Founder’s Spotlight: Sprāv 

Bizdom - Moving the Needle

Founder’s Spotlight: NewCell

Founder’s Spotlight: InstoreFinance

Founder’s Spotlight: Rakesh Guha of bookwork

Win a pair of VIP Cavs tickets

In honor of BriteWinter, we’re giving away a pair of VIP Cavs tickets! Here’s how to enter:

- follow us on Twitter (@BizdomCleveland)

- tweet your favorite thing about Winter in Cleveland using hashtag #BizBrite

- that’s it! 1 entry per person per day. Contest ends at noon on Monday, February 17th. 

Catch a glimpse of startup life in Cleveland with Bizdom entrepreneur Len Gray of inlaw.me.

Balancing Startup Life with Family Life

They say you have to be a little insane to jump into the startup world as an entrepreneur. I would take it even further and say you must be a little more insane to jump into the startup world with a family. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Having a supportive spouse is key

You can list a million different things regarding what to do when getting a company started, the “do’s” and “don’ts”, but if you do not have the supporting wife to back you and your ideas, then it will be a very hard, uphill battle to get started and succeed. It was not easy getting the courage to tell my wife that I was going to quit my well-paying software engineering job to go full time on my startup.  I thought of all the negative things she might say and prepared to come back with witty remarks, but when I actually told her she was very supportive, understanding my passion for my company and what I wanted to accomplish.  Having my wife’s confidence in me and my company was all I needed to get things rolling.

When they say someone is your “better half”, it is an understatement. The work my wife has to put up with in our house cannot be measured. It is tough with my schedule, but she makes sure everything in the house is in order.

Quitting intelligently is important

When I told my wife about leaving my full time job, I made sure that all of my ducks were in a row before I took the plunge into my startup. I made sure my family was aware of the changes and sacrifices we were going to have to make. No more $80 Direct TV; we now call upon the wonders of Netflix, Hulu Plus and other streaming services for our entertainment, make sure we don’t go out to eat as much, and make other changes. Ensuring that your family (especially your wife) is aware of finances, insurance, schooling, etc. is important to make sure your family has a sense of security.

Kids make a better and happier you

After a long day of hard work and business meetings, you can sometimes get a little out of touch with things. Coming home to a four year old who is ready to wrestle you to the ground as soon as you get home puts you right back on track. As a father, there is no better feeling than coming home to seeing your son’s bright, excited face. There is something about a kid that brings happiness to you no matter what the circumstance, and from time to time you need that. Working as an entrepreneur, you will not always have time to make it to baseball games and help with homework, but make sure the time you do get with your kids is valuable. By the time you turn around they will be in high school or college.

Balancing a startup with family is possible, with effort

Startups require a lot of attention and focus; there are sacrifices that you will have to make with you family. I try to make sure I spend every second with my family when I am not staring at a computer, making sure I put the laptop and the smart phone away to better focus on them. There have been days that I do not see my family at all because I work a 12–13 hour day—I leave before they are awake and I come home when they are sleeping. It’s not an ideal way of living and working with a family, but that comes with the territory of the startup world.

At the end of the day, whether you are working for an employer, starting you own business, or whatever the situation may be, family always must ultimately come first. When no one else believes in you or you are down, your family will always be there to pick you up.

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Maurce Bachelor is the founder of SnapBatch, an innovative mobile app for complete fan engagement.

Finding a Developer in the Midwest

Finding a developer in Cleveland:

Not hard.

Finding the right developer in Cleveland:

Often quite the challenge.

To be fair, finding the right developer is likely difficult wherever you are. Someone who not only has the skills you need, but can communicate well, meet deadlines, cooperate, and understand your company culture and vision. It’s a tall order. And our pretty city in particular has its own unique challenges. These aren’t definitive solutions that will work for every company, but here are some suggestions that might expand your search beyond the usual suspects.

