Colby Tunick
Colby Tunick

Colby Tunick: California Has a Robust Startup Ecosystem With a Lot of Free or Inexpensive Support

Colby Tunick of ReFocus AI.

Tell us about yourself?

Im an avid trail runner and mountain biker. There is nothing like the outdoors to clear your head. After my undergraduate at San Diego State University, I worked in multiple fields helping what we consider ‘legacy’ industries modernize through software

. After working for a large insurance company, my love for software and came together to form ReFocus AI.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

The biggest misconception to me is that they fail for any other reason that product market fit. It simply isn’t the case. If a product exists that solves a real need, people will buy it.

While market conditions and issues with funding can create headwinds, those obstacles are certainly overcomeable.

What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?

If you want to win the startup game, you first need to win the mental health game. Entrepreneurship is all about mental endurance and dealing with obstacles.

If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I wouldn’t have started it until I personally knew the first customer that would write us a check.

Early revenue is crucial and its difficult to build something that people need if you don’t have anyone using the product.

A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?

Entrepreneurship will magnify all of your existing habits.

Example: If you are attentive to detail, you’ll be even more so. On the flip side, if you already struggle with work-life balance it will become even more acute once you have your own business.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

ReFocus AI infers which customers are most likely to leave before they do and why, giving a company time to coordinate retention activities.

What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?

ReFocus AI builds models based on a company’s historical management system data. The machine learning algorithm analyzes data points that correlate to churn, based on past retention activity.

Our early customer interviews showed that customers are uncomfortable with insights generated from data that is not their own. That is why ReFocus AI uses a company’s own data from their management system to generate actionable, relevant, and trusted insights.

Accounts are compared to the actions of other statistically similar customers using tens or hundreds of data points.

Based on the actions of these similar customers, the model can predict with >90% certainty, how likely a given individual is to leave ahead of their renewal date and why.

The platform is infinitely scalable, allowing each company to generate their own models using data in different schemas, while retaining its ability to accurately predict policyholders exits. Further, ReFocus AI now has access to several proprietary data sets giving the company a competitive edge.

How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?

Yes, but while revenue solves some problems, it creates others. It’s important to stay focused on your core special sauce and not get distracted.

What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in California over other states in the US?

California has a robust startup ecosystem with a lot of free or inexpensive support.

This allowed us to scale quicker than we would have otherwise because we were able to slot into existing programs and get early feedback.

When we started the company, I was living in Sacramento, and the Startup Sac ecosystem is phenomenal.

What (if any) are the weaknesses of operating your business within California?

The minimum franchise tax is less than ideal especially when you have no revenue.

We are currently suffering through a cost of living crisis. With California already being one of the most expensive states to live in, how has this impacted your business?

As ReFocus AI helps companies retain their clients, we’ve actually had an uptick in sales as a result of inflationary customer attrition.

It is no secret that California is the birthplace of innovation. But that also makes it incredibly competitive. How have you found the competitive environment of California?

Its compelling. But there are a lot of great cities and states to start a business in now that so many places are copying California’s playbook.

Have you considered moving your company to another state? If so, which state and why?

We have not as early my cofounder and I, Dr. Nisar Hundewale, decided to operate as a remote business.

Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?

We want to be the most profitable retention analytics company in the world subscription-based industries outside of insurance with high churn and low retention.

And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?

They can ping me on LinkedIn or send me an email! We always love hearing from people out in the community.

Follow ReFocus AI on Twitter or Linkedin.

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