Often, startup stories focus more on the product and company than they do the people that made them possible. We at The Startup Collaborative have found that our mission statement to allow everyone an unbiased investment thesis to building their own tech-centric company allows us to step aside and let the entrepreneurs be center stage. The Behind the Founder campaign is meant to do just that —  let the stories of those who call themselves TSC Fellows be told from their own perspective.

What’s your name?

John Stuifbergen

Where are you from?

Raised in Norfolk, NE. I’ve moved to Omaha for college and never left.

How did your upbringing influence you today?

Growing up, my parents fostered a creative atmosphere. They encouraged me out of my comfort zone to try & experience different things. 

Whether you’ve met them or not, who is one REAL person that has influenced you?

My mom is a lover & collector of antiques. As a young kid, we’d travel from Norfolk to Valentine a few times a year to stay with our grandma – my mom would pop into every antique store in every town along the way – going there and coming home. The items she’d bring back to the car usually fit into 1 or 2 categories: “Check out what I bought for $2 – it’s worth $50”, or it was something dingy beyond recognition – then she’d bring it into our garage and apply a thick dollop of elbow grease and lovin’ bring out its original beauty. Know your market and find an opportunity where others don’t, and most of all – work hard. Thanks, Mom! My dad was also a huge influence in my life as well, but that’s a story for another day 🙂

Who is one FICTIONAL character that has inspired your life/career and why?

No single character comes immediately to mind. I’m a big fan of Jaws, so I’ll go with Chief Martin Brody, played by Roy Scheider. Having to deal with the man-eating shark, he didn’t always have all the answers. On top of that, he had to deal with a mayor without a backbone and obstinate business owners unwilling to acknowledge the problem. He eventually surrounded himself with people who complimented his skills and [spoiler!] ended up saving the island.

From a sketch on a napkin to officially starting up, what triggered the inception of your company?

It all started while my wife and I were walking our dogs and came across a great house. It had pretty landscaping, a cute exterior, a separate 3rd car garage, and a pool. We said to ourselves, “if that house ever goes up for sale, we should try to buy it.” We thought about what that process would be: We could leave a note. We could stop and introduce ourselves while they’re watering their lawn. That problem we saw was if they’re not ready to see right now, they’ll forget our name or eventually assume we’ve lost interest… That was the spark.

Within The Startup Collaborative, what level was the most challenging for you, your company and why?

Level 2 – All those damn surveys. It was tough finding both 100 potential home buyers and 20+ real estate professionals willing to answer my questions. It took some work! 

Within The Startup Collaborative, what level has been the most rewarding for you, your company and why?

Level 4 – MVP. It allowed me to ideate and refine the features in the application users would want and appreciate.

Presently, what does a typical day look like for you and your company?

This continues to be a side-gig for me, alongside my day job as a manager for a few development teams at Buildertrend. My time spent working on iHeartYourHouse is done a few hours each morning before the family wakes up, over lunch, and sometimes late in the evenings.

What’s next for you and your company?

The next foreseeable things to focus on are growing the home buying and loving users and I’m exploring partnerships with real estate brokerages.