My favorite David Lynch movie is The Straight Story. Maybe it’s out of character for the director, or an unexpected kind of weird, but I love its directness and think it’s a beautiful film. In similar fashion, Frampix might become the hit idea for entrepreneur Brad Gosse. I’m not going to spoil the pleasure of hearing him share his favorite pastimes and previous projects. Let’s just say that Frampix is a rather tame endeavor compared to some of Gosse’s other businesses.
What has the stand up comedian and serial entrepreneur from Ontario come up with now? Frampix is an iPhone and iPad app that lets you put cartoon frames on your pictures. Simple. Easy. Fun. It took a busy, up and down fifteen years before Gosse came to work on Frampix. Here he passes along some of the details of his journey with KillerStartups–at least the few that made it through customs.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
Our corporate entity name is Yourbrain Media. We got started in the adult entertainment business and I literally needed a company name so I could start accepting checks and open a bank account. We realized that we were turning the knowledge in our brains into money, so I came up with the name basically on a whim. And I’m still using it today.
The name for our app, Frampix, is simply a hybrid of the words “frame” and “pics.” I really like it…
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
Check my stats. PayPal, Facebook ads, Google analytics.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
The company started with just myself and my wife Claire. Today it’s us along with Megan, my full-time assistant; Jennifer, my customer service person; and Cherry, my full-time cartoonist.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
I was in my 20s when I started my 1st company, and I remember how hard it was getting anyone to take me seriously. Even something as simple as opening a bank account met with a lot of resistance. I remember once after having some success, my wife and I were flying to Las Vegas for a conference and decided the company could afford to send us 1st class. Obviously we didn’t dress the part. We got in the first-class line at the airport in Toronto, and this older couple in front of us looked us up and down. Then the woman turned to us and said, “I’m sorry, I think you’re in the wrong line.” To which we replied, “Oh, is this the line for economy?”
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
Personally, I like to think I handle frustration very well. Sometimes stress can get the better of me and I do get a bit irritable. When that happens I will smoke a joint to relax me and help my creativity start flowing again. Other times it requires Call of Duty on Xbox.
What’s your office environment like? Monastery? Mad Max’s Thunderdome?
Everyone in my company works from their home. My office is where my wife Clare and I work. It’s pretty quiet here, mainly because I don’t type. I dictate using Dragon dictation. Claire usually has her headphones on, so I don’t bother her with my constant chatter.
We have a pretty laid back work environment overall, but we also like to be productive. I learned the hard way that creative people can’t be productive all the time. So downtime is embraced when necessary. And productive time is also embraced. I may go days without doing tons of work and then pull an all-nighter when inspired.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
I still want to be lean and mean like we are today. I don’t think success is measured by the number of employees in your company, but I do expect there will be a few more people to help things run smoothly 5 years from now. My hope would be to have a portfolio of successful mobile apps, each one with a decent-sized user base and a nice stream of revenue.
Movies? Shooting range? Running a marathon? Who or what inspires YOU?
I get inspiration from a few sources. I’m a big fan of Kevin Rose and Tim Ferris. Their podcast called The Random Show is one of my favorites along with Kevin’s podcast Foundation. I’m also a huge photography buff. And I’m a collector of Peter Lik photography. His landscapes are breathtaking. I also love to play Call Of Duty on my Xbox when it’s time to unwind. I find nothing works better to take my mind off of business then getting fully engulfed in a video game.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded?
I’ve been an entrepreneur online for 15 years. So I’ve had some successes and some failures. Thankfully the last few years have been successful for me, which has allowed me to self-fund my app development projects. I have never been funded by outside sources. That’s not to say I wouldn’t consider it, I just haven’t needed to thus far.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Be ruthless when taking on monthly expenses. It’s amazing how quickly they can catch up with you if you’re not careful. Take advantage of Internet technologies like Skype for making phone calls and as a replacement for face-to-face meetings whenever possible. Also, don’t be afraid to buy used computer equipment. You can get a refurbished Mac for a fraction of the price of a new one. Today’s computers are so fast that even a 1 or 2-year-old computer will likely suit your needs.
I also learned that you don’t need to spend a fortune on a presence at a trade show if you’re bootstrapping. I remember once a few years ago when I had an advertising network, we had a booth at Ad-Tech New York City. Long story short, U.S. Customs held up our beautiful booth, forcing me to quickly design a poster that we could print out at Kinko’s to hang on the back wall of our space. It made us look like amateurs. But it didn’t matter. Our business was solid, and people were still happy to stop and chat with us. We even managed to take a number of large orders.
6 months later, we went to San Francisco for the same trade show and brought our fancy expensive booth. Our impact was no bigger than it was in New York City. That was a real eye-opener for me.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend (and you couldn’t spend it on your current startup / projects)?
My wife Clare and I are big animal lovers. Claire already volunteers some of her time at our local SPCA shelter. So if I couldn’t work and I had $500,000 to spend, I think we would both try to figure out how to use that money and time to build the animal sanctuary that is much needed in our community–to handle the overflow of cats and dogs, as well as provide them a better environment while they are in transition. I have tried helping my local shelter raise more money but many non-profits are slow to adapt. Something as simple as opening a Paypal account to accept donations has been met with massive resistance. I think running a non-profit like a startup would be awesome.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
I’ve been an entrepreneur for 15 years and I’m definitely not doing as well today as I have in some years. But I consider myself successful because I’m still in business. I’m still able to fund my pet projects, and I still have the freedom to do as I please. That doesn’t mean being lazy and not working. It just means having the freedom to not work when my creativity isn’t flowing, and pour myself into my work when it is. To me, success is about freedom.
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
I would have to say Facebook. Because I use it for both communication and advertising. We spend a lot of money on Facebook ads every year. I have a decent-sized following on Facebook, which helps me to get beta testers, survey a potential market quickly, and get instant feedback.
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
Evernote. I take lots of pictures of things I need to remember. Evernote recognizes all the text in my photographs, allowing me to search out the information later. I take a lot of screenshots on my desktop and all the text gets indexed for searching later.
Dogs or cats?
Can I choose both? We have 2 dogs and 3 cats, not to mention the stray cat we feed every day. I’m a big animal lover, but if I had to choose, I guess it would be dogs.
iOS or Android?
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet?
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
It’s fun. I created my app because it’s something that I wanted myself. I didn’t really see anybody else doing the same thing. I’m a big fan of photography but I also like to make photos fun. I think that’s the greatest thing about our app.
Where can our readers get a hold of you? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Personal blog?