Focus on what’s best for the customer.
A groundbreaking serial tech entrepreneur and leader, Bill Rinehart has built and orchestrated successful exits for 5 companies in 15 years, serving as the driving force behind startups and enterprises that have helped shape the Internet as we know it today. At DUFL, Bill drives overall strategy, manages operations and oversees commercial activities. Prior to founding DUFL, Bill was founder, chairman and CEO of Unicorn Media, a cloud video ad insertion technology that was acquired by Brightcove for $49M. Before that, he founded and led Limelight Networks, a global leader in digital content delivery that was backed by Goldman Sachs Capital, Oak Investment Partners and Palo Alto Investors to a successful IPO. Bill also co-founded and served as chairman of Octoblu, a real-time connections and communications management pioneer that was later acquired by Citrix. He has also held senior leadership roles at GlobalCenter, Critical Path and Genuity during his career.
Bill built DUFL to put modern logistics networks to work for business travelers, who typically use those networks to move inventory and people from place to place but are still burdened with maintaining and manually hauling their personal belongings with them on business trips
Where did the idea for DUFL come from?
It was a personal pain point. I was in London on a Friday for business, waiting for my return flight to Phoenix, AZ and dreading the fact that when I got home I had to unpack, do laundry, make a same day rush trip to the dry cleaner and repack so I could be in New York on Monday. I thought- there has to be a service out there that will get my bag to my hotel for me without me having to clean, pack and repack and drag my bag with me to airports, customer meetings, hotels, etc. After doing some research, and finding only luggage forwarding services, I knew there was a niche that needed to be filled.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day involves going back and forth between the warehouse and corporate office, and talking with employees to make sure we are all in a good position to help each other succeed.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think it’s a series of steps, whether it be writing the original pitch deck, talking to first prospective customers to legally organizing the business and identifying the first employees. From there it’s a simple process of building the service with input from the first set of customers and taking it to market.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I think it’s really exciting that people want to travel more and they definitely want to travel smarter.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The ability to focus on more than one thing at a time.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked for a home builder in college and was a house scrapper, which meant that I had to pick up all the excess drywall, etc and anything else the tradesmen left behind and put it in a dump truck and haul it off. I learned that I wanted to finish college.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I don’t think I’d have done anything differently in the beginning. It’s an iterative process so it’s not really about where we start, it’s more about where we finish.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Focus on what’s best for the customer.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Relentlessly focusing on customer demand.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In one of my last companies, we were clearly way too early for the market, but we turned that failure into success by pivoting quickly into an area where there was great customer demand and our technology was a unique solution.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think that there should be an easier way to change banks and move all your bill-pay information to another bank. If someone built a widget for that everyone would use it.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
My last Uber ride. I always see mass value in that.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
We use the Google suite of services for mail and documents. We also use Amazon Web Services, Dropbox, Salesforce.com and a number of plug-ins/add-ons. As far as our technology at DUFL, we run Heroku on top of AWS to host our applications. We also use Zenefits for HR.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Steve Jobs’ biography. I recommend people read the book in order to learn about a man who will be remembered in 500 years the same way that Leonardo daVinci is still remembered for his pure brilliance.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I have a lot of respect for the founders of any successful tech company – although I’ve never met them – the obvious are Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, the Google founders and Steve Jobs. I also have huge admiration for what Mark Zuckerberg has built.
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