Without a network, large-scale success and growth are much more difficult, if not impossible.
Adam Xavier is the co-founder and CEO of RoadLoK, the world’s leading motorcycle anti-theft immobilizer, patented in 2008. RoadLoK quickly drew attention for it’s unique product and its ability to corner the market through intellectual property rights. Further establishing itself as a global brand, Adam forged key international partnerships in Europe, China, South Africa and Australia, in addition to domestic partnerships in the United States.
Adam is a tested entrepreneur with experience in the realms of finance, sales and business management receiving high praise from Warren Buffet, among others, for his innovative business model coupled with his relentless work ethic to drive his company forward.
Adam graduated from Ithaca College in New York in 2005 with a Bachelors of Science degree in finance.
Where did the idea for ROADLOK come from?
The idea for RoadLoK came to us in a bar, oddly enough. My brother, a friend and I were sitting in a bar and saw a motorcycle sitting outside the window in front of us. We began discussing motorcycles (as we usually did) and came to the topic of theft. I have been an avid rider since I could drive and I was familiar with what the market made available to prevent theft. The solutions out there got the job done, but not completely the right way. Throughout the course of a few hours, my brother and I were able to sketch out a solution on a napkin that completely solved the problem of theft and was safe for the rider to use.
The actual name “ROADLOK” came about after our first run-in with trademark infringement. The product we had conceptualized was adorned with the name “HamptonLoK”, first. The naming was simple; our company was New Hampton Technologies, because of the town we started in, New Hampton, New York.
As we worked toward our first public release – and after several thousands of dollars invested in marketing material and a trade show display for the “HamptonLoK” – our patent attorney called me on my way home from the bank and explained that the Hampton Lock Company would be submitting a cease and desist letter to us for the infringement. I frantically called my brother, who had been back at the office gathering everything for our first public event in Atlanta, Georgia. I explained the situation and instructed him to call our printers to halt all production and await a new name. We only had 24 hours so we needed a name quickly. I tried getting back to the office to brainstorm with my brother, but I was stuck in New York traffic. While on the phone trying to maintain my composure in the excitement of our first major mistake with investor money, I told him that I was trying to get back, but the road was locked up with traffic. After a quick pause we bot h said RoadLoK and the rest is history, as they say. If you are lucky enough to know where it is hidden you can still find old HamptonLoK brochures and material.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Almost every morning I go to the gym and get my morning cardio in. I will typically try and get in 45-60 minutes of interval training to set the tone for the day. I arrive early to my office to answer emails that may have come in overnight from my partners in China and set the goals for my day. I try and focus on the smaller “fires” that need to be handled before 1 or so. I always take a 30-minute break in the middle of the day to reset my mind on the larger tasks that I have planned. I find that if I can take care of the smaller tasks in the morning then I am empowered to believe that I can tackle the larger picture – this strategy works well for me and has allowed me to take control of my inner drive.
I then spend my afternoon and early evening working on the overall direction of the company and what we need to put in place to move forward as an organization. I always leave my office around 6 p.m. to go home and cook. I cook every morning and every evening. It is important to me to take the time to go to the market and see people in my community. Around 8 p.m. I will usually begin working with my team in China and spend the time needed to get them amped up for their day, as they are typically 15-16 hours ahead of us. I make a hard break before bed to spend time reading and clearing my mind to do it all over again. I never work Monday morning and I try and take Wednesday afternoon off to go to the beach. If I can maintain that balance, then all is well.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By being bold, I have been able to bring a number of my ideas to life. In my past, particularly starting out, I found it difficult to get my foot in the door with key connections that I knew I needed in order to reach success. I didn’t allow myself to get discouraged, and instead of giving up, I decided to get creative.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Advances in technology that connects people. I think that we are fortunate to be able to be building our dreams in an age where anything is accessible with the click of a button. I try not to take the power of connectivity for granted as I build and move my projects. We can move mountains in a fraction of the time today compared to even 30 years ago when the world seemed vastly larger and phone numbers were found in a phonebook.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Persistence has got to be one of my greatest entrepreneurial traits. I’ve been able to convert persistence into many successes for my business, a perfect example being how I tracked down Warren Buffet, which then lead to a key partnership for ROADLOK. I have learned that taking initiative and going for it (even if it seems impossible) will more often than not pay off.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked for the town I grew up in and spent a summer working in the sewers – literally. My job was to crawl down in the manholes around town and feed a large snake-like camera on tracks up each section of sewer line to check for leaks and root growth. I never spent as much time in a shower each evening as I did that summer.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I started the company when I was young and “green” in business. Aside from my limited business experience, largely due to age, I would take more stock in my own value add to the organization. The initial concept and developed viable product serving as the core revenue for ROADLOK was completely created by myself and my brother – along with being recognized by the government as useful and unique enough to award a patent was no small feat in itself – and the ability to bring that concept to market and sell it to the masses holds a value that would carry more leverage in initial negotiations of value when raising capital. I would still utilize investor funds to get the idea off the ground, but it would be in combination with a more developed stock/option plan taking inevitable follow-on funding rounds into consideration. I would also utilize the power of convertible notes for larger sums of funding to be able to retain more equity for founders and the ground level &quo t;grunts”. Overall, I would still start the company, but the stock plan would look vastly different.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Never take no for an answer.
