A common motivation among entrepreneurs is wanting to be in a career position that enables them to live up to their full potential as they define it. They know, or at least believe, they have the ability to succeed in their environment, but they worry most about never having the opportunity to showcase that ability. Many entrepreneurs, and people considering entrepreneurship, learn that they have this fear when they go to work in medium to large company settings where their role in the company is defined. In these defined roles, your autonomy over the path you take to success is lessened, which can leave some feeling frustrated or held back. It is this frustration and desire to have full autonomy over one’s path to success that drives them out of the corporate world and into entrepreneurship. Mo Sloan, Founder of EZ-Chow, is a prime example of an entrepreneur who felt he could reach his potential outside the corporate world.
Before EZ-Chow, Mo had worked for many different Fortune 500 companies in Louisville, KY. In his roles at these massive companies, Mo was exposed to many different high-profile projects, where he learned many different valuable skills and life insights. He learned how to extract knowledge from the people and companies he worked with and how to maneuver through corporate politics. But the most important lesson he learned was about himself; he figured out that he feared not being able to reach success as he defined it while working for a large company. It wasn’t that he did not think he could be successful; it was that he feared not having the opportunity to do so. What he did next is something any entrepreneur, or person considering entrepreneurship, can learn a lot from.
In his mid-thirties, after realizing that his secure job left him feeling like he was missing something, he re-evaluated what options he had to reach the kind of success he envisioned for himself. He decided against going back to school for a graduate degree in order to make an opportunity for himself using his skills and knowledge of computer software. After surveying and testing the market for web development work with hair and spa salons, he decided that was not a scalable option. However, he considers the venture a success because of the lessons he learned. He began to develop his understanding of what worked and what did not work in the market he was pursuing. Looking at the experience as a positive is huge to maintain momentum as an entrepreneur. Few, if any, ever reach their definition of success on the first try, but it is those that learn and adapt from their experiences that eventually do reach success.
In 2015, continuing his pursuit for success, Mo reached out to the famous Louisville pizza joint, Boombozz, to offer an online ordering platform. The store agreed and Mo began working towards a solution that would solve not only this problem for Boombozz but also for the entire restaurant market. He knew that in order to reach the level of success he wanted for himself, it would be required that he created an easily modifiable and scalable solution to solve an industry wide problem. Figuring out whether or not your business idea is scalable is a key step in the early stages of a venture, without it, the business may fail to launch. For Mo, he recognized the online ordering platform was scalable because potential clients reached out to him asking for his services based on the success he had with Boombozz. For many, clients will not reach out, but instead you will have to go to clients based on market research. Figure out who needs what your business offers, offer it, and, if enough people accept, begin upscaling. If not enough people accept your offer, then modify your idea to better fit the feedback received from those people and try again.
Once Mo began scaling, he has done so with caution, care, and courage. He knew that EZ-Chow’s business value proposition was to help restaurants leverage technology in order to give the restaurant autonomy over its own ordering experience. He remained true to this value proposition as competition like Doordash and UberEATS entered the market. Despite the success the competitors have seen, Mo knows that restaurants will pay to take back and maintain the autonomy over their client’s ordering experience. COVID has highlighted, and sky-rocketed, the need for Mo’s service and he has remained true to the value he knew he could offer. Entrepreneurs must be cautious in the moves that they make; oftentimes haphazardly chasing a quick buck ruins an otherwise profitable idea.
In order to scale, Mo carefully chose the people he brought onto the EZ-Chow team. He ensured that the people he brought in not only shared the vision he had but also complimented his abilities. Using a multi-talented team equally driven towards a unified goal has a much higher likelihood of large scale success than one person working alone towards the same goal. The key lesson to be learned from this portion of Mo’s story is to use care in selecting teammates; make sure they are equally as driven as you, share your vision of the business, and bring complimenting talents.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, once Mo knew his idea was profitable on a large scale, he courageously went all in for it. He was not afraid to leverage what he had built in EZ-Chow in order to keep the business growing and moving forward. EZ-Chow raised over $1,000,000.00 in funding in its first round of funding and has recently began a second round of funding. At this stage, he has no hesitation in doing so. Time is of the essence, and dilly dallying can cost potential clients. Once you know it is a scalable and viable option, go for funding, go for growth, and go with confidence. If you have proceeded with caution and care while pursuing your passion and the opportunities are arising, then you have every right to be confident as you proceed.
There is so much value in Mo’s story, especially when you hear his story come from him. The lessons to be learned from his passion and drive towards cannot be summed up in this article alone. To hear more details of Mo Sloan’s story check out Middle Tech’s Episode 116 on every major platform and that link below.