The Mobile Mount provides a safe place for guests to store their phones, a marketable space for advertisers, and another stream of income for entertainment and sporting venues.
Wes Hoerr, co-founder, is a successful entrepreneur who has started and run several different businesses over the past 20 years. Andrew Hoerr, co-founder, is a business honors scholar from Colorado State University, business development professional, and product development specialist.
What makes your product unique or different from other solutions on the market?
Our product is a narrow plastic “pocket” that is attached to the seat-back in front of you at a sporting venue. It’s a sleek, two-piece design, so the intention is to have the “base” piece permanently secured to the back of the seat, while the “front” piece can clip in and out whenever there is a change in the messaging/advertising. Until now, there hasn’t been a specific place to set your smartphone, other than the cup holder, while at your seat watching a sporting event.
This is the newest way for venues to offer their sponsors messaging space that is intimately displayed in front of each audience member for hours at a time. Not only is it available to large-budget sponsors, but local, small-budget sponsors as well.
What was the “aha” moment which led to your startup?
Wes was watching a game at Wrigley Field and had just gotten a new iPhone 6 Plus, but it was too big to fit in the cup holder. He started thinking about how we could create something to solve this problem, then he shared the idea with Andrew, and got the first prototype made. Soon after, we got some feedback from a trusted friend who said, “Why don’t you just have Apple or Samsung pay to have their logo on it?” That was the “aha” moment.
What key milestones has your company achieved so far?
The biggest one so far is definitely having our Mobile Mounts installed at Dozer Park. Getting our product into the market, and watching people use it… that got us all jacked up on Mountain Dew! At least it did for me [Andrew] anyway.
Did you have assistance from local entrepreneurial resources, or were there other key individuals who helped you launch?
We got assistance from anyone who was willing to talk about it. By far, the greatest impact has come from Integris Engineering. Having access to a local team of experienced professionals has allowed us to adapt quickly. Whenever we needed a design change made, we could call them up, and most times it was done in 24 hours… and for reasonable cost. In addition, they could manufacture prototypes so we didn’t have to find another partner to do that. This allowed us to keep pushing the business development efforts because we knew the back-end technical stuff was covered.
Getting direct market feedback from Beau Sutherland at the Peoria Civic Center and Rocky Vonachen with the Peoria Chiefs was crucial in the design development of our product.
We have worked closely with the SBDC [Small Business Development Center] at the Turner Center from the beginning. Ross Miller and Kevin Evans kept us focused on the right things and asked the tough questions, which has been invaluable. In November, we participated in Brave Launch and were winners of the Best Pitch and People’s Choice awards. We won the Keystart grant through Startup GP in the spring, and have been working with Randon Gettys ever since… just networking and trying to gain access to other resources that can help with business development. We got to speak at 1 Million Cups in August, which led to an introduction to a good contact with NASCAR.
What key milestones do you hope to achieve in 2018?
The “flagship” venue. We really need Mobile Mount to be adopted by a professional venue—ideally Wrigley Field, since that is where the idea started in the first place. We have met with the Cubs organization and will continue trying to work a deal with them. From what I have learned (from people who know much better than I do), when one venue does something new, others are quick to follow. Outside of that, we are working with Rocky Vonachen to get an introduction to other minor league teams, and have had meetings with the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals. The common theme here is we are obviously focused on baseball venues.
What lies ahead is the constant grind and hustle of trying to make our dreams a reality. We know there are several other applications for Mobile Mount, and we have designed future products to add to our portfolio. It’s just a matter of taking one step at a time, and forcing ourselves to listen to people who are smarter than us. Those “smarter than us” people aren’t just experienced business people and consultants, they are customers! If we don’t listen to feedback from customers, we have already failed.
What has been the biggest challenge so far on your startup journey?
Patience. Wes and I have a tendency to push and want to get things done as fast as possible, which is very good in a lot of cases. However, it can distract us from spending the appropriate amount of time on little things that will have a great impact on our future success. We have to constantly remind ourselves that it’s better to do this right and build on success, rather than rushing to market only to find out later that if we would have spent more time confirming “this” or testing “that,” we could have avoided setbacks. One thing I have personally learned is that rushing to market can be a death sentence. If we introduce our product and overlooked something critical, it will be exposed quickly and we will have lost all consumer confidence. The likelihood of recovering from something like that is slim to none.
What advice do you have for other prospective entrepreneurs?
Don’t start your own company if you like sleeping at night! Plan on everything taking four times as long as you hoped it would. Don’t just listen to feedback… seek it out, and avoid getting feedback from friends and family… they’ll lie to you! Don’t forget that a successful business needs sales, so if you’re not a “sales” person, you better partner up with one—or start learning how to do it. Assume nothing, and if you do assume anything, assume you’re wrong. Geesh, I sound like a “negative Nancy.” Seriously though, if you can push through all of the things mentioned above, you have what it takes! So go take it.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The only other thing to add is that our wives have had the greatest impact in our success to this point. Without the selfless support and belief from those two amazing women, we wouldn’t be here today. iBi
For more information, visit mobilemount.com.