If the concept for Rewind was the lightbulb going off, then Mike Potter’s was the head that lightbulb first flashed over. As the CEO and co-owner of this fast flourishing start-up company, his insight into the importance of backups within the ecommerce industry, and the tricks of the trade for starting (and growing) a successful business, is backed by both years of IT knowledge and personal experience.
Rewind came to be after a fateful experience at an old job, in which during a critical presentation, Mike was suddenly the victim of an unexpected data disaster. Getting the ‘kiss of death’ is a terrifying experience at even the most private of times – let alone when it occurs in front of literally everyone and their grandmother. Not wanting others to go through the same sort of grievances, Mike then decided to delve into the world of e-platform backups.
The rest, as they say, is history.
By day, he’s the fearless leader of Rewind’s hard-working backup software team. By night, he’s a husband and father, a sports lover, golf player, and the coach of both his son’s hockey team and his daughter’s baseball team. When it comes to ensuring that our customers’ data is as safely and reliably protected as possible, Mike is as picky about this as he is about food. (Which is to say, with no exaggeration, very.)
Tell us a bit about yourself. What was life like prior to starting Rewind?
I’ve spent most of my career in product management and product marketing. I started my first company in the summer after my first year out of University, teaching people how to use the Internet. My second company was started a few years later, doing the website for the Canadian Curling Association. Since then, I’ve worked in companies of all sizes – from another startup that I launched a few years ago, to Halogen Software, to businesses as large as Adobe.
What do you feel was the hardest hurdle to overcome when starting your own business?
The hardest part of starting Rewind were the nights and weekends that we spent in the first few years, while James [Ciesielski, co-founder] and I were trying to get enough revenue for one of us to move into the company full-time. I had another full-time job at the time, and would do that during the day. Then I would work on Rewind after putting my kids to bed. I’d be up with James (and later, Sean and Julian) until 12:00 or 1:00am, and then go back to work the next day. It was very demanding time that required a lot of dedication and patience.
What’s your favourite part about what you (personally) do within the company?
I love working at Rewind because I get to interact with so many great people. My position also allows me to touch all aspects of the business, which is incredibly gratifying. I love working in all areas of the company: helping with support, sales, marketing, development, and meeting with current and potential investors.
Why do YOU feel backups are so crucial to an ecommerce business?
Backups are part of both an overall security plan, and a continuity plan for any successful business. Accidents happen – it’s not a matter of if, but when. It’s a question of: how big is the accident going to be? How long will it take to recover?
Give us an example of the most gratifying experience you’ve had at Rewind, in terms of what we’ve been able to do/provide for a customer.
I love every time we can save someone’s store. There are too many examples to count, but I know customers rely on us to help them when they’ve made a mistake and their store is down. Anytime we can help a customer get their business back up and running is a great time.
What is your personal philosophy about what makes a business successful (both for the customer and for your staff)? How have you worked to apply this philosophy to the way you run Rewind?
A successful business needs a lot of things: firstly, great employees. One of our goals at Rewind is to make it a great place to work. That starts with hiring the best – the best developers, the best salespeople, the best support people, the best marketing people, etc. We have really high standards at Rewind for hiring because of that. A great team can overcome many different obstacles.
You also need a great product; one that’s easy to use, and works well. But it’s not enough just to have a product that sells – you also need great customer service. We have a goal of responding to 50% of customer issues in less than one hour, and we’re hitting that goal these days.
And we can’t forget that our sales and marketing teams need to be top notch. Convincing people that they should install and buy your service is not an easy thing to do. I would definitely say that you need all of that to make a successful business… and probably a few more things I’m forgetting right now!
Where do you see Rewind being in five years from now?
In five years, I think Rewind will be the largest security tool for SMBs [Small to Medium Businesses]. We’ll protect all businesses online, regardless of what platforms they’re using.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d want to give someone who’s thinking of starting their own company?
Bootstrap as long as possible. Your current paycheque is the best source of income for your new company, so try to stay in your current job for as long as you can.
Give us one fun fact about yourself that no one would ever be able to guess!
I’m very accident prone. When I was younger, I was in countless accidents and broke lots of bones!