Jim and Adam started ULink because they were tired of old-fashioned networking organizations, the kind where people push business cards and unwanted “elevator pitches” in your face. They designed ULink as a business development organization centered on a mobile application where users can send referrals and links using the phone instead of having to wait for a weekly meeting where they pass a basket of referral slips. Also meetings are a maximum of one hour and completely unscripted.
The road that led to ULink was, by no means, a linear path. Both Adam and Jim came from a very diverse background. Adam started out in a traveling sales job, selling health club memberships and ended up becoming a web developer in Northern California. Jim started out as a comedy writer for Saturday Night Live, went on to teach courses on humor at Sacramento State University and travels extensively as a speaker and consultant. He is also one of the founding partners of Folsom Lake Bank. He admits that the appeal of starting ULink was borne out a desire to spend less time on the road.
The conversation meandered, as it does on the Keg, to how these ventures got created. Jim explained how ULink and Folsom Lake Bank started after conversations over beers where ideas got sketched out on napkins. We noted that CDK Creative began in a similar fashion, talking about what we *don’t* like about a particular business or industry and then going on to break the mold and create a whole new model.
Jim started Folsom Lake Bank in 2007, before the banking crisis and at first the idea was not well-received in the community because the prevailing belief was that the big banks were safer. Once the crisis happened, their customer base increased considerably. “We’re a boutique business bank,” Jim says, catering to small business owners.
The goal of ULink is not to pass business cards or have the highest number of members in a chapter, but to build relationships and help people develop businesses. As our producer says, at work, “everyone has advice but no one has experience.” This helps provide a forum where entrepreneurs can give one another useful feedback to grow their businesses.