My background actually is not in the tech world. As a kid, I loved computers and playing with them but I wasn’t the little kid writing my first program at 4 (that was our CTO Nathan). What I did love was solving problems and building businesses.
The first real attempt to build a business was after my parents bought me some gerbils when I was about 10. I realized if you kept a boy and girl gerbil together for long enough eventually you have more gerbils. The business idea was brilliant. Get gerbils. Wait. Sell gerbils to the pet store. Profit. Unfortunately, as many entrepreneurs I figured out the “How” before I figured out the “Why” do people want (and more importantly need) what you have.
Business venture number two was in middle school. My mother would take me to a bulk food store where I would beg for the large box of candy. A child begging for candy is commonplace, but my begging was in order to have inventory for the next business. As a candy reseller in the cafeteria. This business was actually quite successful. Inventory was free and there was a large demand for my product. Then I ran into my another problem some entrepreneurs face. Is what you are doing legal or ethical? My teachers felt it wasn’t and shut me down once they uncovered my operation.
After school, I continued in that same trend. I built a successful commercial cleaning business which then turned into a larger restoration company. I loved helping people put their’s lives back together after a home was damaged or even almost completely destroyed. I was part of a team building something and helping people fill a need.
As I built these businesses and matured I realized a few things.
- It takes a lot of people with different skills sets to build a great company.
- Brick and mortar companies can only scale by the number of people in them without help.
- Technology can solve a lot of problems that we never realized.
It Takes People
One of my business mentors growing up told me “if you are building a business realize what you are not good at and find people that are brilliant at it to join you”. This takes humility to first admit you are not good at something, but then second you need to be able to convince someone to join you. The first part is many times the most difficult.
Brick and Mortar Doesn’t Scale Quickly
Never was this fact more apparent than watching my restoration business be limited by the number of trucks we had and people to drive them when calls were pouring in during a major storm. The only option we had was to turn away thousands of dollars of work when our resources were tapped.
Technology Solves Hidden Problems
This last point is really what steered me to what I do today. I would see over and over again problems in my industry which did not have an automated solution. So many things that could be automated were still being done by people with paper, and many times fax machines (what is a fax machine). So being the problem solver I am, I decided to see if I could figure out how to solve some on my own with technology. Maybe because point one is something I still battled with I thought I could figure out building web applications on my own, or maybe it was because of what happened next.
I fell in love with technology! I felt like a kid again solving problems and putting pieces together to build something. I started reading everything I could about web development and would lose track of time working late into the night with development challenges and taking online courses. Before I knew it, running a business was getting in the way of learning/playing with this stuff. So I did the only thing a rational person with a family would do and I sold my share of my business to my business partners and used the money to support a career change. I flew to San Fransisco and immersed myself in technology. I needed to surround myself with people doing what I wanted to do.
After returning to Atlanta, my first job was with a startup. It was sort of like I was selling gerbils again. It was a social app for students in college…no not Facebook…unfortunately. It was fun to work with people and build something, but no one wanted our product.
My next two jobs were with a large corporation and then a mid-size marketing agency. Again the people were great and working in technology was where I wanted to be, but something was missing. It was sort of like I was the candy reseller again. Selling stuff people wanted, and sure this time it was legal (and mostly ethical), but it felt empty. Did I really go down this path because I wanted to sell snack cakes or bug spray?
Once I came to Yip Yip I felt like I was finally somewhere where I was doing all the things I set out to do. I am helping build something. Working with great people in the technologies I love and have become proficient in. Lastly, helping businesses solve a problem they never realized there was a solution for. We are helping people and businesses scale their messaging by the factor of their employees and affiliates and those people’s social network. What use to be a single message to a few dozen people we are turning into a message to hundreds to thousands of people. All done with automation and minimal end-user effort. I get to be part of the pipeline that makes that happen!
Yip Yip is a company that has great things in store and I look forward to being along for the ride as well as one of the crew members to help get it there!