Find a hobby. I didn’t have one for more than 8 years, and when I started riding my bike to work a year or two back it gave me time to “read” all the books that had queued up for years.
In 2003, while working as a field network engineer Joel Bomgar developed the first version of the Bomgar remote support solution as a way to provide remote technical support to disparate users without leaving his desk. Since the company’s founding in 2003, Joel has led the company to acquire over 7,500 customers and increase revenues by over 500 percent. The company’s rapid growth has been recognized by numerous awards, including Deloitte’s Fast 500, and Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 500|5000 for 5 consecutive years.
Prior to starting Bomgar Corporation, Joel worked as a senior network engineer for Business Communications, Inc. (BCI), a systems integrator, where he was responsible for providing technical support and assistance to all of BCI’s customers. Joel has nearly a decade of experience in network engineering, and served in the Mississippi Air National Guard where he honed his networking and computer skills, earning numerous network certifications. Joel graduated from Belhaven College with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and serves on numerous technology and public policy boards.
What are you working on right now?
Leading Bomgar Corporation, a software company of 225 employees selling remote support software into 65 countries worldwide. We were just ranked #1 in Enterprise Remote Support marketshare worldwide by research firm IDC.
Where did the idea for Bomgar come from?
I was a tech support engineer throughout college and was always frustrated that I had to jump into my 1979 Buick LeSabre every time I needed to fix a computer problem. I wanted to fix problems remotely, but there wasn’t decent technology back in 2003 to do that, so I developed my own technology that later evolved into the Bomgar Box.
How do you make money?
Bomgar sells remote support software to IT departments and tech support centers worldwide. Companies use our technology to provide secure remote support to their employees and customers over the Internet and all over the world.
What does your typical day look like?
I try to bike to work 2 or 3 times a week. Those days are my favorite days. It’s about 8.5 miles each way and I put on my AfterShokz headphones and push play on my latest audiobook and have a blast getting a great workout in the beautiful outdoors and listening to inspiring and insightful audiobooks the whole way.
When I get to work I put my GeekDesk in the standing position and switch on my fan and work standing up for the first few hours. Business strategy and competitive strategy has always intrigued me and I spend a lot of time thinking and researching how we serve our customers the best way. There are always a lot of meetings about product and positioning and strategy and operations. Also, I have an amazing executive assistant that empowers me to research and explore and analyze anything that could propel the company forward. I love my job!
How do you bring ideas to life?
Usually going to lunch with all the parties that it would take to make it happen. Many of Bomgar’s best ideas have taken flight over a great brainstorming lunch.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Mobile. The world is only just beginning to enjoy the benefits of mobile computing. In another 10 years, our mobile handsets will be basically all we ever have to have with us. Everything we pay for, every access we need, and all the knowledge we could ever want will be in our hands. No more keys, wallet, etc. All you will ever have to have with you is your phone.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I was the janitor at my church from the time I was 11 until I was 18. I hated the job, but it provided me with a paycheck. I also worked for a plant nursery and a local farmer doing manual labor and bailing hay during most summers. The only somewhat fun part was driving the tractor now and then. Neither of those jobs were my favorite but doing something you don’t like can really teach you perseverance and determination, and those are the two most key ingredients to entrepreneurship
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Doing all the same stuff faster. I guess it would have been helpful to learn the benefits of focus and being different from the competition earlier in the process than we did, but we did learn quickly and our lack of knowledge about those concepts in the early days didn’t hold us back.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Find a hobby. I didn’t have one for more than 8 years, and when I started riding my bike to work a year or two back it gave me time to “read” all the books that had queued up for years. I really enjoy riding my bike and it is highly productive. Spending time with family is also my top priority. Your family will long outlive and outlast any business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Lack of focus. Bomgar launched a second and third product before the first one had even reached $5 million in revenue. That was a mistake. What did we do to fix it? We shut down product No. 2 and No. 3., and devoted 100 percent of our focus to product No. 1. Even with nearly $50 million in annual revenue now, we are still better off with one market-leading product than we would be if we had continued attempting to ride multiple horses simultaneously. There is absolutely a time to have more than one product or more than one brand, but it takes most entrepreneurs years, or even a decade, before their primary product has the market dominance it needs to be sustainable. Focus is huge.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Someone needs to have a website where you can post absolutely anything you find out or discover so others can benefit from your discovery. Call it something like Eureka (already taken) or YourEka (a spin on it). Make the tagline “Your Idea, Your Revelation, Your Discovery.” Basically you could post anything without even having to create a login. You could post from your phone or anywhere else. Think of every time it has taken you minutes or hours or days or weeks to figure out some problem or weird symptom or product or whatever. Don’t you ever think “Eureka,” now I wish I could tell the world so there aren’t thousands of people spending the exact same two weeks of research to find the exact same info you have already discovered? Post it on “YourEka” and the thousands of people after you will see your answer as their top Google hit and save themselves all the trouble you went through.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would transform our K through 12 public education system in America by implementing school choice (our colleges and universities already have school choice and are almost universally miles ahead of our K through 12 system). Education in America is one of the greatest areas of inequality that our country has ever faced. That isn’t fair or right and I’d love to see reform and progress happen along the lines of free-market principles and school choice.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I actually do run out of energy after very, very long days. Most people think I’m more like the Energizer Bunny, but it’s not always the case.
What are your two favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Ben’s Blog because he is right most of the time and most business and entrepreneur resources are wrong.
Al Ries’s website because it has all of Al Ries’s books and tons of other stuff. In my opinion, there is no greater business strategist and marketer than Al Ries.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The 4 Hour Workweek,” by Timothy Ferriss. Not because anyone should only want to work four hours a week, but because the productivity principles and philosophy of productivity and effectiveness encompassed in that book are powerful. I read it a few years back and it was one of the most life-transforming books I’ve ever read.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh a lot. Not sure. The world is fun and there are lots of things that make me laugh.
Who is your hero?
Steve Jobs. Steve truly understood focus and the importance of being different like no one else. Al Ries, as I mentioned earlier, is my hero for business strategy and marketing.
How important is work-life balance?
Most of the time spent outside of 8 am to 5 pm on work-related activities ends up not mattering in retrospect—even when looking back just one week, one month, or one year later. Most of the time you could have spent outside of work hours with your family DOES matter 100 percent in retrospect. You, your family, and your work are all better off if you are in “work mode” at work and “family mode” outside of work hours. That is a key way to be your best. My advice: Don’t check email outside of work hours and read “The Four Hour Workweek” for more great advice and productivity principles.