S1- Episode 10 – Ryan Shizradi
In this episode of David Vs Goliath, Adam DeGraide interview Ryan Shizradi a partner at tekrevol.com. Tekrevol is one of the leaders in mobile app development world wide. Ryan shares his story of how he and his partners went from 3 people to over 170 in the US and Several other countries. This truly is a David Vs Goliath Story. Enjoy!
Adam DeGraide: (00:00)
Coming up today on David Vs Goliath. Called FSK. I don’t want to give away too much because I don’t want anybody to steal my ideas before my game comes out.
Ryan Shirzadi: (00:10)
There was a time when we were just flying by the seat of our pants, trying to figure everything out.
Adam DeGraide: (00:15)
Ryan, you are awesome.
Speaker 3: (00:19)
Welcome to today’s episode of David Vs Goliath, a podcast dedicated to helping small businesses leverage technology, to not only help them compete against their large competitors, but win. Your host is currently the CEO of Anthem Business Software, a three-time Inc 500 recipient and a serial entrepreneur with a passion to help small businesses everywhere. Find, serve, and keep more customers profitably. Please join me in welcoming your host, Adam DeGraide.
Adam DeGraide: (00:50)
Hey everyone, it’s Adan DeGraide with another fantastic episode of David Vs Goliath coming your way today, with Ryan Shirzadi from TekRevol, great application-building company, great technology company, from three people to 170 internationally. It’s going to be a great interview, stay tuned. Before we get into that though, I want to thank our corporate sponsor Anthem Software, where you can find, serve, and keep more customers profitably with their software, marketing, consulting platform. Visit anthemsoftware.com today to take the 122nd tour. And very important also for you to know, our website address for the podcast is Davidvsgoliathpodcast.com, that’s Davidvsgoliathpodcast.com. There you can subscribe and apply to be on the show. Plus we’re on all of your favorite podcasting networks. If you want to watch the podcast YouTube, subscribe, and if you want to listen, we’re on Spotify, Google, Apple, I mean, you name it, we’re on it.
Adam DeGraide: (01:52)
But let’s get right to it with Ryan Shirzadi from TekRevol. Ryan, welcome to David Vs Goliath.
Ryan Shirzadi: (01:59)
Awesome to be here.
Adam DeGraide: (02:01)
It’s great, man. I got to tell you, I practiced your name for 15 minutes before this podcast, Ryan Shirzadi, hopefully I’m nailing that the right way. Ryan, you and I met several months back when I was actually looking at doing a project for my other company called BamBamTastic Games, bam, bam, tastic games, which is going to be coming out next year. And I probably submitted, I don’t know, four or five bids in proposals to other companies. And one of the things that was appealing to me, was you had a video on your actual website, TekRevol, where you were holding your dog, I think it’s Roosevelt, is that the name of the dog?
Ryan Shirzadi: (02:41)
That’s correct. Yeah.
Adam DeGraide: (02:43)
Yeah, it was Roosevelt, and I was trying to say to myself, “Man, I want to make sure that I give this guy a chance, but he was holding a dog.” I didn’t really know what to make of it, but it… Actually, you guys were awesome. Your proposal was fantastic. And I always like to tell the listeners how we met each other, and we met each other because I actually hired you to do some stuff for one of my other businesses. And why don’t you give the listeners and the watchers a little bit of an overview on TekRevol and what you guys do and what makes you get up in the morning and get excited?
Ryan Shirzadi: (03:15)
Sure. Yeah. Thanks Adam. So at TekRevol it’s a really exciting industry to be in, the software industry, there’s always something new, something fresh, great ideas, especially with you as well, I mean, the idea is fantastic. That’s what we thrive ourselves on, right? That’s what we’re really proud of, is actually being able to go out and implement and make these ideas reality. So that’s what really excites us as a company, we’ve been in the app development space, that’s kind of our bread and butter, and it’s been like that for a while but as we’ve kind of scaled, we’ve gotten into consulting, gap analysis, these kind of things, with other companies to be able to identify where we can actually help them grow, where any bottlenecks are and actually, kind of optimize their performance and processes. So that’s something that we’ve kind of scaled into, but, yeah, what really got us started was really fun about just being in the space, was just building dreams. And that’s something that has been really rewarding for myself and the company.
