Mason Estep of Stand Offer
Meet Mason Estep, founder of Stand Offer
, a crowdfunding navigation platform.
What is Stand Offer?
Stand Offer is the primary destination for every entrepreneur, investor, and supporter interested in crowdfunding. Using our crowd control technologies, our users can navigate thousands of crowdfunding sites with a quick and easy search, finding the most relevant projects and sites tailored to them.
How did you come up with the idea?
I stumbled upon dozens of killer projects struggling to meet funding goals on the latest – and virtually invisible – crowdfunding sites. I couldn't understand why. After a quick search, I learned there could be over a thousand crowdfunding sites in 2013, yet most users couldn't name more than the top three. Kickstarter.com is a great site and has done a lot for the industry, but it's nothing more than a piece of the pie. They offer great services and projects, but you can't expect them to meet every entrepreneur or investor's needs perfectly. Look at them like Motel 6, offering services that may fit some people's needs, but a quick search on Hotels.com will find you a better match in just a few seconds. StandOffer.com is to the crowdfunding industry what Hotels.com is for the hotels industry.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
My biggest surprise has been the ease of traction developing behind the idea. A successful CEO in Tennessee told me you'll know when you've got the right concept because the resistance will be low. I'm a little stubborn, so I would've thrown my life behind this concept anyways, but the near nonexistent levels of resistance sure is making my march a lot easier.
Where did you find your first employee?
I've been trying to start my own business since the sixth grade, so technically it'd be my first partner in crime, James Lomeo. But when I started telling everyone in my circle of my latest creation, Stand Offer, the first person who shared my vision was my classmate at Ohio University, Shea Wilson. He specializes in Creative Business Development and has really helped us get off our feet.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
A typical day starts with a meeting of our vice presidents, going over the previous day, how we're addressing our priorities that day, and goals for the week. The week our new site was launched, I may have set seven new weekly goals, because each day we kept surpassing them. It was great, but I'm never satisfied. Ambition is the antonym of satisfied, in my opinion, so I try my best to set unrealistic goals for our team so we can push harder than we think we can go to meet them.
What are some of the advantages of doing business in Athens, Ohio?
Great question. And this may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but I'd pick Ohio over the Silicon Valley if I were looking for a place to start a tech business. Between the growing number of entrepreneurial resources offered by the beautiful school I attend, Ohio University, and the myriad of superbly talented and successful tech executives in Columbus, the outreach I've experienced has been pivotal to my success, and consequently Stand Offer's.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
Well, I'm a pretty unorthodox person, so I tend to end up in some pretty hilarious situations. The most interesting would've been that I really wanted to speak with this one specific CEO who lived in Columbus. This guy is like Mr. Tech Superstar down here, so there was no way I was going to just get his phone number or anything, so I literally tried twenty five different email addresses with variations of his name until finally I didn't receive one of the annoying "MAILOR-DAEMON" notices. It went through and I was sitting in his office with his team three days later.
What inspires you?
Fearless Ambition. It's the driving force behind everything I do. I'm 19 years old and I will feel like a complete failure if I'm not on a "20 People to Watch Under 20" list.
What founders do you admire and why?
Steve Jobs, Howard Hughes, Jack Dorsey, Richard Branson, and John D. Rockefeller.
Steve Jobs is my ultimate idol. I'll always compare my legacy to his. My ultimate dream has little to do with Howard Hughes, and more to do with the self-sustaining, innovating companies he created, driving invention in the television, satellite, and medical industries. Jack Dorsey is the only living person whom I can say whole-heartedly is a generation-transcending genius. Well, him and Earl Sweatshirt. Richard Branson shares a lot of my interests. And if I had a billion dollars, I'd probably try to take over NASA and invade space, too. Adjusted for inflation, John D. Rockefeller is the richest man in world history. He had more money than the pharaohs who built the pyramids. Enough said.
What’s next for you?
Stand Offer is in the seed stage of funding, so what's next for me after this investment round will be a lot of sleepless nights perfecting this platform. I won't be satisfied until we grow Stand Offer to over 400 million dollars in value.
I want to get people excited about technology again. I want there to be a new edge to it. Not just cool, but Michael Jackson “Bad.” Maybe a cover story about my company and me being "Tech's New Bad Boy." Just something fun to get people riled up and reach new audiences. Hey, maybe I found your interview title?
It's also really important to me to start a charity benefiting students like myself. Students who show ambitious entrepreneurial drive. I want to show them how to nurture, grow, and take advantage of their gifts, because our society tries so hard to mold you into an employee, and just like with anything else, one size doesn't fit all. That's what I'm doing with Stand Offer for the crowdfunding industry, I'm the police officer directing traffic to the right street. Five years ago, society tried to tell me I couldn't. Now there are people reaching out to me asking how they can help. It's helped me a lot. So once I'm successful, I want to do the same.
Interview by Joe Baur