INspired INsider with Dr. Jeremy Weisz | Inspiring Interviews | Entrepreneurship | Inspirational Stories | Business Lessons |

Eric Tong is coFounder of Tech Armor which  is a leading manufacturer of mobile device accessories like phone Chargers, Glass Screen Protectors and protective cases. Eric cut his teeth in business rising to VP of the Asia Pacific region of Belkin over the course of 15 years and cofounded 2 previous companies. Tech Armor has sold over 7 million devices through leading e-commerce partners like Amazon, ebay , Newegg and many more.  

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

 

  • [0:42] Dr. Jeremy’s introduction of Eric Tong, co-founder of Tech Armor.
  • [1:10] Why is the Tech Armor lifetime guarantee so much a part of what you do?
  • [3:00] Where did the idea come from in the first place?
  • [4:38] How did you manage the risks and concerns regarding the lifetime guarantee?
  • [6:33] The process for ensuring product quality at Tech Armor.
  • [9:14] How Tech Armor found the right suppliers who could provide the quality they needed.
  • [11:18] What is discovered during the product testing phase?
  • [13:16] Keeping track of customer feedback and reviews is vital to the company ethos.
  • [15:17] Tools and software used for customer service.
  • [16:39] The “people” side of the customer service experience (⅔ of the staff).
  • [17:36] The hiring process for customer service and outsourcing.
  • [19:30] The “martini” story.
  • [21:29] Tips for boosting sales.
  • [24:29] Mistakes to avoid in ecommerce businesses.
  • [26:25] The explanation of Tech Armor’s massive and fast growth.
  • [29:04] Customer service mistakes to avoid.
  • [30:20] Eric’s upbringing and early life, including the influence of team sports.
  • [34:46] What Eric learned from earning his MBA degree.
  • [36:42] How Eric wound up working at Belkin.
  • [37:30] The plus and minus of working for a large company like Belkin.
  • [39:38] The product design process and lessons learned from it.
  • [42:06] Lessons learned from launching products at Belkin.
  • [43:47] Leadership challenges and lessons learned at Belkin.
  • [45:09] The things learned at Belkin that helped launch Tech Armor successfully.
  • [46:12] How Tech Armor’s culture is built around everyone having a voice.
  • [48:10] The moment of leaving Belkin: What it was like and the risks involved.
  • [55:09] How Joe (Eric’s partner) and Eric connected to start Tech Armor.
  • [56:40] A TED talk that impacted Eric and Joe early on.
  • [59:02] How Joe and Eric worked through all the options to launch a first product.
  • [1:01:23] Constant iterations in the screen protector market and the addition of accessories.
  • [1:02:20] How decisions were made to add new product lines.
  • [1:05:01] Experiments that worked and experiments that didn’t.
  • [1:06:20] Geographical challenges of product distribution and sales.
  • [1:07:35] E-commerce challenges of international product sales.
  • [1:10:02] Packaging challenges for international sales.
  • [1:10:50] Milestones Tech Armor has experienced.
  • [1:12:20] Good advice from their Amazon representative.
  • [1:14:02] What Eric has learned most from working with a partner (Joe).
  • [1:15:35] Launching new products every month (at least).
  • [1:16:20] The most stressful parts of the business.
  • [1:18:05] Tech Armor’s top sellers.
  • [1:18:50] Eric Tong’s speaking opportunities and the things he speaks about.
  • [1:19:48] Mistakes e-commerce businesses make often.
  • [1:20:33] The one question survey that helps dial in their customer service and product development.
  • [1:21:50] Software solutions Tech Armor uses.
  • [1:24:42] Eric’s mentors and the advice he’s received from them.
  • [1:26:05] How to navigate the financing of physical products - crawl, walk, then run.
  • [1:28:32] How to get connected with Eric.
  • [1:29:23] Eric’s biggest tips for e-commerce businesses.

