Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

ChooseWhat.com: Helping Entrepreneurs Turn Their Business Ideas Into A Reality

ChooseWhat.com:  Helping Entrepreneurs Turn Their Business Ideas Into A RealityChooseWhat.com is designed for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs to provide tools and resources to start and run a business from the ground up. Created in Austin, TX in the fall of 2007, the company has grown from the two founders to a total of 14 full time employees and two interns. The idea for ChooseWhat came about when Leo Welder and Gaines Kilpatrick noticed that there was a lack of resources out there to help business owners effectively choose services such as an online faxing, ideally by comparing several services all in one place. This idea was driven home when Leo and Gaines needed an online faxing service to begin their business venture. Gaines scoured the Internet to find a product, and after spending an absurd amount of time searching through individual online fax providers and finally selecting a faxing service, they found that it was incompatible with their overall needs after a few uses. Frustrated at the amount of time and effort wasted on looking for something as simple as an online faxing service, ChooseWhat’s first business product review category, Online Fax was born.

Online-Fax.ChooseWhat.com is a resource and comparison site that eliminates the grunt work of online research. Instead of researching online fax companies on an individual basis, you can compare organized and consolidated information about top online fax service providers all in one place. This includes the price of the service, storage space, amount of faxes that can be sent and received, and various other features. The founders created several other business review categories once they saw the potential to help other entrepreneurs in need when starting a business, which in the end evolved into the ChooseWhat.com site.

The focal point of ChooseWhat.com is the ChooseWhat Startup Guide. This startup guide provides entrepreneurs with a business checklist that takes you from the very first step of starting your business, choosing the name of your company, all the way down to selecting a coffee maker for your office. The purpose of this guide is to help correctly lay your business foundation from the very beginning and alleviate some of the problems that can arise when a step is missed within the startup process. The guide is designed to get your business up and running as quickly as possible while also providing you options that will last for the long haul. ChooseWhat provides you with tips, tools, resources and a business forum where you can post questions and receive support within any area of the startup process.

ChooseWhat.com also offers a blog with related articles – or STARTicles. Here you will get supporting material with articles and resources to provide you with best practices you can use when starting and running a business. Various topics include how to design and print business cards, using QR codes to market your business, and using local SEO to attract more customers in your area.

A Little Background on the ChooseWhat Founders

ChooseWhat.com:  Helping Entrepreneurs Turn Their Business Ideas Into A Reality

Leo Welder

Leo Welder graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in finance and Plan II and has a Master’s in Business Administration from the Acton School which is an accelerated, case-based program focused on entrepreneurism. Mr. Welder spent three years with LCG & Apogee Search, two entities that provide online marketing services and consultations. During his tenure, Mr. Welder helped the company grow from five to over forty employees and in his roles as Sr. Account Executive and Director of Business Development, was a major contributor to Apogee Search’s becoming one of the top 1000 fastest growing companies in the country. Over the course of his career, Mr. Welder has founded or been one of the first five employees in four startups. Leo is also very involved in the Austin community with work in several charity and civic organizations.

http://www.twitter.com/CW_LeoW

Personal Interview: Leo Welder

How did you get started or become interested in entrepreneurship?

I’ve been interested in entrepreneurship since I was very young. When I was 20 years old, I started my first business, a rock climbing guide service called Rock’a’Fellas. This business taught me many lessons about the hardships that come along with starting and running your own business. After struggling along for a year, I decided to re-focus on school, but I still made time to intern with another startup that imported designer candles from Africa and sold wholesale around the country. I was shocked to find that, although these two businesses were in two very different industries, the problems that they both faced were very similar. Dealing with hiring issues, taxes, insurance, marketing, were the primary issues. Also, both businesses were bootstrapped, so managing cash and suppliers was critical. After graduating, I found a great full time job, but I always knew I would be back in the startup world before long.

How did your passion develop for wanting to extend your entrepreneurial knowledge and services to others starting their own ventures?

My passion developed out of several events. Even though the two ventures between rock climbing and candle importing were very different in nature, I faced the same problems – infrastructure and organizational issues. Here I learned great lessons and it gave me some of the reasons why I started ChooseWhat.com. I learned that you have to put systems in place for things like bookkeeping and insurance from day 1, because if you don’t, these areas will eventually create problems and become incredible drags on your business.

Later in my career, while working at Apogee Search, I noticed that there wasn’t a useful source of online information about business services. There were many companies that provided great services to small businesses such as online fax services or email marketing tools, but I couldn’t find a website that organized information about these companies and compared them. Most small business owners don’t have time to spend hours researching service providers, but having the right service can be critical. I wanted to create a place where they could find well organized, jargon free information about the services a small business needs to get up and running. This tool would allow entrepreneurs to make quick, well informed purchasing decisions and allow them to spend more time on things like sales or engineering to grow their businesses.. This saves time, money, and frustration. I wanted to give other entrepreneurs the tool that I wished I had when starting my businesses. Hence, ChooseWhat.com was born.

What advice would you want to give other entrepreneurs?

Plan to succeed. Don’t just complete a few steps when first setting up your business that will work for the temporary circumstances. Go the extra mile when setting up your business. For example, even though you may be able to get by without a good system for managing your books when you first start, when you start to grow, this lack of process will quickly become a huge problem that you will no longer have time to address. Being prepared with what you need before you need it is what keeps your operation running smoothly in the long run.

