Most professionals barely have enough time for their day job, but Brandon Abbott has his own side app development business in addition to his nine to five.
Founded in 2010, Red Wagon is the product of Brandon’s entrepreneurial spirit and passion for digital design and development.
Originally from Akron, Ohio, Brandon attended Bowling Green State University and graduated in 2005 with a B.S. in visual communications technology. After graduating, Brandon spent six years working for MTV in New York. Then he moved on and started working remotely for Elemental Technologies as a senior systems engineer and moved to San Francisco in October 2012.
“I grew up near a golf course and as a kid I would walk along the course with my father collecting golf balls. Then I’d clean them up and load them into my red wagon and wheel it out to the course and sell the golf balls back to golfers. I guess you could say I’m still selling out of a red wagon, just on a larger scale.”
Starting your own business is a dream that many professionals have, and Brandon shared that it’s great to start your own company first as a side business.
“It’s nice to have something to be passionate about that I can call my own. It’s completely in my hands how much time and effort I want to put into the company. Sometimes I feel myself getting burnt out and just need to step away and recharge. You can’t always do that in a typical nine to five job, and the extra income isn’t bad either.”
However, Brandon said the hardest part of having your own side business is making the time to work on it because you have to give up part of your free time. But whether he makes the time or not, inspiration for apps can come from anywhere.
“Ideas come to me at random times. Often it’s during a conversation with friends and someone says, ‘That would be a great app,’ or if I’m struggling with a task myself wishing I had an app to help make my life easier. Also, I’ll look for ideas in the app store’s top 100 list, since that tells me which apps are most in demand, and then I’ll simply create an improved version.”
And this strategy has led to many successful apps, with most of them geared toward teens and young adults (ages 13-24), who he says are a very viable market.
ChalkPad is a drawing application that turns your iPad into a virtual chalkboard. Users can select from thousands of colors, change the style and thickness of the line, add shapes and text, and then save, share, or print their creation. Shortly after being released, ChalkPad made the top 10 app list in many countries and claimed the number one spot in Malaysia.
Font is a photo-sharing app that lets you add text overlays to your photos. After launching it, Brandon ran an Instagram marketing campaign asking users to upload their photos using the hashtag #fontoftheday, receiving an overwhelmingly large amount of creative entries.
By making the time, utilizing his skill set, and tapping into a viable market, Brandon has created a successful side business in a short amount of time. But even though he sees his company growing steadily, he still wants to keep it as a side job, at least for now.
“Every year I continue to see tremendous growth in my business, so at some point I will need to take a serious look at if it’s worth doing it full time. In the meantime, I plan to focus on my nine to five, maintaining and building new relationships, but always on the lookout for that next great opportunity.”
Despite being busy with his day job and side business, Brandon said he always makes time to have some fun.
“I’m a big sports fan. I enjoy both watching and playing sports. I play in coed football and volleyball leagues, which help keep me active. It’s really important to me to have a good work-life balance.”
When asked what advice he would give to other Rising Pros who are thinking about starting their own side business, he said;
“Do it! I didn’t know what I was doing when I first started. It just takes a little motivation, some spare time and patience.”