Interview by Mike Sullivan of Sully’s Blog
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Raymond Troy was first introduced on MO.com back in February as The Nuclear Entrepreneur, a fitting title. He discussed his busy life and his ecommerce business NineAPair.com, a site that sells cheap sunglasses for only $9 a pair. Raymond is back with a new venture, Tyten L.L.C. Tyten is a new company focusing on introducing great applications and accessories for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and other mobile platforms. While the website is nearing completion, there are several hardware and software solutions that will soon be released. The company will also create custom apps or specialized mobile attachments to fit your business needs.
MO: When MO last connected with you, you were pursuing your PhD at Mizzou. That, along with running your ecommerce business must be challenging enough. How did you find time to start Tyten?
Ray: I am still pursuing my PhD and will be for some time. It takes a long time to become Dr. Troy. The main reason why I had time was because it is not a one man show this time. There are 4 of us in this business, each with a different specialty as well as a different task in the company. Tyten Teegarden approached me in March of 2009 with an idea similar to Apple’s EZ pay system before it came out. I didn’t think anything of it until September of that year when I decided to jump into something that is scalable as well as can take off quickly, Tyten LLC. Needless to say, Apple came out with EZ pay and we have shifted our focus a bit but we plan to pursue something like that system in the future. The two of us didn’t have all the skills we needed to accomplish all we wanted to do so, Tyten and I recruited Brad Wentz, an old friend and a fabulous, sharp electrical engineer, and Andrew Kaiser, an industrial engineer.
MO: Clearly mobile applications and hardware are essential tools to today’s entrepreneurs. A large percentage of business is done on the move. What do you feel is lacking in the mobile space today and will Tyten help address this?
Ray: I don’t feel anything is lacking other than dropped calls and the network not being able to increase users or handle increased data speeds but that is network stuff and it will come around in the future. I do believe we are just seeing the beginning of the capability of mobile devices. Just 5 years ago some of the things people can now do on their cell phone was science fiction. The dependence on these devices will only increase and I feel that is where everything is heading. I think Tyten will help change people’s view of mobile devices software and hardware that we create.
MO: Can you give us a sneak peek at any upcoming applications and attachments in the works?
Ray: On the software side, we just launched our own in house application (app), Tyten Events. It is an event app that acts like a paperless brochure for your event, conference, festival, and concert. It is a frame work that can be fully customizable to your event with all the event’s colors, images and branding. Because it is so flexible it is best to show what it can due with an example and this by no means is this all it can do for your event. The True False Film Festival hosted here in Columbia MO, was the first client. It displays news about the festival, all the movies that are playing and mapping of where each movie is playing. Because of the large scale of the festival there are multiple movies playing at the same time at different venues spread across Columbia. This is analogous to a break out session at a conference if you use the app in that context. Our map feature allows you to see what is playing where when you pick a time and date or if you are indecisive just scroll through time and see if anything catches your eye. In order to help you decide what movie to watch there are descriptions of every movie as well as when, where and the length of the movie right at your finger tips. The best part of the app is that it updates when the website is updated. The event planner only needs to make one change and all users get the update without a app update from the app store.
On the hardware side, we have a couple projects in the works but we would rather keep those under wraps.
MO: Tyten.com indicates that you are currently welcoming investors. Talk a little bit about the opportunity here and why investors should be interested.
Ray: I think the opportunity comes to what I said earlier, mobile computing is only going to grow. Just look at the numbers and predictions to the size of this market. We want to start in this industry now so we get experience and become a trusted name so we can be there in the future bringing the devices to their full potential with software and hardware. As we grow I would like us to get into developing our own mobile computing device.
MO: What are your marketing plans around Tyten? You seem to have done well without any formal marketing on NineAPair.com, will you take a similar approach here?
Ray: For right now we are taking a similar approach, focusing on the internet as that is where I have the most expertise. We are all engineers so marketing and our ideas about it can always be improved. We plan to give Tyten Events to a few events or Event Planners for free to get our name out there. If anyone is interested please feel free to contact us. I feel word of mouth amongst Event Planners will really drive revenue for Tyten Events. For the company as a whole, we plan to have an active SEO campaign and do a lot of internet marketing. I think this will really benefit us for when we sell hardware as that is what I know, ecommerce. I think our clients will help refer us to other businesses. We really enjoyed doing some iPad development for Newsy and in the future iPhone development for them.
MO: When you complete your education, will you turn your focus toward something more closely related to nuclear engineering? Will you continue to pursue and grow online businesses?
Ray: That depends on whether or not my adviser, the best professor I have ever met and all around great person, is reading this. The real answer is, it really depends on where I am at in my life at the time. I really do believe nuclear power is going to solve a lot of energy problems and pursuing a career in it would be an experience. I bet if I did that I would always be trying something in my spare time. When I retire, I would enjoy teaching or I may go into that for my career. I have a lot of options and things to think about on the “job” front. On the other hand, would really really really love to never get a 9-5 “job” and just run my businesses, but if that doesn’t work out, my degrees allow me to provide for whomever I need to provide. I am a entrepreneur at heart.
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