Aaron Hall is a natural born entrepreneur with an acute business sense, who has been involved in the creation of numerous successful businesses, including Weddzilla.com, where he currently serves as the founder and CEO. Aaron is always focused on staying on top of the next “big thing,” and he founded Dress Rush with the understanding that microbidding is at the forefront of a new era in social commerce. Aaron saw the high-end bridal market as the perfect opportunity to capitalize on this up-and-coming trend. Aaron’s ability to motivate people and thrive in tough environments makes him an impressive force in the business world. Aaron gained invaluable experience at the University of Arizona, where he started the first student-run wash-and-fold laundry service, successfully selling the business before graduation. Upon graduation, he started a human resources consulting business for a national insurance company, which he then sold after surpassing the client acquisition and revenue goals for the company, and he hasn’t looked back since. Aaron is passionate about taking innovative ideas and turning them into successful businesses, and he understands the level of commitment and dedication that it takes to make that happen.
What are you working on right now?
We are currently focused on raising additional seed capital for DressRush.com, the first and only exclusive, online auction that gives brides access to couture wedding gowns at a fraction of their retail cost. Dress Rush features the most sought after designers in the bridal fashion industry and guarantees the authenticity of all of its products. Dress Rush’s fast-paced auctions showcase brand new, high-end designer wedding dresses, shoes and accessories starting at $0. The site is ready to go, and we are looking at going live in the next month or so.
3 trends that excite you?
The thing that most excites me right now is social commerce. Non-traditional ways to engage the consumer through social behavior, group actions or aggregated buying power are changing the face of e-commerce. Cloud everything is something I can hardly wait for. I look forward to the day that my 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi will work everywhere, and when all of my apps, programs, files, etc., will be accessible via the cloud and sync across all of my devices. And last but not least, is my Apple TV. I’ve been preaching to anyone that would listen for the past two years that Apple is going to start letting people develop apps specifically for the Apple TV. I think that is just around the corner. It runs on the same guts as an iPhone, so it would seem logical to let some smart people make some living room changing apps. I already love the AirPlay feature from my iPad/iPhone and can’t wait until more sites adopt the standard so I can push more content to my TV.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Not quickly enough. I joke with people telling them that I must have some sort of tumor in my brain that is pushing on a spot that makes me constantly think of new ideas. Kinda like John Travolta in “Phenomenon.” Fortunately for me, I don’t actually have a tumor, but I do have to pick and choose which ideas, features and concepts see the light of day. Over the years,the hardest thing for me (being non-technical … which is changing soon as I am putting myself through Rails bootcamp) has been finding great people who can take my vision and interpret it into code to create a working site. We’ve spent thousands of hours and dollars, and it seems that we have wasted a lot of effort attempting to bring the ideas and concepts to life. This is the part of the interview, that if you are reading this and you are a brilliant developer with an entreprenuerial drive, you should e-mail me, and we can do lunch, and live happily ever after.
What inspires you?
It’s not just one thing. I’m inspired and motivated by a lot. When I was in high school, I created something I called my “50 List.” It was part bucket list, part a list of my goals. Since then, I have added to it, and now it’s my “100 List.” This list ranges from personal goals, to family desires, to wildest dreams sort of things. I’ve always been inspired to cross things off the list and hope that when I die, I’ll have crossed them all off. I keep it handy and read it every few weeks to make sure I stay focused! Since we founded Weddzilla.com two years ago, every employee has had to create their own “100 List.” They always look at me like, “100? How the … ” but once they get started, they find out it is actually really easy to create 100. We try as a company to help people cross stuff off their lists when we can. Every time I see someone excited about crossing something off their list, it definitely inspires me!
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
I think the biggest mistake I have made was never teaching myself how to code. I have an excellent background in finance and management, and that helps, but it seems the ideas and passions that drive me are all technology plays. It would come in very handy to be able to think of a concept and code it myself, or at least know enough to work with a talented team of developers. I’ve been burned many times by people who say they can do something and in the end can’t.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’d love to see someone build a site like wufoo.com, but target it specifically for companies that need a membership solution. Take Weddzilla.com for example, when a wedding vendor comes to the site, they register, and then the next step is to choose a membership type, enter a coupon, their information and submit it. I’d love to see a site that lets you quickly create a membership (or pricing plan) grid, add prices, set up the payment gateway, choose if plans are recurring monthly or not, have a way to quickly add coupons, and hit a big red button and it spits you out some code that you can embed in your site. We had to piecemeal it out to sites like cheddargetter.com, who do the recurring payments, then we built the coupons and pricing grids ourselves, and then we had to do all the work on the back end to get the payments feeding … ugh.Wufoo makes building forms super easy, and a site that made creating this membership (recurring subscription) model super easy could set themselves up for mass adoption and take a small piece of every sign-up on sites like mine. I’d pay them in a second to do this.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
I like Mockingbird. I can turn an idea from a sketch to a wireframe and share it with others. It’s quick and easy. But if you ask people around my office, they would say the giant 3’x 3’ Post-it note pads are my favorite tool. My office looks like it’s been wallpapered with them.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Have you interviewed the Groupon founder?
If you had to give up being an entrepreneur, what company would you want to work for?
The easy answers are 1. Google and 2. Apple. But if you gave me the choice, I’d like to work directly for Richard Branson. Not only do I think he is extremely savvy, but he really loves what he does, and I admire that and want to be in an environment like that. From his quest to send commercial flights to space, to the way he runs Virgin America, it seems his companies just seem cooler than most others out there. I feel like if you step into his office it would be a cross between the movies “Thomas Crown Affair” and “Big.” I love that he has never put himself in a box, and his Virgin empire has expanded from music to philanthropy, to space and beyond!
What are some items on your 100 list that you still need to cross off?
- Be married 50 years
- Become a grandparent
- Become an angel investor
- Find a cause I can devote myself to
- Fly in a glider
- Hit a hole in one
- Learn to play piano
- Learn to speak another language fluently
- Marry off kids
- Meet the president
- Patent an invention
- Retire parents
- Stay in an over-water bungalow
- Travel the whole country of Australia
- Travel to space
- Volunteer for a politician
- Work on a movie
- Work with Richard Branson
- Write a book
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.