[quote style=”boxed”]Tackle issues when they are small. Be honest, direct, and don’t sugarcoat.[/quote]
Alex is most passionate about new ideas and converting concepts to function. He’s been at the forefront of developing technology for nearly a decade, advising entrepreneurs and growing brands. Alex has served as the visionary and chief technical architect for dozens of platforms and applications that span mobile, tablet, and personal computers. His expertise is often called upon to design applications and implementation programs that complement marketing and advertising strategy to impact revenue.
As the President of Ruckus Marketing, LLC, Alex has grown its digital and technology practices, serving clients such as the United States Green Building Council, Honda Motors, HSBC, and more. In addition to Ruckus, Alex is a majority partner in the $30-million “Brewers Hill” development project. He currently serves on the Board of Advisors for Yumani.com, as well as BrandNewBody.com, and he is the Managing Partner of the Ruckus Brewing Company.
What are you working on right now?
Ruckus has been working on a variety of new ventures in our accelerator program, as well as working with established brands to drive strategic growth through marketing and advertising. It’s been an incredible few years, as we’ve encountered motivated and talented entrepreneurs developing exciting new concepts. In just the last couple of months, we’ve developed a work-order management app for dorms at major universities called BunkED, we’re planning the launch of a major commerce platform in Undies.com, and we’re building a multinational online presence for Cintron Energy Drink, to name a few. It’s an exciting time.
Where did the idea for Ruckus come from?
Ruckus started as a traditional agency, but it has evolved through client experience. Josh Wood started Ruckus immediately after graduating Lehigh University; he’s a born entrepreneur. Not long after he started Ruckus, we collaborated on a project. At the time, Josh was focused on marketing and advertising work, and I was focused on technology. Our backgrounds were a natural fit. We started working together, and the rest is history, as they say. We were a couple of guys trying to tackle an insanely difficult market. We were three people strong in 2008: Josh, our VP Creative, David Gilliland, and me. It seems like forever ago.
What does your typical day look like?
I’m up at 6:30 a.m. and at the office as fast as I can physically get myself over there. Days fly by. That’s truly the best part of doing what I do. I turn around sometimes and it’s 8 or 9 in the evening, and I’m wondering what on earth I did for the past 12 hours. We have an exceptional team that keeps the office well-oiled for our delivery, so most of my time is spent pursuing new business opportunities, supporting our accelerator clients, and improving our internal process for executing client deliverables.
How do you bring ideas to life?
At Ruckus, we really try to stick to a particular process when it comes to developing new concepts. Every great idea needs distillation. We spend more time putting together the different use cases and perfecting the experience than we do building sometimes. The key to getting something new and exciting live is focusing on what the market would use as an MVP, or minimum viable product. A lot of entrepreneurs will try to plan for every event, every success, and every failure. That’s the wrong way to do it. We get it live quick and test it with the market. If we fail, it’s just a stepping stone to success.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I love how many resources there are to start something new. Today, with crowdfunding for unique projects and venture money pouring into accelerators all over the country, there is innovation everywhere. Waking up to a fresh new tech company, a medical breakthrough, or a new way of “#communicating” is really amazing. It’s been a wild ride for the tech market, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The truth is that I’ve never had a job I hated. Maybe I should have, as a rite of passage, but I’ve been pretty fortunate to always pursue something I enjoy doing. Every job has its challenges, but that’s what makes them worth doing. There are days with what I do now that have me guessing, frustrated, or angry. But those are the days that motivate me. I’ve learned to channel the pressure and stress as fuel for tomorrow.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Everything and nothing. Too cliché? It’s easy to say I would have done something different, that I would have avoided falling on my face on occasion. But I wouldn’t have been successful without it. We’ve made mistakes on accounts, spent money when we shouldn’t have, and definitely taken on projects that didn’t pan out as planned. It happens, and I think it’s part of being an entrepreneur.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Tackle issues when they are small. Be honest, direct, and don’t sugarcoat. Whether it’s a client, a partner, or an investor, I always try to be transparent and blunt. Anything else is a waste of everyone’s time. Honesty, even if you think the situation is horrible, is absolutely the only way. And don’t be too proud to get the help you need if you have an issue you can’t handle on your own. In the end, it’s a game. It’s okay if you get dunked on once or twice. Getting out of the way isn’t how you play.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Develop solar-powered cellphones. Figure out a way to get that done and get in touch. There’s a serious need out there … mine needs two charges a day. Hear that, Apple?
Tell us a secret.
I like to think I have all the answers. When I don’t, it can drive me crazy.
What are your three favorite online tools and what do you love about them?
Basecamp, Square, and Google Apps are my favorites. All three keep my business powered and agile. I can work from anywhere, and all of my data is in the cloud.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
If you are in the service business, a must-read is “The Art of Client Service” by Robert Solomon. It changed the way I view my client relationships.
What’s on your playlist?
I listen to everything electronic and a bit of jazz. I’m a big fan of Tiësto, Avicii, etc.
If you weren’t working at Ruckus what would you be doing?
I wish I knew. I really can’t see myself doing anything but this.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Surprisingly, I’m not a Twitter fan.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laughed while I was watching “Superbad” the other night. It gets me every time.
Who is your hero?
My dad is my hero. There’s no one I know who’s more honest, resilient, and passionate about what he does. I’ve learned almost everything from him.
I truly never know what’s around the corner. That’s what makes being an entrepreneur exciting. We’ll see what’s in store; we might launch a fun product of our own.
What’s the most fun about being in business for yourself?
I can show up late, I never have to ask for a vacation, and I have a couch in my office. The good days make it all worth it.
Alex Friedman on Twitter: @alexruckusny
Alex Friedman on LinkedIn:
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.