Craig Kelley - Founder and CEO of Mokumax

[quote style=”boxed”]Read, learn, try, fail, read more, learn more, try again, fail, repeat. We’ve all seen the line drawn for a successful venture. It looks like a 3 year old child scribbled on the tablet.[/quote]

Craig Kelley is the founder and CEO of Mokumax, the free Twitter Grader tool that analyzes your Twitter account and provides actionable insights for improving your Twitter influence.

He specializes in building SaaS web applications from initial design to market fit. He spent over 15 years as a web consultant designing and implementing procurement, supply chain and management systems for Fortune 500 companies, state and federal agencies and small businesses.

In addition to Mokumax, has been a leader in several other start-up companies most notably, Virtual Domains & Servers, Inc. (web hosting & design) and Healthcare Supply Chain, Inc (acquired by Healthcare Data Solutions, Inc, the world’s leader in healthcare physician and healthcare organizational big data.)

While not at work Craig enjoys spending time with his family, playing ice hockey, and playing an occasional gig with his band.

What are you working on right now?

We have just released Version 3.0 of our Twitter analytics tools for grading your Twitter account. It has an entirely new look and now incorporates some of the functionality from our main Mokumax Twitter marketing application.

Where did the idea for the Mokumax Grader come from?

Not to sound cliche, but the idea for the Mokumax Grader was born because all the other tools that used to be available died. There was a total absence of a nice, clean, fast, good looking Twitter analytical tool available. Basically, it was out of frustration. I was tired of looking for something that was worthwhile using. I had already spent 3 years in the Twitter API with the development of our main marketing application so this was actually a nice progression.

How do you make money?

Our model for the Mokumax Grader is a freemium model very similar to what PDFBuddy.com is using. To be honest, I have to thank Yarin from PDFBuddy for taking the time (several times) to offer some real valuable feedback. The model is very straightforward. Sign up is free. You get full access to every feature. We give you 3 credits to get started. When your credits are depleted you can either become a member or buy credits. We also will bonus users occasionally with free credits just for being a member of our mailing list.

The great thing about this model for us is that it is a win-win for both the users and Mokumax. We regularly add new features and value to the application. We also keep your data in our repository as long as you are a member. Your analytics get more detailed as time progresses. In addition, we’ve priced the Mokumax Grader so that it’s really a no-brainer for users who are serious about growing their Twitter reach.

What does your typical day look like?

It would seem hypocritical if I said anything other than, ‘my day starts with using Mokumax – our Twitter marketing application’. It’s true. Each day I log into our Mokumax Twitter marketing application and invest about 10-15 minutes. Our focus in recent weeks has been on our Mokumax Grader but it wouldn’t have been possible without all of the hard work we put into our original business Twitter marketing application.

In Mokumax I will first check to see if I have any notifications. You are automatically notified if you have new leads, if you have new followers and if you have new Un-Followers. I love the notifications. It makes it quick and easy to see who my new friends are and who I should consider unfollowing.

After checking my notifications I head over to my new leads. In Mokumax you can create a custom campaign that will find you highly targeted Twitter leads based on a keyword (or phrase). We run each potential lead through the ringer and only deliver the very best users who are very likely to engage with you. We have processed over 100 million potential leads this year already.

Afterward I will schedule new tweets for the day. Mokumax allows you to schedule tweets anytime that is convenient for you. (Check the Mokumax Grader to see when the best time to tweet on weekdays and weekends is for you.) You can also schedule recurring tweets which is unique only to Mokumax. One of my favorite features of the scheduler is the built-in RSS Feeds. It allows me to share high quality content with one-click. I share a lot of INC.com content. My rule of thumb is to share 8 quality articles/tips before I promote one of my own.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Brainstorming, brainstorming and more brainstorming. I have a fairly diverse unique background in that I have a lot of experience in designing both relational databases and responsive HTML5 web applications. I’m not the geek you put in the closet because I only talk “code”. I can communicate with both the hardcore programmer and also put it in understandable terms for the sales and marketing teams.

So, when I say brainstorming what I mean is that I think a lot – from the bottom up database design to the frontend user experience. Once I have thought through a rough idea of the concept I’ll get to work on mapping out a prototype and proof of concept. I never stop thinking about what road is the most natural for the product. The goal is to have the least amount of friction as possible.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I would have to say the whole mobile experience. It amazes me what I can do on my iPhone. While I still love the desktop/laptop, I think we’ll continue to see more mobile devices popping up in the future.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

This is a no-brainer for me. During my summer break after my freshman year in college I worked at a factory assembling small motors. That was the most back-breaking tedious work I have ever done. The pay was low and the hours were long. I committed to working at the factory for the entire summer break and I did just that. I left with a new respect for factory workers. I made the decision that I would never work in a factory again. I learned that pain can be a very strong motivator. “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” – Confucius

