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It seems like social recommendations have infiltrated every aspect of our online lives. Everything is “Jeff liked Honey Boo Boo on Facebook” and “Rebecca listened to the entire Goo Goo Dolls library on Spotify.” But who can you go to when you need a personal recommendation for a professional service out in the real world? Who can you trust in an ever-expanding ocean of meaningless likes and overwhelming LinkedIn connections?

You’ve probably got a guy for everything: the mechanic that fixes your car without ripping you off, that photographer who takes amazing portraits of you and your chocolate lab. We’ve all got a guy and a new startup formed by entrepreneur Joe Cassara is looking to help you share your network of trusted people online.

You Need My Guy enables users to share the professionals that they would recommend for the job, whether it’s a roofer, lawn care specialist, graphic designer, or any other area you’re in need of. The service let’s you share one of each -- only the best of the best -- so that next time you’ve got a friend who needs that weird stain cleaned out of the front seat of his car, you can recommend the perfect guy (or gal) who’s right for the job.

We sat down with Cassara, who talked with us about maintaining a balance between work and home life with three kids, and the importance of skipping the small talk to chase the dream.

What is the backstory behind You Need My Guy?

As a population we’re kind of craving connectivity these days, we want to know what our friends are doing. We’re so connected to so many people that that’s not hard to do. I know when all my friends have babies and what they ate for dinner and all that, but it’s kind of flowed into helpful situations like with Spotify or TripAdvisor.

One of the areas that I saw that not happening in is who we choose to do business with. You’ve got a lot of directory sites. Some integrate with the Better Business Bureau, which is good, but no site really tells me what my friends are doing, or anyone that I’m connected to online, as well.

There are people that we all have relationships with online, whether it’s a blogger you follow or someone you’ve done business with over the phone, and you care what they do because you trust their decision-making as an individual. I didn’t see any site where that happens.

Because of that you still see prominent advertising happen in flyers that get dropped off at your door, in the Yellow Pages, all these sites that just give the biggest ad to whoever pays the most money. They’re still doing that because people must be using them.

That’s the premise behind You Need My Guy; what we really want to know is who our friends and connections are doing business with. Part of the special sauce or secret sauce of You Need My Guy is you can only list one “guy” (or girl) per category, so I can only list one attorney, one photographer, one golf coach, one plumber, etc.

Because of that the data that we build is really good. It’s not clouded with how many people you know or how many pages you’ve liked. All that stuff gets really hard to sift through, like on Facebook.

I guarantee that half the people on Facebook who like one photographer’s page like another photographer’s page, or because they like Coca Cola they also like Pepsi, just because they want to enter the contest or whatever. It’s not indicative of what they actually do. It’s so easy to like something that it doesn’t mean anything.

When did you know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I had a corporate job as a rep for a print marketing company. It was good work and I enjoyed some parts of it but it wasn’t for me. I left that job a couple years ago and started my own consulting practice.

That’s an entrepreneurial thing to do but unless you can get the right kind of consulting where you can get some equity with the clients that you have -- it’s a very cool job but it’s not very secure. I had a client once get acquired right in the middle of a deal -- it was done at the end of the week and they were a huge client for me at the time. It’s just a very cool job with no vacation and no paid health insurance.

While that was entrepreneurial, at that point I decided I was going to really focus on creating something that I owned and that I could control. Even further back than that I had an entrepreneurship degree from Syracuse University. Some people don’t know those exist, but I had one.

I started a business in college with a few roommates that we ended up running and selling back to Syracuse University. That kind of gave me my first realization that it’s much better than working at the smoothie bar. We learned a ton and it was a blast. I think that started me on the path.

But you get going with getting married and having kids and you’ve got to pay for it all somehow. That turned into a job and I’m thankful for it. The timing was right and it’s what I needed to do for six years or so to learn about what I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I’m usually up about 5:30 with my 11 month-old. My wife and I alternate so every other day I’m up at 5:30 or so -- yesterday it was 4:30. I’ve got an office that I can work out of, and a lot of times I work out of the house.

