Have a good product! Nothing else matters if the end product isn’t amazing. We include (for free) many extra steps when manufacturing to guarantee the best quality possible. We want to wow the customer every single time.
As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Belosic.
Reno, Nevada native Jim Belosic is CEO of SendCutSend, a high-tech, rapid-manufacturing company specializing in the precision cutting of a variety of metals and aerospace materials. An avid hobbyist and maker, Belosic often found himself in need of specialized parts in small quantities to create his passion projects. Frustrated by vendors only willing to supply large and costly orders, he saw an opportunity to create an online-based solution in a niche market. After investing $2.5 million in cutting-edge equipment and software development, Belosic created SendCutSend as a service for tinkerers, hobbyists, and small manufacturers throughout the country to create and deliver products in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Prior to creating SendCutSend, Belosic was the co-founder and CEO of Pancake Laboratories, a software company based in Reno, Nevada best known for its flagship product, ShortStack.com — allowing businesses to build lead-generating social media contests, promotional campaigns, and landing pages. With his entrepreneurial spirit, Belosic is continually seeking innovative ways to create experiences for his customers that are smarter and more effective than what is already offered.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Ever since I was little, I enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked and then putting them back together, including computers. Eventually, I taught myself some basic software programming to make some of my more complicated projects come to life. This love of software led me to start a small marketing software company called Pancake Laboratories that focused on helping small businesses reach their marketing goals. Then while I was creating my passion projects on the side, I had the idea to create a solution for hobbyists to create a rapid-manufacturing company that specializes in the precision cutting of metals.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
I’ve always been a maker with a passion for building tangible products. I oftentimes found myself in need of specialized parts usually requiring the use of outside vendors. In my experience, the local vendors had certain capabilities and equipment, but oftentimes were very old school, and would take weeks to get me a laser cutting quote, let alone get the parts made. Frustrated, I decided to create a company that blended modern software and customer service with automated manufacturing technologies to simplify the process for a laser cutting online quote and production. From there, SendCutSend was born, and with it, the power for tinkerers, hobbyists, and small manufacturers throughout the country to create and deliver products to their customers without the habitual hassles of working with a laser cutting service.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
We faced a huge learning curve! The team behind SendCutSend are software developers and problem solvers through and through, but our team didn’t have any manufacturing experience. We had to figure out how to get quality products quickly to our customers, so speed was a big challenge at first. At one point we were worried that what we wanted to do wasn’t possible. However, I think our lack of experience allowed us to overcome some challenges that people in our industry said were impossible. If we had more experience, we wouldn’t have tried in the first place so being naive was a benefit, as we were able to approach challenges totally different than what is common in the industry.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
We’re constantly looking at ways to remove barriers preventing students, makers and hobbyists from accessing high tech manufacturing equipment at an affordable cost. Our company gives anyone who has access to a computer, to multi-million dollar laser cutting equipment. In turn, our hope is to eliminate DIY headaches that often happen when using consumer-grade equipment and manufacturing techniques by instead reducing the cost of high-tech, high-precision laser cut metal parts in low quantities.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
As expected, no one really took a bunch of software guys with absolutely zero manufacturing experience seriously. But, our team has a passion. So, naturally, we ignored the nay-sayers and set out to use our knowledge and past experience as problem solvers who are adept at complex computer code to create functions that worked for us.
We tackled an ambitious software and process improvement project that allows our customers to track their custom cut metal order at every step of the process. It also provides valuable real-time manufacturing data back to our in-house engineering team. The project was designed from the ground up to help everyone who needs a hand full of parts, fast, the opportunity to receive them without paying a fortune. To do this, we’re automating the traditional laser cutting process as much as possible, keeping efficiencies up and prices down. The end goal is to eliminate the need to request a quote, call someone to place an order, or drive across the state to get laser cut metal parts made.
The lesson here is to listen to yourself, if you have a good idea and a track record to prove you can do the work, go for it!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
SendCutSend truly stands out by empowering makers, hobbyists, and tinkerers to create what they love and turn their passion into a career. For example, one of our customers is a full time manufacturing engineer named Logan Teale, he started making pocket tools and custom utility knives for fun. As a one-man operation, and as sales increased, Teale relied on our laser cutting service to make the blank cuts (and one-off customized pieces) that are the backbone of his tools. After operating for only one and a half years, he has sold more than 2,000 tools and utility blades through his Etsy Shop Teale Designs.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
My biggest advice to avoid burnout is to simply find your passion and turn that into a career. If you love what you’re doing, the problem-solving aspect of any business is a lot more fun and exciting. Another thing I love to focus on is fresh challenges! Even if you’re staying in the same career field, new challenges help keep the excitement alive by working towards a new goal or tackling a new challenge each year.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
One of my good friends and SendCutSend’s Chief Technology Officer is Jacob Graham, he is someone that I’ve worked with for years and greatly admire. I like to say he’s the brains of the operation whereas I am the creative side but we’re able to both bring our unique strengths to the table. Jake can bring a difficult project to life and is talented at doing the heavy lifting with software engineering.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?
We don’t disclose customer numbers or app users, but I can say that we’ve made over three million parts for customers in the last couple of years. The app is very, very busy.
- Have a good product! Nothing else matters if the end product isn’t amazing. We include (for free) many extra steps when manufacturing to guarantee the best quality possible. We want to wow the customer every single time.
- Provide outstanding customer service. We are still our own customers, so we understand our customers. You have to understand what your customer’s challenges are so that you can help them succeed.
- Be FAST. People are spoiled with Amazon prime, so if you are selling anything online, you need to get it into your customer’s hands as fast as possible. Our instant quoting system and free two-day shipping allow us to do just that.
What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?
Our monetization model is eCommerce, we manufacture custom parts that you can’t get anywhere else. We take raw material and process it using very high-tech equipment and machinery in order to add value. With a significant difference between a low-cost “hobby grade” machine and one designed for industrial use, not many makers can have a multi-million dollar laser in their garage.
We monetize the community by being here when they need us. We don’t offer a subscription model, but we are an “on-demand” service and many customers order from us on a daily basis. The quick-turn market of online ordering metal fabrications is changing the way that makers and hobbyists are able to create.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app or a SaaS? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Have a good product. The best app in the world doesn’t make up for bad service or products.
- It needs to be fast. Nowadays everyone is in comparison to Amazon, focus on getting products in customers’ hands as fast as you can. This is true for pure software apps too — if an app is slow running, that’s a poor user experience
- Wow the customer, underpromise and overdeliver.
- It needs to be secure and reliable. One hack can cause everything to come crashing down.
- You should be your own customer. Use your own app/service/product every day. Eat your own dog food.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to see a cultural shift away from a college education being the end-all-be-all. There are so many people that go deep into debt for an education that they may not be able to use. I wish it was more socially acceptable to go to a trade school or through hands-on-learning while on the job. I want my kids to know that they should try a bunch of jobs so that they can find something they love. If you decide on a career that requires college, then enroll and get that degree. But you might find a career (like marketing or sales) that takes talent and experience, without all the debt and takes less time than a traditional college education.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Jim Belosic of SendCutSend: 5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.