April 24, 2013
James Blackburn is a small business owner and an entrepreneur. With Mobi2Market, his goal is to give businesses access to the marketing services that big corporations have, without putting them out of business.
Mobi2Market, the company he started with his son Mike, helps businesses send promotions, coupons, and event announcements to customers. Customers just sign up, choose their preferred communication (like email or text), then get offers tailored to them. Over time, the system learns what they like and don’t like, and small businesses get feedback on which campaigns perform best. That all starts at $99 per month.
Below, Mike Blackburn shares some lessons from his startup journey in Boise.
Tech Cocktail: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn so far?
Mike Blackburn: That it’s okay to fail as long as you learn from it. I have been part of several startups and not all of them have been successful. So looking back, those lessons have taught me how to look forward while changing personally and professionally.
Tech Cocktail: How do you keep your team motivated at the office?
Blackburn: Innovation. When we have our weekly meeting, it’s great to look at where we have been and where we are going. New features and processes can make it fun when those releases come out. I also enjoy sharing successes.
Tech Cocktail: What common startup advice do you completely disagree with?
Blackburn: Doing startups is a young person’s game. If you have a passion and drive to succeed, you can do anything.
Tech Cocktail: If you had an extra $1,000 to spend on marketing, what would you do?
Blackburn: Mailings. Not very sexy, but the medium still works.
Tech Cocktail: What’s your biggest personal weakness and how do you make up for it?
Blackburn: I have never been a big fan of large group meetings. I have always enjoyed dealing with people one-on-one so I intentionally took a job that forced me to do large training meetings. It was never my favorite thing to do but I learned a lot from the processes.
Tech Cocktail: What keeps you motivated on the hard days?
Blackburn: The dream of what the product and company can become. Sometimes you need to take yourself out of the day-to-day tasks to dream a little bit. This helps us focus on why we started this project in the first place.
Tech Cocktail: What do you wish someone had told you about startup life?
Blackburn: Work-life balance is very important. If you get lost in your work and your business is successful, this really doesn’t mean much if you lose your family in the process.
Tech Cocktail: What personality trait has served you the best as an entrepreneur?
Blackburn: Problem solving – I have always enjoyed a good puzzle. I have never looked at things the same way as most people. Thinking outside the box has helped me create solutions to problems.
Tech Cocktail: How do you unwind on the weekend?
Blackburn: If I’m not working, I am with my family. A young family can be a full-time job as well.
Tech Cocktail: What’s your crazy, long-term, huge vision?
Blackburn: We deal with businesses that have a large amount of customers. Our long-term vision would be to have millions of unique users all over the US.
Tech Cocktail: If your startup were an animal, which one would it be and why?
Blackburn: An animal that would represent us would be a horse, since horses are quick and nimble and like to serve. Our business is built on serving our customers and changing our product to the requests of our clients.
Tech Cocktail: What’s one quirky fact about your team?
Blackburn: This is a father-son startup that has worked together on multiple projects for over 10 years.
Mobi2Market was a showcased startup at our Tech Cocktail Boise mixer in April.
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