Oh, the dreadful wind and rain couldn’t derail the momentum that Denver Founders has generated this year. Steve Prather, the CEO of Dizzion occupied the hot seat at the June 2015 meetup. Dizzion is a services firm that specializes in cloud computing, allowing users “to securely access their applications and data from any device, anytime, anywhere.”
Prather cut his teeth working in telecom with ViaWest in the DSL space, where there was a tough market and steep competition. Still, this work, in part, helped Prather realize the centrality of the data center for addressing business solutions. This, then, led to his foray into cloud computing with Dizzion, which takes data center access to “the cloud.”
What Dizzion is today isn’t what it always was; Prather pivoted the company several times, sometimes for the sake of survival, sometimes not. Regardless, he was clear customer needs remain the primary directive for finding business solutions. Finding a solid sales strategy contributed some stability, but, of course, unearthing that strategy is much easier said than done.
While an entrepreneur understands the value of their particular business solution, Prather emphasized the need to also remove oneself from the equation. The ability to step back and to approach the company and its products as a consumer is critical because it forces you to think like a customer and to identify the weaknesses in your product and how it is marketed. At the end of the day, it’s critical to remember that people don’t buy from companies, Prather said, but they buy from other people.
Running with this idea, he also emphasized the importance of networking and building relationships. When working in a small market, if you make an error then everyone connected to that market know when you do. Because of that competitiveness, once you launch your product you only get one chance to sink or swim, according to Prather. Prather said he spent hours at a time sitting down with customers, talking through Dizzion’s products, and learning how they used what was available and what features they would like to see added to the service. The additional benefit of this is that Prather was able to increase the number of his first and second degree connections, which are more valuable than higher degrees. Having someone (or someones) to champion you in your career is important when it comes to building relationships and becoming successful. This is especially true in Denver.
From a 10,000 foot view, Denver is still a pretty small IT market, so the more people you know within that community the better positioned you will be for success. At the end of the day hope is a weak business strategy. The idea of “if you build it, they will come” should be restricted to nostalgic movies about plowed under corn starring Kevin Costner.