In this episode…

Tech Armor is one of the hottest brands in the mobile device accessories niche. They have worked hard to become the foremost brand and offer a lifetime guarantee on all of their products. But they didn’t start there. Tech Armor is the brainchild of Eric Tong and Joe Jaconi, long time friends who had worked together at Belkin and had always talked about creating a company together. When each of them resigned from Belkin right around the same time, the time was right and they began working toward what has become the Tech Armor of today.

In this conversation, Dr. Jeremy Weisz chats with Eric Tong about the Tech Armor journey, his own background, and what it took to build such a rapidly successful company in a very competitive niche market. These guys are e-commerce experts, learning many of their lessons the hard way and constantly refining their approaches and processes.

What makes Tech Armor such a special company?

As you listen to this conversation you’ll hear a couple of themes repeated over and over, and those are the things that have made Tech Armor stand out among many quality competitors. What are those themes? Excellent customer service, outstanding product quality, and building a team of quality people who care about the end user. Eric has so much valuable information to share, you’ll want to hear this one.

But you’re also going to get a load of practical advice in this conversation. Jeremy asks Eric about the day to day challenges of behind-the-scenes issues that go into making a successful e-commerce company: international sales, product development, packaging and user experience, customer feedback, supplier and distribution chains, and much more.

Grab your paper and pen (or your tablet) and get ready to take some great notes. Eric shares a generous amount of hard learned lessons that can help you make the adjustments needed in your e-commerce business. And if you like what you learn, be sure to share this episode with others you know who could benefit.

Resources Mentioned on this episode

Direct download: erictongfinalinterviewfile.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

Joe Winke is the Founder of 3 companies... Healthy Surprise which is a subscription healthy snack box, The Dirt Personal Care company- which sells high quality personal items,  and Jambo Superfoods company  which is high quality herbal and cannibus infused edibles.

He has been featured by the Wall Street Journal, Oprah.com, Playboy.com and many others.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

Preshow Banter

  • [0:01] Joe’s explanation of some interesting things on his Facebook page.

Introduction of this episode

  • [29:56] Jeremy’s introduction of his guest, Joe Winke.
  • [31:17] The lowest point in Joe’s journey as an entrepreneur.
  • [32:02] Lessons learned about pricing products.
  • [46:03] How you can connect with Joe.
  • [46:50] Why Joe describes himself as a “mystic.”

In this episode…

What has been your lowest point in business? If you're like most entrepreneurs it probably had to do with tough times surrounding lack of sales or lack of profit. Joe Winke’s story is the same. On this episode you can hear how he struggled through his hardest moments, how he dealt with creditors, and the benefit was to be honest about his struggles from the start.

How do you go about pricing your products? It's not an easy answer to come up with.  When he was building his business, healthy surprise, Joe Winke discovered that one of the biggest mistakes he had made was underpricing what he was offering. There were too many variables and overhead items and his margins were far too low. He got into a financial bind and one of the answers was to increase his pricing while increasing quality at the same time. Hear Joe’s lessons learned and how he made the adjustments on this episode.

Resources Mentioned on this episode

Direct download: josephwinkeonequestionfile.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

Jeremy Smith  cofounded SpotHero with Mark Lawrence and Larry Kiss.  SpotHero is an on-demand app that makes parking easier for the daily driver. They have disrupted the traditional parking industry.

