Jewel Burks is the CEO and co-founder of Partpic, a startup designed to streamline the process of finding and purchasing maintenance and repair parts using computer-vision technology. Since its launch in 2013, Partpic has helped customers find maintenance part within minutes – improving a process that traditionally took longer than desired. To use Partpic, customers will need to first snap a photo of the maintenance or repair part that they need to replace. In return, Partpic will identify the part and will send back search results that help customers find the part that they need in a more efficient and convenient manner. Once customers find the part that they need, they can purchase the product directly from the app.
For Jewel, starting Partpic wasn’t as easy as she imagined, and she had to work extremely hard to get her business off of the ground. With her background in technology working for Google for years, Jewel was able to apply her tech and business knowledge in creating her startup.
Jewel first interned with Google while in undergrad and continued to work for the tech giant after college in Silicon Valley. A couple of years into working with Google, the Howard alumna became homesick and decided to move closer to the South. She made Atlanta her home and started working in a totally different industry — the industrial supply field. While working there, she got the winning idea of taking her technology and business knowledge and applying it to the multi-million dollar industry of maintenance and repair.
In interviews with Brett Leary and STEMedia, Jewel discussed key things to keep in mind when starting a business that most people don’t think of. Here are my 5 takeaways from her chat in both interviews.
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail
Jewel Burks is very busy. Besides that fact that she is the CEO of a startup, she is also an Entrepreneur in Residence for Diversity Markets at Google. At Google, she helps business owners attract and engage customers using Google’s business tools. With two jobs, especially one being her own business, heavy planning is crucial for Jewel. Each day, Jewel tells the interviewer that after she wakes up, she checks her emails and writes a to-do list for the day before proceeding to get ready for work, eat breakfast, and work through the items on her to-do list.
Personally, I’ve adopted the same principle in my 9-5, but not in my personal endeavors. Having a to-do list helps me prioritize, gain focus, and retain my focus. When I fail to create a to-do list for my personal tasks, I always suffer some kind of way. Either something goes undone, something isn’t done correctly, or I don’t realize that I have focused on the wrong thing until it’s too late.
Educate yourself – even when you think you know it all
When Jewel first had the idea of Partpic, I’m sure she felt like she had struck gold because she had already worked for Google, so she had the experience and knowledge in technology and in optimizing the web for gaining business. Even more, she had experience working in the industrial field, so she learned so many valuable things that she knew she could apply to her own business. Even though Jewel knew so much about the business that she aspired to launch, she believed in the importance of expanding her knowledge. Before she launched her business, Jewel did extensive research on the field she was venturing out into and even reached out to others for opinions and feedback. By conducting her extended research and talking with others, Jewel learned many things that she was able to apply to her business.
If you have a business idea, do extensive research and talk with industry experts before launching. You never know what you might learn or who you can become connected with.
Lean not unto your own desires, but unto the desires of your target market
Often times, we have this marvelous idea that we think the world desperately needs. We put all of our time and energy into creating a business or product that, quite frankly, nobody needs or desires to have. As Jewel mentioned in her interview, research is crucial. Before you start planning your business, do research and see if your product idea is a necessity or could solve another person’s issues. Figure out if your business idea has potential in becoming a new product trend in the near future. You can figure all of this out by conducting research and customer surveys and by talking to experts in your desired business field.
Anyone can launch a business, but the most successful business owners are those that create products that people truly want or need.
In the interview with Brett Leary, Jewel discussed the value of conversion tracking and metrics in business. As Jewel mentioned, “Site visits are great. You want to get eyes on your site so that you can view those calls to action. But the most important thing is how does this visit correlate to money in my pocket – at least that’s the most important thing to me.”
If you have a product or business, you’re in the business of making money, so it’s crucial that your site helps you accomplish that goal — especially if you have an e-business. Utilize web analytics like Google Analytics to determine what’s working and what’s not working on your site. Using analytics, you can figure out what’s attracting customers, what’s bringing in money, and what’s really pointless. “Maybe your buy button isn’t big enough,” Jewel says, “Or it’s not in the right place. Maybe they can’t find the phone number. Those are some of the things you can track with Google Analytics.”
You don’t have to have a mobile app to be successful
90 percent of purchases are made online and mostly take place from our mobile devices. Having an online presence is important, but making sure that your website is mobile-friendly is even more important. Some businesses struggle with whether they should invest in a mobile app or just make their site mobile optimized. According to Jewel, 75 percent of the time, having just a mobile site is fine. As Jewel said in her interview, “The investment of building a mobile app for the average business really isn’t worth it,” she says, “It depends on your business. You have to evaluate it for yourself. But typically a really clean, easy-to-use mobile site will serve the purpose for the majority of businesses. What do you want people to be able to do when they land on your mobile site or your app? There’s so much competition as it relates to an app. People use a core of 10 apps typically on their phone. They might have downloaded 100, but the ones that get the daily use are a set 10.”
If you’re a business owner, what are some of your keys to success or how do you plan on using Jewel’s advice to jumpstart your business? Share and let us know below!