could add one entrepreneur in the world to your team at Jebbit, who would it be and why? “I would definitely have to say I’m most inspired by Elon Musk. Everything he has been able to accomplish is truly amazing.”

- If you had to start a business in a different industry, what industry would it be and why? “I’d love to start something in the healthcare field.”

*Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.  Some bounce rates are also associated with a specific amount of time before closing or navigating to a different website.

Listen to the full interview here:

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http://under30ceo.com/ad-answers-interview-jebbits-tom-coburn/feed/ 0 advertising,boston,Boston College,Boston College Venture Competition,CPC,CPCA,entrepreneur,entrepreneur interviews,interviews,Jebbit,startups,Tom Coburn We all love online advertising!  The wonderful pop-up videos, banner ads, and numerous links to click appearing while getting our daily fix of streaming television shows online makes our daily lives better, right? We all love online advertising!  The wonderful pop-up videos, banner ads, and numerous links to click appearing while getting our daily fix of streaming television shows online makes our daily lives better, right?  Odds are that online ads and have little effect on your daily life.   Outside of an annoyance and a little bit of waster times, you quickly forget online ads and have gain lasting impression of the brands that were begging for your attention.  Jebbit co-founder Tom Coburn realized the ineffectiveness of the current forms of online ads one day while he opened a second browser instead of watching a video ad.  The advertiser whose ad was being displayed was just wasting money while also wasting Tom’s time.  The idea for Jebbit was born to battle the low impact ads that were wasting the time and money of brands and consumers. There was a time when banner ads were all the rage, but Tom stated that click rates of static banner ads can be as low as 00.05%.  Even modern ad types are starting to lose their luster as *bounce rates range from 70-90%. Jebbit saw this as a big opportunity for a new entrant into the market and decided to offer ‘post-click engagement.’ Post-click engagement helps ensure that someone who clicks on a page engages with the brand instead of bouncing off of the page and costing the advertiser money in the process.  The model has worked very well for Jebbit, who now employs 13 full-time employees and has worked with over 100 brands, including Coca-Cola and Spotify. Tom describes Jebbit as an “online advertising platform that allows brands to better understand (if) they are getting their message across to consumers through their online ads.”  Instead of banner ads, video ads that play before a streamed video or having an advertiser Pay Per Click (PPC), Jebbit created Cost Per Correct Answer (CPCA). CPCA engages the audience directly and is in-line with Jebbit’s beliefs that brands should never have to pay for ads unless a customer engages with the ad. “The true value doesn’t come from a click or impression but really comes from the interaction and engagement you can get from a consumer once they click and get to your website.” With CPCA, brands get the chance to ask questions to the consumer about the content they are shown and receive feedback based on their advertisements. The company’s growth has been fueled by a strong team and a dedicated founder and CEO in Tom Coburn.  Tom does not have years of experience in the industry and wasn't even a business school student when deciding to pursue Jebbit full-time. Tom was a biology and theology double major at Boston College and he had planned on pursuing medical school upon graduating.    With a team of several friends, Tom tried pursuing about 5-6 other business ideas before Jebbit.  After getting some early momentum, the team won the Boston College Venture Competition.  The group was accepted into the Summer@Highland program where they received office space, startup capital, and mentors.  The founders quit their ‘normal’ jobs to focus full-time on Jebbit. “I haven’t taken a marketing or business class yet, but I've definitely learned a lot over the past few years.” Tom is one of a growing number of college students who dropped out to pursue their business.  I asked Tom how a young entrepreneur can know if it’s an opportunity worth leaving school.  “At the end of the day we really just did what was going to make us the most happy every day. I don’t think it’s as much about how big the business is going to be or how successful do we know it’s going to be.  So much of that is unknown going into it.  What really allowed us to make the decision was knowing we had the security of going back to school whenever we wanted and doing what we thought was going to make us happy every day.” Q: What’s your best piece of advice for fellow young entrepreneurs? A: “Make sure you are doing something every day to move the business forward.” Under30CEO clean
Subscribing to Success – Interview with OrderGroove Founder Greg Alvo http://under30ceo.com/subscribing-success-interview-ordergroove-founder-greg-alvo/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=subscribing-success-interview-ordergroove-founder-greg-alvo http://under30ceo.com/subscribing-success-interview-ordergroove-founder-greg-alvo/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 15:00:29 +0000 Michael Luchies http://under30ceo.com/?p=38601 What is OrderGroove? “We power subscription commerce programs for brands and retailers to help them extend lifetime value of their most valuable customers.” E-commerce subscription platforms are a significant part of online business now, but in 2008, convincing investors that a subscription commerce model would take off was a significant challenge. OrderGroove founder and CEO […]

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Greg Alvo Headshot

What is OrderGroove?

“We power subscription commerce programs for brands and retailers to help them extend lifetime value of their most valuable customers.”

E-commerce subscription platforms are a significant part of online business now, but in 2008, convincing investors that a subscription commerce model would take off was a significant challenge. OrderGroove founder and CEO Greg Alvo turned to bootstrapping instead of dwelling on the lack of investors initially interested in the company and industry.  Greg focused on building a great product and pleasing clients.  This strategy resulted into turning one of his early clients into the company’s very first investor.

