Founders : Talent

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Phyllis Smith, founder of LSP Ware

How did you start your business? 
LSP Ware is an internet based software system that provides scheduling, tracking and billing for providers of language services. The program has actually been in use since 2008, when I was working as the CFO for a nonprofit that provides language services, including interpretations. The software system we were using didn’t meet the needs of the agency, its customers or its linguists. I knew there had to be a better way.

How did you come up the idea for your business?
My husband is a very talented software engineer with over 20 years of experience in project management, architecture, coding and design. He volunteered his time to help us out as a non-profit, creating the first version of LSP Ware.

We knew that we had some potential when I saw how much it helped the agency. When I began receiving letters from the linguists and customers telling us how much they liked the new system, I knew we were on to something. 

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help? 
When I decided to try to sell the product that we had developed, I didn't know where to start. I went to a SCORE seminar and was paired with a mentor. He has been an invaluable resource and cheerleader for the company. Through him, I learned about Bad Girl Ventures and became a finalist in the fourth class. Taking the classes through Bad Girl Ventures was an incredible experience. Besides making contacts, the class opened up so many resources that I never knew about. 

What inspires you? 
To think that an idea that came from a quick conversation with my husband and is now a product that helps linguists and language-service providers manage their business is pretty incredible.

What’s next for you and your company? 
We are updating our website and will be launching a marketing campaign to introduce LSP Ware to language service providers, hospitals, schools and any businesses with internal language-interpretation staff. As the non-English-speaking population is growing, there is more need for language services. Our program can help the providers in these niche markets operate more efficiently.

Interview by Robin Donovan

Questions with Phyllis Smith, founder of LSP Ware

Company:

Jason Perkins of EAT! Mobile Dining

How did you start your business?
I have always had a passion for food and cooking. This led me to culinary school after getting a degree in philosophy from Xavier University. After seven years in the flavor industry [working for a company that made natural and artificial flavors], I realized I wanted to serve real food to real people.

How did you come up the idea for your business?
I have done catering on the side for a very long time and when I looked at renting commercial kitchen space, I realized I could put together a food truck for about the same price.

A lot of things that go into a food truck are filling a niche. Everyone’s used to a taco truck and everyone’s used to a burger truck. There’s no need to double up yet. I prefer to cook more upscale, bistro-style cuisine. To put a menu together, I tried to find stuff that would cook fairly quickly. People understand when they look at the menu that it’s going to take a second, but nothing I make takes more than 3, 4 or 5 minutes, tops.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
Family and friends helped me go through a lot of trial and error. I started with 60 or 70 menu items and then whittled it down. I also had some help with capital and financing to get started.

What inspires you?
Good food -- which can be a greasy spoon diner -- food that’s prepared well, prepared to order and uses ingredients you’d expect. I went to a Mexican joint, ordered – I don’t eat meat – and my meal wasn’t on the vegetarian menu. When it came out, it was cooked in lard. In my opinion, that’s still good food because it was cooked properly -- in a good Mexican place the food is cooked in lard. While I didn’t eat it, I wasn’t upset.

What’s next for you and your company?
Preparing food for the folks downtown and building a regular client base. Primarily, the food truck market as I see it is 18 to 46-year-old people who have mobility and are going out and doing things during the day, but want something nicer than a burger and fries. I have high standards for myself, my staff and my food, and I already have some folks that are very regular customers.
 

Questions with Jason Perkins of EAT! Mobile Dining

Company:

Austin Lutz, Jamble Granola

Think of granola gone viral. Or at least that’s what Jamble Granola in Mt. Lookout hopes for. Using an old family recipe, the company’s founder Austin Lutz is trying to launch a new business.

Questions with Austin Lutz, Jamble Granola

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