This is an interview-style post with Kyle H. David.
Hey, Kyle. What is your background and what do you do?
I am CEO of KDG, a technology solutions company that provides custom software development, web design, Zoho services, and small business IT support. We’re located in Allentown, PA.
I earned my B.A. in Business Administration from Muhlenberg College. I also spent a little bit of time in law school, but I dropped out a few semesters in. I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to earn certificates from Cornell and Harvard Business School.
Are entrepreneurs born or made, and how did your passion for entrepreneurship evolve over the years?
I believe that there is a vast chasm between entrepreneurs and those that have a propensity to do work for hire.
While there are all different types of entrepreneurs, those that succeed share one quality: an innate ability to manage risk at all levels simultaneously.
Plenty of good ideas/companies go undeveloped or fall victim to poor execution. Where we consistently win at KDG is in the area of execution. When we commit, we deliver. That forward momentum is constant and we’re never stagnant.
I would say that my passion for entrepreneurship has receded and my passion for making people successful has increased.
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How did you enter the IT industry?
I started taking things apart at a very young age because of a relentless curiosity for how things work. Fortunately, I also won the family lottery. My parents and brothers, while not the least bit interested in what I was doing, were very encouraging and supportive of my constant need to know more.
I remember being in kindergarten and doing a show and tell of wireless speakers that I built by taking apart toy walkie-talkies and a cheap radio. In the third grade, my family bought a used Epson Equity I+ with an 8088 processor. That was one of the most pivotal moments of my life. Knowing that I could write instructions that the computer would follow if written correctly, was intoxicating. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time staring at a black screen with neon orange text. I became quite proficient in both the hardware aspect as well as the software.
Word got out that I was a “whiz kid” of sorts. I was able to solve a lot of problems that vexed people that had many more years on me, not to mention quite a bit more education. That led to a consulting job at 14 with CSG. That four-year tenure that I stumbled into out of dumb luck was life-changing.
What were your biggest challenges?
I would consider myself to be my biggest challenge. As KDG and its business evolved, I needed to work on making myself obsolete as an operator and full time as a leader and strategist. I needed to learn more and listen more.
Tell us a bit about the early days of KDG.
The early days of KDG were so much fun. There was a lot of freedom of living “hand to mouth.” When you only have a handful of clients and you can “do whatever you want” (no doubt aided by being a bachelor). It’s intoxicating.
There is a reason why a lot of entrepreneurs work both in and on the business at the same time. The problem arises when you realize that you’re the groom at a shotgun wedding between you and your business. If you go away, so does the business. It’s fun in the short term, but highly unstable and unsettling over the long term.
What do you consider the most important metric for your business and why?
There are two metrics I would consider most important. The first is rehire rate. How many people keep coming back to KDG in spite of having countless options?
The second is employee success. How many of our folks feel successful in their roles?
What does it take to be a serial entrepreneur?
To become a serial entrepreneur, you need overconfidence and a short attention span.
What rules do you follow when investing in startups?
The number one rule is that the people matter most.
Also, I will only invest in things that I know a lot about. For example, I have had countless people ask me to invest in restaurants over the years. I know nothing about the business of food, despite my plump physique. It’s a non-starter for me.
What’s one thing you wish you had done differently?
I wish I would have gotten married and had kids sooner. My wife is my rock and inspiration. She defines excellence in everything that she does. Good day or bad day, thick or thin, she’s been a champion of my career path from the beginning while my daughter is a reminder that my actions are being observed and they speak way louder than words. She has made me a great leader.
What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Take your ego out of the picture – way out of the picture. If you are concerned with how people see you as an entrepreneur, you are destined to fail or, most optimistically, succeed in spite of yourself. In social interactions, I’m inevitably asked what I do for a living. I usually dead-end the conversation and say, “I’m in computers.”
I’m not a fan of self-promotion. As they say “telling is not selling.” I would much rather let KDG’s work do the talking and let people decide for themselves. It only takes a few good case studies to make a business.