($150M/Yr) High-quality Mac/PC Hardware Solutions and Accessories Manufacturer and Reseller – Lawrence (Larry) O’Connor of Other World Computing (OWC)
INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 55:29)
Sponsors & Partners
Lawrence (Larry) O’Connor, Founder of Other World Computing (OWC) shares the story of getting started in tech as a youngster while working with his early adopter dad which led to the launch of Other World Computing (OWC). OWC gives Mac and PC users the ability to upgrade their computer hardware in an affordable and user-friendly manner. O’Connor emphasizes the importance of balancing direct sales with channel distribution through retailers and distributors, as well as offering excellent customer service and educating customers about the value of their products. He also highlights the significance of software in supporting hardware functionality and delivering the best user experience.
Lawrence O’Connor, the founder of Other World Computing (OWC), discusses his journey in the tech industry and the key factors that have contributed to his company’s success. O’Connor recognized the need for affordable and user-friendly computer upgrades, which led to the creation of products like memory upgrades, processor upgrades, and storage solutions. OWC also identified the need for reliable external drives for audio and video professionals, focusing on quality and providing real data and application support to customers. O’Connor emphasizes the importance of balancing direct sales with channel distribution through retailers and distributors, as well as offering excellent customer service and educating customers about the value of their products. He also highlights the significance of software in supporting hardware functionality and delivering the best user experience. Overall, O’Connor’s insights shed light on the importance of addressing customer pain points, providing high-quality products, and staying immersed in technology to stay ahead in the market.
- 00:00:00 In this section, Sushant welcomes Larry O’Connor, the founder of Other World Computing, to the show. Larry shares that his exposure to technology started at a young age, with his father being an early adopter. He recalls his first computer, an Atari for 100 XL, and how he learned programming on it. Larry then explains how he got into the tech world and the inspiration behind starting his own business. He saw that computer upgrades were expensive and inconvenient, so he decided to offer a more affordable and user-friendly solution. This led to the creation of products like memory upgrades, processor upgrades, and storage solutions, which are now a huge part of OWC’s business.
- 00:05:00 In this section, Lawrence O’Connor discusses how his company identified the need for reliable external drives for storing audio and video files. They realized that existing brands were inconsistent and often let customers down. So they decided to build their own solution that audio and video professionals could trust. They focused on selecting the right chipset and building drives that would deliver the desired performance. Instead of relying on fluffy marketing, they provided real data and application support to show customers what their product could do. O’Connor emphasizes that their success comes from listening to customers and addressing their pain points, rather than just giving them a product. He also mentions that while hardware is still important, software presents a bigger opportunity today. The key is to deliver solutions that work seamlessly and provide the best user experience.
- 00:10:00 In this section, Lawrence O’Connor discusses the shift in his business from primarily e-commerce to distribution through retailers and distributors. He admits that they made a misstep by pivoting too heavily to the channel side in the past, but now they recognize the importance of balancing both channels. While direct sales offer more control over the message and brand, the channel provides maximum accessibility and exposure. O’Connor emphasizes the need to prioritize customer service and quality in order to build a successful brand in the long term. He also notes that cheap electronics often do not provide the same level of performance and quality as higher-priced options, highlighting the importance of educating customers about the value of their products.
- 00:15:00 In this section, Lawrence O’Connor discusses the importance of quality and differentiation in the market. He emphasizes that customers are willing to pay a little extra for a product or service that is reliable and lasts longer. He also highlights the value of customers’ time, stating that saving a few pennies upfront may result in additional time and headaches in the long run. O’Connor believes that providing a professional-grade product or service that saves customers time and does not create extra work is essential for success in any industry.
- 00:20:00 In this section, Lawrence O’Connor discusses the product development and manufacturing processes at OWC. He mentions that they have teams internally, including an R&D department, working on different ideas and creating prototypes. The products are manufactured in parts of Asia and Mexico, with final manufacturing and assembly taking place in Woodstock, Illinois. O’Connor explains that historically product development has been done in the US, and they have engineering teams in Taiwan and software teams spread across several states. He also highlights the importance of having a team around the company’s founder and the key role of demographics in selecting business locations. Furthermore, O’Connor emphasizes the benefits of in-person collaboration and how it has improved productivity for their teams.
- 00:25:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the shift towards software in their company. They explain that while hardware still remains a passion, software plays a crucial role in supporting the functioning of the hardware. The technology has evolved over the years, and their software, such as Mac and PC Soft Parade, drives their systems. They highlight their expertise in SSDs, flash, and media cards, stating that their Atlas cards are unmatched in the market. Furthermore, their energized software enhances the user experience by providing health status updates, firmware updates, and the ability to restore cards to their original performance. Overall, they emphasize the importance of software in maximizing the capabilities and sustainability of their hardware products.
- 00:30:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the importance of having both good hardware and good software. They emphasize how their company provides top-notch hardware products that can be further enhanced by their free software offerings. The software they offer, such as Mac drive, allows users to seamlessly switch between Mac and PC without worrying about drive formatting. They also highlight the benefits of using their software, such as improved performance, drive safety, and monitoring. The company aims to give customers the freedom to use their software and technology with any hardware, without being locked into an ecosystem. They prioritize building products that last and offering a lower total cost of ownership. To ensure that customers understand the value proposition of their products, they create videos that explain their solutions and showcase their competitive pricing compared to their competitors. They also consider online influencers and utilize strategies to have them talk about their products and explain the benefits to the average consumer.
- 00:35:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the challenges of marketing technology in today’s digital landscape. Unlike in the past where magazines and good reviews were effective, now online competition is fierce, with companies paying for reviews and rankings to promote their products. The speaker emphasizes the importance of remaining organic and building trust through word of mouth, trade shows, and partnerships. They mention that Amazon is a great channel for controlling the message and reaching more customers. Advertising and marketing efforts focus on providing good media, objective information, and educational content, even if it’s not directly related to their own product. The speaker warns about the prevalence of paid tactics and the need to compete against companies that engage in artificial inflation of their status and ratings.
- 00:40:00 In this section, the speaker reflects on the challenges of communicating and reaching potential customers in today’s information-saturated world. They emphasize the importance of building a better product to attract customers who are facing issues with alternative solutions. As the CEO of a company, they share how their role has evolved over the years, from being involved in engineering and design to delegating tasks and mentoring others. They emphasize the significance of trusting and empowering the team, learning from mistakes, and giving people opportunities to grow within the organization. The speaker also highlights the importance of considering and respecting every individual within the organization, regardless of their role. Finally, they mention that although they didn’t have an option program for employees until recently, they believe in taking care of their people and acknowledging the vital role everyone plays in the company’s success.
- 00:45:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the importance of staying immersed in technology and understanding the problems that need to be solved. While they currently don’t use AI in their software, they recognize the potential benefits and productivity tools that AI can provide. The speaker emphasizes the need for entrepreneurs to avoid making promises they can’t keep and to strive to overdeliver whenever possible. They also highlight the importance of maintaining high standards and adjusting messaging to meet customer expectations. Additionally, they warn about the risks of fraud and the need for good controls to prevent it. Finally, the speaker advises against letting a difficult customer drive the policies for all customers.
