PP 569: Giving Your Business a Story to Tell and a Value to Sell with Tim Bornholdt
“If you’re looking to build an app, make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons… Make sure you’re thinking about your end user and providing the best possible value for them, because that’s going to make sure that your app is successful in the long run.” –Tim Bornholdt
Meet Tim Bornholdt, an entrepreneur, a podcaster, software developer and founder of the Jed Mahonis Group, a mobile app consultancy group. If you were wondering how this man came to know so much about so much, well, let him tell you his story.
Apps make our life a lot easier, thanks to the people we call geeks and nerds. But really, behind their genius is a heart for other people. They develop software for others to use after all. But to turn this passion into a business with a story to tell needs more than expertise on technical stuffs. Learn how you can do things simultaneously yet effectively. Of course, failures are inevitable. Listen to our guest as he shares his story about turning his failures to stepping-stones and learn how you can do the same. As his words quoted above implies, learn how to make applications that really works in the long run. On top of that, learn how podcasting can add a value to your business. Entrepreneurship can be demanding at times. So, here’s a spice for entrepreneurs out there: Tim’s story- learn to run your business in an exciting way. Don’t miss a bit of this thrilling episode!
02:39 Doing all the Stuffs
05:46 The Funny Stories of Failures
11:41 From Journalism to Computer Science To Entrepreneurship To Podcasting
18:27 Podcast- The Story of Your Business
21:27 It’s All About the User Experience
31:41 What We Do
39:02 Keeping Things Up-To-Date
41:56 Running the Business in an Exciting Way
16:52 “When you’re doing user experience design, you have to make sure you lead your users through in a way that makes sense and gradually introduces them instead of just, I think whenever you load an app, and there’s like a 12 page tutorial right away of ‘here’s all the buttons you can do in the app.’ No one wants to use an app like that. You just want to jump right in and do it.” -Tim Bornholdt
19:41 “What I can say is that, from any business that you run, it needs to be able to tell a story.” -Tim Bornholdt
22:28 “It’s all about the user experience .You’re not the user of your app… But where you can take away some of those warm fuzzy is by helping other people get their jobs done. In turn, they’ll pay you for the value that you provide.”-Tim Bornholdt
26:22 “It is really trying to find that way to hone your message to make it so you’re not just bragging about all the cool things you’ve done. No one cares about that, in a sense, they care about: ‘what can you do for me now?’ ” -Tim Bornholdt
30:33 “If you’re trying to be everything to everybody, then you’re nothing to nobody.”-Tim Bornholdt
45:14 “If you’re looking to build an app, make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons… Make sure you know how it’s either going to make you money or how it’s going to save you money from your business. And above all, when you’re working on an app, make sure you’re thinking about your end user and providing the best possible value for them, because that’s going to make sure that your app is successful in the long run.” -Tim Bornholdt
If you’re looking to build an App, make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. I think a lot of people think that you know an App is going to be this panacea that saves everything about your business. And you need to make sure that, you know, an App development is expensive. It’s not as straightforward and easy as website development, for example. So when you’re getting into this space, it’s good to have – do your research, make sure you know how it’s either going to make you money or how it’s going to save you money from your business. And above all, when you’re working on an App, make sure you’re thinking about your end user and providing the best possible value for them because that’s going to make sure that your App is successful in the long run.
KIM: Welcome back to the Positive Productivity Podcast where you can guarantee that you will hear me messing up names every single day. I’m so hAppy you’re here and the reason I started off that way today is because I rehearsed our guest’s company’s name five times and I still guarantee that this time I will try to get it – I will not try to get it wrong, but I will get it wrong. Oh my gosh! Tim, you’re a podcaster, I’m just getting all the bloopers out of the way right now, but guest I want to introduce, listeners, I want to introduce you to our guest today, Tim Bornholdt, who is an entrepreneur software developer, podcaster and founder of the Jed Mahonis Group. Did I get it right? Mahonis?
TIM: Hey, you nailed it. That’s perfect.
KIM: I told you I just needed to come right in and get it right, like while I had it on the tip of my tongue. Listeners, we skipped over like, well we didn’t skip over a lot because I basically gave Tim the whole story of how I personally have five kids and a whole bunch of other stuff, but we skipped over like all the pre chat stuff. So we’re just going to have a blast. But Tim, thank you for being here. I’ve loved our pre chat. I can’t wait to hear what we chat about during the recorded portion.
TIM: Oh, me too. I’m really hAppy to be here Kim.
KIM: So entrepreneur software developer, do those two go together or are you an entrepreneur as well doing something else besides software developer? But I’m not done asking questions yet. Podcaster and founder of the Jed Mahonis group, I think I got it wrong that time. How do these all play together and how did you get there? And who are you?
