Life in the startup lane moves fast. Domain names change hands. Companies pivot and relaunch. Some competitors gain ground, some fade. New products surge into marketplaces hoping to hold onto the lead.
ziipa, a digital producers’ marketplace, is a prime example. Previously an app discovery site, the domain was purchased by a determined team with a plan. Steered by co-owner Gloryvee Cordero, ziipa now gives Internet creators of all variety a place to sell their wares and chase down a checkered flag.
Yes, the extended race car analogy does apply. Gloryvee is a such a racing enthusiast that she developed a game, Autobahn, to live out her dream (virtually) of racing in Germany. Focus and an ability to handle speed should serve her well, as the company has already ramped up its monthly visitors by 37% Gloryvee tells us more:
What’s your company about? What do you do? Who are your customers?
ziipa is the #1 digital producers’ marketplace. We enable developers and designers – mobile, gaming, software, and creatives – to open their own stores and offer their creations. They can sell mobile applications, code, graphics, widgets, templates, documents, software, platforms, domains, and many other digital goods.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website? Why is it better than the competition?
Creatives can open their marketplace and start selling with lower cuts and NO Listing fees. While other websites charge a listing fee on top of taking large percentages off transactions, we have made it the best location to sell your creations. We give developers the opportunity to market themselves and establish their own companies – selling on an eBay-style website that costs them less.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
We bought the domain from an auction, because we found the term was trendy and represented our style and creativity.
What was your first computer? How old were you when you first got on the world-wide web?
Commodore 64. I was about 15-years old when I began surfing the Internet. I still tell people that I was around when Yahoo opened their search engine back in 1994. I have seen much of the growth and transitions the web has made throughout the years and have loved being a part of that inspiration and growth.
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
Today, I started at 5a.m. with a Skype call with our team in India. There are days when working a 20-hour shift is normal, but when you are excited about what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.
When’s the last time you went on vacation and where did you go?
I would say that the last time I took non-business travel time was last year, when I visited London for several days.
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
Turn on Skype. And I am a Starbucks addict, so most of my business partners will know that I need to stop and get my latte before I walk into my office and start anything.
When do your best ideas come to you?
The best ideas seem to come to me during sessions with other colleagues. There have been times where I get amazing ideas while sleeping and wake up to write them down. I think the strangest place that I can remember getting an idea was at the hairdresser. I had to stop my stylist and start typing on my phone.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
Three female entrepreneurs and best of friends. [We] decided to enter this journey together. We have since hired an entire team in India of over 200 people that works around the clock for us on various business ventures.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
I feel like all three of us have the same aspirations, and we motivate each other to continue moving forward and work hard at what we are doing. Each project we pursue or tackle, we collaborate with each other and blend our ideas into amazing results. That is where our confidence is found, within each other.
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
Acquiring the domain from the previous owner was quite the challenge. We had just come back from a long retreat where we all put our ideas for this production together and we knew we wanted the domain. The challenge became getting a hold of the owner and convincing him to sell us the domain at our asking price. It took a lot of investigating, but our business partner Prudence was determined, and she was able to befriend and ultimately negotiate our price point with the owner, who eventually sold us the site.
How do you handle frustration? What has been your biggest professional frustration?
Frustration? What is that? I would think that any company that outsources or uses overseas teams will get frustrated from time to time. There is a disconnect in communication that does exist when you are bringing a diversified group of people together. As owners, we understand that our team means everything, and keeping them happy is our number one goal. As such, we manage our “communication” frustrations by making the moment into a training session and using the disconnect to teach and help our teams grow. It has worked for us, and we continue to perfect our own proficiencies by evaluating the gaps and adding the training needed to establish better communication.
What’s your office environment like? Do you listen to music? Watch movies? Play video games?
