Juan Carlos Bosacoma | From Carving Toys and Fixing Blenders To Starting an Internet Service Provider

Juan Carlos Bosacoma is the President of CIO Landing, an IT-managed solutions company with offices in Northfield, Chicago, and Miami. Founded in 2002, CIO Landing (previously known as IT Consulting Associates) provides outsourced Chief Information Officer (CIO) and IT services to small and medium-sized businesses. 

Born and raised in Bolivia, Juan Carlos was exposed to entrepreneurship at an early age and founded a company after receiving his MBA in finance and general management from the University of Chicago. He is the author of Sitting Duck: Why Your Business is a Cybercriminal’s Ideal Target and a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Chicago chapter.

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Juan Carlos Bosacoma, the President of CIO Landing, about the lessons learned in his entrepreneurial journey. They discuss the secrets to a successful partnership, how the 9/11 tragedy impacted Juan Carlos’ business, and the benefits and challenges of having a diversified workforce.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • [0:00] Intro
  • [01:56] Juan Carlos Bosacoma’s entrepreneurial background
  • [07:40] What inspired Juan Carlos to start an ISP company?
  • [13:02] How the 9/11 tragedy affected Juan Carlos’ dial-up business
  • [19:35] The business lessons Juan Carlos learned from a failed partnership
  • [21:49] How Juan Carlos transitioned to the tech industry
  • [25:03] The secret to Juan Carlos’ successful partnership with Hernan Silva 
  • [28:10] Juan Carlos talks about franchising his company, the challenges he has been facing, and how his business model works
  • [36:06] The benefits and challenges of having a diversified workforce
  • [42:10] Juan Carlos’ future plans and the people he acknowledges for their support

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran

All right. Welcome, everyone. John Corcoran here. I am the host of this show. And thank you for checking out today’s episode. I’m excited for today’s guest. And of course, check out our archives if you haven’t already, because we got great interviews with smart CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of all kinds of companies. We’ve got Netflix in the archives. We got GrubHub recently, we had Redfin recently Kinkos, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, go check them out. And of course, this episode brought to you by Rise25, where we help b2b businesses get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships with done-for-you podcasts and content marketing. And I’ve been doing podcasts for 13 plus years now, huge advocate of them. And so check out Rise25, we’ve got all kinds of resources on our website, about how you can do it for yourself as well. 

Alright, my guest here today is Juan Carlos Bosacoma. He is the President at CIO Landing, which is an IT managed solutions company based out of Chicago. He’s also author of the book, Sitting Duck: Why Your Business is a Cybercriminal’s Ideal Target. Love that title. He also has two master’s degrees, not one but two master’s degrees, and a background in entrepreneurship. We’re going to hear some stories from him about his journey. And Juan Carlos, great to have you here today. And I, were chatting beforehand about my lemonade stand question, which I love asking people about their entrepreneurial exploits as a kid, and you actually back in the day, were carving little toys out of wood and and then sold them when you’re 12 or 13 years old. Tell us about that. 

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 1:41

Yes, yes. By 13 I had was making my own toys. And you know, at the time, of course, like little kids make little guns and yeah, and stuff and knives to just to play around in kids of the neighborhood were asked me and said, Oh, we’d like one of those. And I say, well, I’ll make it, you can pay me 50 cents. And pretty soon I had a lineup of kids asking for that. And that’s how I had my ice cream money.

John Corcoran 2:10

No, did you grow up around entrepreneurship? Did your parents own a business or anything like that? Or?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 2:15

Yes, my dad was an entrepreneur. He was a geologist and metallurgist. I grew up in Bolivia. And he had mining companies there. So So I was exposed to that. That type of life early on.

John Corcoran 2:33

Got it. So it wasn’t natural for you to think, oh, there’s an interest, I’m going to sell this for 50 cents to these kids.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 2:40

That’s right. And I had to do it if I wanted money to

John Corcoran 2:46

go, I mean, sometimes you hear I hear these stories, and it’s driven from kids who didn’t have a lot of money or other times, it’s just, they’re not quite sure what it was in them that led them to turn around and offer to sell it to a friend.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 3:03

Yeah. I mean, I think part of it is that, you know, my dad didn’t have a job, right. He was the one making the jobs. And, and then, because it was mining industry, prices, fluctuation made it that it was feast or famine at home. So sometimes things were great. Other times, it’s like, oh, my gosh, you know, where’s the next dollar going to come from? And so you’re exposed to that early on? They’re like, well, I better start thinking, Yeah, you know how I’m going to get ice cream money.

