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365 Retail Markets

1743 Maplelawn Dr
Troy, MI 48084

Joe Hessling, balancing CEO and shareholder duties

Joe Hessling wears two hats when he is building 365 Retail Markets, a startup reinventing vending machines in Troy. As the company's founder he is its largest shareholder concerned about its overall valuation. As the firm's CEO is also worried about building the venture into a sustainable business.

That often means balancing between the need to raise seed capital and the desire to maintain ownership percentage.

"We're always looking for money," Hessling says. "The question is whether we are taking it or not."

365 Retail Markets' principal product is what it calls "MicroMarket technology," which serves the vending, foodservice and hospitality industries. The MicroMarkets offers a 24/7 unmanned self-checkout system that serves fresh food and beverage alternatives at workplaces across the U.S. Think of it as easy-access vending machines that make purchases simple and convenient for the consumer.

365 Retail Markets is a gazelle in the startup world. It's gone from a few thousand dollars in revenue a few years ago to a multi-million-dollar firm over the last year. It’s hiring like crazy to keep up with demand, and coming up with ways to monetize its products nearly as fast.

"This is my eighth business," Hessling says. "I know a good business from a bad business and this is a good business. When you got a good one you want to preserve it and make it work well."

That means preserving his ownership share. However, focus on that too much and you can starve a growing business of the seed capital it needs to grow quickly. Leveraging large amounts of money often requires giving up some equity. 365 Retail Markets recently raised a $3 million Series A round but isn't actively fundraising right now.

"My shareholder hat says no dilution," Hessling says. "My CEO hat says let's come up with some great products and some new ways to make money so dilution isn't a problem."

Hessling estimates that he wears his CEO hat about 90 percent of the time he is running the company. His inner shareholder helps inspire the CEO side of him to be as frugal as possible when building 365 Retail Markets, but it's still a tough balance to strike.

"Nearly every day it's the CEO hat," Hessling says. "Shareholder is secondary for me because this is my baby, and I care."

- Written by Jon Zemke

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