[quote style=”boxed”]Drive and Execution. There are certain attributes that we have and it sets the entrepreneurs apart from the wantrepreneurs.[/quote]
Richart Ruddie is an internet entrepreneur and marketer who is one of the founding partners of Protos Eyewear. He is inspired by disruptive technology and innovation that changes our everyday lives.
Where did the idea for Protos Eyewear come from?
The idea for Protos Eyewear came from an industrial design student and close friend Marc Levinson and his classmate John Mauriello when they were enrolled in college at CCA (California College of the Arts for those not in the design circles). They were fortunate to have a 3D printer at the school and started to design and play with different ideas to which they could use the 3D printer. Marc was always very found of sunglasses and realized that there was a great opportunity to make consumer grade glasses via 3D printing technology. Now years later we have become the leaders and synonymous with 3D printed eyewear as a sentence always includes Protos when the topic is brought up.
What does your typical day look like?
Depending on what time zone I am in that day depends on when I wake up. When I am in California I’m up around 8:30, Hawaii 6:00 am, and closer to the 11 o clock hour when on the east coast. Once up I go through emails and work through all the different projects and urgent needs for the day and make any phone calls during business hours but end up working till about 3 in the morning. I am always scouring for new opportunities to market and build business partnerships for Protos. Since our successful crowdfunding campaign we have been approached by quite a few VC’s, investors, strategic partners, and eyewear manufacturers with interest in how they can work with Protos for creating 3D printed products. It’s important to ensure that we are on the cutting edge of technological change without falling behind. It’s important for me to evaluate each opportunity and present it to the rest of the partners if it’s feasible.
How do you bring ideas to life?
People always ask how do you think of your ideas. Most entrepreneurs and inventors that I associate myself with are keen to agree that it just comes to you. From there it’s time to work out the concept and see if it makes sense. The research process is always exciting because you always learn from mistakes that others have made before you. With Protos Eyewear at the time of inception the lack of 3D printed products that were consumer grade made this a very exciting venture.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Two things that we have going today are intriguing and exciting. The first is Google Glass. Larry Page and Sergey Brin are visionaries who predicted that mobile would be the next big thing with everybody having the internet in the palm of their hands and thus why they got so aggressive with the android platform. Now with Google glass they have a similar vision in the future and it’s very exciting from the early screenings that we have seen. Now if they incorporated Google Glass with Protos the possibilities are unlimited! The 3D printing craze also really has me excited. I predict that every year at big conventions like the Consumer Electronics Show you will see more and more 3D printing companies and consumer grade products coming to life. Just this year Office Depot announcing that they are selling them in their stores was a big step in the right direction.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Drive and Execution. There are certain attributes that we have and it sets the entrepreneurs apart from the wantrepreneurs. Anybody can say that they want to create a product, business, or leave their job to follow their “Dream” or “idea” that they want to pursue but few actually go forward and do it. If your serious about your idea and really believe in it then nothing should hold you back from executing on it. One of the greatest joys in life is seeing your idea come to life thanks to your efforts.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Muni Bond trading was the most boring job. It was a situation where you know your missing something in life just trading paper and my lack of enthusiasm was certainly showing. At the same time it was the best thing that ever happened to me because it really gave me the kickstart that I needed to go out on my own and explore greener pastures. My boss told me not to stay at the job for the money and that some butterfly’s need to spread their wings and fly and not be trapped in a cage. That was some of the best advice I was ever given and my old boss is still a close friend and trusted adviser today.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
You will find in both business and life that you can not change the past so don’t get caught up with things that you can not control. It’s hard psychologically to overcome this and drives some entrepreneurs crazy but I think this quote I came up with sums up my feelings: “You can’t change what has happened in the past but you can control part of your future so make a difference towards what the future holds.”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I stay motivated and am always thinking of new things to stay one step ahead of the competition. Every day I read about new innovations and changes in technology. Whether it’s reading Techcrunch.com or Venturebeat.com it’s important to not become a dead dinosaur who doesn’t move with change in the world and become obsolete.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
It’s important to keep your eye on the prize. The prize isn’t money. Dollars are just an easier way to keep score but staying motivated and not being afraid to try new things. If we waited for everybody else to figure out how to create custom fit eyewear then we wouldn’t be a viable entity. From the overwhelming feedback we have received it’s good to know that we are on to something very big here. Remember you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Following your efforts is key. People are very passionate about their business or idea but sometimes it’s just not viable. Follow your efforts of what you are good at and that will lead you in the right direction.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I fail all the time. It’s okay to fail because I learn from each and every mistake made with the intention of that making my future that much better (remember that question about starting again and what I would do differently?) I created a mass mobile text messaging platform and figured by going in with the lowest price I could take market share from the competitors and in exchange for the low price they would only receive very basic customer support. What we learned is that we had people asking for all sorts of customization and it needed a full-time sales person and staffing that we were not willing and ready at the time to dedicate to the project so it essentially floundered. I recently found out about a site called Sideprojectors.com which is a perfect platform for us to place the project on there and let somebody who has the means to take that business to the next level as a turn-key project. My mantra has been that 9 out of 10 businesses fail so I am not afraid to start 10 different businesses to find 1 success.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Automated window washing for skyscrapers. This one came to me in Las Vegas looking at the massive hotels and all the windows that need to be cleaned. Why not have a device like the iRobot that automatically does it?
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
Hmmm….Not sure which angle to go with this one. I was at TGI Fridays and a young girl was being jumped and beat up by a gang of ruthless girls. They then got in their car and sped away when people started to call the police. Trying to be a good Samaritan I jumped in my car and followed them on a semi high-speed chase. I was able to get their license plate, description of the car, and let the police know when I returned to TGI Fridays. I was offered a beer by the police for my work to which I politely declined (I was 17 at the time).
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Rhino has been an integral part in the development of Proto. For organizational tasks we use Basecamp to post any thoughts, notifications, to-dos, and project updates for everybody to follow. Having the right software in your playbook is a key to success and is often the best investment made in your business. We have weekly meetings for Protos and more often than not I’m on the east coast and everybody else is in San Francisco so we end up on Google Hangout (I can send a screenshot of all of us on). It’s great because no matter where in the world we are we are all together as a team.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It’s an excellent book that teaches you how to deal with people who is an important key to success.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Mark Cuban has always been a big inspiration. From time to time he gives out priceless advice on blogmaverick.com. I actively follow Techcrunch.com, Venturebeat.com, and Digg.com.
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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.