Birth Name: Michael Krasman
Nickname / Superhero Name: DJ Krafty Kraz
Company Name: UrbanBound
Company Founding Year: 2011
The Story & The Company
What’s your professional background? Have you always been an entrepreneur or have you paid your dues working for “The Man” too?
Except for an investment banking internship in college, I have been a serial entrepreneur my entire professional career. Even during my internship, I found myself thinking of ways to improve the technology we were using—which made me realize that I was wired to be an entrepreneur. Since then, along with my business partner Jeff Ellman, I founded three companies in Chicago, all of which are going strong today: Homescout Realty, Hireology, and UrbanBound. Currently, I sit on the Board of Hireology while my day-to-day duties are devoted to UrbanBound.
What is it that inspires you to be an entrepreneur? What feels so natural about it?
I always had a passion for solving problems and creating solutions that address the pain points people experience. The spark that triggered my current path came in the early 90s when I was first exposed to the internet. Seeing the power it held, I knew I wanted to be a part of the movement.
For me, the best part of being an entrepreneur is that you get to determine your own destiny—you get out of it what you put in. You have the opportunity to create change in a big way and watch an idea turn into something real—something that affects people’s lives.
How did you find the time, money and people to get your business off the ground?
When you are an entrepreneur, you have to make time. You won’t have all the answers right off the bat, and you might not know what your business will ultimately look like, but you have to take that first step.
Building a team is a crucial step of the process because simply put: it’s impossible to build a company by yourself. Keep in mind, the first wave of employees you attract to work at your startup will make or break your company, and the passion that you have for the problem you’re trying to solve needs to be contagious. Make sure to bring people on board that are as passionate as you are.
As far as money is concerned, having the means to get things going in the early stages will help tremendously. When I started my companies with Jeff, we fronted the initial capital to get the basics; an office, a website, and a small team to build an early version of the software. Once you get early traction, that’s proof of your ability to move in the right direction, and then you already have a foundation to use as you reach out to angel investors.
What is UrbanBound all about and why should everyone care?
Anyone who has experienced moving knows that while it brings exciting change, the actual act of moving is extremely stressful and overwhelming. Moving to a new city and starting a new job are two of life’s most stressful events, and when you relocate for a new job, they both happen simultaneously.
We wanted to develop a technology solution to make the relocation process easier for both companies and their transferring employees. With this in mind, we developed UrbanBound to enable companies to better support their new employees throughout the entire relocation process—from creating the right relocation policy all the way to preparing them for their first day of work.
Our mission is to remove the stress and doubt that goes into relocating for a new job and help employees get settled in before their first day of work, in turn creating happy employers with an energized and clear-headed employee ready to hit the ground running on their first day.
All types of companies, from leading technology startups to the Fortune 500, are leveraging UrbanBound to relocate employees more efficiently and create significant cost savings, ultimately boosting employee retention.
Where do you hope to see your company 5 years from now? What are you going to do to make it happen?
If we continue on our current path, in the next five years I believe our software will be known in the HR community as the go-to solution for handling employee relocations. We’ll be operating internationally, and we’ll be at the forefront of helping employees relocate anywhere in the world. With our continued commitment to company culture, we will have a team of happy and dedicated employees helping us drive change and innovation in the relocation industry.
Currently, we have a stronger understanding than ever before of where UrbanBound is headed and how we fit into the relocation industry. Our consistent focus on feedback ensures that our product is constantly evolving to meet the needs of our customers. This dedication to understanding what our clients not only want but what they need ultimately drives us to provide the best quality solutions. At the end of the day, a great business can’t survive without a great product.
What has been your favorite part of founding and growing your business?
Ultimately, I believe it comes down to the people; the employees I work with day in and day out and the clients that we support. Working alongside a team of creative and forward-thinking individuals is a daily reminder of the reason I became an entrepreneur. Hearing their ideas, seeing them grow in the careers, and being a part of that journey is a high point for me as an entrepreneur.
I also love seeing all the customers we help with our software. Essentially, we’re here to make someone’s job a little easier, so receiving positive feedback on how we were able to get someone through a stressful relocation or how we impacted a client’s business is what makes it clear that what we’re doing is a necessity.
What has been the most frustrating part of founding and growing your business?
The biggest frustration for me is not having enough time in the day to do all the things I want to do. The reality is, growing a company is a journey. While it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day, it’s absolutely crucial to remember that you need to build the stepping stones from one point to the next and create a solid foundation. It’s the process of learning as you go that allows you to become better at what you do. In other words, you need to learn to be comfortable with the whole process, learn from your mistakes, and focus less on having all the perfect answers all the time.
What do you do to keep yourself balanced and sane?
As an entrepreneur, your focus and attention get pulled many different directions throughout the day, so it’s absolutely crucial to find ways to maintain a balance. I’ve found that the best way to achieve this balance is to make sure I’m mindful of the three key areas of my life: my work silo, my family silo, and my personal silo.
To balance my work silo, I want to make sure I stayed focused, and I do this by incorporating a productivity tip I learned years ago: a daily top 5 list. By prioritizing the items on my list and keeping myself on track, I’m able to stay focused throughout the day and manage my schedule instead of my schedule managing me.
For my family silo, I am mindful of the fact that above being an entrepreneur, I am also a husband, a father, a son, and a brother—all of which are relationships that need to be nurtured. I enjoy taking my mind off of my work and spending time with my family. It’s a great time to unplug, be in the moment, and remind myself of the reasons I’m doing all this.
Finally, for my personal silo, I make certain that I am energized for the full day by waking up early, working out, and eating healthy. Keeping this part of my life balanced is what gives me the energy to focus on all the key areas of my life.
If you could be doing one other thing full-time, what would it be?
I love being an entrepreneur, but if there’s one other thing I wish I could be doing it’s being a musician. I absolutely love music (hence the nickname DJ Krafty Kraz) and I try to find ways to incorporate it into my daily life—whether it’s listening to music while I work or taking my team out for karaoke.
What’s your motto? If you don’t have one, make it up right now…
If you have an idea that you’re passionate about, go for it. Otherwise, you may look back in the end and regret not taking a chance on yourself.
UrbanBound has been nominated for a Tech In Motion Award: Chicago’s Best Tech Startup. To vote for them, go here: http://blogs.techinmotionevents.com/chi-vote-now/
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Ryan Ricci says
Way to go Urbanbound!
Melissa Dyson says
I really like this interview series. I have not heard of many of these companies and I feel it is a great way to get the word out about them and bring awareness to their cause or product or whatever.
Michael Obrien says
Pretty awesome interview and one that is quite inspirational.