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AUTO-TRANSCRIBED

Aaron Spatz  00:10

Good morning DFW, you are listening to the Dallas Fort Worth Business Podcast. I’m Aaron Spatz. I’m so excited that you’re here joining me today. You know this, this has been such a blast to produce already. This is a show. This is going to be this is Dallas and Fort Worth business podcast. And it’s going to be a show that continues to feature business executives and leaders across the metroplex. And the whole goal is to bring you stories, it’s going to help drive and fuel you and fuel your passion and pursuits in a way that ultimately, right I want you to be entertained, educated, I want you to be able to take away something, maybe something that we’re talking about inspires you and continues to help propel you along your journey. And I love your feedback, especially here in the earlier days of the show. But at any point in this show, for that matter. We’d love love to hear from you. So drop me a line podcast at Bold media.us We’d love to know what you love what you like, is there anybody you want to see? Is there anything that you’d like to hear more of less of all that good stuff, so I cannot wait to hear from you. Can’t wait to introduce to you our guest for today. So our guest for today is Chad King. Chad joins us working through Icoca systems. So a lot of software development stuff we’re gonna get all in that here in just a quick second. But, but first and Chad, I just want to welcome you. I want to thank you for joining the show today.

Chad King  01:30

Hey, man, thanks for having me, man. I appreciate it.

Aaron Spatz  01:32

Absolutely. So no, so quickly share with us a little bit of your story one and I love to ask this with with every guest because it’s it’s actually a very fascinating survey. So are you uh, are you a Loke? Are you a native to the DFW Metroplex? And if not, where are you from? I am

Chad King  01:50

born born in Fort Worth, Texas. Grew up grew up in the mid 70s I’m a Trinity Trojan so yeah,

Aaron Spatz  01:56

we did it we fought we finally have a Fort Worth native I think I think out of the handful of episodes of recorded so far. It’s I think, I think maybe one only one other person has been a native so there are so many people, right? Yeah, no, there’s so many people joining from all over the place that are moving here. I was I was one of those right? I’ve only been here in the Metroplex for, I don’t know three or four years I’ve been in Texas for about eight or nine years. But that’s kind of seems to be a common common threads. So it’s it’s cool. It’s cool. So I can’t imagine the growth that you’ve seen here and all the changes

Chad King  02:30

it’s it’s insane. I’ll tell you I can actually remember as a kid didn’t fly often when I was a kid right? But flying in to DFW at night from a kid as a kid way back when you could actually see two distinct sets of lights. You could see Fort Worth and Dallas and then a pretty big you know, pretty dark area in between. Now, obviously it’s just one big expanse it is filled in in the middle it is expanded out on both sides north south it’s just you know, it’s this big huge metro area now which I mean obviously you know when small town back even back then or anything but yeah, it’s the changes insane

Aaron Spatz  03:08

Yeah, now it’s just one one big blob and before you know it, I mean, I think I think the future of it is going to be at least on the west side of the Metroplex is going to be this one blob from Fort Worth all the way up to Denton and then you’ve already got the blob, the All this does lights running from Dallas all the way up to McKinney and probably even beyond that at this point. So it’s it’s crazy. Yeah.

Chad King  03:31

McKinney used to be farmland.

Aaron Spatz  03:33

Yeah, right. Yeah. Now it’s like, got McKinney, little elm Frisco. Like that whole area is just just exploded. And it still is like, there’s still a ton. There’s a ton of construction and ton of expansion going on out there. Yeah, well, well, no. So take us on a quick tour of of your background, your your journey. You’ve done quite a bit of different things. So like, why don’t we just why don’t we just roll into just some of your past and just walk walk me through your story a little bit?

Chad King  04:01

Yeah, for sure. I have done a number of different things kind of the the constant theme almost has been technology, right? Like that, you know, the first thing I did I you know, I was going to school and running a bike shop. Right. So I literally was a bike mechanic and a bike salesman. But then I joined the Marine Corps and started my technical training. And so I think everything I’ve done since then, has had a technical tie in. And I’m this guy that I know enough about technology to be dangerous. But I what I do is I know how to apply it right? I am very good at applying a technology solution to a business problem. So so here we write code. We’re custom software developers, and I got guys way smarter than me that actually write the code. But what I can do is look at how we could write a custom application to solve a business problem. And that’s what people do most days.

Aaron Spatz  04:57

Well, you know, salt I mean software is can be such a huge blessing to businesses, because it provides you with automated tools sets of provides you with ways to be more effective, more just more streamlined in your processes. And that’s why it’s like, there’s other software companies all over the place there are there are new, new tools and new and new things that we can use to make our lives and our jobs a lot easier. So I mean, and you know, and I don’t see that going away, right. It’s like, it’s, it’s just going to become all the more all the more critical to our daily lives.

Chad King  05:29

Yeah, I think so. I hope so. Right? You know, yeah. And certainly we see change. It’s very fast paced industry, right. So we are not the same company. We were five years ago, not doing things the same way we were five years ago. But doing many of the same things still still have the same mission. Right. So

Aaron Spatz  05:49

yeah, I mean, so what what I mean, what kinds of software like is it as a specific industry that that you’re, you’re tackling?

