Think Entrepreneurship recently had the chance to interview a young entrepreneur named Luke Kupersmith from Irvine, California. His business, Source Consulting was started in 2004 and has already become an Inc 500 company and a top 10 business in the Logistics and Transportation category. Luke's entrepreneurial story is inspiring and we can all learn from him.
When did you start Source Consulting and how did you get the idea?
I started Source Consulting, a privately owned logistics consulting and solutions provider, back in 2004 while working on my first business venture with a couple of buddies, an online marketer of blank t-shirts and screen printing services called Blankstyle.com. Our drop ship model was highly impacted by shipping costs. We saw the need for shipping cost reduction solutions and the idea for Source Consulting evolved.
Wow, that's neat the idea came about after noticing a void in another industry. Could you tell us a little about Blankstyle.com?
Blankstyle, which is still around and doing quite well, offers a huge selection of quality blank tees at wholesale prices. The company can also fulfill printing needs for those looking to customize the clothing. By leveraging the inventory of numerous manufacturers and large distribution warehouses, Blankstyle is able to offer more options than the competition and do so at very competitive prices.
How many employees do you have?
We employ 14 staff onsite and a few dozen independent contractors.
Did you have a full time job prior to starting your first business? How did you make the leap into entrepreneurship full time?
I was working at an advisory firm as a financial advisor and after starting these companies, my boss â€œsuggestedâ€ that I either resign my position as financial advisor or that I discontinue these â€œside projects.â€ I opted for the entrepreneurial route and left my financial advising position. Some people are unaware of the cost of financial advisors and I had to deal with people's complaints daily. After running both the clothing and logistics companies for approximately three years, we hit a challenging season in the businessesâ€™ lifecycles. During this time, one business partner decided to make his exit. The remaining business partner and I decided to sell Blankstyle and focus our energy, effort and resources on Source Consulting, which turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have ever made.
Did you have experience in the shipping industry?
Though I personally brought no carrier, operations, or logistics experience into our business I did have a good understanding of money, sales, and management. As it turned out, my background in financial services was an excellent training ground for a future of helping companies understand and act upon the cost savings solutions offered by Source Consulting. I wanted to create a business model based around a contingent service fee. A share of the savings that Source Consulting has procured for our clients generates the majority of the companyâ€™s revenue. By employing several logistics technologies and the expertise of former carrier employees and transportation experts, Source Consulting can reduce shipping costs and increase operational efficiencies.
What is your company's culture like?
The social commitment we've developed resonates through company values each and every day, as it is integrated into Source Consultingâ€™s daily business practices. I believe everyone in the company shares a common understanding of the companyâ€™s vision. We work within a fairly mundane industry, but we are not boring people and we do not have a boring culture. We have an office environment that people (myself included) actually enjoy coming to. I feel like we as a company are making a difference and Iâ€™m excited about that.
What is your favorite part about being an entrepreneur?
I really enjoy the process of taking an idea and making something of it. There is very little difference between a good idea and a bad idea until someone does something with both. My artistic skills are highly limited when it comes to painting or drawing, but it is a lot of fun to take a blank â€œbusiness canvasâ€ and turn it into something worth looking at.
What obstacles have you had to overcome in starting Source Consulting?
The beginning stages of a business are always the most difficult part of becoming an entrepreneur, but one obstacle I learned early on was to focus where it counts the most. Starting off, I felt that I spreading myself too thin and was unable to focus and manage what was most important for the business. I soon realized the key to Source Consultingâ€™s success was figuring out which avenues to take and executing them well.
Has your company won any awards for their rapid growth?
Source Consulting has become one of the leading transportation and logistics companies in the country, earning a spot on Inc. Magazines â€œ500 Fastest Growing Companiesâ€ list in 2011. I feel that Source Consultingâ€™s rapid growth is most definitely a testament to the fact that we are successfully improving the bottom-line of many other companies, in addition to that of our own.
What is one piece of advice you think would be most helpful to a startup business?
As a startup business, it will serve you well to spend significant time anticipating the challenges and roadblocks to your idea. Most entrepreneurs are naturally optimistic. Those entrepreneurs that create a healthy balance between optimistic vision and pro-active strategic thought to overcome the negative challenges will have a good chance of success. Every business encounters challenges. As there are a number of different maintenance types that any business, whether startup or established can look into, being able to resolve a problem within your company has never been easier. We all make mistakes and fail, but this only allows us to learn from them and make us better business professionals. You shouldn't let something that can be fixed hold you back. This is something important to take into consideration. It is very powerful when you already have the game plan sketched out for a setback that you had anticipated.
What is your vision for the company and how important is social Entrepreneurship?
One of my visions for the future growth of the business is to further incorporate social generosity into our business model. Considering the scope and complexity of the world we live in, social generosity is a key component in Source Consultingâ€™s growth plans and corporate strategy. We have been working to expand our efforts through our Greater Good Initiative, a corporate responsibility program that is dedicated to contributing to a variety of charitable organizations. I want Source Consulting to be a successful for-profit company that is making a big difference in the non-profit world.
For more information about Luke's business check out http://www.sourceconsulting.com