Jason Jones – President of Vertical Motion

[quote style=”boxed”]Have a routine. Always have a checklist of stuff you’re going to do and follow through with it. It’s okay if you don’t finish everything on the list as long as you try to accomplish something. Having a checklist keeps you motivated and organized, helping you stay on top of things. It’s all about taking steps forward.[/quote]

Jason Jones is the President of Vertical Motion, a Calgary-based design and development firm that has been creating customized web and mobile-based business solutions since 2006. Their team has skills that encompass graphic design, web development, business analysis, usability, enterprise integration, online marketing, custom development and project management. Vertical Motion has developed several customized applications to solve real-world problems for small to large enterprise sized businesses.

Jason’s strong business sense and entrepreneurial spirit are driving forces in his work. After selling his first retail business at the age of 19, he set out to be a pioneer in the emerging internet industry. Through the next two decades, Jason has gathered a diverse client portfolio including Bell, Canadian Pacific Railway, Shaw Communications Inc., Merck Frosst, Shell, and Lloyd’s of London. A practiced leader and team-builder, Jason has grown and managed successful web departments in the UK and on Canadian soil. He capably organizes and directs resources in the service of internal and external customers, interpreting and facilitating business needs with careful efficiency. Jason has a multi-faceted background in telecommunications, oil & gas, the insurance industry, graphic design, web programming, and business analysis, in addition to his capable leadership skills.

Vertical Motion has delivered high quality custom software, mobile applications, as well as web and online applications to clients across diverse industries. Their clients include Shell, Stuart Olson Dominion, Telus Spark, and the Calgary Humane Society among others. In addition to their client work, Vertical Motion has also built products available for businesses to use. eTrove is a mobile customer loyalty platform. eTrove allows business owners to customize their rewards programs and clients can gain loyalty points in various ways, including through referrals, appointments, and interacting on social media.

Where did the idea for Vertical Motion come from?

Vertical Motion was initially formed in 2006. I joined as a partner in 2009 and did a full rebrand and revisioning, turning Vertical Motion from a consultation subcontracting firm into a full-service design, mobile, and web application development shop. I then took full ownership in 2010. We now have 6 full time employees and a network of international contractors, and have grown our portfolio from one client to dozens.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I work closely with my developers to keep abreast of the changes that emerge daily in the technology sphere, empowering them to be informed and dynamic in their skill growth. I am an active participant in research, development, and testing, while simultaneously giving developers and designers authority and agency, so they can take point and make calls on vital decisions within projects — from the software architecture level all the way to the UI.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

We have the means to communicate with mobile users on an ongoing basis and we’ve figured out how users are interacting with their environment. This has enabled us to provide up to the minute services to communicate. I see this trend moving into wearable tech, the work environment, and the consumer industry, ultimately becoming more and more accepted by the consumer.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I consciously work on being flexible in how I work alongside my staff. No entrepreneur should be above getting their hands dirty, but it’s also important to delegate and trust people, both to avoid spreading yourself too thin, and to avoid becoming a micromanaging bottleneck. I hired great people, and part of my job is letting them be great.

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

The worst job I ever had was working the night shift packing food trucks when I was in my late teens. When you’re working the night shift you become very isolated and detached – when you aren’t working, you’re trying to recover from your shift. It really helped me focus on what I wanted to do with my life and reinforced that I didn’t want a job just to have a job; I wanted a job that I would enjoy and that would allow me to spend time with my friends and family. The experience made me re-examine where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do in terms of my profession. It also taught me about being in control of my own life and how important it is to communicate and stay in contact with family and friends.

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

If I were to start again, I would have done things a lot earlier. I wouldn’t have worked so long as an employee and would have spent more time executing my entrepreneurial vision – I built tech departments for five or six other firms before finally doing it for myself. I also would have enjoyed things more instead of being so serious.