Chad King  05:58

You know, it’s not? If you had asked me, you know, three years ago, I would have told you that we accidentally specialized in healthcare, okay. And, and the way that happens is you get a couple of healthcare clients, and you figure some stuff out, and then word kind of gets out that you don’t suck at it. And and so then you get some more of those. Right. And so at one point, a significant percentage of our business went health, and we still have that we still have plenty of health care. Right. But and I’ll tell you, part of what has slowed that down is, you know, not getting political or anything, but the last few years, there has been less regulatory fluidity, right? The years before that, there was a lot to to respond to, and healthcare, and a lot of that required a software solution. So we were just busier in healthcare before. But no particular industry, we tend to do well in healthcare, manufacturing, and logistics, we’re actually decent in agriculture. It’s not a huge percentage of our business. But we’ve got a couple agriculture clients that we that we serve. Well, you know, I tell people here and that our clients tend to be people that are doing real work, right? They are building things, moving things, healing people, you know, fixing things, then, you know, that we’re we’re pretty, we’re pretty big in oil and gas, no, no exploration companies, but in oil and gas services, like Field Services, refinery maintenance, things like that. Those are the industries that we serve really well.

Aaron Spatz  07:25

Well, well, you know, and it’s gonna continue to be a challenge. But what’s, what are some of the challenges that you feel like companies are facing when it comes to helping them be more effective and more efficient? And, you know, what, what are the main problems I get? And I’m probably way over generalizing this, and I get it, but But what what are the main problem sets that you feel like software, software developing companies such as yours? Right, what, what specifically, like, what kinds of problems? Are you helping solve?

Chad King  07:58

Yeah, and it’s a little general, but it’s fine. You’re, you’re you’re on target, right? Because there are some, some, some, you know, pretty broad strokes that we can apply to most everything that we do. We are helping people that generally have very solid processes, but they’re still kind of manual, right? And they need to automate them. Here’s an example. If you’re using seven or eight different spreadsheets to run your business, I can probably help. Right, there’s probably a better way to do that. Right. And if you’ve been using those for a while, that to me means you’ve refined it, right? Like, it’s like, it’s like, okay, I’m running my business on this, but it’s inhibiting growth. Oh, perfect. Man. That is somebody that has done the work to understand what they need. And they’ve, they figured out something that’s fairly effective, but it’s limiting and holding them back, right? And then they’re probably worried about it breaking that sort of thing, right? It’s like, Man, if I had one more client, this is not going to be workable. That is somebody that I can help. Right? You know, that I say this, if if you’ve got solid business practices, don’t buy software off the shelf that doesn’t support that to a very high level. I used to say, if you can find software that does 80% of what you need, you should go buy it rather than building custom. Because which that may seem kind of counterintuitive, but I’m not in the business of building something that doesn’t need to be built. Right? Right. If you’re like, hey, I need to create a document and change fonts and save it and go get it later. And I’m like, dude, go buy Microsoft Word. I’m not gonna build you a word processor, right? In fact, when somebody calls me asking a couple of industries, I’m fairly familiar with what is legal, right? If they can’t say, hey, I need some I need some software to run my law office. Well, I’m going to say, have you looked at this? What’s wrong with that? Why won’t this one work? Why make that one work? And if they have good answers to those and it’s happened, then we’ll talk about what needs to be built. If they’re like, Oh, what’s that one that I’m like, dude, go do some research, right? Look, look at look at these three software packages. If one of those doesn’t fit your needs, for whatever reason, call me back. But I’m not going to. I don’t want to build something that you know six months later you find that, oh, I could have gone and bought this off the shelf. Right? That’s not we’re in the business

Aaron Spatz  10:03

world. Well, you know, in a perfect segue into A into another point, which is, there is so much software out there, right? So now, and this isn’t, and this is true, not just in your business, but also your personal life. So even for those listening and watching, you have probably a half dozen or more software subscriptions to a variety of things. And so like Chad, I’ve got, it’s like, I lose count, right? There are so many different types of software. And then just in the business alone, I’ve got a ton of different software that I run. And so for a lot of

Chad King  10:38

the ones that are that are free, that you may not be thinking about if you’re using Gmail personally, or subscription.

Aaron Spatz  10:45

Exactly, right. Exactly. Right. And you’re, you’re you’re signing in and logging off 100 different, it feels like, you know, 100 different things each day. And so, one, there’s, I mean, there’s obviously a lot of concerns with that. And we could go off on a whole nother tangent related to security and all this other stuff. But specific to that, how do companies do a better job of optimizing what they have, because what’ll happen is you’ll you’ll implement a software solution, year one, you’ll continue to grow with it and build upon it, and then you kind of outgrow it, or maybe you’re just you, you start to bolt on other other little things. When down the road, you’re like, you know, what if we would have just bought like, the enterprise level or the superduper, professional, awesome, high end level of the service, it would eliminate some redundancy. So like, what what are some things that that you’ve seen? And then what are some ways that people can help be more efficient in the way that they select their software? Yeah, so

Chad King  11:45

don’t under by, right is the one thing that I would say, and you know, the example you use is perfect, right? If you and now sometimes it makes great sense. If you can effectively buy the cheapest package and add on as you need until you get where you go. That’s great. But if that’s not the case, right, like, if there’s a if changing from that entry level version to the enterprise version is expensive and difficult, then you could do a better job up hand, you know, early on of saying, which one, do we really need? Which 1am I going to need? Not what not, what can I afford now? But what am I going to need a year or three years from now? Right. And so and people tend to make a couple of mistakes. And they’re incredibly opposite ends of the spectrum. One is under estimating what they need today, or underfunding what they need today thinking they can get away with less than they can. And, you know, this may sound incredibly simple, but I’m not going to build you 90% of a fence. Because if I’ve got 90% of a fence, I still can’t let my dogs out. Right. And so if I can’t afford the whole fence, I’m not going to build any of it. Right, it makes sense to save those resources until I can build the fence. And so I will tell people all the time that don’t, don’t start a project you can’t finish. Right. And so we don’t, we don’t like participating in bad business decisions. So I actually spent a lot of time talking people out of doing things. But interestingly enough, it’s also common to go the entire other direction, and somebody will insist on building way too much. And so we want to understand the grand vision when we work with somebody of what you might want someday. But we actually think it’s very important to contain that too. We it’s it’s, you know, kind of industry term, but MVP, a minimum viable product? In other words, I mean, I don’t know if you can hear that. I’m sorry. There’s apparently some power equipment outside.

