Interview: Patrick Sheridan, Co-founder of Modus Create

Patrick Sheridan is a serial entrepreneur who wants companies to take advantage of innovative technologies to accelerate their success in the digital economy. As a digital expert, Patrick believes that businesses today must rethink their strategies in order to become competitive in a market that’s always in flux, while delivering valuable services to their customers.

“Businesses need to shift to a platform approach in their business model, integrating the value proposition of several partners,” Patrick Sheridan says. While completely overhauling business strategies should be challenging for companies, since most consulting firms prefer to stick to conventional thinking, Patrick knows the time is ripe for industry disruption. This idea led to his co-founding of Modus Create, an innovative consulting firm that wants to help business reconceptualize their techniques to compete in the digital economy.

If you work with Patrick Sheridan and Modus Create, that means your company wants to try something new. You want to work with a company that understands clearly how to use commercial, open source technology. You want to work with a company that has a “maker mindset.”

Patrick Sheridan has grown Modus Create into a team spanning six continents in more than 50 cities around the world. For example, the company has offices in Los Angeles, Costa Rica, and Romania. The team is also distributed along several time zones, and they work remotely or at the office. This strategy means their clients can rest assured that Modus Create is always working on their projects, leading to high engagement from remote employees.

Currently, Patrick Sheridan wants Modus Create to expand across Asia, therefore improving its services and ability to deliver teams that align with clients under Asian time zones. Modus believes in a future world that is connected by technology, controlled and enabled by cutting-edge software.

Check out more interviews with industry disruptors here.


Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out?

Patrick Sheridan: Our team has an amazing culture. When my partner, Jay Garcia, and I started Modus Create we talked a lot about how most firms we had worked at had no real sense of their “social contract” with their employees. This is something that is core to why I believe people work — and more importantly, stay — at Modus. Modus is designed to increase the market value of Modites (our employees). By working here, you gain the experience and the ability to leverage our platform to develop your personal brand as a product or technology community leader. I feel this contract also extends to our clients as well; we want to make them hard to compete with, more so than just helping them build them an app or product. It’s a mindset thing and is a very powerful cultural connecting tissue for a company that is 100% remote worldwide.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story?

Patrick Sheridan: When we started to expand the global team, many developers would tell Jay and me that they were surprised that the company executives could also code. Many folks across our team have described to me how they felt like second class citizens in other firms that have traditional outsourcing or offshoring development models — basically, firms that had low cost engineering as the core value proposition of their business. There are multiple instances within our history of a Modite who first engages by writing a few blogs about some interesting tech they employed on a client assignment, and then goes on to work on some of the open source projects with that technology in Modus Labs. Eventually, they are submitting conference talks, creating content on our YouTube channel, and sometimes even co-authoring a book with some fellow colleagues. This is our culture in a nutshell — we believe when leaders focus on building up the team, great things happen.

Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Patrick Sheridan: I think a strong daily routine is critical for success. Segmenting your weekdays in planned meetings and planned working time also helps greatly.

Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

Patrick Sheridan: My father is a huge influence in my life. As one of five kids, his focus was always for us to be self-reliant. I see many kids who think getting a college degree is the ticket, but I’m thankful for the self-discipline, willpower, and work ethic my father drove into us.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story?

Patrick Sheridan: From as early as I can remember my dad had a daily workout routine. One summer we would all get up at 6 AM and go run around the high school track with him as he prepared to compete in the law enforcement olympics in New York. I remember hating it the first few times he made us get up. By the end of the summer, though, my older brother and I were excited to get up and race each other every morning. This is the kind of willpower and drive my father instilled in us.

Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share a few examples of different ideas that eCommerce businesses are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?

Patrick Sheridan: I see many brands engaging on social channels, especially those focused on younger audiences. As the dad of two teenagers, I’ve been amazed to see just how fast apps like TikTok have become major platforms. Leveraging influencers and experimenting with collaborations on these channels seems to be having real results. Additionally, deeper integration into apps like Instagram that allow for purchase conversion directly from a post allows for a frictionless purchase experience.

