If you are looking for motivation this week, look no further than Mitchell Skees and his two brothers, Nathan and Connor Skees. Founding 3B Apps in 2015, their first job was creating a mobile app for Fortune 500 company, Aramark – oh and did we mention the three boys were just 15 and 13 years old at the time?
Fast forward two years. In between juggling high school homework, the team has produced a SaaS business model by building and maintaining customized mobile ordering applications for restaurants. With a client list that boasts many of the region’s top restaurants, 3B’s goal is to give small to medium sized restaurants the technology that matches their large chain competitors, without the large price tag.
What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana?
We grew up in an entrepreneurial household and had that business spirit so to speak, plus we loved the flexibility that it offers. Ever since the introduction of the App Store we’ve been fascinated with programming. A couple of years ago while working on some smaller projects, we asked ourselves if we could turn this hobby into a business. Looking at a number of restaurants Fort Wayne has, we decided to launch our apps to help local restaurants because they were so underserved in the technology sector.
What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business?
Just getting the app built and making sure it was ready to be in the real world took a lot of work. My brother Connor, who heads up technology for 3B Apps, is entirely self-taught in his programming skills, so there was definitely a learning curve.
Something that we’re still working to overcome is balancing school and work. The fact that we’re homeschooled gives a lot of flexibility, but it’s still a challenge nonetheless.
What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community?
We’re currently involved in the Student Venture Lab program at the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC). They’ve been able to help connect us to who we need to talk to, give us coaching, as well as provide office space for 3B Apps. There’s more of a support network here (in Fort Wayne) than people realize.
What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs?
Finding a strong set of mentors and people who are ahead of you in their careers is crucial, as well as focusing on the one thing that is the most important to your business. For us right now, that’s sales. Focusing on that drives all other areas of our business, whether that be adding new features to the app or highlighting things we need to change.
What person has helped you the most in your journey?
I would say my father. He has been a business owner here in Fort Wayne for the majority of my life, so growing up, we would not only constantly talk about business (and do now more than ever) but also get firsthand experience. We’re really grateful for that.
What would be the best thing Fort Wayne could do for entrepreneurs in your opinion?
Co-working spaces are something I really enjoy because they provide opportunities for us to meet fellow entrepreneurs, discuss new ideas, and even discuss the struggles we’re having. The same goes for events – when Fort Wayne supports these, everyone in the community wins.
Find out more information about 3B Apps by visiting their website.
Check out Mitchell Skees at his recent 1 Million Cups presentation.
1 Million Cups is an event for local entrepreneurs to meet and present their startups to the thriving peer network of founders in Fort Wayne. The events occur every Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. at Sweetwater. Check out their website for information and to learn about more area entrepreneurs.