Independent Software’s Entrepreneur Profiles celebrate people out there changing the world every day through their ventures. We ask each entrepreneur a few questions to give us a little insight into their vision of the future and their take on building a company.
This month we feature Mike Morris. His venture, RecDesk, is helping community centers, churches, and municipal parks & recreation departments manage events, activities, and facilities. The software serves as a central hub that works to make program and facility management a streamlined, time-saving task.
Mike is looking for advice on how to effectively create relationships and sell to both municipalities and non-profits that provide recreation servies in their communities. He is also looking to connect with other entrepreneurs who have successfully bootstrapped their own companies or are in the process of doing so.
If this sounds like you, or a friend, get in touch with Mike at mike @ Recdesk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @mikeymo and stay tuned here for updates about Mike and his work when they become available.
Questions for Mike
Q: What Does Your Company Do?
A: RecDesk provides fully hosted recreation management software for use by municipal parks & recreation departments, community centers, churches and similarly focused non-profits. It includes services such as online registration, program management, facility scheduling, membership management and financial reporting. The goal with RecDesk has always been to provide an easier to use, affordable alternative to the more enterprisey solutions in this space. I’ve also recently launched another company called Triplefy that allows locally owned, small businesses to run Do-it-Yourself Daily Deals and sell online gift gards. The intent is to take the Groupon model of doing things and flip it—essentially putting the power back where it belongs, in the hands of the small business owner. I’m working on this with Herby Fabius, whom I met at a LaunchHaven event last Summer.
When Did You Start Your Company? Why?
RecDesk traces its roots back to 2005 when I was working full time as a software consultant at various large companies in the Hartford area building enterprise software. The cycle was basically work hard, get paid well, move onto the next project. I decided at that point that I wanted to get off that treadmill and create something of my own—something that lasted longer and had more meaning to me than a milestone on someone else’s Gantt chart. I forget exactly what led me to the recreation management space, but I know I saw an opportunity there and I’m glad that I did. RecDesk currently has customers in 15 states and is just now really beginning to hit its stride. The idea for Triplefy came about in the spring of 2011. I wondered what it would be like if instead of everyone buying the de facto Amazon, iTunes or National Brand X gift card for a loved one’s birthday or special occasion, they bought a gift card from a locally owned, independent business. I think if that was the case, our economy would be much better off today and much less brittle in the future. So Triplefy is all about helping locally owned, independent businesses compete with these large national brands and corporations.
What Are Your Funding Sources?
Both RecDesk and Triplefy are bootstrapped companies. With RecDesk, I released the first version while working full time and then carved out a consulting schedule whereby I would essentially take Fridays “off” to work on sales and software development. This eventually led to dedicating two days per week to this effort, then three and finally full-time. I love creating stuff and I love writing software, so I’d be doing it anyway. For me, seeking outside funding for RecDesk never really crossed my mind.
What Have the Top 3 Challenges Been in Your Startup Process?
Number one would probably be getting comfortable playing the role of salesperson, not just software developer. As someone who tends to be more introverted than extroverted and more at home at the keyboard than on the phone, this has been the biggest challenge. But I’ve gotten better at it and continue to work at it every day. I don’t think I can overstate how important the sales part is—good software, even great software “ain’t gonna sell itself.” Number two would be dealing with the emotional ebbs and flows that are part of running your own business. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s scary and most of the time it’s just plain hard. Strangely, I like all three in different ways… as I suspect most entrepreneurs do.
An entrepreneur is someone who has a need, not just a desire, to create “something” that sort of takes on a life of its own, is bigger than themselves and is self-sustaining. That last part is key, because I think all of us are “makers” to some degree, but that desire usually manifests itself in the form of a hobby (or hobbies). But hobbies don’t create jobs or pay for the kid’s braces Secondly, I think an entrepreneur is someone who perseveres where others throw up their hands. They realize that things aren’t always going to go their way, but if they continue push forward, good things are on the horizon. Lastly, I think entrepreneurs are people who believe in themselves.
Read any Good Books Lately?
I Just finished “A Game of Thrones” and have moved onto “A Clash of Kings” in George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. My favorite character is the Imp, a sharp-witted dwarf. What he lacks in stature he makes up for in brashness. I also recently read “The Fifth Mountain” by Paul Coelho. It’s about the spiritual journey of the prophet Elijah. I liked “The Alchemist” by the same author and would recommend both.
What is Your Advice for an Entrepreneur Starting Out?
First off, get started. I think there’s the temptation to read “one more” start-up book or wait for your “next” great idea. Your first efforts don’t have to be resounding successes, but you can learn from them and they set you down a path that you’ll be happy to be on. Secondly, stay on top of the latest thinking and writing about creating successful start-ups from the likes of Eric Reiss, Steve Blank and others, but don’t be dogmatic about it or believe everything you read applies to your particular situation. Trust your instincts.
What is Your Favorite Entrepreneurship Quote?
“When you’re ready to quit, you’re closer than you think.” —Bob Parsons