Ron Spreeuwenberg - Co-Founder and CEO of HiMama

I’m big on being iterative. You have to get any idea documented and then just  start creating. It will never be perfect from the start, but speed beats perfection.

Ron Spreeuwenberg is the Co-Founder and CEO of HiMama. HiMama is an app for daycares that allows parents to better connect with their children during the day. Teachers record information on tablets about children’s well-being and development and parents then receive real-time updates, as well as daily reports about how their child is doing.

As an engineer by study and at heart, Ron loves designing and creating things. As a business professional by practice he is well equipped to start and grow businesses that deliver impactful products and services. He has experience as a business consultant, working with clients to develop corporate strategy, redesign operations and implement technology. He has had the opportunity to work in North America, Europe and Asia as part of a lifelong aspiration to learn about new people, places and ideas.

Where did the idea for HiMama come from?

The origin of HiMama was in creating an easier way for parents to record and share their children’s special moments. Facebook wasn’t the right platform for sharing special memories and fleeting moments with only your loved ones, so we wanted to create a solution for this.

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

I commute via street car to our office so I use this time to plan my day and consume information, whether through podcasts or reading. I try to use the morning to do more focused work as that is when my brain operates best, then I use the afternoon to make sales calls, meet with staff, and “run the business”. Typically I’ll have dinner with my wife at home and will do a bit more work in the evening.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I’m big on being iterative. You have to get any idea documented and then just start creating. It will never be perfect from the start, but speed beats perfection.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Many people today would likely say that you have so much more information at your fingertips than you did 5 years ago and they’d be right. However, I think this has a long way to go with the breadth and depth of information available to us through the internet.

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

I try to make decisions and respond to issues at source. Prolonging decision and action is unproductive.

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

My worst job ever was as an engineering internship at a pulp and paper mill. They made napkins and toilet paper from recycled materials and although I did some engineering projects, the other half of the time I spent cleaning pulp sludge off of equipment and floors inside the 120-degree mill. I learned from the experience the deep-seated impact of a poor work environment and culture on employee morale, which, inevitably, is a huge drag on a business. I got to leave at the end of my internship, but wondered how anyone could continue working for such a company.

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

I would have gone down the entrepreneurial path more boldly. I wasn’t raised to think this way though, so it took me longer to pull the trigger in this regard.

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

I think you need to step back every once in awhile and reflect on your life. Ask yourself the hard questions, like what you spend your time on and who you spend your time with, and determine whether this is the right path for you.

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

We have found that a strong focus on existing customers is critical for retention, but also for referrals and to create advocates for you and your business. This can only be done through genuine relationships with your customers.

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

The very first person I hired didn’t work out. I wasn’t thorough enough through the interview process, but have since improved recruiting and hiring processes to avoid the same mistake. You need to find a good balance of going with your gut, but also backed by diligent analysis.

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

Notel. A super budget hotel. I hate paying a lot of money for hotels when I travel, so Notel would provide you with only a tiny, tiny room with no perks and no staff in the hotel. Automated check in and check out and no services above and beyond your bed, shower and sink.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

A couple weeks ago I spent less than $100 on an email advertisement. We got 20 inbound requests for more information and several clients out of it. Probably got a 100x return on investment.

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

I’m pretty old school on this front and stick to a lot of the basics. I think Google Survey is great for finding product-market fit if you have an idea as you can focus your survey on specific demographics.

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

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz is a good book that I read recently. One of my big takeaways was that, as a CEO, you must have the confidence to stick with your decisions even if everyone else around you may disagree.

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

Steve Blank, Tomasz Tunguz, David Skok

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Ron on Twitter: @rspreeuwenberg
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