Loading

What Does it Take to Start a Tech Business in 2018?

jason-kulpa-office

With technological advances becoming more prevalent in society, more and more businesses have been cropping up to deliver new or better technology products and services to the consumer market. Flourishing tech businesses address growing demands within targeted demographics and find their success in efficiently solving real-life problems in ways that haven’t been addressed, or that are better than solutions the current market offers. Thinking of delving into the industry? Here are five pieces of advice to help you launch your tech business in 2018.

 

Choose a Location

If you’re currently living in the U.S. or have aspirations to move, Silicon Valley may pose an appealing location for establishing your tech business. However, you might want to refrain from buying into the hype too early in the game. Silicon Valley is already saturated with larger, more established tech companies and the cost of living may prove too expensive for business businesses to sustain themselves. Instead, look to other places that boast good soil for high-tech startups and industry talent and that will set your business on a greater trajectory to success.

 

Develop Your Product

While it may appear obvious, among the most important steps in starting a tech business is to actually develop a product that interests people. In the case of most business software tech companies, coding is free, so establishing the foundation of your business is a crucial step that won’t put a dent in your pockets. A product can be an entirely new and innovative product, or one that improves an already existing product or process. Regardless, it’s important to actually begin building up your business before your ambition carries things too far out of your hands.

 

Establish and Source Talent

To supplement your product, ensure you or a partner has the technical knowledge or background to appropriately sustain your business. In the same vein, refrain from outsourcing work and focus your efforts on finding apt talent who will help grow your company.

 

Start Small

When first establishing your business, don’t immediately file to become an LLC or C-Corp if you don’t have a product, customers, or revenue. This will cost you valuable money you might not have or can put to better use to grow your company, such as licensing and hiring quality talent.

 

Advertise

Once you have a finished product, don’t forget to advertise. Starting off, you may not have much money to put toward an advertising campaign, but you can always host your own website using free-to-use sites, or advertise on social media sites such as Facebook or Reddit. If possible, launch your product. While launching your product free-to-use may appear counterintuitive, it may earn you the publicity to begin catching the eyes of organizations or investors.

Please follow and like us:

Starting a Business During a Recession: Five Questions with UE.co CEO Jason Kulpa

UE.co was established in 2008’s recession. Forbes once suggested that economic downturns can actually be great opportunities for startups — would you say this was the case for UE?

Charlie Munger said, “My idea of shooting a fish in a barrel is draining the barrel first.” My interpretation of that is that when others leave a market, there is opportunity.  In 2008 there was a panic in the market, and capital left the ad-tech space. This created an opening to step-in and pick-up all the fish out of the barrel.

 

With the previous question in mind, what kind of setbacks did the recession present for UE (if any)? How did it impact UE’s progress as an up-and-coming entity, and how were these challenges addressed at the time?  

It was challenging raising startup capital, and the debt markets were bone dry.  This meant that the only way to get the company started was to fund it with my savings. Having to write the check yourself as an entrepreneur makes you reflect on if the business idea is really thought out and ready for market.  That doesn’t mean that entrepreneurs discount the value of outside investment, but it hits close to home when the founder’s signature is on the check. This pressure drove me to long hours, and work-filled weekends when I might have pushed it a bit less knowing there was a safety net if things didn’t go as planned.

 

Innovation is a huge part of starting a new business, regardless of economic stability. What would you say allowed UE to innovate in a time as turbulent as the recession, and how has it continued to innovate today?

When economic stability is disrupted there is a consolidation in most markets.  This created sizeable competition and economies of scale we were not prepared as a start-up.  The only way to compete was by building a more efficient mousetrap than fighting a war of attrition.  Tough times bring out the most creative and innovative parts of the human brain, and we were fortunate to face this adversity early in our business cycle.

 

UE started as a small business, but has clearly grown into a full-fledged staple of the San Diego business community. As the company’s CEO, what are the biggest lessons you have gleaned during this growth process — especially during UE’s early phases?

The biggest lesson we learned was that the company culture has to mature along with the business cycle.  This is difficult when you launch a start-up from your garage with friends. That same casual attitude can create cultural challenges when you take the next step in growing the business.  The best way to manage this is to self reflect along the way and take in consideration the larger picture.

 

In turn, what advice would you give new entrepreneurs — especially those facing unforeseen obstacles right out of the gate?

The best advice is to learn to really enjoy working — and then spend lots of time doing what you like to do. Believing in your idea and business, with enough time and pressure, just about anything can be solved.  The difference is that you have the ability to stick it out until that happens. Good luck!

 

Please follow and like us:

Tips for Balancing Business Ownership and Philanthropy (Pt. 2)

 

jason-kulpa-balance

There is no question that philanthropic involvement can be both enriching and beneficial to recipients and benefactors alike. By reaching out to a charitable cause, a business leader can expand his or her presence in the community by forging vital new relationships — all while raising awareness for an issue or bringing attention to an individual or entity in need. Now, perhaps more than ever, businesses have shifted paradigms to include a blend of profit and societal impact.

