“The difference in this world between the doers and dreamers is execution.”
– Warren Park, President of Plus Factory
Just before one of our country’s greatest economic meltdowns occurred, two seasoned industry professionals, Warren Park and Simon Tsai, launched their own digital agency. Park and Tsai are creative managers who have spent years in the world’s leading media, advertising and marketing companies. Plus Factory survived and is becoming a global digital development and production powerhouse with offices in New York City, China, and Vietnam.
We spent a few minutes with the founders to learn their story, get their perspective on entrepreneurship and learn what it takes to start and build a business.
Q. Describe your “Eureka Moment”. What was the market opportunity that drove your decision to form a company around this product/service?
A. When working at another agency, we were working on a budget internally to send to the client and even I thought it was super expensive for what the client wanted. I worked with the project managers for days to cut down the budget. We ended up showing the client the budget and they just laughed at us, saying it was too much. We knew we could do it as well and for less.
Q. How did you fund the company to its current state?
A. Bootstrapping. My partner and I both put in $2,000 from our savings and got the company up and running. We were lucky. We landed some work right away, so we started to generate revenue from the get-go.
Q. ActSeed champions the need for solid planning and preparation from the very beginning. How important is planning and prep to your company’s success? Can you share an example or two?
A. Very important to plan and prepare. 1 is to be very realistic. 2 is to be very prudent on your finances. You need to know what you are going to spend and what you are going to bring in. We did a lot of forecasting of new business and what we were spending.
Q. How long did it take to get your idea into the market from initial concept to first customer?
A. 1 month. We literally got incorporated and started getting business and clients. We were lucky.
Q. What influence have the internet and new media had on the way you are marketing, selling and supporting your services?
A. Well our business would not exist without the internet. That’s multi-layered. Our core service/products are for brands/advertisers going on the internet, so that’s one thing. The other thing was we were able to use many tools that only existed on the web. All communication tools are now web based including voice (Skype), office tools (Google Docs) and accounting (bill.com). Basically our whole infrastructure is on the web.
Q. Describe the challenges you faced as you built your customer base, including defining the customer target, establishing the right price and pricing strategy and of course, closing the first few deals.
A. You need to play with your business model and pricing on a consistent basis till you hit the right ‘combination’. It’s an organic process and if you believe you have the right pricing/target market/model out of the gate is a big assumption.
Q. What techniques have you used to establish credibility in the eyes of customers, investors, partners, personnel and the general public?
A. It’s all about visual appearance. Every communication touch point you provide to your client represents you – good or bad. So first off, your website needs to look good (it’s a good thing we build websites for a living). Second is your phone line and your office environment. I don’t think its bad per say to have a home office, but if you’re on a client call and the dog or kids are in the background, it gives an unprofessional vibe to your clients. And then it’s you as a person. You are a brand, an avatar. You always want to control how your clients will perceive you on any given interaction (i.e. on the phone, in person at a meeting, etc)
Q. What is the most important thing people never tell you about joining or founding an early-stage company?
A. There is no stopping once you get going. It’s our fifth year of operations in 2011, and we feel we are on a train. Once you get your own business going, there is no stopping or brakes. That’s the difference between your own business and working for a business.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share that we didn’t already ask you?
A. Just try to fund it yourself and don’t count on outside money. If you are lucky and really hit your target, you can generate sales right away to get your company going. People who have an idea and just want to get funding for it without any leg-work or creation done is following “fool’s gold”. The difference in this world between the doers and dreamers is execution. Everyone can come up with an idea, but the question is, can you execute and make it come to a reality.
Learn more about Plus Factory at www.plusfactory.com.