William Loopesko is the CEO of PuppTech. William Loopesko is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. William provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of PuppTech. William Loopesko joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team has recently awarded PuppTech with our Impact Company of 2019 award. We are delighted to have William join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview and our popular “speed round” as well.
William, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview about your company, leadership, and entrepreneurship.
1. What is the “elevator pitch” for PuppTech?
PuppTech develops IoT products and software for dog care to help dog owners and professionals better understand and monitor their dog’s environment and use technology to better care for them.
2. What is the key to your company’s success?
PuppTech spent more than two years in its early phases of development conducting hundreds of customers interviews, surveys, and focus groups to be really able to understand our customers and their needs and develop a product that would address their unsolved pain points. By combining this market research with a thorough understanding of current landscape in our industry we we've been able to build a product that truly resonates with our key target demographics and position ourselves as providing real benefits to our customers that are separate from the other offerings that are currently in the market. Finally, we made a commitment early on to always being transparent with our customers about things happening in our company, striving to provide them with outstanding service and communication, and ensuring that we only produce the kind of quality that our customers expect when it comes to caring for their dogs.
3. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
Go out and meet as many of your potential customers as you can and really understand their problems and needs so that the product that you end up building really matches their needs. Your customers should tell you how they need your product to benefit them and they should be dictating every decision about your product's or service's features as you build your business. Take the time to build an amazing team to help move your business forward; entrepreneurship is the ultimate team sport and you will not be able to do it alone. Don't let the fear of people stealing your idea prevent you from sharing your vision with everyone you meet; your business will never flourish and your team will never grow if you aren't willing to take every opportunity that you can to let the world know how amazing your business is going to be. You should initially focus on getting a "minimum viable product" built as quickly as possible instead of trying to sell people on an idea that may never take shape. Anyone can have an idea, but investors, teammates and customers want to know that you have what it takes to take an idea and turn it into a viable product/service and business.
4. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
Being a successful entrepreneur requires a level of optimism that borders on delusion, and a level of self-confidence that borders on arrogance. You must have the conviction that what you're doing is the right thing to do, despite the entire world telling you that it will never work, and the perseverance to keep doing it even when it seems like there is no possible way that you can keep moving the business forward. In the long run, the most successful entrepreneurs are the ones that are too stupid to quit, even in the times when far saner people might have quit a long time ago. If there's something that needs to be done, that you don't have the resources or skills to do yourself then teach yourself how to do at least the basics so that you can keep your business moving forward and ultimately find someone more qualified to do it for you. In the course of starting my business I've had to learn front-end and back-end web-development and programming, basic electronics and soldering, 3D plastics design and printing, packaging design, graphic design, video editing and countless other tasks that my business has needed me to do to move forward.
5. How important is the commitment to client satisfaction at PuppTech, and how do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
The quality of our products and the satisfaction of our customers are our two biggest priorities at PuppTech. Even though we still have a small team, we have team-members whose main job is to communicate with our customers and make sure that we are able to address any of their inquiries and questions as quickly as possible. We believe that transparency about our pricing and business practices in paramount in building a relationship with our customers and that the best way to keep our customers happy and coming back is to build excellent products that keep them coming back to us and that really addresses all of their needs. Our ultimate goal is to have our customers be happy enough with our company that they become advocates and evangelists for our brand, and we already have several amazing brand ambassadors for whom that is the case.
6. In today’s fast changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
I'm subscribed to multiple startup and business newsletters that I review in my inbox everyday. I also spend time on LinkedIn several times a week to see what's happening in my network and in our industry. I'm lucky to have a large network of teammates, mentors, investors and other supporters who regularly forward me any relevant information that is relevant to our business and industry. I have members of my team who's job it is to keep me abreast of anything happening on social media or in our other communications channels that might have an impact on our business.
7. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead PuppTech?
I feel strongly that I need to give my best everyday for my teammates, investors, customers, and other supporters who believe in my vision and have supported me (many for several years) to my company this far. They've invested so much time, energy and/or money into this project that I owe it to them to make it as successful as I know it can be. I'm also driven by the enthusiasm that many of our customers have shown for our product, the letters they've sent us to let us know how much they love what we're doing, and the knowledge that we're building will truly have a positive impact both on their lives and the lives of their dogs. All of the support that I've received in the last few years is what has gotten me through the hard times when it seemed like there might not be a way forward.
8. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
Very early on, one of my mentors had me read "The hard thing about hard things" by Ben Horowitz. He thought that instead of an uplifting book about success and how having a startup is the greatest thing in the world, I should instead read about all of the hard parts of starting a business, all of the tough decisions I would face, the sleepless nights, the disappointments, etc… so that I had a realistic of what I was getting myself into. While I can't say that reading this book was very fun, it did give me a unique perspective on how hard, but ultimately fulfilling starting a business would be. When I hit the inevitable rough patches I felt like I was more prepared for them and that I was able to get through them more quickly after having read this book.
9. When communicating with your staff, can you tell us the most important thing you do so that they are able to carry out the objectives that you set forth at PuppTech?
It's important that everyone who's given a task understand the reasons behind that task, so that they understand the importance of it and how their efforts fit into the overall strategy of the company. I never ask someone to do anything that I wouldn't be able to do myself. I try to make sure that people have a real understanding of the expectations of their role up front so that there won't be any unpleasant surprises down the road. My team also knows that they can and should ask for my help at anytime, and that there's no shame in making a mistake as long as you own up to it and learn from it for the future.
10. Can you explain what leadership means to you?
I tell my team that I only have one job, and that's to make sure that they have everything to they need (the best tools, the right people in the right jobs, enough money for their salaries, a clear understanding of objectives, etc…) to be able to do their jobs effectively. My team knows that I'm always working at least as hard as they are and that there's no job or task that's beneath me; no matter how small or menial it might be, if it's important to the advancement of the company I'm happy to do it if it needs to be done. I try to never be the smartest person in the room, to respect every opinion and give every member of my team their chance to share it, to always be the first member of the team to own up to mistakes and the last one to take credit for achievements. I give credit where credit is due and try recognize my team members on a regular basis for their contributions so they know that I'm paying attention and do appreciate their work. As CEO I fell strongly that the buck stops with me, and any failure of the company whether it's a dissatisfied customer or an employee that we have to let-go is a failure on my part, a learning opportunity, and chance to do better in the future.
William Loopesko, thank you so much for sitting down with us at our DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping our readers learn more about what it takes to be a leader. We wish you, your family, and of course PuppTech, nothing but the best.
William Loopesko, CEO of PuppTech, The Leader Roundtable Interview Series