TIM: It’s a tremendous question. So I’m Tim Bornholdt. Yeah. So most of my entrepreneurial life has led to starting the Jed Mahonis Group. And what we do there is we build custom iOS and Android Apps for businesses. And as a part of doing that, it’s led me down a lot of different paths. As you know, once you kind of get the entrepreneurial bug, you kind of just go down all different paths and just see what kind of works for you. So my background, I went to school to the University of Minnesota originally for computer engineering, but ended up not really digging physics, all that much. I failed out of it pretty miserably, so I switched over to journalism. So that was what I majored in and I minored in computer science. So I have a pretty extensive background in video production and podcasting as a result of my journalism training. And I’ve been doing website development since third grade, so I have a lot of technical experience as well. And so that’s kind of how I’ve been able to do software development, running a business, doing a podcast, all of that stuff. I just like learning how things work.
KIM: Oh my gosh! Okay. So I get from what you just said that I am just a little bit older than you. Listeners, I turned 40 this year. So in third grade we were working on Apple IIe’s and –
KIM: – it wasn’t until maybe ninth grade that we had Internet in my house. And I remember my mom had a PC and I always loved to like, I was the one who even as little or as young as when I got my first bike with training wheels, I was always curious about how the chain’s worked. And I would constantly take them off the bike and she would have to take the bike apart to put the chains back on. But I figured out a way and I have a PC sitting right next to me while I’m on my Mac right now. I wouldn’t even know how to go into it on my PC these days. But I figured out how to get into the back-end of my mom’s PC. And somehow I deleted the utility or whatever for the mouse from computer and maybe the keyboard too. So that was not so good. And listeners, my kids just are not quite understanding quiet today and they snuck out into the next room. So if you can hear them –
KIM: – my son Dave he’s like, yee haa. I guess he likes that, you know. Oh my goodness. But can you imagine, I mean, with all the access that kids have today. I know that you have a couple and I have more than a few. If they got into my computer and deleted files like that, I can’t even imagine what I would do. And did you hear about that kid who locked his mom’s iPhone for like 10 billion years or something?
TIM: Not. No.
KIM: This is like a year ago. Like my son locked my iPhone the other day for five minutes. Thankfully I don’t live and die by my iPhone, but he just looks at me with these sad puppy dog eyes, like: “I can’t play plants vs zombies.” I’m like: “Well, you should have stopped trying to hack my password.” [laughs]
TIM: Yeah, exactly. That’s on you.
KIM: Yeah, exactly. So I didn’t realize –
TIM: That’s how you learn.
KIM: Yeah, I didn’t realize that there was physics in software engineering. That’s just actually blew my mind.
TIM: Yeah. The computer engineering degree. It’s more like electrical engineering.
TIM: So there’s a lot of just based science that you have to have a background in. And I just thought it was going to be programming, you know.
TIM: But computer engineering as a degree is a lot of like how the circuits work and how the actual, you know, it’s like we’ve learned how to trick rocks into thinking that’s basically what a computer is. So it’s like you have to figure out how did we do that? And so it’s all like electrical stuff that goes into computers, where I was more interested in just let people that are way nerdier than me deal with the low level stuff. And I’ll just sit in my comfortable more higher level abstraction from that and just code on top of what they’ve done. So yeah, that’s why you go to college though. You live and learn.
KIM: Yes, I totally hear that. So I went to art school. I went to the school of the Art Institute of Chicago and got my degree in interior architecture, but I always wanted to be an architect. But physics was what actually stopped me. I had no interest.
KIM: So sort of the same thing. You know, I did my stuff on top of what the architects had already done. Yes, I consulted with them, but I didn’t need physics to get my degree or my license or anything. And I was quite hAppy with that. Yeah.
TIM: Oh yeah. With physics, the way I failed was pretty, it’s a pretty funny story. The first day of class we had to take a base level. Here’s where you’re going to fit in into this class. And I took it and I think I got the lowest grade in the class. So I thought: “You know what? I’m really going to buckle down hard.” I actually went to like office hours. I got a tutor. I was doing as much as I possibly could to learn and try to understand the material. In first midterm and all my friends in the class afterwards, we got out and I was talking with them and they’re all like: “Yeah, that was really hard.” And I was like: “Okay, thank God. You know, that I wasn’t the only one that thought this was really challenging.”
Well, and then it also turned out that, you know, in college they weight the grades. So they take the average of what students get in the class. And so if everyone’s doing terribly, you know, then if you get like, say a 40% on the test, maybe it puts you in the top, whatever, 10% 20%, so you get an A. So I was thinking: “Okay, well, you know, hopefully the curve is good for me and we’ll see how it goes.” Well, you know, fast forward a week and we’re sitting in the lecture hall and this is at the UM where there’s like a thousand person lecture hall and it was full because everyone was getting their midterms back. And the professor, he’s an old school professor, he had, you know, like the overhead projectors where he actually put the sheet on the overhead projector with the little marker thing. So he’s talking about the class, about the midterms, and he puts, he said: “Here’s the grade distribution.” And he sets this graph down and the curve. So if you think of like a typical bell shaped curve, how it’s, you know, like 100% and then it goes up at 50% and it’s at the height and then at zero it goes back down. Well this curve, one fifth of the class got 100% on this midterm.