Aaron Spatz  13:44

I can’t hear hardly any of that. So no, okay,

Chad King  13:47

good, good. I didn’t think we’d have that problem this time of morning. But anyway, then. So if we build this whole big thing, and build the grand vision right out of the gate, before you release it, two things are going to happen, we are going to have built some stuff that doesn’t actually get used turns out it wasn’t needed at all. And we are not going to build some things that the users are actually demanding. And so what we really encourage our clients to do is to build that MVP, to live with it for a little while, you got to build what you need no less, right? But like we talked about before, that 90% fence doesn’t help, right? So we got to build what you do need, but the more we can constrain it, and go through actual use, it does two things. One, hopefully it’s generating revenue, and that software will pay for its own future development. That’s really important. The other thing is we will get user feedback you’ll figure out oh man, I’m so glad I didn’t build that other thing I thought I wanted that would have never worked right but so we can build what you know you need what your users are demanding and we just end up in a better place you know, down the road with a you know, quote unquote, finished product.

Aaron Spatz  14:51

Well, you know, the, the visual of the 90% fence I think is very captivating because I think is a very clear illustration as to why you want to finish a project when you start it and why you want to actually build it right instead of cutting corners. So there’s probably some companies and there may be, there may be some folks listening to this right now that would like, throw, throw something at you, and probably me too. But when it comes to wanting to make sure you build a large enough, or a robust enough software package, there’s your like, you’ve probably heard this argument before. So I’m actually I’m going to kind of throw it at you just to see, but a lot of people are going to gripe about price. They’re like, man, like, what why do I need to like my company? Can we’re a we’re a $5 million business or something. And we really can’t afford to go to this level is extreme, like, why can’t we just build the the extra light version of this for a fraction of the cost?

Chad King  15:51

Yeah, and the answer is maybe you can write and and maybe it makes sense in your business to make what you know, is a short term solution or decision. Right. And so, you know, the one thing that we will do is, we always want to start with the ideal solution, like, like, here is what we have heard, here’s what we believe you should do. This is the right thing. Here’s the time and budget for that. And then we will back off and accommodate the constraints from there. Right? And yeah, budgets a really common one, right? And so we will look at what can we effectively do for you, if we can get into that candid conversation of okay, well, here’s what you need is going to cost. And if you can have a candid conversation about what you can effectively budget for. Okay, now, can I build you something worth having within that budget? And can we trade, right? Can we work something out? Is there something that you think is core functionality, but I actually know, you can live without that until later. And we can make that a phase two item, right? We actually stripped that out, get to what really is core functionality live within your budget and build you something to grow on. Now, here’s something cool if we know what the grand vision is, we’re going to build the foundation to support that, right. And I use, I ended up using a lot of construction analogy, just because it’s easy. But we’re going to build the database in such a way that it’ll support that functionality that you know, you need later, right, if, if today, you don’t need to track someone’s eye color. But you know, you’re gonna need that down the road. Well, guess what, we’re going to put a place for that in the database, we’re not going to build the UI for it today. But I’m going to put the home for that in the database so that later on when we need eye color, there’s somewhere for it to go. And so we can actually if we know what somebody is doing, and we can have these real, open, honest conversations. And somebody that won’t engage with me on that level, by the way we tend to not work with because it just it just right. If it’s not a truly candid conversation about what you’re dealing with budget, things like that, it leads to failure. And that’s no good for anybody. We don’t like abandoned projects. In fact, we tend to take over abandoned projects, and we don’t love finishing what someone else started. We’d rather do a whole thing from scratch. But we’ve just we’ve seen too many times when somebody gets down the road aways and something happens the developer folder, it was a freelancer, and they got a job and you know, whatever, whatever happens, right? And so we’ll take those over. We hate abandoned projects. So we want to we would rather not start something that that we don’t think is going to finish successful.

Aaron Spatz  18:21

So then let’s go to the other side of this entire discussion and talk about security. Right. So a, that’s a paramount concern for for so many folks. Now. It has to be

18:35

right. As it should be. Yeah.

Aaron Spatz  18:38

Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s going to continue, it’s going to continue to be a dominating thing. And it it’s more and more coming more common that it takes over the news, or you’re going to hear more in Dallas County or Tarrant County, like you’re seeing more stuff kind of come out related to cybersecurity breaches or or whatever, there’s, there’s just, there’s a lot, there’s a lot out there. So how are you helping companies then stay secure? How’s the software being written in such a way that it can, it can be secure, and companies are able to sleep well at night? I guess.

