All the best movies have twists and turns you never see coming. Though my guest this week hasn’t hit the big screen, his journey features enough plot twists to keep anyone guessing.
Scott Fultz started his adult life as a rockstar, playing and recording music you can find on Spotify and Amazon today.
“I don’t know if we ever reached full rockstar status,” he says, “but it was a good band. And it had a good run. Had a lot of fun throughout my twenties and, at some point, I decided it would be important to have some income.”
He got a job working in the computer department at Kinko’s, designing fliers and resumes. It didn’t take long for Scott to learn about a side hustle some of his coworkers had — offering graphic design services as freelancers.
“I met a lot of talented people [at Kinko’s]. I learned a ton from some of the people in there and that was great from an experience standpoint and really kind of helped me launch my freelance graphic design career that eventually turned into more of a programming career,” he says. “But other than that, the politics of being an employee and having managers...it’s tough. I felt like a pawn and I don't want to be a pawn. I’d rather be a king.”
Though he was new to freelancing, he was fairly comfortable with selling himself as a top choice for various clients. While working as both a band member and solo musician, he’d spent years finding and landing gigs. As his new adventure began, he discovered one thing that was critical to his success as a new freelancer — and the success of anyone starting out as an independent creator.
“Belief. You have to believe that you can help the person that you’re trying to sell. And if you don’t believe that, you can’t make them believe that,” he says. “And that’s really what it comes down to. Everything else is just packaging. But if that belief is not there, it’s not going to work out for you.”
Once his reputation for good work and word of mouth started maintaining a steady stream of work, he was able to focus more on the business side of things.
“It was then sort of managing my time and dealing with some of the tricky aspects of freelancing like sending out good invoices and designing proposals and so on,” he says. “And if it was a bigger gig that I wanted to land, you had to put some time into those things. You had to try to make that proposal look really smart, otherwise you were going to lose the gig to someone else.”
Using his new love of independent creating, he partnered with a musician friend in 1998 to create an ecommerce company (basically a pre-Shopify Shopify but more boutique) named Mountain Media. It was around this time that Scott met and hired a young graphic designer named Geoff Mina. \“So we hired him and he came in and was a precocious young guy, graphic designer, and had some computer chops,” he says. “And he caught fire with it, stayed with us for a bit and then he moved on and went on to do some other things. And from there on out, every time I hired a developer, I was disappointed.”
“So we hired him and he came in and was a precocious young guy, graphic designer, and had some computer chops,” he says. “And he caught fire with it, stayed with us for a bit and then he moved on and went on to do some other things. And from there on out, every time I hired a developer, I was disappointed.”
Nearly two decades later, in another twist, Geoff approached him with a new idea he had, something we would come to call Moxie. Scott, coincidentally, had just left Mountain Media, giving him the time and freedom to join this new venture. He had originally hoped to use this time to pursue his hobbies while freelancing on the side, but found he couldn’t say no.
As co-founder and head of engineering, Scott has been deeply involved in Moxie’s development. Rather than hiring off-shore developers, where things can get lost in the hand-off, he and Geoff have worked with a team of freelancers and team members to build the platform themselves.
“Keeping it close to home and keeping it really hands on and having two of the founders being so close to the actual writing of the code, actually writing the code, it sets us apart,” he says. “By keeping it close, I think we’re able to provide a better experience.”
Though he could have been enjoying days filled with couples yoga, mountain climbing, and playing music, he’s excited to see what’s next.
“I’m glad I took it on because I’m really having a lot of fun,” he says. “I thrive on learning and as you build something like this, you can’t help but learn a lot of new things. You’re educating yourself every step of the way. It’s been amazing.”
Hear the full conversation with Scott to learn why he couldn’t say no to Moxie, the freelancing mistake he wants to help others avoid, and how developers can become better problem solvers in their work.