Seasoned Entrepreneurs Ken Krogue, cofounder of InsideSales.com, and Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch, motivated the nearly 1000 aspiring entrepreneurs at the 2016 RootsTech Innovator Summit General Session this morning with tales of their journeys to success and important lessons they learned along the way.
Inside Out, Upside Down and Backwards
Steve Rockwood entertained with his “inside-out, upside-down” practice for solving problems that is the key to his early success in the call-center industry, and what he promotes to the innovators seeking to come up with the next BIG thing in the multi-billion dollar family history industry. He and his partner “decided to change the whole paradigm and approach it backwards” instead of bringing Mohammed to the mountain, they brought the mountain to Mohammed, designing a system where call center employees could work from home, and detailed how they came up with the innovative technology to make it possible, and suggesting that competition need not be feared but embraced.
He enthusiastically encouraged innovating the family history industry, reviewed some of the amazing developments FamilySearch has undergone in the past few years, outlined what the FamilySearch thrust will be in the upcoming few years, and even imagined some mind blowing possibilities for the future. He talked about the power of emotions in family history work. “Family history is all about the positive emotions of love, joy and peace evoked while doing family history . . . active enthusiasts love to feel the thrill-of-the-hunt and the “Eureka” of a breakthrough.”
He tickled the imagination of entrepreneurs by outlining the upcoming five key experiences FamilySearch is focusing on:
- Discovery – through simple story sharing, all the way to tech-rich record hints
- Family Trees – to connect people
- Searchable Records – making finding our ancestors easy and available to all
- Memories – ways to preserve and share photos and stories
- Contextual Help – bringing relevant and simple help right into the FamilySearch online experience as needed.
Finally, Rockwood mused about making family history as integral and pervasive in the every day life of ordinary people as, say, math – what if social media posts about family were automatically added to our family tree? What if Siri or Cortana gave family history side trip suggestions as we travel, or have family history enhance other industries?
From Start-up to Unicorn
Ken Krogue, hailing from household names such as Franklin Covey, Infobases, and Ancestry before starting award winning InsideSales.com, shared 15 major essentials to taking your start-up idea to Unicorn status – (private company valued at $1 billion or more). While doing so, he shared personal stories from his own career.
- Innovation – which he called “creative plagiarism” is applying established practices to a new system.
- Go Sell – don’t waste your time building a business till you know your product will sell.
- Keep a fresh perspective – Ken told a story about coming into a new company and noticing a bright orange extension cord running through the building that everyone there had tuned out – new eyes notice things you can’t see.
- Find what works, then focus, focus, focus – find the “tap root” of your market and stay focused on that to go straight up (diversify later).
- Know what you really sell – ask yourself – “what is the result you bring in the lives of your customers” – that is what you are selling!
- Provide crazy value – if you can provide all three – quality, speed, and best price – you create real value to your customers.
- Divert a river – Don’t dig a well from scratch – he recommended Google Keyword Planner Tool – to find the top keyword searches, divert that traffic to your site, and fulfill what people are looking for.
- Swim with the sharks – be symbiotic, like the Pilot Fish, and give back value to the big guys in the industry.
- Does one person matter? – Ken shared how even a single comment matters – 2500 people feel the same way – build your audience with twitter – your followers will re-tweet and spread the word for you – always answer calls! – how fast should you respond to web based leads – the average is 39 hours only 27 % of web based inquiries ever get answered. Respond right away!
- Only raise money when you don’t need it – by paying your own way you become what Ken calls “scrappy” – grow organically – it forces you to work hard and execute your plans – you can’t afford not to.
- Find investors who invest in you – people who believe in you will bring their connections to you.
- Manage by the numbers – use predictive analytics & big data – Ken shared the story of Oakland A’s manager, Billy Bean, who used science and statistics to build a championship team – showing a clip from the film Moneyball – go home and watch it again and see how it applies to you!
- Digital Media Rules – high growth companies used online leads – the best form of online media is a personal blog! That’s how Ken got started!
- Content + Distribution – results Matter – great content is only half the equation – you have to get your message seen.
- Give back along the way – as you prosper, support your favorite cause
Ken has a passion for Family History saying that family history stories bring people together, sharing some of his own touching ancestral stories.
Finally, Krogue shared 6 fertile topics innovators should keep an eye on while considering future innovations:
- Apps converging back into platforms
- From growth to profitability
- Results focus
- Wearable tech – life management
- Predictive analytics
So go start a blog, remember to answer every call, and look at problems with an inside out, upside down, backward perspective and let your start-up take flight!