What was the biggest transition you had to make in regards to developing a new skill set, habits or focus?

When you own a company, everything you do is under a microscope. All the bad habits you had as an employee have to be eliminated. As a leader of my company, I have to set a good example for our employees, because they take cues from leadership on what is acceptable. And you can’t just tell them what to do; you have to lead by example. If you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. You can’t ask your employees to do something that you aren’t willing to do yourself.

What can you tell other social entrepreneurs that are deciding to make a difference?

Jeff Moore, the former women’s tennis coach for the University of Texas at Austin once told me that if you are trying to make an impact, you have to be inspirational and have a clear purpose that everyone understands and follows. When you have a clear purpose, your team will know what to do when faced with a decision. Without a clear purpose, your employees will not have a clear direction.

Book you would like to recommend?

At ChooseWhat.com we have weekly book club meetings where we get together and meet to discuss the recent chapter from the book we are reading at the time. Some of my favorite books that I have read and re-read are: The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber, Ben Franklin, Americas Original Entrepreneur by Blaine McCormick and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

Where do you see the company in the next 2-5 years?

ChooseWhat.com will be the recommended online resource for every entrepreneur needing clear direction on how to build a startup’s infrastructure.

ChooseWhat.com: Helping Entrepreneurs Turn Their Business Ideas Into A Reality

Gaines Kilpatrick

Gaines Kilpatrick graduated with a BA from the University of Texas at Austin and holds a Business Foundations Certificate from the McCombs School of Business at UT. Gaines is responsible for managing company resources, risk management and developing plans for growth. He also has a background in commercial real estate. Prior to founding Zilker Ventures, LLC, Gaines and Leo initiated a lead generation project focused on the 1031 exchange space, but were forced to abandon the project due to adverse changes in the market. However, exploring this opportunity created the platform that eventually grew into Zilker Ventures, LLC. In his commercial real estate career, Gaines has closed transactions in eight different states and multiple product types with an aggregate value in excess of $545 million.

http://www.twitter.com/CW_GainesK

Personal Interview: Gaines Kilpatrick

How did you get started or become interested in entrepreneurship?

I tend to have a vision of how I see things and how I can help improve what is already being done. In order to get out there and get things done, these visions lend themselves to starting your own business and creating the change you want to see. The first business I started was when I was 22, which was importing wine from Argentina. I quickly learned that picking the right partner was an essential part of success which, I have found with my partner, Leo, here at ChooseWhat.com.

How did your passion develop for wanting to extend your entrepreneurial knowledge and services to others starting their own ventures?

After starting several companies, I began to see several common issues that most entrepreneurs and those starting a business faced. I wanted to find a way to take the knowledge that I had gained through my own ventures and create a company where I could extend this knowledge to others so that they would avoid some of the mistakes that I made. I wanted to develop a way to help others be successful and guide them to make as few mistakes as possible during the startup process.

What advice would you want to give other entrepreneurs?

Plan for success and be willing to accept when you are wrong. Don’t begin a business if you have doubts that you are going to succeed. You need to go all in and set up your foundation right the first time. That’s why we developed the ChooseWhat.com Startup Guide – So we could provide other entrepreneurs with a guide to follow so that they can know they are setting up their business right the first time and not have to scramble or even face failure if something was not done correctly from the get go.

What was the biggest transition you had to make in regards to developing a new skill set, habits or focus?

I had to develop several new skills that were not my strong point. At ChooseWhat, attention to detail is essential and I always struggled with this skill. Fortunately, the skills that I lacked my partner made up for and vice versa.

What can you tell other entrepreneurs that are deciding to make a difference?

Focus on solving a problem. Trying to capture existing market share isn’t a good business plan. Look for what is missing or broken and sell your solution.

Book you would like to recommend?

Some of my favorite books that I have read are The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, and How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Where do you see the company in the next 2-5 years?

Total world domination! ChooseWhat.com will be the go to resource for anyone starting a business.

Conclusion:

ChooseWhat.com has come a long way since we began in 2007 with only a splash page. Each day we are continuing to improve our services, tools, and resources that can further assist during the process of starting a business. Even if you are not completely sure that starting a business is right for you, ChooseWhat is here to provide support and information to guide you in the right direction so that when you do take the first step, you will be well equipped with the right tools and information necessary to be successful.

Facebook.com/HelpingSmallBusinessesMakeBigChoices

Twitter.com/Choosewhat.com

Google+/ChooseWhat.com

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

Shoestring Book Reviews

Shoestring Venture Reviews
Richard Hooker on Jim Blasingame

Shoestring Fans and Followers


Categories

Archives

Business Book: How to Start a Business

Shoestring Book

Shoestring Venture in iTunes Store

Shoestring Venture - Steve Monas & Richard Hooker

Shoestring Kindle Version # 1 for e-Commerce, # 1 for Small Business, # 1 for Startup 99 cents

Business Book – Shoestring Venture: The Startup Bible

Shoestring Book Reviews

Shoestring Venture Reviews

Invesp landing page optimization
Powered By Invesp
Wikio - Top Blogs - Business