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Meet Ricky Holm!

Here at 3 Day Startup, we’re always looking for new ways to encourage and educate entrepreneurs and be a source of guidance and support. With this in mind, we are kicking off our new blog series: Ask An Innovator! Each post will feature advice from successful innovators in the form of responses to three key questions connected to an entrepreneurial theme.

For our first post, the theme is customer discovery, and we were thrilled to talk with the founder and CEO of Chocolate Milk & Donuts, Ricky Holm! Based here in Austin, TX, Chocolate Milk & Donuts is a full-service, creative agency that is at the forefront of bringing 360° video experience, virtual, and augmented reality to brands and agencies worldwide.

1. When starting out the customer discovery process, what’s your first step?

“Buying donuts. It’s a little serious, but we do send donuts to all of our clients as a way to engage with them. It’s all about building a relationship. Sitting down, having that conversation, looking someone in the eye, we definitely prefer in person. It’s all about the relationship we build with the clients. That is the absolute #1, is to make sure that it’s a good fit. Finding clients is really almost like dating. We don’t want to work with people that don’t like us and vise versa. You have to make sure the relationship is a good fit, and you have to work at building that relationship. It all starts out with that donut and a handshake.”

2. What advice would you give yourself if you were just beginning the customer discovery process?

“Don’t try to land a kiss on the first date. Business takes time, and relationships take time. It’s important to remember that people work with people — people don’t work with businesses. The sale is just another part of the conversation, it is not the only piece. Take a moment, breathe, relax, slow down, and take the time to get to know the person. When you first start a company, you’re working hard trying to keep the lights on and find that customer base. It can feel a little like desperation, so that’s why it’s so important to take your time and not rush things. You’re not selling a trinket — you’re going to choose to work with me because you like the way we work, you like the way we communicate, and you like the way we treat you. I use the word like a lot there because it is so important. Definitely be forward and be honest, but focus on building the relationship instead of just making a sale.

3. In your opinion, what is the single most important resource for creating happy, repeating customers?

“Never burn a bridge. Even if you’re wrong, even if the clients wrong – especially if the client is wrong. Never burn that bridge. And especially here in Austin, this is a small market. The world is a small place, especially in today’s world. The single most important thing is maintaining that relationship and making sure the client is happy.

Stay tuned for the next Ask An Innovator post, the theme is hiring!