Steven Kiger got the entrepreneurial itch in high school, creating odd jobs for himself that would fund weekend excursions with his friend. Today, Steven has founded several ventures, and is currently a partner and CPO at RocketSource, a company specializing in transforming the customer experience, and the co-founder of Platstack, a platform that allows you to save, organize and share topics you care most about.
On this episode of The SuccessLab Podcast, Steven shares why getting uncomfortable has been key to his success, the value of surrounding yourself with people who have experienced both great successes and great failures, and how he was able to push through multiple startup failures.
Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above.
You have a storied career in entrepreneurship. What was your first venture and how did you start?
My very first entrepreneurial venture was back in high school. During the summer, my friends and I would knock door to door to see if people would want us to spray paint address numbers on their curbs. We would strategize around how many doors we had to knock to afford our night out. These entrepreneurial moments continued throughout college and then into my first job, which was at a Fortune 500 company in the dental space. I noticed there was a huge demand for dental marketing and there weren’t a lot of companies doing it. I decided to actually quit my full-time job and start a dental marketing company.
What were the early days of your entrepreneurial journey like?
I was lucky to start at an early age. I was 24 years old. I was single. I had no dependents and I just had to make sure I paid my rent every month. It wasn’t a huge amount of stress because I knew there wasn’t a lot of risk in doing it. It was exciting. I would say the biggest thing is just getting uncomfortable and doing something you’ve never done before.
What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered as you grew the business?
It was just myself for a long time, so for me, the hardest thing was hiring that first person. It took me many, many years to get to the courage to do that. But it was one of the best decisions I made –– and he’s still with me.
What was one of your darkest hours and how did you pull yourself out of it?
I started an app six or seven years ago called Mover, which was like an Uber for renting trucks. We spent a lot of money on it and built it out. Unfortunately, we never found product-market fit in Utah because everyone has a truck or knows someone that has a truck. Any sort of failure like that, where you spend years of your time, energy, excitement and money only to shut it down, hurts. With those failures, I’ve learned a lot and to continue pushing forward.
What led you to RocketSource and ultimately to sell your other marketing company?
It was a tough decision to sell the company but I got to the point where I wanted to build my own products. I had a lot of conversations with my wife and luckily she has been super supportive. I was also lucky enough to get connected my now co-founder, Buckley Barlow. We joined forces and then I brought in the third partner who I worked with in the past. He ran his own digital technology coding shop. And so we needed that dev partner as well. So we had a creative, a growth guy and a dev guy needed to create RocketSource. The ultimate goal with RocketSource was to create a service-based company that can generate some good revenue and ultimately build really cool products we can grow.
What has been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned along your entrepreneurial journey?
My mantra is to never burn a bridge. I’ve had really crappy clients in the 20 years I’ve been doing this and I always suck it up and do the job to make sure they’re happy. Interestingly, some of my best clients have come as referrals from some of my worst clients. It has served me very well.
Has there been a connection you’ve made along your journey that made a big impact?
My partner in crime, Buckley Barlow. He’s a genius in a lot of ways. He’s mentored me over the last seven years to become someone who I wasn’t before.
What’s one of the best ways you make impactful connections to grow yourself and your business?
It’s amazing what now is available versus when I started 20 years ago. I would say to challenge yourself. Go find entrepreneurial clubs, look on Meetup, find lunches, join a local Slack group, get super uncomfortable. Ultimately, most people want to help each other and one of the best ways to do that is to just get out there.
One business tool you’re geeking out over right now? Slack
Favorite piece of technology? Anything that can save time through a mobile device. What’s one book you’d pass along to a fellow entrepreneur? Don’t Make Me Think
One person you’d like to make a connection with? Barack Obama
What’s your favorite ice breaker when introducing yourself to someone (either online or off)? Normally I like to talk about travel, anything along the lines of finding out where they’ve been, what they’ve done.
What is your favorite way you rejuvenate and refresh? Snowboarding. Just getting outdoors and turning off the devices.
How many hours of sleep do you get each night, on average? Eight
How can people connect with you or RocketSource? We’d love to have anyone try out Platstack. We haven’t fully launched yet so there might be some bugs but we’re looking for people to try it out and give us some feedback. You can connect with me on LinkedIn and RocketSource.com is our website.