Through the process of constant iteration, I discover what I like and what isn’t working in each step. The key is to take one bite at a time and keep pecking away until something feels right.
Joshua Strebel is the co-founder and CEO of Pagely, the first-to-market and leading premium managed WordPress hosting provider. In 2003, Joshua and his wife Sally co-founded and grew a boutique web design agency to a modest level of success in Scottsdale, Arizona.
In 2008, he transitioned the agency away from web design and development services and into the hosting space focusing exclusively on WordPress. Headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, this agency developed into Pagely, which has grown into a successful operation supporting brands such as Visa, Disney and Time Inc. with deploying, managing and scaling their WordPress applications.
Off the clock, Joshua is a husband and father, automobile enthusiast, aging snow sports participant and connoisseur of single malt scotch.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Pagely started as a small web design agency. While operating in the space, we noticed that companies needed a solution to offload the headaches involved in staying on top of their WordPress projects. We followed the logical evolution of the system to the idea of offering managed WordPress services. Large companies don’t have the time or expertise to focus on the many problems that crop up and by delegating WordPress to Pagely, these companies are free to fixate on their own core competencies.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I have two young kids so my days start pretty early, usually with a big pot of coffee. I spend time at home in the morning getting the kids ready for school and then I find myself most productive when I leave the house. I used to work from home and am now a firm believer that it’s easier to focus in a space designed for working not living. I’ve found since having a family, that having hard start and stop times is conducive to efficient productivity. I’m much less distractible now as I know I only have say 3.25 hours to complete something before I need to pick the kids up from school.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Trial and error. For example, I’m about two months into a logo design. Through the process of constant iteration, I discover what I like and what isn’t working in each step. The key is to take one bite at a time and keep pecking away until something feels right.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend or pace of technological change and its recent escalation is fascinating to me. The time it takes for progress to occur is swiftly condensing. If you look at the history of humankind, from the caveman days to creating fire in contrast to the recent developments of the calculator to the iPhone, technology is developing at exponential speeds.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
It may sound silly but not caring what other people think has contributed greatly to my entrepreneurial journey. Eschewing what others deem cool or hip and focusing on pragmatic solutions has really pushed forward Pagely’s mission without wasting time.
What advice would you give your younger self?
My advice would be to shut your mouth every once in a while and to just listen. The hubris of youth gets in the way of learning from those that are wiser and smarter than you.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Many people think that intellectual property or a brand is the greatest asset of any company but I disagree. I believe that employees are, in actuality, the most important aspect of any business.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
It is important to keep asking the questions why and what is next. People get locked in on what’s right in front of them and forget to look up. Part of being a successful entrepreneur means you need to anticipate the next six steps and the reasons behind each of them.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Pagely is a bootstrapped company. We aren’t interested in the VC game. To me, this has helped our business grow because we’ve had to start out slowly and move up in the stack. With over 10 years of infrastructure experience, baked in security and automatic upgrades, we’ve been able to flexibly pave our way on our own terms.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
At one point, I was fresh and antagonistic to the community. My actions set Pagely back several years (and stagnated our growth) and I earned a bad reputation. To course correct, I had to turn people back into my favor one by one. In hindsight, I would have saved a lot of grief if I learned how to play nice from the get go.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A group of my friends from college take annual trips together but this can be tricky with differing income levels. I think a layaway vacation business would be a great idea. For example, five friends open a shared account and each contribute a set dollar amount a month. Then once a target vacation is agreed upon, like a spa retreat in California or beach trip to Mexico, the group would be connected with a few travel agencies that would bid on packages on their behalf. Essentially, it would be a lead referral for a travel agency and a vacation layaway system for friends.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a small and compact titanium money clip from Ridgewallet. It’s great and does the job.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Pandora. I find myself being most productive when I can zone out and vibe to stations for background music. The perfect melodic downtempo groove helps my brain work.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Turn the Ship Around” by L. David Marquet because it provides the basic ideas of how to run a company built on shared responsibility and accountability.
What is your favorite quote?
“Think for yourself, challenge everything.”
- As an entrepreneur, it is important to keep asking the questions why and what is next.
- When bringing ideas to fruition, trial and error is key.
- Don’t forget to shut your mouth every once in a while and to just listen.
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.