Chad King  19:13

Okay, yeah, we do a couple of things, we actually offer a security audit. And depending on the on the level, the depth that we’re going to do it we may partner with someone for like some pen testing and things like that penetration testing of a network, things like that. What what we bring unique to the scenario is that we if you have any custom applications, we’re actually able to do code evaluation, and make sure that at that application level that that is secure. You know, and we can we do due diligence projects where we look at reliability, scalability, where best practices followed, you know, all that. But when in the specifically in the security space, what we bring that’s kind of unique is the ability if you’re running anything custom is to say, hey, at a core architecture level is This a secure application

Aaron Spatz  20:02

makes total sense. No, because that like just to beat a dead horse further into a pulp, but I mean, the this, the security situation for folks is just going to continue to be a larger, larger concern. And you’re probably interfacing at some point, if companies have them, chief information security officers, and dealing with security staff, because they’re, they’re going to, they’re going to have a vested interest, obviously, and making sure that the solution is is safe and secure. So we come back from the break, I would love to talk and kind of shift gears ever so slightly, I would love to learn a how do you get into into this kind of space because be there’s there’s people listening and watching that may be interested in jumping and switching their careers up. And so we’d love to hear your advice and, and how someone could position themselves to get going, especially because I’m telling you a lot of people think, man, I’ve got to be like this, this ultra geek that does coding 24/7, and I don’t know this stuff. So I’ll let you stew on that for a second. And we’ll get right back up. So this, this show is made possible by our amazing sponsorships, and incredibly grateful to have some awesome partners. And our sponsor for today’s episode is first response, AC and heating. So particularly if you’re on the fourth side of the metroplex, and I’ll tell the same kind of story because one, it’s a true story. And two, I think it’s going to be meaningful to you. And so, one, anytime you call someone into your house for like licensed work, because I’m a DIY guy, I like to try to do as much stuff on my own without actually having to call somebody. But every once in a while, right, I’m gonna have to call someone to do something. The problem with a lot of these types of spaces is there’s a knowledge monopoly. And so they know more than you do their training, they have a lot more experience. So they could tell you something’s wrong. And you would probably have to believe them. Because you have nothing else to reference it against. What I have appreciated about working with first response AC is every time I’ve ever interact with them, and I’ve had a problem, they’re incredibly patient and will actually explain it to me, they may even explain it to you, even when you don’t really want the explanation, because I think it’s important that you know what’s going on, and hey, if you don’t care, you don’t care. And they’ll they’ll just move on and take care of and take your business. But I think it’s an important tool and technique to continue to build trust. And so I’ve had problems here at my house with ACS going out, we have these brutal Texas summers, right. And so they’ll come out, I think that I have a major catastrophe on my hands, I’m already like thinking and seeing all the dollars just going out the window for a new system, and then come to find out like, Hey, man, you know, you actually don’t need this thing that you thought you need, you actually only need this. And what that’s gonna do for me is then in the future when it does break, and I do need to drop a whole ton of money to replace the system or do something like major. We’ve already built that trust, so I know they’re gonna shoot me straight. So if you’re on the fourth side of metroplex, again, getting a call, there are people that you can trust, they’re going to shoot you straight, they’re going to treat you right, they great service, great price, great all around experience. So just terrific people and incredibly, incredibly grateful for their sponsorship. So Chad, so we were just we’re talking quickly about people that are in a non techie role, right? Maybe they work in marketing, or they work in some type of maybe they’re in finance or doing doing something completely not related to technology. And they’ve contemplated it, it’s been something that they’ve thought about doing. We all know that the industry and jobs are going to continue to shift and continue to lean heavier on technology roles. And so if I’m listening to you talk right now about the tech space, particularly software to this whole software development world, what can I do to help position myself for for a role inside of a software development company?

Chad King  23:58

Okay, so if you want to be a developer, if you want to be a software developer, first off, there are things you can do in the tech space in software without being a coder. Right? I’ve got project managers that require a level of technical ability and knowledge, but not software developers, you could do something like what I do you know, which is I again, I interface with clients on a on a good day, I sell stuff, right to small companies. So on another day, I might be fixing the toilet, which I was making that up. But, but there are plenty of things to do in tech without being a coder. But if you do want to be a coder, you don’t have to have been doing that from the crib. Okay. We’ve had a number of talented developers that actually entered the space a little bit later. You need some basic skills, right? So you probably are going to need some classes. Right? Um I don’t want to disparage anyone but these like coding boot camps. We actually have not had great success with the the the people coming out of those We’ve we’ve tried it, it hasn’t really worked well, I’m sure it does work. Well, for some people. I’ve heard great success stories. We haven’t seen it right. But so you’re going to, you’re going to need some college courses. But it’s okay to shift, right. And in fact, I think the people that have done that have brought different ways of thinking that have been wonderful. One of the best developers we’ve ever had at this company was actually a journalism major. And part of that was just personality, right? Guy, but that time, he actually, when he studied journalism actually worked in IT for a period of time, I believe it taught him critical thinking, right, it taught him to dig below the surface, right to not take something at face value. And I think those skills, and I will tell you, he wasn’t the most talented coder. But he was one of the best developers, right, because he didn’t have as much spirit experience coding as some other guys. But he had some experience that he brought to the position that mattered immensely, and he was a good communicator as well, you don’t have to be a good communicator to be a good coder. Right? You will probably not be in a customer facing role. But again, there are many things that you can do in a company like ours. Those guys that are good communicators, those, those developers that I can put in front of the client are very valuable to me personally. But I’ve got some incredibly smart guys that do great work every day that I try not to expose to clients, right, just just a personality thing. It doesn’t work out great for either they’re they’re uncomfortable, it’s unsatisfying for the client, because these guys aren’t good communicators. But there’s room for a whole bunch of different people in this industry. But I will tell you it it starts with a baseline of skill, right? That we when we’re evaluating somebody to bring in here, even at a junior position, we’re happy to train and spin them up. And we like young people that we don’t have to do a lot of training actually, that that’s really nice. But we can’t start from scratch, you do have to have a baseline of knowledge and coding skill to even come in and learn with us.