Well, all of the above and sometimes simultaneously. Since we are a web technologies and mobile gaming company, we do have to test and play an enormous amount of games. We also have to test all web applications and other types of development. One of the best ways of reducing the stress of a hectic day is to have the music and/or movie playing as background noise. It also helps us work faster at times when we need to complete projects within short timeframes.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
Our 5-year goal is to have multiple companies as clusters of a larger source, and our desire is to become the #1 eBay-style marketplace for the next generation of gaming and software developers who have amazing products the world should be able to find and enjoy. We see ourselves expanding into multiple platforms and extending our projects into various markets.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
I believe as partners we inspire each other, and we work well together to move our company forward and keep our teams motivated and inspired.
How’d you fund this venture?
Self-funded by working hard and building up as a lean startup, step by step.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Yes, if you are in the digital realm and you need to get started, look for ways of maximizing your revenue stream even when you are under production. We knew that development would take time so we established a website and added AdSense and affiliate links to generate funding during development. Find ways to sell space on your website and advertise freely on social networks by making friends and joining groups, even local groups in your area, to get the buzz going and get the word out. We all got involved within our communities (both virtual and local) and volunteered our time as a means of advertising our business.
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
Do not wait just because it seems difficult or you do not have the funds. Also, do not allow yourself to believe that there is no clear path to create or develop your startup. For many years, I had people tell me that they would not leave their day jobs because they were afraid of losing their job security. This is one of the biggest reasons people use to hold back from what they really want to do. Well, guess what, there is no such thing as “job security” unless you hold your own destiny and dreams. Every job that I have had has had a limited life span. If you look at the statistics, most people leave their jobs within 2 years. I know of many who find that “job hopping” is the only way they can increase their pay or even stay afloat.
In this economy, the only true way to determine your own financial security is to be an entrepreneur. Why? Because, once you start, you will keep trying and will not allow your dreams to die. They mean more to you than a 9 to 5 job. If you you need a support system, then find other business partners that are crazy enough to believe in the dream with you, and start moving towards the goals together. Furthermore, make sure you stay connected to groups and successful people within your niche, to ensure you never lose focus and you gain tips to push you forward and help you excel.
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend (on something other than work)?
My business partners will attest that this is what I would do. They would also hurt me for saying this, but I would start a non-profit foundation. We want to establish more than just corporate entities. We have discussed the establishing of a foundation where we can encourage other women in gaming and emerging technologies, as well as create opportunities for the many people who feel they could rise if they had the right mentors and the right people helping them. It would also be very cool if with some of the funds we took a group of underprivileged young girls to an exotic place like Hawaii and taught them what we know for like a week (like a spa camp for technology). It would give them a chance to see more of the world and explore options in life.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
I consider myself blessed and honored to be where I am. It has been a long journey and I know this is only the beginning, but as an entrepreneur you are always going to look for the next steps and prepare for what is to come. However, I believe you are successful the minute you dive into deep waters with what you pursue and attempt to make your dreams a reality.
Top 5 websites you couldn’t live without and why?
- Facebook – for business purposes unfortunately.
- Gmail –for business as well.
- ziipa – because we own it and its one of our projects.
- KillerStartups – because they are an established source of information for us.
- Google – because we use their Drive and Hangout for communication and storage.
Top 5 mobile apps you’re in love with and why?
Should we selfishly promote our own apps? No, no, I will not do that. For me personally, I am addicted to the Reminders App tool from Apple. It seems to be the only way to track all tasks I need to complete during the day. Prudence has two daughters and they are in love with Minecraft. Every time we are on a business meeting the youngsters are happily playing the game. Prudence secretly has an addictive crush on Candy Crush. So, as a company those are three that we love. I have also been using CNN and Google News apps to stay connected to news feeds.
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet? (And why that country?)
Prudence and Nikki will both agree that for me, Germany is the MUST VISIT location as I am a huge car racer and I would like to race the autobahn. In fact, one of my most popular mobile games that I developed is titled Autobahn, because I wanted to simulate racing in Germany so badly. Being a female, my clients and friends tend to compare me to Danika Patrick. However, I can assure you, I will not sell you a domain.. .oh wait, I might: ziipa.com.
Three people (other than you) we should follow on Twitter and why?
- Ziipa – because we rock!
- Marie Forleo – because she has inspired Nikki and helped us with her content!
- Oprah – because who doesn’t love her!
Where else should our readers find you online?