On this week’s Member’s Corner Blog, we are so excited to introduce to you one of our members, John Zechlin, the Principal Software Engineer and the Co-Founder of PHX Dev.
John is originally from Wisconsin, Colorado, and Utah (and a few places in between), he likes to think that he can blend in almost anywhere. John loves to travel and meet new people, see new places. But more than the newness of a new place, he’s delighted in finding the subtle sameness among places and people. We all have differences that are usually highlighted, celebrated (sometimes villainized) – but there are common threads that bind people all as one humanity. He’s the 3rd of 4 siblings and he could absolutely do better at keeping in touch with his brother and sisters – goals.
To know more about John, we asked him the following questions:
Imagine you are the keynote speaker at an event, how would the MC introduce you and your business?:
The next speaker wears many hats. A software engineer by trade, a leader by accident, and a founder by mistake. He’s obsessed with ideas and the wide world of the possible. His company is PHX Devs and they’re on a mission to make technology and software accessible for all. He’ll make you laugh, or cry, or fall asleep (maybe even all of the above). Please welcome John Zechlin.
What do you love about Arizona?:
Community. Many of us have shown up here from other places. And I’ve noticed a pattern – like me, other transplants have a desire to find and build community in this new place. Because there are so many of us doing that, the result is a sense of community that I haven’t experienced in other places I’ve lived.
Tell us about your business. How long ago and how did you get started? What service(s) or product(s) do you offer?:
We’re PHX Devs. Software Engineering for hire. We’re very new – since Oct 2019 – but our team pre-dates the company, so we have a good rapport and working relationships. We like to build things with software. And we like to help others do that. Thus, our service offering reflects that. We do app development, web development, integration, embedded systems, game development – if you’ve got a technical problem that can be solved with software, we a probably tackle it. And we offer consulting services for folks that may just need advice and guidance. We also build teams – especially as a follow-on service; once we’ve built something for you and you’re ready for the next step, we can help you build your own tech team.
Who’s your ideal client? What’s the biggest problem you solve for them?:
Her name is Samantha. She’s a middle manager at a local medium-sized business and has been there for quite some time. She’s comfortable at her job, but she has a lot of ideas and is almost always thinking about starting her own business. She’s even got this one idea that she knows could be big. It solves a real problem and it will likely have a social impact, which is important to her. She’s got good business sense and she’s been running the numbers – this idea of hers has a good chance of being profitable. She’s set aside some money for this idea of hers, but she doesn’t know who can build the software side of it. Then she hears about us. We work with her to develop technical requirements for her idea and build her a prototype, which allows her to start showing people and demonstrating the value. Then she’s able to have some success with friends and family funding round, which provides enough capital to reach MVP. Success for us is when she’s able to get seed or series A funding.
How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business?:
We’ve done some ads, with questionable success. But to date, word of mouth and events have been the most effective. Just being present for the community seems to foster the kind of business relationships that we’re interested in cultivating.
Tell us some of the challenges and lessons you’ve learned since you started your business.:
Samantha may not exist. Not exactly like we’ve imagined her. More likely, Samantha exists – but she has little reason to leave here comfortable job and has an extremely small amount of money to get started. Reducing friction for the real Samantha is a problem we very much would like to solve – and we’re working on some creative ways to do that. I believe one of the solutions to that problem lies in forging meaningful connections between those Samanthas and the talents that exist within vast local tech community.
To what do you attribute your success?:
Intent. And being true to it. Right now, my focused intent is to serve those ideal clients and bridge the gap between people with awesome ideas and the people that can make something out of them. Success will most definitely become more difficult as soon as that intent is overshadowed by something more material, such as revenue or profit.
Whom do you seek advice from for your business? Whom do you like to follow in the business world? Why?:
Those who have already done what I’ve done, no matter the outcome. Success or failure, there’s always a lesson. I can’t say that I actively follow prominent folks in the business world – rather I follow concepts and trends. For example, I’ve been following the gig economy trend for the last few years. Not that I’m bought into the trend, but I like to study it to help form a perspective on it and hopefully recognize what’s next.
If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out, what would it be?:
Manage your stress. Learn as soon as possible the list of things you can safely not stress about – then remind yourself of that list often.
How do you achieve work-life balance?:
Heh, I’ve been meaning to read some books on that topic.
Favorite quotes or book recommendations:
podcast recommendation: How I Built This