Adam Torres and Brad Weber discuss building businesses.
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Building an inspiring business is the goal of many entrepreneurs. In this episode, Adam Torres and Brad Weber, President & CEO at InspiringApps, explore Brad’s journey building InspiringApps and the book he recently released, Mission Matters: World’s Leading Entrepreneurs Reveal Their Top Tips To Success (Business Leaders Vol. 10, Edition 1).
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About Brad Weber
As the founder and CEO of InspiringApps, he take great pride in leading a team of experts who are passionate about designing and building high-quality mobile, web, and custom apps. They specialize in enterprise business solutions, custom web and mobile applications, hardware (IoT) and SaaS integration, complex data solutions, product strategy, UI/UX design, and emerging technologies.
Brad’s background spans 25+ years of experience as a software developer and entrepreneur. Having successfully founded four different technology companies, his goal for InspiringApps is to tackle large, complex problems with custom solutions that bring the most innovative digital products to market.
InspiringApps has served established financial institutions like Fidelity National Financial, global enterprises like Google, Lockheed Martin, and Toyota, and startups in many verticals, helping clients to bring their digital dreams to life.
Their commitment to creating a positive and inclusive work environment that fosters innovation and creativity has not gone unnoticed. InspiringApps has been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work by Built In Colorado and is a certified Great Place to Work. Their clients have won numerous awards, including Webby, AVA, Tabby, Davey, and BMA nominations.
Their passion for innovation, Their expertise in app development and design, and their commitment to go above and beyond set us apart from other agencies. Whether you are a household name, a mid-sized business, or a funded startup, they have the knowledge and expertise to help you launch your next digital product.
InspiringApps designs and builds mobile, web, and custom apps, providing strategic business solutions and immersive experiences. Their mission guides us to transform ideas into reality. InspiringApps builds digital products that help companies impact their employees, customers, and communities. Yes, we build web, mobile, and custom apps, but what we offer is something above and beyond that. What we offer is inspiration. Our award-winning work has included 200+ apps since the dawn of the iPhone. Our core values: integrity, respect, commitment, inclusivity, and empathy. Our guarantee: finish line, every time, for every project.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I’d like to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres, and if you’d like to apply to be a guest in the show, just head on over to missionmatters. com and click on be our guest to apply. All right. So today is a very. We’re welcoming back Brad Weber. He is the president and CEO over at inspiring apps.
And I’m so proud to announce and let everybody know he’s also an author in our best selling book leader series, which we just released. We got lots of cover today. We’re going to talk about AI automation. Of course, we’re going to talk about the book, but first thing first, Hey, Brad, just want to say welcome back to the show.
Thanks, Adam. It’s great to see you. Alright, Brad. So we’ll start this episode. I already know you know the drill, the way that we start them all with our Mission Matters Minute. So, Brad, we at Mission Matters, we amplify stories for entrepreneurs, executives, and experts. That’s our mission. Brad, what mission matters to you?
Our mission is inspiring apps. is to help our clients overcome business challenges with custom web and mobile apps we design and develop for them. I had a similar mission during my decade as an independent software developer, but as just one person, I was limited to helping mostly small to mid sized companies.
In the 15 years since founding, Inspiring apps. I’ve grown a fabulous team of designers and developers who can tackle much larger challenges than I was able to handle on my own. Now we design and develop new web and mobile products for large enterprises and our work impacts millions of users. And it’s an amazing story and and we’re definitely going to go into that.
So starting and building a business from scratch. I know you see some of the content that you covered in the book had to do with your story but before we get you know, too far into the book side of things, I do want to stick on these early days a little bit longer. So you, you know, you, you started by yourself, as you mentioned, like what kind of led you to taking that next step to really like.
Building a team and taking on all those other things. Like how, how did that develop? Yeah, it was in a couple of different stages. So starting on my own really came out of a little bit of frustration working in large companies and being. What felt like a small cog in a large machine. And I was working on big projects and I felt like the work that I was contributing, wasn’t making as much of an impact.
So I scaled back the type of clients, the type of work that I was doing to focus more on small businesses and organizations. I was totally within my wheelhouse as an independent developer, and I found that that’s what I really love to do. And so I did that for about 10, 12 years on my own. And then I started to get the itch to, to grow so that I could work with larger companies, work on bigger projects.
Then it was, I was able to do by myself. So it was a big step, but I knew it was an important one to get into the kind of work that I thought would be appropriate for the next phase of my career. So sticking with the small businesses a little bit longer, what were some of the things that you like about working with that population?
