Jeremiah Landi is the founder of Landi Industries and a member of the LaunchHouse Community
Tell me a bit about yourself, your company, and what you do.
The easiest way to describe myself is, I’m kind of a jack of all trades. I’ve worked a lot of different jobs, worked at a lot of different places, done a lot of different engineering in my life. A lot of different jobs that accumulated into this company today.
Where my company (Landi Industries) starts is we are a rapid prototype and engineering company. What that means is you can come to us and we can do the entire project. The way engineering firms typically work is you’ll have several different engineering firms working on something. So if you bring them a clock, you have to have an electro-engineering company designing the boards, the batteries. You’ll have another person/company making the mechanical parts, the inclosure, the glass and the arms all that. And then typically you’ll have some software if it’s a digital clock and you might have another company due that
When I worked for a startup, I actually worked for several startups my through my entire life. I worked there a while ago and we designed agricultural lights we got tired of working with all these companies. So we started doing everything, which we could of done from the beginning but it wasn’t as fast. We started talking to other startups and we realized that they needed end to end services. This is really where our experience comes from because we all have such diversified backgrounds. We have done so much in our lives that when a customer brings it to use we get it done quicker, cheaper, and at a better quality. They also don’t have to go between multiple different companies, it just makes things easier.
What drew you to LaunchHouse? What’s been your favorite part so far?
What drew me to LaunchHouse was we originally were completely remote. I lived in LA, my mechanical lived in Columbus, and my electrical engineer lived in New York. What we did was try and ship around products, and mail it in one day. We Just realized that look, we are spending a ton of money on shipping. It’s delaying the amount of time it takes for us to get a product. So one day we sat down and said we are going to go to Cleveland. When we moved to Cleveland we toured a bunch of different facilities, some in Columbus some in Pittsburgh, trying to find a good area.
When we came to LaunchHouse we talked to Todd. We really liked the people, the environment, the potential, and the ability for Todd to hustle. With Todd, he told us that “It’s not just you get your space that’s it. You join a community works with you”. We have done manufacturing at LaunchHouse before, so we had to expand our space pretty significantly. So we can go to Todd and he can help us out with what we need at the time, and then we help other people out. Its less like you’re just a number here it’s more like they have a vested interest to see you succeed.
If you run a company, what has that been like? What advice do you have for others trying to start and run their own company?
The biggest thing about running your own company is it’s like being a parent. I didn’t really realize that until I fully stepped into it, the companies I ran in the past have been 3-4 people all 1099. Now I have 8 employees all W-2, and we are slowly growing more. The really big thing about this is it’s like a baby, it requires you to be there at all times. There could be a problem at two in the morning that you have to solve. So it’s kind of like you are at the beckon call of helping this grow, constantly feeding it with more work. It also can get very discouraging, it’s kind of like the trough of sorrow. Where you always have your ups and downs, and no matter how you try to level it there is just no way to say “Hey look we just got a million dollar contract” then turn around three days later and say “They decided to go down a different path.”
So the advice I would give people would be just to stick with it. Which I believe a lot of people do and it takes 3-5 years to get a business off the ground, and it’s just rough the first year and I believe anyone would say that. I think you need a good partner in the business and a good partner at home. Whoever your significant other is has to be really understanding because I talked with a couple of other people and they have lost marriages over their companies because they weren’t home enough, or their significant other couldn’t deal with having money then not having money. It’s just very stressful not to have the stability, and it’s a very different life than a company man, as you say with your own business you don’t go home at 5 you say “okay what do I have to get done tonight to be ready for tomorrow.
What has it been like to work outside of the typical corporate 9-5 job? What advice do you have for others considering coworking?
I think working and co-working in general, whether your corporate or not, is a great thing. I do not appreciate corporate environment, I don’t appreciate the structure that comes with it, I don’t appreciate the bureaucracy or the combersum of movement. That’s why I like my company, we are a small agile company. People bring us products and we are able to pivot, there isn’t a lot of bureaucracy, the headache you usually get with a large company. I don’t like large companies I have my entire life, I just don’t like them.
What I find though is that it’s independent of coworking, you can still work at a large company and be at a coworking space. At my old company, 10Up, a lot of people would work remotely and then they would just work at a coworking space. They got the benefit of working for a larger company while meeting and talking to other people. I never say go into a company unless it’s right for you. Just like I say. you shouldn’t go into a startup unless you are willing to lose sleep for years. The coworking allows you to break out of your envelope, typically when you work for a large company you go into an office and are surrounded by like-minded people. The great thing about it is when you combine coworking with any type of large company or any company, you get a diverse background to pull upon.
The great thing about LaunchHouse is we do have some people that work at larger companies here, and you are able to ask questions and get feedback. We do a lot of prototyping and thus people offer us unsolicited advice all the time on products we’re building. Yes 90% of the time you don’t care but that 10% of the time someone really says something revolutionary that you can take back to a customer and be like “Oh my god nobody has thought of this,” then it totals propels the product into a different direction. I think that works with larger companies, when I was coworking with 10Up was I could talk to different developers that were doing similar things. They would just bring fresh ideas to things you otherwise wouldn’t get, just because you are just surrounded by like minded or a startup.
