Most successful entrepreneurs started off as unsuccessful entrepreneurs who keep trying.
Boban is a mechanical engineer by training and a tinkerer at heart. He brings more than a decade of experience in software design and development. Barracuda was born out of his passion for design and innovation and his desire to create something innovative and distinctive in an otherwise boring luggage industry. He designed and prototyped the Barracuda Smart Carry-on and led a successful online crowd funding effort that went on to raise more than $1.7M in 2015. Previously, Boban was the principal architect for RelayHealth, tasked with driving the architecture and helping implement the backend for CommonWell Health Network, a concept that was very publicly announced by the CEOs for some of the largest healthcare companies in the nation.
Where did the idea for Barracuda Carry-on come from?
I love travelling but even with a two car garage storing luggage is a pain. There is a reason why “baggage” has more than one meaning. Taking “baggage” out of luggage while at the same time creating something innovative and distinctive in an otherwise boring luggage industry was something worth pursuing.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The company started, like many other Silicon Valley startups, in a garage. For the last 18 months I have been working two jobs and currently in the process of transitioning out of my previous job as a software architect. My typical day started with catching up on emails related to Barracuda and then driving to my day job. Since I had a long commute I used that time to schedule a lot of the phone calls/meetings. Evenings I try to dedicate to product development related activities followed by catching up on emails, especially customer support related emails from backers. These days the our new (relatively) CEO helps with a lot of that and building the organization so we can take on new challenges and products.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Start sketching and then prototyping the idea. With the recent developments in 3D printing it is much easier and cheaper than it has ever been to create prototypes of even fairly complex ideas. Creating a working prototype is a quick and cost effective way to either prove out an idea or to decide to move on to the next.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
This company owes its existence to cheap off the shelf 3D printers. The trend towards making physical objects as easy and cheap to print at home as 3D printing is certainly exciting. It reduces the barrier for entry and allows for even garage startups to effectively compete with multibillion dollar companies.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
If a problem seems too hard to solve “sleep on it”. Switch to something else and allow your subconscious mind to work on it. Get back to attempting a solution again the next morning. It might sound like voodoo but it works for me!
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
This is a hard question to answer which is a good thing. I really don’t have a job that I could categorize as “bad.” I do enjoy my current gig the most since it gives me the opportunity to design physical products, something I really enjoy. My prior jobs have all involved working on interesting projects with equally interesting people.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
One of, if not the, most important aspects that would contribute significantly to the success of any business is who you partner/work with. If I were to redo I would be much more careful about who I choose to work with.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Success is not just having a great idea, it is having a great idea at the right time and with some element of luck thrown in. Most successful entrepreneurs started off as unsuccessful entrepreneurs who keep trying.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Innovation… think of why anyone would want to use your product over what is already there. After you think of one, come up with a few more.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have a tendency to get distracted, especially when working on something less interesting. To overcome that, I keep a list of tasks I need to get through. It could be something as simple as an open notepad++ tab or a list on Trello. It helps stay focused and get through the tasks for the day.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We spend a considerable amount of time, more than any other single place, on our beds. Many significant life events happen while we are asleep or simply lying on our beds. Yet while we have developed even smart toilets no one has developed a smart bed. Imagine how many lives can be saved if our beds can detect a distress like a heart attack and call 911. Detect our sleep patterns, adjust temperature etc. to better the quality of our sleep. There is a potentially huge untapped market for cutting edge smart beds.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why? (personal or professional)
The best $100 I have spent recently was for an entry ticket into Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks. Arguably two of the most spectacular natural places in the world.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Slack for communication. Slack has a well-designed interface and its ease of use across multiple platforms makes it an ideal platform to collaborate. Trello is another excellent platform to manage projects and timelines. 123Design is lightweight easy to use and learn CAD software from Autodesk and made it significantly easier for me to start using 3D printers for rapid prototyping.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
One of the interesting books I have recently read (or more accurately listened to on Audible) is called 10% happier. It is about a person’s experience with meditation and mindfulness without a lot of fluff.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Elon Musk for trying to do impossible things, Bill Gates for being both an outstanding businessman and incredible person.
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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.