Cause, cause it’s different. It’s definitely different than working with the larger companies. It is different. You’re, you’re absolutely having an impact on someone’s life. I mean, typically the businesses that I was working with were quite small and I was building things that were important to their operations.
And it was really gratifying for me to be able to make a significant contribution and hopefully contribute to their long term success. But in that environment, there, there are also a few layers and few decision makers. So often I’m working with the owner of the company or at least someone who, who can make decisions.
More or less on the spot without having to go through meetings and committees and so forth. So the pace of that was really fun. And so when you decided to change and kind of like, and like scale up your company and like, was that an easy transition or was there some bumps along the road there? Oh, definitely bumps.
So despite having a couple of business degrees, I made plenty of business mistakes. Yeah. Going through that process. I was nervous in the early days in particular about growing a team. One person, my risk was, was fairly low. I knew what I needed to do to cover my own pay my own payroll, but when adding others to that mix.
I got a little nervous about that. So one of my early decisions was to lean on contractors more than full time employees, thinking that that was less risky for me. But it turned out that that wasn’t the case. I learned an early lesson that. There’s value in having a team of employees who are really committed to the mission, as we talked about and moving that forward.
So that’s been an important change along the way. If you were if you could go back and, you know, give that Brad that was kind of just getting started on that scale, let’s say that scaling phase of things some advice, obviously hindsight being 2020, like what kind of things would you tell him? Stick with it.
That’s probably the most important. There are definitely some times when I wondered whether or not this was the right path. There were definitely times when I thought about how much easier it is to run a company in one person. The gratification that I got from working with the team and seeing them succeed.
Really made it, made it all worthwhile. So, you know, investing in that team, making sure that people feel respected and valued so that they stick around for a long time is something that I would, I would share with younger Brad. Yeah. Yeah. I still remember hiring our. First our first editor, like a full time editor.
And I was the other, I was never really by myself cause I always had the other co founder Chirag for, so I, you know, I did the interviews and, and I did, I was the, I’m the CEO. So I did all of the kind of deliverables for our products, but, and he was out there doing the sales side and biz dev. And so when we went and we said, are we ready for the first, like full time individual, man, that’s scary.
I S I’m still shaking, thinking about like, that was a scary moment, right? Yeah, but volume 10 under your belt now, I’d say you’re well done. There’s no, no other way to do it. Like you, I mean, if anything, and I don’t, I don’t know who said it, it definitely wasn’t myself, definitely somebody smarter than myself said this, but you need people like anything that you’re going to do in this world.
It’s going to have to, it’s going to either, it’s going to involve people in one way, shape, or. Whether they’re using your product, whether they’re buying it, whether they’re developing it, whether they’re producing it, like you need people. So if you’re uncomfortable with people, then you better find somebody else on your team or a business partner that is comfortable with them.
Cause you’re going to need them one way or another. All right, Brad, let’s so let’s jump around a little bit here. I do want to get into today’s. topic. So as a not the book yet, but AI and automation, I know I pulled this out as a, as a special topic for you because, you know, between chat GPT and, and just, I can see the programming.
We’re already holding our second AI event. I have Friends that are in the event business across the country. And they’re doing AI events and the demand for knowledge right now, not just for for, you know, small business owners and companies but also just for the general public, like wanting to know what is this, how does this affect me?
Like, and to see it, I mean, I can’t watch a movie right now that doesn’t have some AI theme in it, I swear. So it’s interesting to me. I think it’s an interesting time to be in the space. What are you saying? Yeah, for sure. Really interesting. I mean, since since we last spoke, even artificial intelligence is really exploded.
And sometimes I say that it took 10 years for inspiring apps to become an overnight sensation. But it took artificial intelligence about 75 years to become an overnight sensation. It’s been around for a long time. And it’s been impacting our lives in ways that may be surprising to people, especially through our mobile devices.
It’s been a little subtle and I was reflecting in preparation for our chat today on the first time I remember my phone telling me without me asking that it’s going to take me about 25 minutes to get to work. Yeah, just a few minutes after I’d left my home again. I didn’t ask for that, but my phone knew where work was.
And it knew my pattern in my route my morning routine and was able to predict that that is in fact where I was going and was able to give me some traffic information. So it was really handy and I appreciated it. And I think that was a really tasteful use of a chat. GPT really captured the artificial intelligence headlines recently.
