Matt Lally had an innovative idea for how businesses and individuals could find service providers. By talking with other business people, Matt has learned a lot and is building Imaneed.com.
Tell me about Imaneed.com.
Imaneed.com is a way for businesses and individuals to find someone to provide a service within a short period of time. Users submit a short request, then based on the content of the request it is delivered by text message to other users who have registered to provide services like this. If you are interested in filling a request, we will connect you by phone to the originator of the request. It's all about getting the information to the provider of a particular service and encouraging them to respond quickly.
Is this your first business?
This is my second startup company. My first was Augme Mobile, which helps companies to target mobile consumers through the use of text messaging campaigns, QR codes and image recognition.
With Augme Mobile, we worked on some large campaigns for very large companies, and then sold to a company named Modavox. I considered it a success of sorts, but learned a lot about the real world doing that.
How did you come up with the idea for Imaneed?
I realised that a lot of talented people are out there, out of work, and that businesses and individuals still needed people to get things done. I also knew from my involvement with the Miami tech community that promoting your business can be very difficult for a freelancer.
Not getting involved with transactions that come out of connecting people was a big deal for me. I decided just to connect people and of course, I had a few ideas about where money could be made by doing that.
Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?
I wrote and was involved with writing several business plans for my previous business and it changed so frequently that I decided not to this time. Talking with friends and others about the concept behind the business has led me to refine what Imaneed.com should do.
What outside resources were helpful for you?
I've been involved in Refresh Miami (which is the hub for the tech community in Miami) for about two years. Through that, I've made a number of business contacts and met a lot of people who have operated as mentors for me.
I also got involved with some developers groups, and that has helped me grow my technical side.
Did you have a partner when you started your business? How did you select a partner?
I met my business partner for my previous business on LinkedIn. We sent emails then progressed to phone calls. It was so clear that we had the same vision for the business space we were in that neither of us could resist joining forces. That sounds very much the opposite of analytical, but I think you just have to get a feeling that you would be comfortable working with this person and that they want the same thing as much as you do.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
I think I expected that a business starts as a plan and then gets executed to plan. It has been quite interesting to realize that lots of iteration and mistake-making is often required.
Starting a business isn't as much about having a plan as it is having a will to achieve something.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
I would say that first of all, you need to want to do what you're doing. It's got to be a general 'want', though, because you may find that you need to go in a completely different direction to make the business work. That's just responding appropriately to feedback.
Be willing to talk about your business from the very beginning. I no longer believe in 'stealth mode'. Talking about your business allows people to give you feedback and gets people interested in what you do.
Perhaps the biggest piece of advice I can give is to get involved in everything. You know what you want to create and if you allow yourself to learn, you can pick up some skills in anything. In my previous project I worked with software developers, and in the time between finishing that up and starting my new project I taught myself to code. I did that by throwing myself into it completely and surrounding myself with the right people. The good news is that now I have a complete understanding of where we are with the code base for this project.
Wow, you taught yourself to code? Sounds like you were born to be an entrepreneur! Thank you for sharing that great advice for our readers at Gaebler.com.