Lohn Machacek, Chief Innovation Officer for the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, has worked with countless startups throughout our community over the past seven years. He knows their ups, their downs, but most of all, he knows the questions to ask them. Here are John Machacek’s 10 questions for Jim Rohde, Founder and CEO of JOHO.
1. Tell us your JOHO elevator pitch?
JOHO allows community banks and credit unions to integrate, report, analyze and decide on daily vital information from a single source of truth. Our JOHO OneSourceTM platform is the fastest reporting and analytics solution available to help financial institutions achieve superior operational, financial, and regulatory success.
2. In a nutshell, what is the value of your solutions to banks and financial institutions?
Data, not oil, has become the world’s most valuable resource. For banks and credit unions to survive and thrive, they need daily access to relevant information to make quick, informed decisions. JOHO integrates data from any source and provides users reporting and analytics in a common, interactive and secure cloud environment. JOHO manages the entire process so you don’t have to purchase new servers, hire new staff, or learn multiple report-writing tools. JOHO provides an easy, affordable, and effective SAAS solution that is up-and-running in a few weeks. Also, our JOHO Guarantee allows you to opt out with no further obligation if we do not meet or exceed your expectations.
3. How do you and the prospective client get the engagement process stated to assess your solutions?
All banks and credit unions have deposits, loans and many regulations to follow, but each business has specific challenges and issues. Whether talking with a C-level executive, or an accounting, marketing, or compliance manager, we can setup a 15-minute call to discuss your unique situation and begin developing a plan. They identify the problem; JOHO delivers the solution.
4. Are you able to share an example with me of a successful client engagement?
I recently visited a bank in Cincinnati that has been a JOHO customer for three years. We conducted a half-day meeting with their executives to discuss our partnership and their feedback on JOHO and our solutions. While they were extremely pleased with the reporting, analytics, and customer service and response times, the automated Board Report Package solution we built received the most accolades. What previously took weeks to compile, print and deliver now takes just a few hours. The CEO said the new process has saved him 8+ hours per month plus the “unmeasurable” reduction of stress and aggravation. The CFO has worked with JOHO to automate his reporting and has, “eliminated all Excel spreadsheets. Other employees have saved days of time and can simply upload their respective documents to be combined into the Full Board Report. The Board of Directors has secure access to the JOHO cloud solution via iPads and can email questions days before the monthly meeting. During a recent board meeting, the CEO was able to display and search an electronic version of a previous month’s board meeting notes, and resolve an issue right there… a process that would have previously taken several days and numerous emails to resolve.
5. You mention Microsoft Azure. Between having a large Microsoft campus here and interacting with businesses, I hear the word Azure often. What can you tell me about utilizing Azure for JOHO?
Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service for deploying and managing applications and services such as JOHO OneSourceTM. It’s a game changer for our development, sales, and deployment process because our employees can “spin-up” new servers in minutes and manage multiple clients without the risk associated with VPN logins. Our clients don’t have to invest any additional time, money, or stress into their existing network or duties, and can start reporting on their data in days, not months. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and regulations are an ongoing concern for our customers, so knowing that Azure data centers are probably more secure than most business networks is reassuring to them and external auditors.
6. After working for a bank, I now better understand all the various departments and operations of a financial institution. Are there particular areas you help or are your sweet spots?
Data is an asset and reporting and analytics are vital to every financial institution’s success. While we can provide value to all financial institutions’ departments and personnel, we work with banks and credit unions to solve their specific concerns. We can automate Call Reports, Month-End, and Board Report packages or focus just on Deposit or Loan dashboards and reports. We can deliver strategic, tactical, and operational reports for specifics executives (CEO, CFO, COO) or focus on departmental (Loans, Deposits, Operations, Accounting, Marketing, Compliance) reporting. Our “secret sauce” is that we can deliver any reporting you need to solve your specific problem.
7. With all those facets to their business, can it be difficult for them to know where to start the process with you?
Yes, when I started the company, my research indicated that banks and credit unions have a ton of data, aren’t using it properly, but were planning to invest in doing so. The reality is financial institutions, by their very nature, are conservative and can be slow to change.
Our initial focus was to deliver a “Taj Mahal” solution (many integrated data sources and reports all at once), but the upfront costs were high with a long sales cycle. We’ve rarely had a prospect not love a demo of the product, or question the investment, but their staff and IT departments already have hundreds of on-going projects, so a reporting and analytics initiative can seem overwhelming. The good news is JOHO manages 95% of the entire process… we meet with executives and employees to understand their needs and then create a project roadmap where we handle server and software setup, project management, data loads, report development, training and ongoing support. With JOHO, you can start small and build an a la carte enterprise-wide solution over time and at your own pace.
8. As I’ve been working with you through my economic development role, you’ve talked about the gratitude for the various programs and people, and wished you got more engrained into the ecosystem earlier. Do you have any particular advice for other entrepreneurs about navigating the available support?
Network, network, network… ask questions… do your own research… and KNOW YOUR SKILLS! I’m a graduate of Innovate ND, and have worked with many of the state and local programs and people at NDSU RTP, GFMEDC, NDSBDC, Bank of ND, ND Commerce, etc. I’m a “recovering” CPA with an MBA and a very strong financial and technical background, but I still learn things every day from the contacts I’ve made. Setup lunches and coffee meetings with as many people as you can. Most entrepreneurs are willing and happy to meet and share their experiences, good or bad. Whatever your background or skillset, solicit feedback and surround yourself with people that complement your skills and free up your time. For example, I have the education and skills to be JOHO’s CFO, but not the time. I’m not great at sales and marketing, lead generation, or cold calling, and even though it’s part of my job, I find great people with these skills and don’t try to force myself into those roles. Finally, live your dream!
9. If you could go back in time to Jim from several years ago, what hindsight advice would you give yourself?
When I founded JOHO, I didn’t have any delusions that it would be easy, but the challenges were far greater than I could have ever imagined. Looking back, I wish I would have spent more time early on looking for external support, funding, investors, and advice, specifically around sales and marketing and alternative financing options to help grow the products and company the “right” way rather than trying to everything in a grassroots manner.
10. What can we do as a community to help JOHO succeed?
If you are an entrepreneur, interested in data and analytics, a fintech guru, or just want to see local community businesses succeed, then I ask you to check out our website, like our social media posts, and share our story.
If you are a bank or credit union executive or employee looking to improve your operations, financial, or regulatory success and gain a competitive advantage, give JOHO a call to discuss how we can help.