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Executive Voice

How Dustin Rea Emerged From Selling Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwiches To Becoming a CEO of Red Hook Interactive, a Founder’s Story.

Dustin Rea is one of the most highly sought-after SaaS product developers specializing in B2B SaaS platforms. For the last 10 years, Dustin has been working with founders to bring dream products to life.

Today, as the founder and CEO of Red Hook Interactive, he leads a full-service product development agency comprised of talented designers, engineers, and product managers who work with business owners and entrepreneurs to bring their products to life!


Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?

I grew up in Columbus, Indiana where I spent a lot of time on the computer. I have always been interested in the internet because I could learn about almost any topic and communicate with people from all over the world. I found it fascinating how people would connect through video games, forums, and chat applications.


How did you get started as an entrepreneur?

In high school, I would sell peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before lunch so that I could have more lunch money.

A few years later I started to learn about computer programming and building websites. In college, I was working at a pizza place but I knew there was something more meaningful I could be working on. I quit my job and started a web hosting company by renting a server and then selling space for websites on the server. As a way to earn new clients, I would offer to make websites that would include a year of free web hosting with auto-renewal.

One day I stumbled on website auctions where you could buy an online business that someone was selling. I noticed many people were looking for a way to start online businesses. I created some website templates for a few different services such as Search Engine Optimization or Design. This type of service work can be outsourced for new business owners looking to find a way to get started.

I started to create websites to sell on these auction platforms that would include an entire online business. Some of those new clients wanted completely custom websites and solutions for new products they wanted to create.

In my final year of college, I decided to sell the web hosting business and focus on school while I thought about my next venture. Once I graduated, I quickly opened my next business, Red Hook Interactive, a software product development firm.


What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?

The number one lesson I have learned is to be consistent with your start-up. I believe showing up every day to work on your business will help you consistently make progress toward your goal.

Consistently focus on just getting one or two important things done each day. Make time for entrepreneurial activities and strategy. Do not spend all of your energy on day-to-day operations. Consistently schedule a time to be the entrepreneur and think through how to expand your business. Take time to think about the challenges you are having and how to overcome them. Research what other people have done when presented with similar challenges.

Reach out to a professional to help propel you forward when you feel stuck or if you aren’t moving at the speed you wish you were. Sometimes even some free advice from a quick strategy call may show you the path forward.

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