When we were located in LA, we owned our own office. And one of the big draws to come here was the coworking space, as in LA we just worked in our own office, we were kind of isolated. We joined a commune but it was a lot of artists and the like, but nobody really interacted and nobody worked the same hours, and it was just lonely. You’re just stuck with the same couple of guys day in and day out, you’re trying to innovate but you don’t have anyone but yourself, so it’s a sound room. That’s another reason we came to LaunchHouse was we have the people to bounce ideas off too. We tried a coworking place in Seattle and really loved it and then we tried LA and it didn’t work. Then I said we gotta go back to it when we come here.
What is the best career or entrepreneur advice you ever received?
I think it was from my father, my father always likes to tell me that don’t ever half-ass anything full-ass one thing. Essentially whenever you have doubt or don’t give something your full time, it shows. A lot of people don’t believe that, they think “oh I can work two jobs and nobody will know” or “oh I’m not going to put too much money or time into this and I’m going to make millions” and that’s just not how it happens. Jeff Bezos didn’t work another job when he started, he was full time Amazon. I think the big thing about is whenever you’re an entrepreneur you just have to go for it, no one knows whether you’re going to be successful or bankrupt, but at the end of the day if you’re farther ahead of where you were you’re better off.
I think one of the things someone told me in perspective is that I was having a bad day a couple of weeks ago. So we lost a large contract a couple of weeks ago, the company just decided to go a totally different way with the project. We put a lot of time into the proposal and all the other stuff behind it. and I said look you go through the normal trough of sorrow where you land a large contract you lose a large contract. Then someone sent me a picture of kids playing in a pool in Afghanistan, and there is no other building, just a father and his kids. It made me realize, on my worst days I’m not raising a family in a war zone. I don’t have the chance where my daughter is going to get shot. It really put things into perspective as when you do things in life you are constantly afraid of failing, you don’t realize that even if you fail, you are better off than most of the world.
What has been your biggest learning experience?
My biggest learning experience is when I choose to run companies in the past, I always out sourced my accounting. When I started my current company that is what I wanted to do, and about a year into I realized that’s not what I wanted to do because I couldn’t find a good bookkeeper. They either charged way too much, didn’t do a good job, or worse did both. I have been through seven accountants and really haven’t found a good firm. So I just decided that I would do that myself.
The biggest challenge for this company was learning how to do operations, load balances and resources, profit and losses, learning different tax laws, etc. That’s been the biggest challenge for me as I’m a technical guy and I love to do technical things, and doing non-technical things sucks. But essentially that has given me a lot more knowledge of my business, as now when I have VC’s come to me to ask me questions about my business. I can tell exactly how much we are going to make, I can tell you what are our next two weeks look like, and I think that’s been the biggest challenge for me. I have also been told by a lot of people I shouldn’t be doing that.
However when I look at the businesses that fail, you can go to those people and ask them how much money are you making, what’s your hourly rate, why are you doing this and they just don’t know. To me running a small business it doesn’t make sense for us to outsource that.
How do you define success?
I got asked this 7 years ago by a news paper, don’t remember what it is now, but I think it really changes over life. I grew up impoverished and on a farm, we wouldn’t eat for days. My mom worked several jobs I just grew up in absolute poverty. At 18 if asked me what does success look like I didn’t know, the success I was told was, you buy a house, get a job that pays a ton of money, and you work it for the rest of your life. That’s what I was told so I did that for several years, worked several jobs.
My passion was originally technical theater, I wanted to work at the metropolitan opera, I was on the career path to put me there. Then one day I looked at my girlfriend at the time and said look if were going to have kids I can’t do this, I made the decision then to go into IT and started programming. I’ve done a lot of crazy things but it’s not always what I wanted. Back in high school my parents made me take programming because they told me that’s going to make more money. They wouldn’t let me do what I wanted, which was carpentry. So success to me then was making a lot of money, driving nice cars, and as I got older I realized that’s not what it is.
If you were to ask me in my late twenties I would of told you doing whatever the f*** I want, whenever I want. Around then I was working remote, I was making pretty good money, was able to travel anywhere in the world and do whatever I wanted. But that the jobs I worked were a lot of stress. I didn’t realize until I had my first bad boss, and I’ve had a lot of bad bosses, that really someone could take years off your life for things that don’t matter, like a lot of stuff we do at work doesn’t matter. We aren’t doing a military convoy across Afghanistan, we don’t do heart surgery, a lot of this stuff that I did was websites or servers. Yes if it went down it was an inconvenience, but no one was going to die.
If you ask me now, and I’m in my early thirties, what success is it’s the true meaning of spending time the way I wanted. It’s not doing whatever I want its having the freedom to go spend time with my family in the morning and someone else will take care of it, and I’ll be stress free.