Rich Walker is the Co-founder and CEO of Quik!, also known as Quik! Forms, which is a company that provides forms automation and management solutions for companies looking to maximize efficiency and productivity. Prior to starting Quik!, Rich was a financial advisor with a financial network and a business consultant with Arthur Andersen. He started Quik! in 2002 to help people spend less time on paperwork and more time on what they do best. Rich has started 10 different companies since the age of 12 and authored two books.
In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Rich Walker, the Co-founder and CEO of Quik!, about his entrepreneurial journey and the lessons learned from running a business with his mentor. Rich also talks about his experience working at Arthur Andersen and the challenges he faced building his software company.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- Rich Walker’s entrepreneurial background
- How Rich built a grocery delivery business in college
- Rich’s experience studying and paying his own college fees at the University of Southern California
- The lessons Rich learned from his mentor and his role at Arthur Andersen
- How Rich started a business with his mentor
- Rich talks about building Quik!, the main challenges he faced, and how he pivoted the business
- The peers Rich acknowledges for their support
Resources Mentioned In This Episode
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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 0:40
All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, the host of this show. You know if you are new to this program, if you’ve never heard this show before, go check out our archives because we’ve got all kinds of great interviews with intelligent CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs of companies and organizations ranging from Netflix to Kinkos’, Quicken, EO, YPO, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, and many more. And I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And my guest today, Rich Walker, he’s the CEO and Co-founder of Quik!, also known as Quik! Forms. He started 10 different companies since the age of 12. We’ll ask about that very first one, published two books. He’s a father of three boys like I am as well. Prior to starting Quik!, he actually was a financial advisor with a financial network and a business consultant with Arthur Andersen. For those who couldn’t remember Arthur Andersen, I certainly do. Started Quik! in 2002 to help people spend less time on paperwork, and more time and what they do best. And of course, we get into this episode brought to you by my company, Rise25, where we help b2b businesses get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships through done-for-you podcasts and content marketing. And if you’re listening to this, you’ve ever thought about starting a podcast, shoot us an email at [email protected]. Or you can go to our website, lots of resources for you there at Rise25.com. Alright, Rich, such a pleasure to have you here. I want to ask about some of these entrepreneurial businesses you had as a kid, you actually have it with you, you were showing me before the interview, you’ve got this primitive, sorry, if I call it a primitive, primitive looking water gun that you created manufacturing yourself, and went out and sold yourself when you were 12 11 13 years old. How did that start?
Rich Walker 2:25
Well, John, first of all, thanks for having me on this call on this podcast. I’m very excited to be here. And it’s an honor to be men amongst the names of Activision and Quicken. That’s amazing. Yeah, so I was struck very young about what money meant, because we were very poor. When I was growing up. I lived on welfare, we moved a lot. And I wanted toys. I wanted things that my family couldn’t afford. So I started saving my money. I became very entrepreneurial, and that way I could rake your leaves. If I could shovel snow off your driveway, I would do those things. One day, my neighbor, his son and I would play all the time his father came out and he handed us this water toy that he called a water weenie. So water weenie is surgical tubing, surgical tubing you see at hospitals latex rubber, you take the tip of a ballpoint pen, you know the clickable kind, and you put that part in the front tire not in the other end. Then you get a garden hose nozzle, put the two together turn on the hose and inflates a really long balloon of water. And then it squirts 30 feet. So imagine before the Supersoaker What did you have you had water balloons? You had little squirt guns. That’s it. Unless somebody got weed. Yeah. Or somebody got ahold of the hose and could stay at the house. But this squirts 30 feets you just obliterated your competition. It was mobile. Yeah, yeah. So here are these little boys with this massive waterpower against the whole neighborhood. And at the end of all those water fights as father took these away. And so I said to him, hey, other people want these? Can we have them? He’s like, No, I’m not giving them to you. So then I got this idea. Because I used to go into a shed, I saw he had a reel of this tubing. And I said, Hey, how much for that reel at 25 foot. And he told me I think it was like $12 And I said, Hold on, ran and got my piggy bank. Given the 12 bucks. I got the real. Then I proceeded to destroy every pen in my house. And I went out to the neighborhood the very next day and I sold out of these in a day. Night. Every kid in the neighborhood was now having water we need fights.
