“…when you’re going out and getting clients ask the questions and then be quiet because then you start listening to what they really [have to say].”
Serial entrepreneur Mike Thiessen started out after college as a technology recruiter. “[I]went back to school, [studied] psych, moved up to Kansas City and went to UMKC and then I got into [teaching, and] taught for a short period of time and then got into a technology recruiting and worked for a company in various roles for about 15 years.” In that last year, Mike started getting restless and needed something different. “And even though I got to transition into different positions, like every three years I was just like, I can’t do this anymore.”
Business contacts in Chicago led Mike and a colleague to partner with that contact and found Beloit Solutions Group in 2006. Beloit was a software reseller that also did implementations. Mike explains the move as a bid for happiness. “I think it was one of those things where I knew that…you have to be happy in your whole life. So I just was not happy where I was at. I’m going to do something else.” Solving customer issues led Beloit to become one of the first Google Partner firms. Beloit was acquired by Cloud Sherpas in 2012, which led Mike to his current venture.
Kakkuro Suite was founded by Mike in 2012. Mike went looking for a partner who was complimentary to his strengths and found him in Drew Ford. “[Kakkuro] was my first [real] foray into technology. I would not have done it if I had not had a partner that was technical; he really helped me from that side. I really helped him from the business and the sales side….But both of us [are] really good with people….We could sit in a meeting together and really talk and [listen] to what that person was saying.”
Listening and Trust is Key
Kakkuro Suite is customer relations management software, and as such is highly customized to the client’s needs. Listening well is one of the keys to the company’s success. “I think one of the biggest things when you sit down and talk to someone, is really asking questions and truly listening to what they’re saying and then ask questions again and don’t make assumptions because I think that happens a lot….I understand what [they’re] really wanting because [I’m] building a comfort level with that person.” This process of asking questions, listening to the answers and repeating the process is why Kakkuro is so successful at meeting its customers’ true needs. And that process builds trust.
“I will talk a lot about [how] you[‘ve] got to trust the people, and you have to trust your customers or prospects that they’re telling you what they really need and vice versa. They…gotta trust you. So, there’s a lot of trust going back and forth and even with your business partners, with all of that. So I think communication and trust are two of the biggest keys to any of this.”
Networking Needs a Strategy
Networking is another form of communication, and is one of the ways Mike grows Kakkuro, but “it’s not always easy. So, you have to map out. Let’s say I’m coming to the ACA Business Club and I’m going to come to one of the socials. I want to meet 10 new people. [I] map that out and [figure] out how [I’m] going to do it. [I] don’t just come and stand.” It starts with a map, but the other part of the strategy is learning from people who are good role models for networking. “I’ve got people I need to meet and my company is never gonna go anywhere if I’m not out doing the same thing that other team members are doing. So, my business partner now, Drew, he’s really, really good in front of people and networking and that type of thing. So that’s a strength of his. So, you know, some of it is kind of watching. Okay, how’s he going about this?”
Skills You Can Use
Asking questions, listening, never making assumptions, and building trust are skills Mike has built up over his life of entrepreneurship. They can work for you, too. To find out more about Kakkuro Suite, visit their website at https://kakkuro.com/