We had the good fortune of connecting with Theo Stephens and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Theo, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I believe to take no risk is the greatest risk of all. But yet risk is defined by the beholder. What seems risky to me may not seem risky to another and vice versa. When I decided to go into business I looked at it like dating. I knew I could get hurt, and needed to be okay with that. Probably the biggest reason why I’m okay with taking risks is my philosophy of looking at everything with curiosity and treating it as a learning opportunity instead of a failure. I believe that is imperative for anyone considering entrepreneurship; there will be many things that don’t go well and to be prepared to learn from them. I’ve tried to teach that to my daughter too as an outlook on life. It’s easy to take risks when I am the one in control. But I can also become my own limiting factor since there are business skills I don’t know anything about that are necessary to expand my business. The biggest risk I took was investing in someone else for an area I didn’t know anything about. I hired someone to help me with marketing. It felt risky and vulnerable to give up control, knowing I could get burned, but I also knew it would be holding my company back if I didn’t take that risk.
What should our readers know about your business?
I didn’t start my company because I wanted to be an entrepreneur. In fact, I don’t even think of myself as an entrepreneur. I think of myself as a problem solver, and that is what sets me apart. Profit wasn’t the first thing. The first thing was to make a product that leaves the world in a better place. To create a service that makes someone’s life better that does not compromise someone’s health, life or the environment. Everyone had to win. I had to solve a problem but at the expense of nobody else. My litmus test for every decision was how could I make someone’s life better, without making something else worse. I got interested in egress windows because I was looking to make convertible housing (basement apartments) as a way to help people with their finances. I was interested in making houses that are conducive to making rental income that didn’t require roommates. As I looked into that, I discovered 3 problems with converting basements into apartments: Soundproofing (easily solved) Heat (easily solved) Escape windows (difficult to solve, complex and expensive) The problem was that installing an egress window involved 6 different trades: concrete cutter, structural engineer, iron worker, excavator, carpenter, dumpster. A GC is needed but the job isn’t big enough to make any specific trade any money. No one specialized in this – what if I took all these trades and put them onto one truck. And that’s the problem I solved. I created a quality product; a DIY egress window kit https://brightideaegress.com/products/egress-window-kit-proven-innovation-in-egress-design that is an engineered solution, sleek, robust, high-quality product, that is safer, more efficient, and works with all foundation types. And it can be installed in one day.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are many things I love to do and share with others. Here is a partial list: Boulder – hiking and a meal in Boulder. Local wilderness area. Eagles Nest Wilderness. Concert at Red Rocks. Skin up Loveland to go skiing after hours. Paddle boarding at Longmont Reservoir. Dinner at Tavernetta. Rockies Game. Take them to the Bright Idea Egress warehouse. Visit the Museum of Natural History.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Greek immigrant work ethic. I believe my strong sense of internal locus of control, that I have control over the events that influence my life, come from my heritage. I am dedicated to that feeling; to that spirit in my heart that says I’m going to come out on top. It’s a feeling that comes from within; it doesn’t come from reading a book. It’s a spirit that flows through me, like a little fire that doesn’t go out, and drives my entrepreneurial spirit. I am grateful for that.