Jim Belosic (this week’s live chat host -- click here to RSVP) loves pancakes.
But not just any pancakes -- pancakes with designs so complicated they need a building plan. (Millennium Falcon for breakfast, anyone?)
Luckily, Jim Belosic’s Saturday morning culinary tradition has helped him craft a whole company personality: he named his company Pancake Labs and their signature product ShortStack. Not a bad showing for an otherwise humble breakfast food!
Today, the mission of Pancake Labs is to help companies develop their own social media tools and apps as painlessly and efficiently as possible. ShortStack -- the company’s signature two-year-old software -- helps small businesses, large companies, and individuals create customized apps for their Facebook Pages. (Several new software products are in the works now too.)
But ShortStack itself started as an internal way to save his prior company’s team hours spent coding -- which is proof that sometimes, the best ideas really are right in front of you.
In its first year of life, ShortStack was discovered by 80,000 users. By year two, the service was being utilized by 190,000, with projections estimating a user base of 300,000 in 2013.
Things haven’t always been cushy and fluffy at Pancake Labs, however. Just like it takes a few tries to get the perfect pancake art, ShortStack had some growing pains of its own. Jim and his team decided to bootstrap -- which often meant skipping his own paycheck for months at a time, among other obligations. He and his wife lost their home so he could make his employees’ payroll instead. (Yes, she backed him up, every step of the way.)
But his decision to invest everything back into the company and its product paid off. In 2012 Jim was named Technology Entrepreneur of the Year by the Nevada Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology and chosen as one of the 100 most influential business leaders by his home city, Reno.
“What kept me going? Hunger!” Jim told Jon Loomer.
The same thing that motivated him to new heights of pancake artistry also drove him to perfect ShortStack and the other products offered by Pancake Labs. “My motto at the beginning was that ‘the answer is always yes’ when the customer asked for a service.”
This Thursday, May 2nd at 3 PM EST is your chance to talk to Jim about bootstrapping your startup, founding a startup outside Silicon Valley, building your product with customer feedback, social media best practices, and of course, how to cook the perfect pancake during an hour-long #StartupLab live chat, presented by Citi. Don’t forget to bring a few questions to ask Jim, live!