Aaron Spatz  27:04

Okay, so then, and then kind of just to reiterate your point, so that the advice then would be to go and pursue courses like maybe night courses or online courses through through a college or university just to pick up a couple, just a couple, a couple.

Chad King  27:19

That’s what works the best. Yeah. And and look, and I will say, in addition to that all of our best people are doing self study, right? They’re doing projects on the side. And they’re doing this because there’s a passion for it. Right? That’s that’s who we attract. That’s who works out here is, is people that are yes, they’re studying it. But it’s not just because they see a lucrative career down the road. They love this stuff. There they are. They’re not just doing what they’re told to do in class, right? They are self studying, they’re learning more. And they’ve probably got at least a handful of individual projects that just went out and did on their own.

Aaron Spatz  27:54

Gotcha. And it’s probably an obvious question, I’m going to ask it just just to be incredibly clear to so if you’re wanting to pursue a management career inside of the space, would you still say a baseline foundation knowledge is still just just as important?

Chad King  28:11

Yeah, probably, it’s going to be a little bit different, right? Like, I know, I know more about interconnected systems than maybe some of my individual guys, right, then individual developers, they can afford to be a little more siloed. Right. And so they know things they know way more about some individual specific technologies than I ever will. But I think I probably have a better understanding of the big picture and interconnected systems than than some of my gosh, gotcha, gotcha. I shouldn’t say guys, girls, we’ve actually got a decent number of girls back there as well. We struggle with that, right? This is a male dominated industry, and we actually try to be more diverse. And we look for quality candidates, and we’ve got a few really good ones. It always fluctuates. But But yeah, what when I say guys, I don’t necessarily mean men, right? It’s my passion. You probably use the word team.

Aaron Spatz  29:02

Sure. Team. Yeah, team. That works well then let’s then let’s kind of look outward towards towards the future. So what do you see the future of the industry being? What do you see the future of companies in terms of their need for for custom software development? Where Where do you see that trend going?

Chad King  29:21

Well, I tell you, one of the things that we are focusing on and we did this through the majority of 2020, and it’s continuing now is for the first time we actually built a product. Not not the first time first time but generally we everything we do is work for somebody else, right? We are executing someone else’s idea. They own the intellectual property, they own the finished code, the whole nine yards. But we, we I’m going to use this word and I know it’s one of the most overused words of 2020 but we pivoted right and it was a true pivot and we actually developed a product a software as a solution product that is a virtual tradeshow platform and So I see things like that supporting virtual supporting remote work, things of that nature are the future, right? Because what we’re seeing with the so we have a client that actually does trade shows, right, they do some of the biggest in person trade shows in the world. And that none of that happened in this past year. Right. And, and so they had some clients that were like, Hey, we count on these trade shows, we can’t meet in person, we got to take this online. And we learned that there were a couple of decent platforms out there. But they were incredibly expensive. And there were a whole bunch of not very good platforms out there. And so we were kind of trying to bridge that gap, we were trying to build a better platform, a good solid platform, do some innovative things, but come in at a price point that was much more competitive than the you know, the quote unquote, household and household names that were in the space. And so we’re continuing to flesh that out, we got a big show coming up here in about three weeks, that we’re going to run through that platform. And so that’s been really fun for us. And it’s been interesting. Because we it was speculative, right, we weren’t changed in 2020. And we had some projects go on pause, which gave us some available staff. And so we actually put people on this project of where we actually went and built a product. And now we’re selling that’s called that’s called virtual connect. And that can be found at virtual connect dot live.

Aaron Spatz  31:22

Wow, well, and things like that are going to continue to be all the more important as we go forward. And so I think so, you know, looking ahead, and um, this is just been kind of a fun question to ask people, you know, where do you see the future work being now? So we’ve got, obviously a lot of, is it gonna be remote first is going to be a hybrid model? Is it going to be, hey, everybody needs to get back to the office as soon as humanly possible. Where Where do you see that heading,

