As part of this year’s Engineering Applied Science and Technology Speaker Series, Weber alumnus Brandon Checketts spoke on his transformation from a 16-year-old retail store operator to “The Man Who Started 23 Businesses” on Oct. 3 in the Wildcat Theater.
The mind behind popular websites such as BookScouter, RoundSphere and MouseDining, Checketts calls himself a “Parallel Entrepreneur” as he has built a self-sufficient career on the creation and management of numerous startup programs.
Seller Labs, his most successful project to date, has recently landed on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private businesses in America.
The product of trial and error in Amazon-focused third party services, Checketts initially conceived Seller Labs as a solution to feedback issues with one of his used book sites.
“One of the things we learned was when you got one hundred thousand books and someone buys one of them it can be difficult to locate it,” Checketts said. “So we wrote some software to help us out with that part.”
The program gained momentum after employing its Feedback Genius software, an application that uses automated messaging to increase communication.
Now stepping down from CEO to Chief Innovation Officer of the company, Checketts has big plans for the future of his career.
“Generally, I’m trying to get a couple more base hits then go for the home run,” he said.
As an avid practitioner of the bootstrapping strategy of business, starting companies without external help, Checketts is always looking for new ways to stretch his resources and finances as far as possible.
“I like the bootstrapping method much more because it gives you more control and flexibility,” he said. “It doesn’t get talked about because its not as flashy and isn’t raising millions of dollars, but it works very well.”
Checketts has achieved his extensive resume, in part, through conservative management efforts. He often moves from one program to the next by borrowing from the capital and materials of his previous projects.
“Once we have another idea, we’ve already got payroll, we’ve already got bookkeeping, we’ve already got all of these services in place so it’s a lot easier to start the next business,” he said.
During his time operating Microbits Computer Store throughout high school and college, Checketts spent much of his young adult life gaining hands-on experience in computer programming, entrepreneurship and accounting.
Ultimately, he has attributed most of the success of his career to a well-rounded knowledge in industry, business and technical-related fields.
“As you experience things and as you learn about things, you get a lot more out of it,” Checketts said. “Not everything is successful. Some things work and some things don’t. You don’t really know until you try it.”
According to his philosophy of building a successful program, it is ultimately important to start production early and not wait for a billion dollar idea to arise.
“Right now in entrepreneurship a lot of people talk about coming up with a big idea, putting together a pitch … and going to raising money,” Checketts said. “I’ve sort of taken the opposite stance to that along the way and tried to build up a profitable business as quickly as possible.”