TIM: So that means that the curve was from, it went from 100 and it peaked at 95 and then it dropped down at 90 and then it straight back down to zero. And these were, you could see like the dots of the distribution. So you can like see like everyone that had a grade, you know, you could see it on there. So he’s talking about this and then he makes some off handed joke while he’s doing it. And he takes out his little marker and he circles the bottom three grades.
And he says: “If this is one of you. He he he. You might want to consider dropping out of this class right now. Ha ha ha.” And like everyone in the class starts laughing. Well of course, I’m one of those three dots. And I just sat there and I was like: “I don’t need to take this and I don’t need to deal with this stuff.” So I literally, I’m sitting in the middle of this thousand person lecture hall. I just pack up my laptop bag and I stand up and I crawl over all the people that are between me and the aisle. I just walked out and left and I dropped out of computer engineering right then and there.
KIM: Wow. Wow. Okay. So I understand the lecture hall, but at Art School, especially mine, we didn’t really have them. We had an auditorium that we would go to for art history lecture and it would probably have like four or 500 students in there. And then we would break up into the smaller lectures during the week.
KIM: But our school was actually pass fail, because they thought, how do we grade art? Right?
KIM: So I did have to take a couple of electives and listeners, if you can feel my pain, I would love for you to put a comment in the show notes and I’ll give you that link in a couple of minutes. Actually I’ll just give it to you right now. We are on episode, Tim as a podcaster I hope you Appreciate this, I think you are episode 569. Yes 569 so –
KIM: – any ahas go to thekimsutton.com/pp569 and just leave a comment down below. But we had to take some general, like electives and we had to take two English, a math and a science and I took calculus. I did great in pre calculus in high school, but trying to learn calculus from, pardon my mouth, artsy fartsy type who’s trying to be all like out there in there. I know I got it for one split second during the semester and in our final was actually writing a paper which was, you know, at home with access to the Internet. Thankfully it was a pass fail because I would’ve been at the bottom of that curve too. I was like, okay, that just solidified the fact that I am not taking the, I think the GRE on going on for architecture. No thank you.
KIM: No, thank you. So you switched your major journalism and computer science. And how did you become an entrepreneur and where did podcasting come in?
TIM: Yeah, so, you know, I ended up, when I was in journalism school, I got an internship at the CBS television station here in Minneapolis. And I was doing commercial production and the team that I was working with, it pretty much everybody there did a bunch of side gigs where it would, you know, some other one of them would hear that there was a job. So, you know, then someone would come out and shoot it and another person would come out and light it and all that kind of stuff. So I was kind of tagging along with them. And I also, at the same time, there was of my high school theater director, her dad owned a company that timed races like marathons and triathlons and stuff.
And he had an idea for a show with this, in Minneapolis there’s this local Olympian named Carrie Tollefson and she is, if you’ve never heard of her, she does a lot of like commentary and stuff. She does like the Boston marathon, New York marathon. She’s on TV doing the [inaudible] and thought: “You know, it’d be a good idea to do a show with her of just like a weekly show about running and fitness.” And none of them, he didn’t know how to do video production and my high school theater teacher didn’t know how to do it, but they knew that I did. So they somehow entrusted me to basically spearhead the entire show. And that was kind of, that show was really my launch into entrepreneurship because from there I would meet, I met some people that had more connections.
So I ended up doing some freelance video work for like the Minnesota wild, Unilever and I helped the regional Emmy awards. I got to help edit the broadcast graphics for that. And that was really the start of that journey. And over time I really grew to love podcasting and originally we were doing it as a YouTube series. And, you know, we kind of were getting stagnant with our views and I was thinking, you know, maybe instead of doing just – there’s so many shows out there about here’s how you do the proper sit up or here’s a five minute plank exercise. What if we actually did more interviews with elite runners and kind of get more insight that I thought Carrie would be a good personality for that.
So I helped transition at show into podcasting. And so that’s still a show, it’s called C Tolle Run and we still do that show, we’re on I think 160 episodes at this point of that. And I also from that point then decided we should just do a podcast for my own business. So I have a show called Constant Variables where we talk about App development but in a nontechnical way. Because I think a lot of times people think that when you’re talking about software development, things can be a little jargony and confusing. And I think a lot of times, not nerds like us, like to really make things seem complicated so that you pay us a higher hourly rate. So I wanted to start a show that would allow people to – we could break down complex technical topics and make it simple for people to understand. So that’s kind of my foray into podcasting in those two shows.
KIM: Oh, I love how you said you break it down. To me the words would be dry and I’m sorry that’s –
TIM: It’s true.
KIM: – it would just be dry to me. But I know for people who are in it, it’s not dry, it’s like cool. I think I’m the same way on marketing like automation.
KIM: You can go super specific into a lot of the world that would be super dry. But if I where going to have a show –
KIM: – about that, no, let’s break it down. Like my sister who is part of my team, she actually, she’s a Cornell graduate and she worked for 15 years in corporate and her joining my company, I realized, okay, she is very left brain. I am over the edge right. So how do I explain this to her? Like even just explaining an Opt-in or a lead by net.
