Joey Ricard was born in Key West, the son and grandson of treasure hunters, so it isn’t surprising the Florida State University School of Information alumnus is now chasing modern-day treasures of his own as the president of a publicly traded tech incubator.
Ricard realized he had a knack for technology when he began building computers at 13 years old. After high school, Ricard worked for large computer retailers CompUSA and TigerDirect in the tech department, fixing computers and making pretty good money for a recent graduate with no certifications.
But Ricard’s brother was headed to college at Florida State and persuaded him it was in his best interest to further his education. Ricard followed his brother to Tallahassee where he attended Tallahassee Community College and worked full-time in the sales department of CompUSA.
After finishing his associate’s degree, Ricard continued his education at Florida State in Information Technology, which was a new major at the time. To put himself through school, Ricard worked as a network administrator at Florida State for a short time before CompUSA asked him to return as a consultant.
At 22 years old and before finishing his bachelor’s degree, Ricard created his first startup — a company that would go onsite and install wireless networks and servers for customers. Soon, he got a contract to manage the Internet for 3,500 students at off-campus housing such as Campus Lodge, Heritage Grove and Southgate Campus Center.
With a small investment from family and friends, Ricard expanded and opened The Tech Shop near campus at Southgate and hired fellow students part-time and as interns, giving them a chance to get hands-on experience and implement the technology they were learning.
Then, after graduation, it was time to move on. Ricard sold the company and headed to the West coast.
“I had a great, great set up (in Tallahassee),” Ricard said. “I could either be a big fish in a small pond or I could go out to Los Angeles and see what I could do out there.”
Ricard joined web development startup Ciplex in Los Angeles for a short time before heading back to Florida to partner with a friend on a cloud-computing platform from London, which was not a success.
“You learn from your failures what is important to change when you move onto your next start-up,” Ricard said. “There are a lot of complex variables when you start a business.”
Down but not out, Ricard went on to his next startup, creating the company European Navigation Corp., based out of Bremerhaven, Germany, which was dedicated to developing innovative technology solutions for American cars being imported into Europe. He generated over $1.8 million in sales from his laptop.
Ricard then founded Tunebash, a music app that worked anywhere in the world and is one of the largest trending music apps in the Philippines.
Now, at only 31 years old but an old pro in the startup business, Ricard is running the publicly traded Development Capital Group (DLPM), which gives anyone the opportunity to invest in technology startups by buying the company’s public stock.
“A lot of entrepreneurs are churning out apps and trying to get seed funding and critical mass, and then trying to go through a successful IPO if they ever get to that level,” Ricard said. “The odds trickle down lower and lower as you get to these milestones.”
DLPM invests in and develops businesses and technologies with significant potential for growth and customer acquisition. The company analyzes market trends and looks for opportunities to leverage their understanding of technologies to create efficiencies for under-serviced sectors.
“My theory is if we can all create different core products that have good value, then we can ask each other how we can bring value to each other by working together through one giant incubation process,” Ricard said.
At Florida State, Ricard learned some very important lessons that he has been able to transfer to the world of tech startups.
“What school taught me more than anything was to focus on something and finish it through,” Ricard said. “College also taught me about failure and how to fend for yourself.”
Ricard’s best advice for students with the entrepreneurial spirit is to concentrate on follow-through.
“Everybody has ideas, but in reality, it comes down to execution,” Ricard said.