Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ben Lamm talks about Chaotic Moon

Ben Lamm talks about Chaotic Moon

Ben Lamm, the CEO and a founder of Chaotic Moon was born in Austin but grew up in Dallas. When heading off to college he wanted to stay in Texas and so chose Baylor University for their 30:1 student:teacher ration. “. I really got to know my professors and learned so much during my time there because hardly any of the courses were lecture-based. We solved actual problems for real businesses.” Says Ben. “It was a very “Shark Tank” kind of experience: less talking, more doing.”

After school, as founder of an interactive education software company, Simply Interactive, Ben noticed how mobile adoption was changing the way people interact with the content on their phones. Recognizing an opportunity, Ben partnered with the founders of iPhoneDev camp to start a business that applied education user experience models to a growing mobile audience. This company, Chaotic Moon, has since then moved beyond mobile into the internet of things space.

Ben says that the things that set Chaotic Moon apart aren’t “… any of the things that make us famous - incredible user experience and design, innovative product strategies, a team of engineers who can do things most shops never dreamed of - the real answer is our ability to say no to clients. When you can say no to bad work, difficult clients or partners with mediocre visions, you’re free to do things no other company can do.”

The ethos of Chaotic Moon can be summed up in its mantra “We’re The Best”. Says Ben, “We’re building the future. We’re not solving mid-level marketing problems, we’re finding the interesting opportunities that push not just our client’s businesses forward but the entire industry forward.”

The belief that they are the best enables Chaotic Moon to build a culture unlike any other company. As Ben explains, “When you know you can do anything, and the best brands in the world believe in you, you have a lot of fun doing it. We are a very aggressive, work hard, play hard culture.” And this belief enables Ben to recognize the value of the people around him. Says Ben, “People are the best resources, from entrepreneur friends of mine to networking with people that have been there before. I lean on the advice of people that are smarter than me. The people you work with become your family, [and] you become the company.”

For Ben, the most challenging aspect of starting a business was the personal sacrifice. “Being your own boss gives you complete ownership of your own time, but if you’re going to succeed, you’re going to be working 100-hour weeks. At the beginning, the CEO’s job is to set the vision and survive at all costs. But at some point, you’re no longer a startup and your responsibility grows beyond vision and direction to increasing shareholder value. It makes you look at everything through a different lens.”

From his perspective, Chaotic Moon’s growth looks good. “We’re getting larger clients and bigger engagements and starting to roll out some of our own products and hardware. The ultimate goal is world domination. Our software is in phones, cars, tractors, Xboxes, hotels, drones, shopping carts - you name it. We’re already to the point that when you order a pizza from your car on the way home from a movie, you’ve used all Chaotic Moon software.”

All of the interconnectedness that they’re building allows Ben to see new opportunities for his company and clients. “Chaotic Moon is always looking to hack existing hardware to find new uses, bring two of our clients together to make something they couldn’t have done on their own, and we’re always mentoring and re-invest in the startup community.”

For the startup community, Ben’s advice is to be as aggressive as Chaotic Moon’s slogan. “My absolute biggest piece of advice is you have to take it. No one is going to give you anything, your partners aren't going to bring you ideas and your investors aren't going to bring you deals. So go out and take it, and only hire other people that will go out there and take it too.”