Firmology’s How I Power My Business series profiles the technology business owners use to run and grow their business.
Firmology Founder’s Note: I first read about John Konrad in a lengthy Bloomberg Businessweek cover story about the blame game battle between BP and Transocean over who’s at fault for the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill. Several months later, I instantly remembered John’s name from the article when we connected online over a completely unrelated subject.
I was fascinated by John’s impressive background in the maritime and offshore drilling industry. After the Gulf Oil Spill, John wrote a book, Fire On The Horizon, about the disaster using the knowledge he obtained as an employee of Transocean for 7 years and the Chief Mate of the Discoverer Deep Seas oil rig. Retired from the dangerous oil rig life, he still earns his living from the deep blue sea as the founder of gCaptain, the top-visited maritime and offshore industry news website in the world.
Tell us a bit about you and your background:
I am a sailor by trade and have a license to captain the world’s largest ships but, today, most of my time is spent managing gCaptain.com the largest, most visited, online publication for the maritime industry. I also wrote Fire On The Horizon, (http://gcaptain.com/books) the best-selling book about the BP Gulf oil disaster.
What’s the story behind your business?
It all started eight years ago when some friends were developing a little application that allowed people surfing the web to “like” an article. The more people who liked an article, the more attention it got and on and on.
At the time I was sailing large ships and this new application was perfect for me. When you go out to sea you are isolated from your families and friends. You get the news online plus email and chat, but the satellite connections are too slow for skype so you miss the conversation, the context. I felt disconnected. With this app, I could see what people were talking about. I latched on to it, and became an early superuser.
The little application was Digg. It was the first and most successful of a series of social bookmarking sites. I chose not to invest early in Digg, a regret, but I had learned a lesson from this experience: the power of groups.
When I decided to launch a website of my own, I wanted to tap into this power. gCaptain has been able to do just that for mariners. The site has grown quickly and broadly. This has lead to many opportunities including my book deal with Harper Collins and the launch of other sites, including the widely-popular ski site UnofficialNetworks.com, that harness the same social dynamic.
What apps or services are essential to the operations of your business?
Our sites are built upon WordPress, which we have been using since 2005 and has grown along with our business. I work on a Macbook Pro and typically write my articles in TextMate (or the app “Drafts” on my iPad Mini), using TextExpander to assist in hardcoding any links and HTML. Our number one source of revenue comes from selling banner ad space and, to manage this, we use Google AdManager and Google Analytics.
For my next book, I am using a huge notepad (11″ x14″) and a fountain pen which eliminates all other distractions. I “back up” my writing frequently by taking photos of the note pad and uploading them to Evernote. I then use Dragon Dictate to get the words into my favorite manuscript program, Scrivener.
To stay productive I rely on…
Omnifocus is the cornerstone of my GTD based system. I always carry pen and paper to jot down ideas then, when I sit down at my desk, I type them into Omnifocus. I also use the iPhone app Mailbox and Followup.cc to help me keep track of email.
Which social media platforms does your business prefer to use and why?
Lightning Round: What apps or services do you recommend to other business owners?
Biggest time-saver(s)? I’m constantly taking photos of everything from daily parking stubs to contracts. Evernote For Business lets me search and organize everything.
Biggest money-saver(s)? Shoeboxed! This is Netflix for receipts and has a cool app for letting me record expenses on business trips.
Favorite mobile app(s)? Mailbox and Omnifocus
Favorite personal app(s)? Audible
How can others reach you?
Firmology Readers: Let’s hear your thoughts!
Do you have any questions or comments for John? Drop him a note in the comments below!
If you have a suggestion for someone we should feature, questions we should be asking, or would like to be featured on Firmology’s How I Power My Business series, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: How I Power My Business