Adam Robinson – Co-Founder & CEO, Hireology

Adam Robinson is co-founder and CEO of Hireology, a venture-backed hiring and talent management platform named a Top 50 Best Workplace by Inc., a Top Company Culture by Entrepreneur, and #94 in 2016 and #332 in 2017 on the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. He’s the author of The Best Team Wins: Build your Business Through Predictive Hiring, the host of The Best Team Wins Podcast, and a weekly columnist for Inc. He was named a Top 25 Industry Game Changer by Workforce, and in 2017, was a finalist for E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year.

Tell me about your early career.
I started my career as a technology recruiter at a large national IT staffing company. After two years in that organization, I had the opportunity to work for a startup in Chicago that built some of the first Internet portal technology for dealer networks.

How did the concept for Hireology come about?
Hireology was the culmination of my years in the staffing business, combined with my observation of the way dealerships operated from my four years at Click Commerce. It was obvious that there were major turnover problems, and it was all related to a lack of hiring processes at the local level.

How was the first year in business?
We spent our entire first year working with a few beta customers who gave us full access to redefine their hiring process. We were billing for hours and using the proceeds to fund product development. We were able to run a break-even business in our first year.

What was your marketing strategy?
I have always believed that the best marketing strategy for a premium B2B product is to grab the thought leadership position in the market you serve. We spend a lot of time and resources developing original content that helps our customers run their business more effectively. We also do over 70 conference events a year.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
The first two years was a combination of billing for time and building products with the revenue we generated. It was like we were running two completely different companies. We ran at about a $200,000 revenue run rate each of the first two years, then in our third year, stopped selling services and sold only software subscriptions (SaaS). Our 2013 revenue was just over $100,000.

How do you define success?
Success is a subjective metric. For me, success means having the ability to focus first on my family, while having the freedom and flexibility to tackle really big business opportunities.

What is the key to success?
Relentless persistence.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Recognize what you’re good at, and then, as soon as possible, hire people who are better than you at everything else that needs to get done.

What are some quotes that you live by?
“Traveller, there is no road. The road is made by walking.”

What are some of your favorite books?
Good to Great, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Think and Grow Rich, Traction, John Adams, 1776, and The Stand.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
In the depth of the big recession, my bank swept the cash out of our checking account and used it to close out our outstanding line of credit without telling me. I found out from our payroll provider because we bounced the payroll run. That was a bad day.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Refusal to quit. Refusal to lose.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Focus your time and energy on one pursuit at a time. Channel that energy into maximum impact; fire your one best arrow and hit the mark.

Steven Woods – Co-Founder & CTO, Nudge.ai

Currently co-founder and CTO at Nudge.ai, which uses artificial intelligence to help salespeople find useful trigger events at their target accounts. Letting AI do the heavy burden of research allows sales professionals to focus on selling, while never missing a chance to turn latent demand into active demand.

Prior to that, co-founder and CTO of Eloqua, a company I helped guide to a market-leading position in marketing automation, while growing it to a $100 million revenue run rate, through its IPO on the NASDAQ, and to ultimate acquisition by Oracle.

Passionate about innovation, SaaS, machine learning, and the marketing and sales technology spaces.

Author of the book Digital Body Language about deciphering customer intentions online. Frequent speaker at various marketing, sales, and innovation events.

Tell me about your early career.
It may seem strange considering that Nudge.ai is not my first software startup, but I’m not even originally a software guy. I studied physics in college. However, I was lucky enough to end up in an engineering role at a manufacturing plant early on in my career, which happened to be in the mid-90’s. I’d dabbled a bit with the most basic of web technology, and was able to piece together some solutions that solved real problems we were having in the manufacturing plant. I was hooked on the idea of tackling business problems with technology. The combination of the speed you could go from idea to solution, and the capabilities that became newly possible each passing year, were addictively interesting.

A few friends and I started a company called Eloqua in the marketing automation space in early 2000, and grew that venture for over a decade, taking it public and ultimately selling it to Oracle. We had the opportunity to see every stage of growth, and be a major player in the transformation of marketing from a purely creative discipline to a much more analytical, data-oriented, accountable discipline.

After the acquisition, I spent a lot of time pondering what I truly enjoyed. I realized that I loved the early phase of understanding how a technology can change a major area of business for the better.

