Chris Riley was ticked. Caught in a speed trap near his office in Coral Gables, Florida, the officer flagged Chris down like he was a hardened criminal. Yes, he was speeding...but not by much. Since he forgot his proof of insurance, the total cost for his minor infraction was over 500 bucks. Seething, his only options were to pay up and incur points on his record, or to take time off work, hire a lawyer, and roll the dice to fight it.
In that moment, Chris decided to turn his frustration into opportunity. Reflecting on his mishap, he wondered if there was a way to help ticked off people better handle traffic tickets. After a little research, he learned that 95% of traffic violations in the US are paid in full, uncontested. So Chris did the natural thing....he started a company aptly named TIKD.
Here's how it works: the next time you get a speeding ticket, you now have a new option. Snap a picture of the ticket, type in the penalty amount on the mobile-friendly TIKD.com website, and within seconds you're given an offer. You can pay the offered amount, generally 20% lower than the stated fine, and that's it. You're all done. The company then sends in a lawyer to fight on your behalf, negotiating down the ticket price further and ensuring you get no points. In fact, if they can't get the points removed you get a full refund (the company has a 90%+ success rate). Meanwhile, TIKD makes money on the spread - the price you paid vs. the amount they can further negotiate down the ticket.
Launched in Miami, the company immediately took off. Chris has since expanded to serve Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Baltimore, with plans to cover the top 30 metro areas by 2018. Delighting customers (TIKD has 5-star ratings on both Google and Facebook) and generating its own growth capital, the company is enjoying fast-lane success.
Catching up with Chris in a recent interview, I asked what advice he'd provide to other growth leaders. "Sometimes you just have to put in the work," he tells me. "Good ideas are a start, but anything worth building takes incredible focus and tenacity. For example, I still go to each new market and sit in courtrooms for days to stay close to the business and look for new opportunities."
Inspired by Chris's story, I was reminded of three fundamental mindsets for entrepreneurial success:
1) Frustration is a heat map for opportunity. If you're ticked at something, others may be as well, which could uncover a brand new market opportunity.
2) Any problem can be solved with creativity. By scouring reams of traffic violation data, Chris discovered that the outcomes were predictable in large numbers. This creative approach led to his opening, and can lead to yours as well.
3) Simplicity wins. I don't think TIKD would be nearly as successful if the customer process was complicated. Chris took a highly complex thing and made it simple, which is a hallmark of the most successful innovators.
"The current system is broken and stagnant. We were able to solve inefficiency through technology, creating meaningful customer value and removing uncertainty," Chris told me. He was able to take a scientific approach to an age-old problem, resulting in happy customers and a killer business.
So the next time you're frustrated, angry, disappointed, or upset, let your imagination loose to discover fresh possibility. Chris Riley was able to convert 'ticked' into TIKD. What will you do the next time you're ticked?