- 00:50:00 In this section, Lawrence O’Connor discusses the lessons he has learned from dealing with difficult customers and the importance of treating customers well. He emphasizes the need to screen for problematic customers and find better ways to handle them, while also acknowledging that there is a cost of doing business. He highlights the importance of having policies that don’t overly restrict or burden your best customers, while still discouraging abuse of policies. O’Connor also shares his recommendation for entrepreneurs to read the book “Lead Like Jesus,” which had a profound impact on him. He expresses excitement about the impact of AI chatbots in the e-commerce industry and shares a productivity tip of focusing on one thing at a time. Lastly, he advises entrepreneurs to explore opportunities outside of their local area and be open to new ideas, understanding that their backyard is not the same as everyone else’s.
- 00:55:00 In this section, Lawrence O’Connor expresses gratitude for the opportunity to share his story and insights on growing his business. He thanks the interviewer for their time and expresses hope that his experiences will offer valuable insight to the viewers.
People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode
Book: Lead like Jesus by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges
What You’ll Learn
|[00:00:08] Introduction and Welcome to Trep Talks|
|[00:01:11] Larry O’Connor’s Tech Background and Inspiration|
|[00:03:00] Early Days of Upgrading Computers|
|[00:05:00] Providing Reliable Storage Solutions|
|[00:07:00] Embracing Opportunities in the Tech Industry|
|[00:09:00] Balancing Hardware and Software Solutions|
|[00:10:00] Shift Towards Channel Distribution|
|[00:12:00] Importance of Channel Partners|
|[00:13:00] Accessibility and Benefits of Channel Distribution|
|[00:13:24] Quality matters in electronics and computer hardware|
|[00:14:14] The issue with cheap technology products|
|[00:15:11] The importance of differentiating with quality|
|[00:16:00] The challenges of battery manufacturing|
|[00:17:31] Considering the value of customer’s time|
|[00:18:32] Product development processes and manufacturing locations|
|[00:19:59] Importance of selecting the right location for business|
|[00:22:00] Collaboration within the company and remote work|
|[00:25:08] Balancing software and hardware businesses|
|[00:26:00] The significance of software in today’s hardware market|
|[00:00:54] High-Quality Media Readers and Outperforming Competition|
|[00:02:47] Advantages of Energize Software and Firmware Updates|
|[00:04:22] Ensuring Health Status of Media Cards and Avoiding Card Failures|
|[00:05:54] Benefits of Software-Driven Features in Media Cards|
|[00:07:53] Maximizing Resources and Sustainability in OWC Solutions|
|[00:09:40] OWC’s Focus on Customer Trust and Ecosystem Freedom|
|[00:12:30] Simplifying Product Marketing for Consumers|
|[00:15:27] Leveraging Online Influencers and Educational Content|
|[00:17:47] Balancing Online Advertising and Organic Information|
|[00:41:00] Evolution as a Business Personnel CEO|
|[00:41:36] Transitioning and Learning to Delegate|
|[00:42:48] Importance of Team and Customers|
|[00:43:23] Utilizing AI Technologies in Business|
|[00:44:43] Lessons Learned from Failures and Mistakes|
|[00:45:54] Staying Immersed in Technology and Trends|
|[00:46:32] Innovative AI Applications|
|[00:47:01] Book Recommendation for Entrepreneurs|
|[00:47:43] Exciting Product/ Idea in Tech Landscape|
|[00:48:55] Productivity Tip: Focus on One Thing at a Time|
|[00:53:20] Best Business Advice: Explore Opportunities Beyond Your Location|
Interview with Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC
In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC
- Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: Lead like Jesus by Ken Blanchard and Phil hodges)
- An innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: ChatGPT)
- A business or productivity tool that you would recommend (Response: Avoid Overloading, Focus on One Thing at a Time, Stay Present and Don’t Worry About What’s Next, Break Tasks into Smaller Steps)
- Another startup or business that you think is currently doing great things: (Response:)
- A peer entrepreneur or businessperson whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response:)
- Best business advice you ever received (Response: Explore, understand your needs, and take a look at opportunities that aren’t necessarily just in the location that you happen to be in)
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey there, entrepreneurs. My name Sushant and welcome to Trep Talks. This is the show where I interview successful e-commerce entrepreneurs.
Business executives and thought leaders and ask them questions about their business story and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start to grow their businesses. And today I’m really excited to welcome Larry O’Connor to the show. Larry is the founder of other world computing with more than more than 150 million in annual revenues, other world computing engineers, manufacturers and resales, computer hardware and accessories, as well as create leading edge software applications that enable even greater functionality for the users.
And, uh, I’m sure Larry is going to share a little bit more about, uh, uh, exactly all the different, uh, products and services that he, uh, uh, that he shares. And today I’m gonna ask Larry a few questions about his [00:01:00] journey and some of the strategies and tactic that he has used to start his business. Thank you so much for joining me today at Trep talks.
Really, really appreciate your time and thank you again for opportunity.
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: Glad to be here.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So I did a little bit of a research, uh, on you. I was reading on, on the internet, and I understand that, uh, it was really your father, he was an early adopter of technology and that’s how you kind of, kind of got into the tech world and, and got your start.
Can you share a little bit about, about your story, um, and you know, how you got motivated to be in the tech world and how you really came, came with this idea of
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: starting this business. Sure. I mean, first off, yeah, my exposure to tech started with a, a telex machine and then a, a terrace 80, you know, way back, it’s late seventies, early eighties.
You know, as I said, my dad, you know, was an early adopter technology. I had the opportunity to have an Atari for a hundred xl that my par, I [00:02:00] mean, just talk about a, just a total fluke and maybe meant to be, but it was, it was a door prize at day, won raffle ticket, you know, drawing. And ultimately that’s a computer I, the first computer I had at a cassette deck that used stored coda.
But I learned how to program learned, you know, I guess you could say certainly the basics and enough where I even started programming on that t r s 80, this is stuff for my dad’s business when I. It was, yeah, pretty young. But that, that’s where it all got started. And as progressed, got my own system. And one of the, uh, the challenges of the day was upgrading.
It was expensive. You had to bring your computer, uh, into a store. And when I found out, you know, number one, how easy it was to install chips and such, this didn’t need to be done at a computer shop. Plus, uh, there’d been a, um, there had been a earthquake in ti in, well in Asia, in the Taiwan region, affected semiconductor production, made memory prices go way up.
Memory prices came back down and saw this in the PC space, but in the Apple world, and I was an Apple user, you know, everybody [00:03:00] had held the same price points and, and, you know, learned that there’s the same chips that go on a Mac and a PC back in that day. Ultimately, uh, tested, you know, did some, did some installation and, and said, you know, I’m gonna, number one, this is something I can sell to people for a much lower cost than they’re being offered.
Number two, and this was far more important, especially for me cuz I couldn’t drive at the time, you know, I’m gonna explain the people provide instruction support so they can do it themselves at home. You know, you don’t have to tear your system apart and give it up for a few days and, and, and pave you know, somebody to install something that takes five minutes at home.
And honestly, you call it somewhat of the inspiration for it. The, you know, the guy at the local computer shop every time came in his feet around the desk and reading whatever he’s reading a trade journal. Usually it took more time to fill out the paperwork to get, you know, this, the computer upgraded than it did to do it yourself.
And you know, once you have that figured, I was like, this is, this is not cool. They have somebody say, yeah, thanks for filling the paperwork out, you know, see us in three days. Now [00:04:00] that, that was the beginning and then we got into hard drives. I say we, and that’s something I, I think a lot of entrepreneurs do.
