Founders’ Friday: Tommy McDonald, 120 Northside
Today’s Founders’ Friday features Tommy McDonald. Read on to learn what Tommy had to say about his experience starting 120 Northside.
RC: Tell me a little bit about your company.
TM: My partner Chris and I run a freelance collective called 120 Northside. We build websites, web applications, IOS applications, desktop applications, application development in general.
RC: What was your inspiration?
TM: The biggest inspiration was how awful my job was at the time. I had a design degree, and after that I decided I had a lot of fun building user interfaces, web pages, and websites. I ended up becoming roommates with Chris who was a programmer, and we decided to start our own company.
RC: What has been the biggest challenge so far?
TM: I’m not sure because there are so many. Probably client acquisition and sales pitches. Overcoming the fact that I’m not good at public speaking has been a challenge. Coming to Four Athens is probably the best thing I have ever done because Jim pushes me to go in front of people and talk to them about my business.
RC: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from starting your own company?
TM: The client is not always right, don’t let them take more than you can give; that or don’t overbear yourself and only take as much work as you can handle.
RC: What has been the best part of the process?
TM: The only high point I can think of is being able to work with good people. I haven’t overcome anything that has made me say, “oh wow!” Everyday I am trying to strive for something bigger and better.
RC: Where do you hope to see your company a year from now?
TM: I want to see more developers on the team. I would like to have a digital media agency at that point.
RC: What past experience do you think has helped with founding your company?
TM: Failing. We ran out of money and made some bad decisions. We learned where we went wrong, corrected it, and now we are excelling. Failure was exactly what we needed.
RC: What advice would you give others wanting to start their own company?
TM: Have a plan. Don’t just jump in without knowing what you are going to do. Budgeting is huge. How much is it going to cost you to run your business; how much are you going to make; are you going to be able to pay your bills? Come up with a marketing strategy and put your name out there in order to get more clients.
RC: Are you from Athens?
TM: I am from about twenty minutes away, so essentially I am.
RC: Do you think Athens has been a good environment for starting your company?
TM: I went to school in Central Florida and lived there for a few years doing free lance graphic design. There are a lot more people and many more possible clients. However, the community in Athens is more supportive and helpful. I think Athens has been a real staple to our success.
RC: What are you most proud of about your company?
TM: I’m prideful of the fact that I don’t have a schedule. I like the freedom and the fact that if something goes wrong it’s on me. I can only blame myself and not get yelled at by someone else. I am only accountable to me.
RC: Is there anything else you would like to tell readers about your startup?
TM: We are applications developers based on quality and speed. The clients do matter, and we do everything we can to deliver a great work experience and end product.