How did the concept for Nudge.ai come about?
As we worked in the marketing area with Eloqua, we saw a lot of what sales was doing. Buyers had changed so much, and their access to information was so much greater, but sales was still a very similar discipline to what it had always been. We saw a huge amount of waste as salespeople would aggressively go after a lead for a few weeks, but essentially drop it if it wasn’t going to buy at that point. There just wasn’t an ability to manage a sales process that required building trust, growing relationships, and keeping a buyer warm until they were ready to buy. We looked at the technology that was out there, in terms of high-scale machine learning and AI platforms, and realized that we could make a big difference. Hence, Nudge.ai was born.

How was the first year in business?
When we started, we looked very closely at how people buy nowadays. We did this both because we serve people who sell, and because we wanted our product to be optimized to be bought in today’s environment. Because of this, we built the product to be seamless for the end user to try, love, get value from, expand, and ultimately pay for. The first product we launched was a free product for professionals who care about their network, and even today this is the first experience with Nudge.ai that most people have.

Since that product was free, we optimized for user metrics, not revenue metrics. Our goal was not pure user signups, but successful, productive, repeat usage three or more months after they signed up. That means optimizing a lot more parts of the entire flow from marketing to onboarding, to user success.

What was your marketing strategy?
We executed an interesting marketing strategy that was guided by the patterns of user success we were seeing. At the top of the funnel, we did a fairly broad set of awareness campaigns, including content marketing, social, and advertising to seek out folks who were experiencing the challenges we were able to solve. When we saw early indicators of success at an organization, we automatically honed in on that organization to focus more advertising efforts on the people at that business.

When multiple people at an organization are on Nudge.ai, they are able to collaborate and see where the other person has strong relationships. As a team started to develop organically, we were able to see bright spots of the right teams who understood, and were focused on, building out a high quality approach to professional selling and relationship building in long deal cycles. These bright spots formed great high-interest groups for our Team product that we sell to teams who are selling into targeted account lists or existing customers.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
The free product did very well and drove a lot of adoption and awareness of Nudge.ai in the first few years. Our ultimate driver with it though was not raw user counts, it was highly successful users, so we would carefully monitor all steps on the path to recurring success. Once we were seeing good success with the core product, we began to build and launch the (paid) Team level. Again, our belief is that success is more important than raw top-line numbers, so we spent a lot of time making sure that all the transition points from free to paid were optimized. Now that that is in place, we’re seeing great growth, both from a “bottoms up” approach with users signing up as individuals and then moving up to paid tiers, and from “top down” deals with many hundreds of users.

I think there can be quite a bit of unhealthy pressure around top-line metrics that leads to an underinvestment in the smaller things that really matter on the road to success.

How do you define success?
Professionally, we look at many, many things, but one of the core metrics for us is Weekly Active Users. We’ll cut that by cohorts and different user groups, but that’s the main lens we use on how well things are going. It’s essentially a rear-view mirror though, so operationally there are a lot of constituent parts that we look at to see if a user or a cohort of users are trending in the right direction or if there’s something we can do with the product, our marketing, or our team’s efforts to get them back on track.

Personally, it’s all about enjoying the journey. I truly enjoy tackling big, interesting problems with a smart team. It keeps every day interesting and inspiring. The professional metrics of success obviously tie into that as indicators of the market’s response to your attempt to solve the problem, but they are not the most important drivers.

What is the key to success?
The secret to success in business is that there’s no secret to success in business. I truly believe that. At its core, business is really simple: create something people want, and get people to pay you for it. Rinse, lather, repeat. However, that’s clearly easier said than done, and so much of making that happen is continual effort, continual learning, hard work, a healthy dose of luck, and a great network of people who can help out in the right way at the right time, once in a while.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
It’s all about the people. Regardless of how good the technology or the business model is, everything comes down to the people around you who create reality from idea, or who decide whether to help it flourish. People will forgive a lot if they know you care and are trying. Likewise, they will be harsh if they think you’re a jerk. Keeping your relationships strong and healthy is super important to long term success.

What are some quotes that you live by?
I can’t say I’m an inspirational quotes kind of guy. In fact, I probably prefer most of despair.com’s options to the typical corporate stuff. The ones that I connect with are usually the ones that focus on action over planning for perfection. Quotes that come to mind are ones like, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now” (Chinese proverb) and “Do or do not. There is no try.” (Yoda)

