If you watch the NBC show The Apprentice, you might recognize the name Aaron Altscher – he appeared on the show a few years ago. The Baltimore-area native has worked at several startups, had a couple of successful exits, and teaches entrepreneurship. Just in case that’s not enough to make you feel like a total slacker, Altscher was an NCAA All Conference baseball player and a triathlete – he completed the 2011 Ford Ironman Triathlon finisher.
His latest venture, Handteq, was a showcased startup at last week’s Tech Cocktail Baltimore mixer event. Co-founded with David Fields and Kenny Clash, the beauty of Handteq is its simplicity: the company solves very basic business problems via mobile apps.
I caught up with Altscher via email to learn why Handteq is targeting 3 markets, how his drive to succeed informs his success, and what he learned on The Apprentice.
Tech Cocktail: Where’d the name come from?
Aaron Altscher: We spent a good amount of time searching for names that would adequately describe our product offerings. This was a fun, yet daunting task, until we completely simplified the process. In short, we put technology in our users’ hands. From this practical concept, Handteq was born!
Tech Cocktail: Do you feel like you’re chasing too many different target markets right out of the gate?
Altscher: From a technical perspective, our system is modular and our technology is flexible. We use a proprietary system built by our extremely skilled, savvy, and resourceful CTO, David Fields, that makes it very simple to transition into other industries from a tech standpoint. For us, presence in multiple industries is no different from supporting multiple clients within the same industry.
Tech Cocktail: How has your intense interest in fitness informed you as an entrepreneur – and vice versa?
Altscher: The best example I can provide is a comparison between training for the Ironman and running a startup. The keys to success are very much the same: hard work, dedication, follow-through, and a fiercely competitive nature that pushes me to succeed at everything I do. Loving what you do doesn’t hurt either! Whether it’s fitness or entrepreneurship within the tech world, love what you do.
Tech Cocktail: What did you learn about entrepreneurship on The Apprentice?
Altscher: The Apprentice was an awesome learning experience for which I am extremely thankful. I was challenged with those obstacles that are absolutely present in the world of entrepreneurship and startups: working with different personalities and professional backgrounds, innovative product development, operating under difficult time constraints, delivering to varying client bases, and being scrutinized by one of the world’s most opinionated names in business. Build an excellent team and a superior product, then sell! Perhaps more importantly, I learned that a lot of people are interested in whether Donald Trump’s hair is real or not. I’ll never tell!
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