Hi Guys, check out this interview with brett klasko, I'm sure you remember that i did a profile on him a while ago, Brett started His first company at the age of 14.
Hope you Enjoy the interview!
Hello Brett, it’s great having you share your entrepreneurial experience with us on YHP
First of all, how are you doing today?
Can you briefly give our reader some background information about yourself and what you do?
Sure, I run the company I started when I was in high school. My job responsibilities range from CEO to janitor as I take care of whatever needs to get accomplished.
What does your company do?
Phinaz is an interactive financial media and sports marketing firm. The two sides of the company are pretty separate though under one roof. Our financial media side publishes financial and investment information for active traders. The sports marketing wing coordinates fundraising programs for professional teams by offering discounted tickets to schools, youth groups, and other non-profit organizations.
It’s like you’ve been in business for ages, actually you have, 11 years now, How did it all begin?
When I was still in middle school, I got really into the stock market and started publishing my thoughts on the Internet to anyone who would listen. I began to generate a following (most didn’t know my age) and things took off from there. I never intended for it to turn from hobby to commercial venture, but at some point, the revenue became significant enough where there was no looking back.
How many companies have you created since starting your first company?
Hmm, I’d have to say about 5 though one was a failed venture that we relaunched several years later with a new focus.
Tell us what you enjoy doing when you’re thinking about the next business move?
I love the sleepless nights a new business idea causes, so I try to embrace them. Load up on caffeine and turn up my music. Most of my best ideas come to me after midnight, which is probably why I’ve never been much of a morning person.
How did you finance your business? What have been your most effective sources of financing over the years?
Well, one of the benefits of starting the company while in high school was that I had a roof over my head and didn’t have to worry about personal expenses. I’ve seen other entrepreneurs fail because they were so concerned about supporting themselves initially and not starving. This allowed me to reinvest almost 100% of revenues back into the business from day 1. I was also able to use profits from my investments in the stock market to fund the business.
How has your market changed in the past few years? How has your business changed to keep pace?
On the financial media side, things have certainly changed recently after the market plunged in late 2008/early 2009 and then soared back. For us, as long as there’s interest in the market, traders will remain interested in our services. We had a couple difficult months in late 2008 when the market had 1500-2000 point swings in a day. That scared many people away for a bit.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
For us, it’s all about our subscribers, so the most crucial thing has been effectively marketing our services to the right people. I’m constantly analyzing our marketing data to ensure that we’re hitting our target demographic with the right message. In fact, we’re in the middle of a big project to further refine our marketing programs based on much more specific metrics.
What investment would make right now if you had $50,000 to spare?
I’m always looking for new opportunities and make sure I have available capital if I come across something that piques my interest – whether it be an expansion of one of our current businesses or something different.
How do you find people to bring into your organization that truly care about the organization the way you do?
That’s probably the toughest part of the interview process. I require each candidate (from intern to full-time) to come to our NYC office to have a face-to-face interview, as that’s the only way I can truly judge someone’s character and ensure they would be a solid fit in the company. I’m usually able to get a read when talking to someone in-person as to how much they prepared for the interview and how passionate they are about this position (or if they’re just going to take the first job offer they receive).
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Being featured in some major newspapers and on CNN when I was in high school and college was pretty neat. But if I had to pick one moment, it would have to be sitting in LaGuardia airport in December 2008 when I was on the phone with my accountant and realized just how significant our profit for that year was. It was the first time we turned such a significant profit and I truly realized just how far the business has come.
What do you think are the key lessons to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
I think there are two things each entrepreneur must possess in order to be successful – one is a passion for their business idea or industry. Entrepreneurship involves many very late (and sleepless) nights and that passion will fuel the drive necessary to continue building the business. The other important trait is resourcefulness.
As an entrepreneur, you generally won’t have large budgets to work with and will constantly find yourself needing to fight for business. Being resourceful is key to getting what you want/need without having deep pockets.
Do you think it is still effective to always have a business plan?
If you seek outside capital, absolutely, as it’s one of the few ways to adequately explain the business to an investor. For internal use, I prefer an action plan which is a more concise version of the business plan. This puts many of the ideas and thoughts in my head on paper, which helps me focus on the key areas of growth as we move forward.
What are the best ways for businesses especially start-up to manage their finances during tough times especially in this financial downturn?
For us, we’ve actually increased our marketing budget while other companies have cut back. I saw the financial downturn as the perfect opportunity to increase market share and take some business from our competition. I manage our finances the same way in an up or down market as I’m very rigorous as to how much and where we spend our money.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur?
Thanks for your time Brett.