David Rhodes is one of the founders of BenefitBox. In his words, “BenefitBox is a business aimed at providing a user-friendly means of applying for and processing welfare benefits. We aim to launch an online platform by which the public may evaluate themselves for eligibility under various programs. Eventually, we hope to become a government-approved means of both applying for and issuing benefits, by connecting our online interface with our specially-designed, eligibility-determining software to be used by public agencies.”
Reid: How did the idea for your startup come about?
David: Right out of high school, a friend and I started a web design company. To help progress this business, we attended an organization called Entrepreneurs Assembly. Here, we were approached by another attendee who had this idea to change the way people apply for welfare. It would make it more efficient and less of a headache. We started with a simple mock up of the idea of how to simplify the process. We have since spent hours upon hours to further simplify this complex process into an easy to use web interface.
Reid: What advice would you give to students who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs?
David: Do what inspires you most. The business is as much of the idea as it is the passion to keep driving it forward. Get involved with as many entrepreneurial events as you have time for. I have never walked away from an entrepreneurial event and not gotten something out of it.
Reid: What’s your process for idea generation?
David: I find that ideas tend to be better when I talk them out with friends and colleagues. If I have an idea, even if its one that isn’t fully thought out yet, I will share it with people around me. From there, I will keep talking it out with them until there is a functional idea worked out. I keep reiterating this process until I feel the idea is really well thought out. This approach can easily take weeks.
Reid: What skills would you say are most important to being successful in entrepreneurship?
David: Being able to network is very important. It is important to realize that no individual has the skill set to do anything on their own. By surrounding yourself with people who are strong in the areas that you are not can help you achieve things that seem so hard to achieve otherwise.
Reid: What have been some of your failures and how have you dealt with them?
David: All my major failures in projects can be attributed to lack of planning or trying to skip steps. Planning out how process are going to work are fundamental to the implementation. Furthermore, making sure that you actually take all the necessary steps is incredibly important to ensure success. Skipping steps, in the long run, makes the process even longer as you will eventually have to go back and complete the steps that were initially skipped.
Reid: What do you think is the major difference between entrepreneurs and someone that works for someone else?
David: I don’t believe there should be a distinguishing factor between the two. Everyone is able to have that drive that is commonly associated with entrepreneurs. One of the more interesting terms I have recently come across is an “intrepreneur”. From my understanding, the term refers to someone who uses ‘entrepreneur’ skills inside of a large firm and strike their change that way. Entrepreneurship is less about the starting your own business, and more about thinking outside the box.
More information on David’s company can be found on website.