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would have taken more risks with previous projects. At the time PayPal.com came out I was knee deep in an identical product I had created. Instead of going for the gold I became crippled by fear. I feared lawsuits, credit card chargebacks, and enormous success. Sounds crazy but it was real for me. Lesson learned.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Read, learn, try, fail, read more, learn more, try again, fail, repeat. We’ve all seen the line drawn for a successful venture. It looks like a 3 year old child scribbled on the tablet. Success does not normally happen overnight and is never a straight line from the start to the end. It takes persistence, patience and lots of hard work. I love Thomas Edison’s quote. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
I get motivated when I hit a brick wall because I know that I’m not the only person to be there. The difference between me and everyone else is that they’ll quit at that wall and I’ll find a way around or over it. I know that most people will quit and that’s a victory for me and Mokumax.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Probably the biggest challenge was when we started Mokumax. Moku means “island” in Hawaiian. Initially, the plan was to make Mokumax your social island. We had it 90% developed incorporating Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. With every change from Facebook’s API we had to begin rewriting again. We were on a neverending treadmill. I made the decision after many, many hours of thinking about it, to drop everything but Twitter. Twitter’s API had been consistently the best since day 1. With the upgrade of the API to 1.1 we were forced to make some additional changes but they were all for the better and like every other challenge it narrowed down the playing field again. Other companies threw in the towel but we press on. We want to deliver the best Twitter analytics tool on the market and that motivates us.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Reminders are a great thing. I remember (magically) all of my friend’s and family’s birthdays every year.. thanks to Google calendar. I also use an iPhone. Wouldn’t it be great to set a reminder on your iPhone and when you got to the place you actually needed to be reminded it would then alert you? In other words, it would be geolocation enabled reminders and not just time based.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

Great question. I work at Mokumax not for my own gain but so that I can share and help others who may be in need. I wish I could give everyone a high paying job that fits their skillset but that is not reality. So, as I go about my work day I make sure I treat everyone with respect regardless of their job title.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

Although I have always had the entrepreneurial bug, I started my career as a musician. I released 4 albums and tried “making it big” for over a decade. During the process I was featured in international magazines, won several Guitar War competitions and toured Croatia and the USA.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Google Analytics – I check this every day, several times a day looking for ways to maximize our conversion rates. You used to have to pay thousands of dollars for the same functionality that Google gives you for free. Love it!
Gmail – I spend a lot of time in Gmail as well. It’s easy for me to check and respond from/to all of my accounts.
StackOverflow.com – As a programmer I love this resource. If you have a programming question it’s probably been answered there.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

This book is an easy read and it’s very inspiring. I picked this book because it was this book that pushed me to buy my first rental property. Investing in real estate may not be your cup of tea. The book also talks about investing in businesses and stocks. Thanks to that book I have learned a lot of real life lessons in business, finance and real estate. I’ve also made a lot of money because of it which is why I’m sharing it.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why? (please don’t include yourself)

@LAKings – great entertainment. I’m not a Kings fan but their tweets are usually a lot of fun.
@realDonaldTrump – Mr Trump needs no introduction. Successful billionaire and he actually tweets!
@Inc – Inc.com puts out the best content on a very consistent basis. I schedule tweets in Mokumax from my Inc.com RSS feed every day.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

I love this question! A friend and I were watching a classic Clint Eastwood movie (a man movie for sure!). Two guys decided to hold-up a Chinese restaurant. Clint slides in and sits down. The men are screaming at everyone to stay where they are. Clint reaches out his hand with a fortune cookie in it and crumples it. The robber starts screaming at Clint with the shotgun pointing at Clint’s face and asks him if he has something to say. Pretending to read the fortune from the cookie, Clint says, “Yeah, it says your sh!t out of luck.” Of course, Eastwood kicks everyone’s butt immediately afterwards. It was a great scene. My friend and I didn’t expect the fortune reading. It was hilarious.

Who is your hero?

I would have to say my late grandfather. He was patient and wise beyond his 98 years. He was a man of integrity and good for his word. He was a great husband, father and grandfather. He never started his own business or made a million dollars.

What motivates you to want to be an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. I love the challenges of it and the victories that come along with it. If you just measure solely on success and failure you will get exhausted and quit. With each new programming change or business decision we make, I have hope that our applications will help others succeed. That is one of the reasons why we listen so intently to our users. We want Mokumax to be the ultimate user-driven tool.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Near a beach. I love the beach and spending time there. I don’t care if I have to work while I’m at the beach. Watching and listening to the waves crash brings me peace and inspiration. Puts my place in the world in perspective.

Connect:

https://mokumax.com
Mokumax on Twitter: @mokumax
Craig Kelley on Twitter: @mokumaxCraig
Craig Kelley on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/craig-kelley/a/a76/168

Where are you located? City + state (if in U.S.) or city + country (if not in the U.S.)
Carlisle, Pennsylvania – between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and near NYC and Washington, D.C.