He has helped build the company from zero to 73 team members, their app has helped over 2 million cars park, there are  over 1000 parking facilities that have partnered with them and. Spothero has raised over 27 million to date and has grown to  over 13 cities.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [0:24] Jeremy’s introduction of his guest, Jeremy Smith.
  • [1:20] Jeremy’s experience traveling for 4 months and why he did it spontaneously.
  • [4:43] Where Jeremy wants to go personally and in business in months and years to come.
  • [5:50] How Jeremy thinks people should think about entrepreneurship.
  • [7:05] What Jeremy advises for those hesitant to take the risk of entrepreneurship.
  • [9:36] Uncomfortable things Jeremy has done to push himself forward.
  • [12:45] The decision Jeremy made to do an extended silent meditation.
  • [14:42] Daily meditation practices in the midst of a busy life.
  • [15:57] What Jeremy wanted to do when he grew up: Be a business owner.
  • [16:40] Early entrepreneurial efforts in Jeremy’s life: sales in his early teen years.
  • [18:10] How Jeremy used his early experiences building his current company.
  • [20:13] The leap from corporate to SpotHero: what it looked like and how he did it.
  • [23:45] Cubs games, social media promotions, negotiations with parking garages.
  • [25:11] The early days without the technology.
  • [28:17] How Jeremy met his cofounders.
  • [31:42] Supporting himself while working on a startup company full time.
  • [33:28] Could Jeremy write his own future?
  • [36:22] Hiring the first employees the summer of 2012.
  • [38:06] The decision to take outside money.
  • [40:18] The best advice Jeremy received, from a past girlfriend.
  • [43:31] Expanding the company into other cities.
  • [45:42] The logistical nightmares involved in expansion.
  • [47:00] Lesson learned: Have a clear conversation about roles very early on.
  • [49:00] Things Jeremy will do differently in his next company.
  • [53:27] How Jeremy’s team went about attracting good talent.
  • [59:27] The milestones of SpotHero from Jeremy’s perspective.
  • [1:01:10] Things to watch out for when raising money for your company.
  • [1:02:29] Challenges faced building a tech company.
  • [1:05:50] Why Jeremy is glad the business was not only “his baby.”
  • [1:07:30] Jeremy’s proudest moments with SpotHero.
  • [1:09:45] How to connect with Jeremy.

In this episode…

How badly do you want success? It's an important question to ask yourself when starting a company.  Jeremy Smith, co-founder of Spothero.com wanted his companies to succeed badly. He was willing to sleep on couches for two years, attend social functions just for the food, and ride his bike everywhere in order to save money so that he could make the company thrive. Jeremy doesn't see them as sacrifices, he sees them as opportunities.

In this great conversation with Dr. Jeremy Weisz, Jeremy Smith shares his journey as a co-founder of spothero and tells the difficulties, the adventures, any exciting milestones that passed as the company expanded across the nation. You'll learn lots of great insights from Jeremy's lessons learned.

Writing his own future.

The attitude Jeremy Smith brings to his company is the same attitude he has in all of life. He sees it as an adventure, something to be lived in the moment that shouldn't be too scripted. He's proven that in the adventures he's taken to live a kind of life that he wants to live. One of those adventures was a four month backpacking trip that started in Russia and ended in Australia, and he didn't plan any of it ahead of time. A one way ticket, and he was on his way. That attitude of courage, boldness, and adventure, is part of what makes him a successful entrepreneur.

Jeremy got bitten by the entrepreneurial bug when he was still an early teenager. He took on the role of a salesman, going door to door to support a local fundraiser and was very successful. He also knocked on neighborhood doors to get work shoveling driveways, and asked his customers to pay what they thought his service was worth. It's that kind of hustle that has made him successful all the way through the start-up phases of his new company.

Spothero.com is not your ordinary company. It integrates technology, a practical human need, and the resource of spare parking spaces in cities across the nation, to give people exactly what they need, when they need it. The challenges have been huge, but the rewards have been equally huge. This is one of those conversations that is so full of practical help that you'll want to listen to it again.

Resources Mentioned on this episode

Direct download: jeremysmithfinalinterviewfileoriginal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

Josh Dorkin started BiggerPockets.com from scratch 10 years ago and now has over 435K members. They have grown to be one of the largest and most reputable real estate community on the Internet with a forum that has over 900,000 posts! and they hold the #1 real estate podcast on iTunes. They attract more than 1k new members a day and help change people's lives to gain their own financial freedom through real estate!

