Denis Gladkih is the founder of Eboxlab, a 10-year-old IT support and consulting firm based in Denver. Eboxlab started out providing data recovery services, and quickly expanded to add divisions focused on IT consulting for SMBs and search engine optimization services.
Gladkih shared with us how his experience as an immigrant has shaped his slow and steady approach to business growth.
Why did you start your business?
I’m an immigrant. I moved to the U.S. when I was 21 or 22. I am from Latvia. I had a business in Latvia as well, but in Europe, it’s very hard to maintain entities like you can in the United States. There are more opportunities in the United States, and that’s what intrigued me to open my own business.
How did you get the funds to get going?
My first funds came from my savings that I earned doing an IT job. I was an IT systems and security engineer. I quit that job and decided to start my business. I had budgeted for a year. Then the company started growing.
I take risks, but in different areas, not in the financials. That’s how we’re trained as immigrants. You have to be prepared 200 percent, so I never did any business loans.
Have you heard of business credit?
Yes, there’s a big, huge difference between personal and business loans as well as the percentage rates.
Managing the Business
What’s most challenging about running your business?
At this point, I would say it is employees and the human factor. This is the only challenge I’ve been dealing with. Other challenges have been manageable.
How do you finance your business to manage cash flow or growth?
I use an American Express business credit card. It is the only credit card I use for business purposes. I use a local credit union for my business accounts. They have backup funds available for small business owners, which are sort of like a debit/credit line.
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Do you use trade credit from your vendors or suppliers?
We do have some local vendors who allow us to use credit, but we’ve never actually used it. We always pay up front.
What’s the biggest mistake you made early on?
I would not call them “mistakes,” because that’s more of a negative word. I would call them “hard experiences.” I wasn’t the person who started with a proper business plan like you’re supposed to do. Having a business plan would have saved me huge amounts of time and thinking about how to reach the next level with the business.
What’s the smartest thing you did in your first year?
We started with data recovery, and I was the only business offering free diagnostics and evaluation. Competitors were charging money for that, but I try to stay with lower costs up front for the client so they are satisfied first.
Data recovery is a very sensitive and unique procedure. If you have all your pictures lost or all your data lost, you are pretty frustrated. People are crying. We function as an emergency room in some cases. And if we can’t recover any data, we don’t charge. This way, clients feel safer with us than with other companies.
What’s the most rewarding thing about owning a business?
Time. I can manage my time better than if I was working for someone else. I can manage my personal time to my advantage.
What does the future look like for your business?
We’re always looking for and we do see a lot of opportunities. I like startups. I like different ideas. The IT field still looks solid for the next 10-15 years. The data is always growing, so the need for storage grows.
What advice do you have for someone starting a business?
Don’t think – Just start it! Even if you have just a small idea about a business, don’t think twice, just open it. Don’t delay. Everything grows so fast that another person might come along and capture the same idea. Start right away!
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