Adam DeGraide: (04:14)
How many partners do you have right now, Ryan, beside yourself?
Ryan Shirzadi: (04:17)
So I have two partners, that’s Abeer and Asim. And, yeah, we’re three guys with a common vision, common goal, very aligned as far as our focus goes, and that allows us to scale. I’m going to be brutally straight upfront here about this, is starting a business, I’ve realized from the last few business I’ve started, choosing the right partners is such a key part of the business. And I wouldn’t even recommend going to business alone, especially if it’s your first business. Having people to bounce ideas off of, having somebody who might be more analytical, having somebody who might be more of a idea guy, having somebody who really goes out and gets things done, and everybody having a different kind of role that works together and harmony has been the key to our growth and success so far. So [crosstalk 00:05:06] partners in the right places.
Adam DeGraide: (05:07)
It’s funny you say that Ryan. I’m on my fifth company, sixth actually if you count BamBam, I have never done any of them alone, nor would I dare do them alone. I was talking with Aron Lane last week, and she was talking about her partners and her people that she works with. And we were just talking about how this guy I met years ago, uses Wolfington, told me “You never do business alone.” and it really has made all the difference in the world. But you are kind of in an exciting industry, everyone thinks they have an app idea, or they like to hope they have an app idea, you probably hear a lot of brain-headed ideas as well as some good ones, but at the end of the day it’s a fun place to be. And when I decided to build an app, which is going to be coming out next year called FSK, I don’t want to give away too much, because I don’t want anybody to steal my ideas before my game comes out.
Adam DeGraide: (06:00)
But it is fun to be able to work on something, to dream it, from concept and then hopefully to completion. We’re about, I would say probably 40% of the way there, you and I together on this project, and it’s been a lot of fun. But when you’re talking to people about their apps, you’re not just doing video games, you’re also doing business development apps as well too, for either large companies or mid-size companies, tell the listeners a little bit about some of the app projects you’re currently working on, without violating any NDA, obviously.
Ryan Shirzadi: (06:31)
Yeah, absolutely. So I mean, a lot of our projects run around AI, AR or VR, IOT, that’s more enterprise-type clients, these are clients that really need just help identifying the issues. So that’s where we come in and kind of guide them, look over what they currently have and make sure what they’re going to have is something that actually provides a solution that makes sense for them. That’s where the custom solutions come to play. And that’s, kind of, why we love SaaS solutions, we think that they’re great, but at the end of the day having the custom SaaS solutions, being able to actually identify your needs specifically, and not just get a cookie cutter has been something that has proved to be a little bit of a niche market for us and then something to where people really, actually enjoy going through this process more so, and actually getting a solution that applies directly to them. They come from SaaS solutions, they might have purchased in the past and they realize that they don’t actually hit everything they would need.
Ryan Shirzadi: (07:27)
A lot of the projects we get kind of come in that space. Also, obviously the platforms, upgrading platforms, a lot of the companies are on older legacy systems and stuff, and want to move into cloud and things like that, this is something we also specialize in, is making sure that they actually do get the correct level of service that they need to be able to make that happen.
Adam DeGraide: (07:47)
It’s awesome, man. And going back to your business partners, you talked about starting with the right people. The only reason why you can do what you’re doing right now, is because you have the right people, right? You’ve got personalities, you’ve got doers, you’ve got strategic thinkers, and you’re doing projects all over the map, right? From business solutions to video games, and people are important. Before 2020 happened, obviously, before that and even this year, does your team take the time, you, Asim and Abeer… I can’t believe I’m actually saying those words together, that actually may sound like I’m ready to go have a drink, at the end of the day, do you guys get together and you say, “Okay, here’s what we’ve done, here’s where we want to go.”, are you laying out very specific plans with goals, or goals with plans, or you guys kind of just flying by the seat of your pants there?