At the time it was I, but you never wanna say, you know, I, when you’re talking to a customer, we’re an organization, we’re a company now that was, that’s, that’s still, uh, to this day. But in any event, uh, began to do upgrades. So processor upgrades, you know, got the software, you know, we actually created the, uh, zip upgrade market again for Apple way back in the day.
Got in the fire wire storage again as a solution. You know, my memory, it was. This should be more economical. It should be something that more people have access to and with an easier path versus, you know, what it takes to do service processor upgrades. You know, again, life extend the, uh, the capabilities of existing systems without having to start over.
You know, software, uh, we actually brought out to allow people to run, uh, later os versions after had been ceased. We got in the fire wire and, and actually stored in general, which is a huge part of our business today because the product that was in the market wasn’t consistent. And at [00:05:00] that time, customers who, you know, we built storage for everybody.
We had external drives that we sold from various brands, whether you’re storing, you know, spreadsheets or producing music or video, same drawing straw proctor purposes. The brands at the time were not building consistently, and we came in, understand what our customers need, and said, we’re gonna build a solution that, especially audio and video guys can count on.
It was a, a very, you know, straight up, uh, distinction that there was a chip set that needed to be selected and certain drives it had to be built with. And the problem was, at that time, you could buy the same brand, you know, you know, three different, three drives, same capacity, and have three different outcomes because they were just, it was flavor of the day in terms of what was inside.
And we brought out product that we didn’t advertise. You know, and this is important, I think it’s important. We didn’t come out and just use, you know, fluff on our solutions. We provided real data. Real application support and told people what it would do [00:06:00] and what it would work with, not what the interface said.
Not, you know, the fluffy stuff that made it look good. But then we let customers down, you know, when they went to use it for production. But ultimately, you know, everything that we brought out and that the solutions we continue to, uh, bring out to market today are driven by our customers. Were here for our customers.
We’re here because for our customers, we continue to move forward because we have their trust, their feedback, and you know, they, they or who inspire us, we don’t try to tell them what to do. You know, we’re listening to them so that while we may not necessarily do exactly what they ask, what they tell us, you know, gives us the understanding of what problems need to be solved.
And ultimately we do what they ask because it’s not about giving them a product. It’s about giving them something that solves, you know, their pain point, solves a problem that well can be improved or eliminated. Definitely.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, do you, do you feel, um, That a big reason for your growth and success or, or, I mean, do you even feel [00:07:00] fortunate that you kind of got the early wave of computing, right?
I mean, this is almost like the early days of, you know, computers and you kind of got into it, you learned, uh, you know, about hardware and started, you know, fixing and selling and um, and, and then the, or, you know, growth was kinda organic over time. Um, what are your thoughts on, you know, how, how do you see your business today versus, you know, where you started in the early days of computing?
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: Well, certainly the things got more complicated than we’ve, you know, moved up to higher levels. But in terms of the opportunity, I mean, that, that first question, there’s always opportunity. And I would say that it was easier. Mostly because there wasn’t a choice of being, you know, on the surface. I mean, you were in the gusts of these things way back when.
A lot of things today are more self-contained. You have to work. There’s not so much that you have to work harder, you have to look harder to have opportunities to actually understand the inner workings [00:08:00] and get under the hood. But there’s still plenty of opportunity, uh, to do. So it’s, it’s just different.
And software is probably a much bigger opportunity today than hardware. It was even, you know, a decade ago. So there’s always opportunities just in different places. And certainly we, we continue to be very strong in hardware. Hardware is, it’s easy, but it’s not easy. Certain aspects are, it’s easy when you understand it, but there is, there’s a lot of stuff that’s produced out there that’s just not good.
And it’s because, you know, there’s folks who understand how to put chip sets together or put a bunch of ports on something, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that, you know, the sauce is there for everything to interact correctly and, and actually deliver the experience and the use that somebody, you know, or at least the optimal use that somebody should expect.
There’s, there’s definitely a difference and that actually a lot of that comes in through the software that layers on in firmware and or, you know, on the actual system itself that can please the picture. There’s plenty of things that look really good spec wise and perform, perform horribly. There’s plenty of other [00:09:00] products, solutions, and that’s kind of where we focus that deliver in real workflows that aren’t necessarily trying to brag about, you know, this spec or that spec specs me.
Nothing if, you know, how do I say you, you, you can’t, you know, get your job done and it’s, I mean, you can put a giant engine in a, in a car with, you know, skinny tires and you spin the wheels in place. You know, there’s a, there’s, there needs to be a balance and there’s reasons that we don’t do, you know, certain things.
There’s reasons we do, you know, all the, honestly, all the things we do. And ultimately it’s about providing the best working solution. Not something that’s gonna, not something that needs to be kicked all the time to keep it moving or something that is gonna let you down. Know when you have, well, when you have a, a needed, uh, in place.
I may have missed you. I may have gone off, uh, gone off topic a little bit there, but all the same.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Can you, uh, can you share a little bit about your business model? So, I mean, I usually talk to mostly eCommerce entrepreneurs, [00:10:00] and I do see that your big part of your business is your, and you have multiple e-commerce sites.
Um, I saw, uh, but of course there’s the other part of your business, which is more, uh, distribution through resellers and other distributors.
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: Uh,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: and I believe your products are, uh, sold all over the world. Um, can you share. How do you see your business? Is, is it, is most of your business primarily driven by e-commerce or is it mostly a, you know, products distributed through resellers and distributors?
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: It’s been shifting and more and more to channel. I mean, that’s where we have the grace opportunity, you know, as we grow and, you know, really, uh, say continue to scale e-com. I mean, it’s, you know, potentially we could have had a much bigger e-commerce store today. We made a, a misstep a few years ago, and to be very, very honest, you, we made a big pivot to, uh, uh, to the channel side when we, in a way that we shouldn’t have.
We ultimately, uh, uh, I say you [00:11:00] gotta, I mean, you gotta listen to your gut and you have to, you stick to your business plan and do not let your customers, ie. In this particular case, for us to channel know, start, you know, being the one that’s wagging the dog and long term, I mean, it’s a really good move for us, but we could have had a, a much better transition.
Our e-commerce side, we, we started direct. And that was just, I mean, that was, we were, and at the time, I mean memory, they were chips. We weren’t manufacturing anything with memory. We did get into manufacturing when we went the processor upgrades and external drives and everything else, but still maintained a really strong direct brand.
And it was the best place for us to control the message, you know, have customers that understood what we were offering. It’s, it’s a real different world when you go into the channel. I mean, there’s brands, big brands that pay, you know, if not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, you know, millions of dollars to have shelf space, to have marketing positions.
You know, it, it’s not a, uh, it’s not a level playing field by any means. And certainly when you’re direct. Whether it’s through Amazon, you know, with a store on [00:12:00] Amazon or on your own website. And as long as you have the customer coming to your media, your information, you’re able to give, you know, a really great message.
And ultimately, you know, what happened with O W C, we built them in on a direct basis. And whereas in the beginning, nobody even wanted to, they weren’t even interested in talking to us about our products. But as we built, you know, a following and people understood what we were, you know, the, the channel folks, I mean the, the resellers, the retailers and such, you know, ultimately come to us.
And we have, I mean, that’s a good relationship. And we know at the end of the day, especially if you’re manufacturing something, you want maximum accessibility, you know, we, it’d be a lot easier. And quite frankly, maybe it’s even to a certain, it’d be a lot less complex, might even be more profitable today for us just to be a direct business.
