Adam Root – Co-founder of HipLogiq

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Adam Root - CTO and Co-founder of HipLogiq

Our current CEO, a good friend of mine, advised me, “Do not love the business, because the business won’t love you back. Instead, love the people you build the business with.” 

Adam is currently the CTO and co-founder of HipLogiq, the developers of social media marketing tools SocialCompass and SocialCentiv. Adam has managed teams in interactive design and development. He graduated from Oklahoma Christian University with a degree in corporate media and is presently completing his master’s degree at Harvard University. He has earned various advanced marketing and engineering certifications.

Where did the idea for HipLogiq come from?

HipLogiq started in 2008 as an interactive agency called Root & Madison. Soon after we started the agency, we noticed the groundswell around social media and wanted to participate in the space. But we didn’t want to simply develop another “me, too” product. We wanted to be disruptive. We came up with the concept of “intent-based marketing,” a phrase we coined to describe how we mined Twitter conversations for buying signals from consumers.

At the same time, the discount movement initialized by Groupon and LivingSocial inspired us. We decided to incorporate coupons within Twitter links. We knew that people liked to share deals with their friends and family on social media, especially when they were incentivized. We added a viral loop to our application to motivate consumers to share coupons on Facebook and Twitter. We spent a few weeks hacking away to build a proof of concept. We showed it to one of our advisors, Bernie Perrine (now our CEO), and after a couple a tweaks, we knew we had something special.

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

My morning ritual includes answering emails, reading my favorite Bible passage, catching up on industry publications, working out, and drinking plenty of sugar-free Red Bull. I use this time to focus my mind and body for upcoming tasks at the office.

My first task at the office is a quick meeting to make sure our workflow is aligned with our company goals. Afterward, I have a meeting with our CEO to update him on our current engineering and digital marketing efforts. I then focus on emails from vendors, partners, and team members. I eat lunch at my desk and use the early afternoon for meetings focused on strategic partnerships, client integrations, or potential vendors.

In the late afternoon, I meet with our CPO to review our application performance metrics, identify areas of optimization in our activation funnels and retention strategies, and evaluate prototypes that will soon be ready for engineering. I review our digital marketing analytics to gather ideas for conversion improvement and set timelines.

I then meet with our sales engineers to gather feedback and review data from Salesforce and Marketo. We focus on improving our marketing efforts and collateral to communicate our value proposition more effectively and solve problems that hinder our current customers. Finally, I meet with our vice president of engineering to ensure that our code is ready to be deployed.

At the end of the day, I set goals for the next day, week, and month to make sure I’m being productive, not just busy.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I am blessed to have a team of talented, passionate individuals across multiple departments. We’re constantly thinking about how to make a better product for our customers. It doesn’t matter who proposes an idea; we have a very democratic process, and we believe every idea matters.

Any proposed idea goes through an iterative process, beginning with a wireframe. Wireframes are a quick, inexpensive way to gather feedback. We run user tests with the wireframe to see whether our target audience accepts the idea or rejects it. If the data shows acceptance, we create a low-fidelity prototype that’s essentially a black-and-white version of what the finished product will look like. Again, we run user tests to see where the pitfalls are.

After several revisions, we recreate the low-fidelity prototype and run it through user tests. If the prototype passes the test, we create a high-fidelity prototype. We run a user test on the high-fidelity prototype and make some minor tweaks. After development is complete, we send the prototype to an alpha user group that uses the application on a staging server to try to “break” the application and uncover bugs.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Anything and everything can be measured, analyzed, and optimized. Making decisions based on hard data, rather than on opinions, levels the playing field for companies with younger teams. I see this data-driven decision-making trend expanding in corporate America.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Early in my career, I made business my whole life. My personal life and health suffered as a result, and I was depressed and angry all the time. I realized I had to change my philosophy. Now, I’m a big believer in balance, taking time to make sure I’m healthy by eating well and exercising. I take time to recharge my batteries by traveling and experiencing new and different cultures. I’m also a big believer in continuing education, so I take time to learn new skills every year and sharpen existing ones.

What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?

My most difficult job was being a telemarketer. Nevertheless, the constant rejection and rude behavior were valuable in that they taught me that sales is a numbers game. I learned how to perfect my pitch through the experience, realizing that every “no” is one call closer to a “yes” — meaning I couldn’t give up at the first objection to a sale. I needed to come up with rebuttals to those objections.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I made the mistake early on of letting the highs be too high and the lows too low. This provoked a lot of frustration and anger toward my co-founders and teammates. Our current CEO, a good friend of mine, advised me, “Do not love the business, because the business won’t love you back. Instead, love the people you build the business with.” If I had it to do over again, I would put that advice into practice much sooner than I did.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I follow a very specific methodology of trying something new, analyzing it, iterating, and repeating. This methodology can be used in all facets of business and life. By following this process, you’ll have enough data and experience to become a master in almost anything.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how you employed it.

My one strategy is creating a culture that encourages innovation and rewards performance. Our CEO recently implemented a company-wide bonus opportunity tied to company revenue performance. Each employee, from support staff to engineering, is incentivized to work cooperatively to ensure that our customers are successful with our products.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I started a software company in college that allowed users to create video résumés. Although our target audience, college graduates, greeted our technology with excitement, hiring managers did not share the sentiment. The company went under and put me in danger of bankruptcy. It took years to pay off the debt I’d incurred. It was a very humbling experience that taught me to be more cautious about what I spend my time and money on, as well as the importance of anticipating market trends.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

There is a huge opportunity for the right startup to capitalize on the “Dashboard of You.” This startup could connect data from an individual’s devices, including FitBit, as well as lifestyle information from social networks, financial information from Mint, and so forth. The data harvested could enable applications including everything from healthcare to statistical trend information for city planning. Advertisers could target users by purchasing highly targeted messages via a recommendation engine. For example, my FitBit could provide advertisers with information saying I am overweight, and Mint could provide financial information saying that I am also on a budget. As an advertiser, I could use that micro-targeting information to create a personalized coupon to a health food store.

Tell us something about yourself that very few people know.

I think I was born in the wrong generation. I’m a big fan of old-fashioned values, including being chivalrous.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Mixpanel: Mixpanel’s funnels show us where we can improve our new registration workflow, while its notifications allow us to automatically send an email when a user runs into a problem.

New Relic: New Relic is a dashboard for everything happening on our cloud instances. If you have a SAAS business, you should have New Relic installed.

InsightSquared: InsightSquared is the missing analytics plugin for Salesforce. It helps us make sense of our Salesforce data.

What is the one book that you recommend our community read, and why?

I’d recommend Neil Patel’s “Quick Sprout Traffic System.” I found this to be the best how-to guide for marketing a startup.

Which people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Guy Kawasaki, author of “The Art of the Start,” provides advice on funding a startup. Donald Trump wrote “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” which gives advice on how to negotiate. Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crush It!” gives invaluable advice on how to best use Twitter. And Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler’s “A Project Guide to UX Design” offers advice on how to create products people will use.

Connect:

http://www.hiplogiq.com/
http://www.socialcentiv.com/
http://www.socialcompass.net/
Adam Root on Twitter: @AdamRoot
Adam Root on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/AdamMRoot

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This interview was posted by Mario Schulzke.
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