Still, however, it takes a fair amount of organization and tact to successfully balance business ownership with philanthropy. Speaking from experience in my own philanthropic involvement with UE.co, both endeavors must be handled with care so that they may co-exist in a constructive, successful manner. I recently explored this notion in a previous blog post, but here now are several more considerations to keep in mind as you work to effectively your entrepreneurial and philanthropic lifestyles.

 

Utilize smart marketing

Marketing, in most cases, is a crucial component of any successful business strategy. However, many business leaders fail to leverage marketing for their philanthropic programs. This fact is not surprising, as the promotion of any charitable activity can feel uncomfortable and awkward. After all, you don’t want to come off as self-serving in attempt to serve others.

The key is to exercise your marketing with a steady hand, and this means keeping two important points in mind:

  • A successful philanthropic initiative will serve a charitable purpose, but should not be pursued for selfish financial gain and advertisement alone.

  • In many cases, a corporate philanthropy program must garner a considerable audience in order to endure for years to come.

In other words, your marketing campaign should reflect a balance of modesty and promotion. Look at it this way: your best philanthropic intentions will probably be fully realized if your initiative is given healthy exposure. Tip too far in one direction, however, and you run the risk of dooming your cause in terms of longevity and/or public perception.

 

Never stop networking

Given the growing emphasis on social media and widespread interconnectivity at large, it is no shock that networking has become a clear asset to business professionals worldwide. Still, despite this notion, some businesses find themselves lagging on networking in order to focus on other seemingly more important parts of their daily workload.

Instead, networking should sit at the front of every leader’s mind, and this is especially true of those leaders hoping to expand their presence in the philanthropic community. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone in meeting new people, establishing new relationships and partnerships, and ultimately laying the roots necessary to bring new and exciting initiatives to fruition. This approach allows for increased efficiency and less redundancy for both organizations and donors alike.

Please follow and like us:

Tips for Balancing Business Ownership and Philanthropy (Pt. 1)

jason-kulpa-philanthropy

There is no question that philanthropic involvement can be both enriching and beneficial to recipients and benefactors alike. By reaching out to a charitable cause, a business leader can expand his or her presence in the community by forging vital new relationships — all while raising awareness for an issue or bringing attention to an individual or entity in need. Now, perhaps more than ever, businesses have shifted paradigms to include a blend of profit and societal impact.

Still, however, it takes a fair amount of organization and tact to successfully balance business ownership with philanthropy. Speaking from experience in my own philanthropic involvement with UE.co, both endeavors must be handled with care so that they may co-exist in a constructive, successful manner.

 

Exercise foresight

It is crucial to have a plan when venturing into business philanthropy; this is common knowledge. Still, though, fallout from ill preparation is an unfortunate commonality, and depending on its severity, it can lead to misconceptions and poor representations that can subsequently create backlash from the public. An aged, yet enduringly relevant observation is that there are two types of philanthropic failure: constructive ones and unconstructive ones. The former refers to failures providing clear evidence as to what went wrong, while the latter results from an inability to “inform future practice.”

By studying high-profile instances of constructive philanthropic failure, we can extract a number of important lessons:

 

  • One must have a strong, or at least working, knowledge his or her chosen cause — not to mention passion. If you truly care about housing the homeless, for example, do not focus on another cause simply because it is convenient or trendy.

 

  • The aforementioned point in mind, a philanthropic initiative should not be driven by marketing performance and public image alone; this is immoral and stands as the antithesis of genuine philanthropy.

 

  • At the same time, a lack of proper knowledge can lead to a breakdown in your philanthropy’s effectiveness, and it can quickly lead to additional problems that knock the wheels of the entire process despite your best intentions.

 

Build lasting relationships

Most successful charitable partnerships yield the potential for a continued working relationship. This longevity can be instrumental in ensuring the success of future initiatives, which in turn can also make the ownership/philanthropy balancing act easier to approach. A philanthropic relationship allows both participating parties to learn about each other in a different way, which can lead to longer standing interaction as a result of mutual loyalty.

Building this trust and intimacy not only aids in the preservation of the cause in question, it can also strengthen employee engagement, build up the brand of both the business and the philanthropic recipient, and ultimately foster a stronger sense of community and cohesion.

Please follow and like us:

Tips for Transitioning into a CEO Role

The role of Chief Executive has been romanticized in most cultures, sometimes to the point where the reality of day-to-day responsibility and the actual impact of a leadership role are frequently overlooked.

Taking the highest office in any organization is a major step in anyone’s career. It is important to understand the proper path to both effectiveness and success. Here are some things to consider.

