Most entrepreneurial dreams start with a biopic of Steve Jobs or a glance at the revenue from their high school lawn mowing career. Daniel Black, CEO and founder of Glass-Media, started his company after taking a close look to the poor state of the digital signage industry.
“Upon jumping into the world of digital signage, I came to two realizations,” he explained in an interview with Tech.co. “First, the digital signage industry is largely fragmented and second, display technology suffers from inadequate brightness to compete with direct sunlight.”
Black's response was to create Glass-Media, a company with the tech to turn any storefront, street-facing glass or indoor surface into a vivid and interactive display capable of running the latest digital ad campaign in real time. In other words, it creates a dynamic new version of a storefront.
I learned a lot in my interview with Daniel, including Black's biggest challenges and advice for any entrepreneurs interested in the hardware/software space.
The Industry Has Few Disrupting Forces
When further explaining the inspiration that led him to build a tech company centered on interactive displays, Black explained what any tech entrepreneur should know: in order to disrupt an industry, you must pick one that has far less innovation than it needs.
“The storefront has been neglected,” Black says. “There has been little innovation and technological disruption at the storefront, brands remain limited to paper posters, neon signs, vinyl wraps or stickers and window paint among other antiquated marketing solutions with little to no measurable return on investment.”
Black grew passionate about disruption at the storefront based on what was lacking in the marketplace. The next step? Founding a company to do something about it.
Scaling Up Takes Patience
Black offered two points of advice in regard to the lessons he learned while scaling up in the digital sign business: the importance of operational efficiency, and the need to “lean on strategic partners, alliances, vendors and suppliers.”
You'll also need patience to thrive as an entrepreneur as things don’t always happen on your time frame.
“Designing, developing and delivering a truly scalable solution took much longer than I had initially anticipated,” Black said.
Learn How to Balance Fundraising
“As the founder, I’ve learned that the responsibility to raise capital falls largely on my shoulders and that it not only takes considerable time and energy, but every hour I spend fundraising is an hour less time I’m able to focus on building a successful business.”
Black had to strike a balance. More often than not, the founder is the one who has to balance the daily grind of building a business and raising growth capital. Glass-Media has raised over two million dollars in seed capital. Their funding channels have been strictly angel investors.
Rely on Your Networks
While building a business, remember to lean on your network to help you solve the challenges of today and what’s to come. Black offered a few words of advice for startups in his industry.
“Surround yourself with knowledgeable advisers, mentors and industry experts across the various aspects of your business,” he said. “Carefully identify the integrations you’ll focus on first, and don’t spread yourself too thin: Time and budget is limited.”
Keep an eye out for potential niche industries that have long been overlooked: Maybe you'll find the next industry ripe for disruption, and you can put Black's advice to good use. A great place to start building a network of entrepreneurs, advisors and investors who can help your business get to the next level is at Startup Weeks.
Graphics provided by Glass-Media
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