The startup world is flooded with ‘success stories’ of companies raising significant rounds of funding, but Greg warns against solely relying on raising money as a sign of success.  “Raising money is just a means to an end. Too many entrepreneurs that I meet are enamored with the venture world and what they think raising money actually means. Raising money is just the start of your journey.  Focus on building a great business and adding unprecedented value to clients… investors will come.” To date, OrderGroove has been able to raise over $10 million in venture capital funding, which only came after building a team and product that made the company successful and an industry leader.

How OrderGroove Came to Exist

As a competitive tennis player in Miami, Greg went through an unusually high number of snapped tennis strings. If he hadn’t remembered to order replacements from Tennis Warehouse Catalog (now online), he would have to make the trip to an expensive local pro shop. After spending an unnecessary amount of time and money at the pro shop, Greg considered the effectiveness of a subscription-based service that would automatically ship him replacement strings instead of forcing him to overspend at a local pro shop. After talking with a friend who also wanted a similar service for marathon running shoes, the idea for OrderGroove was born.

Bootstrapping OrderGroove was a key to their success, but it took a lot of passion and persistence from Greg and his team to get through the obstacles of having limited access to capital and resources.  It would have been easy to give up or just wait to build the product until being able to convince investors of the potential before being able to prove it.   “Don’t get discouraged when people don’t see it your way.  If deep down, you truly believe that what you are providing is a valuable service and a big business, go with your gut. If we had listened to every investor, we’d be out of business.”

Listen to the full interview with Greg Alvo below 

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http://under30ceo.com/subscribing-success-interview-ordergroove-founder-greg-alvo/feed/ 2 entrepreneur,Greg Alvo,interviews,Ordergroove,Subscription platforms,young entrepreneurs What is OrderGroove? “We power subscription commerce programs for brands and retailers to help them extend lifetime value of their most valuable customers.” E-commerce subscription platforms are a significant part of online business now, but in 2008, What is OrderGroove? “We power subscription commerce programs for brands and retailers to help them extend lifetime value of their most valuable customers.” E-commerce subscription platforms are a significant part of online business now, but in 2008, convincing investors that a subscription commerce model would take off was a significant challenge. OrderGroove founder and CEO Greg Alvo turned to bootstrapping instead of dwelling on the lack of investors initially interested in the company and industry.  Greg focused on building a great product and pleasing clients.  This strategy resulted into turning one of his early clients into the company’s very first investor. The startup world is flooded with ‘success stories’ of companies raising significant rounds of funding, but Greg warns against solely relying on raising money as a sign of success.  “Raising money is just a means to an end. Too many entrepreneurs that I meet are enamored with the venture world and what they think raising money actually means. Raising money is just the start of your journey.  Focus on building a great business and adding unprecedented value to clients… investors will come.” To date, OrderGroove has been able to raise over $10 million in venture capital funding, which only came after building a team and product that made the company successful and an industry leader. How OrderGroove Came to Exist As a competitive tennis player in Miami, Greg went through an unusually high number of snapped tennis strings. If he hadn't remembered to order replacements from Tennis Warehouse Catalog (now online), he would have to make the trip to an expensive local pro shop. After spending an unnecessary amount of time and money at the pro shop, Greg considered the effectiveness of a subscription-based service that would automatically ship him replacement strings instead of forcing him to overspend at a local pro shop. After talking with a friend who also wanted a similar service for marathon running shoes, the idea for OrderGroove was born. Bootstrapping OrderGroove was a key to their success, but it took a lot of passion and persistence from Greg and his team to get through the obstacles of having limited access to capital and resources.  It would have been easy to give up or just wait to build the product until being able to convince investors of the potential before being able to prove it.   “Don’t get discouraged when people don’t see it your way.  If deep down, you truly believe that what you are providing is a valuable service and a big business, go with your gut. If we had listened to every investor, we’d be out of business.” Listen to the full interview with Greg Alvo below  Under30CEO clean
Off on the Right Foot – Interview with Startup Nice Laundry Co-Founder Ricky Choi http://under30ceo.com/right-foot-interview-startup-nice-laundry-co-founder-ricky-choi/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=right-foot-interview-startup-nice-laundry-co-founder-ricky-choi http://under30ceo.com/right-foot-interview-startup-nice-laundry-co-founder-ricky-choi/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 15:00:31 +0000 Michael Luchies http://under30ceo.com/?p=38493 From Kickstarter Success to Fully Scaling a Growing Startup Ricky Choi is a young entrepreneur who not only cares about his style, but makes sure to keep his friends up to date on fashion as well. Nice Laundry co-founder Phil Moldavski was a fashionable guy from head to toe – except when it came to his […]

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From Kickstarter Success to Fully Scaling a Growing Startup

Nice Laundry Founders

Ricky Choi is a young entrepreneur who not only cares about his style, but makes sure to keep his friends up to date on fashion as well. Nice Laundry co-founder Phil Moldavski was a fashionable guy from head to toe – except when it came to his socks.  “Phil would come to work dressed in a nice pair of jeans, good buttoned down shirt, great pair of dark shoes…but every day with this outfit he would wear these same ratty white Adidas gym socks with black dress shoes.” Ricky, being a sock connoisseur himself, helped Phil get over this hurdle by refreshing his look with designer socks.  While doing this the two realized that the world needed their help – with their sock drawers.