A lot of companies we are talking to are also looking to offer personalized app experiences for their consumers, with deeper customization options for certain products or “companion app” style features to more easily manage preferences and stay engaged with a brand.

Jerome Knyszewski: Amazon, and even Walmart are going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

Patrick Sheridan: Develop your brand and identify your brand advocates. Consider collaborations with other companies to extend your market upstream and downstream to extend your price points.

Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start an eCommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Patrick Sheridan: There are several common mistakes I’ve seen CEOs and founders make when starting an eCommerce business. One of the most common ones is getting wrapped around the technology axle — they’re so focused on building their own platform or application that they fail to focus on developing their market segments. Instead, use trusted third-party platforms and focus your efforts on building out your market.

Similarly, I see a lot of businesses fall down the rabbit hole of and get too focused on what they are building, not what is actually driving transactions. This is where third party platforms can also help — by leveraging a third-party platform, businesses are less bogged down in the details and are able to focus on the bigger picture. If you are building the app or platform in house, it’s critical to step back and focus on not just what you’re building, but more importantly, why you are building it.

Another common mistake is many of these businesses aren’t focusing enough on the critical data that is coming in — they might have a lot of data but many aren’t using it and analyzing it to gain key insights for questions such as, why are they dropping out of the funnel/shopping cart? The information businesses are able to get today with multi/omni-channel platforms is enormous — use it!

Lastly, this last one might seem obvious but it’s a problem I still see everywhere in eCommerce: people don’t always use good photos and descriptions (or even include a description). Without a good description, it’s extremely difficult to increase organic engagement because you’re probably not showing up highly ranked (or even at all) in Google. Good photos are also important because today’s digital consumer expects it, and there’s really no excuse considering today’s iPhones and Androids take great quality pictures. Both of these mistakes are relatively easy to fix, it’s just a matter of putting forth the time and effort needed to get it done.

Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running an eCommerce brand tends to be most underestimated?

Patrick Sheridan: Creating demand with limited runs and developing brand collaborations. All too often early brands are trying to achieve scale quickly and end up failing to develop their brand and maintain a continuous dialog with their customers. They’re pouring their starting money into large, wholesale purchases of products or on business cards and logo designs, when they should be figuring out what their business is — this is where your focus should be.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you explain or give an example?

Patrick Sheridan: I think there are many interesting lessons to be learned from companies like Supreme and BAPE. Coordinating “drop days” and engaging with customers on social channels has built each brand a huge following and almost cult-like status, both because of the exclusivity of the product and the “hype” they build around its release.

Jerome Knyszewski: One of the main benefits of shopping online is the ability to read reviews. Consumers love it! While good reviews are of course positive for a brand, poor reviews can be very damaging. In your experience what are a few things a brand should do to properly and effectively respond to poor reviews? How about other unfair things said online about a brand?

Patrick Sheridan: The guiding principles should always be honesty and transparency — just like an executive responding to a review of the company on Glassdoor. Take the time to make the reviewer feel heard and understood, then demonstrate tangible next steps to address feedback.

For the unfair or radical/aggressive feedback, the most important thing to keep in mind is to not feed the “trolls.” In most cases, your brand advocates will defend unjustified claims for you.

Jerome Knyszewski: You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Patrick Sheridan: In some ways I feel very fortunate that my work within Modus Create is already on that journey. Amazing things happen when you align personal passion and professional purpose. All of the technology that is disrupting the old economy is also democratizing many aspects of society that were once out of reach for many people. With the internet you can learn for free, start an eCommerce business in a day, develop a brand for free on social channels — it’s truly an amazing time to be alive.

With Modus I want to continue to build a platform that allows people to work in the digital age no matter their location, and through that, work to contribute back to the open source and emerging tech communities that are the foundation of all of this innovation.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Patrick Sheridan: You can find me on LinkedIn.

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!



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