John Corcoran 4:24
So then I couldn’t find a pen anywhere.
Rich Walker 4:27
No, I mean, I could find the ink cartridges. That was it. I went back and bought another 25 feet and then I bought 50 feet. And then I went on vacation. So this was in Salt Lake City, Utah, went on vacation to California and stayed at the beach. I got on my bicycle. And I proceeded to squirt every kid and every campsite I could find until I had 30 Kids following me chasing me down, jump off the bike and I said Okay, who wants to buy one and then they all ran home or their camp got money came back and I sold out a 50 feet of tubing. So I quickly made
John Corcoran 4:57
love that marketing strategy. By the way, just go around the square Everyone until they buy the squirt gun off of you.
Rich Walker 5:04
It worked. So, yeah, I did that for that summer I think I was 11. And my uncle who said, Hey, rich next summer, I run the Fourth of July ceremonies at a regional park in California, I can get you a booth. If you would like to sell these, I can set you up. So John, let’s back up for years. When I was eight years old, I wanted to buy this radio-controlled car that cost $300. I mean, it did 30 miles an hour had active shocks the whole thing. So I saved and saved and saved. And when I got the water when he’s working, and I suddenly had an extra 150 bucks come in that summer, boom, I had my 300 bucks. So I went and bought the car. And time went on, I’m playing with the car springs coming. My mom reminds me, Hey, rich, you can get that booth. So I go to my neighbor, I say how much for 1000 feet of tubing. And he says $300 I don’t have $300 anymore. So I thought about it. I said, Hey, your son would really like to have my car for his birthday coming up in a few weeks. What do you say we trade? And this guy must have been an angel because he said yes, he traded me 1000 feet of tubing at his cost. Now I forgot to mention he was a supplier to physicians. So that’s why he had access to this stuff. So he gave me all these tubes or reels of tubes. I then wrote to the Scripto pen company and I said, Hey, I’m doing a project. I would like some sample pen tips would you send me some really sent me a box of 5000 pen tips? absolutely for free. Wow. So now I had the materials. I hired my brother to come in and help me cut lengths and tie knots for two weeks before that the Fourth of July. Then we go out to the Fourth of July, we’ve set up this big tent and tables. And literally by 7am. I’m starting to sell by one o’clock I’ve sold out. And I have these big picnic tables with five people wide. 15 people deep lined up to buy stuff from me. Money is flowing in that I’m putting into my pockets, my pocket start to overflow, my mom’s pulling money out of my pockets, putting it into a cash jar. And at the end of that day, when we sold out, I paid my brother $75 I bought everybody dinner, I still had over $1,100 on that $300 investment. Wow. So that struck me and everybody comes over you. Well,
John Corcoran 7:15
12 years old, 12 years old.
Rich Walker 7:18
As everybody said, rich, what are you gonna do when you grow up? I like Well, I’m gonna make money. In fact, I’m gonna be a millionaire by 23. And I was just had this whole stars in my eyes ready to go. But I knew I knew I’m gonna start businesses because being poured, realizing people will pay you for value, especially products that they like, I was just, I was smitten. So that’s what I started to do. And I saved all that money and bought a real car when I turned 16. Now,
John Corcoran 7:42
did you grow up at all around business owners or entrepreneurs?
