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2 Mar

Kirk Morales – City Boy Ventures

Creating gives me a sense of satisfaction that I can potentially build something useful for other people. Just like those who build with their hands and have people use their products. I feel the same way about digital products.

Creator Profile:

Kirk Morales + City Boy Ventures

Creator: Kirk Morales (Instagram @kirkpmorales Twitter: @kirkmorales)

Company:  City Boy Ventures (@intrakr)

Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Websitekirkmorales.com & intrakr.com & postoryapp.com

Words of Wisdom – In the beginning you don’t have any resources, contacts, or networks, so you have to go out there and ask a lot of questions. Offer to help others, get to know them and then become the guy they want to get help from.

 

It’s often noted that society tends to overlook talent and opportunity when it’s staring you straight in the face, mostly because we are all too damn busy and sometimes because society tends to judge too quickly. They judge looks, age, gender, background, etc.

I, on the other hand, thrive on finding awesome talent. I love finding people who have freakishly great skill sets, yet are still very much on their journey to realizing their full potential. Obviously, or I wouldn’t have created Hustle & Deal Flow™.

The moment I met Kirk Morales, I understood him. We met about 2.5 years ago and started “nerding” out at a holiday dinner party about a mobile app idea I had once pursued as part of a school project. He instantly pointed out all the details on how to make it more efficient, optimized and user ready.

“Yep, this is the guy,”

were my first thoughts. Intrigued, I asked Kirk about his background and I had no idea I was talking to a wunderkid. Isn’t that how it always works? You never know who you’re talking to…

Photography courtesy of Jake Ford

While Kirk Morales is only 26, he’s done more in his lifetime than numerous adults in their 40’s and 50’s, and I mean that in sincere respect.

While sitting at Stingray Sushi, a hotspot in North Scottsdale, Arizona, I even asked him if age has ever been an issue. The look on his face was priceless and he proceeded to say:

“People assume just because I’m younger, I don’t know what I’m talking about or I don’t have the experience to support what I’m talking about.”

And believe me, Kirk knows what he’s talking about.

At the age of 15 he had his first LLC doing custom software development and websites. Oh, and he managed to build operational software for a newspaper delivery company to track their customers, invoices, drivers and routes.

Yeah, he’s that good. Probably because people like Kirk start way younger than most.

Fast forward to today and Kirk is on the fast track to disrupt the business of technology. He’s created City Boy Ventures, a company in which he houses investments and digital products such as intrakr.com, Postory, Curated Kitchen and several other aspiring ventures. If this is what a 26 year-old is building, can you imagine him at 40?

While I’ve known Kirk for some time, it was cool to sit down with him and talk about his wunderkid days, peoples’ perception of youth, entrepreneurship and having outlets such as Olympic weightlifting and photography. Here’s what Kirk had to say:

 

HDF: Kirk, thanks for doing this! I’ve known you for awhile, but it’s always good to get the whole story. So, tell me about your background, where you’re from, where you’re living, what do you like about either?

Kirk: Thanks I appreciate you doing this as well!

I’m originally from New York (Brooklyn) and New Jersey, but I’ve been in Phoenix for the past 14 years.

I’m a fan of Phoenix. It’s very casual. Not just the attire, but how people behave and act towards each other. However, the thing I miss about the East Coast is the attitude. I know that’s contradictory but I love people being straight to the point.

Sometimes, in a casual environment, people can either waste your time or take longer to get things done. In New York, everyone helps you get things done faster and everyone refers everyone to each other.

 

HDF: That’s absolutely true. I’ve always loved New York for those same reasons. And when someone refers you, that means you’re good to go. A referral is everything there. (laughter)

So, I know you have several ventures going on, correct? You can tell me about any of them and as much as you’d like.

Kirk: Sure, I’ve got several projects and ventures going on. The first, as you know, is intrakr.com. It’s a web-based inventory management solution designed specifically for small and micro businesses.