And it’s a specific type of AI called generated AI. So it’s different in that it excels in creating content. So different from the experience that I described in the car. It was red hot this spring because the general public was able to get their hands on it directly. You could ask it to write a poem for you, a business memo, a murder mystery, all kinds of things.
And it’s effective because it was trained on an enormous set of data and material that looks a lot like what we’re asking it to create for us now. We’re seeing a little bit of a backlash since that, the, the rage in spring. You’re seeing now some copywriters come to the forefront saying, wait a minute, this.
This, this model is awesome, but it was trained on my copyrighted material. Maybe that’s not so okay. So we’re dialing it back a little bit. I think that there’s a little bit of shift in public interest perhaps just due to the short attention span that we have, but I think the other shift that we’re seeing is that companies like inspiring apps who are developing web and mobile products.
Are now finding ways to appropriately integrate generative AI capabilities within other products that we’re creating. And I think in a lot of cases that it’ll be easier to use and we’ll be creating solutions that are more targeted for consumers than what they have today with just an open prompt, you know, ask me anything.
What kind of like, how is this affecting the business owners? And I know I mean, because I know you have a large set of entrepreneurs in your network, too. So whether it’s the companies you’re working with, or even like, or even some of the small businesses maybe you keep in touch with, like, because I’ll tell you on our end, we’re having a lot of conversations about it.
I think somebody told me the other day about about, oh, yeah, they’re gonna one day is going to be doing your job. I gotta be doing these interviews. And I was like, I’m off. for it. I actually tasked my team with creating an A. I. Adam, because I want to do it. My goal is like, Hey, let’s let’s let’s let the A.
I. S. Take all that all that data. Let every question I’ve ever asked and let’s see what it looks like. I’m excited about it, but I know not everybody is. And I know that this is something that we have to be careful with unrolling any any technology, by the way, not just A. I. Not just what we’re talking about here today.
Like there’s always some method behind it. course. But what kind of, like, conversations are you having in the business community? I want to give a brief shout out to the prudential marketing team that I know absolutely nothing about, except a really impactful billboard that made me chuckle on the highway not too long ago.
It said that the robots can’t take your job if you’re already retired. So yeah, I’ve seen that one. I thought that was pretty pretty clever, but I think, I think there is honestly some legitimate concern for, for some positions. Certainly I think it’s a, it’s a tough time to be starting out as a copywriter in, in this space brand new there is always going to be room for humans I think across the board with the extra expertise and, you know, just experience that we bring to the table, but definitely some entry level positions.
I think you’re going to be impacted. What we’re seeing from big companies was first a little fright when we’re working with enterprises. Chat GPT definitely caught them by surprise and many of them, the knee jerk reaction of the IT department was just to shut it down. And so this is, this is too scary for our team.
We don’t know what it does yet. We’re not sure how it’s using the data that we submit to ask questions to it. Is our, is our corporate data at risk? So that’s turning into opportunities for inspiring apps to educate. And help those companies to formulate policies to better understand the underlying technology.
You know, what is it really doing? What are the risks? So we’re working with some of our bigger customers to help them implement best practices in their organization. It’s fun for us to move beyond the code sometime and think strategically about what’s going to be best for the organization. That’s a great book title, Beyond the Code, thinking strategically about what’s best for the corporation.
We’ll do that one next, Adam. Hey, that’s a good one, Brad. I’m not going to remember it after that, but that’s a good one. Good thing we’re recording, right? Yes, sir. Well speaking of books speaking of Beyond the Code Let’s let’s dive into into this book. So first off, I’ll start with you with the title and I’m going to kind of tee this up for you.
So meet business challenges and build an inspiring business. So some, some of the headlines in this book and in your book growing a company’s fraught with risk cultivating a winning culture requires an employee based team. The, a flat organizational structure will only take you so far. Create cool stuff for clients or build a real business.
So first off, a lot of different directions you could have taken this. A lot of business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives read our books. Why, why this topic kind of why now? Well, I think let’s see, there, there are a few things behind that. One, I, I have been in the business in one form or another for over 25 years.
So I, I had things to share. I think as a reader, I enjoy learning about the mistakes as much as I do the triumphs. So I wanted to do my share to contribute some of those goofs that that I’ve made along the way. Hopefully others can. Can learn from that. And these particular topics are ones that stood out for me and have been important for for my own journey with inspiring app.
