John is an acknowledged expert in the fields of manufacturing, lean thinking, Six Sigma, materials management, and implementation of inventory management software.
John is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology with bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and in materials science and engineering. John also holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas.
John is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt and has worked with manufacturers all over the world for 20 years.
What are you working on right now?
We have a very simple idea — to make doing inventory right easy. Today’s ERP and accounting platforms are using outdated decisions models that are almost 100 years old that no longer fit the world of today. We use a patent pending process to set inventory levels at peak financial performance, but more importantly we make it easy — no rocket science — just color coded business alerts.
In essence, we tell businesses when to order and how much to order, and we also tell them how they are doing relative to the optimum. This positions us as vital link between B2B portals and ERP/accounting platforms. We create the stimulus for the two universes to talk — this is a very important feature. Our business model is to permit use through any ERP/accounting platform, any B2B portal and from any device. This creates a huge market and revenue generating model. Our first online version for QuickBooks will be fully launched in October 2010. From here we will add a mobile app and then start working on a version for Sage.
3 trends that excite you?
The trend to work from anywhere and from any device. Making the process of doing inventory easy by using color coded business alerts plays right in to developing mobile and tablet apps.
The trend for small business to do business globally. Dealing with complex supply chains and long long lead times plays into to need for businesses to use our solution to make it easy to do it right.
The trend for B2B commerce to take place electronically. This is a natural extension, we already have the data and the information — it is a matter of opening the connection to make the experience seamless from customer to supplier.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I get the idea out there — build it as soon as possible and listen to customer. We knew doing inventory right was important. We did not know making it easy also was important, if not more important. It is this feedback or voice of the customer that is driving our strategy.
What is one mistake you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
I spent too much on ads too early in an attempt to build awareness. This is good, but you need to make sure you are bringing the right message to the right audience. I could have spent this money wiser.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
One book that I really liked was “MicroISV – From Vision to Reality” by Bob Walsh. This is a book for starting a software business. Another book for someone that is already in business is “Entrepreneur Journeys Volume 3 – Position: How to Test, Validate, and Bring Your Idea to Market” by Sramana Mitra.
A great piece of software is Business Plan Pro. I cannot say enough about the rigor that should be put into a business plan and there are many sample plans to review to get ideas. I use this tool for myself and not as an exercise to attract an investor.
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I get so deeply involved in my own idea that I have not even thought of another idea. All my ideas are how to make original idea better and what is the evolution going to look like. I think once I start getting new ideas that maybe it is time to start something else.
Why is inventory management important?
It is often overlooked and or ignored. It is considered a necessary evil. That fact is that is among the most common reasons why a small business fails (according the SBA). It is also a differentiator. The bottom 30 percent of businesses have NINE times more inventory than their top 20 percent performing peers. This is a huge drain on cash flow. Inventory should be done right and we can make it easy to do.
What makes me innovative or creative?
I come from a diverse background. My father is a scientist, and my mother is an artist. I come the best of both worlds and try to look at things with very open eyes. I often wonder if this is why I am ambidextrous.