Rich Walker 7:47
Not really. I my uncle was a small business owner, he had a garage door business. My mom had lots of different jobs. My stepfather was in the hotel business. So no, I wasn’t necessarily around a bunch of entrepreneurs that showed me how it worked. In fact, if I remember when I was getting out of college, sitting down with my mentor, and he’s asked me what I want to do when I graduate college, this is beginning of senior year. And I said I want to start a business. He’s like, great, what business? I’m like, Oh, I don’t know, I’m just I just don’t want to start one. He’s like, Well, go work for an entrepreneur go see how they put money in the bank or understand the struggles they have, etc. So no, I learned this on my own. Just do
John Corcoran 8:27
- Yeah, a lot of trial and error. I’m sure I want to get to asking about that mentor, I know that he had a big impact on your life. And also, you know, your life at USC, but you actually have in business at USC, you have kind of like an early Instacart pre-internet days of grocery delivery. So
Rich Walker 8:49
tell us all about this business. Yeah, so I go to college. And again, I’m still poor. So I’m trying to figure out how to make money and not have to have a job, which I did. Of course, I did a lot of jobs. But I had a simple premise. And maybe this is crass. But my premise was, how do I get $1 out of everybody in Los Angeles? Like what service? Could I provide that everybody pay me $1 for? And I came up with this grocery delivery service. Because the problem at USC at the time was there was one grocery store. Nobody liked it. The next grocery store was in a dangerous neighborhood rather far away. And most people didn’t have a car. Well, I did. So I started grocery Express. And I would get on my skateboard around school and tack flyers to all the different billboard places I could find I advertise I will buy your groceries and deliver them to you. So you got to imagine this is pre-internet pre-cellphone, I would have people call my dorm room where I had an answering machine leave this lengthy message about what they want on their list. I had made a relationship with the manager at Ralph’s grocery store to do the service so I could come in and I would come in I’d fill the grocery cart I pay with my own money, and then I would go to their location and you know Get all these bags, I had to park illegally because parking is tough and LA, take all these bags up the stairs, deliver them collect the money. I mean, it had to be cash, right? There was no cash apps or Venmo or anything like that. Yeah. And I had to trust that they were gonna pay me. I mean, what if they didn’t, I was strapped to do this, man, I started to realize this socks,
John Corcoran 10:22
you employ others to do it? Or was it all you?
Rich Walker 10:25
I had one other person who was helping me put up the flyers and answer the calls, but I’m the only one who actually did the deliveries. And that other person wasn’t engaged like I was. So that’s, that was one of my first lessons about partnerships, that you don’t want a deadbeat partner who’s not really into it. They’re just kind of indulging you. Maybe they’d like you and want to be around you and do fun things. But that’s it. They don’t want to work.
John Corcoran 10:47
Yeah. So it sounds like you kind of came to the realization, this is not something you wanted to do with your time.
Rich Walker 10:53
No, it really wasn’t going to be viable. I did a couple of deliveries and said, I’m done with that. I gotta study, I need a real job that’s gonna pay real bills, because that’s the other thing. Even though USC students were fairly wealthy, when they’re especially living off campus, it didn’t mean they want to spend a lot of extra money on their groceries. I mean, maybe I can make $5 on a $50 grocery bill at most. So that’s just not enough to cover the cost of time.
John Corcoran 11:16
Yeah, I mean, I was an early adopter of Instacart. We used it for quite a while and they were really testing their pricing a lot. They were trying to figure out how they could do pricing that people would, you know, be likely to take them up on their service. That requires a lot of sophistication. I want to ask you about something. You said you grew up in a poor family, you end up at USC, which I grew up in Southern California University of Southern California kind of has a reputation of being a lot of rich kids there. How did a poor kid end up at USC?
Rich Walker 11:50
Well, I may be one of the few people you’ll meet who paid his own way. I took out tremendous debt, I had Pell grants and different loans and things from the government. When I attended SC, which was from 92 to 96. The starting tuition was about 15,000 a year plus living expenses. So freshman year, we kind of figured it out sophomore year, I went into debt, I mean, personal credit card debt, Junior went into debt by senior I built my skills enough that I was paying down that debt. So by the time I graduated, I had no credit card debt, amazing credit score, by the way, because I built it all. But yeah, I lived off of credit cards and just worked my tail off. I mean, I worked up to 35 hours a week, my senior year, to try to just make everything work. So it was really, really tough. I mean, I had my schedule down to about the five minute increment of what I was going to do every day, I figured out a method of studying to get great grades and make sure I got all my homework done. I got jobs that would sometimes allow me to work at sorry, study at the job if there was no work to do. Yeah, it was it was really, really challenging. It was also psychologically challenging when you’re living in a dorm, and some kid shows up in a Ferrari every day and gets parking tickets because he doesn’t want to pay for a parking pass and just doesn’t care. And how many kids drove really expensive cars, which I’m a car nut, so I’m always evaluating people by their cars. On the other hand, there was a really amazing thing that happened, which was, if you’re at SC, they accept you. I wasn’t an outsider. It doesn’t matter if I had money or not. I was invited on all the trips to go to Vail or, you know, go hang out with rich families or whatever, it was just opportunity. And people are being nice to each other. It was it was an amazing community. And I’m super grateful that I got to go there.