1. Get on their playing field.

One way or another, employers end up making a trade. Founders, especially of startups with limited assets, can fall into the trap of looking for cheap labor. Unfortunately, the typical avenue is outsourcing, which has a whole host of problems, including having a reputation for poorly documented, unmaintainable code. In the other direction, some companies hire firms that do the bulk of their coding and design work for a lump sum. Usually, that lump sum ends up being some serious cash. And be ready to fork over more for bug fixes, maintenance, feature requests, and support. Either way, you end up with developers more interested in the payout than your product.

Enter students. These are young developers who have something other than a paycheck on their mind. They’re looking for experiences and opportunities to further themselves in their coding careers. Your company’s success is their success. Of course, there’s a trade-off here as well. Most students prioritize school, and that won’t change once they’re working for you. They’ll need flexibility around courses and exams, and there’s a natural risk to hiring someone uncredentialed . But they’re just one of many untapped workforces in the Cleveland community.

Your ideal candidate may not even be actively seeking a job. The Meetup community is active, and full of groups like ClePY and Maker Alliance who are willing to help.

2. Look beyond the “rockstars.”

Here’s where it gets tricky for Cleveland. Developers here aren’t the same as those in Silicon Valley or Seattle. In short, many of the best devs can be a bit more risk-averse. The startup scene here doesn’t come with the same recognition as it does on the West Coast, and many opt for more stable and well-paying gigs. The solution is to look beyond a person’s technical ability, and seek the ideals behind them. Better to find a smart, motivated developer who is looking for the life your company can offer, rather than just the “best of the best” in whatever language you need. Skills can be learned, but the vision is in the person.

3. Talk first, code later

It’s great to have amazing developers, but if they can’t get their head out of the monitors, you’ll end up with serious communication issues among your team. Figure out if your developer can articulate their thoughts and opinions. Better yet, make sure they know it’s okay to have opinions. A good developer is not a code monkey – they’re active participants in your company’s direction and vision.

4. And finally, look inward.

Developers and founders are symbiotic. Better devs attract better founders, and vice versa. Figure out what it is your ideal developer is looking for, whether it’s money, experiences, or a certain lifestyle, and make sure it’s something your company offers. Great coders are a fantastic resource, and they deserve (and expect) to be treated as such.

Rakesh Guha is  a graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the co-founder of bookwork, which connects employers with top tech students. Visit www.bookwork.co for more information.

Don’t Ride the Rollercoaster

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and start a company? Being an entrepreneur is exciting, right? Welcome to start-up land where the rewards are certain to compensate you for the risks you take! Behind the romantic – even sexy – appeal of the start-up community there is the stark reality of the daily emotional rollercoaster you will ride.

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Let me explain…

It’s Monday morning at 8am and you start the day feeling refreshed from the weekend. You are excited because at 11am you have a big call with (insert important target here). The call has already been rescheduled twice and they confirmed today’s call so it’s sure to go great. You feel like a million bucks.

At 9am your most important customer emails in with some problems about your current software release. At 10am one of your commission-only sales reps gets a “Yes” to start a beta in a new market you’ve been targeting. At 10:30am one of your other commission-only sales reps emails you to resign because he/she needs a base salary. At 10:45am the servers go down for no apparent reason, but it’s okay because they’re back up by 10:52.

It’s now 11am – time for the big call. The call happens but is cut short from reaching the important topic you wanted to get a commitment on – the next time they can speak is three weeks out.

Before 5pm rolls around your current investors have called looking for a financial update and you’ve put out a half dozen other fires.

I think you’re starting the get the idea. Every day working in startup land brings new challenges, new wins and (often times) new defeats. If you are going to survive start-up land and enjoy the rewards of running a successful company you’ll need to stay off of the emotional rollercoaster and remember the following:

− Stick to the plan.
− Know the ups and downs will come – PLAN for them.
− Keep your head down and keep moving.

When the great days happen don’t go out and lease the new car you’ve been dreaming of. When the bad days happen don’t check out early because you’re upset and don’t go looking for a local bridge to jump off of! Keep your head down and keep on keeping on! Welcome to start-up land and please enjoy your stay.

Kelcey Lehrich is the Co-founder of eCollect, a payment processing company that specializes in recovering returned payments.