Kirk Morales is co-founder and CEO of Hyver, a SaaS platform that helps digital marketers implement end-to-end customer experience personalization.
What part of Arizona do you call home?
North Phoenix, just south of Desert Ridge off of the 101. Moved into this neighborhood 16 years ago, with a 4 year break while attending ASU and living in Tempe.
What sparked an initial interest in tech?
I’ve been in “tech” ever since I was 3 years old. My mom worked at a fashion vocational-tech high school in New York City and taught their first computer-generated fashion design course. We always had a computer in the house, so I started young.
My first exposure to software development was through a family friend who built software for radio broadcast networks. I learned the basic principles of programming and started transferring my skills over to the web, palm pilots, graphic calculators—pretty much anything digital I could get my hands on.
What was your very first entrepreneurial venture?
Not counting selling golf balls I’d find in our backyard growing up, I started a software company when I was 15, building custom software and websites for Phoenix-area businesses and using that as a means to build my own SaaS products. My first custom software gig was for a newspaper delivery company. I made a whopping $400 for an entire system they ran their business off of.
I built a handful of SaaS products during this time, including a flight school management system, grade tracking (for schools), and a car dealership inventory management system that integrated with dealers’ websites. I didn’t sell a single subscription to any of them….
How did you come up with the idea for your current business?
I spent about 5 years doing Fortune 500 website analytics consulting and co-created a web analytics solution during that same time. As a CTO/tech lead of various other companies, I noticed that mid-market marketing tools don’t take full advantage of today’s technology. I decided to combine my knowledge of analytics with the business problems I observed to create Hyver.
What is your favorite part about running a business?
My favorite part about running a business is dealing with the series of challenges you encounter within different roles. I’m an analytical problem solver by nature, so being able to work in various roles every day, solve problems, and make progress in different areas all at once is exciting to me.
What was the biggest challenge in executing this idea?
Aside from a few initial technology hurdles we’ve overcome, our biggest challenge is market education—explaining a relatively new concept to prospective customers and demonstrating the value of implementing our solution.
How long have you lived or worked in Arizona?
I’ve lived and worked in AZ for the past 16 years. The most obvious change for me has been the visibility of what’s going on in the tech industry. It’s much easier to learn about tech companies, what they’re up to, and to connect with their teams.
If you could only describe your city with one word, which word would it be?
Accessible. There’s a lot going on in various industries and it’s easy to learn and become involved in any part of it.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Arizona?
I’d have to say my favorite thing is the casual nature. Coming from the east coast, I appreciate that things are more laid back here, from business meetings to the atmosphere at restaurants.
What’s your least favorite thing about living in Arizona?
The distribution of food. I’m a big foodie and there’s not a good concentration of restaurants where I live, so I find myself having to drive a lot for good meals.
In what area do you think Arizona still has a long way to go?
Arizona has a certain number of (positive and negative) stigmas surrounding it. We need to show the rest of the country that we are evolving and will become leaders in certain areas, including tech and startups.
The foodie scene is growing bigger and bigger by the day here in Arizona. What is your favorite place to get breakfast in your city?
Depends on my mood. If I’m lazy, I like a Breakfast Joynt breakfast burrito delivered via Uber Eats. Otherwise, my go-to’s are Luci’s and LGO.
What’s your favorite place to grab lunch?
Any place that makes a good sandwich!
What’s your favorite dinner spot?
I’m really not good at picking favorites; I like so much!
What’s your favorite place to work in your city aside from your office?
I was in The Department downtown for a while and it was great! Galvanize is also always a good bet ever since they opened a few months ago. Coffee shop wise, I’d have to say Sip in Arcadia.
Best place for a meeting over drinks?