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

There are a couple of things I would recommend:

Have a routine. Always have a checklist of stuff you’re going to do and follow through with it. It’s okay if you don’t finish everything on the list as long as you try to accomplish something. Having a checklist keeps you motivated and organized, helping you stay on top of things. It’s all about taking steps forward.

Be kind and thoughtful. The business world today can be hard on people, making it more important than ever to be nice, polite, pleasant and thoughtful when interacting with others. When fellow entrepreneurs come to you for help to accomplish their dreams with their idea on a napkin and their heart on their sleeve, think about how you treat them.

Perseverance is important. If something doesn’t work at first, try again. Maybe there’s a different way to accomplish what it is you’re trying to do. If you fail, pick yourself up and keep on going.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

One of Vertical Motion’s notable differentiations is our CompleteCare program, which allows clients to subscribe to a monthly allocation of hours at a set, reduced rate, giving them access to Vertical Motion’s breadth of services and skillsets on an a la carte basis. This allows businesses of all sizes to scale rapidly depending on immediate need. Essentially, Vertical Motion can act as a remote IT department, mobile development team, or design house, integrating the goals of its clients while introducing a fresh outside perspective.

Besides custom software development, Vertical Motion also provides iPhone and iPad application development, marketing and branding services, and web design and development.

Vertical Motion is also moving into the product sphere, releasing specialized custom application platforms for small to medium sized businesses. Vertical Motion has recently released eTrove, a two-way loyalty platform. eTrove rewards clients for talking about your business and let them gain real benefit from engaging with your brand. Vertical Motion also created Games4Golf, a program that allows small to medium sized golf courses to run events in a way that lightens their administrative burden and amplifies their ROI.

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

I think we’ve all had bad partnerships, they happen to each entrepreneur at some point in time. You’ll get into a venture with someone and it just isn’t a good working relationship. It’s a matter of knowing when things aren’t working out and when to walk away, rather than dragging it out longer. You need to be aware. Just remember, even if this one partnership doesn’t work it doesn’t mean ALL aren’t going to work – you move on and try again!

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

I can’t think of one I want to give away! Perhaps a better way to control all the spam we get in our emails these days…

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I was studying robotics and engineering to go into animatronics and animation, or more specifically, into puppeteering. Jim Henson, the man behind The Muppets, did a lot of lovely things with animatronics and puppets, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. He’s still a hero of mine.

What software and web services do you use?

We use Highrise, a great CRM if you want to keep track of client correspondents. A lot of our team is mobile so we like to use Grasshopper for our phone system as it allows us to reassign our extension any way we want. They’re great solutions for us.

What do you love about them?

Because we do a lot of remote working, having programs that allow us to connect and communicate from our various locations is great.

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

I recommend the eBook Startup Sacrilege by Paul Orlando. It provides a good counterview of what entrepreneurs should do, or at least consider, when it comes to their ventures and businesses. These days there are a lot of people saying that in order to be successful you have to get into an accelerator or incubator and raise a ton of money… it’s always focused on the quick buildup and the quick release; the fastest way to achieve the end goal and exit the company with millions. People often forget that only occurs for a small fraction of businesses; in reality, 80-90 per cent of startups fail. You’re only accelerating failure by going for the big win.

I found that this book actually talks about some of the other views on building a successful business, not just about the big exit. Messages gets drowned out in all of the Silicon Valley glamour – investors, money, venture capitalists… and sometimes it’s not good for your business model. Maybe it’s better to bootstrap a bit. Maybe it’s better to build off of your current client base. This book reaffirmed some of my own thoughts about the start up industry and the way start ups are going these days.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

My grandfather has influenced my thinking. He always told me to “treat others how you’d like to be treated,” and I’ve tried to carry that into business with me. In business, being the way it is in its relation to money, contracts and lawyers, you tend to lose the human element. People become detached and less social. Initially the concept of business started off as a very social thing, and we’ve kind of distanced ourselves from that because we want to be without emotion. I always try to bring back the human aspect of it all.


Jason Jones on LinkedIn:
Vertical Motion on Twitter: @vmgroundcontrol