What are some of your favorite books?
A lot of the challenge of building technology is not the technology side. It’s the psychology of how users interact with the technology. I spend a lot of time on that. Some are very focused books like Hooked by Nir Eyal, which is a bit of a bible for product people in our org. At the other end of the spectrum are much more general books – for example, I think I’ve read everything by Steven Pinker – that look at how people really operate and behave. If you’re building technology without understanding the nuances of how humans actually behave, you’ve got a good chance of missing the mark.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Just one? I’ve done layoffs, terminations, and tough board meetings. I’ve had to tell the Eloqua staff in the early days that we were running out of money and might not be able to afford payroll. There are plenty of tough moments as an entrepreneur, for sure. However, I don’t think that’s what ultimately grinds people down. I think the fact that it’s always up, down, up, down, and you can go from feeling like you’re taking over the world to feeling like a dismal failure all within one day is what eventually gets to people. It’s hard to stay on that roller coaster for an extended duration.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I tend to get myself into situations that lack much of an exit. I’ll sign up for a challenge that I’m not sure if I can complete, but with no exit, there’s no real option other than pushing forward. Inevitably, there’s a dark period, and I find myself pushing into it pretty uncertain of how it all ends, but with no other option than to push deeper into the dark. It often turns out that in the darkest part of the dark is where you’re best able to see the small hints of light that will guide you to the other side. Staring into the dark initially, it would have been impossible to see them, so you just need to push forward into the dark with the confidence that some point of light will appear.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
People think that being an entrepreneur is risky. Sure, it is, but I think we as a society think about risk in a limited way. The risk of having a single skill set, or the risk of not developing the ability to tackle new areas of knowledge quickly, might be an even bigger risk in the rapidly-changing environment that we live in today.

In the short term, entrepreneurship might be pretty risky, but I think it could be argued that, over the long term, it might not be as risky as “low risk” careers. For anyone considering entrepreneurship, I’d encourage them to give it a shot. If nothing else, it’ll be a phenomenal learning opportunity.

Gary Boomershine – Founder & President, RealEstateInvestor.com

Gary has worked in a variety of emerging growth markets for more than 24 years in Silicon Valley and India. He’s been successful in emerging markets and public markets in a broad range of industries including residential and commercial real estate, private lending, enterprise software, and high tech manufacturing.

Gary’s early career was in management and technology consulting at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and in enterprise software sales. During the previous 10 years, he founded and operated both real estate acquisition and lending operations involved in hundreds of profitable property acquisitions, as well as a real estate marketing and software company that services over 1,500 real estate professionals across the United States. He co-founded Wealth Classes, an Inc. 500-featured company with it’s flagship product, The Bankers Code. His most recent venture, RealEstateInvestor.com, with its flagship platform REIvault, made the Inc. 500 list for 2016 and 2017.

How did the concept for RealEstateInvestor.com come about?
It came out of my personal need to find off-market real estate deals in a market that was a decade behind the technology innovation curve. It combined the concept of what my parents used in the 70’s and 80’s, which was mass direct response marketing, with my technical experience of implementing CRM and large scale marketing systems for Fortune 500 companies.

How was the first year in business?
The first year was tough because it required a lot more capital and skilled resources than I originally anticipated. It was the typical entrepreneurial problem – great idea, but grossly underestimating the start up capital and staffing requirements.

What was your marketing strategy?
To utilize strategic partners and affiliates without having to build a large marketing team.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Super fast. Within 2 1/2 years, we were at $6.4 million in sales. The real estate market correction of 2008 had a massive impact that we anticipated and planned for, but took a shift that should have put us out of business. Luckily, I was able to make the hard decisions and downsize quickly which resulted in turning the business essentially off for about three years.

How do you define success?
Personal: combine each of our unique talents with our passions to have a positive impact on others.

Professional: deliver a profitable product/service with customers that are raving fans and competitors that are always in your tailwind.

What is the key to success?
1) A strong vision, well executed.
2) Clarity of vision throughout the organization.
3) Removing friction and inefficiencies from the process.
4) Manage the nickels and know your metrics from day one.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
The importance of having a strong coach/mentor who knows you better than yourself.

What are some of your favorite books?
Traction – Gino Wickman
Three Feet from Gold – Sharon L. Lechter & Greg S. Reid
Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim
No Man’s Land: Where Growing Companies Fail – Doug Tatum