But long term, you know, the scale you need channel partners. You really do need the channel, uh, with you. The other side of the equation is, you know, our goal, our mission is to see everybody benefit from our solutions. And accessibility, you know, isn’t, is very difficult to maintain [00:13:00] and provide if you know you’re trying to do it all, you know, the channel, you, you, you need to have your product in front of people.
And if the channel I sign your product, you know, somebody, you’re, they’re only gonna see your competition becomes a lot harder to get that, that saturation. And there’s all sorts of flashes in the pans, I know with TikTok and YouTube stuff and all that and Instagram. But, you know, those mostly typically, you know, end up being flashers in the pan.
I mean, it’s a, it’s really, it’s a long-term grind to build a brand and to build a solution and build a customer following. And core to that. Absolutely. Core to that is making sure you put the customer first. You’re honest with your customers and you absolutely focus on, you know, the customer service side and the quality of what you’re producing.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely. I mean, I think for electronics and especially computer hardware, um, I think quality definitely ma matters a lot. And you know, these days, given that there’s so, so much [00:14:00] competition and so many different brands and also so many kind of, you know, electronics that come out of China, you know, low price, but still, still pretty, do a pretty decent job.
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: you may, you may think so. I, I’m not, not to interrupt, but one thing I will say about today’s technology, a lot of people really don’t even know what they’re missing when they buy some of the, the cheap stuff. I mean, it’s, there’s a lot of stuff out there. I guess you could say it works good enough, but they’re relative to what they’re paying.
They’re not getting anything near what they should be getting. And unfortunately, I mean, folks will accept or believe that even, I mean, because the specs look similar. Maybe it’s a port thing, you know, that they’re getting the same thing, but they’re not getting any anywhere near, uh, the same thing. And that’s, you know, one thing that we get, you know, customers that do, I mean, again, that’s where you establish, right?
You have that direct customer, you know, connection customers. I mean, our own customers would come [00:15:00] back to us and they bought some of this other stuff. Even stuff that you can buy in, uh, how to say the big box stores, you know, from other brands, it’s, you know, it’s cheaper, whatever I needed it. You, when you have, I mean, it’s like anything else.
If you’ve gone to a restaurant where you really like a dish and then it’s, oh, hey, same, there’s someplace else should be the same and same whatever. When you experience something, that’s when you experience what you like and you know, works well and then you experience, and then you do try something that’s not up to that level.
It’s very easy to, uh, distinguish. But again, a lot of folks don’t get that opportunity. They buy one thing and maybe they continue to buy it. Maybe it’s something that doesn’t last for a lot. Maybe it’s a product that fails after six months or a year. And it’s, it’s acceptable. This must just be how it is.
It’s, it’s there. Anyway, I, sorry to interrupt on that, but there is, there’s a lot of competition for sure, but it’s not equal competition. I mean, the biggest even, I mean, we, we, you know, we manufacture batteries or, uh, at this point just for Mac, uh, laptops, which is a, become a very crowded space on Amazon.
You know, we were the first company in the us [00:16:00] you know, back in, uh, 2001 to bring out a full line for Apple. We’ve been doing this for two decades. The batteries that we put to market are full capacity tested. They fit right, covered the right tools, all that good stuff. It’s amazing how many batteries come out of Amazon that whether don’t fit right.
You know, they now, they say they don’t come with the right tools. There’s a myriad of other issues, but the, the biggest thing that you’ve gotta watch out for, or, and you know, I say this, this does happen, you know, there’s batteries that claim capacity and this happens to, I mean, there’s. You can’t get, I mean, the, nobody’s doing this with flash drives and it’s, it’s laughable because, you know, they sell a 10 terabyte drive that, that they call flash plugging in.
It’s got like, you know, 512 megabytes or even, you know, five megabytes, I mean, some little tiny store sell doesn’t do anything. It’s faked. But on batteries, you know, there’s plenty of batteries in the market. And until by weight that have been programmed, the report now maybe the reporting of 8,000 milliamp hours now [00:17:00] as a laptop sell and their actual, uh, the actual cell capacity was inside the battery might be a half or a third or a quarter of that.
So the reports, ex reports to a capacity, but you don’t get the run time that you’ve thought you paid for. So again, it’s, you’d certainly, I always say in any business, if you’re out there, we’ve always competed and even with hard drives and commodity spaces, but our customers, you know, they’re willing to pay a little bit more because we’re giving them a professional grade product that’s gonna last.
And if you’re going to come into a space that bodies should come into a space that doesn’t, it’s not been commoditized, but in any space. I mean, it’s a matter of making sure that you can differentiate yourselves with quality. Cuz there’s always gonna be copycats and there’s probably gonna be, you know, against things that, you know are just not there.
But customers that buy your solution will understand why they’re paying an extra, might be five or 10%, you know, difference, which is very small, but they’re getting a lot for that five or 10%. [00:18:00]
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, I, I completely agree with that. I mean, as a user of electronics myself, um, I’ve used both the cheap stuff and I’ve used the, you know, the, the branch that I recognize and there is, you know, I, I, you can, it’s, it’s not difficult to notice the difference.
And then once something works and it’s reliable and it continues to work for years after year, then. It’s like you’re okay with paying, uh, a little bit extra and getting the quality and, you know, knowing that it’s going be reliable. So I yeah, I, I totally agree with you.
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: Um, terms of manufacturing, go ahead.
Yeah, and I’d add to that, I mean, and this is for whatever service you’re gonna provide, you know, whether it’s the service or uh, product. Now considering the value of your customer’s time, And you know, and that’s something that, I mean, certainly if you’re saving them time or it’s a matter of just from reliability point of view, the less time they’re, you know, and I say this, I actually say this all the time in different area.
Even. Even we’re talking about our own product [00:19:00] introductions and how our solutions are used and workflows, I mean for stuff is used in pretty crazy stuff, really exciting stuff and in my opinion, but to the point, you know, we wanna be the boring stuff. And by boring, you know, they install us, you know, our product is in their workflow and it’s doing what it needs to do.
It’s been plugged in, it’s there and they don’t have to think about it cuz their focus is on, you know, whatever endeavor is in front of them. Whether it’s managing people, you know, doing a major edit, whatever the work is. Our stuff just needs to be in the background. You know, it’s, and for any customer, I mean, if you, a good solution is something that saves some time and does not take extra time.
Uh, you know, while they’re actually trying to do the work they need to do. Know it’s people learn. A lot of customers learn. A lot of people learn. I learn myself. I mean, it’s. You can, you know, save a few pennies here, and then you just get killed with additional time and headache. You know, when you know you, you could have spent a little bit more and had something that, uh, would’ve kept your time focused where, you know, it’s most productive.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: [00:20:00] Definitely. Can you share a little bit about your product development processes? I, I mean, you are manufacturing, introducing new products, you know, that are, you know, uh, that are good quality products. Uh, do you have teams internally or r and d department that’s kind of working on different ideas, different products, and you know, uh, creating that prototype and then you’re getting it massive manufactured.
Um, can you share a little bit about that process and where, where are these products,
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: uh, manufactured? Sure. We currently manufacture in, uh, in parts of Asia as well as in Mexico. And we do a lot of final manufacturing in white manufacturing assembly actually in Woodstock, Illinois. So historically, uh, product development’s been done, uh, in the US we have an engineering team.
