Before he graduated high school, Joshua Davidson was running his own website design company Chop Dawg, where he helps entrepreneurs implement their “next big idea.” Now, Joshua is 20 years old and continues to work with entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality. In this interview Joshua introduces us to Chop Dawg and shares some of his advice to other entrepreneurs trying to do what his clients are doing…starting companies.
What is your company all about??
We call our business model unofficially a startup catapult. So you right now, for most non-technical entrepreneurs, to have your idea happen you need to go one of three routes:
1) You need a CTO,
2) You need to join to an Incubator
3) You hire a design and development firm.
They all have their serious cons to an entrepreneur. Our goal is to offer a new alternative by saying we can provide the pros that come with all of them, but eliminate nearly all the cons. We do not take equity, we provide the expertise and knowledge in the startup world, and we try to maintain an affordable pricing structure. It has really worked out. And in a non-cliche way of putting it, the fact we offer such a wide-range of talented services allows us to help a startup in all aspects of their product image. Everything from web development, mobile development, website design, branding, marketing, content writing, video production, hosting, legal services, etc. It is the perfect marriage of talent and support that allows us to be incredibly successful with our customers and create the most ideal products possible.
What were some of the unique struggles you’ve had being a young entrepreneur?
I think being taken seriously at first was the hardest struggle I personally faced. It took some time until my portfolio and experience really shifted that attitude toward entrepreneurs.
Any advice on funding?
We’re actually completely bootstrapped. We use the profits from our company operations to build and make our company better. In fact, 96% of last years profits are planned to be used at some point or another this calendar year. We are huge longterm thinkers and want us to grow bigger and bigger so that we can help more startups become reality. At the same token, using our own profits and no outside funding allows us to keep in mind what is most important, our customers and having them basically act as investors towards us is our best way to remain focused on this. We are in business for them and our end-goal is to make as big of a difference for them as possible.
You work with a lot of small companies and startups…what is the biggest mistake they make?
I could list a ton, so pinpointing one mistake is tough. I would have to say for sure that too many startups try to do to much at first. It is really important to get that one thing down first before moving to the next. You have one shot to win over a customer, and an over-confusing product, whether it has no defined purpose or too much functionality, is something I see far too often. We really try to work on this concept with the entrepreneurs who work with us at Chop Dawg. You have excited entrepreneurs who are ready to take on the world, but they always forget that taking on the world needs to be a step-by-step process, not a giant leap.
What have been some of your biggest mistakes and lessons learned?
Personally, my biggest mistake to date has been in the past getting too high and getting too low. It was something that took me sometime before I truly could grasp the concept of being even-keel. I remember clear as day the quote someone told me a few years back that I like to remind myself often, “it is never as good as it seems and never as bad as it seems.” I try to pass this to my team as well. When things are going exceptionally well, I like to remind them that if we lose focus on continuing to better ourselves and our services, we won’t continue to grow. And I remind them too when things are going bad for awhile, that it will pass as long as we remain focused. It truly helps.
What’s influenced you as an entrepreneur the most?
The fact that my team and I get to make a difference is what it is all about. I am very much influenced by the fact that I get to see the most incredible ideas become a reality, which otherwise if it wasn’t for Chop Dawg, may have never happened. It is very humbling and reminds me why I work the hours and go through the emotional-coaster that comes as an entrepreneur. It is worth it.
Advice to other entrepreneurs.
Always question yourself. I think that is why my company has been so successful to this point. We aren’t afraid after months of sweat and tears into a product to look back and say to ourselves, we can do this better and then go make it better. I think realizing that we are so fortunate to be where we are and understanding where we want to go allows this process to be much easier than it could appear on the outside looking in. We realize our mission and don’t let any barriers get in our way in accomplishing this. Staying focused is something that is incredibly tough for most people, and something you really need to dig deep into ensuring you never fall behind in your entrepreneurial or business quest.
Big thanks to Joshua for taking the time out to put together some thoughtful answers. Be sure to check out Chop Dawg if you’re interested in starting your own company but need tech savy help! Also be sure to check them out on twitter!