Douglas Baldasare is the founder and CEO of ChargeItSpot. ChargeItSpot saves consumers from their dying phone batteries while driving consumer into retail stores, increasing shopper dwell and driving sales for retailers. The company has built a proprietary engagement platform to connect one-to-one with each consumer who charges their phone. Douglas holds an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BBA from Emory University. Follow him at @ChargeItSpot.
Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
My dad. He started his business out of his house. He had a wife, two small children and zero savings. To finance the company he remortgaged our house multiple times. To make sure he was home for dinner, he got up at 3 a.m. each day and worked 12 or more hours. He was also a very hands-on father and never missed a baseball practice. Eventually he grew the business to over 1,000 employees and took it public with an IPO in 1996. My dad had a crazy work ethic and I admire him tremendously for that.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
My single best piece of business advice is to be a champion of the truth. When in doubt, entrepreneurs should always have an honest, true north. People tend to want to fool themselves — to cross their fingers and hope that a positive outcome will magically appear. But if you’re a constant champion for the truth, you have a realistic view on what’s happening and what needs to be done. Your team will recognize that in you and be inspired too. There are so many challenges out there and I find it’s always best to be honest with yourself. Championing truth can mean so many different things. Don’t be in denial about the deal that you think is going to close just because you want it to close. Don’t sweep problems under the rug — bring them out in the open. Always talk about what’s going on and don’t be afraid to tackle obstacles head on.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
During the early days of ChargeItSpot, my biggest mistake was relying too much on the success of a single client. We had secured a dream customer who gave every indication that they would be moving forward in a big way, and so we invested all of our resources into making that happen. Unfortunately, our customer had an unexpected budget freeze, and our champion moved to another company. Ultimately, the client decided not to move forward and we quickly realized that we hadn’t been paying enough attention to securing other clients. We did scramble and make a quick recovery (we now have over a dozen clients) but this experience taught me to not to put all of my eggs in one basket. I also learned how important it is to have a strong sales pipeline with customers at various stages of the sales cycle to ensure your company’s stability and ultimate success.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
Every day of the week at 9 a.m., I have a 30-minute to one-hour meeting with the key members of my management team. Whether it’s with the VP of Product, Head of Operations, or the sales team, we all get together to discuss strategy and our game plan for the next week. I like to do these meetings first thing in the morning because that’s when everybody is fresh, energetic and creative. Plus, I’m at my best before my day gets really busy, so having these meetings early in the day means each team member gets my full attention.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Get a good bookkeeper early on, someone you can really trust. As an entrepreneur it is hard to stay on top of receipts, credit card statements, expense reimbursements, payroll, healthcare, insurance, etc. And if you’re out selling (which you should be) the administrative nightmare of keeping your finances up to date can really pile up. Build a relationship with a bookkeeper early on who can enter everything into QuickBooks, produce monthly financial statements, and basically keep you organized so you can focus your attention on more important aspects of the business.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Set up a karaoke night for your entire team! And provide plenty of food and beverages.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
Our goal at ChargeItSpot is to make cell phone charging as ubiquitous as Wi-Fi spots so that no matter where a consumer goes, there is a free ChargeItSpot phone charging station within arm’s reach. To me, success is having our charging kiosks installed in every major city, in tens of thousands of venues and stores, and being known as the No. 1 trusted cell phone charging source.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.