John R. Stokka – CEO of DomiKnow

[quote style=”boxed”]So much of today’s marketing and technology is about finding the right customers and talking to them. [/quote]

John R. Stokka is the CEO of DomiKnow, a company helping businesses easily grow using marketing solutions powered by a database of over 350 million US consumers. John is a marketing expert and a thought leader in the business world who can be reached on LinkedIn or Google+.

What are you working on right now?

Currently, I’m working with my national sales manager in New Jersey as we begin hiring sales reps across the country.

Where did the idea for your current business come from?

I have a background in software and technology that aids small businesses. My career has been blessed with developing solutions for the small business owner.

What does your typical day look like?

It’s hard to say “typical” with a startup tech company. Each day is different and brings certain challenges and victories, and I love it. Most days, I come in around 7 a.m. to beat traffic. I view a few hundred emails while drinking my first cup of coffee. We have a small team here at DomiKnow, so I spend a lot of time with our team between sales calls and operational tasks.

We may be a tech company, but our backbone is — and always will — be human resources, so I am constantly engaged with developing marketing plans, graphics, ideas, and press releases for our clients as well as DomiKnow. As a public company, I seem to be on the phone a lot with attorneys and stockholders. I try to find time for lunch sometime before the end of the day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Ideas truly are key to what DomiKnow brings to the table. I have always been an advocate for listening. I believe when you surround yourself with people from different walks of life and simply open your ears, you’ll find something. And when you dive in headfirst with an idea and own it, you will find the determination to succeed. Our clients know that we, as a company, find success in their business’ success.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Data is where it’s at. It’s what we built this company around: dominate with knowledge.

So much of today’s marketing and technology is about finding the right customers and talking to them. We’ve known this for almost a decade, and we’ve built the perfect database to empower small businesses to take on their corporate counterparts. It’s incredibly rewarding to see our clients grow in their local markets.

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

I’ve never really had a bad job; so much of my career, I’ve worked for myself. I don’t see the negative in any aspect of life — I just see opportunities. Every job I’ve had has shown me a different group of people, challenges, and rewards. From working in produce at Hy-Vee to playing pro golf in Florida, I’ve been able to learn constantly, and I know it has added value to my career.

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

Listen, I can’t look back. I can only look forward. Sure, some things could have been easier on this adventure we call life, but the things I’ve learned along the way have been priceless.

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

Surround yourself with the right people. Those certain team members who continue to wear different hats in your business will make all the difference in the world. I’ve learned this firsthand. Most startups can’t afford a team of 30 people, so you need 10 solid people with a lot of responsibilities.

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

What we do at DomiKnow is very similar to what large marketing companies do for Wal-Mart, Sony, and Nike. It isn’t new; it’s just tapered and catered to the small business. We’re using technology, social media, and internal software to bring the right customers to small businesses across the nation.

Tell us a secret.

I’m a sucker for a good chick flick.

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

As a publicly traded company, I’ve got to say I follow all the finance pages, like the OTC Markets page and Yahoo! Finance. They tell us what the world is seeing. More personally, I love eBay. I’m in the process of restoring my boat, so it’s come in handy. But the number-one tool out there is Facebook, hands down. This little social media platform has changed the face of business marketing for the better. Where else can a mom-and-pop coffee shop compete with Starbucks?

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

I’d recommend “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.” It simply says it all — don’t make things more complicated than they are.

What’s on your playlist?

Kenny Chesney’s on it because it’s summer. Bruno Mars is there because that guy can sing. But if we’re talking about a karaoke playlist, I’d have to say “Can’t You See” by The Marshall Tucker Band.

If you weren’t working on your current business, what would you be doing?

I would be continuing to develop technology and software. I will always be a problem-solver. Maybe I would even slip into the world of politics.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

Christian Renaud, @xianrenaud, principal at @startupcitydsm (Startup City Des Moines): He is the face and motor behind the startup movement here in Iowa. He’s insightful, honest, and entertaining.

Jeremy Schoemaker, @shoemoney: Jeremy is “that guy” you want to know. He’s been involved with this massive digital advertising movement, and he’s been able to see the future. He’s also a great guy with a huge following.

@DomiKnow: Of course you should follow us! We’re growing so rapidly, and we just announced expansions into six new markets across the nation. Hop on board and join us for the journey.

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

I was on a sales call in Kansas City last week with our CMO. We were pitching a comprehensive marketing plan for a larger potential client. One of the board members made an assumption that, as a public company, we must be a billion-dollar company with hundreds of employees based on what he had seen online, in the press, and on social media. I simply responded, “No, we aren’t, but wouldn’t it be great if we did the same thing for you?” There were smiles across the table, and we all laughed.

Who is your hero?

My dad is, for sure. Growing up, I didn’t understand everything, even though I thought I did. When I look back, I can’t even count the number of lessons I learned from him.

What comes first in your business: the people or the technology?

I’ve been tinkering with software and tech my entire career. My goal has never been to develop software to replace employees; rather, my goal is to enhance them. If you want to grow your business — truly grow — your team needs to understand how to operate prior to developing new technology. Build the tech around your team’s operations; don’t build a team around the technology.

Will you ever be the guy sitting on the beach sipping a margarita?

Nope, not everyone dreams of retiring or making money while sitting on a white sandy beach. I would go nuts. I thrive when I can be involved. Perhaps a weekend vacation every now and then would be nice.


DomiKnow on Facebook:
John R. Stokka on Twitter: @jrstokka
John R. Stokka on LinkedIn:
Publicly traded as OTC:DMNO