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How did you get to where you are today? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path? What inspired you to work on this business idea?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
you know, So those are great questions. So, uh, you know, originally, my father died when I was very young at seven, and my family needed to make money, so I had to go to work early at 14. So I worked in a very entrepreneurial restaurant, meaning that in the restaurant there are a lot of ways that you could do extra chores during your time where you make money. So I learned the value there off maximizing the revenue that I could make the time that I was working. Um, So in doing that, you know, I tried different businesses until I finally found a business that I could make money in. And I can control my own destiny, which I get with ticketing. And then later on, I moved into software, and the beauty of software was it was scalable. So I got in a business that was very scalable. It could accelerate very quickly. This is going back and t 2000 when you know when the Internet or the World Wide Web really became prominent. But at that point in time, and then I just rode the wave off

What products or services did you start with? How has your product or service offerings evolved over time?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
So, um, if we really go back Teoh, uh, you know, 2000 our products were that we created a client server software. Uh, at the same time in 2000 there were competitors in the marketplace who had software as a service mom where everything would be housed on the Internet. Unfortunately for them, unfortunately for May, the business community really didn't trust sort of a cloud environment where all your data waas and it took a long time. You know, At least you know, 14 years or so in my business for that toe actually be an accepted practice. So we started with, ah, client server product where businesses could house their products on. And we reacted very quickly to the switch to software as a service that helped us Sabb staying. Ah, a little bit of our technology bubble technological advance

Can you walk us through your first few weeks, especially challenges, when you started your business? How did things change over the next few months?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
That's a great When we first started, it wasn't a few weeks. It was a few years before we hit probability. Um, you know, some of the challenges that we faced and probably the biggest challenge was human Resource is finding the right folks who could develop software, who knew what they were doing, who had integrity and that we're really willing during those days toe work, you know, the 60 50 60 hour weeks work on weekends and get back to folks. And that was that was a real challenge back that after we found those spokes and once we started making sales and it was scalable that it was how quickly could be scale up so it wasn't done. Then we had the scale up as quickly as possible, which meant we had to invest a lot in infrastructure at the same time. We're making, uh, money as well, so that was a good place to be. But it took a number of years to get there

Who were your early customers? What marketing approaches, channels and promotions did you use to reach out to customers? What worked and what didn't?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
So since we develops, look where we were very lucky that we had an industry expert as part of our team and was a B two B software product with a potential client base of about 1000 businesses. And he knew several 100 of those businesses very well, especially the larger, larger businesses. So it's basically personal relationships with those folks and constant phone calls and screamed demos at that time to show the people what the software look like. And once we got them in, we had testimonials from authoritative sources that would buy our product.

How did you hire, incentivize, and track the progress of your marketing team including agencies and part-time workers to scale the customer base?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
uh, you know, great question, because in a startup, incentive ization is probably with the hardest things to do because you might create an incentive plan that an employee can never make any incentive. Or you gonna create an incentive plan where regardless, how that employee works, he's gonna make a lot of money. So we were very lucky that I came up with a product that had a very low cost low barrier for entry, and the incentive plan was just a percentage of those sales. So when I had a few folks there, that was you know, that was good. So, you know, I did most the hiring there. So, uh, some of the folks we hired in our marketing department, where industry experts some were really people who had a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm, and we're very smart and were afraid to ask for the sale. And they had a lot of confidence, which helped the program

How did you finance your business at the start? How have your financing needs and fund sourcing strategies evolved over time?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
So, you know, when I first started, ah, I was able to bankroll deep business from money. I may in a previous business and had the bankroll there. So I ended up spending all my money on it up to my, um, retirement funds is where I cut it off. But when I was building it, I knew we were scaling, and I knew that all we had to do was raise our margins, which we could have raised to make money, which we did so well. So technically, we were a bootstrap. Ah, business to begin with. Now we fund our business through our profits, and we have a very good relationship. Our bank and we have plenty of bank loans and lines of credits that we can access now as well to fund toe, um, to source funding for future expansion.

How did you manage the legal and accounting needs of your business? Would you manage your legal and accounting needs any differently if you have to do it again?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
I think, I think especially with legal when you're starting your own business. Unfortunately, um, you need to stay up on collections. There are a lot of folks out there who just will not pay you okay, s so they won't try every way possible to get out of the bill. And that's why you need to really adhere to, uh, you know, 30 day payment schedule 60 90 and then at 90 you need to cut them off. So my mistake was that I didn't cut people off soon enough. Ah, when they were in arrears on fees, having a good legal person to make a tremendous amount of difference, especially when we're contracting out services and the terms of those contracts that were making with different vendors. For example, we would use a strategy of special purpose entities to contract with larger companies that wanted a three year contract in order to do the services. But they didn't really care about the financial. Ah, um, likelihood of a business staying afloat for three years so you could easily contract them out in a special purpose entity. And if that contract wasn't wasn't viable anymore, you could just bankrupt that special purpose entity, and most of times they would be fine with that. In fact, like Amazon, when you go to Amazon Web service, they're actually used to this thing. So it doesn't matter what you contract. It matters what you freed pay. So that's how some folks get around it and prevent people from doing that. But still the ah most service companies and slow four companies just not that long term contract.

