Rising Pro

Rising PROfile: Appstem CEO Robert Armstrong

Robert Armstrong isn’t afraid of a taking a risk. Appstem

Originally from Thousand Oaks, CA, Robert graduated from Chico State with a degree in Business Marketing in 2003. He got his first job in San Diego and then moved to San Francisco in 2005 to work at Oracle in applications sales. By 2009, he was looking for a new challenge and was met with an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

In 2010, Robert took a huge risk and left his comfortable job to start a mobile design and development firm, Appstem, with his friend and co-founder Hart Woolery. With a keen eye on the growing app market, Robert and Hart quickly established two offices in each of their respective cities, Robert in San Francisco and Hart in San Diego. Five years later, Appstem is a thriving company with an impressive client roster and plans to expand in other locations.

Over the years, Robert has learned a lot about what it takes to run a successful startup and notes the difference between working at a company verses running one.

“You do a lot more and get exposure to a lot more. At big companies you have so many different departments, which enables you to focus on the specific task you were hired for. At really big companies (like Oracle) you even have specialists within each department. At a startup you don’t have that kind of support, but you get experience doing a ton of different things, which enables you to learn a lot. Personally, I like it a lot better.”

Although running a startup comes with an extremely busy schedule and working across multiple departments, he cites freedom as one of the biggest perks.

“You make can decisions that drive the company. You have the ability to hire the people around you that you want and create the company culture.”

Robert runs a lean team of mainly software engineers and spends most of his time monitoring active projects and managing the pipeline of upcoming projects.

“A large majority of the work we do at Appstem is designing and developing iOS and Android apps. Some of our clients include Tesla Motors, Kaiser Permanente, Genentech, Johnson & Johnson, Caesars Entertainment, Hearst Corporation and Lionsgate to name a few. We also work with a lot of startups, which is exciting, sometimes creating their very first product.”

With a growing list of impressive clients, Robert says Appstem is currently looking to hire more mobile app developers (contact him here if you’re interested).

Robert has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time and says he is constantly inspired by anyone who starts their own company.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty leaving a paying job in hopes you’ll be successful. I didn’t have a mentor, but was lucky to have a partner who’s extremely smart and level-headed.”

His advice to Rising Pros thinking about starting their own company is simple.

“Do it! The sooner you do it the easier it will be. Life will happen and if it’s something you’re interested in you’ll wish you gave it a try. It may work, it may not and that’s ok. My advice; be lean and mean, and protect your cash. I see a lot of people spending money on unnecessary things.”

Outside of running a successful startup, Robert enjoys being active; exercising, snowboarding and golfing whenever he can, and he also loves to travel and watch documentaries. As a young, ambitious CEO of a growing company, Robert shows us how taking risks can lead to success.

Learn more about Appstem and its offerings here, and connect with Robert on LinkedIn to pick his brain about starting your own company.

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