Josh Melick is a serial entrepreneur who has been in the startup world since 1999. His last company, Broadly, was acquired by Intuit in 2011, and he’s now working on his next startup. In this interview, I talk with Josh about what successful entrepreneurs do to increase their chances of success.
Q: You’ve been at Intuit for a while now. What’s your role there? And how do you balance that with being a father of two kids and running a company on the side?
Melick: I’m the VP Product Management, Small Business Division which means I own all products related to small business data integration, financial overview reporting, analytics, and insights. The division has about 30 engineers and 10 product managers, and we work with a bunch of different groups across Intuit – including our small business customers, TurboTax users, Quicken customers, Mint users.
Q: How do you balance it all?
Melick: I set myself up to be able to work from home as much as possible. I go into the office just two or three days a week – that’s my sweet spot for doing work. Before my kids were born, I was probably working four days a week at least. But now, with the kids in school and their schedule somewhat predictable, it allows me to pick up some extra time at home during the day.
Q: Would you recommend this type of lifestyle to other entrepreneurs? Do you think it is possible to run a company from home and have a family life simultaneously?
Melick: I’m not sure if I would recommend it to everyone – but for me, my wife is a stay-at-home mom, so she functions as our kids’ third parent. I also think that having two kids under five is easier than three or four – which is what would happen if you had more than one kid when they’re young. So because of that, it’s the right number for us.
Q: Is there anything about your current job at Broadly that you can take with you to Intuit?
Melick: Broadly was all about building technology that empowers small businesses, and I think Intuit is somewhat like that too. We’ve built a team focused on helping entrepreneurs be successful by giving them the data they need to make decisions. It’s not easy because small business owners are very busy, and they don’t have the time to do the data analytics themselves – so we’re working with them on that process.
Q: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are just starting?
Melick: I think it’s essential to build something that solves a real problem for someone, and that takes time. And not only does it take time, but you only really learn what the problem is when someone uses your product. So if you think that your idea will solve a problem for people and you’ll hit it out of the park from day one – I believe you are best served by learning about stage-gating. Stage gating is taking something – maybe it’s a feature or an app – and putting it out in the market and allowing people to give you feedback on whether they like what you’re building and how they would use it.