“Understand your own strengths and weaknesses”, Egotistically, and much like many other entrepreneurs, I initially tried to do everything regarding my business by myself. This included valuations, marketing plans, business plans, programming our purchase-order processing platform, programming our app, getting advertising clients, getting schools who require our services, etc. It’s almost impossible to do all of this on your own with a potentially large-scale business. Personal acknowledgement of my own weaknesses, more so than strengths, enables me to put together the amazing team that we have today.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Christian Palmer. Christian is the CEO and Founder of ScoopU which is an up and coming transportation start-up for Universities. He recently appeared on the New Theory Podcast.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Many people see entrepreneurs as simply opportunists — although most of us would like to consider ourselves opportunists, this stigma is not entirely accurate. The reason that I, personally, chose to take the entrepreneurial route is that I wanted a direct route to helping people. The one need that I noted was in the campus transportation market: there simply wasn’t enough of it, if any at all. On top of there being minimal intercampus transportation, students have been financially unstable since the introduction of Collegiate Institutions. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it until it becomes untrue; college students need a way to ensure financial income is as consistent as the rate that they are going into debt. At ScoopU, we hope to solve the problems regarding campus transportation as well as helping students financially nationwide.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
Well, to be frank, ScoopU to this point has been more hectic than interesting or exciting. The concept itself was only fully completed in the middle of September, and since then, the team has been working night and day to make our dream a reality. Steve Johnson notes in his book the concept of the slow hunch → the idea that a concept of yours can evolve over time as knowledge is gained. This resonated with me after reading the book, and the idea of MapsU evolved into ScoopU (to include the service with the software).
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Market research is essential and having the right people on board is even more crucial. At first, I thought that because I had an idea that was worth running with, that I should just run with it. Long story short, I went broke faster than I could fathom what was happening. It wasn’t until I got the correct team assembled that I was held accountable for quick, and sometimes, rash decisions. My team keeps me on track just as much, if not more, as I do for them.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our intentions make us stand out. The first thing most business students are taught nowadays is that businesses go into business to make money. Although this is true, it oftentimes is the company that is in it to make the right difference in the world that wins out. The one thing that makes ScoopU differ from most other companies is the fact that we are transparent in our intentions and in our maneuvers — everything we do is for the campus communities that we strive to serve.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Business is based on personal relationships — you can do as many things as you want, but if no one wants to do business with you, then no one will. It’s that simple. If you want to go into business, you must prove to not only your customers, but also your partners and suppliers that you’re who they want to be doing business with.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
First and foremost, my family has been through the emotional ringer, so to speak, regarding my passion for opening up ScoopU, so I’d like to note them for their love and support. Next, our entire team is special — as previously noted, I spent a lot of time bringing together the right group of people, and our team, especially with the help of our senior partner, Tom LaVecchia who took a chance on a bunch of driven, passionate young kids.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Unfortunately, ScoopU has no success to report at the moment as we are yet to take on our implementation plan. However, our entire business model is based around bringing goodness to the world → from bringing more accessible and efficient on-campus transportation to the schools across the nation, to enabling student employment across the map as well. ScoopU is founded on the belief that we can change the college-campus community.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime…”
― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
You never know what lesson you’ll learn in even a single instance: take it all in, and find a way to apply these lessons to create good will in the world.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
“Start Small and Grow” → Initially, I tried to run before I could crawl. Now, ScoopU’s team has been working on the back end operationality of ScoopU for months and is almost ready to market integration. Don’t try to sell a product or service that you are yet to be able to offer!
“Understand your own strengths and weaknesses” → Egotistically, and much like many other entrepreneurs, I initially tried to do everything regarding ScoopU by myself. This included valuations, marketing plans, business plans, programming our purchase-order processing platform, programming our app, getting advertising clients, getting schools who require our services, etc. It’s almost impossible to do all of this on your own with a potentially large-scale business. Personal acknowledgement of my own weaknesses, more so than strengths, enables me to put together the amazing team that we have today.
“Focus on the customer rather than your business” → Oftentimes people will open up a business and focus on the qualitative means of their business rather than the qualitative needs of your potential customers. Rather than offering the world to a customer who only needs a strip of land (or overselling), evaluate the actual needs of a customer and try to fill them rather than sell them.
“Take the help where you can get it” → Kind of goes hand in hand with knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, but I can’t stress it enough. Entrepreneurs are oftentimes so egotistic (including myself at first) that they would rather continuously struggle than seek the help they require. When I finally swallowed my pride and asked on our Senior Advisor, I was suddenly able to see routes within my own business model that I had failed to see before. Therefore, we need to accept wisdom when we come across is, rather than thinking we always know best. The best entrepreneurs are constantly learning.
“Know your numbers” → This is going to be the most boring part of this response you read, but it’s essential to any business model. You can’t expect to make a logical business without logistics being run beforehand. In other words, if you don’t evaluate your business’ actual worth, the market’s actual need for your product or service, and the quantitative fiscal requirements that your product or service have, then there’s no reason to have the expectations of it working out. You HAVE to prove to yourself that the project is fiscally responsible: failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
ScoopU is a good start → there’ll be much to come after integration. (Let’s focus on those carbon emmissions!)
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you for having me!