Chad King  31:49

it’s going to be a hybrid error. And it’s 100% going to be a hybrid. And I just tell you, I can I can talk to my experience. And I communicate a lot with a with a number of business owners professionals here in DFW, and I can tell you, their experience largely mirrors ours. So I’m pretty comfortable just talking about what we’ve seen. Yeah. And that is, there’s a wide range of how people how well people work remotely. I did it for a couple of weeks. And I just found that I didn’t feel like I had my hand on the wheel as well from home as I do from the office, we’re in a central business. So other than than those, you know, a couple of weeks here and there do days here and there. I’ve been coming in the whole time, I feel better at this desk here in my office. I got one guy that I may never let him come back. Right, he’s killed, he’s so he’s so productive at home, it’s better than ever, you know. And what we found is that I rotation works well, for most of our people. We’re a little unique in this, everybody wants to tell you that geography doesn’t matter in technology and software development. And while that is true, to a degree, we just highly value in person communication, we’ve done less of it than ever before, it used to be something that we wanted to do even more. But we still insist on the degree of that. And that’s both with customers and my employees. And so I think it’s going to be hybrid all the way, there’s still a need for in person, right? I saw people clamoring for in person, I run a networking group, and we were not able to meet in person for a while. And people were just bursting for that. And so when we finally got back together and opened it up for an in person meeting took all the proper precautions and all that right, but it was like people were so ready for that. So even now, we’re cautious, but not not scared. And try not to change too much about how we do business because of the virus, although we’ve made a major change in the business because of it. But we’re still down for in person meetings. And so we just gauge how people feel about that. But some people have been like, well, you’re willing to meet in person? Hell yeah, let’s do it. Right. So which is great for us, because we value that in person communication. And so I think that’s going to be key going forward, it’s gonna be a hybrid model. Going back to the trade show, I wouldn’t do this, we wouldn’t have built this, if we felt like it was only good for a year or two, right? Because the future is going to be that hybrid model, I believe the world’s gonna open back up, and we are going to have in person trade shows again, but there’s going to be that element of man, we found out that this part of virtual was really cool. And can we incorporate that going forward. And so now, if we were going to attend a trade show, as a company, I might only send a guy or two guys, because I can’t take them off their desk or any more people off their desk for you know, two travel days and three days of the show while they’re there. Well, so now I can actually send half my staff because maybe we send one or two people there in person because there’s a reason for that. Maybe not. But then maybe I’ve got three or four others, however many others that we send virtually. And so they’re only going to a few sessions here and they’re the ones that really matter. Instead of being out of pocket for a week to go attend to show So we actually fully believe that hybrid is going to be the the way forward. And that’s going to apply to to all sorts of areas of work.

Aaron Spatz  35:09

You know, I couldn’t agree with you more, because one and you, you emphasize this point multiple times. We’re social people. And so there’s only so much connection that we can build with each other virtually. Right? I it’s, it’s not impossible. We know it’s not impossible, but it’s not the ideal, right? And so there’s absolutely going to be some kind of hybrid, I’m really curious to see how companies do that, whether it’s like a, you know, hey, everybody’s gonna be in office once a week, right? Maybe like Mondays or Wednesdays or something everybody’s, everybody’s together. Or we can like what you said, maybe there’s a rotation of some sort, I think it’s going to depend largely on the industry and everything else. And then I think some of that’s going to also be I think, some companies are going to give people the option, whether it’s a return or not. But then if you’re a company thinking through this, it depends on how much capital you’ve sunk into buildings and all the leases, right? So do we still need our ginormous corporate headquarters building? Or can we get away with a much smaller footprint, we can reduce our operating expenses, it’s, it’s a lot smaller. And now Now, it’s just more of like a hub of just critical core stuff. And maybe it’s just a whole bunch of meeting rooms and like, hot office space in terms of like, you almost turn into a bit of like a co network or a co working space, rather than a very formal. I’ve got my name on my, you know, on my office door type of type of situation. It’ll be fascinating. I guess. I’m just fascinated to see where it’s gonna go. And I love like, I love hearing from folks to see kind of where they were, the thing is going, especially in the DFW metroplex, I think there’s just so many companies here and so many different options, and it’s gonna, I wonder if it’s gonna be on those things where people are looking around to see who’s doing what, and they’re going to copy each other?

Chad King  37:00

Oh, I think so. Yeah, I definitely think so. I mean, I’ve seen, you know, instances of that already. But But yeah, man, I think it’s gonna depend. I mean, you know, I said, I’ve got manufacturers that are clients, they kind of have to go into the shop to do, right, you got to go to the factory, it is what it is, makes any knowledge work. You know, again, I just think it’s going to be so varied. And just speaking to our experience, we had a couple of guys that, you know, weren’t effective from home. And it was a couple of varying reasons, one ended up saying, Look, I just don’t have a very good place to work. House. And, and so, you know, a couple of people were like, Look, if you want a job, you’re coming into the office, because you’re just not getting it done from remote. Right. And I said, I got one guy that I may never let come back. And but the bulk of my staff, we let them choose. We were able to it was interesting, we were able to support remote work fairly easily. It you know, when it first happened right off the bat. And what it was, is we had been preparing for disaster recovery. And what that meant to us was maybe the building isn’t here, or doesn’t have power or something like that, right. And so we were able to tweak that a little bit. And it actually served us very well, for our staff to work remotely. So, you know, we had been preparing for a disaster of a different sort. But it actually enabled us to do what we needed to do and work through this.

Aaron Spatz  38:22

How have you personally fared through the through the COVID pandemic? How have you been personally your family on those that you know?

Chad King  38:32

Yeah, thank you for asking. I’ve been I’ve been great. And like I said, I have been coming to work through virtually the whole thing. We’ve we’ve had to make some changes. But I’ve had something to keep my focus on. Right, making sure we still have a company on the other end of this thing, making sure we’re still serving our clients that need it. We’re still out there selling, you know, bringing on new deals, starting new projects, doing different stuff, maybe than before. But so that’s been great. Family has been impacted. No one seriously sick, no deaths close to me, personally, thank goodness. My daughter had a positive result but never got sick. We actually brought her back from from college for that is just that. And so that’s what I said, I work from home for a couple of weeks. That’s why I kind of intentionally expose myself, right? Because that sounds bad. But you know, hey, we, we decided like, in the early stages of her, we said, look, you’re coming home, right? Because if you do get sick, I don’t want you down there by yourself. Yep. And so we actually brought my daughter back from Texas a&m, and she came home never had any symptoms at all, but we did have a positive result. So you know, whether she actually had it or not, I don’t know. But we’ve we’ve been touched by it. Right? It definitely caused some problems for my wife, professionally, right, career wise. So definitely an impact. I don’t know anyone that hadn’t been impacted by it to some degree. But it could be a lot worse. We’re doing we’re doing better than most I’ll say that So, personally, you know, it’s it was it was a weird year and and, you know, got all kinds of different weird stuff going on now. So I’m not sure how much different 20 one’s going to be. But all in all doing really well, thanks.

