Jonathon Ende began his entrepreneurial pursuit and started his first company in Southern Florida. He is currently the CEO of his latest startup, bizodo. Based in NYC, Bizodo allows anyone to easily convert any document into an easy to use web form. The existing process of exchanging data and documents online is costly and frustrating. It involves lots of time, pens, paper and printers. Bizodo allows you to create, complete and sign any document via a simple link. Upon submission it automatically creates the doc, allows for eSignatures, creates a database of info and syncs it with your cloud.
Jonathon graduated from Emory University with a degree in business and a double major in philosophy. While he has the habit of working on many companies at once, after the sale of his last company to a publicly traded company he has set all his attention on bizodo. His mission is to turn bizodo into the easiest way online to not only collect information, but to manage it. Jonathon absolutely hates paper and looks forward to using bizodo to automate the paperwork process and save tons of ink.
A true master of multitasking, online marketer and serial entrepreneur, Jonathon Ende took the time to talk to the Rackspace Startup Program about what it takes to launch a web-based company that helps businesses optimize. He has built and sold over 15 companies and what follows is his expertise on how to extinguish challenges while building a business:
How did you brand bizodo online?
The name bizodo came from a combination of “biz” which is a shortcut for business; we help make your business processes shorter, and “odo” which is not only an acronym for online document optimization, but also is the name of our adorable orange mascot. Everybody loves Odo! We wanted something that was professional yet unintimidating. Paperwork automation or creating forms for a small business owner can be intimidating. We wanted something that was welcoming. We did a ton of user polls and the unanimous adjective was “inviting” (”awesome” was runner up).
What was your go to market strategy?
Bizodo is a very dynamic tool with a wide array of use cases. It was difficult to say we are a human resources tool or a legal tool. We assessed multiple industries and chose the ones that are the most paper intensive. We then found potential beta customers within each vertical and measured their interest in regards to the value to them, the potential sales cycle, pain it was relieving and market growth. We ended up choosing human resources because of how vast the industry was with tons of paperwork and no actual solutions that allowed a company to automate their existing docs and no guidance for a small business to know which docs to use. We are excited to be helping companies, getting great feedback and then starting to automate the rest of their business!
What business lessons were learned launching bizodo?
MVP! Whether you are just getting started or planning the next feature or tool for your existing software, it is incredibly important to create a Minimum Viable Product. Put together a wireframe or diagram of the entire product and then go through and take away as much as possible. Then go through and take out more. Finally set a reasonable timeline, set to-do lists of small actionable items and then create your goals for getting it done!
What business challenges have you run into?
Where to begin…being an entrepreneur, by definition, includes having to deal with challenges. You have to constantly be coming up with solutions and think on your feet. In business, there will always be mistakes and there will always be challenges, but what separates the good (or dead) companies and the great ones is how those challenges are extinguished.
What business wins have you achieve?
I sold my last company to a publicly traded company. It was a great feeling to hustle and build up a company and then be able to sell it. Another win was when bizodo was ranked by PC Magazine as a Top Small Business Web App of 2012. When you start a company on an idea, it is a leap of faith, so it is always nice to get an affirmation of your concept.
What are the “to-do’s” and “not-to-do’s” while building a business?
Do find something that you are passionate about. When you are passionate about it, not only does it show, but it will shine through with your product or service. Do NOT rely on other people to help or follow through. Yes, there are plenty of people that can help, and will help, but remember the ball is always in your court.
What was the “Good, the Bad & the Ugly” of establishing bizodo?
The Good: Learning. As an entrepreneur you never stop learning.
The Bad: Long Nights. Get ready for plenty of nights when you work until dawn only to go home and pull out the laptop in bed.
The Ugly: Bad Business. Unfortunately in business you will come across people that are not looking for the win-win in a situation. I always try to find the win-win in every business arrangement and avoid anyone that is not looking for the same thing.
What stumbling blocks did you experience while establishing your business?
I have had over 15 companies since graduating college, all with varying success. From selling to a publicly traded company to ones with over 75 employees to ones that never even got fully off the ground. There will always be stumbling blocks and, if you are smart, pivots. It is essential to evaluate and validate often and honestly. It is not easy to say that an idea “sucks” but it will save you tons of money and sweat if you admit it early.
From a serial entrepreneur, what straight up business advice would give to a startup?
Use bizodo for exchanging all your documents and data online, obviously! Ask people before you start and create a free bizodo questionnaire and see if they will validate your assumptions. Don’t give up; you haven’t failed until you quit.
The Rackspace Startup Program thanks our favorite Emory Eagle, Jonathan Ende, for taking the time out of his busy schedule to enlighten us on the fact that as an entrepreneur you never stop learning. For more insight on hosting your startup on the Rackspace open cloud platform backed by Fanatical Support™, contact the Space Cowboys today.
To get more insight from startups, check out previous posts in our Straight Up Startup series.