Tony Rappa – Founder of The Webpreneur Nerd

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Tony Rappa - Founder of The Webpreneur Nerd

I guess it really all comes down to other people. When I have an idea that’s worth pursuing my first move is to share it. I’ve found that just speaking the idea brings a life to it that doesn’t happen when it’s just in my head. Plus, the input I get from my trusted peers allows me to consider angles that I never would have contemplated on my own.

From the belly of technology and entrepreneurship a tech blogger is born. This Gen X’er isn’t just any tech blogger; nope, he’s the Webpreneur Nerd! This silly son-of-a-gun started falling in love with technology at the young age of eight. After hours of his Dad and him writing code, they finally got a little digital cannon-ball to fire across the television screen – all from their Tandy computer.

His real affair with the internet started at age twenty-two when he opened his first web development company and decided to learn HTML. Oh the power! You can imagine (listen to your inner-nerd) the excitement of creating something cool with nothing more than Netscape and Notepad. After several great years of building websites; selling computers; and doing tech training – it was time to take a little drive. The business sold quickly and they – he and his family – loaded up and made the 3000 mile drive from Florida to Southern California.

A few months after arriving and working with some awesome missionaries; Tony caught wind of a cool opportunity working for the largest anti-virus software developer in the country. The destination? The Great North-West and little town of Eugene, Oregon. It was an awesome place to raise his now twenty-one year old son and a place he’ll always consider home.

In the past several years he’s had the opportunity to run a marketing company; teach technology to high school students; and even work for a family wealth system in LA for a couple of years. Upon hearing of an opportunity to work with a small technical training company back in Eugene – he just couldn’t resist. He spent what he calls “an amazing two years” serving as the Sales Manager to fourteen dynamic individuals.

All of his experiences culminated to one undeniable conclusion. His love of technology and business – along with his life-long dream of writing and teaching all led him to become the Webpreneur Nerd. Now he spends his days going to awesome tech events; meeting amazing business and tech nerds; and writing from his unique point-of-view.

Where did the idea for Webpreneur Nerd come from?

I moved to LA with the intent of funding an idea. After several conversations with friends and family; along with lots of research – I realized that I would need to build an audience before moving forward with my plan. When I told a life-long friend what I needed to accomplish and wondered how I would go about it; she said “You’re a nerd! Be you and share that with the world”.

All of my past experiences – everything I’ve always been passionate about; led to one conclusion: I had to teach! I had to write! The friend I mentioned calls herself the Glampreneur Girl. So, I thought OK; who am I? I’m an absolute nerd that loves the internet and entrepreneurship. Thus was born the Webpreneur Nerd.

What does your typical day look like?

It’s pretty crazy right now. My first concern is to ABCC – Always Be Creating Content. So, I spend most of my nights and some of my days attending any tech related event I can find. In a span of two weeks I attended the LA Business Expo; a two day hackathon; Intro to the LA startup community with Marko Vasiljevic; and a fireside chat with Sean Rad (Creator of Tinder). In January I’ll be attending CES 2014 and the Vegas based ATT hackathon event. I’ve also started creating several video training series that will cover everything from consultative selling strategies to installing and supporting WordPress and much more.

Putting out content is only part of the equation. I’m also spending a ton of time learning how to properly use social media and I’m working on building my audience. I’ve found that “social” is a complex beast with a learning curve I never expected. I’m excited to know that everything I learn will be turned into awesome content to help others on their path to social coolness.

Lastly, I’m working on a project – with a business partner – called Group Coupon Training. She’s created an amazing training series and resource center at www.groupcouponsales.com. It helps entrepreneurs who use GROUPON and other group voucher programs increase their profits. Why work on this as well? I feel the project has a ton of potential and it’s a membership based system; which is what I just spent the last two years selling. Plus, More Content! Everything I learn along the way will be translated into articles and videos teaching others how to do it.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I guess it really all comes down to other people. When I have an idea that’s worth pursuing my first move is to share it. I’ve found that just speaking the idea brings a life to it that doesn’t happen when it’s just in my head. Plus, the input I get from my trusted peers allows me to consider angles that I never would have contemplated on my own.

Then, I have a decision to make: do I have the resources (time, etc.) to do something about this idea or should I give it to someone that does? I’m a strong believer that ideas are worthless unless you or someone has the resources to take action. Finally, it’s just a matter of releasing it to the wild as soon as possible. If I would have waited for my blog to be perfect I’d still be in production. I put something together I thought would work and I’ve been making adjustments as I grow.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

That has to be the Internet of Things. There are some great strides in bringing connected technology into the real world that’s going to change everything. Things as simple as tech that allows you to control your home remotely and as complex as the self-driving car. For those of us that spend two hours a day in traffic; having the ability to work or learn during that time is really exciting. The idea that I can get dinner going while I’m still making my way home – love that! These are only a couple of applications; the possibilities are endless.

