Ron Cook, co-founder of distrx, is a serial entrepreneur and one-time entrepreneurship instructor who is now using his classroom lessons to grow his latest startup.
"I started in luxury hotel development and management," he said. "I left that to run a company for a private equity fund. We experienced a very positive exit that allowed me to return to Orlando and teach innovation and entrepreneurship at Full Sail University. Doing that, I came across Apple's iBeacon technology, which led to me launching distrx. My students joked that we would see if I really knew what I was talking about now that I was actually launching a startup."
Distrx is a mobile marketing platform consisting of a mobile app and website designed specifically for Main Street shopping and entertainment districts.
"The app is location aware so as people enter into a participating Main Street district, your phone welcomes you with a custom greeting and displays things that are happening in the area like events, attractions, parking, and a complete business directory broken down by category with maps, etc.," Cook explained. "We allow Main Street districts to leverage our platform for free instead of investing in their own standalone app that will not be downloaded as much as a national app. We've also adopted the iBeacon technology so that when you walk into a participating establishment, your phone alerts you to what that business wants you to know at that time. All that content is triggered by iBeacons inside the establishment."
Cook's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is the same advice he gave his students and the same advice he followed in launching distrx.
"The customer validation piece is the single most important thing for entrepreneurs to understand," he said. "Stop thinking you have the next great thing that will revolutionize the world until your customers tell you that you have it. We did a six-month, seven-state, 300-customer beta test just to get feedback from users. We got thousands of pieces of feedback and literally built it to that."