Sean is an entrepreneur at heart, helping launch two successful startups in only three years. After spending seven years in business development, sales and marketing within the publishing and media world, he wanted to take his knowledge and experience to create something new and innovative. Sean was on the launch team of adverCar, an OOH media start-up that connects brands with customers in targeted ways. After helping to grow the company through his marketing and businesses development expertise and establishing enterprise and local sales efforts across the country, Sean set off on his next venture and founded MobileQubes in early 2012 where he currently serves as CEO.
MobileQubes is a national network of self-automated kiosks that allow customers to rent and return compact battery “Qubes” and continue charging and using their devices on-the-go. MobileQubes has partnered with some of the largest organizations in the country, including Amtrak, MGM Resorts, Caesar’s Entertainment, Chicago Transit Authority, Los Angeles Metro, and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. MobileQubes makes the inconvenience of a dead or dying battery a thing of the past.
Sean lives in New Orleans with his wife and nine-year-old son.
Where did the idea for MobileQubes come from?
MobileQubes was born out of necessity. We found ourselves constantly looking for ways to charge our phones while on the go. The only options were to carry our chargers with us everywhere we went and search for an open wall outlet, lock our phones away in a locking charger station, or beg a venue staff member to borrow their charger for a little bit in order to get a few extra minutes of battery life. We knew that the world needed a battery way to solve the problem—so we built it.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My days are typically spent communicating, whether it is with the team working on specific projects or longer-term goals, with partners or clients about developing or strengthening our partnerships, or with prospective partners about how the MobileQubes platform can benefit their customers and organizations. I try and batch my non-business development communications in the mornings and afternoons. Lead off with a quick internal management review of key KPIs and business points. Then a short level-setting morning overview with the larger team all before 10 am. The bulk of the day is spent on business development with current or potential partners. 5 pm to 6 pm is generally “clean-up” time, which means I get to things that either came up during the day or prepare for the following day’s items.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We have an experienced and strong team. We ideate, debate, and research our theories and then give each other the chance to shoot holes in them. Once we have what we feel is a solid concept, we bring it to a larger network of advisors and board members for thought and input. We refine based on the collective feedback, and once validated, we run hard—intelligently and efficiently, but we push hard to arrive at an MVP or prototype for further testing and refinement. From there, we strive to gather relevant data that informs us of what needs to be changed or improved, make the necessary adjustments, and then run hard again for the market-ready product.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The overall shift to mobile and the explosion of IoT. When technology is thoughtfully designed and executed, it can enhance our lives in countless ways. As it relates to MobileQubes, we are constantly striving to develop our product to fit the lives of our users and mobile users in general. The fact that humans are becoming increasingly more reliant on tech to make their lives simpler fits with our overall mission.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Listening. A common misconception about entrepreneurs is that they either know everything or think they know everything. I would argue that while good entrepreneurs have a knack for being curious and are usually adept at solving problems, they are also aware enough to know their strengths and weaknesses and seek out expert advice in areas where they need “some help.”
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be persistent but have patience. Persistence is a must-have quality for anyone starting a business, but with persistence usually comes the belief that you will achieve what you want, when you want, if nothing else, by sheer force of will. You learn as you are building, that things usually take longer than you want them to take. The key is to not lose sight of the end goal and work hard each day to move the needle in some way. Do that enough and you will ensure you move forward.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Everything in your pocket will eventually be replaced by your smartphone or other device. Batter make sure you always have power!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to learn. Talk to experts, advisors, mentors, and colleagues who have a wide range of experiences covering various topics and strive to go deeper than a cursory overview of a topic or area you may not be familiar with. Ask questions and be open to learning from those who have succeeded.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We’ve focused on being customer-centric both from a B2B and a B2C perspective. We strive to go above and beyond for our customers and our partners and constantly provide value. We view every interaction as a touchpoint to create a positive experience and make their lives easier. This was key in the early days as we were able to turn our test locations into national partnerships and grow with the validation and recommendation of category leader brands.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Managing success timelines I set for myself at the outset of a venture: I can be a stubborn person. I like to think of it as persistence, but I have realized that it can often be viewed as stubbornness. Especially in the early days, I would always push myself and others very hard to arrive at the end goal as quickly as possible. I have learned after many years of working through the process, that things take time. Often, they take more time than you would like or believe they should take. The key is to always work hard and intelligently to make positive steps forward in everything you do. Some days those steps are more like leaps and sometimes you feel that you barely moved at all. But keeping in mind that there is one direction—forward—and always committing to taking the next step will give you the best chance of reaching your goals.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Does a belt-less raincoat count? (That’s for all my Seinfeld fans out there)
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was more than $100, but I took the family for a few days up in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia. Especially given the challenges we are all facing during the current climate, it is important to take even just a few days and get into nature. There is nothing like clean crisp mountain air as a way to still your mind and recharge your energy.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
My co-founder got me using Trello recently to keep track of tasks and both short and long term projects. I had been using legal pads to make lists and keep track of my daily to-do’s and Trello has made things much easier and more accessible. I also am saving a ton of trees every year!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Shoedog.” Phil Knight’s story of determination and dedication to a company and brand he believed in was inspiring. It also is a great reminder that all entrepreneurs are problem-solvers, first and foremost. Finally, without giving too much away, “Shoedog” is a classic story of a successful brand that seemed to be a rocketship, but was actually decades in the making.
What is your favorite quote?
Not sure of the exact origin of the quote, but Coach K said something years ago that I still think about every day: “Always believe someone somewhere is working harder than you and that will motivate you to work harder.”
- Be persistent but have patience.
- Focus on positive motion every day. No matter if it’s leaps and bounds or a tiny step, make sure you are moving forward.
- Listen and Learn. No one knows it all. Learn from those who have succeeded and failed already.
- Ideas can come from a single person, but execution usually takes a team aligned and motivated to achieve a common goal.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.