What kind of suppliers and vendors do you need for your business, if any? How did you negotiate terms with them when you were starting out? How terms changed over time?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
with. With most of our suppliers and vendors, we were constantly shopping around for, uh a combination off the best price and the highest meantime between failures. Okay, so if we fought, a certain vendor had a great A very low a very high meantime between failures, which spend a little bit more, uh, to get that with them. Right now, we're very, uh, concerned with any terms we signed with an any long term guarantees. And those really have to have a substantial benefit for us to negotiate terms, uh, that are far out because, you know, the plus of technology keeps on getting lower and lower. Lower. So, uh, now, uh, you know, right now, the terms are look, every year when the contracts up for renewal, we see substantial decreases in the prices that will hang. So it's it's still short term contracts with our vendors.

What were the challenges in building the initial team and how did you overcome them? How did the team's composition, responsibilities and team-culture evolve?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
so move first starting out. Um, unfortunately, I like you have a team of, you know, whatever. Maybe when we're at 50 to 100 McCoy ease, we will look around and we would see all the employees that we have to say. Look, 90 are are 80 are good employees, 10 are stellar. 10. We should really get rid off. So back in our heavy growth period, we got rid of them fairly quickly, okay? And it's good to get rid of people fairly quickly because the longer you wait, the long they establish personal relationships with the folks working there. The other folks don't want to see them go. And they really drag down of the culture. Uh, with our team cultures, Every time we defeated our competitors, it was it was an extreme boost to the team culture and its If you share with the employees successes, it helps that culture. And it gets employees to motivate other employees, which is really one of the keys to be a successful business. But it has to start at the top. You have to be candid with your employees. You have to tell them when they're doing a good job, and when they're not

What qualities do you look for while hiring your team members? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
So, uh, you know, we try to base our hiring, depending on the position, But let's say if it if it's an engineer or a marketer coming in or someone fresh out of college, it's, you know, intelligence, integrity, self motivation. So, uh, you know, some of the things that we look for, um is we try to vet things they put on the resume meaning different languages. They speak, ah, different software products. They know of stuff like that. We're very concerned when we see folks who have a lot of gaps in their resume. We're also concerned with folks that we see, uh uh, having, you know, ah, if there in the marketplace already where if they spend hired of having very short durations and other jobs meaning a year or two on other jobs, because chances are those folks are a few things. One, they're horrible employees that those companies want to get rid of or two. Um, they're always shopping for a better deal at another company. There are gonna be with you in a long term. We also look at a lot of resumes on. We even go back to what high school's They went to what was a great point average. Uh, what were their S? A. T scores? They take a Gene Mack than take a chiari and sometimes will ask for college transcripts to vent some of that stuff.

Who were your competitors when you started and how did the competition evolve? How did you create a competitive advantage and a unique selling proposition?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
since we were a marketplace we had Ah, we had two competitors who were basically larger Venice at the time. Ah, that Win it. Well, it was really three people. 11 just completely dropped the ball. We trump, we jumped ahead of him. The second competitors of Focus more on profitability than scalability. So we focused totally on scalability, holding our profits for later as we built scale. And as we build technologies up since we did that and they didn't, uh, sooner or later we had a more fiber marketplace, so it made more. Vendors wanted Mr Products with us because it was much more of a likelihood that those products would sell. Also, we had a unique distribution proposition, uh, in the marketplace, which allowed our vendors to get paid a lot quicker, and the vendors needed that cash flow, and they liked it

