Get up every day and work. It’s not that hard really and it’s not that different from everyone that works for you or the entire world labor market.
Nick Aldridge is a professional who has worked in the media and telecommunication industries all his working life. He worked at the BBC and O2 before co-founding his first company, Mobile Interactive Group which was sold to Velti in 2011 (NASDAQ:VELT). As well as running a number of new ventures Nick has worked as a consultant to mobile companies, advertising agencies and media corporations helping them understand the creative and commercial opportunities in mobile. Nick is currently CEO at Kogi Mobile LLC a mobile development agency he founded, based in Miami, Florida.
Where did the idea for Kogi Mobile come from?
After traveling through LATAM for a year and a half, I returned to London looking for a new challenge. My previous company that I cofounded was on the brink of being sold and I was working as a consultant helping with an M&A project for a mid-sized marketing agency. Even though the app market was well established I saw an opportunity to start an app house in LATAM, specifically in Colombia. Still there are very few businesses similar to ours, 4 years on, as there is little demand for high-quality mobile apps in the region as most technology is not focussed on the user, but on internal functional requirements.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Normally I am working in business development. We receive different leads, mostly from the US each week which I handle. In the office, there is usually one or two projects that need attention or a client that has an issue with something and we need to review how we shuffle resources around.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Over the years, we have constantly changed our processes. We started with pure Scrum, writing cards and pinning them on the wall. We found that this didn’t really work and in general everything that people are taught in “official” Scrum and project management courses are not that helpful. The main thing that moves app and really even any modern development along is clear communication. Everything we do now is with the client. So we start with 1-2 weeks brainstorming and wireframing. Then at every stage through meetings or online calls we go step by step through user journeys until everyone is clear what will be built. Everyone means the designers, developers, testers, project team as well as the client. The same iteration is followed once something is coming out of production, review step by step, tap by tap or click by click with the client to make sure what was imagined is what has been produced. Then the process really starts once user get their hands on it and you get their feedback of what they really need as opposed to what was imagined.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The whole open source community is simply mind blowing for the tech community. I understand why large companies are still stuck with awful systems like SAP in their business who have not embraced modern development techniques and all the users absolutely hate their software, but I am sure this will change soon. The way that problems are solved on every level for developers by the community, where you have simple but incredibly useful products like Twilio, Flurry etc that are more or less free or incredibly cheap to use. Then you have all the tools such as Jira, code repository systems and time tracking tools. Everything is online, in the cloud and incredibly cost effective. With such support and innovation, this then drives more innovation so we are seeing in software the exponential growth that we have always seen in processing power. Nearly all of these products and support systems are based on and driven by users, so everything just gets better and better every day.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am a very analytical person. This is mostly a benefit as you are always trying to improve processes, but does have the drawback of not always being very accepting and understanding of human frailty.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job, that only lasted one evening was a door to door salesman in Australia selling prefabricated art. We had just landed and needed to find something to do as money was close to running out so you accept anything you can find in those circumstances. Knocking on people’s doors in the evening when they were trying to enjoy their dinner or a sports game made it near impossible to even start a conversation. Also not believing in the product is not the way to go if you want to sell anything. I am not sure I made any great changes in my life as a result of that one evening but the lessons are there now for modern sales techniques that very much rely on customers finding their clients through digital channels and then engaging with businesses they feel understand them, rather than a door to door sales guy trying to ram a piece of shitty art down your throat at 8 pm.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Unless you fail completely then I don’t think many entrepreneurs would really bother with this question. Everything is changing all the time, your business is growing, you deal with problems badly at times, but you just move on. If you worry so much about trying to fix some of your character faults or an individual decision you will probably not be that successful.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Get up every day and work. It’s not that hard really and it’s not that different from everyone that works for you or the entire world labor market. Some people I know are meticulous with note taking and ideas, but I think just getting on with it, producing something or delivering a service over and over just makes the company stronger and hopefully your clients’ businesses stronger as well.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
I think just trying to do a good job and then get recommendations. We have a client from Australia who was supposedly recommended by someone. We tried to put them off with the time difference, but they insisted on working with us. If you can get most of your clients this way, through recommendations, you should be able to grow consistently.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There are always missed opportunities and things that could have been done better with hindsight, but a failure to me is that you close the business or sack a whole load of people. This hasn’t happened yet but could, of course, be just round the corner at a time.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
All ideas are worthless without the right team to implement them.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I think any of these open source tools for your business. They all seem to cost that. Recently we implemented a time tracking tool but I don’t know the name of it.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Again all the open source tools that are around. We are currently working a lot with JIRA as this integrates nicely into the code repository and time tracking systems. Everything is joining up to make things easier and easier every day.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I like everything to do with Lean. So try The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries. The whole lean approach does not apply in 100% of cases but most. Despite this nearly everyone starting a business does not follow these simple, common-sense rules.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I don’t really follow or revere anybody in particular. I respect those who have built businesses, those that work hard and those that change the world. This is really most of the world population so humanity would be the answer to this question.
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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.