Co-founders Ricky Choi and Phil Moldavski met while working at Living Social and left their jobs to participate in Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco.  They spent several months learning how to code.  “We wanted to do something e-commerce and the only way to get that done is (to create) a website.” Their experience at Living Social showed them the value of having an in-house development team that could make instant changes instead of having to communicate outside of the company through freelancers or an agency.  The pair came back to Washington D.C. in December of 2012 and started to build Nice Laundry by creating a Kickstarter campaign that would launch in early 2013.

Ricky describes Nice Laundry as “the absolute easiest way to refresh your sock drawer online.” Instead of selling a single pair of designer socks at an elevated price, Nice Laundry offers packs of 6 pairs for a price of $39.

Ricky Didn’t Start With Socks

Nice Laundry was far from Ricky’s first entrepreneurial endeavor.  Going back to high school, Ricky had been interested in owning his own business and started a car washing and detailing service.  While in college, he got a taste of the startup world through a local incubator program and started a clothing company.  After graduating, Ricky started LacrossePlayground.com, which was the 2nd most visited lacrosse website.  Before joining Living Social, Ricky went into venture capital.  Having seen many sides of business has been a significant advantage in launching a successful startup.

A Huge Kickstart

After launching their Kickstarter campaign in early 2013, it was clear that there was a market for unique designer socks at a reasonable price.  Nice Laundry became a Kickstarter success story after acquiring over 2,000 backers and $119,000 during their campaign.  Although the original goal was to raise $30,000, that was quickly achieved and support for the project kept growing.  “We were very blown away.  We put a lot of work into the Kickstarter project.  It was a full-time job while we were running the campaign.  It was truly exciting to see how much we exceeded our goal by.”

The $30,000 goal was enough to launch a minimum viable product version of the company, which included meeting manufacturer’s requirements to produce their designs.  Although the full amount raised allowed them to launch their business beyond just a couple of lines of socks, the pair was more impressed with the number of supporters.  “What is more important to us is our backers,” said Ricky who went on to explain that before tools like Kickstarter, they would have needed to raise a round of funding just to get that many supporters through marketing efforts.  Thanks to their campaign, they had 2,000 passionate customers before even starting the company.

The early orders were just the starting point, as delivering on them would be a time intensive and tricky part of their startup. “Getting 2,000 orders out doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but without that much infrastructure in place there’s a ton of moving pieces.”  Since the logistics company refused to send a container truck to Ricky’s apartment, Nice Laundry was forced to secure warehousing space. After all was said and done, they were still able to deliver all 2,000+ orders without any late deliveries.

Nice Laundry Socks

The Next Step for Nice Laundry

“Focus is very important for a startup, especially at the beginning.   We are focused on socks for at least the first 24-36 months of our existence.” The company is 6 months into that timeframe and is working on a new spring/summer line of socks that includes 36 new patterns.  Nice Laundry is also looking to expand beyond the colorful sock segment to allow each customer to build their own perfect sock drawer from designer socks to athletic socks.  It’s safe to say that Nice Laundry is building a strong brand from the ground toe up.

Get the full story, listen to the complete interview with Nice Laundry’s Ricky Choi here!

Interview Highlights

- What good is an old sock? Find out how Nice Laundry helps you recycle your socks to benefit those in need and reduce textile waste.

- How Ricky deals with the constant battle of focusing on appropriate items within the business.  Ricky described focus as the top barrier that he and Nice Laundry have had to overcome.

-  “Stay lean and try to do as much stuff yourselves as you can.”

What’s your best piece of advice for fellow young entrepreneurs?

1. Follow the traction.  In starting up a concept, you’re going to create an idea in your head.  You don’t know exactly what is going to work. Through testing and experimenting, go with what works.

2. Constantly test. Follow what gives you the best traction.  Nice Laundry performed countless tests on items of their business as small as a Google AdSense ad.  Through these tests and following that traction, they were able to make a significant impact on their target market.

3. When you do get to the fundraising state, understand that fundraising is not an end.  “Reality is once you raise a round, everything is just beginning at that point, you’ve achieved nothing.”

If you could have one entrepreneur join your team at Nice Laundry, who would it be and why?

1. Kim Dotcom: “What I admire about him above all else is his ability to execute. When he sets a goal – come hell or high water, he gets it done.”

2. Sara Blakely: “She figured out what a market needed, how to best address that market and scaled SPANX to a multi-billion dollar company.”

Listen to the full interview here:

The post Off on the Right Foot – Interview with Startup Nice Laundry Co-Founder Ricky Choi appeared first on Under30CEO.

