Friday, 24 August 2012 Written by Taylor Field
The Zappos Employee Turned Entrepreneur Talks About The Challenges He Faced
Dylan Bathurst, CEO and co-founder of Rumgr, started out as a former Zappos employee. He came up with the idea for the iPhone app after struggling to sell his own used goods from his phone. After researching all the options out there, he realized he just might have the next big idea. He organized a “start up weekend” and pitched his idea to investors. From there, Rumgr was born.
Q. What is Rumgr and what do you hope to achieve with it?
A. Rumgr can most easily be described as a garage sale for your phone. With this company, we hope to start allowing people to safely and easily buy and sell used goods to their neighbors.
Q. What part of your background or education has helped you most in your experience as an entrepreneur?
A. Definitely the part that helped me the most was my time working at Zappos. That experience taught me so much about technology, more than any school could. It also taught me the importance of great customer service, that you really have to connect with your users.
Q. Was it difficult leaving Zappos to start your own company?
A. We all left Zappos so the passion that we have for Rumgr and what we think we can do with it far outweighs the negatives of leaving a solid job.
Q. What challenges did you face in the early stages of the project?
A. Some of the biggest challenges we face even now is just how to acquire users. That’s biggest on our minds right now; where’s that thing that really helps us to acquire new users and get them to tell their friends about it? That’s one of the big things. Some of the other challenges are how to run a company.
Being a developer at a large corporation, I definitely have a lot of experience working on teams and managing teams a little bit but it becomes a whole other thing when you have to do all the other stuff that comes with running a company, all the legal work, all the accounting work, all the HR yourself, all that kind of stuff so really diving in as far as that.
And sometimes it feels like it’s detracting from getting to focus on the product but it’s just what comes with being a start up, wearing a lot of hats. It’s really difficult sometimes but it’s just something you have to do. Those are two of the really big things that have been difficult and fun for us at the same time.
Q. How do you go about funding a project like this?
A. We raised a few rounds of investment money from believe it or not, Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos and Fred Mossler and Arun Rajan, also Zappos and then another investor here in Las Vegas. We definitely had our connections at Zappos and local connections; that helped us to raise the money.
In terms of what we did, at our start up weekend, we just put the idea in people’s heads and really thought about where we could take this business. We knew the people that we wanted to fund our company and so we just kept putting a bug in their ear, saying, “Hey, this is what we’re doing, this is what we can do well, this is what we could do if we had more money or more time.” We ended up eventually raising $500,000 just from those four investors.
Q. Where do you think Rumgr’s going to go in the future? What are your goals for the company?
A. I think we’re going to continually add on users and maybe a little more slowly at first, which is actually a good thing. We’re really just trying to figure out the product and where we fit into the market and what people really want for us to be. We’re definitely seeing an interaction with people here in Las Vegas. What I’m hoping and where we want to take Rumgr is we want to be the way people buy and sell their used goods from their phones.
We’re a mobile marketplace rather than trying to be mobile and website or website and mobile or a weird mix of the two. We’re really focused on the mobile state, trying to make that really solid. We want to be a way for people to connect to their local community a little bit as well as a way for them to make a little extra cash or find those little hidden gems in their community.
Q. What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs?
A. One of the biggest things I think is that you really need to take the start up seriously. It’s not just about living the entrepreneurial life. It’s about putting in the time and effort to really think about your company and really think about yourself and your cofounders and your employees. Don’t be mean, but be crucial about what you guys are doing. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in nonsense with the start ups and you can really lose sight of your users and of your company goal.
It’s just being really critical of yourself and making sure you know where your company’s going and what steps you’re taking to get it there. And of course while you’re re-evaluating that, make sure your company, your investors, your advisors, they’re all on the same page and aligned. I think that’s really important to do, not to be just playing the ‘Oh yeah, I have a start up’ card but really focusing on building a great company. I think that’s really important.