In this blog, I am interviewing guest, Davyeon Ross, currently a Co-founder of ShotTracker Inc and a Partner at BlackOps Dev, a software development and investment firm. Prior to founding ShotTracker, Ross was Founder/CEO of Digital Sports Ventures, an interactive technology company with rights to Division I college sports video across seven major conferences. DSV exited to Digital Broadcasting Group, a top-5 video ad network, in 2011. Davyeon, born in Trinidad and Tobago, came to the States via collegiate basketball scholarship. Ross earned his B.S. in Computer Science from Benedictine College and an MBA from Mid-America Nazarene.
SR: Name your top 3 favorite mobile apps?
DR: Calendar, Evernote and ShotTracker.
SR: How does a boy from Trinidad become a rising wearable tech star in the Midwest?
DR: I’ve been so blessed. I got the opportunity to come to KS on a full basketball Scholarship. Had a great hoop career but also studied Computer Science and Math at Benedictine College. Sprint offered me the opportunity to be an engineer and a tech lead later on while helping me stay in the US. It’s been an amazing experience, lots of hard work and God’s favor.
SR: You have built and sold a few companies in your career. Which do you enjoy more: building or selling? Why?
DR: Woah!! It’s hard to separate building and selling. For me the whole experience is exciting. I enjoy creating something from nothing. If you do that right and you focus on building a sustainable company there is a small chance that someone will want what you have built. The whole process is gratifying for me but I must admit I do thrive off of the challenges that come with building something awesome.
SR: Your latest venture ShotTracker feels very personal as you used to play college ball and could have gone pro. Does a business have to be personal to be successful?
Not necessarily. However, I’ll say this. If you are passionate about your business and what you are doing, just like anything else, it makes it much easier. It’s easier to go that extra mile, it’s easier to work that extra hour it’s just much easier when it’s a product or domain you are passionate about.
SR: What is the process for a successful product launch? Recently you made a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show 2016, where Shaquille O’Neal gave you props. Any insight?
Launch early and iterate. Get it in the hands of your customers as soon as it doesn’t suck. As product guys we think we know, but we really don’t have any idea how people will utilize our product. Of course you don’t want to launch a half baked product but you want to launch early, get feedback and iterate. Many of the most successful companies today are different products from when they initially started. Shaq and Adam silver at CES was an awesome experience.
SR: Would you hire street smarts or book smarts? Why?
Depends on the role. I don’t need my engineers to have street smarts I need them to be able to deliver an awesome product and execute technically. Having a business guy or a sales guy with street smarts always seems to work out well. Experience is a great teacher.
SR: How do you define leadership? And how has yours grown with every company you have run?
Leadership is the ability to lead, motivate, inspire, educate, coordinate and collaborate with individuals to achieve focus and alignment on the same goal. My leadership skills over the years has definitely grown. I learned much of my leadership from sports. Whether it was making sure i was working hard in practice or doing the right thing. A lot of my leadership style is leading by example, capitalizing on the opportunity to teach while not being afraid to say when I’m wrong. Additionally in my mind the best idea always win. No matter who it comes from.
SR: What’s the difference between a good product and a great product? Any examples?
DR: I always tell my team that perfect is the enemy of great. I believe that good and great products solve a problem. Great products take the users through a streamlined delightful experience while solving a problem. I remember Uber’s first version of the app. It was clunky it was annoying but it did one thing and it did it well. When you clicked the reserve button a car showed up .
SR: You have a comp science background and have often said you are a “math” guy. What advice would you give to tech dreamers that are not math guys and want to launch an amazing tech product?
DR: Find a math guy. It is very important to have a math/techinical guy you can trust as you build a tech company. It’s critical and could be the difference between success and failure.
SR: IoT has struggled to gain mass adoption, how has ShotTracker been able to break the trend? What did you do differently?
Well, I’m not sure it’s safe to say we have mass adoption yet. We are still trying to break the trend and get ShotTracker to the masses. When we think about ShotTracker we believe that ShotTracker is to gyms as wi-fi is to coffee shops. Just like wi-fi today we want to be in every gym.
SR: What’s next for ShotTracker?
We are very excited about ShotTracker team. We previewed the tech at CES and it will be available for sale late summer.
SR: Thanks man! I look forward to seeing more big shots from your company. Visit www.shottracker.com to learn more.