As an entrepreneur in the technology sector, Jody Rookstool has experienced the many ups and downs inherent in the industry. He has enjoyed the kind of overwhelming success that most tech professionals can only imagine in their wildest dreams, but Mr. Rookstool has also experienced the kind of significant setbacks that can either destroy or enrich a businessman. In Mr. Rookstool’s case, the latter is true, as his experience in the dotcom boom and bust laid the foundation for his many future entrepreneurial successes.
The founder of Serus and Pointclick, Mr. Rookstool gained a foothold in the technology sector at a very early age. He sold Serus, a software company, for $7 million, using the capital from the sale to fund his next venture, Pointclick. The company grew quickly, generating monthly revenue of $1 million while supporting 130 employees. These successes were before the dotcom crash, so Mr. Rookstool was able to gain a great deal of insight with regard to developing strategies to ensure that any business venture is sustainable for many years.
Mr. Rookstool’s approach was modified due to the lessons he learned early in his professional career, and the principles and strategies he developed have been applied to his most recent ventures: Bizaga and FastReviews, along with ProfitCast, a project that is currently in development. Drawing on his past experience, Mr. Rookstool has developed a number of key metrics that he feels will ensure long-term profitability for each venture, and he has also created a cash-flow model that will further secure the future success of these businesses.
How did you get started? What sparked this business idea?
I got started in the tech industry over 20 years ago, and my experience then has served me incredibly well throughout the entirety of my professional career. I was just 27 when I founded Serus, and I saw how profitable the burgeoning tech industry was at the time. In the years since, it has only continued to grow at a rate that no one could have possibly predicted. The ideas for my most recent ventures are the product of my vast experience, as I have learned so much over the years that I really feel I am uniquely positioned for success with Bizaga, FastReviews and ProfitCast.
How do you make money?
Each company serves a different function in the industry, but I believe that each one is going to be exceptionally profitable through the use of the cash-flow model we created and the advanced metrics we are using in analyzing each business. The key metrics we developed allow for immediate feedback on how effective a specific action or strategy is so that we can act upon the data in an efficient timeframe.
How long did it take to get your business into the black?
The cash-flow model and the metrics we use have gotten us into the black far sooner than even our most optimistic projections predicted. These strategies have been incredibly effective and have resulted in exceptional profitability.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
When I first started out in the tech industry so long ago, I had no doubts whatsoever and was just brimming with confidence. I now realize that maybe I had a bit too much hubris then, and I now know that measured decision-making is best. With our most recent ventures, I felt confident about our success, but mostly because we had done our due diligence and were thoroughly prepared in every way possible.
How did you get your first customer?
We employ targeted marketing strategies to identify clients that would benefit most from the varied products and services we offer. Our goal is to identify those that stand to gain the most from what we are able to do, so our first customers were those that we identified as the most ideal partners.
How are you marketing your business? What strategy works best?
Each business is different, but in terms of a marketing philosophy, we believe that everyone benefits from honest and direct marketing strategies. We make promises that we know we can deliver, and we use targeted marketing to ensure that the clients who will get the most out of what we do are aware of how we can be of assistance.
Is there a trend in your industry that particularly excites you right now?
There is always so much innovation in the technology industry that it is impossible to identify any single trend. I do enjoy the fact that technology that seemed like a total impossibility a decade ago is now prevalent throughout society today. Progress has been happening at a rapid rate, and that is very exciting.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
It is always difficult to divide my time equally among the three companies. Each time I begin working with one, I get so excited by the progress that we are making that I just want to devote all of my energy to it for weeks on end. Fortunately, there are a lot of great people in place who keep things running smoothly so that I can simply focus on overseeing operations rather than running each and every aspect.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
While I am blessed with a very creative mind, I have learned over the years that the best way to foster creativity is to collaborate with people who have all sorts of diverse ideas of their own. My companies have done so well because of the collaborative efforts of so many wonderfully intelligent and thoughtful people.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I would have to say that the sale of Serus was incredibly satisfying at the time. I was so young and I had put so much time and effort into every aspect of it that it was just so rewarding to see that such a massive company saw the value in what I had created. There have been many other satisfying moments, but that one certainly stands out in my mind.
Tell us about one of your hobbies when you’re not working.
I hate to refer to it as a hobby since I am so passionate about it, but any time my family and I have time that we can spend together it typically involves horseback riding or horse training. We really enjoy a good family trail ride.
What is the most important lesson you have learned in your business career?
With any venture there is the potential for failure, and while you should do everything you can to prevent failure, there is nothing wrong with the failure itself. You have to learn all you can from that failure and allow it to make you a better businessperson in the future. Some of the most important lessons I have learned in business have come from failure and not success.