So, for example, if you have a boutique retail store, you could streamline all of your inventory right from your phone in a neatly, organized manner instead of going into the back shelves and seeing stuff scattered everywhere. Pretty handy if you’re somewhere in the world and you have staff managing your shop back at home.

We basically did to inventory what Square (squareup.com) did for payment processing. Simple, design-focused and an easy-to-use experience.

HDF: Uh, that’s pretty handy! (Laughter)

Kirk: Yeah, and then I’ve got Postory (postoryapp.com). I’m collaborating with some guys from Phoenix and San Francisco and we’re finalizing an app that allows you to create photos from stories and videos (your media) then follow the discussions and replies around that original photo or video as it grows throughout the greater community. You can even attach additional and related media to that photo or video along the way.

Then we’ve got Curated Kitchen, which you know. We’ve already got the prototype out but are going through market validation. The idea behind CK is to connect foodies to local culinary experiences in a moment’s notice. The pubic can sign up for beta at signup.curatedkitchenapp.com

Finally, I’ve got an eBook in the works that guides people through the app creation process. It’s called BootstrappingApps.com and we’re preparing that for launch.

 

HDF: So, you don’t sleep. (laughter). I completely get it. I have several projects and that’s what comes with the territory.

I know you may not want to be called this, but you were a bit of a “brain child” growing up. What were you doing before you founded or co-founded all of these companies? You can take me back 10-12 years.

Kirk: Right! (Laughter).

Yeah, my first LLC was at 15 doing custom software and websites. I was creating operational software for a newspaper delivery company to track their customers, invoices, drivers and routes. Guess how much I got paid for that app?

 

HDF: How Much?

Kirk: $400. (laughter). It’s funny looking back on that now. I learned how to work with a customer and how to anticipate changes (fix bugs, add features in accordance to the customers expectations).

I mean, I was in High School so $400 is $400, right? I didn’t have any bills. I did, however, learn that I can earn money making things I like to do. I don’t have to work at McDonalds and I can get paid for this stuff.

Then towards the end of High School I earned a scholarship at the NSA as an intern.

 

HDF: As in the National Security Agency?

Kirk: Yeah.

 

HDF: What did you do for them?

Kirk: Can’t Say. (Laughter)

Fast forward a bit and I was building web applications for a small business in Scottsdale, Arizona. That particular business was involved in web analytics so I was doing analytics consulting for Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.

While there, I ended up creating a new analytics platform, eventually moving to American Express managing some of their customer acquisition web properties.

Photograph shot by Kirk Morales

HDF: So, how did you come up with the concept for intrakr and The Bootstrapper’s Guide to Creating Apps?

Kirk: For intrakr: I had some friends who owned small businesses that were looking for a solution to track their inventory. Their options were either software that didn’t offer what they needed or they were too expensive.

HDF: So you just decided, “Hey I can do that?”

Kirk: Yeah, basically. I needed a project, so I started it.

 

HDF: Wow, I know a lot of people who would love you. Finding someone who can just create an app is difficult.

Kirk: Yeah, I realized that a lot of things I was telling people through consultation were common knowledge to me, but very valuable to them.There were not many other resources that provided the information that I know.

Because of that, I decided to productize it and provide a platform for it with bootstrappingapps.com.

HDF: Very cool. I also noticed you have several other passions.

Kirk: 

Yeah, I started Crossfit about 3 years ago. I was doing Olympic weightlifting to get stronger at Crossfit, but then I found myself competing by the end of 2013 in the national championships.

This past year I was sidelined a little cause of injuries so I still do crossfit, but I also coached a few athletes so they could qualify for national competition.

I also do photography. It’s one of my few creative outlets. I don’t necessarily consider myself a “creative” type of guy because I’m very process oriented, but photography is my creative outlet to express myself in a visual fashion.

Photograph shot by Kirk Morales

HDF: Anything else?

Kirk: I don’t have time. (laughter).

 

HDF: I bet. Completely understand.