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http://under30ceo.com/right-foot-interview-startup-nice-laundry-co-founder-ricky-choi/feed/ 0 Campaign,crowdfunding,Designer Socks,fundraising,interviews,kickstarter,Kickstarter campaign,LivingSocial,Nice Laundry,Phil Moldavski,Ricky Choi,Socks From Kickstarter Success to Fully Scaling a Growing Startup Ricky Choi is a young entrepreneur who not only cares about his style, but makes sure to keep his friends up to date on fashion as well. Nice Laundry co-founder Phil Moldavski was a fashi... From Kickstarter Success to Fully Scaling a Growing Startup Ricky Choi is a young entrepreneur who not only cares about his style, but makes sure to keep his friends up to date on fashion as well. Nice Laundry co-founder Phil Moldavski was a fashionable guy from head to toe - except when it came to his socks.  “Phil would come to work dressed in a nice pair of jeans, good buttoned down shirt, great pair of dark shoes…but every day with this outfit he would wear these same ratty white Adidas gym socks with black dress shoes.” Ricky, being a sock connoisseur himself, helped Phil get over this hurdle by refreshing his look with designer socks.  While doing this the two realized that the world needed their help - with their sock drawers. Co-founders Ricky Choi and Phil Moldavski met while working at Living Social and left their jobs to participate in Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco.  They spent several months learning how to code.  “We wanted to do something e-commerce and the only way to get that done is (to create) a website.” Their experience at Living Social showed them the value of having an in-house development team that could make instant changes instead of having to communicate outside of the company through freelancers or an agency.  The pair came back to Washington D.C. in December of 2012 and started to build Nice Laundry by creating a Kickstarter campaign that would launch in early 2013. Ricky describes Nice Laundry as “the absolute easiest way to refresh your sock drawer online.” Instead of selling a single pair of designer socks at an elevated price, Nice Laundry offers packs of 6 pairs for a price of $39. Ricky Didn’t Start With Socks Nice Laundry was far from Ricky’s first entrepreneurial endeavor.  Going back to high school, Ricky had been interested in owning his own business and started a car washing and detailing service.  While in college, he got a taste of the startup world through a local incubator program and started a clothing company.  After graduating, Ricky started LacrossePlayground.com, which was the 2nd most visited lacrosse website.  Before joining Living Social, Ricky went into venture capital.  Having seen many sides of business has been a significant advantage in launching a successful startup. A Huge Kickstart After launching their Kickstarter campaign in early 2013, it was clear that there was a market for unique designer socks at a reasonable price.  Nice Laundry became a Kickstarter success story after acquiring over 2,000 backers and $119,000 during their campaign.  Although the original goal was to raise $30,000, that was quickly achieved and support for the project kept growing.  “We were very blown away.  We put a lot of work into the Kickstarter project.  It was a full-time job while we were running the campaign.  It was truly exciting to see how much we exceeded our goal by.” The $30,000 goal was enough to launch a minimum viable product version of the company, which included meeting manufacturer’s requirements to produce their designs.  Although the full amount raised allowed them to launch their business beyond just a couple of lines of socks, the pair was more impressed with the number of supporters.  “What is more important to us is our backers,” said Ricky who went on to explain that before tools like Kickstarter, they would have needed to raise a round of funding just to get that many supporters through marketing efforts.  Thanks to their campaign, they had 2,000 passionate customers before even starting the company. The early orders were just the starting point, as delivering on them would be a time intensive and tricky part of their startup. “Getting 2,000 orders out doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but without that much infrastructure in place there’s a ton of moving pieces.”  Since the logistics company refused to send a container truck to Ricky’s apartment, Nice Laundry was forced to secure warehousing space. After all was said and done, Under30CEO clean
A Joke Turned Into a Multi-Million Dollar Business: Interview with Omar Tayeb of Blippar http://under30ceo.com/joke-turned-multi-million-dollar-business-interview-omar-tayeb-blippar/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=joke-turned-multi-million-dollar-business-interview-omar-tayeb-blippar http://under30ceo.com/joke-turned-multi-million-dollar-business-interview-omar-tayeb-blippar/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 16:00:39 +0000 Michael Luchies http://under30ceo.com/?p=38497 Knock knock. Who’s there? Blippar. Blippar who? Blippar, a startup that spun out of a joke to amass millions of users and bring static content to life.  It wasn’t a knock-knock joke, but a silly challenge between friends that brought the queen on a ten pound note to life, which later would be developed into […]

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Omar Tayeb

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Blippar.

Blippar who?

Blippar, a startup that spun out of a joke to amass millions of users and bring static content to life. 

It wasn’t a knock-knock joke, but a silly challenge between friends that brought the queen on a ten pound note to life, which later would be developed into Blippar.  CTO and Co-founder Omar Tayeb describes Blippar as an “Image and object recognition platform that allows users to point their camera device at any image or object and instantly get a rich piece of digital or media content.” Using his technical skills, Omar took the challenge of bringing the queen to life on the ten pound note from Co-founder Ambarish Mitra and developed a prototype.  “When we saw it working, we could immediately see that right now this is the best way to bridge the physical world with the digital world.”

Before launching Blippar as a full scale business, Omar and Ambarish brought on co-founders Steve Spencer (CCO) and Jessica Butcher (CMO) to work on the brand and marketing side of the business.  Omar says that this was a key early move to help the company get off of the ground and capture early users and the attention of future users.  After initial campaigns to get the word out about Blippar, the company started to get a lot of press coverage, and business soon followed.

 “I do see this technology (as) the way we will interact with the physical world in the future.”

Since launching in late 2010, Blippar has grown to 60 employees.  Out of all of the accomplishments and awards Omar has received over the past four years, I asked what experience has been the best so far.  “The best experience is hiring some of the smart people that are working in the company and working with them every day,” Said Omar.  When asked the key to their early success, Omar said their relationships with brands and celebrities have really helped the brand explode and obtain massive amounts of users.