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

I think there’s a problem that entrepreneurs deal with that goes far beyond what most productivity tricks deal with. It’s the issue of motivation. We all deal with the voices that tell us we’re crazy for doing what we’re doing. Voices that tell us it’ll never work or that progress is much too slow. I found one habit that counters those voices; the celebration of the small win. I’ve developed the habit of getting really excited over just about everything that works. Whether it’s three more twitter followers today or writing a piece of code that actually works.

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

Haha. I’ve had some pretty crappy jobs. I’d have to say the worst job was doing consumer facing phone support. There’s nothing worse than arguing with someone over how much they have to spend to have a virus removed; ever after telling them how to find the step-by-step article online. Though, I did hear some pretty funny stuff; one guy actually told me that he used his CD tray as a coffee cup holder. He really thought that’s what it was for! I learned several lessons that have stuck with me over the years. I think the biggest is patience. I’ve been told by many people that I have a level of patience they’re not used to experiencing.

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

There’s a part of me that starts generating a long list of failures I’ve experienced and wants to change them all. The problem, if I changed anything about my past I wouldn’t be the person I am now. I think the only thing I would do differently is listen. I would have listened closer to wisdom when I was much younger.

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

I was really struggling with this one. So, I asked my twenty-one year old son what he thought I did over and over again. He said “you’re crazy”. He went on to explain that I’m always talking about the crazy things I want accomplish; things that people wouldn’t think possible. What do I do over and over that everyone should? I reach. I never stop reaching.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

In two words: Consultative Selling. Taking this approach has been a huge benefit to the growth of any business I’ve been involved with. The basic principal is something you probably already know. It’s listening to your potential customer to determine what they need. However, the strategy goes much deeper than that. First, it’s the idea that you don’t do the regular dog-and-pony show that most sales people do. Second, it goes beyond the surface need and taps into the real pain the customer is feeling. There’s a great deal more to the process – and some pretty awesome questioning strategies. However, it can be summed up with the understanding that I do 20% of the talking and my potential client does 80% of the talking.

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

I owned a marketing company several years ago. 90% of our customers were Realtors and a few weeks after we purchased the company their broker went out of business. We found ourselves with only 10% of our customer base left. After a year of struggling to keep going we decided to close the doors. Fortunately, I made some pretty great contacts from running the business and went on to do consulting work for them. One of my contacts even moved me to LA and gave me a long-term contract. It just goes to show that building strong relationships in whatever you do will help you overcome failures.

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

I actually incorporated a business to do this idea and just don’t have the time or the resources to make it happen. It’s a great business concept for someone that can bake or knows someone that bakes. I called the business PieRsquared. Here’s the concept. Create hand-held miniature pies – basically the size of Reece’s cups. Package them in twos and watch the money flow. I talked to some restaurants that were pretty excited about the idea and said they would order some when production started. The thought was to start with Pumpkin and Apple and do everything locally in the beginning. We would then put up a website where restaurants could order in bulk.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

Very few people know that I’m a high school drop-out that had a child at eighteen. After four years of working two jobs and going to college I opened my first web development company. I give much of the credit to the mother of my child. An amazing woman that always pushed for us to be more than our circumstances.

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

I recently fell head-over-heals in love with WordPress. I come from the age of coding everything from scratch and was very hesitant to use WP for my website. It’s not even how easy WP is to use; it’s the fact that there is a plug-in (one that actually works) for just about every idea I have. I also use Hootsuite and don’t know what I’d do without the ability to schedule my weekly social interactions. Plus, the fact that I can actually send out content to all my LinkedIn groups – ya, that just rocks. When it comes to finding and registering for local tech events Eventbrite has become my best friend. Of course, Google is a huge part of my life as I’m sure it is for many others, with Gmail, Youtube, Calendar, and Drive.

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

Just one? That’s tough. Well, I would have to say “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. It’s an absolute must read for anyone who wants to break out of the Matrix. The reality for most of us is that we’ve been taught rules about money and the world in general that just aren’t true. This book will wake you up to some truths that will break your limiting beliefs.

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

I would have to say that Joel Osteen and Stephen Covey have been the biggest influencers in my life. Covey gave me the tools I needed to tap into a personal power I never knew existed. Osteen taught me about a higher power that was non-judgmental and actually caring. A power greater than myself that actually wanted huge successes in my life. I do want to be clear that my definition of success is very simply “Living with Passion”. I truly believe that everything else falls into place when you live with that perspective.

Connect:

http://www.webpreneur-nerd.com/
Webpreneur Nerd on Twitter: @webpreneurnerd
Webpreneur Nerd on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/webpreneurnerd
Tony Rappa on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonyrappa
Webpreneur Nerd on Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Webpreneur-nerd/posts
Webpreneur Nerd on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4MMGxhEks_R72OBzXLpH5A

Published on March 16, 2014 .

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