KIM: So, you know, you explain it differently to people who are in the field than you do out. And my husband is a video game designer, he’s the same thing. He watches some YouTube channels or shows where they’re four developers, but just the way that they express it, it’s laughable. Like laughable meaning amusing even to me. Just how they’re bringing up these points for different developers to think about like: “Why are you walking through gamers step by step on the game mechanics instead of letting them figure it out on their own?” Like why are you telling them: “Okay, push A to jump.” I mean, nobody told us to push A to make Mario jump in 1980, whatever. We had to figure –
KIM: – that part out. So yeah.
TIM: Yeah. And it’s funny you bring up that exact example because I do that all the time when we’re talking about UX. One of the best examples you can give someone of the best possible user experience for a mobile App is to bring people back to Super Mario, cause you’re exactly right. Like no one told you that running into a goomba would kill you or that, you know, grabbing the mushroom would make you bigger. It’s all things that the game kind of teaches you as you go along. Like if it just dropped you into world 8 and you had to battle the mega bowser and like he chucks those 12 hammers at you right away. Like you’d be: “What am I doing? You’d be dead right away, you know?” But the game teaches you and it takes you to a long journey as you’re going through it and it introduces you to new concepts as you’re playing.
And I think that’s the way that you would Approach. Like building out mobile Apps too, is when you’re doing user experience design and you have to make sure you lead your users through, in a way that makes sense and gradually introduces them instead of just like, I think whenever you load an App and there’s like a 12 page tutorial right away of here’s all the buttons you can do in the App. It’s like no one wants to use an App like that. You just want to jump right in and do it.
KIM: To me, it’s not even that I don’t want to use them. It’s just, okay, you’ve got my attention right now for two seconds. I want to jump in and just start going. So are you really gonna make me, and the ones that make me sit through like their videos, just let me go, just let me play. I mean, sort of like deleting the mouse for my moms, you know, computer, just let me play with it and see what I can do and then just give me an option for help.
KIM: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. On a side note, we actually named one of our twins Zelda.
KIM: As far as our family is concerned as literary reference, but yeah. You –
TIM: My both –
KIM: – know where it came from.
TIM: Oh yeah. My older daughter’s middle name is Ray because I wanted something from Star Wars. And it was like right after the newest one came out and I was like: “Man, I want my daughter to be like that.” So I love having those great middle names like that.
KIM: Oh my gosh. Okay. Sorry listeners, but not sorry, we’re going on a tangent. My husband’s oldest daughter, her name is Kira and that was a Star Trek reference.
TIM: I love it.
KIM: Yeah. Yeah. So how have you, and this is not about what you do and we’ll circle back around to that, but how have you found podcasting to benefit your business? Or have you or haven’t you? Like, I’m always just curious as a podcaster how the two play together for other people.
TIM: Well, so from like a direct monetary return on investment. You know, if we’re talking about all the time and energy and coordinating interviews and everything like that, you know, we haven’t generated a whole ton of leads and traffic from it and that could be just as a fault of mine from marketing. I’m not the world’s greatest marketer, but what I can say is that from any business that you run needs to be able to tell a story. And I’ve learned that time and time again through journalism school and training there, but also going through interviewing other people about their stories. And I think having a podcast really helps you from a business perspective hone what story are you telling people and how are you, you know, everybody wants to be the hero of their own story. And so how can you craft yourself for talking about like, if we’re going to a Zelda reference, you know, your not link in your business. The other, your customer is link and you want to be everything you can to make sure that link gets to the final, the victory and saves Zelda, you know.
That’s really what we’re going after as business owners. And I think that’s how podcasting has helped me is it’s helped me be better about, you know, when I go on podcasts I can try to not ramble as much and try to get to the point and get people to get some kind of wisdom from whatever experiences I’ve had. And then on the other end of the microphone, it helps to be able to craft, when I’m asking questions and trying to get people’s story out of them. It’s to be able to make them the hero of their journey and have them help other people as well as they’re on their journeys.
KIM: Oh, I absolutely love that. I love how you said you’re not like, I actually just in the past couple weeks, maybe three weeks went through this amazing training that was talking about Linkedin. Yes, there is a point to this, and the training that I was watching brought up the very valid point of your summary is not about you, like it is about you, but it’s not about you because who’s looking at your linkedin summary? Have you ever thought about this Tim? Like if –
KIM: – somebody, if somebody is looking at your linkedin summary and listeners, I want you to think about this. Do they want to know who you are or do they want to know how you can help them? And –
KIM: – I’d never really thought about that before because I had a full bio, right? Well not a full bio, but you know what I’m trying to say, and when I shifted it up to be all about, yes of little bit of who I am, but how I support my clients. That’s when the magic started hAppening and it’s only been three weeks.
KIM: And I think the same could be said for any App. It’s not about the developer, sorry, Tim, it’s the client or customer that’s using it. What is this App going to do for them? Can you argue me on that?
