Robert Stoeber is starting a new business, WorkGlue, to help small companies upgrade from paper-based processes to cloud and mobile information management systems. As he puts it, he’s the programmer/tech guy in the company.
What part of Arizona do you call home?
What sparked an initial interest in tech?
My friends in college were taking computer science classes. They would always spend late nights at school debugging their programs, so I hung around trying to help them. I absolutely loved hunting down the bugs in their code, and later learning how to use computers to solve real problems.
What was your very first entrepreneurial venture?
Shoveling driveways and mowing lawns around the neighborhood. I grew up in New Jersey, so every season had its own outdoor work to be done, and I realized that most people were happy to pay someone else to do it.
My first real business was a software company I started with my brother. It took a few years to learn how to run a business, but eventually we had major clients in pharmaceuticals, tech and publishing. Over about 15 years we kept growing, got a significant VC investment and eventually sold that company to AlphaGraphics, which is a print/copy franchise that was based in Tucson at the time, so I got to move my family to Arizona.
How did you come up with the idea for your current business?
I’ve basically been a tech strategist, working with different size companies in various industries, for most of my career. Every few years, a contractor or other type of service company would call me for help in selecting software to manage their business. Last time I got that call I decided that maybe there’s a market for a new online management system, so I built one, and now we’re selling a product instead of waiting for the next call.
What is your favorite part about running a business?
Happy customers. The satisfaction of knowing that we really make a difference in our customer’s lives, either by giving them time off on nights and weekends, or by helping make their business more profitable.
What was the biggest challenge in executing this idea?
Convincing the “mom and pop” business owners, who are usually in their 50’s and 60’s, that they don’t have to be afraid of technology. We can make it all very painless for them.
How long have you lived or worked in Arizona?
My first time in Arizona was from 1997 to 2001 in Tucson. Our most recent adventure has been about a year and a half so far. Tech is booming around here with co-working spaces like Gangplank and startup incubators like Chandler Innovations. Still not enough funding/financial support for startups, but it’s definitely developing quickly and cities like Chandler are at the forefront of making it happen.
If you could only describe your city with one word, which word would it be?
Walkable (which is rare in AZ, but it’s the reason I picked downtown Chandler to live).
What’s your favorite thing about living in Arizona?
What’s your least favorite thing about living in Arizona?
Tie for first place: Over-abundance of chain stores and restaurants; the water tastes terrible.
In what area do you think Arizona still has a long way to go?
Getting residents out of their cars by creating walkable neighborhoods. Even in downtown Chandler we don’t have a place to pick up groceries, or buy magazines and books.
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?
First Watch. (Yeah, I know it’s a chain, but they have good, fresh food.)
What’s your favorite place to grab lunch?
Original Chopshop Co..
What’s your favorite dinner spot?
What’s your favorite place to work in your city aside from your office?
Peixoto Coffee Roasters.
Best place for a meeting over drinks?
What is your favorite memory from Arizona?
Flying into Sedona airport for lunch at a nice restaurant they have on the field (Mesa Grill). The airport in Sedona is located on a mesa, so the views are beautiful, but landing can be a challenge.
What is something about living in Arizona that only a local would know of?
Tarantulas are actually quite friendly, they just look scary.
Any tips for new Arizona residents?
Always take a water bottle, and wear a hat.