LED Flashlights? What could we use them for in the 21st century? For those interested in hiking or visiting remote areas, Illumination Supply’s powerful flashlights come in handy. (Or perhaps even in darker streets like Saratoga.) I met Craig this past year, where I was supremely impressed with how he managed to start his own company at just 21 years old. Today, we’re pleased to bring an interview with Craig Shih, founder and CEO of Illumination Supply.
Wonderland Organics: How did Illumination Supply start?
Craig Shih: My major back in college was business administration, and it’s always been an interest of mine. Unfortunately, I wasn’t happy with how I was not able to attend the upper division classes – so I started a business to get a jump start on what I would be learning about later. So far, I have not regretted this decision, though some processes would be easier if I knew what I know now.
Craig Shih: When I was very young I was afraid of the dark. Lights helped! I’ve always been interested in anything related to light, be it producing or capturing. I was interested in coherent light (lasers), incoherent light (“normal” lights), and photography. I’m able to pursue my other interests now as I have a larger budget.
Wonderland Organics: It’s great that you pursued something you have a vested interest in. What’s the best part of being your own boss?
Craig Shih: You don’t need someone else to tell you that you’re doing a good job. That should be evident! Working for yourself also means that everything you do furthers your own goals, not someone else’s. Generally speaking, the reward is proportional to how much work you put in.
Wonderland Organics: This is definitely true. We often find ourselves working past midnight, but the satisfaction has been uplifting. Tell us a little about your workday.
Craig Shih: Illumination Supply isn’t a single person business anymore, so I assigned more of the day to day operations (warehouse work/shipping) to someone else. My primary focus right now is finding or developing new products, which generally involve hours of research and communication with manufacturers and clients. However, I’m still fully involved on the customer service side of things, so the first thing I do in the mornings is start answering phone calls and emails, followed by paperwork/invoicing in the afternoons. Quite glamorous, I know.
Wonderland Organics: We think most people don’t realize how unglamorous starting your own business is most of the time. You’re doing such a wonderful job! What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?
Craig Shih: It’s a good idea to have worked for someone else beforehand. Work ethic needs to be developed before you start working for yourself, or you’ll be too casual about it. You’re allowed to become more casual after you’ve established yourself! Starting a business is not difficult with just a handful of paperwork and some ideas.The hard part is implementing those ideas and continuing your business after a few years to experience growing pains. Have a plan for that point, because it is going to happen if you’re serious about your work. (and have a good idea, of course!) At that point you either do well or fail.
Wonderland Organics: Thank you for the advice! Drive, and an incredible business plan definitely ranks up there. What’s your favorite part of the Wonderland Organics blog?
Craig Shih: Friday interviews! It’s rare to get this kind of insight into other entrepreneurs.
Thanks so much to Craig for talking to us today! Interested or in need of flashlights? Come check out their newly vamped website here! Let us know in the comments below if you love our Interview Fridays 🙂