 

Command

While it may be apocryphal, Admiral Halsey’s admonition to his fellow naval officers is instructive. “When you’re in command, command.” This is advice that should be heeded, especially on a new CEO. The natural tendency for the average person is to try and get along with others, but this can lead to all kinds of problems when “a” manager becomes “the” manager

Ultimately, a chief executive’s main responsibility is to give orders and to see to it they are carried out. Few tasks are personally carried out by a CEO for a number of reasons, not the least of which is if the CEO is doing basic tasks, nobody is in charge.

 

Delegate

A leader’s second major responsibility is to assign tasks to subordinates. These tasks can be both basic day-to-day jobs or the responsibility to be in charge of others. It is not a mistake that most every king in history had a considerable retinue of underlings to carry out their wishes.

Delegation is vitally important. CEOs who do not learn to properly delegate can often find themselves overworked and/or spread too thin to be effective. More than a few well-known chief executives have had their companies and careers damaged by over-reliance on their own talent and skill. One person can only do so much.

 

Communicate

Being in charge and delegating only work properly if a leader is available and listens to his or her subordinates. Without the necessary information from other managers, employees, consultants, ownership and governance, a CEO has little to no contemporary knowledge upon which to base their decisions.

When complaining about their bosses, nearly every employee brings up communication as a chief reason they do not approve of management. A leader must be willing to listen, or they will find it is impossible to be effective or efficient.

Being a CEO is without a doubt one of the hardest jobs in the world. It isn’t for everyone, but even those who have little to no experience will find their task much easier if they learn the fundamentals and put them into practice.

Please follow and like us:

The best texts on leadership

In today’s world, leadership is needed more than ever. If you want to stand out and achieve success as a leader, you should try reading the following texts:

 

“Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton

This groundbreaking work is based on the Harvard Negotiation Project which was a 1981 book. The strategies for dealing with conflicts in personal and business life set William Ury apart from the industry in terms of teaching negotiating by focusing on interests instead of positions in a deal.

 

“Getting Things Done” by David Allen

If you are having problems staying organized, then David Allen’s text is the first thing you should read. The way to get your ideas and papers in order is to have a framework. This system that Allen lays out is easy to follow and simple to understand. Anyone can turn around their life if they read through to the end and put the tips into practice.

 

“Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman

In today’s world, it is less about what you know and more about how you can control your emotions. Those that have a solid emotional intelligence score can communicate and progress in work and life more easily.

 

“Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk

 

Gary Vaynerchuk has quickly gained recognition for his ability to cut through the excuses and help people take action in their lives. His book is all about getting through obstacles and never quitting in your pursuit of success. It’s a book every leader should read.

 

“Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

This classic on leadership and wealth should be a desktop reference for anyone looking to lead in their lives. The tips are timeless and the writing is succinct and to the point without speaking down to the reader.

When it comes to leadership, it is a process not one event. You must always be looking to get better in your life and career. Reading is a powerful way to do that. Don’t fall behind your peers. Instead, capture opportunity by reading the texts above and taking your ability to lead to the next level.

Please follow and like us:

Red flags to watch out for during the hiring process

It is easy to experience mixed emotions during the hiring process. On one hand, you may feel stressed out as you search for a candidate that perfectly fits your expectations. On the other hand, you might be excited at the seemingly endless possibilities; for all you know, your next hire could have exceptional work ethic and a likeable personality.

Generally, with the latter in mind, hiring should remain positive and optimistic. However, you must still keep your eyes peeled for a variety of red flags in candidates that may be weak, risky, or simply unfit for the role in question.

Here are a few crucial red flags to watch out for during the hiring process.

 

Negative demeanor

Though this warning sign may seem vague at first, it is important to identify candidates exhibiting a negative or unhealthy demeanor. Common traits of this nature include, but are not limited to dismissiveness, condescending tonality, excessive self-deprecation, and pessimism. You want to focus on candidates that are confident, but not too confident. At the same time, be sure to avoid the common trap of perceiving a insecurity as modesty. In most cases, neither of these candidates will serve your business well.

 

Lack of research

Put simply, your ideal candidate should not only be familiar with the advertised position, but also well-versed in your company as a whole. A lack of proper research will be easy to spot as you ask necessary questions related to both the position and company culture. These candidates present an added gamble in terms of their ability to perform their jobs efficiently, and they are best avoided for this reason alone.

 

Late arrival

Weed out poor candidates from strong ones by disregarding those who showed up late for an interview. This tactic may seem nitpicky at first, but in most cases, a late arrival is extremely telling of a potential employee’s reliability. A job interview is normally an urgent and delicate opportunity for interested candidates, and being late essentially undermines the seriousness of the situation — not to mention it is a telltale sign of carelessness and irresponsibility. Aim for candidates that you can put full faith in as they work to meet deadlines and contribute to corporate goals.

 

Unpleasant surprises

Another obvious red flag in the hiring process is a lack of cohesion between a candidate’s interview and resume. For example, a candidate may include an impressive, albeit short stint with a company in your field, only to surprise you mid-interview by telling you he or she was fired for excessive tardiness. In these situations, it is best to move on to other candidates.

 

Please follow and like us: