As a new blogger at StartupNation, I thought I would introduce myself. Your time is precious, so hopefully I can help you decide whether to invest any more of it reading this blog from time to time.
The main thing to know about me is that I founded and still run PrintingForLess.com. Most of what I know I learned while at PFL, or in the two companies I started before PFL, or the 20+ other jobs I’ve had, starting as a teenager. But PFL is where I’ve made the transition from raw startup to a high-growth “midlife” company, which has given me some perspective on the startup phase of a company’s — and an entrepreneur’s — life.
We started just over 10 years ago in a rented former creamery building in Livingston, Montana, 50 miles north of Yellowstone National Park. We’ve grown from six people back then to about 160 really great people today. (Great people will be a recurring theme. Finding them. Keeping them. Growing them. Dealing with the ones who won’t be great.) The initial capital came from my previous startup, a company that distributes specialty automotive chemicals (for antifreeze recycling, fuel injector cleaning and the like) to repair shops. The capital for that one came from the one before combined with creative use of credit cards.
Along the way, I’ve had to learn something about a ton of different things, from hiring great people to creating remarkable customer interactions to managing very different types of people (don’t treat a technical person the same way you treat your sales people) to venture capital, childcare rules, electricity (480 volt 3-phase is very different than standard 120 volt – who knew?), humidification systems, intellectual property, dogs, and databases. While re-learning how to snow ski (it gives me a reason to embrace winter in Montana.)
A good way to get to know me and PFL would be to check out what others have said about us. And this being a blog, where better to check than with Robert Scoble, a pioneer blogger. He has the distinction of being the first result to come up when you Google the word “Robert.” He not only wrote us up, but he did a nice video blog (“vlog”) at his new gig, PodTech. It is a walking tour of our new facility nestled in the mountains of Montana. About four careers ago, I was the mechanic who fixed Robert’s mom’s Subaru. We met when he was here last summer, and he was delighted to find a “geek” in the boonies, so he came through with his video camera.
Robert was accompanied by a number of people who trekked to Montana just to hang with him. One of the most interesting was Christian Long. I appreciated his great pictures and insightful comments about our space, culture, and learning.
Starting and running a high-growth business is fun, thrilling, scary, and hopefully rewarding. I’d love to hear from you, especially with questions about your business or ours. I may shoot from the hip, but you’ll always know what I think. And if you’ve read this far, thanks.