Mr. Lipscomb has 30-years of experience in the technology industry and is the founder and CEO of Ferretly. He has launched several successful software startups that have provided unique, forward-thinking solutions focused primarily on Fortune 500 companies and government organizations at the federal and state levels. Before launching Ferretly in 2019, Darrin was the Global CTO for Public Safety and Smart Cities division of Hitachi Data Systems, a division formed from the acquisition of his company (Avrio Group) in 2014. In addition, Mr. Lipscomb has published numerous articles on smart cities, open-source intelligence, and employee risk management within his tenure. Mr. Lipscomb obtained his Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, emphasizing decision support, system dynamics, and statistical modeling.
Where did the idea for Ferretly come from?
Ferretly was born from a simple question: Can I make a determination about someone’s character by analyzing their online persona? While there are platforms for assessing social media campaigns and its impact to a brand, and use/cases centered on social media monitoring for security threats, there was a lack of solutions on the market for assessing an individual’s social media posts. A platform that can answer this question simply and intuitively has broad implications across industries but particularly in the pre-employment and background screening space.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
While we are passionate about our product and technology, I try to balance my time between the company’s core needs including product management, marketing, customer support, and sales. We are constantly receiving feedback from our customers on our product and service, and we look at ways of quickly iterating on this feedback to improve on all fronts.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We take what we think we know about a market need and try to quickly get that feature out and solicit feedback. Sometimes we are completely wrong but about 80% of the time we are on the right track with a few tweaks. This rapid, iterative approach has served us well since the first minimum viable product was released back in 2019.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Organizations across industry and government are having a mass awakening about the importance of social media screening. Companies can and have been held liable for what their employees say online. With cancel culture, workplace violence, political polarization and culture wars in general, it’s never been more important for companies to mitigate the risk of a bad hire.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Being a perfectionist is both a curse and a blessing, but in the case of a startup, where attention to detail could be the difference between success and failure, I believe this is a trait that more often than not, lends itself to success.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Simply to listen more, especially to your customers and peers in the industry.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I think there’s a high probability that UFO’s aren’t from other worlds, but rather our world in the future.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read, every day, and try to learn something new.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I believe focus is key. There’s a natural instinct to chase revenue but it often can come at the expense of losing your focus from a product, marketing/messaging and sales standpoints. You have to stick to your core mission and sometimes that means giving up immediate revenue.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Ferretly is my third startup, and my prior two companies had successful exits. However, I would say that relinquishing too much control early on to either outside investors or employees has been my biggest downfall and I had I avoided those mistakes, could have resulted in better outcomes.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There is certainly a move across industries to monetize underutilized assets, in other words, make the asset more lucrative for the owner – think Airbnb and Uber. This trend will continue and I believe there are still many assets and industries that are highly inefficient. Owning a car outright is probably the most obvious, but the next unicorn is probably going to figure out some new way for asset owners to take advantage of this trend.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A Buffalo NAS backup, for peace of mind.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
It has to be Slack – it’s the entrepreneur’s best friend when it comes to communicating with a geographically dispersed workforce.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
George Orwell’s 1984—a book that is highly relevant to what is going on right now in America.
What is your favorite quote?
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
• Social media screening can mitigate risks or all organizations
• A startup needs to stay focused on their core mission
• Iterate often, not just on your product but your process
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.