Robert Armstrong is a co-founder and the CEO of Appstem, a leading digital product agency based in San Francisco. Appstem is all about creating informed, human-centered innovations that transform complex business problems into elegant digital solutions.
But Appstem hasn’t always been at the top of the digital food chain, so to speak — Robert and the team come from humble beginnings. Appstem’s first big client came when Robert cold-called the CEO of Gold’s Gym in 2010…and since then, the firm has landed some impressive clients, such as Tesla, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, JetSuiteX, DUFL, Kaiser Permanente, Johnson & Johnson and more.
Appstem’s success thus far can be attributed to Robert’s core belief that you should only ever build a company that you enjoy. And while he loves growth more than just about anyone else on the planet, he will never sacrifice growth for building a company that he hates — or that anyone hates for that matter. Join us as Robert talks about the perks of heading a boutique firm, the benefits of Appstem’s “mellow” culture and why constantly spending on marketing may not be the best plan of action.
:51 — In-N-Out Burger or bust
2:39 — From salesman to co-founder/CEO
4:51 — Cross-country, track-and-field-star-turned-printer guy: A man of many talents
9:33 — In a world full of “no,” the few wins kept Robert trucking
12:59 — McDonald’s, cold-calling, enterprise sales: Sometimes the least glamorous jobs teach the most valuable lessons
14:51 — “That’s a solid burger!”: In-N-Out the only fast food Robert and Brian will eat
18:21 — Technology, entertainment and healthcare: The Armstrong family does it all
21:50 — Appstem turns 9, fatherhood begins: Robert’s current status in life
25:49 — Mobile apps, web apps, augmented reality, virtual reality, you name it — any technology is fair game for Appstem
27:50 — “Punch it!”: The time Robert drive a Tesla — and loved it
30:06 — Leave the Bay Area? Here’s what Robert would change if he had one magic wish
33:29 — “It’s pretty mellow”: Appstem believes a solid work-life balance is key to success
37:38 — As a boutique firm, Appstem can pick and choose which projects it takes on — and that’s the beauty of it
43:13 — Appstem’s clients lean on them to stay ahead of the curve
45:39 — Leaning into your team members and their specific skillsets is extremely valuable to building a successful business
50:09 — Letting someone go is never easy — but taking a very human approach eases the pain a bit
52:13 — Constantly spending more on marketing isn’t always the answer, especially in such a noisy world
55:16 — Electronic medical records will be primarily owned by the patients: Robert predicts the future
59:27 — Apple to compete with ride-sharing platforms in the future? Robert doesn’t think it’s farfetched
1:02:27 — Want to connect with Robert or Appstem? Head to appstem.com