Uh, also now in Taiwan. Software is actually spread across, uh, several states. In the US we, I mean, we need to be near Apple for some software weeks. So we have Northern California [00:21:00] development. We have actually a hardware software team in Burbank. We have a team in places, Iowa. I mean, it’s different things that through acquisition and just it, it has to, I mean, one other thing about any company, I mean we, you know, way back when, uh, when I started O W C, you know, one of my dreams was to own a, uh, our own fab lines and such a be able to manufacturer.
I helped me at that time, memory, and, you know, later would’ve been SSDs. Something that I didn’t really consider and didn’t pay attention to. Illinois used to be a place that had a lot of that kind of, uh, sm t manufacturing going on, and unfortunately, uh, because of just mismanagement of the state and and regulation things that changed over a couple decades by the time I was interested in doing it.
And was re this is kind of our next step. There was, we could have done it, it would’ve been difficult with the rakes at the time, but manageable. But the people that we needed were no longer in the state. They moved elsewhere because the state had become, lack better term, hostile to, uh, to business. [00:22:00] And without employees, without the, the resources you need, uh, it’s very hard to support and expand and scale the product anyway.
You got it all nailed down Pat. You still need to be able to, you still need a team around you to scale. So selecting where you’re gonna do bus business, I mean, really should also take a look at, you know, what the, uh, what the demographics are for the kind of people resources, which is, I mean, that’s absolutely, you know, key and.
King in, in, in that, in any kind of startup, I believe. And that’s why we have people where we have ’em. I mean, there’s different, different pockets of, you know, uh, just native, uh, you know, high quantities are just native intelligence in different areas that we’ve found in different parts of the, the country and the world.
But for development at this point, all the qc, all the final, it’s, it’s still done in some of it’s, uh, duplicate in Taiwan, but the vast majority of the, the final qc, the final testing and the majority of product development, uh, happens, you know, right at our headquarters of Woodstock. And that was a lot harder, uh, 30 years ago.
But it’s today. I mean, we [00:23:00] have a, we have a pretty mature team that we brought up over the years, Illinois, but no means the technology center, uh, know when O W C was started and I think, go on, sorry.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Sorry, sorry. Um, d does that mean that you have different offices all over the us? Like where you have different team or are these just like distributed teams that are working remotely and are
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: collaborating with each other?
No, they’re offices. In the case of software, you know, we do have, uh, we do have a lot of remote, uh, you know, team members. I mean that for different, you know, parts of the organization. A lot of our is is done internally, but that’s, you know, an example of a team that’s, you know, at this point, primarily remote, but for software development, for actual application side, you know, while there is a little bit remote there, you know, our teams was interested during Covid, everything went remote.
But in particular, you know, first Iowa team, then our Mill Valley team, you know, they started coming in, uh, voluntarily. I mean, they, they wanted to start getting together in early 2021 and began doing so before [00:24:00] we started the mandate and, you know, bring up, I mean, I, in-person collaboration is, is king. I, I know there’s, I.
There, certainly there are companies that are served for the get go that that built on a remote model that nobody ever, that’s office list. And that’s a very different culture, a very different engagement. Now, we were never that way, and I’m not saying that it can’t be done, but our own teams, when they started to come back together, realized just how much better their productivity was, being able to bounce off each other versus be remote.
And they started coming in before anybody else was again, was even being asked to come in. I mean, they were one of the, one of the groups that suddenly said, you know, we’re not just gonna come in, you know, once a month to once a week. I mean, we’re gonna be back in full-time because we just developed much quicker being on the, having all our resources together in the same room.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely. Um, I think you mentioned briefly, you know, of course software is probably a much lucrative and much profitable [00:25:00] business than hardware. Do you ever think about,
I’m, I’m sure you, you think about, think about all the time, but do you, do you think that, you know, that, that the opportunity of your company could, or, or do you want it to shift towards software more and more rather than hardware, or hardware is still kind of your passion that you want to always have. Um, but purely from a business perspective, does it make sense to have a complete, you know, a business that’s completely software focused or, or is your software really there to, to support the, the
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: functioning of hardware?
Oh, we go back a couple, well, if we go back 10, yeah. Even as recent as 10, 12 years ago, software played a much smaller role in hardware and, and honestly, I mean, where the technology was, I mean it, you know, hardware, there’s still a lot to differentiate in just in pure hardware. [00:26:00] Today, the software that we’ve developed, you know, across all the platforms, our Mac and PC soft rate, and what drives our jellyfish and Jupiter systems, you know, Macri, which is cross compatibility.
These frontend energize, which enables our, I mean, perfect example is our, uh, media card. We got into media cards, SD uh, cards and CF Express cards cuz it’s, it’s in our backyard. I mean, SSDs and Nan Flash is something we have and more than a decade, almost decade and a half of experience with bringing a, moving into, uh, camera space for video, recording for, and photography.
Very easy for us to do. And there’s a lot of brands in that space. A lot of stuff in that space. Having said that, our Atlas cards by themselves are. I mean, there’s nobody who’s building better cars than us today. I mean, I’m not, there’s, there’s cars that, I mean, we’re on, we’re on an equal or better footing than anybody else.
We’ve be, we’ve brought out the best cards into the market possible. We brought out media readers. And our media readers, by [00:27:00] the way, are absolutely best. In fact, we out, uh, perform and out feature company. We had better solutions in our competition for reading these cards. And again, we’re relatively new in this space, but what brings, you know, by themselves, you know, if you’re buying a camera card or buying a media reader, there’s every reason in the world to, to, to take our pro, take those buyer solutions.
You bring our energized software into the picture, and suddenly that’s entirely elevated. Energize, uh, takes advantage of code that, you know, we have on our, on our media cards. Nobody else did this. I mean, a lot of media cards, they go bad because they, they literally get dirty. And it’s not physically dirty.
It’s, it’s electronically dirty. And you’ve reached a point where the camera will air on the card and it doesn’t work. Uh, we brought out an ecosystem that allows you to, number one, always know the health status of your card with the click. So it tells, it gives you health status and usually cards, even cards, they stop working.
It’s not because they’ve run outta right cycles, it’s because again, they become dirty. The other thing our energized software allows our firmware [00:28:00] updates and nobody else is, is doing firmware updates like we’re doing now with the, the cards. A new camera comes out. That requires some sort of change. Now you can update the cards you have.
You don’t have to buy, find out, you know, when the company has shipped a new card with that new, how do I say, capability. So your cars can work with any camera you’ve got. But the big cool thing about Energize is, you know, rather than having cars go to waste every time you use sanitize with Energize, and again, these are things that we put under our cards.
Our cards. I mean, these are features that, you know, we’ve added to our media cards. Are all software driven. I’m going spending, we much detail on this, but this is, it’s pretty, look, three months ago, I have to say, this is, you know, brought in somebody who was at Alexa that helped develop this area. I didn’t have a lot of full understanding of, you know, really the ramifications.
I thought it was, this is great stuff, but when understood and saw what was happening, what other, what was missing and all the other options out there, it, it was a huge [00:29:00] differentiator. It wasn’t gonna be a differentiator, but it’s beyond, uh, you know, it, it’s, it’s beyond insane how they say these cars don’t have to be consumable.
Again, the company for the get-go has had a lot of, I mean, for over 35 years, has looked at things from a, not using the term sustainability, but effectively, uh, you know, looking at, you know, waste, not wa, whatnot. It’s maximize resources, you know, let’s, you know, let’s see things together the furthest they can.
And energize every time you sanitize, restores a card to it. Factory original performance cards, slow down over time, whether the you’ve had a card and whether you’ve been using the card for a day, a month, five years, number one, you can check. Now there’s plenty of health status available. And number two, you can restore that card at any time to its original full factory performance.