TIM: No, I can’t. That’s exactly it. We’re doing App development from our side, it’s all about the user experience like I said earlier, and you’re not the user of your App. You’re trying to make somebody else out to be a rock star. Like nobody is going to download your App and just sit in and he praises on you for thinking up the idea of doing it. They’re going to, if anything, what they’re going to do is they’re going to tell people: “Look at this cool App I found. And look at the cool things I can do with the App.” And as soon as you get out of your own way and help other people become heroes, you know, you might not, if you’re in this entrepreneurial space to be heaped praise upon, it comes very few and far between that you’re going to get those chances. But where you can take away some of those warm fuzzies is by helping other people get their jobs done and then in turn, you know they’ll pay you for your work, they’ll pay you for the value that you provide. So yeah, if you’re worried, if you’re thinking about position your business and how you’re going to position your App, you definitely have to think about other people first and they’ll hopefully do the same for you.
KIM: Absolutely. Now I didn’t know how it was going to be working with my sister, because we shared bedrooms for the first 13 years of our life and it was not good. She, Jackie I love you, but she is OCD, I would have to say. She better not listen to this, and very meticulous like everything had to be lined right up. Now I was the one who – I would do my laundry and then think that I was hiding it in my bed clothes and I would have like just mounds of laundry on my bed and just everything everywhere. I’m a lot better like, Tim, when my husband and I got married, part of my marriage vow was that I would give up clutter. Today, I have less clutter than my husband. I think it breeds and –
KIM: – spreads and then it left me like he gets boxes delivered and he keeps the boxes, whereas when we first got together he’s like: “Can this go?” I’m like: “No, I need a couple of days to make sure it works.” And now there’s – he has loot crate boxes from five years ago in our closet. It’s like really? Do you need that?
TIM: You never know.
KIM: Apparently yes, we need loot crate boxes. If anybody would like to challenge us to be a minimalist, he will have to come in and do it yourself. But after the linkedin change, she actually started looking at every other part of our messaging and I – even though it’s my, you know, the brand is Kim Sutton Positive Productivity, it is our brand like the whole team. And she’s like: “You know, this is really fluffy.” And I was like: “What do you mean?” And I think she does very well at using the sister card, cause she’ll say it exactly how she thinks it. Which I think a lot of the other team members have resisted doing in the past because they don’t, you know, they’re afraid of offending but she’s not afraid of offending. I think she wants to help and she just knows that she’s gotta be blunt, but she said: “The texts on your site’s really fluffy and if I didn’t know you that I would have no clue what you do. Like you need to do the scene to your website as you’ve just done the LinkedIn because right here on your homepage people don’t know jack squat about the services that you provide.” And at first I was just speechless, I was like: “Ouch! Ouch, Jackie that hurts.” And then I sat there over night and I had to send to her the next morning. I was like: “You know what? You are so right. You need to keep on being honest. Like that is exactly what I needed to hear.”
TIM: Yeah. I’ve been dealing with the same thing on our website for years because in our space when you look at other software developer websites, you know, everyone it’s like, there’s just all these buzzwords and things that don’t mean anything to anyone. Like I look at people sites and I know that they do custom App development but it’s like transforming synergies with innovative digital whatever. And it’s just like –
KIM: Yeah, what the heck does that mean?
TIM: – I always struggled with –
KIM: Are you making robots?
TIM: Yeah, like how does that help me? Yeah. Yeah, exactly. It makes no sense. And I think that’s like I’ve tried on our website. We’re in the middle of working with someone to help us redesign our website again, that’s what I’ve been struggling with our businesses. I just want people to know like, you know, there are companies that will brand themselves as we’re the geeks and you come to us when you need something done. Because we’re super hardcore geeks and our message is more of like, do you need App, like do you need software built for your business? Because that’s what we’ll and that’s just what normal people that hAppens to also know how to do software development. So yeah, it is really – I’m trying to find the way to hone your message to make it so a year, not just bragging about all the cool things you’ve done and like no one cares about that, in a sense they care about what can you do for me now?
KIM: Absolutely. I actually love what you just said. Do you need software develop? We’re just, what’s did you say? We’re just normal geeks like –
KIM: – that’s crystal clear to me. Like I wouldn’t have any question about what you do if I saw that and all that other multiple syllable fluff that the other companies have, like they would lose me right away.
KIM: Right away.
TIM: Yes. Who does that Appeal to? I have no idea who would that Appeals. Even if I put myself in the position of I work for x Fortune 500 company and I have a budget of $30 million to spend on software, I’m still would rather go to the person that says like, we do this as opposed to we’re the innovative whatever. Like I just don’t get who that Appeals to.
KIM: I think we forget that we’re not doctors sometimes, if that makes any sense. Like there are those doctors who speak our language and will tell us, but they’re sort of – they’re a needle in the haystack. We have to find them because there’s a lot of other doctors, I mean, I actually, I had neglected myself last year and I wound up in the ER four times. We are recording, I don’t like to timestamp my episodes, but we are recording in May and I have not been to the ER once this year. It’s actually on my 19 for 2019 list, not to go to the ER for myself. I have five kids. I have to, you know, accommodate that one of them will get hurt this year.