Blippar may have started from a joke among two friends, but the impact and potential of the company is real and growing fast.

Interview Highlights

- Don’t just settle for the highlights, listen to the full interview with Blippar’s Omar Tayeb below!

- How Omar paired his passion for technology with entrepreneurial influences around him.

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for young entrepreneurs?

A: “Hire good people and get good co-founders.  The business can’t be built by one person.”

- If Omar could start one business in another industry, it would be in energy. He is fascinated by the subject and recently read Twilight in the Desert.

Listen to the full interview here:

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http://under30ceo.com/joke-turned-multi-million-dollar-business-interview-omar-tayeb-blippar/feed/ 2 Ambarish Mitra,Blippar,digital advertising,Jessica Butcher,marketing,Omar Tayeb,startups,Steve Spencer Knock knock. - Who’s there? - Blippar. - Blippar who? - Blippar, a startup that spun out of a joke to amass millions of users and bring static content to life.  - It wasn’t a knock-knock joke, but a silly challenge between friends that brought ... Knock knock. Who’s there? Blippar. Blippar who? Blippar, a startup that spun out of a joke to amass millions of users and bring static content to life.  It wasn’t a knock-knock joke, but a silly challenge between friends that brought the queen on a ten pound note to life, which later would be developed into Blippar.  CTO and Co-founder Omar Tayeb describes Blippar as an “Image and object recognition platform that allows users to point their camera device at any image or object and instantly get a rich piece of digital or media content.” Using his technical skills, Omar took the challenge of bringing the queen to life on the ten pound note from Co-founder Ambarish Mitra and developed a prototype.  “When we saw it working, we could immediately see that right now this is the best way to bridge the physical world with the digital world.” Before launching Blippar as a full scale business, Omar and Ambarish brought on co-founders Steve Spencer (CCO) and Jessica Butcher (CMO) to work on the brand and marketing side of the business.  Omar says that this was a key early move to help the company get off of the ground and capture early users and the attention of future users.  After initial campaigns to get the word out about Blippar, the company started to get a lot of press coverage, and business soon followed.  “I do see this technology (as) the way we will interact with the physical world in the future.” Since launching in late 2010, Blippar has grown to 60 employees.  Out of all of the accomplishments and awards Omar has received over the past four years, I asked what experience has been the best so far.  “The best experience is hiring some of the smart people that are working in the company and working with them every day,” Said Omar.  When asked the key to their early success, Omar said their relationships with brands and celebrities have really helped the brand explode and obtain massive amounts of users. Blippar may have started from a joke among two friends, but the impact and potential of the company is real and growing fast. Interview Highlights - Don’t just settle for the highlights, listen to the full interview with Blippar’s Omar Tayeb below! - How Omar paired his passion for technology with entrepreneurial influences around him. Q: What’s your best piece of advice for young entrepreneurs? A: “Hire good people and get good co-founders.  The business can’t be built by one person.” - If Omar could start one business in another industry, it would be in energy. He is fascinated by the subject and recently read Twilight in the Desert. Listen to the full interview here: Under30CEO clean
An Open Door: Young Entrepreneur Interview with KeyMe’s Greg Marsh http://under30ceo.com/open-door-young-entrepreneur-interview-keymes-greg-marsh/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=open-door-young-entrepreneur-interview-keymes-greg-marsh http://under30ceo.com/open-door-young-entrepreneur-interview-keymes-greg-marsh/#comments Thu, 02 Jan 2014 16:00:01 +0000 Michael Luchies http://under30ceo.com/?p=37366 Ever been locked out of your house or apartment?  If you’re anything like me or Greg Marsh’s wife, you have…often.  After several costly and lengthy lockouts, Greg took the problem of getting locked out and created an effective solution – KeyMe.  KeyMe is a mobile app that allows you to digitally store your key information […]

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KeyMe Greg MarshEver been locked out of your house or apartment?  If you’re anything like me or Greg Marsh’s wife, you have…often.  After several costly and lengthy lockouts, Greg took the problem of getting locked out and created an effective solution – KeyMe.  KeyMe is a mobile app that allows you to digitally store your key information for free.  Instead of paying hundreds of dollars and spending several hours locked out, customers of KeyMe can pull up the specific key making instructions based on a front and back picture of your key.  You can then choose to order key copies or take those instructions to any locksmith or key shop to get your key cut.

During his first startup experience, Greg worked with hardware technology.

Through working with the early-stage company, he learned the ins and outs of the business and gained important contacts, which were key to launching the business from the ground up.  From conceiving the initial idea to where he is now, Greg describes it as being “Quite a journey.”  With the goal of finding a fast and inexpensive way to solve a lockout, there were countless ideas to solve the problem before the end solution was constructed.

keyme_kiosk

KeyMe’s offerings include many effective and unique solutions to serve a variety of customers from lockout victims to consumers who simply want an easy and inexpensive way to get a copy of a key.  KeyMe’s products and services allow for users to obtain a key copy through a kiosk without needing a copy of the key, store digital copies of keys, share keys with family or friends, an emergency key delivery service (currently available in Manhattan), and 3D key printing.  By utilizing technology already on the market (apps and camera phones), KeyMe was able to take advantage of the market quickly.  Although both sides of the company, kiosk and mobile app, make for a well-rounded business, the difficulty behind trying to launch two platforms with a small team was extremely high.