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Following the real estate crash of 2008, I had to make the hard decision to lay off my executive team and the majority of my staff, contractors, and vendors. After running through all our financial models and metrics, I knew there was no way the existing business could weather the storm and we “couldn’t change out the jet engine in mid-air.” I had to tell all of my investors, friends, and staff, who put up a substantial amount of capital and time, that the business would likely not survive and they would not see the predicted return on their investment. It was very lonely place to be and now I understand why 90% of all businesses in the United States fail in the first year and 95% fail within the first five years. It was an amazing lesson. I learned the importance of 1) speak straight, talk straight, 2) separate your personal bias from fundamental business decisions, and 3) the role of a great CEO/entrepreneur is the ability to see around corners, and ultimately, make the right call.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Absolute persistence and tenacity. Sometimes, we just have to keep laying bricks, even when we can’t see where we’re going. However, we always need to make sure we’re laying them in a straight line to get to the other side, even at points when we don’t see light at the end of the tunnel. As a CEO and entrepreneur, I’ve found it absolutely essential to have a 1-year, 3-year, and 10-year plan and then focusing entirely on a small set of quarterly rocks that move us forward. I always remember a couple of quotes that keep me going, even in times of adversity and challenge: “It is better to have a moderate vision well executed, than a great vision poorly executed,” and you always have to “win in the week.” These quotes came from a great coach of mine, Willie Hooks.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
1) Have a strong, documented vision and plan from day one.
2) Don’t underestimate the amount of capital required to run a business.
3) Get a strong coach to help you see your blind spots.
4) As a CEO, don’t do $10/hr work. Be a CEO.

Brian Mattingly – Founder & CEO, Welcomemat Services

Brian is the founder and CEO of Welcomemat Services, a digital and disruptive direct mail marketing company specializing in targeting people who have recently moved. Through Brian’s leadership, the brand has grown to over 60 franchise locations with national coverage and was named the #1 Advertising Franchise in 2017 according to Entrepreneur Magazine.

Prior to founding Welcomemat Services, Brian spent nearly a decade working in the enterprise software space.

Brian is an experienced communicator and expert on local business marketing. He is a regular panelist and speaker on local business marketing and loyalty strategies that drive long-term growth.

Tell me about your early career.
During the dotcom era, I was working in the software space. The software tools that we provided helped very large organizations gain insights into their customer base so they could better service customers and build models for new customer acquisition. You hear the terms big data and business intelligence thrown around a lot today – and those were the types of tools we were working with. The challenge we saw was that while larger organizations were able to afford exciting technology and data to expand, that was not the case for small businesses.

How did the concept for Welcomemat Services come about?
We noticed that smaller local businesses were getting left behind and they too needed access to technology to compete. That became the business problem we set out to solve – how do we help local and regional businesses gain access to technology? From there, we went on to patent some of our data tracking technology and offer it in a format that is powerful, yet cost effective. We identified people moving as an extremely high value consumer segment to target and embedded our technology into a printed package that connects local businesses with new movers.

How was the first year in business?
We launched Welcomemat Services in 2003. During our first twelve months of operations, we focused solely on driving sales and learning the business. As a startup, it was tough – my wife and I worked long hours and days, we were raising two very young children, and we weren’t bringing in any cash for most of the first year as we were reinvesting everything back in the business. Staying focused on our long-term vision kept us moving forward.

What was your marketing strategy?
When we first developed the idea, we didn’t have a marketing strategy. Our goal was to prove that there was a market for our new mover product before we invested heavily in programming and human capital. Proving the market meant getting out into our neighborhood and knocking on doors. With a four-year-old and a one-year-old at home, my wife and I took turns canvasing our local community and beating the street presenting our idea. Business owners became interested in the new mover consumer market segment and our data tracking and began to place orders giving us the confidence to go all in with the concept.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
In our first five years, we grew fairly quickly – doubling our size each year during that time period. At year seven, we decided to begin franchising our concept – at that point we were able to expand more rapidly. We now have national coverage with close to 60 franchise units and we are continuing to look for great owners who are interested in building local marketing agency franchises under the Welcomemat banner.

How do you define success?
Our core focus at Welcomemat is very simple – to help others succeed. This covers everyone that our organizations touches, including our end-user clients, the people who receive our Welcomemat packages, our employees, our franchisees, and our vendors. If we are doing that each and every day, then we are doing the things necessary to be successful.

What is the key to success?
From being a founder to expanding through franchising at Welcomemat, I have seen both success and failure. From my perspective, success hinges on being humble enough to understand that there is an opportunity to learn and get better with each challenge. The tough times are sharpening stones on the path to achieving the goals you set out for yourself.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Throughout my teenage years and through college, I worked many different jobs. My first job was washing dishes at a restaurant when I was a young teenager. I then went on to become a server and a car valet at a very prestigious country club. I had the privilege of working with all types of people, from all socioeconomic and sociodemographic levels including ex-cons to Fortune 500 executives.

