SPARK! Founder Feature with Abby Sims

Tell us the story behind your company?

Idestini helps companies build impressive solutions and software products that enable their businesses to be more profitable, accurate, and efficient. We were founded in 2014 after I had been freelancing for two years. I saw an opportunity to focus on Arkansas businesses. At the time, there were not many affordable options for companies looking to mature their software or build complex websites. 

At Idestini, we work with companies on making day to day work easier and more efficient through smart use of custom software. For many companies, there isn't an existing product that matches their unique business needs. They may end up in a variety of frustrating situations trying to make things work (think Excel h-e-double-hockey-sticks). Our consulting during a roadmap engagement helps businesses decide what next steps they should take - usually focused on marketing or operations automation to improve revenue, efficiency, or quality. Then, our team works with them to implement the recommendations and build the custom software platforms (think websites, mobile-ready applications, automated jobs, data analytics dashboards). We save companies from having to hire and maintain a whole IT Applications department. We often integrate their existing software products via API. This way, customers can enjoy the advanced features of established products while our tools customize everything to their workflow without having to log into multiple systems.

What hurdles did you initially encounter, and how did you overcome them?

There are many hurdles to operating a business. Most of the first ones were simply from lack of education and awareness on running a business. How do I get a business license? What should my name be? Do I need to charge sales tax? How do I keep track of and do payroll and payroll taxes? What kind of insurance do I need? 

There are a lot of little things to get set up, and it can be overwhelming. I solved most of these initial problems by paying a small amount of money upfront to have someone do it for me. Filing business corporation paperwork help, and having someone give me templates for bylaws cost me $250 and was well worth it. And, thankfully, we live in a time where there are tons of reasonably priced online programs to automate these decisions and needs.

What do you hope to gain from the Spark! Program?

In five years, we've grown to a team of 6, and we've brought in over $1 million of revenue. Even though we have more people who can do work, I have realized that I am often a roadblock. Most efforts at Idestini still rely on me to make certain decisions or approve a strategy. I need to learn how to scale my company up to meet additional customer needs while as a founder, I'm busy working on growing the business. I'm hoping to network with mentors and other entrepreneurs to see what kinds of systems and training they put in place to be successful in delegating responsibility to other leaders. 

I know that it's essential to create repeatable processes that others can execute. We have some processes in place, mostly related to development and project management practices, but I hope that through Spark, I can learn to build better systems in more areas like marketing, sales, ideation, and project management. 

Who is your favorite Entrepreneur?

While there are a lot of entrepreneurs that I've been inspired by Rob Walling easily comes to mind (https://robwalling.com/). Rob is a serial entrepreneur who has created, bought and exited several SaaS applications. He probably most widely known for founding and successfully exiting Drip. I'm a massive fan of his podcast, Startups for the Rest of Us. He and co-host Mike Taber focus on topics that help "developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products." Each episode is like sitting in a mastermind group and a great way to get tips and stay motivated. 

What is your favorite book, either for fun or business?

One of my favorite recent reads was The Phoenix Project. It's a made-up story of an organization embracing Agile and DevOps. Bill, an IT manager, is turned top leader who has to manage project chaos in a large company that's trying to stay competitive. There's a lot at stake for the company's new Phoenix project, and Bill must turn around an approaching train wreck. He finds a great mentor that shows him he can learn a lot from manufacturing practices, and he takes that into IT. It's fiction but feels a familiar story for most anyone who has worked in the corporate world.

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