[quote style=”boxed”]We have a bias toward action, with the caveat to always be testing.[/quote]
Jeffrey Vocell is an analytics geek, early tech adopter, and entrepreneur. He is Co-Founder of a startup named Trendslide, a mobile dashboard app that provides actionable business insights to executives. After experiencing firsthand how difficult it was to get real-time analytics on a mobile device while working as a Product Manager, Jeffrey met his Co-Founder, Benjamin Petrin, and began working on a solution.
Jeffrey holds a Bachelors of Science in management and leadership from Daniel Webster College and has written for numerous blogs, as well as speaking at events about mobile analytics and mobile dashboards.
What are you working on right now?
Trendslide, a mobile dashboard startup that connects with your most important business data sources (i.e., Google Analytics, Salesforce, Shopify, Facebook, Twitter, and more) and provides actionable insights right on your iPhone or iPad. Managers and executives typically have 3-4 key metrics they use to determine the success of their business; Trendslide provides not only access to these key metrics from anywhere, but proactive notifications to ensure that your company drives those metrics for success and growth.
Where did the idea for Trendslide come from?
I was a Product Manager at a medical device company that developed patient monitors. My manager would always say to me “Jeffrey, I want you to be the CEO of your product—look at your own product metrics and the market and make the tough decisions.” Unfortunately, this required me to send multiple emails to Finance, Customer Support, and Operations to get my key metrics. I knew there had to be a better way given APIs available today, and Trendslide was started.
What does your typical day look like?
I’m a night owl, so I regularly work very late into the evening/morning, as it’s when I get a lot of creative energy. I have learned that I’m most productive in making my “to do” list right before I go to bed. My morning typically starts with getting my iPhone off the nightstand and opening the Trendslide app to check on our key metrics. Before I even get out of bed, I have generally sent 4 or 5 emails, some to my Co-Founder based on product metrics that I’m monitoring. I will check email right after and address any other emails that I need to respond to. In the afternoon, I try to connect with users and see how they are using the Trendslide app and get feedback. In the evening, I write a lot of content for our website, blog, and other publications.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We have a bias toward action, with the caveat to always be testing. If we get a feature request, Ben and I will talk it through and run it by some of our advisory board members and then go implement it. The key for us is that we measure these changes and will remove anything after a period of time that is not working.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Mobile is one trend that really excites me. At Trendslide, we have spoken with many users, and we’re always impressed by some of the unique use cases that mobile has to offer. I think we’re just starting to see the innovation with mobile, and the next 3-5 years should really be defining for companies in this space.
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
When I was 16, I worked at a local hardware store as a sales associate. I quickly learned that retail sales, especially in hardware, was not for me. The positive is that I learned the art of persistence and hard work. It’s something that has stuck with me and even today has benefited me in co-founding Trendslide.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I’m going to break the rules and list two:
1. Constantly check in with my Co-Founder as we work out of different locations frequently. This ensures that we are on the same page and each of us is involved in any major decisions that need to be made.
2. Read. Read analyst insights in your market, read product manuals, read website copy, read blog posts… Whatever it may be, reading is so important and time should be made for it. There is a great comic by Randy Glasbergen that has one quote I really like: “It’s called ‘reading.’ It’s how people install software into their brains.”
What is one problem you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As a father of two awesome kids, it’s really difficult to manage time. I have a nonstop work ethic and could easily work 90+ hours a week but then never spend anytime with my children. It’s still something I’m addressing, but it has been a big hurdle for me personally.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A meta search engine for aircraft. I have always been into aviation, and there are multiple individual sites for finding aircraft available for sale, including some specialized websites for classes of aircraft like warbirds. It would be handy for any aspiring pilot looking for an aircraft to have one key portal that has robust search capability and information available on the plane they are searching for. Sort of like a helpful MSN Autos, but for aviation.
Whatever the idea is that you pursue, make sure that you are passionate about the space you are entering, or that the pain that a lack of solution has caused will carry you through.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I want to say access to education at every level for anyone, but given recent universities and startups that are making this content available, I would say access to the Internet for everyone. Not only would it be a huge driver for education across the world, but it also would allow economic development into areas that are underdeveloped currently.
Tell us a secret.
I love most children’s animated movies like Monsters Inc., Rio, Finding Nemo, Cars, etc.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
My top 3 are:
1. Evernote – Handy for note-taking, to do lists, and clipping articles off the Web that I want to later read. This is one of the tools I use all the time and has really made life easier.
2. OmmWriter – It’s technically a Mac/iOS app, but I still love it. With multiple to-dos and browser tabs, it’s really easy to get distracted and waste a lot of time. When I’m writing a blog post or anything in longer form, I will throw on a pair of headphones and open OmmWriter.
3. Skype – As my Co-Founder and I work out of different physical locations frequently, it’s been helpful when we need to talk about an issue to hop on Skype and video chat.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Data-Driven Marketing because it’s critically important that marketers are using data to drive marketing efforts and campaigns. Decide which activities are worth it and which are not by simply assessing how your online marketing is working with these metrics.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Joel Gascoigne – Founder at Buffer. His blog is incredible, and he is always tweeting stuff that is relevant and helpful for startup founders.
Hiten Shah – CEO at KISSmetrics. Despite all of the success KISSmetrics has had, Hiten is very approachable and always seems willing to help out startup founders.
Kyle York – CRO at Dyn. Kyle is the hardest working person I know. He’s always hustling, and even with Dyn’s explosive growth, he has found a way to help build a startup culture in Manchester, New Hampshire and sit on the boards of multiple startups.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Today. My wife taught my son to go “RAWR” like a dinosaur and recorded a video of it. In the video, he’s holding a rubber dinosaur and smiling while saying “RAWR!” Pretty hilarious.
Who is your hero?
First and foremost, my heroes are all the men and women serving in the military and keeping us safe.
Other than our members of the military, I look up to a lot of people, including Aaron Levie of Box.net, Jason Fried of 37signals, Mark Cuban of the Dallas Maverics/Shark Tank, etc., Jason Calacanis of Mahalo, Mark Suster of GRP Partners, and Seth Godin.
Why did you start Trendslide in Manchester, New Hampshire?
I’m originally from New Hampshire and love living in this state. Our run rate is able to stay really low as a result, and we’re close to Portland, Maine, and Boston, Massachusetts—two major cities for any events or functions that we need to be a part of. Also, the entrepreneur ecosystem is building here, and at Trendslide we’re thrilled to be a part of it. There are a number of really cool startups coming out of New Hampshire, and we want to be the next city named to “the best places to start a company” list.
What is the most important trait or skill for entrepreneurs?
I would say persistence in everything you do. So much of entrepreneurship is driving through the tough times and having the persistence to keep going.
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