So I hope that others find them find them useful as well. I want to focus on this. On this concept of team and like why that’s so important to you because I’ll pick on myself here when we were, when we were first growing mission matters. And as we grow this, and we, as we think about the team and the culture and like what makes one media outlet different from another, or one company different from another, like it all does come back to the team, the people that dedicate their lives day in and day out to putting out this content and and to continue the, to believe in mission matters and what we’re doing.
Like, like. What does that idea of team like mean for you as it relates to the book? Yeah, absolutely critical to inspiring apps. And in the, in the book I talk about our leadership team and how that grew in the last few years. I tried to run a really flat organization for perhaps too long. That’d be one of the lessons that I learned along the way.
Yeah. That leadership team has really been critical to me. And the, the three people who joined me on that team, we’ve worked together for a decade at this point. And that’s, it’s super important that everyone really has an intimate understanding of what Inspiring Apps is on that team. And we can all present a really consistent.
Interaction and experience with the customers that we work with. But even beyond that leadership team, you know, it’s been important for me to have solid continuity really across all the roles in our organization. And if people are familiar with our industry, they’ll probably suspect that turnover is pretty common, a lot of job hopping from technology company to technology company.
And I wanted a different experience for our team. I wanted a different experience for our customers. So we invest a lot in making sure that. That our team’s needs are, needs are being met. They have a lot of input into where we’re headed, the technologies that are interesting for us to pursue and that they want to be working on.
And, you know, in return they’ve thanked us with a great place to work award the last couple of years. And over 40 percent of our team has been together for five years or more, which is pretty uncommon in our space. So… I’m, I’m really proud of that really, as, as much as anything I talk about in the book we’ve got a great group of folks.
That, that’s pretty significant and and for everybody watching this, by the way, so we’re going to pick out a couple of these themes here, but if you want all the content, hey, pick up a copy of the book. We’ll have the link in the show notes. Yes, we do sell books. Okay. Okay. To pick one up. Had to throw in that plug, Brad, I want to, I want to mention too, since you, you raised that Adam, I know your, your focus is on my chapter now, but I want to tell you that you and your team did a fantastic job with this.
I’m really proud of the collection of chapters and the collection of authors that came together. I think that there, there are many lessons that, that I’ve picked up in reading the contributions from others. I think, again, you put together just a great, really eclectic group read chapters from technologists, physicians, and magicians, so it sounds like it’s sort of a good, or maybe a bad joke, but.
No, it’s a great joke, and you’re not joking either. So shout out to David, right? Who brings the, the value of magic and magician and showmanship to the business world when I met David, I mean, it’s just, I really appreciate you saying that by the way, because the book is, it’s a collaboration and it’s different and it’s.
Very for anybody that’s in publishing or that’s written their own book. If you’ve written your own book, then you know how hard that is. Imagine bringing together a collection of of the best talent CEOs, business owners from across different spectrums and saying, Hey, everyone, let’s cooperate.
That’s giving you a little bit of like how, how it’s made in the kitchen. Right. All right. So another, another one of them that I do want to pull out from, from your chapter of create cool stuff for clients or build a real and build a real or build a real business. Like, tell me about why to juxtapose these two, because I’ll tell you in the beginning, this is some, a conversation that we’ve never talked about this, but this is a conversation myself at Chirag Always have.
It would be like, look, we have to build a real business. We can’t just do cool stuff and follow social media trends. We got to make sure it’s solid or we’re not going to be a business. So, so give us a little bit insight on the writing on this one. Sure. So this is a good story about it being slapped by a backhanded compliment.
I, I’ve been very successful up to this point, you know, probably 15, 20 years in at this point and have probably even stated publicly that, that my secret to success was building cool stuff and telling people about it, that depending on who you told and how big the audience was or how appropriate it was for, for their needs.
That led to growing a network of referrals that’s really good for my business. But during the pandemic, there was some downtime. So I sought insights and advice from other people in the industry who knew more than I did. About technology companies to take a look at what we were doing and tell me where you see some weakness.
And so I very proudly talked about our track record and some of the projects that we had worked on for Google and the space program and you know, through my boasting. They were able to see that that was not really a sustainable practice long term. So the question to me was, so your business plan is just to build cool stuff.
It was a, it was a back down and a compliment. And it was out of that, honestly, that, that almost immediately I grew our leadership team. We made, we formalized the role of team leads on our technology teams, made some, some significant changes to the business. For longer term success. And it’s really been great, not only for me, but I think for.
