John Calzaretta is an experienced and enthusiastic leader with a proven track record for business acumen. He's held senior leadership positions at several companies, including InnerWorkings, NSource, and AT&T. Calz, as he is known to most people, is CEO of BondingPoint, and we are very lucky to have him and his team at Catapult. BondingPoint is a custom branded, fully managed, engagement solution. The BondingPoint solution provides new ways to incentivize and reward your target audience for advocating your brand. Whether it’s by spreading the word through social media, attending an event, or reaching an achievement, members are rewarded for taking action.
Catapult sat down with Calz to talk about all things BondingPoint, entrepreneurship, and Catapult.
Tell us a little bit about where BondingPoint is right now? What has your team been working on recently?
BondingPoint is in a fantastic spot - we’re in client acquisition and growth mode. Our technology is built and tested; we’re seeing great adoption and success with our initial clients; and sponsors (that help to fund the model) are beginning to seek us out. We’re not ready to say we’re at the “tipping point”, but we have begun to see the edge of it.
Who is your ideal customer? What is your target market?
Our managed offering is suited for a variety of verticals, but the market and product we’re most excited about are municipalities of > 50k residents that we can serve with our InOur.Community offering.
InOur.Community is a custom branded, fully managed and self-funding solution. We’ve had several people tell us we’re crazy for going after the municipal market. On the contrary we see a huge market gap, filled with cities that have common issues they haven’t been able to solve in years, no staff to address the issues themselves, and no funding to support it. InOur.Community addresses their issues, provides the staff to support them and is not only free to the municipality, it has the potential to be revenue generating.
How do you generate ideas for your business?
If I have to sum this answer up I would say our ideas come from three main sources: team brainstorming sessions (which we carve out 3-5 hours a week for), observations from being with our clients and seeing the needs of their end-clients, and take-aways from sales calls. One of my greatest pleasures is that each client interaction yields some new epiphany.
Where do you see your company in the next 2-3 years?
I would like to see us become a team with a roster full of all-stars; a culture that is fun, challenging and constantly evolving; a client base of willing references; and a brand that is nationally recognized.
What would you say is the most important skill needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Simply answered, I would say keeping your composure (my biggest career regrets have been when I’ve lost it) and the ability to omni-task. Multi-tasking is so 47 seconds ago!
What have been your biggest business/entrepreneurial challenges? What have been your biggest triumphs?
Biggest challenge – maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Biggest triumph – continuing to keep a happy home front.
How do you find work/life balance? What do you do in your free time?
It’s undoubtedly difficult to break free and there’s no question that our business dominates every spare moment of thought. My approach to this is the simple thought that life is too short, tomorrow’s another day and if I’m not enjoying life in the moment, then none of the hard work is worth it.
What advice would you give a first time entrepreneur?
If I had to pick one thing, my advice would be to accept that fact that no one cares how great your business is if it doesn’t generate revenue!
What does your team do to bond/relax?
We’re really not that outside of the ordinary on this one. Primarily we eat and drink together as often as possible, and not let the business dominate every conversation.
Do you listen to music while you work? What's on your playlist?
No, I don’t listen to music. I actually find it distracting. I am a huge fan of music and decompress to it on my walks to and from the train. My playlist is still dominated by bands from the 80’s.
What's your go-to food for working late?
Lou Malnati’s pizza. Nuff said!
What is most beneficial about sharing a space with multiple entrepreneurs? What is the best part of Catapult?
Sharing space with multiple entrepreneurs is just plain therapeutic. Knowing that the challenges you’re facing are not unique and having a peer-group to learn from and commiserate with is invaluable.
The best part of Catapult is the Founder’s Forum. I can’t place enough value on having a preset, bi-monthly meeting of the minds, in a trusting environment to share successes, failures and challenges. My wife and investors can only take so much!