11/4/2020

Small Business Spotlight

Josh Oglesby: Building IT's Future Through Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit Mentorship

John Oglesby, CEO of LavishLife Technologies, tells his story of young entrepreneurship, founding his nonprofit mentorship program, and reinventing the IT profession one client at a time.

Katie Lee

Marketing Manager

In this exclusive interview, Josh Oglesby shares how he's been transforming the IT world through his company, LavishLife Technologies. Big thanks to Josh for taking the time to share his journey! You can find LavishLife Technologies on their website here.

Hatch:

Hello, and welcome to Hatch Small Business Spotlights, where small business owners share stories about getting started, lessons learned, and victories they've won along the way to building their businesses. I'm Hatch again, and today we're joined by Josh, the young entrepreneur from San Antonio, whose IT business, LavishLife Tech, is not only catering to the IT needs of small businesses, it's also really dedicated to helping train the next generation of IT professionals.

Josh:

So my name's Josh. I'm the CEO of LavishLife Technologies. We focus on IT consulting services and pretty much, mentoring folks in the community and giving back to the community. Prior to becoming the CEO of LavishLife Technologies, I was in the Air Force, active duty Air Force, for about four years. And then, I transferred into the Reserves and pretty much, that's where I got my start in IT. Whenever they asked me what I wanted to do, I pretty much told them that I like computers, I'm fascinated with computers and things like that. And they helped place me in my IT job, as long as I got the proper RSM score. I went to our basic training and then, I went to an eight month technical school. And I passed that, and I definitely felt like it was something I had a passion for.

And then, after I got to my first base, I ended up doing really well. I ended up getting airman of the year and airman of the quarter multiple times. So I definitely thought that I could make something of myself in the short of IT. So after I left the active duty Air Force, I started doing freelance IT on the side. But then, the money started becoming pretty decent. So I started putting a lot of focus on the freelance, out of the house. And I started making extra money there. And then, I met some people who are like-minded, and we just decided that we would like to start up a company. And we pretty much found a few clients, they needed long-term support, and we started supporting them.

Hatch:

Yeah. So how did you go from this is an all right side gig to starting a company. What led you to make that decision?

Josh:

We noticed that there was pretty much a shortage of IT professionals for small businesses. A lot of companies focus towards big businesses, but there weren't many companies focusing towards the small businesses' needs. So pretty much what we decided to do was focus in and hone in on small businesses and make those our top priority. And from there, that's when we decided to make things official, create a LLC and things like that. Definitely, big leap of faith. And everything small business-wise or business-wise in general, that you never know what's going to happen. Essentially, since none of us really came from business backgrounds, so it was definitely a leap of faith, for sure.

Hatch:

Yeah. Who did you start this with, by the way? Who else are you working with?

Josh:

So a couple of guys that I met when I left active duty Air Force. I met them on my full-time job. They're veterans as well, like me. So I would say we were like-minded in that sense. So it was definitely cool to start this up with those guys.

Hatch:

Yeah. Okay. So you guys did have a experience in common, it wasn't IT necessarily?

Josh:

Yes. Yes.

Hatch:

Tell me about the company, how it's grown, what it looks like. I'm curious about the name also, LavishLife Tech.

Josh:

For sure. As I mentioned, we try to give back to the community as well. And it can, for sure, help people get generous or lavish lives. So due to the salaries and things that are involved in the field. So most recently, about two years ago, we started this mentorship program where we're mentoring people here in our local area, here in San Antonio, Texas. And we help them get into entry level jobs, which then, we help them gain a more lavish lifestyle. So people can go from making minimum wage to making 20, 30 bucks an hour within sometimes, a year or two. So that's definitely how we came up with the name. Since we were considered millennials, I would say we just thought it sounded cool. So that's how we came up with the name. But over the past few years or so, we've mentored about 40 to 50 people and placed about 25 to 30 of those people, entry level jobs.

Hatch:

Yeah, I think the name definitely differentiates you from an older generation of companies, I would have to assume. I don't know what your competitor's names are. So did you guys get into this thinking that there was going to be this mentorship aspect to it? Was that part of the plan all along?

Josh:

Not initially, but then we saw that there was a need for it, as we sat down and said like, "Hey, like we're doing okay, let us try to give back to the community a little bit more," even though we were already giving back a little bit to the small businesses in the community. We just wanted to give back to the youth as well, help them get on their path. Just like I said, in the beginning, whenever I was leaving high school, I didn't exactly know what I wanted to do. And I didn't really have that mentorship to help me figure out what I wanted to do. But I felt like if I was able to help one kid or one person in general, figure out what they wanted to do, then that would be me giving back. But 30, 40 people later, I'm still doing it. So it's definitely something I really enjoy and passionate about helping people.

Hatch:

Yeah, that's awesome. Can you tell me a little more about what the mentorship looks like, or maybe talk about a success story or two that you've had?

Josh:

I put a form up online, and I send it over to the local school district here in the area. And then we've been getting about five or six hits on the link per day, one or two reach outs per month. But a lot of the kids are not 100% serious or don't know, but there are a number of kids who are serious and want to move forward in the field of IT and gain mentorship. So if the kids make it through the process, then we definitely take our time and invest in those kids, help get them certified, give them boot camps to help get them certified in the field of IT, help them get a little bit experience, things like that.