It’s original fresh performance and it takes two seconds, uh, with our software. So that little piece of the ecosystem, you know, suddenly, uh, elevates both our readers that our cards, you have to have a reader enable this to pass the commands, which nobody [00:30:00] else does. And you have to have cards that are able to allow firm updates, allow the, uh, this particular, uh, sanitized function and, and also allow and engage with help check.
So we’ve provided, again, a great reader, great cars that they can buy themselves are absolutely, uh, top notch against anybody you put us against. But you bring in our, the, the software which we put out for free for our customers, and now you have. It, it, it has elevated the hardware now well above anybody else that’s out there.
Software today drives everything. Our external storage solutions, you know, gives them an advantage of soft rate. And we’ve invested a lot over the last decade to bring soft rate out for Mac and for Windows and continue enhances capabilities. Now, Mac drives a piece of software that lets us go between Mac and pc, you know, without having to worry about how the drive is formatted, you know, there’s lots more.
You gotta copy that interest. I mean, software, you can’t have good hardware today without having good software. And in terms of pivoting, uh, just two [00:31:00] software know, I look at something like jellyfish. All of our solutions are very software driven, but they’ve gotta, it’s gotta be on the right hardware, soft rate, and max drives you can buy for anybody’s solutions.
In fact, we get a lot of customers. We’re happy to support other people’s hardware. And one other thing we’ve done is we have not locked people. They’re being forced to using our enclosures to take advantage of applications like soft aid. That being said now we continue to, we certainly believe and, and strive to give them a better solution.
We have a, a lower total cost of ownership. We’re building a product to last. Usually, uh, you know, what happens is the, to anybody’s a hardware rate, which costs a lot more. They don’t work all that great. They cliff in terms of performance. They have other limitations, soft rate actually. They break the hardware rate, soft rate and many cases gives them better performance in addition to just better drive safety and, and drive monitoring.
And then the next solution will be a an O W C solution. But we’re willing to sell the software separately at a, it’s not very expensive, relatively speaking cuz [00:32:00] we know we have great hardware and we wanna give people, uh, the opportunity to, to use our software and technology any place they can. But ultimately those that buyer solutions.
Know, it’s, I don’t like ecosystems that where you’re forced into an ecosystem and you, once you’re in, you’re kinda locked in. You know, we want our customers to buy our solutions because they trust us, not because we’ve second them in at point A and now we can, we kind of brought ’em down the road and we can start to get away with whatever we want.
That’s number one. We wouldn’t operate that way to begin with. But number two, you know, we trust our customers. Our customers need to trust us. Uh, it keeps us really focused on always having those best solutions and we, there’s just no other way
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: for sure. Um, so I, I mean, to me it seems like there is a lot going on behind the scenes, uh, you know, in terms of software and the functionality and things like that.
Uh, for the ad average consumer who, who, who does not. Probably does not understand, or, [00:33:00] you know, may not even care about all these details. I think this mm-hmm. Probably just translates into when they start, when they plug in the hardware, you know, and, and set it up the, you know, it’s kind of a seamless functionality and, you know, they, they don’t have to worry about anything else.
Um, how do you, uh, I guess, I guess it really comes down to, you know, product marketing. How do you make sure that, you know, all these features and details that are in the product can be translated in some sort of a, you know, easy terms to the, the end customer. Uh, like is there, is there some sort of partnership between you and the channel partners where you provide that education to them so that they can explain these, these details to the consumer in some, some way?
Um, These days, like if I want to buy a certain new hardware, I mean, I’m, I’m not mm-hmm. That deep into it. What I’d usually do, I would go to YouTube and I’ll search, you know, what’s the best, uh, X [00:34:00] or Y and, you know, I
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: see the reviews and I trust, I,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I trust, I trust the people who are doing the reviews, you know, uh, and then I’ll, I’ll go and make the purchase decision based on that.
What is now, like, do you, I mean, I did, I did see on, on your website, like there was like a feature for I Justine. Um, do you, do you have a strategy for where, you know, online influencers are talking about your products, trying to explain the, you know, the value proposition or, you know, in terms of product marketing, like how, how do you, how do you translate these features into something that the average consumer can understand?
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: Sure we do a lot of, of videos that, that, you know, shore products explain the solutions and ultimately, I mean, I’ve gone into probably more detail than I need to go through here. I mean, the, the big thing we try to make clear is what the value proposition is. And we’re offering a, a competitively priced product, especially because of, in the, if you’re looking at a store solutions, we provide a better performing solution at a substantially better cost point than our competition.
And that helps [00:35:00] alone. And then having the media available to explain the technology, show the, uh, the speeds and fees, but more importantly, show how this is gonna work in somebody’s workflow, confirm it works. I mean, it’s, you know, 10 years ago, 15 years ago. So it’s a lot easier. Honestly, we had magazines we could average since them.
There were good reviews. I mean, it was a very different thing Today. Today it’s, it’s difficult because you go online and you Google and you got, you know, we’re up against, I mean, it, it’s, I mean our, our competition loves today because they can go pay somebody to review their product and buy that space and buy the rankings and effectively promote, and I mean, that’s, You see a lot of stuff that is paid to be, to be where it is.
And we primarily, you know, remained organic. We get involved with projects where our, you know, we have ambassadors that use our solutions. You know, it’s word of mouth. And we, we still attend trade shows and we do work with our partners, our, our channel partners, you know, to make sure that they, that the product is about elevating the scene.
And, you know, one thing that it takes a while that, I mean, again, when you’re going up against, you [00:36:00] know, helping is much larger than your own, that are entrenched, uh, with some of these channel guys, it does take a while, but as you grow, as people demand the product, you know, they also kind of see the writing on the wall.
They, they want you to be partners with them as well. I mean, it’s, it’s a better solution for their customers. I mean, the, the best channel partners you have are people actually wanna give, wanna make sure their customers are getting the best solution. And that helps accelerate things as well. Cuz the alternative is, Amazon is a great channel, you know, in addition to your own, to, to go through.
And we actually do. Amazon today is, you know, one of our largest channels. And again, that’s another place where we can control the message control, you know, singer product put up against our competition and channel guys that they don’t want to, uh, play ball. I mean they’re gonna miss out is what it really comes down to.
Cuz folks do go to Amazon for more and more of their stuff and even if they don’t buy it on Amazon, being seen on Amazon, you know, opens that door. And the biggest thing is, yeah, again, take care of the customer and it’s, [00:37:00] and it’s tough and make sure that your competition is not seating, you know, negative on you as well.
Cuz that tactic is also not unfortunately uncommon.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So to me it seems like your business is very heavy on channel. Do you, do you actually do any, um, a lot of like online advertising? Do you have a huge, uh, budget, uh, for that, or is it really, uh, the funnel is really, you know, somebody, uh, who’s looking for this kind of a product, they’re going to do some research and they’re gonna go to their local hardware
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: store and gonna buy it.
Most of us online, I mean, we make sure, again, outside of, I should, you know, be very clear, Amazon is our largest indirect channel. You know, direct is still our largest channel. But again, that over the course of time, we expect to see that continue to, while that continues to grow, you know, out [00:38:00] other channel, how do I say, avenues are far more important for our long-term growth.
