Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Stefan Schulz, a long time DDIY contributor and a partner at Orpical Group. Stefan has plenty of experience working on complex, technical projects while running Orpical, a full-service digital marketing agency focused on web design and development for startups and fast-growth SMBs and SMEs.
“We aimed to help these businesses so they could avoid having to staff their own IT department.“
Stefan shared, “We had originally started out working with small, local businesses here in the Philadelphia area. A lot of these businesses were being held hostage by third-party web companies, and couldn't make small changes to their site without it costing an arm and a leg. Or, they just had a lot of confusion around web design and development as a whole. We aimed to help these businesses so they could avoid having to staff their own IT department.”
Now, Orpical has grown to help entrepreneurs, SMB’s, and large companies with a national footprint with more complex software development and marketing needs.
Background: Surviving Financial Troubles
“Even when things are going well, nothing lasts forever.“
The biggest challenge Orpical faced in the company's history was very early on (roughly ten years ago). They were working with a client that left them with around $80K in bad debt. This nearly bankrupt the business and they had to completely pivot.
“The big lesson was not having all of your eggs in one basket. Even when things are going well, nothing lasts forever.” Schulz said.
Stefan and his partner didn’t want to get caught with their pants down again. So they decided to focus on adding new, diversified revenue streams. They expanded their sales team to bring on more clients, started their own home services lead generation business, and began joint ventures to build affiliate websites.
Approaching and Validating New Ideas
“Financial forecasting and mind mapping are key.“
We asked how he approaches what types of new initiatives Orpical will tackle.
According to Schulz, “Financial forecasting and mind mapping are key. I can come up with ideas all day long, but if they don't fit into our hedgehog concept (see: Good to Great by Jim Collins) then the ideas usually get stuck into a folder on my Evernote account to tackle ‘some day’.”
For ideas that prove worth pursuing, Schulz takes a methodical approach to make the ideas become reality.
“If the idea does check the boxes, then typically I will create a roadmap and project plan, followed by detailed wireframes/mockups. From there, we'll move into production and work towards building an MVP as quickly as possible. Once deployed, establishing proof of concept and adoption is key. If initial KPIs are met, assess, reinvest, and scale.” Schulz said.
Favorite Time Tracking App
“I use Harvest for time and expense tracking, plus invoicing. They have integrations with Stripe and QuickBooks, which we can use to pull more detailed reports,” Schulz said.
Favorite Workflow App
“I use Asana pretty religiously. This is great for project planning and management. I really love Asana because we've been using it to build out SOPs and other template processes for recurring projects and work. It makes onboarding and quality control so much easier!” Schulz said of the workflow organization tool.
Favorite Place to Find Freelancers
Where to Find Him
You can reach out to Stefan Schulz through these channels: