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Sharing the stories of the people in the venture capital community.
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From Lighting to Startups
A serial entrepreneur's addiction to building communities, networks and change.
Published on:
September 13, 2023 at 5:27:12 AM
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At VC ignite, we believe the venture capital ecosystem is full of unique personal and business stories that have the ability to inspire others, whether just forming a concept, to exiting from a large venture. The venture capital community has the opportunity to ignite future ventures.

We believe these stories should be shared and featured.
Featuring:
Joseph A Haecker
Serial Entrepreneur
Joseph Haecker, Inc.
Thank you for sitting with us today to learn a little bit about you and what you're passionate about. Can you start out by sharing a little bit about you?
Thanks for having me. It feels a little funny sitting here being interviewed for my own company. But I figured I should jump in the interview seat and introduce myself.

So, my name is Joseph, and I am a serial entrepreneur. And when I say serial...I mean, "serial".

Currently, I run 28 tech companies, a media broadcasting company, an events company for the commercial and hospitality space, a business and advisory agency, I host a chapter of a non-profit, I've published 21 books on Amazon, I host workshops around the books that I've published, I've launched a 14-Step recovery program for Former Founders, I run a podcast, I fill in as host for Pitch Nights, I mentor over a dozen startups, and now we've launched VC Job Fair.

If you're counting, the final number is...I do a lot. But still take multiple naps per day. And can take a 2-hour random phone call.

Mostly, I'm able to do all of this because I've already done my greatest thing. I raised my two kids, Tyler and Jayden.

They are the two best guys I know. They are smart, healthy, independent and free-thinking.

And because I've already done my best thing, I'm free to experiment and take risks.
I'm always intrigued by the various niches and industries people are drawn to. What sparked your interest in your industry? And why does it matter to you?
So, I actually have several niches and industries that I am active in. My background was in high-end, custom lighting design for residential, hotel and casino. The bulk of my career was working for two major companies and then going out on my own and consulting for 28 of the top custom lighting companies. At the height of my career, I was billing at $240 and hour, designed two of the world's largest chandeliers, 80% of the decorative lighting at the Wynn Encore and was traveling the world working on lighting projects globally.

It was through lighting design that I realized that my skillset wasn't design. It was the ability to visualize the big picture, then immediately dive in and flesh out the minute details in order to convey a strategy and plan that could be executed by a multitude of people, teams and companies to achieve the end result.

In 2012, I failed at my first startup when I tried to launch a tech company with the mindset and business plan of a small business.

After losing everything, my kids and I moved into a 1.5 bedroom apartment, where I rode a $99 bicycle from Target 130 miles each week, in a double layer of spandex underwear I bought from ROSS, to earn $12 an hour.

It was an expensive life lesson.

On my second startup, I was able to recruit an amazing team of A list co-founders, including...

The brand strategist from Adobe, the Director of Marketing from the Honda Center, the President of Tech Coast Angels, the CTO of Gateway Computers, the CFO of Olliclip, UI/UX from Auto Trader, the Founder of Bright White and developers from Nortel Systems and Google.

Ever since then, I have had one foot firmly planed in the design community. And the other foot firmly planted in tech.

Within those two niches or industries, I have had the opportunity to play and experiment with many different business models and ventures, but the consistent theme in all of it can be distilled down to two core concepts...

One, "Community".

And two, "Education".

I have an overwhelming urge to connect people with other people. And to help lift up others by providing forums and access to information and education, it a variety of forms.
Let's rewind the clock a little bit. When you were a kid, what did you want to be? And who or what, influenced you the most?
As a kid, I wanted to be an animator for Disney.

In fact, when I was in elementary school, we lived a few blocks over from Disney Studios, in Burbank, California. I was there and got to tour the back lot and meet several of the animators while they were doing construction on the new animation buildings.

After trying three times to get into Cal Arts in Valencia, California, I took a few different jobs, and had kids.

My pivotal point didn't really happen until January of 2009, when Mishel Michael, the Owner of Alger Lighting suggested I become a lighting consultant. That is what took me down the road of self employment.

Then in 2013, when I discovered the "start ecosystem" in Orange County, California. It was events like 1 Million Cups in Irvine. SCORE in Orange County. And the dozens of startup events throughout Orange County, LA and San Diego. It was discovering the startup ecosystem that really changed my life.

And the reason was simple.

The startup ecosystem in Southern California offered community, education and access to people that were WAY above my league.
I'm always curious about how people's experiences evolve into a core philosophy. What is your core philosophy or values, and how were they developed?
The core philosophy that came out of that would have to be a few simple concepts.

Having failed so hard, even after asking so many people to "poke holes" in my ideas. And at the same time, being around so many people that were willing to pour time and support into my thoughts, concepts and ideas. What I learned was...

Fail fast.

Be brutally honest.

Help others.

Ask for help.

Iterate quickly.

Be willing to go down rabbit holes for your team.

Show up for other people.

Give back to the ecosystem with time, money, and more time.
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As you set about your career, how did you evolve in your philosophy and skill sets?
I have failed more times than anyone I know. And for that, I have so much experience in the most random things, and I have the most bazar network of contacts.

How that has changed my philosophy is simple.

When I was a kid, I have big dreams. Now, I have even bigger dreams.

I'm the worse type of human being you can imagine, because I have the imagination of an adult child, with the experience that only repeat failure can provide, but with my greatest accomplishment already lived out.

So, I can boldly take calculated risks, leveraging concepts and experience that was hard earned and hustled for. But with a heart for connecting others, building community and structuring it all on the basic concepts of education.

My core philosophy has definitely changed, because I have changed.
When you have a strong conviction or are passionate about a spcae or field, we tend to want to "fix" a wrong. What type of impact would you like to leave on the world?
I would like to help one other person succeed.

Then, if I'm not dead. I would love to stick around to help one more person succeed.

If by the end of my life, I can help several people go on to start, grow or exit out of their business, employee other people, or in some way change their life for the better.

If I can do that, then not only did I leave my own kids and the amazing children they will go on the raise. But then I may have helped someone else reach their goals and provide for countless other people that depend on them.

If that happens, then I will have changed the world three times.
If your company could solve one world problem, what would it be?
This will be a fun one. Up until this question, I've shared a bunch of rambling personal stuff. but lets dive into each of the businesses and see if by the end, we can't find a pattern.

If my companies could solve one world problem, what would it be?

With Join inCrowd, my digital contact card platform, the problem it solves is that it is a simple way for people to connect. When a person meets another person, they simply want to connect and move on with their day. That's what Join inCrowd does. Simple.

With The Live Broadcast Network, my media and broadcasting company. We have really distilled it down to providing white-labeled news coverage for tradeshows and events. The core problem it solves is providing media coverage for the business who paid for booth space at an event. Even though we all have cell phones with great cameras, I'm still surprised at how many companies don't take the time to showcase their booth and their products. By making this available to the tradeshow organizers and exhibition companies as a white-label solution, we help the event make more money, and we provide in-booth coverage of products and solutions for countless companies.

With Audio Hyvve, my Audio Course education platform, we make learning on-the-go easy. I use YouTube to learn tactical things like, "how to play a ukulele". When I want to learn big concepts, I listen to podcasts. but I haven't found a platform for simply learning about ways to become a better Home Staging business owner, or interior designer, or a guided meditation, where I can just pop in an earbud and go.

Audio Hyvve makes it easy for people to learn while on-the-go.

Hospitality Road Show, by www.RoadShow.tours, is an events company that organizes factory tours for the commercial, hospitality and procurement industry. Basically, an alternative to tradeshows, where designers and specifiers can visit factories to learn "how it's done". This seems like a simple thing, but it is a gap that can only be filled by an independent events company.

I'll jump to the top companies I run...

Tech Alley Denver, the Denver Chapter of Tech Alley, is a monthly place for local businesses and startups to sit in on multiple panels, fireside chats and presentations, hosted by local businesses on a range of business topics. It is very much like the education, networking and connections you would make at a "Startup Week", but held monthly, and all in one day.

What it solves is, access to local business education and resources.

Founder Rehab, is a new program I've launched under Tech Alley. Founder Rehab is a fourteen week program to help what I'm calling, "Former Founders", recover from the loss, guilt and shame of losing their business or startup, recovering and getting them back into the world of networking and new opportunities.

This is sadly and overlooked part of the entrepreneurial journey. Basically, if your business is your "Baby", what happens when your baby dies? That's where Founder Rehab comes in.

And, I'll jump to VC Job Fair...

VC Job Fair is simply a job fair, featuring ONLY venture-backed companies. Sounds simple. Yet, this space is greatly underserved.

Traditionally, companies seeking funding, list out where their funds will be deployed. And, in a very over simplified explanation, venture capital firms basically trust the founders to spend the money wisely. Traditionally, venture capital firms don't lord over the hiring process, opting to let the startup lead through mentoring and advisement.

But what if venture capital firms could tip the scales just a little bit...

What if they could still respect the tradition of giving the startup the autonomy they need, but helping them gain access to a greater, more concentrated pool of job candidates?

With VC Job Fair, only Six Venture Capital Firms will ultimately have the ability to invite their portfolio companies to vie for a spot on the job fair floor. Those companies will then have the ability to meet with and interview top-tier talent from around the world, as representatives of the Six Top Venture Firms in the state that we are hosting VC Job Fair in.

The VC's will also have exclusivity on the panels and breakout sessions throughout the day-long event.

This is a job seekers paradise. And a way for Venture Capital Firms to both tip the scale for their portfolio companies, while gaining huge notoriety within their markets and region.

VC Job Fair adds a whole new world to the competitive world of venture capitalism.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 and 10 years? And why?
This is a fun one...

Peter Adams, Managing Partner of Rockies Venture Club, shared with me in a podcast interview in 2022 a concept that has change my thought process. I will without a doubt butcher his words, but I'll paraphrase by saying,

"What if your skillset, as the founder of a business, isn't running your business. What if your skillset was building a profitable company?"

Many of us start a business, then hang onto it well after it has proven to make a profit. At that point, we are really just making another job for ourselves.

But what if you realized that your skillset wasn't running your business? What if you realized that your skillset was taking "nothing", and turning it into a profit generating business?

Then, what if you came to grips with passing the baton to the next person, who maybe doesn't have the builder mentality, and who most likely doesn't have the skillset to build a business from scratch, that can turn a profit?

What if you realized that your skillset was to build and sell?

And, that is where I am at now.

I am now of the mindset to build a business, while divesting by bringing on partners to actually run the business.

This gives me the ability to focus on new concepts, while handing off companies to people who are more capable of running, maintaining and growing the concept.

In the next five to ten years, I would like to build and hand-off dozens of more companies.
Wow! This was a fun interview. I can't wait for our readers to sit down with this one. Thanks for sitting with us today. How can people follow along and learn more?
This was actually very fun and therapeutic. For anyone reading this, wondering if their should jump in the interview seat as well, I would say, "Do it!"

Thanks for letting me ramble on. I hope that people reading this will gain some insights or some take aways from this interview.

As for how to follow my story and learn more...

I would say my central business is Joseph Haecker, Inc. You can find out a ton about me, my books, workshops and events at www.JosephHaecker.com

I am also very active on LinkedIn and Facebook. I am easily Google-able, so feel free to search me by name.

Thank you so much for having me. For anyone reading this, please feel free to reach out and book a few minutes with me to talk about anything you need.
Joseph Haecker, Inc.
About Us
Joseph Haecker, Inc, is about helping people get past those hurdles that can only be bypassed by leveraging time, money or experience. Through Business Strategy and Advisory, I am able to help others make better business choices, with less friction and setbacks, by leveraging my own experience and failures to help guide you into a more profitable business, expansion or exit. Joseph Haecker, Inc., or "The Idea Factory" is the business embodiment of my 45 plus years of experience, poured our and made available so that others can succeed in business and life. Discover books, blogs, audio blogs, courses, events and workshops, all designed to help you "Know, what you didn't know". For VC Job Fair, we are introducing a new lever for venture capitalist to pull, in order to tip the scales for their venture-backed startups, so that the world can benefit from innovations, concepts and jobs, that may just change the world.
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