First of all thanks a lot for coming on my blog Mike, you made my day by accepting my interview request. Tell me something about yourself & your entrepreneurial journey?
My pleasure and I appreciate you having me!
Honestly, I’m just a regular guy – a dad, a jokester, and someone who really loves seeing the beautiful things that the world has to offer. Just so happens, I have a knack for entrepreneurship as well.
My entrepreneurial journey started in grade school. I stumbled upon a new website (at the time) called eBay, and began buying cool stuff and reselling to my classmates at school for a profit. Well, the school didn’t like that very much, so instead of getting expelled, I started a lawn care business.
As an adult, I fell in love with technology and started a social media network for musicians which never took off. After a few other entrepreneurial attempts, I launched ThinkLions and I finally found my pathway to success. There were a lot of failures along my journey, but each one of them introduced solutions that made success possible today.
Can you please tell my readers about your company ThinkLions and how it can help the startups?
ThinkLions is an experienced team of business plan writers, researchers, accountants, designers, developers and more. We work with app startups to help them bring their app ideas from the concept stage to fruition; providing them with the resources they need along the way.
First, we help them validate their assumptions by building demos, prototypes, landing pages, and minimum viable products. We help them build traction and collect the app metrics they need to prove their concepts. Then, we help them with fundraising by developing strong business plans and pitch decks. Entrepreneurs come to us with an idea, and they leave with a fundable app startup!
Do you remember some of the startups and clients that you have worked with? How did it help them?
We have worked with hundreds of startups around the world over the last few years. We serve a wide range of clients from brand new startups to large corporations building enterprise software.
One of my favorite clients, however, approached us as a new college graduate with a fantastic idea for using an app to promote school spirit at universities. His idea was that a University could pay a monthly fee to set up a profile where students would earn points to share the University’s content across their social networks. Each time a student shared, they were given a certain number of points that could be exchanged for goods and services around campus.
First, we tested his idea. We helped him secure a partnership with his alma mater and built an MVP that offered these features for the test school. Over two months, we monitored and measured their metrics, proving that students would, in fact, adopt the software and its features.
With a first-version product and positive traction, the client was ready to seek funding to take the business to the next level. We developed his business plan and pitch deck. We also coached him to deliver a strong investor pitch. Within two weeks, he had raised $50,000 in seed money from an investor who was also an alumnus of the same university.
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What Inspired You To Launch ThinkLions?
In some ways, ThinkLions just kind of “happened.” I had some experience in writing effective business plans, so I freelanced that way while I was self-funding several software projects. As a freelancer, I worked with dozens of businesses, consulting them through complex business issues and helping them secure funding.
At some point, I realized that many new app entrepreneurs had common issues – they didn’t know how to raise enough money to build their apps, they had no idea where to start, and they didn’t know where to find a quality developer.
Once I came to this realization, I started building my team. We started with only two products: business plans and pitch deck design. Over time, we added an app development arm to our company as well; giving us the ability to serve our clients from end-to-end.
How is Think Lions different from other competitors? What issue does your core product help solve and how so?
ThinkLions doesn’t just build apps, we build app startups. Unlike other business plan consultancies, we focus solely on app businesses – because we build apps and understand exactly what it takes to build one. Unlike other app development agencies, we know more than just how to code great apps – we know how to bring them to market and scale them successfully.
For new app startups, our services reduce the learning curve and help entrepreneurs bring apps to market quicker and more successfully.
Do you have any Role Models that have influenced you? What Impact they had on you?
My biggest role model in life is my father. Although he isn’t an entrepreneur, he has taught me many lessons that have made me a great entrepreneur today. Things like financial management and the value of hard work. While I have had many mentors along my entrepreneurial journey, it’s the lessons and values that my dad instilled in me that has had the greatest influence on my life – both business and otherwise.
What would you say has been the biggest transformation you have witnessed right when you started the business and now when it has grown?
The biggest transformation I have witnessed is the shift in mobile apps. As an app company, we have to stay on top of new mobile app practices and cutting-edge techniques. Over the last several years, we have witnessed the introduction of several new technologies that are now used in mobile app development – such as augmented reality. Since we started, project requests have gotten more complex, more sophisticated, and now require greater creativity and coding ability.
As a result, we’ve been able to delve into some really cool projects and build many innovative and incredible apps that weren’t even possible just 5-6 years ago!
How do you manage your personal life with your professional life?
Honestly, it’s tough and it’s something I struggled with for several years. I’ve always considered myself an overachiever, and while that can be good in some circumstances, it can also have negative implications. For years, I slept too little, ate horribly, and worked as many hours in a day as my body would allow.
However, I’ve slowed down and have learned that balance is truly key to happiness. Now, I add things I enjoy doing into my schedule – playing music, spending time with family, and going out with friends.
I even schedule time into my work day to go out for lunch or take a walk around town. For entrepreneurs, it’s difficult to separate personal from professional, but it’s important to take time out to actually enjoy the fruits of your labor.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs and business owners? What do you wish someone told you?
I wish that someone would have told me not to depend on those closest to you to be your biggest supporters. As entrepreneurs, we always want our family and friends to believe in us, to buy from us, and to support us. However, this expectation often leads to disappointment.
Your friends and family don’t have to believe that your idea is possible, because they aren’t your customer. Find your target customer, and get your idea in front of them – that is where you will find your support.
Can you tell us something about your marketing strategy and what approach has been the best for you?
I am a huge advocate of content marketing, and that’s where I place the majority of my efforts. Everyone has experiences and skills that are unique to them and the internet gives you a way to use those stories to connect with other people around the world.
Especially in an industry like startup consulting, it is important that clients trust that we know what we are talking about. By producing industry-leading content, we are able to showcase our expertise, build trust among readers, and nudge potential clients into our marketing and sales funnel.