Ryan Shirzadi: (08:38)
There was a time I think, probably before 2020, yeah, there was a time when we were just flying by the seat of our pants, trying to figure everything out. When you start a business, it’s a really iterative process, it’s something to where you’re kind of always pivoting and trying to find your right niche. At the beginning, obviously your mission, vision, all your values down, making sure that everybody’s on the same page on that level, understanding where the business is going from a high level, but once you get into nitty gritty and start throwing out ideas, seeing where you’re going to spend money, how you’re going to make money, who you’re going to target first, ABM strategies, these kind of things, putting all these together is definitely a trial and error process. I mean, I wouldn’t say we have made a lot of mistakes starting, and we were definitely flying by the seat of the pants, but through that we were able to find what, kind of, works and get direction for ourselves. After that it’s become a little bit more analytical, it’s a little bit of winging it here and there, which is always fun.
Adam DeGraide: (09:35)
[crosstalk 00:09:35] fun. I think it’s fun to wing it sometimes too.
Ryan Shirzadi: (09:39)
Exactly. You got to have a little bit of fun with it. But there’s obviously always strategic plans, objectives and goals that we do set for ourselves, each of the partners individually and as a team. So even just two weeks ago, I was in Dubai for the GITEX conference, and it was crazy, there was robots, everything over there, biggest trade show or conference in the Middle East region and EU region for technology and stuff. And it was really cool to be there, kind of, seeing how we could actually help with a lot of those companies. And that was a goal that we set as a team a few months ago, to be able to attend that, to have a booth there, we were right next to Intel and Lenovo so it was really honorable, I felt really honored to be there, and be able to present our stuff. And that was a cool goal that actually just recently we were able to fulfill and actually exceeded our goals through that as well, through that event and everything. So-
Adam DeGraide: (10:29)
Technically, they call that a milestone. Going to something like that is a dream, you not only want plans and goals, but one extra layer of that, is milestones, which are where you can celebrate. And it reminded me of a sermon I actually heard years ago, it was about the story of Hansel and Gretel. You heard of the story about how they left all this bread behind, right? And so they came and they ate it and then they lost their way, they couldn’t get back. And what’s really important in business is that you don’t want to leave bread crumbs as milestones, you want to put rocks as milestones, because when you get lost you can always go back to that milestone that said, “Hey, we did this. We can get through this. Remember that milestone back there, let’s keep pushing forward because we can do it again.”
Adam DeGraide: (11:17)
And so what you experienced was a milestone in your business. And you guys need to make sure you implant that in your brain for the times you succeed in the future, or the challenging times, that you remember these milestones. Don’t leave breadcrumbs leave stones, because if you get lost Ryan, which every business owner does, you can always go back to that milestone and then go from there. And I think so often we forget, in our personal lives and in our business lives, to set up boulders or stones, giant things in our mind and our memory, so we can hold on to it, cling to it, and remember those times, not only professionally, but personally. I want to continue to talk a little bit about the people that are your partners, and then I want to talk about your team. There’s three of you, you all can’t have the same gifts, tell us a little bit about which each person’s role is as a partner and how you round each other out.
Ryan Shirzadi: (12:11)
Yeah. Absolutely amazing question. And it’s something that I think we’ve done very well as a company. Our partners… Asim, he is the CTO, he’s the head of the production department. So we make sure things get done, he’s on that end, he’s very analytical, somebody who… Myself, I’m kind of the guy who kind of shoots stuff from left field and say, “Let’s try this. Let’s try that. Let’s do this. ” and I have to be held back by somebody, all right? So Asim’s that kind of guy, he’s the guy who keeps us levelheaded, makes sure we’re making the right decisions at the right time, that kind of thing. Obviously we can budget things out, do this, that, the other, but it’s always good to make sure that we’re seeing the results side as well. So that’s kind of where Asim steps in.
Ryan Shirzadi: (12:51)
Abeer. I’m going to just be blunt, me and Abeer are very similar. His mind is more marketing focused, so he’s really good with the marketing side of things, being able to take an idea, make it more profitable, monetization and that kind of thing.
