[quote style=”boxed”]Being able to convey your ideas to others is crucial and one of the areas where new founders typically struggle. I generally piece together my ideas in simple concept decks with Keynote, which allows me to incorporate basic design elements and map various ideas I may have in regards to product or marketing initiatives.[/quote]
Mac is a Richmond native, passionate entrepreneur, and can usually be found working out of any local coffee shop. A Wofford Soccer alumn, Mac moved to Chattanooga, TN after college in order to pursue the opportunity to play for the semi professional team, the Chattanooga Football Club. While in Chattanooga, Mac worked with D1, a sports training facility where he was primarily focused in personal training and sales.
Mac is currently the co-founder and CEO of Nudge, nudgeyourself.com, the Klout for healthy living. As the CEO, Mac wears many hats, but his primary roles consist of business development, fundraising, and sales. In his time with Nudge, the company has been recognized as finalists in programs such as RVA Companies to Watch and the Chattanooga Technology Council’s Early Innovator Award. In December 2012, he was recognized by CIT as being a GAP 50 Finalist, which identified Virginia entrepreneurs most likely to build the next generation of tech companies in the state.
Where did the idea for Nudge come from?
The idea for Nudge came as a result of launching our original concept which was a gamified corporate wellness platform. We quickly realized that with the rapid adoption of health tracking apps like Runkeeper and Fitbit, there would need to be a method for comparison across the market to provide some type of uniformity.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My days are fairly different depending on the number of meetings I have. Being a morning person, I generally get to my computer at 7:30 am to catch up on industry news, answer emails and prepare for whatever meetings I may have. The luxury of working in a startup is that you can generally set your own schedule, but it’s important to identify what time of the day you are the most productive.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Being able to convey your ideas to others is crucial and one of the areas where new founders typically struggle. I generally piece together my ideas in simple concept decks with Keynote, which allows me to incorporate basic design elements and map various ideas I may have in regards to product or marketing initiatives.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The mobile health space is currently experiencing incredible growth, but one of the trends that has been interesting to see unfold has been how open most of the groups are about sharing within the ecosystem. A couple years ago the consumer space was very fragmented with hardly any interconnectivity amongst platforms, but that has certainly changed over the past 18 months as consumers are using more platforms to provide insight into the various segments of their lifestyle.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Regardless of my schedule, I try to allow for at least an hour of prep time on my computer each morning to gauge the status of received emails, industry trends and our platform. This is to make sure I am fully aware of anything that may have appeared overnight. While being proactive is always ideal, it is important to be able to react quickly when needed.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked in a handful of industries growing up ranging from personal training to even wrapping gifts at a men’s clothing store. The lessons I learned in those places generally focused more on management styles and the resulting cultures, but I witnessed first hand how toxic a workplace can become when people have their own agenda. I try to make sure our team is always on the same page and that we share the same overall vision.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I think most startups probably have a handful of items they would have liked to do differently, but personally I would have spent more time with our prospective customers to ensure that the product we were building really filled their needs. We subsequently pivoted, allowing us to go through the customer interview process again, but at the end of the day nothing is worse than building a product no one wants.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
When it comes to identifying a habit to pass on to other founders I would strongly encourage adopting the build/measure/learn feedback loop proposed by Eric Ries in “The Lean Startup.” Few decisions we make with our platform are perfect from conception, so we are constantly looking for ways to test our hypothesis and gather feedback before investing time into an initiative. Once we have gathered feedback we are able to make the decision to scrap, iterate or move forward accordingly. The idea is to constantly be testing in order to ensure we are providing value with everything we release.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
A life lesson I learned early on was to stay flexible. Nothing progresses the way you think it will, and that certainly goes with running a business. Markets and trends are ever-changing, and it’s important to identify how varying factors can influence your business, as well as what ancillary opportunities may be around the corner. Stay focused on the key milestones, but don’t be afraid to take a step back and reassess periodically.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Our initial concept was a gamified wellness solution that we would market to small companies using a SaaS model, but it became clear that our initial hypothesis was incorrect, so we pivoted. Going through a pivot can be one of the scariest events in a startup’s life, but the experience can be invaluable to your business uncovering lessons that will help moving forward.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A business idea I have been kicking around for a couple years has been the result of a personal pain that no one seems to have addressed. Maybe it’s just bad luck, but I repeatedly have the leaky coffee cup at coffee shops which results in coffee stains on most shirts. At some point I am going to create the next generation coffee cup, mark my words.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
Before starting Nudge, Phil Beene and I were playing semi-professional soccer for a team in Chattanooga, TN. He and I had met previously while playing soccer for Wofford College, a small D1 school in South Carolina.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
One of the latest platforms our team has started using is Fleep, which is a social collaboration tool for groups, allowing individuals to create targeted message threads with others and upload relevant files. It is built with mobile in mind, so the Fleep app allows me to maintain my social presence even while I’m on the road. We have only been using it for a couple months, but we have been pretty happy with it so far.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Learn Startup” by Eric Ries is a book I wish I had read before starting Nudge, as I would have done several things far differently. Other great books include “Rework” and “Good to Great.”
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
While I have always been fascinated with David Heinemeier Hansson and Jack Dorsey because of their stories, I find lessons in most talks I hear from founders. One resource I have enjoyed exploring over the past couple years has been Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series which has lectures from the likes of the two previously mentioned, as well as Dave McClure and Reid Hoffman.
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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.