Kirk: When people ask what I do for fun and I say that I like to build apps, they look at me funny. To me that is fun.

 

HDF: I’m the same way. I love being behind the computer creating or off somewhere collaborating with others. People don’t understand that is fun . . . for us.

So, as an entrepreneur and business professional, what’s the best part about “creating” for you?

Kirk: 

Creating gives me a sense of satisfaction that I can potentially build something useful for other people. Just like those who build with their hands and have people use their products. I feel the same way about digital products.

Once I have an app and its icon is installed on a phone it becomes tangible for me. That’s something somebody can use and it’s very satisfying.

 

HDF: Any obstacles or challenges along the way or throughout your career that you care to share, and what were some of the finer lessons you learned?

Kirk: The bigger challenge for me is my age. People assume just because I’m younger, 26 by the way, I don’t know what I’m talking about or I don’t have the experience to support what I’m talking about.

“Oh, you own a business. You couldn’t have been doing this too long.”

I just let them think whatever they want. At that point I’m like,

“Let me show you instead of convincing. If you’re worried, let me show you what I’ve built and then you tell me. It’s my responsibility to know where my weaknesses are and already be working on them so they can’t tell me anything I don’t already know. But that only comes from humility and understanding what I’m doing.

 

HDF: Listen, I love when people underestimate smart, talented people. They never see you coming. Ever. So, talk to me about City Boy Ventures.

Kirk: City Boy Ventures is my attempt to put a brand on everything I’m doing.

At first I was very brand segregated. I had all these LLCs and projects but no consistent brand. At some point, I want all of this to be synonymous with Kirk.

So at some point you hear a company or product under City Boy Ventures, you’ll know it probably involved me. Similar to 500 Startups. People who know 500 Startups know Dave McClure and Paul Singh are involved.

Photography courtesy of Jake Ford

HDF: Very true. So, on that then, what’s the best advice you can give someone just starting out in Entrepreneurship or Software Development?

Kirk: Those are two different questions. (Laughter).

Software development just requires you diving into new projects. You have to just start sometimes by doing them. Not only will you learn really fast, but you will build a portfolio of work, either paid or unpaid. It builds your credibility.

As for entrepreneurship,

“Take the red pill. (Laughter).”

There, maybe you should have named your blog magazine that. So, two points to entrepreneurship:

#1 – In the beginning you don’t have any resources, contacts, or networks. So you have to go out there and ask a lot of questions. Offer to help others, get to know them and then become the guy they want to get help from.

And

#2 – Iterate fast. You have an idea? Get it out there. Don’t sit on it for too long. Try it out and see what people think. Or get it to a point where we can truly test it and see how others react. Kind of like what I’m doing for the book.

 

HDF: Excellent advice. Okay, final question. If you could meet any entrepreneur throughout all of history, past or present, who would it be and why?

Kirk: Easy, Jack Dorsey (Square, Twitter). I’m a huge fan of his incredible work ethic, as well as his ability to act as a CEO of two very established tech companies (Square and Twitter).

His philosophy of being able to build complicated systems in a very simplistic form to the user is exceptional.

Take Square as an example. There are a lot of complicated things that go into a Point-of-Sale (POS) system, but Dorsey built something so simplistic in application that users take to it quickly.

Look at Twitter – at the core, what is it? Amplifying a message at 140 characters. How do we take this beast of communication, but create such a simplistic form of it and deliver it to users.

HDF: This was awesome Kirk! Thanks for sitting with me and talking for awhile!

Kirk: Thanks, this was really cool!

Photography courtesy of Jake Ford

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Matt Gottesman

Matt Gottesman is a global digital strategist and technology advisor, creator and editor-in-chief of Hustle & Deal Flow™ - an online magazine dedicated to the world's entrepreneurs, creators and makers, a Social Media Influencer and a consultant on New Media and go-to-market strategies for investments in digital marketing, technology, websites, mobile applications, eCommerce, social media and content.

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