It can be anything from networking, meeting with people, on the phone with potential clients, interfacing with my developers, who are on the other side of the world. They’re in the Philippines and in Australia. There are plenty of times when we’re having a phone call or a Google Hangout at 10 or 11 o’clock at night because it’s the middle of their workday.

I spend time talking to a lot of press these days, just telling the story about my idea. Really meeting with people who are already clients and getting feedback and making user experience changes in the software. It’s networking with other people doing stuff, writing stories. I was published by Forbes in the last couple of months so that’s a big press booster.

It’s everything. Right now I’m a one-man team aside from the developers, so everything that needs to be done, which is everything, all comes out of me. I’m home for dinner every night. I have three kids under four. Most nights I’m flipping open the laptop at 9 o’clock and pounding out a couple more hours to get it all done in time.

I get some amount of sleep and spend a good amount of time with my kids wrestling and eating dinner. You’ve just got to do it.

What do you do for fun and to relax?

Time with my wife and my kids is definitely the most sacred. I’m getting better at keeping my iPhone in the other room when I get home. My kids are a blast so doing stuff with them, being there, being home for dinner, and whatever it is. Sometimes it’s watching my daughter give me a ballet show; sometimes it’s having a karate match with my three year-old son or it’s trains or it’s changing diapers.

That’s the majority of my time but other than that it’s spending time with friends. We’ve got a family that has a cottage on the lake around here so in the summer there’s a lot of boating and fishing and just being outside.

If you sold your company today for $1 billion, what’s the first thing you would do with the money?

I would give it someone I trusted, a financial advisor, and wouldn’t do anything for a while. I’d probably take my family away for a couple months and just spend a lot of time together and figure out what we wanted our life to look like.

It certainly would not mean a bigger house. I would try to do as much volunteering as I could after that and not expand the lifestyle at all, just gain some freedom to do the things that are important. Our church does really great stuff in the city of Rochester, so we’d definitely be giving some to them. I’d probably help a couple more startups get off the ground.

Some people make a million dollars and they expand their lifestyle to a million dollars. You can do that or you can just use whatever you sell a company for to keep your lifestyle the same and run with that for a long time, so I would do the latter.

What advice would you give to any beginning entrepreneurs out there?

I'd say that the advice that I give all the time and that I’d give to any entrepreneur is just to do something. You find a lot of people in this boat that have got an idea and they’re doing something; they’ve either got a prototype or they’ve kind of thought about how they’d do it but they’re not really doing anything, they’re just talking about it a lot.

The rule that my wife has for me is to do it or stop talking about it. I guess that would be my advice: do something. There are enough people in every community, and especially in the startup community that are supportive. Find out what your funding options are, talk to developers, talk to customers, or make a call to a reporter. Just start doing things.

If you put even 20 minutes into an idea every day, pretty soon you’ll know whether that’s the one you need to focus on or whether you need to throw it out. I think a mistake that most people make is that they talk about it a lot but they don’t do anything.

I read an article once that said that your brain gets the same amount of satisfaction when talking about an idea than it does when you do it. If I tell you that I’m going to run a double marathon (if that’s even a thing) you’d say, “Joe, that’s amazing. Wow you must be in great shape.” My brain would get that satisfaction and then I’d be less likely to do it because I’ve already got the recognition.

I don’t know if it’s true or not but it helps me, so in my mind it’s going to be true. Do something and don’t talk about it until you actually have something going on.

What’s next for You Need My Guy?

I actually officially launched this week. I have a bunch of brand evangelists across the country -- these are people that are talking about You Need My Guy to the networks and are being the local face of the company in their communities. A lot of press is still coming up.

We’re working with users that are already registered to get feedback on the experience and the process and the product and obviously making any changes as we need to. Just taking it one day at a time, hopefully adding users every day.

We’re rolling out a lot of really exciting partnerships with organizations and charities and chambers of commerce and directory sites and things like that that we’re really excited about. I think it’ll be a really good thing for both sides. That’s kind of the next few weeks over here.

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Corey Cummings
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