Aaron Spatz  40:13

Sure, yeah, no, it’s, well, one, you touched on it right there at the very end and, you know, maintaining a positive outlook, right. And so some people are going to, like, roll their eyes at this, right. But it’s like, but you’ve got to man you’ve got you got to maintain a positive mental attitude, especially going into the new year. And I know like, like, for me, I can be one of the most cynical people you ever meet. And I try I try not to be like, it’s it’s important to have a, a positive, compelling future that you’re working towards. And so I’m convinced that 2121 has to be better than 20. And if not, you know what, I’m going to find the lessons to be learned. And I’m going to I’m going to make use of it, it may be a broken mess, but I’m going to pick up the pieces of it and take something forward going into the next years. But, you know, the, the virus certainly has touched a lot of people, and I’ve known a lot of people personally, I’ve been that have been impacted professionally. I’ve been affected impacted personally. And kind of to your point I don’t think anyone has has really gone through it is not being affected in some way. And you know, and I’ve joked with a lot of people, because I really actually think back in December of 19, I think my wife and I may have actually had the virus before it was even really like this big thing. Because especially especially my wife, she’d been sick, and it was sick in a way that like is not normal, like not like not the normal type of sick. And there’s a lot of different weird, like some symptoms. And then fast forward four or five, six months later, and they’re starting to get like, they have that now a little bit of a data pool to kind of pull from on symptom sort of thing. And I’m like, you know, that sounds eerily familiar to me. Like, maybe this thing made it over here a little bit earlier than we all thought it did.

Chad King  41:59

Oh, I I absolutely believe that. I know someone very much what you just described. He’s like, look, I’m pretty sure I had it in December. Yeah. Right, missed missed a full week of work, which handled it really well handle it appropriately. It’s not someone that normally misses but missed a full week of work is like, look, I’m really sick. And I don’t want to give this to anyone else. Right. So ended up you know, accidentally doing all the right things to come out of it the other side, but it sounds like he probably

Aaron Spatz  42:27

right? Yeah. Well, you know, we’re in January, it’s a new year, new opportunities, a whole a whole blank slate that that we now have to write on. And I just curious, like, what are some goals that you’ve set for this year? What are some things that you’re working towards? In in 21?

Chad King  42:48

Okay, cool. Yeah, thanks. Yeah. And by the way, you got to stay positive, man. I mean, you I can’t agree with that more. You know, around here, what we do is say, okay, when something doesn’t go as we had wanted, well, okay, what’s the opportunity in this? Right? What’s good about this? And or what’s the opportunity in this? Right, and there’s opportunity in chaos. You know, going back to the election, however you wanted that to go, we saw an opportunity either way, right? We it was going out with that we’d have to approach some things differently, depending on the outcome. But we’re like, Hey, here’s what good here’s what’s good and possible, if it goes this way, here’s what’s good and possible, or probable if it goes the other way. But you’re right, you got to get up every day with something to look forward to. And you got to believe there’s something good down the road, or you know, else, what are you doing? What are you working toward? Right, so we’re maintaining that focus on the virtual connect, we’re still I said, we’re bringing on new clients, we’re doing what we’re doing on the customer development side. But that’s a really important piece that we think we can capitalize on. Certainly, for the remainder of this year, the first half of this year, that’s still going to be almost all virtual. There, we you know, we’ve seen some major trade shows that have come out and said, definitely not until q4 at the earliest, if it happens at all this year. And these are some major players. And so they’re having to make the call, you know, kind of early, some smaller shows are able to delay that decision a little bit and see if they’re going to have any, if they’re going to do it in person or have an in person component. But there’s a huge opportunity for us to to continue focusing on that for this year. So the virtual connect dot live is it’s an important thing for our company. And so that’s that’s taking a lot of our resources and a lot of our focus to make sure that we are growing that portion of the business and serving those people. Well,

Aaron Spatz  44:29

you know, and that’s going to be and that’s something we haven’t even had a chance to kind of dive into because that for a lot of companies and I know in inside of the DFW Metroplex are a ton of companies that rely on attending some of these major trade shows for whatever their industry may be. And that has been stripped away and now we’re moving to this virtual thing. And maybe no one else has said it. I’ll go ahead and say it and I and I’ll risk sounding like a moron saying this but business has absolutely have gotten have been impacted because of a lack of being able to meet in person. Because Gone are the days now where you’ve got a booth, you’ve got 1000s of people walking through, and they’re trying to. And I like to make fun of these people, because I may or may not have been one of these people at some point in my career maybe earlier on, but you’re going around grabbing all your free stuff, you’re talking to people, you’re getting your badge scanned, you’re having conversations with folks, right? It’s, it’s a very open, very, very fun, there’s a lot of energy in the room, right? There’s a lot of stuff to see, it’s your it’s like you go to the state fair, man, it’s like, but it’s, but it’s different. You know, it’s like, there’s so but there’s so much going on, right? There’s like, and and obviously, all these different things are different sizes. But business has got to been impacted. Because even in a virtual format, how do you keep that engagement, especially where you know, you’ve got like three sales reps or three company, I’ll just say company representatives work in a booth. And you’ve got maybe seven or eight people kind of loitering around. And every one of those three people are engaging in a quick conversation or just touching base with this guy talking to this lady over here. And then someone’s like, you know, asked asking you a question over there, and you’re kind of hopping around and things are kind of moving, moving kind of steady for you. How are companies going to handle that now going forward? Because I’m telling you, there’s there’s probably, there’s probably millions and millions of dollars that are on the table at these trade shows and these conferences, and now that’s kind of been taken away. And so how are companies going to adapt to that? And I? And I don’t know if you have the answer. I’m this is almost like a rhetorical question. But where do you see that going now?