Hatch:

That's really cool. Let's back up a little bit. Talk to me about some of the initial challenges that you faced when you guys decided to form the LLC? What were some of the big hurdles that you guys had to cross?

Josh:

Oh yeah, for sure. So big hurdle for sure was trying to make sure that we had clients that were sustainable in the field of IT or field of freelancing IT. Sometimes, the clients will only need work done for one or two weeks. So we would do work for one or two weeks, and then we will be out of work. So we would just have to keep searching and searching for clients until we came across clients that, "Hey, we need to work for two years, we need you guys to help support our business long term." But as we've been continuing to grow and then word of mouth, people have been coming to us more often now for that long-term support. Whether it be for local IT support or we've been supporting people, even as far as California. And we're here in Texas. So we're definitely growing now. We actually recently just got an account manager to help us get clients and performed demos of things that we can do, things like that. But as far as our most long-term clientele, I would say it has been word of mouth.

Hatch:

So at what point in the process, did you become familiar with Hatch and did you actually get a line of credit through them?

Josh:

Yeah, so I came across Hatch, I would say six months in. Because I was just looking at business cards online for startups. And pretty much, we were in the need for merchandise. So we ended up getting the Hatch card line of credit. And they were able to help us to get LavishLife Technology polos that we wear out and about, whenever we meet with the clients and whatnot. That definitely has a huge impact. Before we would just try to wear the business casual clothes whenever we meet clients. But now we pretty much were all of the same Nike polo that the Hatch line of credit was able to provide to us. And we look very professional whenever we go and meet with clients.

Hatch:

So was there a moment when you realized that this was working? Was there a moment when you were like, "Hey, this company, this thing has legs?"

Josh:

Yeah, I would definitely say we hit that moment to where we got to the point where we needed to bring in extra people to help us complete the work that we had day to day, so whenever we got to that point. Because initially, it was just three of us doing all the work, and we were perfectly fine. But then, we started getting so many clients to where we had to bring in another person to pretty much take on some of the load.

Hatch:

What are some other challenges or some other sort of landmarks that you've had along the way?

Josh:

Yeah. As you know most recently, COVID right. COVID hit in March, so we couldn't really go out and meet with clients. A lot of the small business clients here like to do the face-to-face meetings or aren't too tech savvy to want to do Zooms. So we pretty much haven't got too many clients over the past six or seven months. But we're still holding steady with our current clientele that we have. So we definitely operate pretty much, I would say, 95% on Zoom now, between Zoom and traditional phone calls and screen sharing, things like that. We definitely spend the majority of our day on Zoom meetings.

Hatch:

And you also talked about marketing to small businesses. What is the pitch? Why do you guys feel better positioned to take on small businesses?

Josh:

So again, like I mentioned before, most IT companies try to go towards big businesses. There isn't really any company that goes strictly towards small businesses' IT needs. And if they do, they're costing an arm and a leg. So a lot of people, a lot of companies try to go do the firm, fixed price contract types. Whereas we go in time and material only. So if a small business only needs us 10 hours a month, then we aren't going to charge them an arm and a leg. We only charge them for the time they need. And that pretty much a firm fixed price contract for set amount of time each month. Because they may not need that.

Yeah, we definitely have to think outside of the box to stand out for sure. The average age of the folks in the company is between 25 and 26. So whenever some people, some business owners come see us, like we're extremely young and whatnot, it's hard to make them take us seriously. But as they talk to us and see that we can help benefit their company, then they're definitely more interested or take us more seriously than in the past.

Hatch:

So one more question about Hatch. Have you used it for other things since buying the shirts, or do you have more plans of what to do with Hatch? Is that something that you're still interacting with on a day-to-day basis?

Josh:

Oh yeah, for sure. We definitely have more plans for the Hatch line of credit that we got. Most recently, we started looking into getting a billboard here in the San Antonio area. So we're probably going to use our Hatch line of credit to get that billboard and pay for that billboard on a monthly basis. We definitely think that small businesses will see that and reach out.

Hatch:

So yeah, I think just to wrap up, can you tell me just where do you see this going? Like, what are your plans for the next next year, the next few years? Where do you think LavishLife is going to be? Where do you want it to be?

Josh:

I'm hoping to get some partnerships with bigger IT companies. That way we can further give back to the community. I've already started working a deal with a bigger IT company in the field of IT training. That way I can help put out more boot camps, remote boot camps for the mentees to get trained up in this sort of IT. So that's pretty much where we're seeing a lot of growth, is the mentorship area, due to the fact that they say that there's a shortage of cybersecurity professionals. And a lot is needed by the year of 2022. So we're definitely trying to help bridge those gaps in this sort of IT and help create the next generation of IT and cybersecurity professionals.

Hatch:

That's cool. So you really see training not only as like an important part of your mission, but also as really a big part of your business model in the future.

Josh:

Yes.

Hatch:

Cool. That's really cool. Thank you so much for sharing all that with me and best of luck. It sounds like a very cool company. And I wish you guys the best.

Josh:

Awesome. I appreciate it.

Hatch:

All right, thank you. Take care.

Josh:

You too.


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