Cyrus Baseghi is an experienced sales leader and entrepreneur from Oakland, California. As the current President of OSSI, where he has worked for the past 17 years, he managed to lead the company to tremendous growth. The nature of OSSI’s offering revolves around streamlining companies’ operations by integrating all of their systems into a one-stop-shop-like solution that can be used for everything from processing payments to receiving customer feedback. Besides corporate success, Cyrus Baseghi also buys projects that let him grow small businesses, manage large contracts, or handle parking-related ventures.
How did you get started in this business?
I started a long time ago as data science and programming were something that I was truly passionate about. The inspiration came from the underlying ability to make something from scratch while getting to stay at your own home or office. After all, when you do coding or any type of programming, the only thing that you must have is a computer. Back in the early 2000s, such an approach was still somewhat unconventional since the internet era was nowhere near as developed as it is today.
How do you make money?
Making money isn’t as important as ensuring our clients are happy.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Well, I did not have the number of expenses that most people have nowadays when I first started as the economy was a lot different back then. So, I was able to become profitable pretty much as soon as I began working. If I was to go back to that same level of income with today’s spending expectations for a normal life, however, it would probably take a few years.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
There were a few occasions where I felt somewhat insecure about where the company was headed. The main reason why was the incredibly fast growth of the “dot-com” bubble that everyone, me included, was still unfamiliar with. I handled the uncertainties by learning as much as I could and finding ways to use the new tools to my benefit.
How did you get your first customer?
OSSI already had some clients that I was able to start working with as soon as I entered the workforce.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We do a lot of direct contacting where we reach out to small businesses to inquire about their needs. If we determine that we could save them money by offering one of our solutions, we try to set up a meeting and discuss the details. Albeit relatively outdated, this strategy has been working really well since there are still countless companies that do not use online tools.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Since I am seeking new opportunities, I receive a lot of offers from innumerable markets almost weekly. Due to our capacity and my limited time, I can only dedicate my attention to some of them. The rest usually gets declined, and we had to turn down some projects that I would have enjoyed working on.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Even though it comes with a negative connotation, I think that micro-management is one of the most important skills that business owners and people in power should have. In my case, while I avoid micro-managing employees, I try to micro-manage things like third-party marketing, client negotiation, supply costs, and similar.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Signing contracts with some enormous companies over the past year and becoming the president would definitely be at the top of the list.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
We are currently looking into making some minor updates to our solutions as we want to deliver additional optimization and eliminate all errors. Outside of that, we intend on expanding within the next five years.
What business books have inspired you?
I would have to go with “Rework” by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried as well as “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to learn the ins and outs of venture capital as I enjoy working with start-ups. Many of the small businesses that OSSI deals with benefit from our knowledge of handling the initial entry to the market.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Not at this time