During those years, I learned how to communicate with people. I learned to talk and get along with people who work in kitchens making minimum wage as well as wealthy executives and country club members. I also recognized the importance of treating people well no matter what their circumstance or position is. That skill has helped me throughout my professional career and those experiences have shaped me into a servant leader.

What are some quotes that you live by?
My favorite quotes tend to come from scripture. Joshua 1:9 is one I often lean on, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

What are some of your favorite books?
The Bible, Good to GreatYes!, The Power of Habit, How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling, and Traction.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
I can’t pinpoint one day or one instance that was particularly tough as I have had many tough days as an entrepreneur. Anyone who is building something to last is going to have that – the question becomes, “Can you see past the tough days and keep moving forward?”

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I have been very blessed in my life and I understand that adversity is necessary to achieve greatness. So, when adversity comes, I am confident I will come out stronger after the storm passes.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Prove your market before you spend all of your investment dollars on expensive programming and product development. Create a prototype to test in the market, and once you have proven the market, then you’ve mitigated some of the risk and you can invest more comfortably.

I also would encourage anyone starting a company to be prepared for the long term – have a long-term vision. Most great companies are built over decades, not months or even years.

Mike Wior – Co-Founder & CEO, Omnivore

As co-founder and CEO of Omnivore, Mike Wior leads his team in bringing to market powerful and seamless technologies transforming how the hospitality industry engages with consumers. His major focus is driving and establishing strategic partner and stakeholder relationships that are key in growing Omnivore. With an extensive background in cloud and security solutions for organizations including Wells Fargo, Adobe, and Google, Mike also serves as a board member and advisor for several fast-rising restaurant technology companies. When he’s not crisscrossing the country for Omnivore business, he is a passionate fly fisherman and avid reader of historical fiction novels.

Tell me about your early career.
Before college, I wanted to be a race car driver or a technologist. I wasn’t that great at racing cars so I chose the technology route. After I graduated, I started working for Insight in their professional services organization, a job I ultimately got as a result of a set of relationships I formed while running a pretty successful World of Warcraft guild through college. This was an amazing opportunity to jumpstart my career and over a short period of time, I gained experience working with organizations on a project basis from large corporations to small businesses. It gave me a valuable perspective of how well or how poorly different entities and businesses can be executed.

Eventually, I got tired of traveling all over the country and I landed at Wells Fargo, managing their internal hosting environments for VMware, SharePoint, and their early internal cloud services. I think it’s a great skill for anyone, especially those working in a B2B startup to have some large enterprise experience. I remember how shocking it was for me when I first started and someone told me it would take about 30 days to get an IP address for a server.

After about six years with Wells Fargo, learning how to maneuver and deliver around the red tape of such a large organization, I decided it was time to get to a place where I could have a more tactical impact and searched to find a company much smaller to work for. I ended up accepting a VP of Engineering position with a small consultancy in Palo Alto called Solid Instance. This job was a bloodbath of ‘bleeding edge’ technologies. We built everything from a live streaming surveillance drone for the Geospatial Intelligence Agency to some early Adobe Creative Cloud prototypes. During my time at Solid Instance, I learned that nothing goes out the door perfectly in the technology business and this goes doubly for startups. It’s necessary to start with a meaningful Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and iterate often.

After Solid Instance, I decided I was tired of prototyping and wanted to take a product to market and scale and so here I am today at Omnivore.

How did the concept for Omnivore come about?
In 2011, Chris Sullivan purchased a company called MenuPad from Australia and brought it to the United States to productize. I was his CTO. Chris being the great visionary that he is has always believed very early on that technology was absolutely necessary to save the ever-shrinking margins in the restaurant industry. MenuPad was an order at the table iPad based solution and was his first foray into investing in technology he believed could turn the tide for the industry.

In the process of working to bring the product to market, we learned that connecting to POS systems was a terrible mess. We had three contractors in different parts of the country writing three different integrations for three separate POS systems in three different languages with three different sets of endpoints. It was madness. We were never going to be able to support something like that at scale and so we set out to find a solution. We ran across a company who had done POS integration similar to what we had envisioned for Omnivore but had recently gone out of business due to patent licensing issues and found very few other options.

Our choice was to either build something specifically for MenuPad or build a new company with a neutral position to commoditize POS integrations for anyone in the industry. As we began to pursue due diligence, I met my co-founder, Mike Taczak. Mike is an absolutely brilliant developer with a specialty in API technologies.

We worked with Mike Taczak to scope a project for MenuPad that would also free us from any patent issues; initially, as a statement of work (SoW). Our agreement with Chris Sullivan was that if the project was successful, he would fund the company as an angel investor and we would move forward as necessary from there.