Ryan Shirzadi: (13:05)
Myself, I graduated with my finance masters and that’s kind of where I kind of stay, is in operations, finance, making sure things make sense on that end, and also being the idea kind of guy and making sure that we’re trying new things and not just staying kind of stagnant, throwing new objectives, goals. And yeah, I think that’s kind of where we all come in.
Ryan Shirzadi: (13:27)
With us three partners, everybody… I mean, me and Abeer are similar to an extent, but there’s a kind of a spectrum. So there’s the analytical, mid-analytical, and then just “Let’s do everything.”, and that’s kind of where we all fall. There’s a lot of pushes, pulls, checks and balances, just between us three before we even bring it up to anybody in the team.
Adam DeGraide: (13:47)
Ryan Shirzadi: (13:48)
Yeah. It works really well. I’m going to just be blunt here with this one, in this day and age, if you don’t have a partner specialized in technology and understands coding and things like that, I mean, you won’t have the visibility, it’s something to where it’s almost necessary at this day and age to have a partner in that area. That’s a part of your goals, vision, and all that, being a partner. So that’s something-
Adam DeGraide: (14:13)
Otherwise you end up wasting time, energy, money, you end up having to rebuild things because you didn’t do it right the first time. I’ve got those t-shirts by the way, Ryan, I got those t-shirts. And, so your team… You’re calling him Asim, or is it Asim?
Ryan Shirzadi: (14:33)
It’s Asim. Asim.
Adam DeGraide: (14:34)
See I like Asim. Everyone should have a partner that’s name is Asim and Abeer, because if you have a great day, it’s awesome, you finish the day you go have a beer, and you hang out with some guy named Ryan Shirzadi. They are the ones that have the problem, right? Your name is not quite as exciting. Now you have an awesome-
Ryan Shirzadi: (14:56)
Whenever I get a beer now, I’m kind of, “I need to get the beer.” so I don’t think about my partners all the time.
Adam DeGraide: (15:03)
Oh man. It’s a good thing I don’t drink beer, I drink other things. But I have a gluten allergy, that’s why I… For the listeners who just learned something about me, I’ve a gluten allergy, I’m glutard. Before we go to break, really quickly, tell everyone a little bit about your team, both in house and overseas. I think that would be something that people would find fascinating.
Ryan Shirzadi: (15:23)
Sure. Yeah. At TekRevol, one thing that makes us different is we’ve kind of mastered this hybrid approach model. We want to have staff on both sides of the ocean. So we have a team overseas for development, they’re all in-house, offshore so they’re all under the same umbrella. And then we have a team here in the US. Both sides serve their purposes, uniquely, obviously. The development team over there make sure that things get done. We just made a new team in Ukraine, actually, recently for the UI UX development… They’re really good UI UX developers. The key for us is making sure that we have resources in enough place, employees in enough place, people in enough place to be able to actually continue to satisfy our clients as we grow… As our clients grow. Our goal isn’t to just stay stagnant and do the same thing over and over again, we’re continuing to grow with our clients and that’s the whole goal as a company.
Ryan Shirzadi: (16:15)
So as we’ve scaled with our clients, our Houston team’s grown quite a bit, our Miami’s team grown quite a bit, our Chicago’s team been growing. All these teams have been growing at the same point, and it’s something to where it gives the client a lot more guess visibility into our program, visibility what we’re doing, without being completely offshore and stuff like that. So trying to be more hybrid, trying to be more present, visible, transparent is our goal, at all times. Making sure communication’s there, that’s something we press off of… Our clutch is full of communication-type reviews, and that… Even if there’s an issue, we will be communicating with you, we won’t be running away, we won’t be sitting there trembling. We’re going to make sure we come in and we fix the problem at any given point. That’s something that we put our value in. I mean, these are values that we said at the very beginning that we’re trying to make into reality. I’m even moving some of my people’s from overseas to the US, and that’s been a goal of mine this whole time with the company, is to bring them over. So it’s something that… We have a focus on that’s heavier than a lot of other companies in our industry, and that’s kind of one of the values we’re built off of.
Adam DeGraide: (17:26)
That is awesome, that you’re doing. Well, Ryan, hang on a little bit, we’re going to take a break from our corporate sponsor, Anthem Software, we’ll be back in a minute.
