Today, I will share a very insightful interview which I had with Joshua Davidson, CEO, Chop Dawg. Joshua founded the mobile, apps and website development company, Chop Dawg at the age of 16. Apart from web development, Chop Dawg also provides services related to branding of a product, Windows development, Web hosting, Video production and marketing, SEO and content writing services.
When he was 20, Joshua launched another company called Subtle, which focuses on integrating common tools like WordPress, Google Analytics, and other social networks. Joshua is a technology expert, speaker and investor and he helps in creating businesses which makes a difference in people’s lives. In his free time, he likes to test prototypes and discuss innovative concepts with other entrepreneurs. If you have any questions for him, you can connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin.
1) Please tell me more about yourself?
Joshua: Gladly! I have been an entrepreneur since I turned sixteen years old. I spend majority of my days helping others grow their companies and building incredible products that provide real value to those around the globe. My company is called Chop Dawg, which we help those who have amazing ideas but lack the technical skill, the ability for us to help take their great ideas and make them become a reality. We are constantly helping entrepreneurs launch their companies, their brands, their products, and then introducing them to our audiences to help build traction and bring in users.
I also speak around the United States about entrepreneurship and social media. I will speak often at different startup organizations, technology events, and as well schools/universities. It is really fun having the chance to talk about my personal story and inspiring others to take advantage of their ideas so that they can change the world. And lastly, I advise a few startups a month personally. I am a big advocate on early-stage growth and establishing user experiences, so I help startups and entrepreneurs focus on these key areas so that they can be successful. I basically get to spend everyday talking to some of the most intelligent, passionate entrepreneurs and build products that make a difference. Nothing better than that.
2) I liked the user interface and design of Chop Dawg. What are the advantages of using big fonts and interactive designs?
Joshua: I truly do appreciate the kind words, though I do not deserve any of the credit. That belongs to my insanely talented design team at Chop Dawg. Eddie Contento, who is one of the most hardworking, enthusiastic individuals that you will ever meet, helps run the day-to-day operations at Chop Dawg when it comes to our user experience side of things. He focuses on hiring the best of the best, so that our work quality is always at the highest potential that we can achieve and makes a direct, emotional impact to those who use our products/services each and everyday. We hold ourselves to a really high standard, since for majority of those online, they are hearing about us not because of any interviews or word-of-mouth, but because they are discovering products that we have built and designed. We consider ourselves artists and want our work to represent that.
I wouldn’t say that big fonts are the way we do things. It is more or less us approaching everything from an emotional point of view. We want our aesthetics and designs, rather it is an user in face, or a brand, to help communicate the story about that given product/company. We try to build products that are not just taking advantage of trends, but that will remain as a clear, consistent design (and foundation) for years to come. It comes down to building designs that are scalable, attractive, clean, yet still communicate that image you feel is necessary.
It is interesting that you use the word interactive to describe our work. We consider it as the word functional. If it is functional, users and everyday individuals will want to use it. We will encourage the products we build to be used correctly, how they were attended. And above all, make sure they provide the value that we believe they can provide to those using the products!
3) Please share some points regarding effective branding and social media marketing for an online product?
Joshua: People care about quality brands. As we approach 2014, I know that we see more than ever new startups being launched every single day. Most of them will pour so much effort into their products and do not get me wrong, that is great, but they neglect what I consider to be about 40% of important as the 60% that the product is — the execution. You need a strong brand to tell your story. You need to be able to clearly communicate. To get those interested in your audience. Quantity is the name of the game unfortunately in what we do. Those who focus on quality will succeed. The thing is though, too many individuals don’t do it. The real reason why is because it is hard. It is one of the hardest damn things as a startup, as a company, as an entrepreneur that you can do. Most people do not like hard work. But if you put in the hours, the sweat, the tears, it is always worth it.
4) What according to you, should be the points to consider before hiring an employee for an organization?
Joshua: It is interesting — I think most first time entrepreneurs and startups believe their is some sort of secret to hiring an employee. Truthfully, it is just common sense. Don’t hire until you have to hire. I find too many startups and entrepreneurs wasting funding that could better allocated elsewhere because they believe without employees, they don’t have clout. If you look at startups such as Instagram before being purchased by Facebook, they were so small for the longest time yet could because they understand both the cost opportunity and productivity that would be achieved in hiring employees vs focusing growth elsewhere. It is important to understand that for most companies, payroll is your biggest expense. Do not bring on that expense unless you know you can both cover it long-term and it will directly bring value to you in a form of quicker growth, allowing more talented individuals to focus on key areas, or other things in this nature.
Look for a few things. Being talented is huge. We only hire talented individuals. But that is typically the most important thing for most companies. It isn’t to us. Do not get me wrong, it is a huge factor for us deciding who to interview. But after someone is talented, you need much more. You need to understand they are just as passionate as you about your social mission as a company. That they will be a team player. Share the same long-term outlook. But at the same time, have ideas that they can bring to the table that differ yours, to give you a better perspective on your company and to be honest, life. Very similar to finding a good significant other in life, in my opinion. You need those to question the Status quo while always remaining in the best long-term interests.
Last thing that I would like to comment on, hire slow but fire fast. We demand A+ players at Chop Dawg. If we notice immediately after a new hire that though they are talented, they are not the right fit to us with our company culture, we will immediately let them go. You need to hold your team to the highest regard, and keep them there. A+ players attract other A+ players. B+ players attract C+, D+, etc.
5) When I was communicating with you via email, I was receiving some incredibly swift replies. What would be your tips for time management?
Joshua: I truly care about those who reach out to me. They are taking the time to speak with me. They are taking the time to email me, call me, hit me up on Twitter. Thousands of other entrepreneurs exist. In my market, thousands of competitors exist. Difference is, I truly care about these individuals. I believe that when you care about people, in return, they will care for you. It has been such a strength to our growth being able to network and help others. It is what drives us and why I will always try to respond to those as quick as I can. Time is of an essence while we are here on Earth and I want to make every single one count.
As for time management, I am very intense about this. I define my main goals that I need to complete in a given quarter. Then you break it down. How are you spending each day to accomplish these main goals? From there, identify weekly goals that need more immediate attention. Spend each day accomplishing those. As you break down the bigger scale to your day to day agendas, you can then prioritize what is most important to least. I will spend half my days in meetings (either with potential customers, existing clients, or my team), and the other half of the day juggling my responsibilities as a CEO for my company, doing my everyday tasks, running the business, reviewing our future projections, ensuring that we are doing the best job that we can.
6) What do you like to do when you are not working?
Joshua: I grew up about forty-five minutes east of the city of brotherly love, so I have always been passionate about my sport teams. I watch them all, Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Eagles, Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers. This past year, I even managed to visit Boston, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh to catch a Phillies game. One of the few things that I absolutely love. I actually use my competitiveness from sports back into my business. I think it is one of the biggest driving forces for me personally.
Other than that, try to spend as much time as I can with my family, my friends, my girlfriend. What we do at Chop Dawg and when I am personally speaking/advising means the world to me. It really does. But those around me on a more personal level also do too. It is important for me to always maintain a balance which is hard, but rewarding. I think too many entrepreneurs lose this focus and notice that even when their businesses become big and successful, they do not have that sense of fulfillment. To me, it is about having a naturally balanced live where I can build products that add value to millions, help make a difference to hundreds of entrepreneurs, while being surrounded by my friends and family. I think that combination will bring me the best amount of happiness and fulfillment.