The rest of our organization as well. How does that, I like to use the word maturity. I like to think that businesses get this maturity or this personality over time and this infrastructure. And when I, I think back at my, my younger days, when I was just. starting at some of the, I was in finance, some of the bigger companies I worked for the Charles Schwab’s, the vanguards, the Raymond James and I never kind of, you know, when you’re young and you’re just going through these big systems, these huge companies, you never really question or think about, or I didn’t at least maybe you did, but I never really question.
Like why that department was there, why that role was there, what the function was. I was just kind of in my own world of doing what I had to do to, you know, to get whatever I was measured by done correctly. So now in building a business with every little, you know, brick, we add every little interview admission matters.
That maturity, it’s interesting when you see a new role. Developed to me because it’s like, Oh, that wasn’t there before, but it was needed. And this is why. How is your mature as your business continues to grow and matures? Like, how do you see that next? Like phase and whatever their development or projects, like, what does that look like for you next?
Yeah, I think there’s, there are probably a lot of parallels between human development and maturity and, and business development. So we still participate in startup events around town, even though we’ve been around for over 15 years. So we consider ourselves a mature startup, but mature doesn’t necessarily have to mean stuffy.
And I think that one of the real luxuries and benefits of doing the type of work that we do is to get to see, we get a front row seat really to hundreds of organizations and different groups within those organizations and how teams operate and how they separate responsibilities. And it’s been super gratifying.
And I’ve absolutely picked up tips along the way from, from each of those little ones. To apply to inspiring apps as appropriate, I think to your question for inspiring apps. I think that one of the things that comes with our maturity is a confidence and understanding now much more clearly than we did 15 years ago.
Who we are, what we’re best at, and what we bring to the table. And when that table is with a fortune 100 company, the fact that Inspiring Apps is, you know, many orders of magnitude smaller than they are, doesn’t change the fact that we can bring value to their group. And that feels great. We’re working with a startup or a huge enterprise.
Oh, man, I love this story here. I’m thinking about we, we just, we covered the milking conference recently and and different media outlets were there. It was like Bloomberg, Yahoo finance, little baby mission matters. Come on. So, and I like to think maybe we didn’t have there. Set up, so to speak, or stage or this or that.
But I know we got some meaningful stories and took some angles that they wouldn’t have and took some chances on the content we created. And I think we were rewarded when you talk about working with these big companies or this or that, I feel you. Good for you, Adam, Adam and team. Oh, that’s awesome. Well Brad, what I’m curious from your end, what excites you right now?
It could be AI automation. I just mean in technology in general, like what excites you right now? Like, what are you into? The A. I. Is exciting. Our team is starting to look as a traditionally a services team. We’re looking at possibly developing some small products of our own to let us explore areas.
That’s exciting clients may not be quite ready to go themselves. So. Fun for our team to innovate and consider what we might bring to the market, you know, not looking for massive commercial success as much as we are just getting our hands dirty with, with some new things. So generative AI is definitely one of those we’re excited about Apple’s Vision Pro product that is rolling out slowly, but our team is definitely keeping an eye on that.
And really other platforms that matter to users. So whether it’s web or mobile or wearable devices, smart TVs, our team is looking at all of that to try to find innovative solutions for a wide variety of businesses. Wow. Building cool stuff internally. So that’s like, you’re like, all right, they forced me.
I know I had to build the real business, had to put the executive, I get all that, but I’m still going to build cool stuff internally. No, that’s exciting. Seriously. I’m excited to hear this next phase and these next things that you’re able to do to, to contribute to the marketplace and to just the greater good really in what you’re doing.
That being said, Brad, really, it has been a. Pleasure having you back in the show. I’m excited to continue to promote this book for everybody watching, definitely pick up a copy. But that being said, if somebody’s watching this and they want to connect and follow up and learn more and connect with your team, Brad, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Well, thank you so much, Adam, for having me back. It was great chatting with you. You can find us at inspiring apps. com as well as LinkedIn and other social networks as Inspiring Apps. Please stop by, sign up for a newsletter or give us a follow and you can keep up with the latest that’s happening with Inspiring Apps and the industry at large.
Fantastic. And we’ll put all that information in the show notes so that that our audience can just click on the links and head right on over and connect with your team. And speaking of the audience, if this is your first time with mission matters, we’re all about bringing on business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives and having them share their mission.
The reason behind their mission, like what gets them fired up to go into the marketplace and to make a difference, that’s type of content that sounds interesting or fun or exciting to you. We welcome you hit that subscribe button. We have many more mission based individuals coming up on the line and we don’t want you to miss a thing, Brad, until the next time, thanks again for coming on.
All right. Take care.