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

 

  • [0:00] Preshow Banter: Joshua’s story and things he enjoys talking about.
  • [6:10] Jeremy’s introduction of Josh Dorkin and this episode.
  • [7:35] The lowest point in Joshua’s entrepreneurial journey.
  • [10:00] The impact of Joshua’s wife on the times he was ready to quit.
  • [11:27] Joshua’s highest points with Bigger Pockets.
  • [14:02] How you can connect with Joshua.

 

In this episode…

There are many people out there who espouse the benefits of building what is called a lifestyle business. It’s a great concept - when it works. But today’s guest, Joshua Dorkin tells the story of how he build an amazingly successful online business that by all rights should have been supporting his lifestyle, but instead left him no room for any kind of life at all.

 

The pain of overwork is well known, but it’s only when you feel it firsthand that you realize that there’s great wisdom in setting boundaries and learning to delegate. Joshua Dorkin tells how he’s still learning to let go of the business details so that he doesn’t kill himself or neglect his family.

 

If you’re guilty of overworking, you’ve got to take the time to listen to this episode. You’ll hear Josh Dorkin’s own story of how the BiggerPockets empire was built on the back of his own overwork, and how he’s taking steps now to get some relief from that burden.

 

Be sure you stick around until the end of this episode so you can get the free book offer from BiggerPockets, the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Investing. It’s right here on this episode of Inspired Insider.

Resources Mentioned on this episode

Direct download: joshuadorkinonequestionfile.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

Zvi Band is the Co-founder of Contactually,which is a relationship marketing platform. Contactually ensures that you stay top of mind with the relationships that matter to help you grow your business. Zvi helped bring Contactually from idea in his Evernote to 52 employees (and counting), millions in revenue, 12M+ in venture backing, and thousands of paying customers. Zvi is active in fostering the tech community in D.C. and has been named a Tech Titan 3 times.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [0:24] Jeremy’s introduction of this episode and his guest, Zvi Band.
  • [1:19] What is a Tech Titan?
  • [1:42] Why doesn’t Zvi ever wear the color “green?”
  • [3:06] The hardest part of Zvi’s journey with his company, Contactually.
  • [5:01] How Zvi manages his internal battles as fear and doubt creep in.
  • [6:66] Where Zvi grew up and the family that raised him.
  • [9:30] What Zvi wanted to be when he was in High School, and why he followed that dream.
  • [10:17] Why Zvi is the CEO and not the CTO (Chief Technical Officer).
  • [11:36] Influential company and work experiences in Zvi’s life.
  • [12:58] How Contactually came about.
  • [14:37] The phases of an evolving company.
  • [15:05] The idea phase: what Zvi did in the beginning.
  • [17:00] The pain points that motivated Zvi to create his software.
  • [18:58] A customer experience that helped shape the future of Contactually.
  • [20:00] Iterations on the original idea that have been employed over time.
  • [21:30] How to make the decisions about what integrations to create.
  • [21:57] What excites Zvi about Contactually right now?
  • [23:18] The Main Point of Contactually: a newbie’s guide.
  • [24:33] Future plans for Contactually.
  • [26:01] One of the “failed experiments” that happened inside the company.
  • [28:42] How Zvi found and connected with his co-founders.
  • [30:42] One of the biggest myths in startup land: Keep your ideas secret.
  • [32:52] Raising funds and adding team members.
  • [34:02] The hiring process: How to know it’s time to hire.
  • [36:52] How to train sales representatives.
  • [39:29] The skills needed in order to scale a company larger.
  • [40:29] Lessons learned in hiring team members.
  • [44:15] The first conversions to paid customers.
  • [45:33] Lessons learned when developing the pricing model: cost VS value.
  • [47:59] Why Contactually doesn’t require a credit card and gives a 30 day trial.
  • [49:28] Raising funds: the chronology of Contactually’s financial base.
  • [50:40] What investors are actually investing in.
  • [52:35] Good advice received from investors.
  • [54:49] The most important things about building a business.
  • [56:07] The structures that are in place that allow the Contactually team to execute.

