Shawn Boyer, a Lafayette High School and College of William and Mary graduate, released a new app in December after his foray into the field with job-search app Snagajob was a solid success.
Boyer's newest venture, DieHappy, is a social app that shares group photos and helps people plan events. The app is available at the Apple store and online at diehappy.com. Both apps are free.
Boyer talked with the Virginia Gazette about his work and being his own boss.
How did you get started in business?
We moved to Williamsburg when I was 16, and my parents opened up a retail store and I was fascinated by the whole entrepreneurial venture. They exposed me and my siblings to the business, so I thought I wanted to start my own business when I went into college. I wanted to go into commercial real estate at the time, and was told I should go to law school. One thing led to another, and I realized there wasn't a website geared towards part time and hourly jobs and I decided I never wanted to be an attorney anyway. I left the law firm where I was and started Snagajob.
What does it take to run your own business?
You need a certain amount of grit. You're going to have a lot more things that don't go well than do go well. That level of optimism and grit through early times is necessary. Every business is different, but there needs to be a level of vision and creativity. You have to have some level of leadership capabilities. If you're going to build a team, you need to be someone they can look to. In a lot of cases, you're going to be recruiting people with more experience than you.
What are the positives of running your own business?
You can create the culture that you want it to have. Culture is including not only how you treat people on your team but how you can relate to your customers and vendors, that's incredibly important.
What are some of the downfalls?
There's a lot of uncertainty, you don't know if your idea of this business is going to have legs or not. With that can come a fair amount of anxiety. It's something you never really leave. When you start it's your baby, which can be a good thing, but you never leave it. Whatever money you put into it you could also lose. You're going to go some period time without generating any income.
What is the DieHappy app?
The app itself is a social app that helps people plan social events and privately group-share photos. The idea initially came from me wanting a tool that could plan events and share group photos. I wanted to spend more time with people I'm close with and share those moments and so when I left Snagajob I tried to find an interactive tool with those capabilities and really couldn't find one. I realized there seemed to be a void in the market.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
Get in the habit of writing down what you perceive as opportunities or things that are inefficient. As you write them down you will probably find ideas you get more excited about than others. If there's a void in the market or you see someone with your idea not using it efficiently enough, start to talk to other people. Drain your brain to search for opportunities and talk to other entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs in most cases tend to be more encouraging to other entrepreneurs with good ideas than other people might be.
Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.