Speaker 3: (17:35)
Anthem Business Software system is designed to specifically help small businesses just like yours, find, serve, and keep more customers profitably. We do this by providing you with the most powerful software automations and marketing services to help your business compete and win in this ever changing digital world. Take a short video tour at anthemsoftware.com.
Adam DeGraide: (17:57)
And we’re back, with Ryan. I love screaming at people when we come back from break, I don’t know what it is, I have to go “We’re back.”, I just can’t come “And we’re back.”. I’m just not one of those guys that’s going to be, “And we’re back.”, you’re either pumped or you’re not. And you’re clearly excited about your business, and that is awesome. How many people are in the business? Because you mentioned that you have a bunch, how many total people work at TekRevol?
Ryan Shirzadi: (18:45)
So we got about 170 employees now.
Adam DeGraide: (18:50)
That’s awesome. Man, that is great. Now, obviously from the three of you cats, from Asim, Abeer and Ryan to 170, you must be doing something right, and congratulations. I’m sure a lot of the listeners would love to hear a little bit about the third stone that I talk about, which is tools. I don’t get into it with a lot of small businesses because they are pretty basic, right? Social media, things like that. What are some of the tools that you use to stay cross-pollinated, cross-communicating between all of the different states and overseas?
Ryan Shirzadi: (19:22)
Sure. So there’s actually not too many tools we use. We use three key tools, it’s the CRM platform, project management software and then a communication platform for instant communication. Those are the three tools we would generally use. So CRMs are such as Salesforce, HubSpot, Zoho, these ones are all great tools to be able to actually manage your internal processes, sales… The fact that you can actually see key statistics through them too, is really helpful. I mean, you need those statistics to be able to monitor where you’re going. So not only are you tracking, but you’re getting a little bit of a predictive analysis on how you can continue to scale. So the CRMs are amazing for that. Looking into the instant messaging tools, I mean, these are like the WhatsApp, Telegrams, things like that. These are great for communicating, especially globally. It runs off wifi, it’s really easy to use, as long as you have a good office with wifi overseas, and everywhere around, and everybody’s on the same page and able to connect, then yes, it’s a great tool. Just for getting quick messages across, use it in emergency cases, use it in urgent cases, it’s perfect for these types of scenarios. And then we have the-
Adam DeGraide: (20:35)
I know you use Asana for client relations, right?
Ryan Shirzadi: (20:38)
Adam DeGraide: (20:38)
So is Asana your project management software that you’re using?
Ryan Shirzadi: (20:43)
Correct, yeah. So Asana is for client and then also business management. So making sure the client’s happy, making sure that they’re able communicate effectively, all emails, texts, everything goes to one place. Basically being able to organize everything, I think that’s a really good software for actually client project management.
Ryan Shirzadi: (21:00)
I mean there’s, the smaller softwares like Calendly and these ones, they’re great when you’re smaller, I think. When you’re just scaling up and trying to organize your meetings, don’t have an assistant or anything or you’re not able to have as much attention to this kind of thing, or you’re just doing a 1000 things at once or whatever, these type of tools can really help with just scheduling, getting stuff on the paper before… I mean, I think I used that the most when I was really just starting out, just so I can make sure I wasn’t missing anything. As you get the hang of it, as you see how things work, as you check out CRMs, you can actually visualize the process and almost now you’re bucketing things in your head, or funneling things in your head and you’re able to do it on your own without using tool, but this tool is still there to be necessary [crosstalk 00:21:45] But I mean, at a point you’ll realize how all this actually works on a fundamental level and you can actually do it on your own. But it’s good to start with that.
Speaker 3: (21:54)
Yeah, it is. It is good to start… And I think what’s important to the watchers and listeners is that Ryan’s crossed over, when you get to 150 employees, you start to leverage different tools, then you did between 2 to 5, 5 to 10, 10 to 25, you know what I mean? It always scales and grows. That’s awesome. Now, Ryan, have you started to blueprint processes for your people? What do I mean by that? Companies of our sizes, we’ve built before in the past, my previous companies had 180 employees to 70 employees, I’m currently at a dozen right now in my new business and that’s going to continue to grow. I find that sometimes I’ve hired too many people in the past because I haven’t accurately or adequately, I should say, blueprinted, so to speak, every role in the organization, so we just keep having to throw warm bodies at problems versus automate things that could be automated. You’re probably dealing with that in a major way right now I would imagine, talk a little bit about your current processes and what you’re working on at TekRevol.
