By Taryn Skees for Amplify — April 9, 2021
Buddy Bockweg has worked with some of the world’s most innovative companies like JP Morgan Chase, YUM! Brands, Chick-fil-A, Humana, and many more, but he is most proud of the relationships that he has cultivated with the people he has had the opportunity to work with and the solutions delivered.
A self-proclaimed “problem solver”, it was the desire to tackle inadequate customer experiences that led to him and his co-founders launching AxisPoint Alliance, a Supply Chain Management company focused on connectivity and service.
As they built AxisPoint through 2020 they began to realize that connection was simply not enough. If they really wanted to help companies create remarkable experiences, they needed to do it digitally, so Buddy and a co-founding team of B2B SaaS & Supply Chain experts built and launched Vsimple.
Read more about Buddy’s entrepreneurial journey in our Q&A.
- We all know entrepreneurs are not always successful. How has failure impacted your career and gotten you to the point where you are today?
Failure is a part of life. We must reframe the way we view failure, especially as an entrepreneur. Failure in our culture today is viewed as a negative and I think mostly because the word “failure” is tied to the opposite of success. However, failure is not the opposite of success; in fact, it is absolutely necessary to succeed and grow professionally, personally, spiritually, etc. Because failure is identified negatively, failure is feared. But failure is the way we all learn, grow and become the best versions of ourselves.
Fear of failure is a big part of my story. Growing up, my father suffered from mental illness and depression, so he had a hard time keeping jobs and taking care of me, my mom and my sister. I didn’t understand mental illness as a child, so in my eyes, he wasn’t sick—he was a failure. He ended up taking his life when I was 15 years old, so this fear of being like my father overwhelmed every sense of my being. I graduated from UofL and went to work for my stepfather’s company, which is where I stayed for almost 20 years, everyday pouring myself into my work because I feared failing. This drive was what made me successful, but also kept me in place, even though I had an entrepreneurial itch my entire adult life. If it wasn’t for my amazing wife and a group of incredible mentors, I might have never made the leap, but I’m thankful I did every day!
- What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always have an entrepreneurial spirit?
I wanted to be a professional baseball player growing up! I played baseball, basketball and football and, through sports, I was able to gain confidence, identify that I had a passion for leading, understand more about failing gracefully and develop a passion for serving others.
Along with sports, I cut grass through the summers and held odd jobs which allowed me to work around sports schedules. I wouldn’t say I had any real understanding of entrepreneurialism growing up as nobody in my immediate family had taken this path, but I was always fascinated by people doing extraordinary things. My curiosity was piqued while going through business school, and instead of pursuing a job in my major (finance), I went to work for a startup company my stepfather had just co-founded. This allowed me to see how a company is formed and grown, and from that point forward, I was looking for an opportunity to start my own business.
- Describe one of the most memorable projects you have worked on with AxisPoint Alliance and/or VSimple thus far.
The birth of Vsimple as a standalone business! When we started AxisPoint Alliance, we built technology for ourselves which would allow us to differentiate our services and give us an edge in the supply chain world. We had great success very early on, landing a few large customers, one of them being one of the country’s largest REITs and storage companies. When we handed them our technology, they were blown away by the level of sophistication and the value, and they asked if we would be willing to sell our technology to their suppliers so they could interact with the others as they interacted with us. That moment, combined with the fact that most businesses in the retail, hospitality and restaurant space (our target for AxisPoint) were getting decimated with no real end in sight due to COVID, we knew it was time to focus on spinning out a B2B SaaS business.
We always had plans to eventually put a SaaS product into the world, which is why we assembled an amazing co-founding team with specific SaaS and supply chain experience—we just did not think it would be this soon. Once we made the decision to move forward with the spinout in September of 2020, we went on a dead sprint to get it built & launched. Vsimple was officially born in February 2021, and we could not be prouder and more excited! This is a direct result of surrounding ourselves with incredibly talented people and our willingness to take a risk. There will be failure in our future—and if there is not, we are not trying hard enough—but there is nothing this team can’t accomplish!
- What resources have been the most beneficial to you in your entrepreneurial journey?
Anything and everything networking or leadership based have been invaluable. I joined a Vistage group three years ago, which is a personal and professional development organization that puts you in a group of 10-20 other business owners in our community. That group educated, encouraged and challenged me, and also gave me the courage to jump out into entrepreneurship. It also drastically opened my network, which is especially critical in the early stages of business when you are raising money and convincing people to believe in a team and a dream. Also, it enabled local area entrepreneurial connections such as Larry Horn, Kelby Price, Greg Langdon, Kyle Keeney and so many others. These connections coupled with those at LEAP, Amplify, GLI, 1SI, Business First, etc. have been invaluable. Networking is by far the most important thing anyone looking to start a business should be doing no matter the type of business.
I also believe that consistent curiosity and a drive to educate myself on leadership has been extremely impactful to my journey. I don’t have a formalized education in leadership, but have spent 20 years listening, reading & learning everything I can, specifically from the people who have gone before me. When you are starting a business you are a leader, whether you want to be one or not. So like everything else in life, if you have to be it, might as well be the best at it.
- I saw on your LinkedIn profile that you are a board member for Love City. Tell me about your experience there and how it has shaped the work that you do.
Actually, I just rolled off the board at Love City a few months ago after a four year run. I could spend hours telling you about Love City and its impact on me, my family and our community. Shawn and Inga Arvin, the husband and wife who started Love City, are two of the most compassionate and dedicated people I know. The organization was founded because Shawn and Inga took a leap of faith, sold their home in the east end & bought the Mackin Center off 26th St along with the home that came with it. Five years later, they have transformed the blocks surrounding 26th St and started building a community again. There are literally hundreds of stats I could provide you on the progress that has been made & the hundreds of lives that have been impacted in 5 short years, but the moral of the story for me is simple…love people and focus on others success no matter race, religion, economic status, political affiliation, etc.
My involvement with Love City has transformed me as a person, which directly impacts our business. At Vsimple, we have our BIG goal, which is what we are all striving to achieve: building a valuable company not just for us and our investors, but for our community. We want to build wealth so we can give back! Vsimple is a customer experience platform because, at our core, our job every day is to serve. Customer experience means doing everything in one’s power to ensure the success of another. We are doing that at Vsimple digitally, but also physically. We have a saying in our business: “relationships over transactions.” We are built to serve others, focusing on their success which fuels ours. Love City is a big part of my story today and into the future.