One of the cool things about Praxis is getting a peek inside so many great businesses. Our business partners are diverse in their industries, products, customers, and approaches. But all of them are dynamic, innovative, and committed to the Praxis idea of learning by doing.
Today we’re talking with one of the founders of Rocket Mobile, a business partner in Austin, Texas. Ian VanHover helped launch the company a few years ago, and they’ve had some big successes already.
Praxis: How did Rocket get its name?
Ian: Honestly, I’ve never been asked that before. In early 2012 we merged with a company called Made By Rocket. We didn’t like our name at the time so decided to stick with Rocket Mobile. Of course, we go by Rocket for short.
Praxis: What sets Rocket apart from other companies?
Ian: Our goal is to build and design the best mobile applications we can for our clients. Part of that process is understanding the client’s brand in order to help them create the best possible product for whoever is using the application.
What separates Rocket from other Mobile agencies is our background in branding. Understanding the process of building a world class brand has helped us understand our clients in a way most agencies couldn’t. In the end, the product tends to be better and more effective when it is aligned with the existing brand.
Praxis: Did you always dream of being in this industry, or is this something you just kind of ended up in?
Ian: I always dreamed of being a professional track athlete! You know, because that’s where the big bucks are. We got into building and design for mobile in 2010. We saw all of our friends’ children using the iPhone and iPad all the time. It was amazing how quickly a child was able to understand how to use it. We were so inspired, we created an app based storybook for kid’s called Plug & The Paddywhacks.
After that project we knew we were on to something… So, that was the beginning of Rocket.
Praxis: Most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
Ian: I would say patience. Nothing happens overnight. You take it one day at a time. That sounds like such a cliché, but it happens to be true. There is nothing worth doing that happens over a short period of time. It can take months, even years to achieve great things.
I am constantly reminding myself to be patient and look for areas I can improve on helping my team grow.
Praxis: What was it like going from a two person shop to a larger operation with employees to manage, specialized functions, etc?
Ian: It has been a ton of fun! There are many challenges to scaling a business, but I really see three in particular…
1. Capital – without cash it becomes incredibly hard to take on new projects, hire, and get equipment.
2. Shared Experience – Some people would disagree with me on this, but I think having shared experiences amongst the team is insanely important. It creates efficiency and builds trust between individuals. This, in turn, builds trust among groups. Trust is everything in a business.
3. Great Leadership – Not good leadership. Great leadership. This is important for all of the obvious reasons author after author have written about. Great leaders bring the best out of people. You need to have leadership at every level of your business if you want to achieve long term success.
Praxis: Most fun project Rocket has done?
Ian: The most fun project we have worked on thus far is called A Beautiful Mess. It is a simple photo editing app for iPhone that allows users to create fun photos to post to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
The app was the #1 Paid app on the iTunes App Store and reached as high as #8 on the Highest Grossing apps.
In the next few weeks, we will be releasing an iOS7 and Android version of the app. It is going to be awesome!
Praxis: Hardest part about being an entrepreneur?
Ian: Uncertainty. There have been many a night where I didn’t know where my next check was going to come from. But somehow it arrived. Uncertainty becomes less and you can tolerate it more as the journey continues, but it’s always there.
Praxis: Best part?
Ian: The people! I love people. Life is great and should be lived to the fullest. You can’t live fully without spending time with others.
Praxis: What interested you in being a Praxis business partner?
Ian: There are not enough opportunities for people to get real experiences in business today. The current model of high school to college to internship to job…it’s completely backwards!
Nobody wants to spend five years learning about what they could be out doing!
People need opportunities to grow and learn in ways that college cannot and will never be able to teach. That’s why the Praxis model was so interesting to Rocket. It allows people the opportunity to discover what they want to do with their lives. And what you want to do with your life says tons about who you are. We feel privileged to be a part. Working with talented people who want to do great things? I wish Praxis was around when I was trying to figure out what I wanted from life.
Praxis: Thanks for breaking the mold!