Brian Boyer of ManuscriptTracker
Brian Boyer is founder of ManuscriptTracker
, a web based solution which assists academic journals with manuscript submission, review, and editing.
Did you consider yourself an entrepreneur before you started ManuscriptTracker?
ManuscriptTracker is actually my second company. The first company I started was Web Pyro, which does web development, online advertising, branding and that sort of thing. It’s still around and growing. I started Web Pyro a little over three years ago between my sophomore and junior years of college. I went to Miami University.
Becoming an entrepreneur was almost accidental. At the time, I was interning at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in the IT department. I learned web development and started doing projects on the side with my boss. Things went so well that when I began looking at whether I wanted a real job after I graduated, I decided now’s the time. So I graduated and went straight to owning my own company.
At the time, I was talking to recruiters at various companies. A recruiter at Rosetta in Cleveland invited me to go to brunch, and while we were talking, I asked her if I could keep the clients I was working with. She said that would be fine, but then she asked me to name some of them. When I started listing the projects I was working on, she said oh no, that would be a conflict of interest. I decided at that moment to go into business by myself. If they considered me to be competition, then I was doing something right.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to make the leap into business ownership?
Funding is very much a chicken and egg problem. You can’t go to a funder without a product, yet you can’t get a product without funding. The Wooster Opportunities Loan Fund was very helpful, and provided us with $35,000 in startup funding. We used that funding for marketing and sales support. We had been working for a while by ourselves, not paying ourselves anything, and these funds allowed us to create a sales rep position. Our salesperson began talking to people and identifying clients.
Keeping track of paperwork is another challenge. There is an amazing level of paperwork that you have to give to the government even when you just hire someone. I just want to stay focused on what I’m doing and getting my product to launch. We have a payroll specialist to handle stuff, but I still get stuff all of the time.
What state or local resources did you take advantage of and how did they help?
Right now we have not been awarded anything, but we are pursuing several avenues. Being a part of an agricultural research center has been a huge help to us, because we’re right next to the people that we consider our customers. It’s really given us access to certain levels of expertise, advice and clients we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
What do you find most rewarding about running your own business?
I think it’s the fact that I’m actually creating something and can see the value added to society. I don’t feel like I’m just another cog in a big machine. I wake up knowing that whatever happens with the business is my responsibility, good or bad. It’s exciting.
How do you maintain work-life balance?
Sometimes it’s challenging. I do have a number of friends that complain frequently when we go out to dinner that I’m constantly answering emails on my phone. But I have been able to find a work-life balance that I’m happy with. I’m sort of a workaholic by nature.
What has contributed most to your growth?
At the end of the day, a lot depends on who you partner with. I have a great cofounder, David Lohnes, who comes from academia. He actually started his career as soybean geneticist; he has Ph.D in plant genetics. About 15 years ago, he made a drastic change in his career and became a web developer. He became the webmaster at Ohio Agricultural research and development center, and that’s actually his current position now. David is very familiar with academic journals and the research process.
We also have great connections with the university, and that’s been very helpful. We have great connections in the community. The reason why I moved back to Wooster after graduation, when I could have gone anywhere, was because of the people in the community. I grew up here, and there were lots of people here who wanted to support me. Several individuals immediately jumped on board to help me voluntarily.
A lot of my supporters really look at helping me as a way of investing in Wooster. It’s about investing in the next generation, and that’s what makes it a strong community.
What’s next for you and your business?
We’re going to keep building this thing. We do have a competitor in the marketplace, but I think we’re well-positioned because they’ve been sort of acting like a monopoly. They have a product that is outdated, limited in features and scope, very expensive and complicated. Our approach is very much a Web 2.0 approach, making everything simple and streamlined and as clean as possible. I believe we’re on the verge of something really amazing that’s going to be revolutionary for our industry.