While trying to build both aspects of the business, Greg was aware that the biggest mistake most startups make is trying to do too much and not doing any one thing well. “(We) would ask – if a team of the same size was next door and working on just one of the parts of (our) business, would they be in a better position?” The KeyMe team worked on the core aspects of the business and deferred several upgrades and add-ons to their services until establishing their key product.

My first reaction to an app that stores key information was, why wouldn’t someone just steal a copy of my key?  Security is a key component of KeyMe’s business and not something that Greg takes lightly.  “We are intentionally keeping as little information as possible,” said Greg.  Names and addresses are not stored, making it impossible to link a person or location to the image of a key.  KeyMe has also taken steps against ‘fly-by’ pictures, as the user has to take detailed front and back images of the key in order to obtain the information to make a copy.  “We don’t know where you live and we don’t want to know.”

Greg Marsh and KeyMe is a great example of a startup that was born out of a real problem and found a compelling and unique way to solve it.  Although the door may have stayed locked for Greg’s wife, another larger door opened for Greg, and he took advantage of it.

Don’t settle for the summary and highlights, listen to the full interview with Greg Marsh below!

Interview Highlights

- The importance of pitching: “Being able to pitch well was sort of the biggest “secret sauce” to be able to close that first round (of funding).”

- 2 keys of success: #1. Your team (without question). The biggest driver of success is the people working there. #2. The space.  “Solving lockouts doesn’t sound like the sexiest problem, but we think we are doing something really innovative.” They have found a way to help millions of people very quickly.

- Greg’s thoughts on the key market and if a pivot will be inevitable due to a shift in electronic keys/access.

- Greg shares the key to their ability to attract outside investment.

- Best piece of advice for young entrepreneurs under the age of 30: “Surround yourself with people you enjoy working with, who challenge you, and who are crazy smart. Any time you are passionate and surrounded by the right people, things will click. Having a great network and having strong relationships with those kinds of people is one of the most powerful things you can do as an entrepreneur.”

Quick-Fire Questions

What do you do in your free time to relax? My wife is very kind and allows me to work very long hours.  When I am not working I am usually hanging out with her.

What’s your favorite place to vacation? Big Sur – Stretch of coastline in California.

If you had to start another business in a completely different industry, what would it be and why? I like to make consumers happy, something a large amount of people find exciting and useful.

If you could add one entrepreneur in the world to your team at KeyMe, who would it be and why? Josh Carter. He’s not super well-known but is an extremely smart guy, great manager, and has strong vision. He can bring energy and a strong game plan to make a company successful.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? “Always do more than what was asked of you. If you go above and beyond…I think good things will always come of that.”

Listen to the full interview here:

The post An Open Door: Young Entrepreneur Interview with KeyMe’s Greg Marsh appeared first on Under30CEO.

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http://under30ceo.com/open-door-young-entrepreneur-interview-keymes-greg-marsh/feed/ 0 Greg Marsh,interviews,KeyMe,Keys,startups,young entrepreneurs Ever been locked out of your house or apartment?  If you’re anything like me or Greg Marsh’s wife, you have…often.  After several costly and lengthy lockouts, Greg took the problem of getting locked out and created an effective solution – KeyMe. Ever been locked out of your house or apartment?  If you’re anything like me or Greg Marsh’s wife, you have…often.  After several costly and lengthy lockouts, Greg took the problem of getting locked out and created an effective solution – KeyMe.  KeyMe... Under30CEO clean
Water that Takes a Different Shape – Interview with My Cause Water’s Michael Fitzgerald II http://under30ceo.com/water-takes-different-shape-interview-cause-waters-michael-fitzgerald-ii/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=water-takes-different-shape-interview-cause-waters-michael-fitzgerald-ii http://under30ceo.com/water-takes-different-shape-interview-cause-waters-michael-fitzgerald-ii/#comments Tue, 24 Dec 2013 16:00:39 +0000 Michael Luchies http://under30ceo.com/?p=37251 While the $11.8 billion bottled water market seems like an attractive option for innovation and new entrants, the market has some of the toughest competitors including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Poland Spring. Despite this strong competition, for Michael Fitzgerald II of My Cause Water, the beverage industry was always attractive, and bottled water appeared to […]

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Michael Fitzgerald-II Head Shot

While the $11.8 billion bottled water market seems like an attractive option for innovation and new entrants, the market has some of the toughest competitors including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Poland Spring. Despite this strong competition, for Michael Fitzgerald II of My Cause Water, the beverage industry was always attractive, and bottled water appeared to be the best way to make a difference while creating a sustainable business.

Starting a bottled water company was not Michael’s first idea within the beverage industry.  Although he and his family had no prior experience in the industry, Michael explored the idea of both a micro-brewery focusing on college towns and energy drinks before the father/son co-founders settled on bottled water. Why bottled water? “Everybody needs water,” said Michael.  With a passion for making a difference no matter what business he decided to pursue, My Cause Water immediately stood out from what was currently being offered.