John Corcoran 3:34

If you were able to reflect back on that I had a kind of a similar experience growing up, my father got laid off three separate times when I was growing up. And we went from, you know, doing fine, comfortable, nice school district, that sort of thing to all of a sudden needing to slash expenses. Be very careful with our costs and stuff like that. If you reflect back on that experience, now, how do you think that changed your relationship with with money and with, you know, creating a company for yourself?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 4:03

Well, I think it does influence how you think about resources, and how you’re going to take what you have, and really stretch it. And I think it really helps when they are an entrepreneur, because early on, you’re constrained as money. And you’re saying, Well, I have a limited amount and I need to deliver service. So how am I going to put that on the stretcher so I can do all these things. So you start getting very creative? Because you have to get creative early on. So

John Corcoran 4:34

yeah, and a couple other ways you got creative was you started fixing bicycles and getting paid for that and learn to fix blenders replacing motors.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 4:44

Right? Right. And I mean, at home. We had a blender and it broke down. And I was like, Well, let me go check it out. See what I can do. I was handy and say, oh, I need to buy a couple of parts and then go to the store. and long behold, when I’m buying the part from the store, the people that own the store are like, you know how to fix these things? Is it? Yes? Is it come to the backroom and then go to the back room and there’s like, hundreds of the machines that are piled up and goes, we don’t know how to fix them. Would you be interested in fixing I said, I’ll charge you X dollars per machine. And next thing I knew was I had more work than I could handle.

John Corcoran 5:26

Wow. Now, did you turn around and hire friends to come do it? Or what did you do?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 5:31

Well, you know what, that would have been the natural thing. But some people just, they were not interested, you know, and in doing the work, so it was like, nobody wants to do the work. So there was yourself. Yeah, I had to do it myself. So later on, I, I started a business where people were a little bit more interested in than fixing blenders, which was DJ. So I started a small thing where I would do parties for high schools, and I had my speakers and records and I would do parties there. People wanted to help me, because

John Corcoran 6:13

that was a little bit more fun. That’s a lot more sexy than fixing blenders in some back room. Yeah, you

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 6:19

bet. So. So there, it was easy to say, Hey, you want to help me? And, of course, you know, I want to go where the girls party? Right? Yeah. So So did that.

John Corcoran 6:30

Not as much of a labor problem?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 6:33

No. I mean, it’s, it’s interesting, right? Because one of them you do make money, but it’s not sexy. And this one you make? Well, they could have make more money on the other one, but you make money, but it’s a lot more fun.

John Corcoran 6:44

Well, so having worked in Hollywood, and having worked in Washington, DC, which is they say it’s kind of like Hollywood, but for nerds, right? You know, I’ve learned that the unsexy businesses oftentimes are the ones that make a lot of money, right? So it’s the ones that are sexy and fun and exciting, you don’t get paid that much. And now for you, I want to dive back into your history, because you’ve started a number of different entrepreneurial ventures, you actually worked at the Quaker Oats company, and actually got them to fund your MBA, which is great. But shortly after that, after you get your MBA, you started an Internet service provider in the mid 90s, which is this is back before Time Warner back before XFINITY Comcast and anything that goes back when they were smaller internet service providers, but tell me about that starting an Internet service provider in the mid 90s.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 7:37

Yeah, it was. It’s interesting, because I had, I was working at Quaker Oats company, and at the time, my brother lived also in Chicago, and well, we talked about creating a company, both of us, and the company had this, like, voluntary layoffs, you know, so you could volunteer and you get a package. And

John Corcoran 8:01

this your, your brother’s company, your quick goes, well,

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 8:04

the Quaker Oats company where I worked. So

John Corcoran 8:07

did that satisfy your your requirement to pay off your NBA?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 8:13

Surprisingly, yes. Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the, I volunteer, volunteered. And they were like, Yeah, we need people and say, okay, they had a nice package, which I don’t remember the time it was six months or a year. And I say, Oh, this is terrific. Then

John Corcoran 8:33

how was it because you had an idea of another business, you want to just start or Because oftentimes, people don’t want to volunteer for that kind of thing, unless they’re like on the verge of retirement or something? Well,

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 8:43

there are a couple of things going on. Number one, didn’t have a boss a light makes life difficult. And then I remember at the time seeing the first browser Netscape that that came up. Yep. And I’m looking at that, and it’s like, oh, my gosh, this is fascinating, you know? And then it was like, Well, how do you get access to this thing called the internet? And I was working at the time with modems. And it’s like, oh, right, it’s kind of like dial up, and then you connect to the network. And that’s the type of thing I was doing at the Quaker Oats company. And as they moved, you know, and started digging into it. And of course, there were all these companies popping up all over the country. And I’m talking to my brother and it’s like, you know, this looks like a really cool opportunity. And, and he had, he was also in the middle of a job transition, and said, Why don’t you let’s let’s give it a go. Let’s let’s see if we can work this out. And so started digging a little bit more kind of created a, like a simple, simple plan and next thing I know I’m by Using a Cisco router and, and I didn’t know how to program a Cisco router, but I was technical. So it was turned out to be the it was not such a big, big thing and buying modems and and the man just started happening and we started selling dial up for people.

John Corcoran 10:22

And around this time a lot of people are using what AOL prodigy CompuServe are the big companies the betters Correct. Okay, so those your competitors at this time? Yeah,

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 10:33

yeah, it was particularly AOL, Prodigy was a little bit kind of on the decline. And so we say, well, that was flooding the market with their, with their diskettes. And people would be getting that. And what they found is they, you know, people wanted to get maybe something a little bit more than what they could offer. And price wise, it was the same same price point. But it was not a closed platform, but open. And so we started getting people and businesses. And within the first year, we we grew to a couple of 1000. Dial up that were home users. And we decided, you know, it’s really a pain in the neck to deal with them. Because you get flooded with questions and more