Chad King  46:36

Yeah, well, I mean, I can tell you know, I don’t have the answer. And but I can tell you that that’s probably the number one thing that we’re working on in that platform. Right is, so as I said earlier, when something doesn’t go our way, we say okay, either what’s good about this? Or what’s the, in this? And so similarly, yeah, that energy is gone. Write that in person contact, I don’t know how we replicate that I don’t, I don’t think we can write that the energy of a crowd. I’m not sure how I take that online. So what we are doing is saying, okay, what can we do in an online environment that you can’t do? In person, right? How can we make this good? And so we’re looking at some things like, like matching up, right. And so one thing that we’re able to do is, is run some algorithms, right? So we’re able to get information from both the vendors, the sponsors, as well as the attendees. And we can actually drive connections that may or may not have happened naturally in person, right, we’ve got a path now we can make some of those things happen. So yeah, now instead of standing in a physical booth, then you’re maybe waiting in a virtual room. Right? But so the the number of contacts may or may not go down, right, there’s a, there’s a, there’s a definite chance that you’re not going to contact as many people as you would wandering through your booth to pick up your tchotchkes, right. But we’re hoping we can improve the quality of that, right. And that we can actually make fewer but better connections than what you were making in person. One of the things that we talked to the client about was, okay, we’re not gonna we’re not gonna buy 10,000 erasers, right to hand out. But can I maybe go buy 1000 have a higher quality items and nail them just to the right people to make a more significant connection?

Aaron Spatz  48:23

Man, that’s a that’s a great idea. Because that never happens. Like, how often do you get like a real gift in the mail? from anybody? Right? I mean, 96% of my mail goes into the trash. And on the off chance, I get something that I actually need. It’s, I mean, it’s, it’s something I’m already expecting, or it’s something I’m already looking for. So how often are you getting something from a company that like, hey, we just want to mail you like this little like, squeeze ball, or this or this pen? Or this whatever, like a little gadget, or

Chad King  48:58

I actually do get pins about once a month from the company to buy custom pins from them.

Aaron Spatz  49:03

Well, that well, that kind of makes sense, right? But the but no, I this conversation, I feel like if if your business leader, listening to this, I hope this is getting your wheels turning because I feel like there’s an absolute opportunity right now, to connect with people in a more meaningful way. And obviously, within I’m not I’m not trying to give myself a sales pitch here. But it’s a lot of what I do is is helping people connect with with their with their clients, but like Chad, you’re bringing, you’re bringing a really good point up and it’s, there’s an opportunity now that exists. And so in the chaos, right, you are addressing a need in the virtual meeting, conference space. And then here we are, we’re talking about another idea. It’s like, wow, you know, there’s this thing called mail and there’s this thing called postage stamps or postage that you pay for and you have to weigh this little thing on a scale. You know, it’s like, and you know, that yes, it takes more work, but man, it’s is so meaningful. I mean, some of the most meaningful things that I’ve ever received have been like a thank you card. It doesn’t have to doesn’t have to have a gift attached to it. It could be but a Oh, it’s important to clarify a handwritten thank you. Yeah, look, I’ve

Chad King  50:15

backed off a little bit. I used to do it a little more frequently, but still a handful of times a year, I still send a handwritten card.

Aaron Spatz  50:22

Yep. It’s been a, it’s been a new practice that I’ve that I’ve implemented. I, you know, back in the day when I was doing a bunch of job interviews and stuff. So you know, several years ago, that was always part of the thing that helped me stand out was writing thank you cards to the people that I interviewed with. But now I try I try to make it a practice to write thank you cards to folks that I interact with, whether it’s clients, whether it’s friends, whether it’s people I network with, because again, it’s it’s memorable. So I think, you know, once again, if you’re a business leader, executive, in your you’re working in a company, you’re trying to figure out a way to connect with people in a in a little bit more unconditional way, you can almost make the argument that mail has now become a little bit more unconventional because we’re so used to social media, we’re so used to email we’re so used to all these other 1000 ways to touch somebody electronically, but don’t negate or don’t don’t. And I’m just fumbling the word here but but do not undervalue the, the ability that there is there to to make a meaningful impact and a meaningful connection to somebody. When it’s like personal because it’s it’s different. It’s different than what you’re used to.

Chad King  51:31

Hearing. This is funny, you mentioned that years ago, I actually secured a job. I interviewed with a guy in a hotel lobby, and I stopped at the front desk I before I left I hand wrote a card you know made a specific thank you card for the time and dropped it at the front desk and had them delivered to his room. I was leaning towards you. And but that pushed it over the top. No one else did that. So

Aaron Spatz  51:57

So I called boss move right there, man. That’s awesome. That’s well chat, man. This has been it’s been a blast, man. Thank you so much for joining the show today. It’s been it’s been a true pleasure. Yeah,

Chad King  52:07

it’s been great man. I’ve enjoyed it. Thanks for having me.

Aaron Spatz  52:10

Absolutely.

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