After deciding on bottled water, Michael started seeking out research and repots on the market. Instead of paying $14,000 for a report on the industry, he decided to go back to Clemson University to get that same report for free using the university’s resources.  Teaming up with his father, they started making prototypes, coming up with a name, and setting up the core of the business.  After making the decision to manufacture their water in the US and go with a square bottle, it took 6-8 months to find a manufacturer and source that could product the bottle.

A Different Taste than the Competition

MyCause Water

Saying that My Cause Water is a little different from the average bottled water company would be an understatement.  The company donates five cents of every bottle of water sold to the charity of the drinkers’ choice, has a square bottle, is a 100% American product, and recently won three industry awards including a tasting award and the Beverage World Magazine overall gold award for the water category. The bottles are also 100% recyclable. At the end of each month, all undesignated donations are compiled and donated to a registered organization.

Being told no every day is not an aspect of every job, but it is common for many entrepreneurs.  Michael describes this experience as a great one that he has learned a lot from.  The water is sold through a variety of outlets including mom and pop stores and national retailers.  In all, My Cause Water has three customers: distributor, retailer, and the end consumer.  Each demands a different level of salesmanship.  From trying to sell to individual stores to working with national retailers, Michael says they have been told no more than yes, but it makes him stronger.

Michael’s best piece of advice for fellow entrepreneurs is, “keep your vision, your passion, hold on to it.” Several years after deciding to start My Cause Water, it’s clear that Michael hasn’t lost his vision or passion as the company continues to grow and make a difference.

Listen to the full interview with Michael Fitzgerald II below!

Interview Highlights

-        Specific details step by step of how My Cause Water was turned from an idea to an actual business.

-        Michael’s experience starting a business with his co-founder/father.

-        Behind the bottle’s design: “Modern abstract design, represents the ripple effect.”

-        Biggest obstacle: Finding the right people.

Quick-Fire Questions

What’s your favorite thing to do to relax? Travel.  While on the road, Michael and his dad like to visit landmarks in different cities and he also enjoys his hammock in the summer.

If you had to start a business in a different industry, what would you choose and why?  Energy.  There is always an opportunity to create something more efficient and better.

If you could tell your 20 year-old self one thing that you’ve learned over the past five years, what would it be? It takes twice as long to get wherever you’re going.  It’s not a bad thing because you learn a lot more.

Who is your favorite entrepreneur and why? Steve Jobs.  Very inspirational and has a phenomenal story.

Listen to the full interview here:

Sources

International Bottled Water Association

The post Water that Takes a Different Shape – Interview with My Cause Water’s Michael Fitzgerald II appeared first on Under30CEO.

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http://under30ceo.com/water-takes-different-shape-interview-cause-waters-michael-fitzgerald-ii/feed/ 0 Beverage Industry,Bottled Water,Clemson University,co-founder,family business,Michael Fitzgerald,My Cause Water,small business,Social Enterprise,startups,Water,young entrepreneurs While the $11.8 billion bottled water market seems like an attractive option for innovation and new entrants, the market has some of the toughest competitors including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Poland Spring. Despite this strong competition, While the $11.8 billion bottled water market seems like an attractive option for innovation and new entrants, the market has some of the toughest competitors including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Poland Spring. Despite this strong competition, for Michael Fitzgerald II of My Cause Water, the beverage industry was always attractive, and bottled water appeared to be the best way to make a difference while creating a sustainable business. Starting a bottled water company was not Michael’s first idea within the beverage industry.  Although he and his family had no prior experience in the industry, Michael explored the idea of both a micro-brewery focusing on college towns and energy drinks before the father/son co-founders settled on bottled water. Why bottled water? “Everybody needs water,” said Michael.  With a passion for making a difference no matter what business he decided to pursue, My Cause Water immediately stood out from what was currently being offered. After deciding on bottled water, Michael started seeking out research and repots on the market. Instead of paying $14,000 for a report on the industry, he decided to go back to Clemson University to get that same report for free using the university’s resources.  Teaming up with his father, they started making prototypes, coming up with a name, and setting up the core of the business.  After making the decision to manufacture their water in the US and go with a square bottle, it took 6-8 months to find a manufacturer and source that could product the bottle. A Different Taste than the Competition Saying that My Cause Water is a little different from the average bottled water company would be an understatement.  The company donates five cents of every bottle of water sold to the charity of the drinkers’ choice, has a square bottle, is a 100% American product, and recently won three industry awards including a tasting award and the Beverage World Magazine overall gold award for the water category. The bottles are also 100% recyclable. At the end of each month, all undesignated donations are compiled and donated to a registered organization. Being told no every day is not an aspect of every job, but it is common for many entrepreneurs.  Michael describes this experience as a great one that he has learned a lot from.  The water is sold through a variety of outlets including mom and pop stores and national retailers.  In all, My Cause Water has three customers: distributor, retailer, and the end consumer.  Each demands a different level of salesmanship.  From trying to sell to individual stores to working with national retailers, Michael says they have been told no more than yes, but it makes him stronger. Michael’s best piece of advice for fellow entrepreneurs is, “keep your vision, your passion, hold on to it.” Several years after deciding to start My Cause Water, it’s clear that Michael hasn’t lost his vision or passion as the company continues to grow and make a difference. Listen to the full interview with Michael Fitzgerald II below! Interview Highlights -        Specific details step by step of how My Cause Water was turned from an idea to an actual business. -        Michael’s experience starting a business with his co-founder/father. -        Behind the bottle’s design: “Modern abstract design, represents the ripple effect.” -        Biggest obstacle: Finding the right people. Quick-Fire Questions What’s your favorite thing to do to relax? Travel.  While on the road, Michael and his dad like to visit landmarks in different cities and he also enjoys his hammock in the summer. If you had to start a business in a different industry, what would you choose and why?  Energy.  There is always an opportunity to create something more efficient and better. If you could tell your 20 year-old self one thing that you’ve learned over the past five years, what would it be? It takes twice as long to get wherever you’re going. Under30CEO clean
The Financial Side of the Startup – Interview with Lili Balfour http://under30ceo.com/financial-side-startup-interview-lili-balfour/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=financial-side-startup-interview-lili-balfour http://under30ceo.com/financial-side-startup-interview-lili-balfour/#comments Tue, 10 Dec 2013 16:00:16 +0000 Michael Luchies http://under30ceo.com/?p=37008 Raising startup capital can be tricky.  Many startups fail before getting started because of financial limitations.  Despite the need of many young companies, banks aren’t exactly jumping at the chance to work with 20-30 year olds with a new business idea.  Due to the volatile nature of a startup and high failure rate, there is […]

