[quote style=”boxed”]Ideas may sound good in your head, but I find that I need to talk them out with others before I can tell for myself. If they pass my informal focus groups, then I jump to action plans.[/quote]
Mike Newman, founder of stkr.it, is a veteran of the mobile phone industry. In his previous role as Vice President of Marketing for ReCellular, Mike saw a remarkable trend in people hesitant to part with old phones because of sentimentality towards texts, voicemails, and pictures left behind.
It was through this examination that Mike combined his love of entrepreneurship and technology to found stkr.it, a company that uses QR code technology to transform gifts, cards and craft projects into digital delights.
Mike—a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan—is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where he received both his BS and MBA. He currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
What are you working on right now?
We are bringing a new product, StoryPatches, to Quilt Market in Houston. StoryPatches brings voice, video, and pictures to quilts and other fabric crafts so we’re busy learning about the culture of quilting and preparing to meet potential new customers.
Where did the idea for stkr.it come from?
It came from a realization I had while at ReCellular: We are drowning in digital content but it is rarely when and where we want it. stkr.it was made to help bring quick connections to content that matters to you – exactly where it should be.
What does your typical day look like?
There is no typical day, which is part of what makes this job so much fun. Running a start-up means jumping from sales to product development to accounting and more. But, all of this also means you never stop learning.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Ideas may sound good in your head, but I find that I need to talk them out with others before I can tell for myself. If they pass my informal focus groups, then I jump to action plans.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Urbanization. It is great to see so many people choosing to live in walkable cities.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Trimming fat off of frozen chickens in an industrial kitchen. I never underestimated the benefits of a college education again.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would fight for early user feedback. Sometimes your concept feels too squishy to show people but early on is exactly when you benefit most from learning how people think about your ideas.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Throw out your three-year plan. Putting together the plan is extremely helpful but throwing it out and rewriting it is even more so.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I picked a terrible outsourcer to code our first app. Moving past it meant cutting out all unnecessary functionality and focusing on our core services.
Tell us a secret.
I once tripped the Dalai Lama. Well, he didn’t fall exactly. More of a stumble –and it wasn’t my fault.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
It may not be original but The Lean Startup. It’s a constant reminder that you aren’t nearly as smart as you want to think you are.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
The podcast Old Jews Telling Jokes is like watching my family do standup.
Who is your hero?
I had the great honor of meeting Congressman John Lewis. He put his life on the line for what is right, and continues to represent the best of America.
What is the one thing you miss most about life before running a start-up?
I miss reading books. I find that my mind is so used to jumping from topic to topic to topic that it is almost impossible to find the time and concentration to start and finish books.
What is the number one requirement for creating a successful business?
Two years ago, I may have said the business model. But now I realize that nothing matters unless you have smart people working with you that are passionate about creating success. Your business model will almost certainly change many times before you find your groove – and that is much easier to do when you have the right team.