Robert Collazo / Co-founder & CTO / HelpSocial
Often, the apps and products we create are born out of necessity, and founders are born from that simple need-based-solution. Robert Collazo, co-founder and CTO of HelpSocial, found himself in this position while working as a system admin. Out of a need for social media management team-based software, HelpSocial was created as a bit of a happy accident.
They say that necessity is the mother of innovation, so innovation must then be the father of devs-turned-founders. While working for Rackspace, Collazo developed a program to improve communication between customers and Rackspace over social media. During conferences, they would display their tool on big screens, exposing his product to a mass audience. People quickly took notice of what a great tool Collazo had created, and client requests came pouring in. “We were Rackspace employees, but as soon as we raised enough money to go out on our own, that was it! We were no longer Rackspace employees, and Rackspace became a customer.”
When you pass that line into founding a company and the product you are selling is owned by you, there are often unexpected obstacles in the way. From building a team, learning about marketing and sales, to legal concerns. “Working with lawyers is no fun. There’s a lot of paperwork and working with investors. There’s a lot to do to protect yourself, your company, IP, and more.” Although, if you surround yourself with the right people, not just in terms of skills, but people who believe in you and your product, that can make a world of a difference. Collazo found that his team has been an invaluable asset. “When you are a startup, it is really important to have people who believe in what you are doing. We can’t pay people those big salaries that allow them to jump from company to company, so it is really important to have people who are dedicated and want to work for you.”
When you make that switch from being an employee to founding your own company, it becomes a lifestyle change. “Unless you’ve done it, you don’t understand. I have a couple friends who own businesses; they’re the ones that empathize the most with me now.” Finding the right team members, securing yourself legally, and growing your passion into a successful business will no doubt be a satisfying endeavor. Whether by a happy accident or a lifelong pursuit, it all begins with an idea.
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