TIM: Well yeah.
KIM: They would just hAppen, especially with athletes. But you know, I saw one of my – the discharge papers and there’s this big long six syllable word that starts with a couple, like a couple more than a couple of consonants. I’m like, which one was this for? Because I don’t understand this word. I was like: “Oh, okay.” And went straight in the trash. But like, okay, that’s not hAppening again because I don’t even understand what it says. But –
KIM: – yeah, mindset, positive productivity systems support and self care or helping entrepreneurs take burnout out of their business or something like that. That’s what it did say. And I was like, but nobody’s going to know what we do. So listeners, if you get anything out of this episode, I want you to take a look at all your messaging, because does anybody even have a clue what you do if they look at your Facebook or your linkedin or your website? Because if now mine actually just says marketing automation, and business automation, and infusionsoft expert. It’s like worded better than that, but it’s pretty clear, that’s what I do.
TIM: Yeah. And more importantly it’s how can it help you? It’s not all about what all the fun, cool things your business has done for other people. It’s how can person that’s looking at your marketing – how can what you do benefit them right now?
KIM: Yeah. Yeah. So I know we’re like off on a tangent and stepping away from your story, but I want to leave this up with another question just because of, okay, this is so, it’s not an inAppropriate word, but it could be because I made it up and anything that I say that I haven’t thought of first could be inAppropriate, but I get learning gazumped, okay, by going through all these trainings that I watch. I am just a learning nerd, especially around the topic of marketing. So with that said, I just had a brain fart. Oh, that’s what I was going to say. Another factor that this training was talking about was the pain. Like what pain are people feeling when they come looking for us? And I had never really thought about it because a lot of people may not even realize that they need marketing automation.
All they know is that they’re just exhausted from trying to do everything in their business. So what is a pain that people often have when they go to you? And I know that could be so wide ranging because I mean, software development and App development can be used in so many different ways. Like it can be used to supplement the services or products provided by a business or it can be used to better somebody’s health or somebody’s life and the consumer role rather than the business role. So actually I guess the better first question would be what types of people are you serving in your business? Or is it the B to B market or the B to C or both?
TIM: It’s really, as a marketing person, I’m sure it would drive me nuts, but it has been a lot of both. Because it’s the whole thing, like if you’re trying to be everything to everybody, you’re nothing to nobody. But honestly, a lot of our customers have been just all over the gamut we’ve worked with companies as large as Great Clips and United Health Group, but we’ve also done a lot of –
KIM: Great Clips?
TIM: – startups and every –
KIM: You said Great Clips?
TIM: Correct? Yeah.
KIM: Did you develop the App that lets us like put our name in and then my family can go and get their haircut, like scheduled or Appointment? I just have to ask.
TIM: Yeah, that’s us.
KIM: That was you? Thank you. Do you know how many hours you’ve saved us?
TIM: Oh yeah. It’s definitely our shining beacon in our portfolio.
KIM: Wow. Listeners, I had no idea. I mean, I saw Great Clips on Tim’s one sheet, but I didn’t know, you know, what it actually meant that he had done. But this is just a genius model. I mean you get the App on your phone, you know, that you’re going to be out running errands. You put your name in and then you don’t have to go sit in the lobby, which can be grueling if you’ve got three kids under the age of five who are just trying to figure out how they can get to the suckers behind the counter. But now we can just put our name in, sit there for two minutes, get the haircuts, get the suckers, get out of there. Oh.
KIM: Yeah. Wow.
TIM: Yeah. We have customers like that. We have customers that are small. It’s really, you know, your question about, you know, what kind of pain points are we solving? I think there’s some where it’s a clear case. I mean, Great Clips, that one was one that we got the idea pitched to us and we helped kind of hone everything around from the front end perspective. The Apps though that are – I found really interesting are the ones where people know they need something fixed in their business. There’s a process that they’re working on that takes so long that they’re doing it by hand that you could automate. And one example of that is we’re working with a company that does manufacturing. And they have a process where they have to do audit on the outcome of the products because there’s variance to it. So what they have to do is they have to take a caliber and they measure the thickness of these boxes that they’re making and they have to do it 50 times, three measurements, 50 times. And there’s somebody that’s going through – what the process is right now is that somebody has a piece of paper, they’re taking measurements, they’re writing them down on the piece of paper that, you know, for 150 times.
Then they walk up to their desk, they type in all those numbers into an excel spreadsheet. They click a button that then generates one sheet. Then they take that one sheet and move it to another program to generate another sheet, which then finally gives them the result that they’re looking for. That whole process probably takes somebody two to three hours to do that and they have to do this several times in a week. What we’ve done is we came in and we took that whole process and everything is now in an App and they can use a Bluetooth powered caliber. So when they go in, they take the measurement, they push a button, it goes right into the App. Then when they finish taking their calculations, they push one button and it generates exactly the report that they need and then it can email it off to their supervisors and it’s done.
