« Pine Crest School 7th graders win Best in Nation, $20,000 grant in Verizon Innovative App Challenge | Main | Daymond John kicks off entrepreneurship contest, but first some Shark Tank advice »

6 takeaways from Startup Grind talk by GasNinjas co-founder


By Peter Kovach

Brandon Timinsky is CEO and co-founder at GasNinjas, a service that brings gas to your car, all at the ease of pressing a button on your phone. Brandon’s first business was a third party Twitter app that helped twitter users gain more followers. He is a lifelong problem solver and entrepreneur. Last month Jason Ibarra, of Startup Grind, sat down with Brandon for a fireside chat at WeWork @ Lincoln Rd. They discussed Brandon’s young and successful entrepreneurial career and how his past experiences can help guide other entrepreneurs. Here are six takeaways from their conversation.

* Put your idea out there.  You have a great idea, but you're scared someone will steal it, so you never tell anyone. As a result, your idea never materializes into a booming business, instead it joins the countless of other what-if-ideas. Even worse, you build a company before getting feedback from your target customers, the product launches, it’s off target and you fail. You are more likely to find a supporter, partner or an investor than a competitor from just talking about your idea. In fact, it can help you gauge the interest in the product, find out which demographics are more likely to use your service and help form a better business from the feedback. Finally, putting your idea out there is a necessary step in proving to yourself that you are serious about this business.

* Micro Marketing - Marketing is key, the more you can expose your product to potential clients the better. Many companies struggle with social media marketing. An active presence is essential to successes. It allows you to interact directly with users. However, many people may see a post from your account and overlook it because there is no personal connection. Instead, incentive your customers to post about their positive experiences with your service. People are more likely to read content from a familiar and trusting face, and as a result it creates better exposure to new clientele.

* Follow other entrepreneurs -  Go on LinkedIn, TED Talks or just explore the web for people who inspire you. Find their blogs and read what they have to say about life, success and most importantly, failure.  In today’s age, there are an unbelievable number of ways to connect and learn from others. It is important to leverage these tools to find motivation from someone who has been there before and can relate to challenges you need to overcome. In place of watching TV every night, watch educational content.

* Hiring a freelance programmer - If you are unable to code your project and don’t want to want to give up equity to bring on a CTO, you can always a higher a freelance programmer. Hiring a freelancer is not as easy as it seems. Brandon on multiple occasions hired people who were not as qualified as they promoted. As a result, Brandon paid these programmers for a job not well done. He learned that in order to protect himself he needed to change the way he worked with freelancers. He decided to do milestone payments. Instead of paying the developer in full upfront he would pay him after a certain milestone was completed. This protected him financially and ensured he was coming away with a product.

* Know your business - It's essential to understand your business in and out and in again. Do your research on what demographics find your product most useful; this will help you focus your attention on the right clientele to grow. Become familiar with your key performance indicators (KPI’s) or the aspects of your business that are essential for growth. Knowing and watching your KPI’s will help you make calculated and logical decisions. You should be able to recite your stats in your sleep.

* Great client service - Ensuring your clients have a great experience is essential to growth. If your clients are left with a bad taste in their mouths, they are less likely to reuse the service. Yes, your company is young and there are opportunities to improve the product, but it is key to be responsive to your customer. A client may report a problem with your product and if you respond quickly, you demonstrate that you care about the person, and are dedicated to improving your business, that person will be more likely to come back.

Peter Kovach is a recent graduate from Loyola University of New Orleans. He moved to Miami to be a part of the rising tech scene and is currently an associate at building.co.

NEXT UP: Christian Seale of Startupbootcamp will be speaking at Startup Grind in Miami on Feb. 9. More info: startupgrind.com/miami