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Lili Balfour

Raising startup capital can be tricky.  Many startups fail before getting started because of financial limitations.  Despite the need of many young companies, banks aren’t exactly jumping at the chance to work with 20-30 year olds with a new business idea.  Due to the volatile nature of a startup and high failure rate, there is a substantial level of risk for banks working with early-stage companies. This risk has prevented banks and lenders from seeking out startups to work with.

After spending over a decade in investment banking and consulting, Lili Balfour decided to do something about the lack of investment banking options for startups.  Lili started spending nights and weekends working with companies for free and learning about how to best serve early-stage customers.  Through this process, Lili discovered there was a fit for both banks and startups, and Atelier Advisors was launched in 2007.   Atelier Advisors was founded based on the idea that early stage companies should have the same investment banking services as any company.

Lili is founder and CEO of Atelier Advisors, author of Master the Finance Game, and creator of Lean Finance for Startups, a course on Udemy. “The topic of finance has really gotten a bad rap,” says Lili Balfour.    Although many of us try to avoid it, we can’t ignore the importance of staying on top of the financial side of our startups.  Lili describes the most common mistake of most startups as not putting together a financial model.  “Understand the financial mechanics of your business.”

Through her passion for finance, Lii has carved out a niche with startups, but why startups? “I think helping startups is so important because it really is going to be the backbone of America’s growth.”  “(It’s my) patriotic duty to help startups.”

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for a young entrepreneur?

A: “Work on yourself as much as you work on your company.”

As an advisor who was worked with hundreds of young companies, Lili has seen it all when it comes to the startup world.  The grueling and time intensive nature of running a startup can take a toll even on the strongest 20-something.  “There is a tough and dark side of being a young entrepreneur working on a demanding startup.” Lili said that young entrepreneurs have a tendency to go overboard and fail to eat and sleep right while keeping stress at a manageable level. “Have peers!  Focus on stress reduction.”  Part of her routine includes meditation and hypnotherapy techniques.

Take some time to learn and relax today, and listen to the full interview with Lili Balfour below!

Interview Highlights

- Lili’s entrepreneurial background and growing up in Silicon Valley.

- The toughest hurdle to overcome as an entrepreneur: Recruiting.

- Common financial mistake for startups: Not putting together a financial model.

- “I think any entrepreneur out there who wants to build a startup, perhaps should go work at a startup and see what it’s like and really get a taste for it.”

-“If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you tend to be comfortable being weird or different.  When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re not really following the crowd.”

Quick-Fire Questions

What do you do in your free time to relax? “I threw away my TV a while ago.” Lili advises to read as much as possible and exercise.  She also recently got involved with animal and has adopted two dogs from city-run shelters, a Morkie named Teddy and a Chihuahua named Layla.

What is she reading? The Entrepreneurial Bible to Venture Capital by Andrew Romans.

What is your favorite alcoholic drink?  Pimm’s Cup.

Who is your favorite musician or music group?  Jack Johnson & U2.

If you could add one entrepreneur in the world to team, who would it be and why?  Richard Branson.  Atelier uses the phrase ‘rethink investment banking,’ and is trying to bring a new vision to finance and investment banking – similar to how Branson’s Virgin Airlines has been able to revolutionize the airline industry.

Listen to the full interview here:

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http://under30ceo.com/financial-side-startup-interview-lili-balfour/feed/ 1 Atelier Advisors,finance,Lili Balfour,Master the Finance Game,startups Raising startup capital can be tricky.  Many startups fail before getting started because of financial limitations.  Despite the need of many young companies, banks aren’t exactly jumping at the chance to work with 20-30 year olds with a new business i... Raising startup capital can be tricky.  Many startups fail before getting started because of financial limitations.  Despite the need of many young companies, banks aren’t exactly jumping at the chance to work with 20-30 year olds with a new business i... Under30CEO clean