Entrepreneur Profile: MobileCast Media

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Successfully launching and running a business is a daunting task. Getting a look inside the entrepreneurial mindset, to learn from a business owner who’s been down that road and can offer some sage advice is invaluable. Today we are speaking with John Houghton, Owner of MobileCast Media. Visit them online ahttp://www.mobilecastmedia.com/.

When launching your company in 2005, what were the most difficult challenges with getting the business up and running? Did you have help?

We started as a service startup to help other companies exploit the power of podcasting, and one of the biggest challenges was legal.  Most of our customers were from traditional industries, and there wasn’t much legal precedent for the digital rights involved in producing a podcast.  For example, if you want to make a music-based show and put it out on podcast, there was a number of copyright laws in place, but nobody knew which ones to apply.  As a result, a lot of companies ended up waiting in the wings.

How did you begin your career in mobile application development?

In 2011, one of our customers, Ericsson, had a successful podcast that we produced, and they wanted to build an app around it and add videos, so they asked us to develop it.  Since I had a software development background from Oracle, it was easy and a natural fit.  It turns out that the technologies for distributing podcasting via RSS dovetail nicely with apps and allow us to update the content real-time via a content management system.  Plus we had 6 years of expertise in mobile content marketing, so that made the whole project very successful because it got out to a wide audience, which is what they wanted.

What are some of the challenges associated with managing your own mobile application development company as opposed to just working at a mobile application development company? 

When you start and probably for the duration or your venture, you’re going to lack a regular paycheck.  It’s feast or famine.  One year you’ll be up, and another you’ll be down.  Sometimes the cycles are even longer, so you’ve got to hang in there.

What are some of the important “Start-Up Costs” associated with starting your own mobile application development company that need to be considered?

In order to be taken seriously by customers, you should incorporate your business.  Incorporation also provides liability protection.  In California, an S corporation costs $800 per year, and your CPA will probably charge an extra $1500 for your returns, an extra $1000 to keep your books, and you will need a payroll service such as ADP to pay yourself, which is about $70 a month.

Make sure you get expert advice, and even with advice that you think is good, you can make big mistakes.  One mistake is to pull your salary directly out of the corporation without setting up payroll.

Other than that, the biggest cost is getting clients.  There are a number of strategies and tactics for sales and marketing.  You really have to get out there to find out what other successful companies are doing to find new business and then adopt those techniques.

How did you generate clients early on in the business? 

You need to be good at selling, and I recommend a selling course such as the Dale Carnegie 3 day selling course.  I took it myself and found it very useful.  Before that, I relied entirely at first on my website to generate leads, and that was good, since I have a strong background in web development and SEO, but it wasn’t enough.  You need to get out to events and make lots of friends, and you should consider doing some outbound marketing, such as cold calling.  Most founders abhor the idea of cold calling, but if you can make 50 – 100 calls a day and get advice on adjusting your pitch, it’s hard not to succeed.

A few authors have been selling lots of books by saying that cold calling is dead, but it’s not, and it’s perfectly fine for a founder to cold call.  It does take a while to get good at it though, so you might get a mentor or hire a coach.

How do you adapt the constant changes in the mobile application technology?

In order to stay on top of things, I love listening to podcasts, although there aren’t many out there that hit my interests just right.  So what I do is get the schedule of a cutting edge conference and then look up all the speakers to see if I can find a recent talk of theirs on YouTube.  I then convert their talk to mp3 using an online mp3 converter.  It’s pretty quick.  You can have a lecture downloaded and converted in about a minute or two.  After that, I load all the MP3s onto a play list on my iPhone and listen with a Bluetooth headset.  I listen while I’m driving, working out, or organizing and cleaning.  On one recent weekend, I organized my whole garage and consumed 16 hours of audio content.

Otherwise, there is no substitute for doing it.  If you don’t have any projects, I suggest volunteering to help on somebody else’s project.  Also, it’s important to spend money to buy the latest things.  For example, you won’t be conversant in wearables if you don’t have a Fitbit or Pebble and the latest iPhone.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned about running an online business over the last 10 years, and what advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur wanting to get started in mobile application development today?

Make sure you’re passionate about your idea and don’t just do it for the money.  The passion will make you work harder than you otherwise could.  Without that motivation, you’re not likely to make it.  Passion will see you through and infuse your conversations with enthusiasm.  It will make other people want to follow.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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