Alumni Q&A: Mike Brown, co-owner of modbargains
By KENDRA ABLAZA / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Published: April 16, 2013 Updated: Aug. 21, 2013 12:28 p.m.
Before Mike Brown graduated from Chapman University in 2006 with a degree in business administration, he co-founded modbargains.com at 19 years old when he became passionate about cars and noticed there was a need for easier access to automotive enhancements and aftermarket products.
Eight years later, Brown's La Habra business has grown from him working on orders on his laptop between classes at Chapman to 21 employees and a 13,000-square-foot building with offices, a warehouse and a shop. The company really began to grow after they started keeping car products in stock and performing installations on vehicles with the parts they sold.
Q: What inspired you to start this business?
A: I was always an entrepreneur. Growing up, I used to sell rock concert tickets by flipping them, collect basketball cards and trade them online. I would even make jolly ranchers into juice, and sell it like I was running a lemonade stand at 5 or 6 years old. I did not take auto shop in high school. I just sat in the garage with my dad and we figured it out together. The main thing was that I was super passionate about it. It started with my own car.
Q: What were some challenges when starting your business?
A: My age was one thing, such as walking into places and the company not taking you seriously. Also, being inside California, it was difficult it is to invest and grow your company when so much of your cash flow gets pulled into taxes. I also had to learn how to find the right people and keep the right people.A: No, I follow my passions. A lot of my role here and what has made our company so much more successful is that I was able to visualize what I wanted for my business and describe it in a way that an artist could draw what I was working towards. It's important to have a clear picture of where your business is going.
Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen a different career or industry?
Q: What challenges do you face in your line of business that most people might not be aware of?
A: Internal supplier relations. The bigger we've gotten, the more suppliers we are working with ... finding the opportunity to sit down with the guys running the other companies is really difficult. Another challenge is finding a way to respond to negative feedback and what other people say about us that might or might not be true. When you process over 60,000 orders, you're going to have that feedback. Even if it is less than half of one percent, it is important to know how to respond.A: I was always super competitive, and wanted to do best for everyone. In the past I used to get defensive about negative feedback, and the more you get defensive the more someone is going to attack. Listening to our customers has been a major reason why we have been able to grow in the last few years. You choose your mindset and how you respond to customers vocalizing their concerns. They usually they have a very good point.
Q: What is one thing you wish you knew at age 19 when you started your business?
Orange County Register