Interview with Josh Smith of Privacy Star

in Entrepreneurial, Internet related jobs

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What do you do for a living?JoshSmithPrivacyStar

Analyze, Design, Build & Repeat!

How would you describe what your company does?

To borrow a phrase from one of our advertising partners “We slow up the blow up”. PrivacyStar provides an in-depth suite of services focused on communication control. Today, Smartphones are overwhelmed with inbound traffic. PrivacyStar’s Call Blocking, Text Blocking & Do Not Disturb features allow our users to regain some control over their Smartphones.

What is unique about what your company does? 

PrivacyStar was initially mistaken for an App Development organization. While it may be true that PrivacyStar is an App, make no mistake; we are NOT an App Developer. PrivacyStar as an organization is dedicated to consumer services for today’s mobile devices helping simplify people’s lives in the areas of privacy, protection and preference.

What does your work at Privacy Star entail?

A better question might be: what doesn’t my work entail? Thankfully we’ve grown enough over the past 4 years that trash removal is no longer in the critical path of daily tasks. As Cofounder and COO of PrivacyStar I find myself involved in Operations, Development, Marketing, Sales and community outreach (among other things). Basically whatever it takes to keep growing PrivacyStar into a successful and thriving technology company.

How did your company get started?  

PrivacyStar initially started down the path of a landline based service for filing complaints against Do Not Call violators. Within the first 6 months we came to the realization that selling anything into a landline service package would never happen. From that point we decided to go mobile and never looked back. Initially we began on Blackberry which at the time had over 50% of the mobile market share.

…recognize your own strengths and more importantly your weaknesses and find partners who compliment what you bring into the equation. I believe your company’s core foundation has to be comprised of individuals who complement one another and share in a common vision.

What do you like about owning/being part of a startup?

Change is the only guaranteed constant in a startup environment. Being able to make adjustments and learn quickly is very fulfilling to me. We succeed as a team and we fail as a team but we are constantly evolving and growing.

What do you dislike?

Nothing!

How does your company make money?

Depending on the product suite a carrier selects PrivacyStar can range from $0.99 to $2.99 per month. We made the decision early on to provide a quality service at a cost and avoid monetizing our platform with  ads and sponsored content.

What are your company gross revenues?(most people are sharing but this question is optional…feel free to expound and add comments underneath as well)

How have you funded the company?

Primarily through Angels and State Incentives

Is there any specific education you received or skills you have that have helped you?

The combination of my training as an analyst for the military and as an architect at Acxiom Corporation really prepared me to thrive in the ever changing and evolving world of a tech startup. The ability to analyze and act on information quickly has been one of the major factors in our success.

What is the most challenging thing facing your company?

Growth and Talent development are a constant challenge. It is critical to find and select the right people with the right skill sets at the appropriate time. Maintaining an environment where each person has the opportunity to expand and grow their skills, while also maintaining a healthy life/work balance, is also critical in retaining a high quality team.

What is your opinion on the startup community and the business climate in NWA?

The Startup community in NWA appears to be gaining a lot of momentum and we here in Central Arkansas are watching and hopefully learning from the NWA example, particularly in the area of early stage startups.

What advice would you offer someone considering starting a business?

Find great partners.  Often times you hear where a founder has outsourced critical components of the business in the early stages – it would make me nervous to not have someone truly “In the Boat” with me.

How much time off do you get/take?

Never enough! Seriously I try to maintain a healthy life-work balance; a startup doesn’t always lend itself to a set annual vacation plan. But I have found the time is available within the cycles of a startup and that it is in everyone’s best interest to allow time to recharge the batteries.

What is a common misconception people have about what you or your company do?

That we’re an app – PrivacyStar is a privacy company; not just an app development organization. We have years of regulatory experience working with both Federal and State bodies to define and understand all aspects of consumer protection laws and regulations. The mobile application ecosystem just happens to be the best place to reach our customers at this point in time.

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

I look forward to watching PrivacyStar evolve into a nationally recognized consumer privacy services company.

What else would you like people to know about your company?

We are more than our product(s). At our core we want to create a healthy thriving technology company that becomes a pillar of our community creating jobs and recognized as a well-respected business partner.

 

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