In this episode…

Contactually is one of those SaaS companies that you’ve likely seen around the internet. But being familiar with the company is much different than seeing the power and value behind what they do. Contactually is a Customer Relationship Management software that is web-based. The company’s moniker is “Turn the People You Know Into the Business Results You Need.”

Stop for a moment and imagine what possibilities might open up for you, if the people you know could ACTUALLY be turned into business results. It’s an audacious goal, and one the Contactually team delivers on customer after customer.

On this episode of Inspired Insider, Dr. Jeremy Weisz chats with Zvi Band, co-founder of Contactually about the journey from startup to multi-million dollar company, the skills it takes to start and then scale a business, how to find and hire the right people, the challenge of determining pricing of products and services, and the biggest lessons he’s learned from his time as CEO of such a rapidly growing company.

One of the gold nuggets from this conversation is the differentiation Zvi makes between the skills needed to start a company and the skills needed to grow it to a much larger place. There are a whole new set of skills that either have to be learned or hired onto the team if the company is going to reach its fullest potential, and Zvi shares his thoughts about how to approach both of those options.

And before you’re done listening, be sure you catch the point at the end where Zvi talks about the most important thing he’s learned as a startup founder and entrepreneur. In his words, “It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how skilled you are, what matters is whether you execute on the ideas you have.” It’s a lesson learned that Zvi and his team at Contactually have put into practice, with tremendous results. You’ll love this conversation, so be sure to listen.

Resources Mentioned on this episode

www.Contactually.com

Zvi’s website - www.ZviBand.com

James Ledoux

Mark Suster

Aaron Batallion

Direct download: zvibandfinalinterviewfile.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

Wim Hof  is known as "The Iceman" for his ability to withstand extreme cold and control his autonomic nervous system .Wim holds 21 world records, including one staying immersed in ice up to his neck for 1 hour and 52 min.He reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in his shorts within two days and taught a group of 27 people to do the same. He climbed Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts and shoes He completed a half marathon above the arctic circle in Finland, in temperatures close to −20 °C (−4 °F) dressed in nothing but shorts. He even went to the opposite extreme and ran a full marathon in the Namib Desert without water.   

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

 

Pre-show banter (this is interesting stuff!)

 

  • [0:01] Wim doing some yoga atop a mountain.
  • [1:23]Wim’s viewpoint of conditions and control of the environment.
  • [3:01] Breaking mountain climbing records with untrained groups of people.
  • [8:42] The last group’s toughest challenges climbing Kilimanjaro.

 

Outline of the interview

 

  • [13:50] Jeremy’s introduction of Wim Hoff, the Ice Man.
  • [15:11] What drives Wim to do what he does.
  • [17:30] The loss of his wife and how he pushed through it.
  • [20:08] The proudest moments Wim has experienced.
  • [25:33] Why Wim believes that we must change the world.
  • [

 

In this episode…

Wim Hof is an amazing man. He’s accomplished some of the most incredible feats in the world within the realm of extreme endurance, especially in cold temperatures. But even Wim found himself battling the heavy weight of grief when he was faced with the loss of his dearly loved wife. But he battled through, applying the first forms of the breathing exercises and mindset practices he’s developed and is teaching today.

 

Grief, pain, and emotional struggles are hard for anyone to handle, even the “Ice Man” Wim Hof. Wim’s story of how he focused on helping his children navigate the trail of grief and how he used his breathing practices and techniques to find a place of peace in spite of the grief is an inspiring story. You’ll want o hear this episode. It’s full of Wim’s buoyant personality and zest for life.

Resources Mentioned on this episode



Direct download: wimhofonequestionfile.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

Mark C. Winters coauthored with Gino Wickman the business best seller Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What you want from your Business.

