This is the fifth installment of my “5 Questions for a CEO” series. The first was with Raymond King, CEO of Zoo Atlanta; the second was with Devon Wijesinghe, CEO of Insightpool; the third with Mark Feinberg, CEO of Uruut; and the fourth with Simms Jenkins, BrightWave Marketing.
Rob Kischuk is easily one of my favorite tech entrepreneurs in town. He has that blend that I wish I had of being both technical (so he can actually “do” stuff, unlike me) and strategic. What I also like about Rob is that he’s tackling innovation within social media and I personally believe there is a massive amount of work still to be done in that space, so I’m encouraged when smart leaders like Rob go after it. And full disclosure, I’m an investor in PerfectPost (once called Badgy) but I was a fan first, investor second ;)
Describe PerfectPost and why it is going to change the world.
PerfectPost provides a service that helps ecommerce companies intelligently use social media to increase repeatable revenue. Most social media advice is anecdotal – we’re taking a hard, data-driven approach to optimization, and while ecommerce companies have been the first to embrace performance, other industries are not far behind.
How do you manage your schedule? In addition to being the CEO of a fast-growing startup, you’re also a father and husband…how do you juggle your responsibilities?
It is all about priorities. The startup stereotype of working in the office until 10 pm or later doesn’t seem right for my family. I am usually home for dinner with my family by 6:30 pm, and my laptop stays parked until after I’ve spent time dining with family, put our kids to bed, and spent some good time with my wonderful and understanding wife. I get a few more hours of work done each night after everyone else is asleep.
Describe your morning routine.
I am not much of a morning person. I usually go from sleeping to out the door in less than 30 minutes. Up, dressed, grab something quick for breakfast, hug my wife and daughters, and I’m on the way. I use the drive in to listen to podcasts – a mix of startups, technology, and sound Bible teaching. It gives me good focus and context about current events and timeless truths that make my days more effective. In the office and drinking good coffee around 9 am.
What’s your favorite thing about starting a business in Atlanta and what is the biggest area of opportunity for the city to be better at cultivating startups?
I love that we build real companies. Of the 6 startups I have been a part of, 2 were acquired by public companies, and 3 are still operating. Locally, this doesn’t get much attention since none of these companies were ISS, Vitrue, or AirWatch. When I talk to people in startup hubs as a founder of a startup with product, customers, and revenue, the positive reaction shows we are doing something right here.
The biggest opportunity to improve is that as a startup community, we need to avoid the geographic sprawl that defines Atlanta. Startups thrive on scarce resources of talented people, smart money, early adopters, compelling events, and great advice. Midtown/Tech Square and Atlanta Tech Village are obviously both here to stay. The mistake is where everyone wants a startup “hub” 5 minutes from their house. That assumes that all of the resources to build great startups can be found in every neighborhood or in pre-scheduled meetings. Quite the opposite – the full concentration of all of our resources and serendipitous conversations are what we need to create more great companies.
What are 3 things you wish you knew before you started PerfectPost?
I wish I understood how difficult it is to get a prospective customer’s attention. We are gaining enough customer success stories that this is getting easier, but it is a real reality check when you iterate on your product until it’s market ready, and then you realize that good products don’t sell themselves, and that product-distribution fit is the next grind ahead.
I wish, even now, that I knew more about the timing of our market. The first startup I joined out of Georgia Tech, Air2Web, was basically Appcelerator started 8 years too early. Driving ecommerce sales from Social Media is clearly a currently growing opportunity, but it would be helpful to know how fast adoption in this market will be so we can focus on the right things.
I wish I understood my limits better. I think most founders underestimate what they are capable of. I have spent a lot of time worrying about hitting barriers in our business that are now miles behind us. Starting a company is a redefining experience.