We took a three hour process and turned it into 15 minutes. And those are the types of things that I really like helping businesses do and discover is there’s all these things that people are doing that take so much time and it’s necessary. Like they have to run these reports as part of their contracts with their customers. But you can find ways to use technology to save you a lot of time and therefore, you know, make you some money back from having to spend all that [inaudible] do things that are much more productive.
KIM: Oh my gosh Tim! We need to talk –
KIM: – outside of this because I’ve had this idea in my head, which would save my team hours a month. It’s all about the key performance metrics in the business. And right now they’re having to go here and there and here and there and everywhere to pull it all in. But what if we could, you’re saying so many things that are really interesting to me and I’ll sum it all up in one package. I was – before I started my business, like the last job that I had before I started my business was I was in the packaging department at American Honda. So like those fine tuned measurements were key.
KIM: These guys had to figure out how to get part x shipped from point A to point B without breaking, you know? So those measurements were key. But one of the things that we were looking at in our department all the time was a dashboard which measured, you know, how everything in the department was working. And this was something that they custom developed within the dashboard. And they had been working on it for five years to fine tune it. Like, and this was just guys who were doing this out of necessity. It definitely wasn’t pretty, but it worked.
KIM: But there were points that had to be entered on so many different excel spreadsheets. And it was my job to do that. And probably a good half of every Friday was spent gathering all those numbers so that it would be ready for Monday morning’s meeting. And there were many Monday mornings when I was still scrambling the fine numbers and it was just painful. And every time I ask my team to pull together our metrics, like I feel pain because I remember what it was like to find them for us. But why should it be painful? Like, why can’t –
KIM: – we just pull this stuff. And stuff isn’t the word that I would have used but I’m trying to keep us family friendly.
KIM: Coincidentally at the beginning of the episode you were talking about your high school friend and I think you said high school friend and her father did timing, is that what you said?
TIM: Yeah, it was my high school theater director and yeah, her dad was the – he owned this company that timed, yeah, marathons and races and things like that.
KIM: That’s so crazy. Because last night was my son’s final track meet of the season. And there was a timing company there and their cameras weren’t working, which is a big problem.
KIM: Because they weren’t able to get the numbers. So I can be on time for anything business related. But last night I was actually early for the track meet, that does not hAppen. He’s also a runner, so all the field events hAppened first. So I give myself that grace. I can be there on time for his races, but I don’t need to be there for all the field events. But I’m sitting there for like a half hour, oh, and by the way, I got an idea for my new funnel on the way there. So I’m like sitting there trying to figure out how I can dictate my whole funnel into my phone. And then they say: “Oh, we’ll be starting in about a half hour.” I was like: “Seriously, now I’m going to be sitting here for an hour and they only have this much juice in my phone.” And then two more hours goes by, because the camera’s aren’t working. And by the time they got started, they announced that the numbers that they record will not be sent for state qualifiers anymore.
TIM: Oh man.
KIM: So our team just stands up and leaves because that was the whole point of them being there. They needed those –
KIM: – those last state qualifier numbers. I was like: “Oh, mmm..” There was a word.
KIM: I’m Kim Sutton and I cuss a lot off the podcast [laughs]. And we all left after being there for like three, four hours. But I just felt so sorry because I looked at the company’s website and as a good thing I’m not one of those people who goes, like I tried to go on social media to praise people. If I have an issue –
KIM: – with something that’s gone wrong then I will contact them directly. But I don’t need to blast people on social media.
KIM: And it’s like wow, look at where they’ve come from, because in 2000 they timed four events. And this year, they’re only in Ohio but they’re timing over 300 different events. And, you know, there are a small company just like me. They don’t need to be blasted.
KIM: Tim, I was feeling it last night. It was like I’ve got so much to do than wait for you, but I understand and I’ll be nice cause I understand how stressed you must be right now. But oh my gosh listeners, stay tuned because at some point after my schedule crazies down, Tim I’d love to share my idea with you and see if there’s a way that it could hAppen. But I do have a question.
KIM: After your team build out the Apps, who handles all updates and everything. Do you handle that in house or do you turn it over to your client and say: “Okay, get your, you know, get your development team who will keep things up with Apps updates and iOS updates and all that?
TIM: Typically, we just handle it ourselves. We do have – the occasional client, especially when we’re dealing with a startup, we’ve had clients in the past where we support them up to a certain point and then they get to the point where they really do need a full time around the clock team developing things. But when it comes to the kind of software that we build, you know, there are yearly things that need to be done, like when iOS and android update and do all that kind of stuff. But, you know, once you build it and it’s working, as long as you’re not adding a ton of features and things aren’t changing around you, you know, we ideally like to build software that just kind of works. So, but you’re right, there isn’t maintenance that does need to be done and when that hAppens, their clients just come back to us and we help however we can.