He has been a leader and entrepreneur for over 25 years and has worked with  companies ranging from multi-billion dollar enterprises like Procter & Gamble and British Petroleum, to raw startups originally drawn up on a napkin.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [0:35] Jeremy’s introduction of Mark C. Winters.
  • [1:05] Mark’s story of what it’s like to do a “raw startup.”
  • [5:27] Cyber Explorer, a startup Mark pioneered, why he quit his job at Proctor and Gamble to start it.
  • [10:05] A Starbucks rejection, cybercafes, and the creation of a business plan.
  • [18:58] Lessons learned from a crazy startup.
  • [27:31] One of Mark’s biggest successes in business.
  • [31:00] Building a SaaS business in the 90s.
  • [35:11] The leadership growth Mark’s gone through over the years.
  • [37:22] Mark’s unique abilities and how they’ve come to the forefront.
  • [39:04] Why Mark decided to write his book, Rocketfuel.
  • [41:12] Your invitation to fill out an online assessment from the book.
  • [41:43] The essential visionary / integrator combination that will skyrocket your business.
  • [43:15] The 3 sections of the book and how to use it.
  • [44:16] The traits of the integrator VS the visionary.
  • [45:56] A stereotypical pair that represents a visionary and an integrator.
  • [46:45] Mark’s personal scores on the assessment.
  • [48:00] What should a person do with the results they get from the assessment.
  • [50:07] How does the tension between these two traits show up and what can be done about it?
  • [52:10] A sample interaction between a visionary and an integrator.
  • [54:32] How these traits impact family relationships.
  • [56:11] Why are there more people who are integrators than visionaries?
  • [1:01:00] Mark’s reaction to Dan Kuschell’s scores on the assessment.
  • [1:02:50] The rarity of being both integrator and visionary.
  • [1:05:05] How to handle “end runs” within the team.
  • [1:08:15] Mark’s lowest point in business.
  • [1:11:16] One of Mark’s proudest business moments.
  • [1:15:30] Mentors who have invested in Mark’s life.
  • [1:18:47] How to get in touch with Mark’s resources.
  • [1:20:21] The influence Mark’s Dad had on his life.
  • [1:23:59] The things Mark is excited about in the future.

 

In this episode…

How do you move your company from a small, one man show, to a company of 5, 10, 50, or even 100 successfully?

Very few people know the real answer to that question, but today’s guest, Mark C. Winters has studied the ins and outs of business growth and with his co-author Gino Wickman, has written a book that explains the vital leadership combination that enables any business to grow not only through those stages of team growth, but also into a highly profitable state as a company.

What is that combination? It’s the pairing of two uniquely gifted people who Mark and Gino have labeled the visionary and the integrator. These two, when rightly paired and taught to work together effectively, can take any company into the stratosphere like they were running on rocket fuel, which is the name of the book these two incredible entrepreneurs have written together.

So which are you? Integrator or visionary?

Mark and Gino believe in the power of this leadership combination so much that they’ve gone to great detail in their book about the strengths and weaknesses of each, and the differences between the two. But they don’t stop there. You’ll also find resources to teach a leadership pair how to best work together, delegate tasks to their team, lead the greater group toward larger goals, and keep the infrastructure of the business healthy and vibrant at the same time.

On this episode Dr. Jeremy Weisz gets the backstory on how Mark got into the creation of businesses in the first place, how he stumbled through his first few businesses and learned powerful lessons along the way, and how he’s wrapped those hard-learned lessons into the covers of his most recent book.

You’re going to get so much insight into the integrator / visionary combination of leadership, and find out how you can take a free assessment to see which of those leaders you are. Once you know, you’ll discover a newfound freedom as you assess your current role in light of your strengths, make adjustments, and come alongside a complementary partner to lead your company to greater heights.

Resources and People Mentioned on this episode

Direct download: markwintersfinalinterviewfile.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

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