How was the first year in business?
We were forced to remain incredibly focused during our first year. We had our work cut out for us. No one wants a universal POS connection that only connects to one or two POS systems. It took us about 12 months to build the API product and our self-service development portal.

Additionally, we had a significant amount of business development to do. Our business relied on three important verticals: POS manufacturers, third-party restaurant technologies, as well as their restaurant partners.

Not everyone agreed to work with us right away but we had to make do with what we had. In some cases, asking for forgiveness rather than permission was the name of the game. I think just about every startup goes through some form of this – it’s an important component to disruption in my opinion. I’ve seen some incredible business development relationships built on the foundation of a small company doing something they technically shouldn’t have been doing.

Once we were able to get just a little bit of traction, it made it possible to progress from there.

What was your marketing strategy?
Originally, our go-to-market strategy was to be a middleware for application partners, leverage their rollouts and scale, then take Omnivore to market leveraging their sales teams. We realized it just wasn’t enough. We had to create an industry-leading platform and marketplace to solve not just the technical problem between the POS and third party technologies, but also the operational and business problems related to helping them go to market.

Creating the Omnivore App Marketplace allowed the industry to better understand what we were trying to accomplish and gave us a dialogue that didn’t require our audience to be nearly as technical as it had to be when we were only a middleware product.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Omnivore is a very momentum-based business and in the beginning, it was a slow ramp up. We needed to build partnerships and relationships across all our verticals in order to significantly increase restaurant locations and create a meaningful addressable market for our app partners to monetize. As we were able to lock-in wins with POS manufacturers, it opened up new restaurant groups that could seamlessly connect with our platform and in turn increased demand for restaurant technologies who would buy in to our idea for solving their POS integration issues.

That momentum building process continues today moving much faster than it did in the first few years. In 2016, Omnivore had over 400% revenue growth vs. 2015.

How do you define success?
At Omnivore, we seek to create a digital addressable market of physical locations for anyone to easily engage with and develop creative solutions for improving the consumer experience and operations at brick and mortar retail businesses.

My definition of success at Omnivore is when we help our restaurant partners realize the full potential of their IT strategy and empower them to bring meaningful change to their brand. When a restaurant begins to see the impact of how our technology can change their world and enable them to win against their competition, then I know we have achieved success.

What is the key to success?
Focus for Omnivore is especially important. There are so many opportunities and ways to apply our product that it is easy to lose focus on dragging an individual deal across the finish line.

Keep a running list of 10-15 opportunities and don’t stop working on that list until you decide a deal is dead or you execute a contract. Businesses in my experience are built brick by brick and win by win. As you grow, you will have more people throwing up bigger wins but the premise stays the same.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Your team is everything, no matter how capable of an individual you may be, there are just not enough hours in the day to build an effective startup all on your own. Surrounding yourself with smart people who complement your strengths and weaknesses well is incredibly important.

Enforce the culture of mutual respect. An individual may be the absolute best person in the world for exactly what you need them to do but if they can’t work well with the rest of your team, they aren’t worth a damn. Move on.

What are some quotes that you live by?
“To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” – Mark Twain

What are some of your favorite books?
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Car, Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer, and The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
I can’t say I have any particular day in my mind. Growing this business has been a roller coaster. In The Hard Thing about Hard Things, Ben Horowitz wrote that in startups you only ever experience two emotions: terror and euphoria. I wholeheartedly agree.

The important thing is to move forward every day, even if it’s only a baby step. I remember thinking when we first started that if we just get to a certain point, it would all be downhill from there – there is NO downhill. You are climbing a mountain and when you get to the summit of that mountain, there is going to be a whole new mountain to climb.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
While I accept that failure is a necessary piece of success, I absolutely hate it. I like to think I harness my own fear of failure to ensure I work as hard as I can to avoid it whenever possible.

Ultimately, my passion is achieving our objective and building a company worthy of the effort put forward by the team supporting it.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to take risks; you will win some and will fail often. You can learn as much from failure as success. Learn everything that you can when you do fail. Never accept that your failure just happened to you and there isn’t anything that could have been done to prevent it.

Make sure to take time to celebrate your accomplishments as you are able, because there is always more to be done. Pat yourself and your team on the back as often as you can.

I try to remember that I am running a marathon and not a sprint. Find a routine that keeps your head above water and allows you to stay healthy. Let the bad days roll off your shoulders, dig in and fight back. The next set of good days are just around the corner.