Ryan Shirzadi: (23:02)
So I find that processes are one of, kind of things I focus on probably the most in the organization. It’s necessary to me to have something that can be actually replicated rather than just done once or twice or whatever, I want to make sure that I can replicate a certain process, and that’s what the process is for. So with, let’s say, specific in individuals, I make sure I’m not overhiring too fast, usually just because I want to make sure that the roles that are currently being filled are being optimal. So I’ll hire two or three people at once, train them, make sure that they’re good to go and then move forward with the hires that I have urgently next. Even if I need really bad, I still have to make sure that the guys that we currently hire have their KPIs in place. And that’s probably one of the key processes that is in place, is actually results-driven KPIs that… Actually the process-
Adam DeGraide: (23:56)
And, just so the listeners know Ryan, a KPI is a key performance indicator in a business, we use a lot of these sophisticated terms sometimes. We got a lot of people that listen to the show that are just getting ready to start a business, you got to know your KPIs early, right? What are your key performance indicators? I apologize. Continue on.
Ryan Shirzadi: (24:12)
Perfect. So, yeah, identifying KPIs that the employees can understand to where I’m not breathing down their necks all the time. I don’t like to micromanage, that’s something that I’ve found to be very detrimental to any business. When I’m doing this kind of thing, I’m making sure that they have KPIs that are clear and understood, that once we deve… We all work together until the process is set. You obviously want to fulfill your KPI because you’ll get a reward for that. So then how are we going to make sure that you can fill your KPIs? We’ll go through the process, we’ll make sure that we connect you with this person, whenever you have to connect with this person, make sure this document’s filled out, and now this can be pushed over to this guy who actually finishes it up, ties it all together, and now everybody’s on the same page. So things like identify… And that’s just an example, a very blend basic example, but basically just being able to identify exactly how… Every single thing that these KPIs is attached to has a replicatable process within the organization. So, I mean, that’s the key. I mean, I’ll sit with these guys, set up a scrum every day, until the process is finalized. And that’s-
Adam DeGraide: (25:22)
And a scrum is a meeting.
Ryan Shirzadi: (25:25)
Adam DeGraide: (25:25)
It’s a fancy term for a meeting that just developers love to use and stuff like that. Now, I do want to interrupt you because you said something that I don’t want people to miss. You said when you hit the KPIs, you give rewards. Now, one of the things that I’ve learned in life is that not every reward has to be monetary, some people’s primary love language actually isn’t money. It’s an attaboy or employee of the month or time off with their family, what are some of the ways you reward your team besides money, or is it only money when they hit their KPIs?
Ryan Shirzadi: (26:04)
So, one thing that I’m so proud of TekRevol with is that we do have an award ceremony every quarter. And sometimes we miss a quarter if there’s not really anything that’s been done big, and that’s kind of part of the whole, “Do something and we’ll have this kind of thing, a big, old banquet type thing.”. But we always have the yearly one, no matter what. And this yearly event, we recognize the revolutionary disruptors, these are the awards, that’s what they’re called. The Revolutionary award, the Disrupter award and the TekRevol award so there’s three tiers to it. And to have the Revolutionary award means doing something absolutely incredible outside the box, something that we don’t see, you don’t see this, this is something that is completely just out of the field and works really well, and you tried something failed and figured it out, that’s something to where I really like to see things happen. So these awards that will be given and awards ceremony with a banquet, food, everything, games, all that good stuff, with the whole team. And that’s really fun time for the employees and everything. And that-
Adam DeGraide: (27:09)
I love the name of the awards too. Say that one more time.
Ryan Shirzadi: (27:12)
The Revolutionary award, the Disruptor award and the TekRevol award.
