Mike Russell – Co-Founder and CEO of Paintzen

I recommend running a list of ideas at any given point of time – general entrepreneurial ideas that pop up in my head. I keep it current, check it often and take out the ideas that no longer interest me.

Mike Russell is the co-founder & CEO of Paintzen, a revolutionary painting service that makes the process of finding trustworthy painters effortless via technology.

Prior to Paintzen, Mike co-founded MyClean, a full service cleaning and janitorial company with a platform enabling quick quoting, booking and financials for all cleaning functions. Myclean has over 200 employees and has been named as one of Inc. 500’s fastest growing companies. Mike currently serves as the chairman of the board at MyClean.

Where did the idea for Paintzen come from?

Everyone needs painting – it’s a service that a lot of home owners need, but not many like to do. It’s a space that is ripe for disruption, and a service that’s badly needed – the competition in the space is very fragmented, which is worth $50b in the US alone. The exec team has also had proven experience in the home-enabled tech service space.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day starts with organization and time management – checking my schedule and e-mail before starting the day ensures I have a clear head and idea of what’s to come in the day ahead. I manage a really detailed to-do list and I’m very careful about managing my time – I try to uilize the time I have between meetings to make my day more productive.

How do you bring ideas to life?

With any idea, from the a-ha! Moment to launch, it starts with a hypothesis – I analyse the idea and consider if I have the resources and ability (and if it is even possible) to improve it; whether that be faster, more convenient or cheaper. After this step, I test it to see if the customer is responsive and start building from there if I receive a positive response.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Specifically in the home-tech space, I’m really interested in the internet of things, and how devices can be connected to one another.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’m relentless – I deal with obstacles and challenges as they come, and continue to push forward and keep fighting. I’m also super detail-orientated and obsess over all aspects of whatever I’m doing.

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

It was definitely when I worked in the financial services space. I learned that I didn’t want to be in financial services, and that I wanted to do something where I was passionate, and my creativity wasn’t limited by process.

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

I would have put a lot more thought into the branding at an earlier stage. Our time in the startup accelerator was a huge help in getting us to the branding stage we are at now, and we’re constantly improving and planning for bigger and better things.

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

I recommend running a list of ideas at any given point of time – general entrepreneurial ideas that pop up in my head. I keep it current, check it often and take out the ideas that no longer interest me.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Focus was one of the main strategies that helped my business and my team – staying really focused on a personal level and also pushing my team to be focused. We made sure we understood what the challenges are, that everyone was across this and working collectively as a group to solve these challenges.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

After college, I started a company called “After College Spring Break” that hosted spring breaks for people after college. I was 22, and it didn’t work out. However, I picked myself up, learned from it and kept trying new things.

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

A vest that scratches your back. I’m not sure how this would work in terms of functionality when you need to sit against a surface, but I’m sure someone can solve this.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I’m a Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma cancer survivor

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Optimizely – we’re using it to A/B test our landing pages and other digital assets, and we love that it’s simple, I don’t have to use a developer and it gets the job done.

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

I don’t really have time to read books, but one of my favorites is Harry Potter – it pulls you out of reality and into a fantasy world, which is what all books should do.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

My parents have definitely played an integral role in bringing me up to be comfortable pursuing my ideas and taking risks, so they’re a huge influence. I also enjoy learning and reading from James Altucher Confidential – who has some really valuable life lessons that he writes about on his blog.


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