And as far as advertising and marketing, uh, having good media, having, uh, it’s, you can pay for seo. A lot of our ads are, uh, are, are certainly, uh, the paid search advertising. I mean, that’s, that just is what it is today. But information and having good media online and actually being able to answer questions, we do a lot of, a lot of our work is actually an, an educational, we’ve been educational, you know, as an, as an organization since we started.
And providing your customers good objective information, sometimes not even about something they can buy from you now is actually a really good means to, to bringing people in and, and earning trust. I mean, showing everything. I mean even again, include other solutions that aren’t yours and if it’s part of a solution workflow that you know, or in your space that you’re engaged with.
If you don’t have a solution, don’t be afraid to say, Hey, you know, you know, we have all this great stuff here, but hey, this is what we recommend over there. And it’s great for seo. I mean, that’s [00:39:00] organic. I mean the best, the best thing you do is have good organic information or good information, rather it gets organically indexed that people can find and come to your site.
Cuz it’s tough online, you do a search, there’s a million ads, there’s a million videos. Having good media that is objective and explains and gives people good answers. And it takes time. I mean, you have to build trust, you have to build traffic, you have to build a good solution. And ultimately, you know, working with you have someone that’s really exciting and giving it to an influencer to, to check out.
And there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Just, you know, be aware that, you know, there’s it, it’s, it, it’s, you’re up against a lot of people that are, you know, there’s a lot of paid promotion out there. And even the worst thing is being up in, on Amazon against paid. You know, it’s, we have never, and we’ll never engage in, uh, how to say tactics that, you know, that, that, how to say that artificially inflate how they say different status and, and ratings and such.
But you, once again, you’re up against a lot, lot of companies that do that. I mean, you see companies [00:40:00] with no name whatsoever, all of a sudden have a Zion reviews of how that happened. What heck is this thing now? It’s, it’s pretty insane. Definitely. Um, I mean, the big thing is just stay the course and work hard if you have a good solution.
Yeah. It’s harder, I think it’s much harder today than it was, you know, a decade ago to communicate, you know, get a message through to a potential customers. And I think people are a lot more, uh, they, they a lot more less informed today is what they’re paying for what it is. There’s a, there are a lot, there’s more of the information that’s put out there, superficial versus, you know, really in the, uh, in some of the details that, you know, used to be common knowledge.
But ultimately you build a better product. People who are buying the alternative solutions out there. Now they do encounter issues, now understand what issues are being encountered with your, the products you’re competing against so that you own the, uh, the results with somebody searching related to that problem and they find your solution, uh, your product, um, by that, uh, inquiry [00:41:00] as,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: as a CEO of a, you know, 200 million company.
What is, what is your, I mean, can you share, can, can you share your evolution as a business personnel ceo? How, how has your role changed over the year, you know, as you’ve grown the company and, and at this stage, what are the things that you focus on? Um, because of course, you know, one person, you only have certain hours of the day.
Um, what is, what is your biggest focus and impact that you bring to the business?
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: You know, I still actually have a, uh, substantial, uh, influence and involvement in our, our engineering and design area. I mean, that’s, you, you find where you have vision and all you, you know, continue to apply. But, you know, mentoring is very, very important.
Business development, you know, acquisition, you know, there’s, you really, I mean, like in the beginning I did everything. And even, you know, up until probably 15, [00:42:00] 16 years ago, I, I found myself doing just about everything. And as a transition, I mean, the biggest thing is learning how to delegate, learning how to trust people and you know, also remembering you made mistakes along the ways.
You know, they’re gonna make mistakes as well. You know, having good guardrails in place to, to minimize the damage for mistakes is a positive thing. But, you know, we learn by doing, and it’s very important over time to give more and more people the opportunity within an organization. You’re gonna scale.
You have to give people the opportunity to grow and scale with you so that you continue to move on to those bigger load, have more time to focus on you, on the engineering, on the strategizing, and what the roadmap should be, what the, uh, solution should be. And, you know, business strategy in terms of, you know, what are, think maybe it is time to make acquisitions, maybe it’s time for, you know, other, other things to happen.
But at that, I mean, the evolution really goes from one man band to, you know, a team. And ultimately people are, you know, your customers are, you know, are absolutely critical. And the people that are supporting [00:43:00] you and your customers, I mean, There is no, there is no organization, you know, without the team that’s around you.
I mean, that’s an absolute, doesn’t matter how, how brilliant you might think you, you are, how great your ideas are, how much, how much you can get done all by yourself, you know, nothing gets done. I mean, it certainly pass a certain scale if you don’t have a good team around you. And never forget that theme.
You know, somebody mentioned the other founder’s dilemma, this O W C for the first time is, you know, finally moving. I mean, we’re 35 years old, but as we move into our next stage, just gonna start supporting, uh, option program as such for our employees haven’t had that at this point. And not because of you any, you know, reluctance to do so, but mainly along the lines of it was, it was started as a sub s it’s, you know, there’s, it wasn’t structured.
I mean, this was not a company that we didn’t have outside capital. This was a bootstrapped, self-funded organization, still is today. And as such, I mean, it just wasn’t structured for that moving into that structure. But just hypothetically, you [00:44:00] know, the company, had I sold the company, uh, you know, last year or five years or whatever, you know, I absolutely would’ve taken care of my people.
I have no obligation to, no founder does, but you know, it’s just, don’t forget that the people around you at all levels, I mean, whether it’s, it doesn’t matter. I mean, it does, whether it’s an engineer or it’s, you know, somebody in sales or it’s somebody sweeping the floors, you know, keeping the operator, keeping the lights on, you know, where, how it, it, without all those team members, your organization does not function.
I mean, whoever you hire for whatever roles, it doesn’t matter how every role is important. And that’s something that’ll, you know, definitely stay humble and, and be respect of, of everybody in the organization that you build. Definitely.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: As someone who’s still very involved in engineering side of your business, um, How do you keep up to date with the latest, um, things in technology, the, the latest trends, and of course the, the big one right now is [00:45:00] artificial intelligence, um, you know, AI getting into computer hardware, and then, you know, in the future, who knows, you know, the hardware starts taking over the world.
What, what, what, what are your thoughts on this? And are you utilizing any sort of AI technologies in your business? Uh, you know, as, as, as a productivity tool or, or even in the software
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: that you’re creating? Sure. Well, first off, stay immersed. I mean, honestly, and stay immersed in that’s, you know, with your customers and with technology.
I mean, we’re always, you know, engaged in, you know, brainstorming and looking at, Hey, what’s next and what problems really, what solutions are next? I mean, understand what’s coming so you understand, you know, what problems are gonna be there to solve and understand your, the customer’s current problem today and what it’s gonna become tomorrow in terms of that development.
Know ai, you know, we’re, we’re not using AI in our, uh, in our software, uh, just yet. You know, that [00:46:00] may, uh, may come to be. I mean, that’s, AI is all sorts of applications that we’re certainly seeing within the organization. You know, of course we’re already dabbling with ai. AI as a productivity tool is really, really impressive.
I don’t believe it replaces people. It certainly makes, uh, gives people the opportunity to have a, a lot greater output. I mean, as a goal for an organization, you know, shouldn’t be to re you should be looking to reduce heads. You should be looking to, you know, multiply and exponential eyes. What you have and grow faster because of new resources and technologies that enable such.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, in every entrepreneur’s journey, there’s always mistakes made, failures, lesson learned. Uh, of course you’ve been running your business for 35 years, I’m sure there’s no shortage mistakes. But, uh, you know, throughout your journey, what has been like one or two big, um, lessons that you’ve learned from any big failures or mistakes that, that, uh, happened or, or really just any general big lessons that, uh, that you can share with other [00:47:00] entrepreneurs?