What were the major exciting and memorable moments? Were there also any moments that almost got you to quit? How did you get past them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
That's great. I You know, I think some of the things the best member or exciting bonuses is when we really scaled off our business and we really had a few great years of earnings. You know, where we could share those earnings with the employees. We had great camaraderie, stuff like that. We would take our employees to vacations in Poona Khanna. I think we took about 200 employees there at different times. So that had a great time break time bonding there and was really the people that we were working with. Uh, that really made the difference. But probably the hardest thing for May is things in my company that I cannot control cause I cannot control technology. Okay, I cannot control some of the marketing access. I have to leave those the other folks to do. And when those folks don't hit my expectations and I'm planning on a deliverable due date and they don't hit it, that was probably the most frustrating thing, knowing that would have one more if we would have hit our timelines, which we didn't do. And we didn't find out until it was too late.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: None, Finance, Central Connecticut State University
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
Well, actually, it waas. The greatest part was probably learning to be is that in the business world, your vendors and your competitors are customers. Okay. A lot of people mix their personal lives with their business lives, and that creates an issue off. A lot of what they told taught me back then is how important your banking relationship is, especially in this country, is just very, very important because it's not only your finances that matter. It's your individual credibility. Uh, in banking that that means a lot. And if you lose a baking contact or a relationship with a bank, that's very important that it could really hurt you also, it just, you know, told me how for lack of a better term ruthless it waas in there. Um, you know, as faras networking explosion alumni. Uh, unfortunately, I didn't focus on that, but I would say this is there are a a lot of folks who missed the importance of networking with the current students and their alumni. The easiest way to get a job a company is have ah, a contemporary of yours from the same school. Vouch for you or make sure you get the interview with the right person for the right position. Uh, and you keep on looking at all of some startups late, but you think of Facebook. Well, Mark Zuckerberg had to get the money from Facebook, uh, from his partner at the time. He could have ran it. That's how he got it. It was a university alum. Now you think of Bill Gates and Steve Bomber. You think about when they're an armor. They were those alumni working together, so especially starting a business. It's great because you learn the folks there and you learn with them in a business atmosphere or a more professional atmosphere. So alumni and networking are very important for a lot of folks, and you shouldn't underestimated at all.

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? Please discuss the stories behind these lessons, if possible. Stories could be yours or observed.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
So, uh, I would say one thing. It's also believe in yourself more than you think. If you're except if you're assessing someone's character, okay, who you're working with and you catch them embellishing in a lot of statements or giving ants answers that that are nebulous or avoiding questions. You got an integrity issue there. You have to act on it. You have to act on it now. Okay, Um, if someone constantly fails in a project, no matter how well their lights, you have to get rid of them. See, also, the other thing is you really have to get rid off other non performers on an annual basis.

What starting job (after internship) would you recommend to students who hope to grow professionally like you? What other parting advice, dos, and don'ts would you give?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
So, you know, I think the most important vices make sure your resume is perfect. There is not one spelling error. Okay, Make sure you have a professional email address. Don't put in for two low. Which means we because employers not going to hire you or any anything that could be deemed inappropriate on the job because they look at those email addresses and way also noticed that, you know, we we see the best folks usually have a gene l e a Gmail address because Gmail is probably seen as the best email thing there. Don't be late for that appointment, no matter what. Do not be late for your appointment. Nobody, like, consists where the business of thinking is. If you're late for that appointment, you're gonna be late for everyone appointment. I think it's OK. So do not be late for that appointment. Um, on your resume, be truthful with what you know. But it's also okay to say that you know things to a lesser extent. So you could say you're proficient in something, but you're in Ah, missing another. And just being a novice in something might be of a lot of use to company a company? Let's say you know, if you're in Engy Eri and you are a novice drone flyer, it means something. Ah, to the company when you first start your job. If you do get the job, try as best you can to be the 1st 1 there and the last one to leave within the 1st 3 months. Okay, cause chief starters, any downturn they're gonna wanna let go the person who as is the newest of the company and you never know what's gonna happen. You never know what's gonna down to. There's gonna be a downturn now, But if you are working hard with that first person there in the company, uh, and you're working harder bosses probably gonna say, Well, look, I have you working harder. But if these other employees that were aren't working as hard, maybe it makes sense. So let them go. If you're gonna try to negotiate four a higher salary. Okay, uh, you're gonna have to communicate very specifically why you want it. If you do want the higher salary, what you have brought to the table, that's realistic, okay? And what you're gonna bring to the table in the future in doing it. If you just say you want a higher salary because you looked at salary dot com and everybody's Bangor Uh, a supervisor of you might just think that look, you're gonna be back here every year if every year, saying that you're gonna lot money. Also, if you have a change of title, they're going to say that you want money, a change of title that's more applicable to what you do, because we used to have that issue with us. So we're very hesitant to give out titles because once we give out titles, people want more money. So, uh, you know, especially, you know, your 1st 3 months of your 1st 6 months because you even though the stock market's going great and it seems like things are going good, uh, new graduates now are gonna face huge hurdles that weren't around before. It's so easy, tohave folks not working home remote in. So a lot of employers are saying, Why not remote in to a country with a what wage base is a lot lower, and if I can perfect the remote working, I can get people who work for a lot cheaper to do your job. So you're seeing a lot of folks involved in outsourcing right now, starting to have their business booming, even if that all companies going to start cutting their budgets coming into next year. There's just been too much. There's just been too much pain that folks have suffered from this economy, and it's just a tremendous loss of jobs and loss of production for not only the United States, but for every country around the world. And we're gonna pay for that very soon. And when it's happened, I think a lot of folks are going to be shocked about it.