My gift is the ability to visualize niche markets in a highly fragmented and saturated marketplace. I can pull the intricacies out of the chaos developing a systemized process for managing those complexities and delivering a product that works well for all parties to the transaction.
Friday, August 18, 1995, launched my online marketing career, which is my first real scalable business. I had just logged into America Online at 7 PM and began looking around, knowing nothing about computers, let alone websites.
At around 8 PM, I found a place where you could create your site, something I immediately did after searching the online telephone pages for limousine companies. I created http://aol.com/~limolink/ and began working on LimoLink, the online directory for limousine businesses to network.
Little did I know, my creation would become a fifty-million dollar plus a year business that employs hundreds of people around the world. And that’s a business that earned me counseling from so-called experts saying my idea would not work.
Do you think I should have listened to the so-called experts?
I sold out of LimoLink and began flipping automobiles bought at dealer wholesale off-lease auctions. I would buy them at the big auction sales in Chicago, Milwaukee, and St Louis and then bring them home and list them on eBay. My average turnaround time ran less than fourteen days when the average dealer had their cars on the lot for ninety-days.
Soon, I had problems getting reliable shippers to handle delivering my vehicles, so I invested in my transport truck and hired a friend to drive. It worked so well; we decided to haul cars for other people, and next thing you know, I have five trucks and am in the car shipping business.
A lightbulb goes off, and it’s time to fix the problems in the auto transport industry which are eerily similar to the limousine industry.
Boom, we build the system, put together a team of people to work that system and in less than three years, produce twenty million dollars in sales in less than six months.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t end well, as numerous problems came together making for the perfect storm, and I wasn’t able to control the outcome. We failed, I failed, and that was the end of the auto shipping network.
The good news is that these are educational lessons in the life of the entrepreneur, and when applied are treasured.
The bad news, in this case, means I walked away with a significant amount of debt to manage with zero income.
Now, I find myself navigating the waters, searching for that next opportunity to hit it out of the ballpark, and I see a need in yet another highly fragmented and saturated marketplaces.
Will this need create another highly scalable business that creates even more jobs and profit than the others? Who knows? I will say this, I am liking working with the web development process, and is perfect if I can turn it into a profit center.
Some of my achievements include:
- Corridor Business Journals Fastest Growing Companies
- 2008 Prometheus Awards – Top Growth Company – Technology Association of Iowa
- INC 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies #541
- John Pappajohn Business Plan Award Winner
- Guest Speaker Entrepreneurial Studies at University of Iowa Pappajohn MBA school.
- Published frequently in several trade journals in both the limousine and affiliate marketing industry
- Serve on Iowa Kids Net recruitment committee for foster/adoptive parents
- Parent volunteer for weekly Kindergarten computer lab
- Foster/Adoptive Parent to two children
- Foster/Adoptive owner of multiple rescue dogs