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: Sure. You know, when the company was a lot smaller, you know, it’s, it’s really easy to have good intentions, uh, but not be able to execute on those intentions. You know, never make, you know, promises that are gonna be difficult to keep. You know, that’s, I mean, you wanna also as another side of the equation, You, you didn’t wanna necessarily, uh, how to say under promise, but it, it’s always good to be able to leave yourself in a position to overdeliver.
Now, one thing that we’ll never forget, this is when we first started gaining ratings on our company and we were competing against companies that, I mean, there’s companies that you know, don’t deliver on time, have all sorts of problems, and we started ourselves gaining reviews in some cases for an ontime delivery that was lower than the, uh, the score that some of these competitors were getting.
And what it came down to was when they delivered on time, or even near on time, might be a daylight instead of two weeks late. Now, it was expected, I mean, people expect certain things, so they get a, uh, they get kudos for doing better than was expected. And we always maintain very high standards. I mean, we have no [00:48:00] packages left behind.
It’s say the order comes in. I mean, we’re same day ship, all that good stuff. But we found when we were promising the exact day to delivery, And Amazon may have changed that. And this is a, there’s other applications of this, but it was really interesting to, to see that we get an average, we get a seven right out 10 for always delivering right on time.
As soon as we added a little bit of buffer in there where we could beat, you know, we, you know, we had a, a little bit earlier official cutoff and we, the afternoon to beat what we were promising. All of a sudden they were tense. We weren’t delivering any faster, but suddenly we were at the, at least provide something better.
When people expect you to be a certain way, now again, you become your own average, I guess, which is a, in some respects it’s really a positive thing cuz it’s not that the customer didn’t think that you’re, you did a good job, but you’re being judged by new customers based on how you bring with others. So it’s controling, the messaging is, is super important.
And the other aspect, um, watch out for fraud. Fraud can sneak up all over the place [00:49:00] and make sure you have good controls in place, except with there’s internal or external with how say they prevent fraud. I mean, it’s. Credit card fraud in particular, just about, you know, put this company out of business a couple decades ago.
Uh, we responded by developing software internally to screen and, and effectively, uh, predict, you know, good versus fraudulent orders. But that was, that was, that came outta nowhere. We went from zero fraud to all of a sudden this just, we had been, become a target, I suppose. And it was something that could have put us under.
And then the last kind of piece that goes along with that, and we’ve been good. This is not so much a mistake that we made. We’ve not made this mistake. Do not let your worst customer, you know, drive the policies that you apply to all your customers. You know, there’s that 0.1, the 0.1% that, you know, there, they, there’s nothing you can do right for them, and they will take advantage of you in every way, shape, or form that they can because they, they feel entitled, whatever it might [00:50:00] be.
And that’s a very small percentage of like, I think human beings generally, you come in contact with. But to, to learn lessons from that element, uh, that you will come into, to contact with and then apply that to the rest of your customers, you know, doesn’t work. Find way better ways to screen for that 0.1 than 0.1%.
Know that it’s a cost of doing business, you know, regardless. And, you know, make sure you apologies. It’s like anything else. I mean, treat, treat your neighbor like you, you’d want to be treated. And that absolutely goes with customers. There’s a two-way street and you don’t want to have policies that, that encourage people to, uh, to effectively, well, for lack of a better, I mean, really, truly freshly take advantage of, of policies that are there for the greater good, but don’t have policies that overly restrict or, you know, put too much burden on, on, on, on your best customers, on, you know, the majority of your customer, the majority of people you’re gonna come in contact with.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely there’s those really great lessons. Now we’re gonna move on to our rapid fire [00:51:00] segment. In this segment, I’m gonna ask you a few quick questions and you have to answer them maybe in one, one word or a sentence or so. So one book recommendation for entrepreneurs.
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: Well lead like Jesus. It’s, it, I, it’s a book that now I know they’ll read books, but this was, this was one that, uh, was recommended to me and it was shocking.
I shouldn’t say shocking. It was, it, it, it really was, it, it was highly enlightening and absolutely things that we had been doing. You know, it, you know, naturally, you know, it, it enhanced and it was a, it was a great way to look at how you interact with people and, and it, and, and why, uh, we’d like Jesus leave it like that.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, an innovative product or idea in the current, uh, e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you are excited about?
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: It’s supposed to be one of our products or somebody else’s product. It could be anything, any product or idea? Any product or idea? Yeah. Hmm. Where do I, I [00:52:00] mean, it’s honestly, I mean the, the most innovative thing that’s, uh, that everybody is, you know, addressing and dealing and cope, whether it’s coping with or what I say, taking advantage of that is certainly, uh, know the chat, uh, G P T type AI that have been, that have now flooded out there.
That’s a, I mean, that’s, that’s changing everything and that’s gonna certainly allow us in certain areas to accelerate if nothing else improve and accelerate how we communicate and potentially, uh, develop and design product.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely, uh, a business or a productivity tool or a, um, or a productivity tip, uh, recommendation.
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: You know, don’t, uh, productivity do not overload. Do not try to focus on one thing at a time. And don’t let what’s coming next, you know, create anxiety for, you know, what you’re on right now. I mean, it’s, you’re gonna get it done. But, you know, it’s, it’s, you know, like anything else, I mean, you, you have a, you know, you’re eating a [00:53:00] meal.
I mean, you take it, it’s, it’s one bite at a time. Take it one bite at a time, you know, don’t, uh, necessarily think about having to consume everything in, in, in one chunk and then it’s all done.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Final question, best business advice you ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs?
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: Best business advice.
Huh? That’s a, uh, that’s a, that is a, uh, how to say, a tougher one. Very broad question. It’s a very broad question. This is, this is one I would’ve probably should have, should have looked at before, uh, our interview to give a thought to, I mean, it’s, it’s, everything is so ongoing. But, you know, one thing for sure, and originally this company started was in West Second, Illinois.
By no means a tech mecca at all. And you know, the advice that certainly gotten, and this was well into the development, was to, to take a look at other regions, take a look at, uh, other, uh, workforces in other locations. You know, [00:54:00] understand that, you know, that the universe that you know you exist then is, is really not any, any large part of the universe.
And, you know, do explore understanding your needs and take a look at opportunities that aren’t necessarily just in the, the, the location that you happen to, uh, to be in. And that’s, I mean, that was a huge part of, you know, growing O W C actually opening in other locations and, and, and recognizing that, yeah, there’s different talents.
There’s talent, people all, all, all over the world. And there’s certain different places where you’re gonna get different talents. And today that’s probably easier than ever since we’re such a, an online, uh, remote group, but all the same, you know, be open to, to, uh, to what’s new. Don’t, don’t think that you know everything and don’t think that, you know what, be aware that your backyard is not the same as everybody’s backyard.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Well, we are on time. Uh, I would love to continue asking you a question. It’s been such a, a insightful conversation, but, [00:55:00] um, but I definitely want to thank you, uh, so much again for your time, and it’s been great, uh, pleasure speaking with you, getting to know a little bit about your story and also how you have, uh, your business to, uh, to, to such a business.
So Larry, thank you again so much for your time today and for sharing your story and for joining me today at Trep talks .
Lawrence O’Connor aka OWC Larry of OWC: It’s my pleasure. Thank you. It’s Insight. Insight. Thank you.
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