Henry Woodman, founder of ICE Portal, was inspired to launch his first three companies because he wanted to build a business around things he enjoyed doing. Then he pivoted one of his firms to take advantage of growing online travel bookings and successfully navigated it to the enviable position of having only one competitor in an industry with prohibitive barriers to entry.
"I call myself a hedonistic entrepreneur because I find opportunities to start businesses that please me," he said. "When I was a kid, I loved Pac Man so I started a company that put Pac Man video games in laundromats. Then I travelled the world producing travel films. When I got tired of traveling, I sold a TV show to a network in Chile and worked on that for two years."
Upon his return to the U.S. from Chile, Woodman began producing 360 degree video tours for hotels. They said this is great but asked how we could put them on internet travel sites," he explained. "Thus was born the idea to distribute the media. It was novel at the time. We got into ICE Portal by trying to help clients deliver our 360 degree tours to travel sites."
Now, the company delivers images from hotels and hotel groups to travel sites on the internet. If you go to Expedia or Priceline, etc., the hotel images you see will come from ICE Portal's servers.
"We're myopically focused on one thing - helping our clients manage and deliver visuals," Woodman said. "Our one competitor overextended themselves into different areas and diluted themselves."
Woodman's advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is twofold: effort and education. "Hustle," he said. "You never get anywhere unless you have the habits and discipline to hustle. You'll have good days and bad days, but you just have to do it even when you don’t feel like doing it. You just have to show up. We showed up so many times people started to take us seriously. Also, reading about other businesses and people and how they got there is very inspiring. You need a mentor or coach to give you some perspective. Hustle, and learn the business."