Owning a home can come with a myriad of worries. Making sure that one’s garage door is safe and secure is surely among them.
Garageio offers a simple way for homeowners to control and monitor their garage doors from virtually anywhere in the world. In fact, you don’t even have to replace any existing garage door openers. The amount of control that Garageio lends its owners extends even to close friends and family – provided that the owners are comfortable with that idea.
As co-founder, Zak Dziczkowski was there from the company’s humble beginnings. He knows all the steps, the tools used, the support received, and everything in between. Here he is, in his own words:
What steps did you take in order to establish the business?
We didn’t focus immediately on formalizing the business. Rather, we focused on the product. When things started to accelerate on the product development side, we did all of the normal official steps, like registering the business with the state, forming an organizational agreement with all members, and sought legal counsel on the legalities of our specific product.
What specialists did you need?
Because we manufacture a physical product that is Wi-Fi connected, we not only needed software engineers but also hardware engineers, individuals with experience in supply chain and logistics and those with retail experience as well.
What tools and applications were used?
We tend to favor open-source technologies, such as PHP, C, other well-tested technologies. We mostly develop code using Sublime Text and run/compile code from the command line. On the hardware side, we relied on EAGLE for the electronics design and Autodesk Inventor for the physical components.
Did you bootstrap the business or did you acquire funding elsewhere?
We definitely bootstrapped it! Our other original co-founder, Dave, and I financially supported the costs of the business in the early days.
Did you have online or local communities that helped you while starting your business?
Internet-of-things products definitely has a cult following. There were plenty of awesome, supportive people that we came into contact with through our crowdfunding campaign in late 2013. They served as our early market research and some of our first beta users before launching Garageio.
Do you have any struggles with work-life balance?
I would have to say we do struggle with balance. However, I think that is what makes us good at what we do. We love working on Garageio and if you truly love something, is it really work? Nonetheless, we do find time to enjoy life and each other.
What are the things you wished you knew when you were just starting out?
I think this question is irrelevant for solid entrepreneurs. When you commit to start a company, it is a learning process even if you have had the fortune of doing it previously. Every time is different and there will always be things that would have made life easier if you knew them ahead of time. But that takes all the fun out of it!
What kind of company culture do you have and how is productivity promoted?
We have all worked together over the last 10 years on other startups in some fashion so we have a really, really tight-knit team. We all get along great. We have open and honest communication with each other, because we are also great friends. It is easy to get things done when you get to spend time with your friends every day.
What style of business management did you apply?
I try not to manage at all. At Garageio, we are all doers and that requires everyone to be self-starters and to be self-managed. Sometimes we need to work to motivate each other and coordinate efforts, but everyone on the team is largely self-directed. It is an awesome thing to see in motion.
What advice did you receive from other entrepreneurs that helped you succeed?
I recall being told to stay away from the “illusions of success” when early in starting a business, such as getting office space before you have revenue or hire people just to have them on staff. We have always prided ourselves on being lean and that is something that helped us avoid a ton of issues along the way.
What important lesson did you take away from your experience that you want to share with others?
There is such much that you can take away from every venture and Garageio is no different. The most important experience from working on this is the respect I have for companies that manufacture a tangible good. There are so many additional components that companies have to deal with that software-only companies never have to worry about, such as shipping, inventory, manufacturing problems, etc. It has been an amazing journey into this world.