Adam DeGraide: (27:14)
I want the disrupter award. I feel that would be the one that I would win, the head disrupter.
Ryan Shirzadi: (27:25)
That’s what I wanted my title to be, the chief disruptor for a while.
Adam DeGraide: (27:29)
It’s funny, you’ve mention what your title to be. My first business people used to say, “So what’s your title?” I said, “Well, I’m Adam DeGraide, the junk mail generator.” because every piece of mail that was junk they came to the company was in my name. So clearly I was the junk mail generator. Ryan, we’re going to come back after the break, we have to take another break from a sponsor, but I want to talk to you about the courage it takes to get up and run a business that is international, and I think the listeners are going to love it. So, stay tuned, I’m Adam DeGraide, you’re watching and listening the greatest small business podcast in the world, David Vs Goliath, will be right back with Ryan Shirzadi from TekRevol, stay tuned.
Speaker 4: (28:09)
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Adam DeGraide: (29:24)
And we’re back again. See, I didn’t go like this this time, I did a little point this time, which is way different Ryan. You can’t accuse me of doing the same move every time, I’m always going to mix it up.
Adam DeGraide: (29:37)
This has been awesome, man. Learning about a high-paced, high-growth, fast tech company named TekRevol. My buddy, Ryan Shirzadi. Ryan, you should be proud because not many people are at the place where you’re at. Now, when you, Abeer, Asim and yourself got together and decided to start TekRevol, that takes courage man, I mean, you obviously had experience in the past. Try to take people back to the day where the three of you got together, shook hands basically, and said, “We’re going to make this happen, and there’s no turning back.” Tell us about the decision making process, and more importantly, what did you feel when you made that decision?
Ryan Shirzadi: (30:23)
It’s a great question. So, I was 25 when I made that decision. I was working at a large tech company in Houston, and it was something to where obviously… I mean, I enjoyed the job to an extent, and I liked the role, I liked the growth opportunities, I liked where I was, but it was kind of… It was a whole thing where it was almost I felt I was doing a lot more than I was being paid for at the time. I feel it wasn’t really very good for me to be employed, I had started three companies before I was ever employee, and those were nonprofit and then some e-commerce drop shipping type platforms. And I always wanted to do that, but obviously you have to build capital before ever being able to start a company or anything. So I was actually doing my tech company job and working at a restaurant after hours after the job, to be able to start saving money to start a business. So I was doing that and I kind of… Funny story, I ran into Abeer getting a beer.
Adam DeGraide: (31:37)
He’s not saying he ran into an actual beer person, beer people, he ran into a guy named Abeer.
Ryan Shirzadi: (31:43)
Yes. This is correct. I ran into a guy named Abeer while I was having a beer, and we kind of met… And we really hit it off on a level that was kind of really deep, because they were talking about some oil and gas company. I did a whole thesis and everything on this oil and gas dividend model in the university, and so I kind of hit it off with them, we were talking on that. And it made sense once we continued to engage that we had a really good dynamic as a couple guys. But also in the conversation we started talking with him more. And it started to make more and more sense. I worked with them for a little bit, on just kind of a level where I was just kind of testing out waters, making sure we were a fit, that kind of thing. I started to get a lot of trust for these guys and I started to really trust the process. And it was something to where I was almost “If I don’t take these risks now, when am I going to do it?” It came down to that. Because, I mean, I was 25, like I said, that was an age where I didn’t have a family, I was single, nothing was really holding me back from making this decision, so I can’t talk on that as much because I didn’t have any of those barriers.
Ryan Shirzadi: (32:58)
But I did have the vision and the want to be an entrepreneur and start a company. So I used all the money I’d saved from the restaurant and from Gil Packard, pretty much… Oh, whoops, didn’t mean to drop that, but, yeah, from those two companies and basically put all those into the business. And I was really worried because I had no more money. And so I went all in into the business and kind of just said, “Okay, let’s see what happens and try and make something here.” Kind of what I would recommend to any entrepreneur is have nothing going into it, because it really sets a fire for you to get things going.