Being an entrepreneur is not easy, otherwise everyone would do it. I am aware that that statement is overused, but it is absolutely true. Nobody likes rejection. It is not a good feeling whether being rejected by someone you like in your personal life or by someone you want to do business with; hearing someone tell you “no” simply sucks. It is human nature to want and avoid rejection, but to get anything done in business you have to be prepared to hear that little two-letter word more than once. I will prepare myself to hear no in a client pitch 99 times with my inner drive telling me that I will hear yes on the 100th time. I am usually right, except when I am wrong – so I shall ask again.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Networking. I learned at a very early stage that I had to get out and network to get things done. Sitting behind a desk all day may get some important daily tasks done, but nothing is more powerful than going out and meeting people that can help you move your ideas forward. Without a network, large-scale success and growth are much more difficult, if not impossible.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have experienced many failures, but the one that sticks out prominently is a time when I was not able to fully delegate responsibility. I believed that I was giving tasks to my team in an effort to afford more time for myself and to define important roles for them. In reality, assigning my busy work and still being semi-involved through final execution on projects and tasks that should not have crossed my desk. I was becoming a micro-manager and it was not helping me gain the time I needed to focus on larger tasks at hand. Additionally, by assigning tasks to employees while still being involved stripped them of the feeling that they were a trusted and essential part of the organization. Overall, not being able to fully delegate tasks to my team made me more work and helped to drive them into the need to be micro-managed.
I have learned how to better trust my team and give each employee the room they need to function and prove to the organization, and more importantly to themselves, that they are essential to the overall operation. We are all working on this together and we are each important to the organization in our own way.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A platform to sell ideas.
Tagline: Everyone Has an Idea
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A 45-minute massage. Take a day for yourself. I have done the math on this and, although the massage was only $120, the cost for me taking the day off was in the hundreds, but the overall gain from my new energy has not been fully realized. It is easy to get into a pattern of work/eat/sleep/repeat. When I go too long without taking care of my mind, and myself the quality of my work and my effective decision-making ability declines. There must be a balance with work and personal life and the little things you can do to take care of your mind, body and soul are key to progressing in work and in life.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Our organization utilizes a cloud-based inventory control software to manage our entire physical stock. The actual software is not the most robust or easiest to use, but it has allowed us to be able to manage multiple warehouse locations around the world from anywhere we are. My team in China can see what is sitting in inventory in South Africa and make timely production decisions without picking up the phone or sending an email. In an organization that manufactures and sells physical product, transparency helps to alleviate a host of potential supply and logistical problems. Cloud-based software helps to make the world more accessible and for a fraction of the cost before such technologies were available.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Developing the Leaders Around You by John C. Maxwell
For any business owner, CEO or President, this book outlines some incredibly important principals in creating a team of effective leaders. I never thought that I would need to be able to express how I learned to be a leader until I read this. I figured all I would have to do is hire other people deemed “leaders” or managers and get them to help me manage multiple teams in various areas in my organization. I quickly realized that I needed to be able to work with others that could lead effectively and translate the core values of my organization as we expanded. Defining and executing the path of an entire organization is one thing – being able to communicate an organization’s goals and energizing a team is another. As an organization grows there is a need for multiple leaders and any good CEO/President will learn that first hand (or already knows it).
There is a section of this book dealing with the actions of a leader and how they directly and indirectly affect the team. Being able to navigate through the problems and stressors of day-to-day operations while projecting a positive and uplifting environment is crucial to the success of the business. The author uses the analogy of a boat and the wake it produces in the water as it moves along its path. In this example, the author describes a situation in which the boat moves through the waters at a fast rate of speed and gets through the obstacles to the end point with no regard for the other vessels in the water. The boat completed the task and made it through the area to the end point, but in its wake was damage, chaos and capsized boats. The job of getting to the end point was completed, but at what cost? Those other vessels may not be in the direct path, but the wake that is created certainly affects those other boats.
This same principal can be applied to the manager or leader that tears through a problem or a task with haste and little regard to those working around them. The chaos created and even some other members becoming demoralized are very real effects. Although the task was completed, the organization is not better off as a whole. The goal is to be able to navigate through business while being mindful of those others around you and create as little of a disturbance or wake in your path.
This hit me hard as I soon realized that I was able to associate other managers within my organization that caused so much chaos and unnecessary destruction in their path day-to-day, but took the time to point out that the task was completed. In the end, those managers did not help my company and ultimately had to leave to allow for positive growth.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I follow a few successful entrepreneurs and thinkers. I believe that Richard Branson has it right when it comes to perpetuating growth and internal drive. He also has a very powerful stance on the importance of treating those that work with you and for you well. Overall, Richard is a dreamer and his ability to make big things happen is amazing. I aspire to be able to reach a point in my professional life where my ideas and projects can have an impact on the human race as his do.
My grandmother has also been a major influence on my personal and professional life. At a very young age I learned how to be a better person because of her. My grandmother had a strong set of morals and believed that hard work, dedication and honesty made a good man. I live each day as she was standing next to me giving me the guidance she did when I was a kid. I work to make her proud of me and my choices in life – I am sure she would give me a wink and a nod.
RoadLok on Youtube:
RoadLok on Facebook:
RoadLok on Twitter: @roadlok
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.