KIM: You know, I think I was thinking about that because just about a month ago I had the founder of planner on. And planner helps you make your Instagram layouts look incredible. And it didn’t even occur to me that while her App may not need to be updated when Instagram is constantly updating, that’s where she needs her team of 10 to stay on top of Instagram and Facebook and whatever other tools they bring in. They’re looking at other social media Apps too, but just for her that and she boot straps that every new social media platform that she adds. Like it’s not like just having to keep up with Apple or iOS or Android, it’s also, Facebook changes every single day it feels like sometimes. Yeah.
TIM: Yeah. And then that’s one thing I always worry about when people say like we got to have like login with Facebook and login with this, and then we got to integrate with all the social things. And it’s like: “Do you really need to do that?” Because in some cases, like the App you were talking about, yeah, like that’s the key whole point of the App. But if your App doesn’t necessarily integrate directly or you have a strong need to integrate directly, it’s like skip the headache and just have a way for users to just export whenever you’re doing into Facebook or whatever and just let them deal with it.
KIM: Well, and what hAppens when you say something which pisses Facebook off and you get kicked off the platform? Or when you decide that you no longer want –
KIM: – that drama and you’ve used Facebook as your login for all these other platforms and you’re no longer there.
KIM: That’s what I’ve often thought about is no, I’ll use my email because I know I can get in there and change that out if I need to. And even for my team –
KIM: – I mean, I use Last Pass with my team and I’ve lost count right now of how many team members. When I use the Facebook login and it gets a pain to share login access with them because then they have to also have my Facebook and I don’t necessarily want everybody having access to my Facebook.
KIM: Yeah. Well what’s exciting you the most right now about the next 90 days in your business or in your podcast?
TIM: Well, I think with my business, it’s funny when we started the business, my business partner was going to be doing all the business stuff, doing all the sales, marketing numbers, all that stuff and I was going to just be doing all the tech stuff. But about a year and a half ago we switched. We did a 180, I’m doing all of our sales and marketing and that kind of stuff and he’s doing all of our technical stuff. He learned in programming and whatnot and he does all our project management. And I like to say I get everything in the door and he gets everything out door. So what’s been exciting me in the next 90 days, what I’m looking forward to is I only have two more projects that I’m actually developing on and I am wrApping those up and when I’m done I’m done. And the only thing I’m going to be doing is focusing on building our sales process and figuring out how to basically how to close more deals and get more people in the door with marketing. So that’s what’s been really exciting me is just continuing to – I think I got a good handle on how Apps work and I really do like figuring out how everything in our business works. So I’m excited to have the opportunity to really focus hard on how to improve our sales and marketing processes so we can scale even larger than we are right now.
KIM: Well, I think for marketing, just getting on this podcast would, you know, or any podcasts would be huge. I mean –
KIM: – you got me already thinking about an App. Yeah. Well I mean, and I can hear listeners gears clinking in there – clinking, what do gear sound like Tim?
TIM: Well, I guess if they’re not – grinding would be bad I guess.
KIM: And that’s why clinking doesn’t sound, listening –
KIM: Shifting. Thank you. I can hear the gear shifting like, hmm, what could I do? Ooh, because I know I’m not the only one who, I mean, ah, I can’t wait to talk to you about this –
TIM: Oh, yeah.
KIM: – but fabulous. And where can listeners find you online so they can get to know more about you and even more, where can they go to subscribe, rate and review your podcast?
TIM: Absolutely. Well the podcast is Constant Variables and we’re everywhere. You know, you gotta be out everywhere where podcasts are. The website is constant variables.co and if you’re interested in mobile software development and you have an idea and you just want to know, is this a good idea or how can we make this work for our business? Check out our website jedmahonisgroup.com. Or you can just Google Jed Mahonis Group because spelling Mahonis sometimes isn’t simple. So that’s really where you can find me and find us. And I love to chat Apps. So anybody that wants to chat Apps, give me a shout.
KIM: Fabulous. Now listeners, if you’re driving, if you’re trying not to burn dinner, by the way, I was listening to a whole bunch of previous episodes and for some reason for a whole bunch of them, I said, if you’re trying not to cook dinner, yes, that would also Apply to me, but if you’re trying not to burn dinner or if you don’t want to fall off the elliptical, you know, writing that down right now, you can go to the show notes, which again are at thekimsutton.com/pp569. Well Tim, this has been absolutely fantastic. I would love to know, first thank you again for joining us. You’ve got my gears, we said shifting, right? You’ve got –
KIM: – my gears. Yeah. Do you have a parting piece of advice or a golden nugget that you can offer to listeners?
TIM: Yeah. If you’re looking to build an App, make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. I think a lot of people think that you know an App is going to be this panacea that saves everything about your business. And it really – you need to make sure that, you know, an App development is expensive. It’s not a straightforward and easy as website development, for example. So when you’re getting into this space, it’s good to have – do your research, make sure you know how it’s either going to make you money or how it’s going to save you money from your business. And above all, when you’re working on an App, make sure you’re thinking about your end user and providing the best possible value for them because that’s going to make sure that your App is successful in the long run.