Adam DeGraide: (33:38)
It’s funny that you say that. One of my very first sales jobs was in radio, and I’ll never forget it. The general manager of the radio station stopped me in the hallway, put me up against a staircase and said, “Listen, Adam, the best thing you can do for yourself today is go buy a car you can’t afford, and have no idea how to make the payments.” And I’m staring at him I’m… When I tell you he put me against the wall, he literally put me against the wall. And I said, his name was Aira, I said, “Hey Aira, what do you mean?” he goes, “The best sales people in the world have something they have to work for.” I said, “Okay.” so I left the office, went bought a car I couldn’t afford, and you know what’s weird, it worked for me. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but for me it worked.
Adam DeGraide: (34:31)
When I started my very first business dude, I left everything, I took all of my savings. I got as many credit cards as I could. And I lived on credit cards for two years, dude. This is years ago, back in 1997 or whatever it was. ’97, I started this company in my basement dude, with $200000 of credit cards. My house was only worth $118,000 at the time. I was up to here. But you know what man? It all worked out. And at the end of the day, it put that pressure on me.
Adam DeGraide: (35:06)
So in your case, I can see as a 25 year old, taking all of your savings, throwing it into a guy named Asim and Abeer. I mean, some people might say you have to have your head examined, but in this case, it’s worked out fantastic. And the advice that you would give people, I just heard you say that, would be, take a chance, take a risk and don’t be afraid to throw it all on the line. Because you made a really good point, right? If you hesitated till you had more responsibility, right? More people that were counting on you, like a family, it might have been a challenge for you to start that business, not that you couldn’t have done it, but I know that there’s many hidden, buried entrepreneurs in the world, Ryan, that never started their own business because the responsibilities of providing in their life we’re too great and they thought they couldn’t do it then.
Adam DeGraide: (35:59)
I want to encourage you, if that’s you right now, you absolutely can do it now, just got to make sure that your significant other is on board with it before you go and max out your credit cards. But I would highly recommend that if there’s a stirring inside your heart, and you’re a listener and watcher of David Vs Goliath, and you either have a business that’s struggling or you’re just starting or you want to, hesitation is the death of an entrepreneur, action is the energy of an entrepreneur. Any other advice that you would give to our listeners and watchers, Ryan? And then all so end with telling people how they can find you and get in contact with you as well?
Ryan Shirzadi: (36:42)
Sure. The last piece of advice and something that I’ve learned throughout the business is relationship building. I think that this is the key to any business, and I’m not just talking relationships between employees, between clients, these kind of things, I don’t think those are the… Those are great relationships to have, but relationships with people you’d never even consider having a relationship with, a business you never consider even being in your industry, verticals that you never considered. These are all relationships and partnerships that can be fostered into something amazing as you continue to scale. You don’t know if you’re going to need them now, even things that I never thought we’d be involved with, I’m starting to look at as opportunity, and ways to work together to actually build more verticals, more alignment between industry, between clients, between… Able to serve and offer more to the clients.
Ryan Shirzadi: (37:33)
So building these relationships has been key as we’ve continued to scale, I think that it’s a long process. It’s a really long process but if you continue to do it, if you continue to focus on, you continue to be social media active, I think that as you scale, it kind of all starts to come together… As you continue to put this all together. So that’s kind of my, probably, last piece of advice for anybody scaling right now.
Adam DeGraide: (37:56)
Ryan, you are awesome. TekRevol is amazing. Abeer and Asim, where are you? Look at that, I said, “Ryan, you’re awesome.” And Asim’s thinking that we’re talking about him, we’re not talking about him, I’m talking about you, how you’re awesome, and he’s awesome too, I have to call him Awesome Asim, that’s what I’m… Oh, next time I talk to him, there’s no doubt about it. Everyone, I hope you could tell what it’s like when fellow people of kindred spirits that love their business, love what they do, get together and talk. Because this is what life is made of, find someone that you can get some great advice from, get next to them. And if you are a successful business person, find someone who could use your help, put your arm them, get next to them and fired it up. This is the David Vs Goliath podcast, we hope you had a great time. Ryan thank you for joining us. We’ll see you next week, have an awesome day.