April 25, 2013
In Jason Duncan’s favorite entrepreneurship book, Think and Grow Rich, the author tells the story of a gold mine owner who drills for years and finds no gold. Discouraged, he sells the mine to someone else – who then proceeds to find gold, just a few feet away from where the first guy drilled.
The lesson here is about drive and stubbornness. After spending 20 years in software development and running a sports apparel company, Duncan is using his own drive and stubbornness to build ManagerComplete, a software application for managers handling multiple office locations.
ManagerComplete claims to reduce managers’ work by two hours per week – and 30 percent of their emails – by improving office-to-office communications. Instead of playing tag over phone, fax, and email, everything can be done on their cloud-based application: overseeing employee shifts, inventory, repairs, and more.
Below, Duncan shares some of the lessons he’s learned about persistence, and why “failing fast” is a mistake.
Tech Cocktail: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn so far?
Jason Duncan: Hiring the right salespeople. My last guy spent six months getting up to speed then quit because he says he burned out.
Tech Cocktail: What common startup advice do you completely disagree with?
Duncan: Fail early and fail fast. This is just ridiculous advice. If the idea was such a flop in the first place, it should have never been attempted. Too many people rush to the word “startup” without having the discipline to actually do some business research first. Besides, when you fail, you only learn what not to do next time. The important thing is learning what to do right, and that often starts with smart business planning and research first.
Tech Cocktail: If you had an extra $1,000 to spend on marketing, what would you do?
Duncan: I would negotiate Visual.ly down from $1,500 to $1,000 for a infographic about how our product helps franchisees manage multiple locations.
Tech Cocktail: What’s your biggest personal weakness and how do you make up for it?
Duncan: My passion is relentless, and my vision is very clear. My drive is way beyond most other people so I have to be careful not to drive people too hard.
Tech Cocktail: What do you wish someone had told you about startup life?
Duncan: It’s like an endless sparring session: there is always something coming along that is new, challenging, and hard to navigate.
Tech Cocktail: What personality trait has served you the best as an entrepreneur?
Duncan: Stubbornness. You have to have this because it is very, very difficult sometimes. If you are not very stubborn it’s just too easy to throw in the towel.
Tech Cocktail: How do you unwind on the weekend?
Duncan: Pool or hikes with my family here in beautiful Austin, TX.
Tech Cocktail: What’s the weirdest way someone has used your product?
Duncan: One of my clients has about 90 locations in Houston. About once a month, they use our product to post Be On The Lookout alerts (BOLO) for criminals that are either robbing locations or passing counterfeit money. These criminals will go from one location to the next. Our bulletin alert system put a stop to that.
Tech Cocktail: What’s the most encouraging sign of success you’ve seen so far?
Duncan: Landing some national accounts with more than 100 locations.
Tech Cocktail: What’s your crazy, long-term, huge vision?
Duncan: I want ManagerComplete to be seen and recognized as the Salesforce.com of operations management.
Tech Cocktail: If your startup were an animal, which one would it be and why?
Duncan: Meerkat – social and agile.
Tech Cocktail: If your startup were a cocktail, which one would it be and why?
Duncan: Top-shelf margarita with a Grand Marnier floater. People like the way it tastes and it relieves pressure.
Tech Cocktail: What’s one quirky fact about you?
Duncan: I have a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu and have trained with some of the top Mixed Martial Arts fighters in the world. I even got thrown around once by Randy Couture, two-time UFC heavyweight champ.
ManagerComplete was a showcased startup at our Tech Cocktail Austin mixer in April.
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