Tell us about yourself?
My name is Jon Uland and I am a co-founder and “Integrator” at Stitch. I have worked for major companies like Qualtrics, Peloton, Teachable, and Warner Music Group, but I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. I joined my co-founder and longtime friend, McKay Ward, the visionary behind Stitch, at the beginning of 2021.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
Maybe it’s just my social media feed, but it feels like every post I see is always celebrating the wins of being a startup – i.e. “we just got funding!” or “we just made a million dollars” or “I’m a CEO that works 4 hours a week” and a whole bunch more clickbait-y bullshit.
I don’t want to take away from the success of people who post that, but know that businesses and founders, just like all of us, like to put their best foot forward in public. Don’t let the proverbial chest-thumping fool you into believing that a) the person got to where they are alone, b) that you are not capable of building a business yourself.
Starting a company requires dedication, teamwork, and a borderline unhealthy dose of belief in oneself. But if you’re up for that, you can do it.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
“Value” is not a function of “Hours Worked.”
I spent years working in environments where over-working was glorified, being in the office was mandatory, and taking vacations/personal time, was looked down upon. After changing jobs across multiple companies I realized: a) the world keeps turning for that company after you’re gone, and b) they’ll find a way to replace you when you’re gone.
So – do your job, yes. Excel at it. But remember that the value you provide doesn’t always reflect the time you put into a project. My advice is to optimise your time at work so you can spend more time with people you love.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
I straddle the line between ‘Integrator’ and ‘Visionary’ (if you’re familiar with Rocket Fuel), but I lean heavily toward getting sh*t done. As an entrepreneur, this creates a lot of value because typically, pretty much every task is like two weeks overdue. I have this superpower some people call ADHD, which allows me to hyperfocus and knock out a bunch of big tasks all in a row.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
My co-founder, McKay Ward, is really good at taking time to focus on mental and emotional health. Between his example and with the help of business coach Chris Goodman, I’ve been able to show up better professionally by prioritizing mental and emotional health. This has been key especially during the pandemic.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
At Stitch, we aim to help everyday businesses join the subscription economy, on their own terms. Local, everyday businesses are the heart of the economy in any country. They provide an important foundation to the settings where local leaders, business associates, friends, and family all come together to weave the beautiful tapestry of society. Given our experience in the tech world, we want to build a nexus between the benefits of a subscription economy and the important people at the local level.
Where do you see your business in five years?
We’re taking things one step at a time, but we’d like to be powering local business memberships and communities all over the world.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
There’s a non-insignificant amount of customer education that needs to happen among our target audience – they may be tech-savvy, but not necessarily well-versed in tech options. So, being able to effectively communicate the benefits of subscription-style memberships to brick-and-mortar businesses is formidable, but a surmountable challenge we face.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
One brewery that uses Stitch to power their membership program reported that our platform really helped them stay in business during the pandemic. We’re seeing incredible success from our customers, not just in revenue that really supports their business, but also in patron satisfaction. Our customers are seeing the formation of tight-knit patron communities from using us. It’s so cool to be a part of the process!
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
First and foremost, McKay has built an amazing product that gets the job done. We also pride ourselves on a high standard of customer service. Additionally, I have tapped into my professional upbringing as an email marketer for much of our sales outreach. We’ve also begun running webinars, and we have the privilege of being a part of some very active social media groups where we’ve seen a lot of word-of-mouth referrals.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
There’s no such thing as “overnight success.” When you see founders make headlines, you’re seeing a snapshot in time, but the reality is that those successes (and failures) come after a culmination of hard work and believing in the future. The founder experience is a wild ride with many ups, downs, loops, and twists. Be ready to be taken by surprise and just roll with the punches. It’s immensely entertaining.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
Stitch is not the first business I have been a founding member of, nor will it be the last. I believe that new businesses drive economic growth, allow people to break barriers and progress. I hope Stitch enables that success for other people.
On a personal note, I’d love one of those tickets to ride a rocket into space (if you know anyone with a spare!). Not just for the thrill of it, but also because I’d love to explore what new business opportunities await as our society expands upward and outward.