Digital Entrepreneur Tips: An Interview with Two Digital Innovators
It’s 2014. We’re on the cusp of another tech explosion and eager entrepreneurs are capitalizing on their ideas to produce stellar products and influential content.
It’s all about the hustle.
Some individuals posses an innate responsibility to fulfill a need with a product, while other entrepreneurs develop their ideas through education, networking and pure grit. I asked two individuals, who possess the fearlessness and tenacity it takes to run a business, what it takes to BE your own boss.
Joey Ricard is a startup kid. As an IT guru who made his name as the Van Wilder of computer technology at Florida State University, he utilized his skills to manage an onsite computer repair shop in Tallahassee that expanded into large contracts with over 3500 active users for an ISP. Using his entrepreneurial mindset, Joey worked with over 8 startups over the course of ten years, molding and cultivating his skills into current ventures.
Now, with a successful music app that curates musical content called TuneBash, Joey is currently the president of Development Capital Group, a company which develops and invests in scalable technologies with significant potential to grow.
Brandon Davis has the secret sauce to success. As the head and co-founder of the innovative American Dreaming Magazine, Brandon has honed his skills as a business and marketing maven, celebrating success by providing a reading outlet for twenty-somethings who have aspirations to follow their dreams. After the passing of his brother, Brandon has honored his sibling’s need to help individuals around him by curating a national magazine that tells a detailed story of young entrepreneurs. American Dreaming Magazine provides a platform for future cultural leaders in countless aspects of influence including photography, marketing, journalism and design. The goal? To show the world what young, intelligent thinkers can create in a driven society.
Here are just a few questions we asked Joey and Brandon, as they divulge a few Digital Entrepreneur Tips:
What’s the ONE tip you would give aspiring entrepreneurs looking to pursue their dreams?
Joey: Dreams only become tangible through action. You will run into objections, they are not failures, just setbacks. Question every piece of advice people give you, mainly when its not aligned with your goals. A lot of people project their fears instead of actually giving you valuable advice. Never stop chasing your dreams, there are lots of ways to achieve them and some may not be obvious at first.
Brandon: Make money the reward not the focus.
How did you shift from a 9-5 to running your own successful business?
Joey: Who said any business has to run from 9-5? Start your business now; a part time hustle can turn into a large corporation in no time. Success comes from risk, but great success comes from analyzing your risks and being smart about them. Allow your current 9-5 to be your investor for your startup.
Brandon: My only job I ever had was working at Home Depot and some field marketing. My shift was pretty easy because I always looked at those jobs as stepping stones to running and owning my own businesses.
What challenges did you face as a new entrepreneur?
Joey: The biggest challenge is yourself. All the fears, and illogical things that kept me up at night, tend to have came from my own thoughts. The less I allowed emotion to control my path, the better I could focus on execution and success.
Brandon: Trying to get the right people to believe in your dream and share your vision in a way that motivates them to help you work on it in those beginning stages where you are unable to pay them would be one.
How has the tech industry helped or hindered your business?
Joey: Technology is a very fluid and rapidly changing field. My businesses may have changed, but since it's so fluid, when one door closes, another opens. Technology is the catalyst for closing and opening businesses and industries. I would like to believe that I focus on the shifts, and how I can help close some doors. Thus, open other doors using technology.
Brandon: The tech industry has only helped my business. It has allowed me to reach more people as well as collaborate with more people across the world.
What are some ways aspiring entrepreneurs can raise the funds to develop their business idea?
Joey: I raised my first investment from my day job by proving that the concept worked. This, in turn, helped me start making money. Then I went to friends after for my first round of investment. Today, though, you have all kinds of interesting things like Crowd Funding, which is allowing people to get funding for their startups. I personally saw a lot of issues and dragging out in the process, so we actually raised over $600k using a public vehicle. Being in the public market is not easy for a first time startup. Our current structure is actually helping startups raise capital while providing them with the necessary tools and support to really grow and scale into a large business. Our business is very similar to an incubator currently, which takes the risk in early stage ideas by providing capital and support.
Brandon: Bootstrapping! Ask your friends and family. Kickstarter is an awesome resource as well.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?
Joey: I could say a typical response like “Working for myself” which is false. You never work for yourself, you are working for your customers. I’m a slave to my ideas. I get an idea in my head, and I will obsess with it until its actually on the market. My favorite thing though is the appreciation or validation I get in a market from customers, friends, or family about my idea. When my idea is actually a real tangible thing on the market and people tell me they love it, that’s what drives me.
Brandon: The fulfillment of following my passion and how contagious that is to the people around me.
What is your competitive advantage and why can’t it be copied?
Joey: To say no one can copy what I do is arrogant and incorrect. Anyone can do what I do, just like you can go and be a professional quarterback if you want. Just because people copy you, doesn’t mean it will come out the same. You tell me a problem, and I can give you solutions or ideas that most people may have overlooked. I think my true ability is seeing systems and how to change them. Some people call this process of thinking a “hacker mentality”, looking for ways around obstacles or exploits to solve them. The way I am wired is different than most, and the few people I meet like me tend to make good friends.
Brandon: My competitive advantage is Me. These are my thoughts. This is my intuition. This my heart and gut that is navigating me. Those things can not be copied.
Joey: Depends on where their weakness is, but a great book that I loved was Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill. It has a lot of chapters that can be adopted to help growing your company and life.
Tell Us, what is an average workday like for you?
Joey: I can tell you that my day is not typical at all and what I do changes every month, but I can tell you that I like to wake up early to work with people on the other side of the world, and I like to go to bed late to talk to people on another side of the world. I tend to deal with people in a minimum of three different countries a day.
Brandon: It starts around 7am. Spend about an hour in front of the computer browsing around to get my brain working. Clear my inbox and go with the flow of my day. My day typically ends around 11pm.
If you could describe being an entrepreneur in one sentence, what would it be?
Joey: Good question, I feel sometimes people misconstrue or have the wrong definition. To me, “An entrepreneur is someone who has an idea or concept and works to deliver it to a market.” There are different types of Entrepreneurs, successful, innovative, serial, etc.
Brandon: The most fulfilling, draining, scary, exciting, tough and rewarding rollercoaster ride that you have to try!
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