Firmology’s How I Power My Business series profiles the technology business owners use to run and grow their business.
Name: Mana Ionescu
Title: Founder and President
Business: Lightspan Digital
Smartphone: iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S2
Tablet: iPad and iPad Mini
Computer: iMac, MacBook Air
Other Gadgets: Kindle, Garmin Forerunner 310xt running computer, and a SCUBA diving computer. Should I keep going?
What’s the story behind your business?
I like to build things. As a kid I loved legos, electronics, and chemistry sets. That’s what drives me to this day—doing, driving change, building. I moved here from Romania to go to grad school. After grad school I moved to Chicago with $20 to my name. And I was planning to build a career. People helped me and as soon as I got my first job, I decided I will always help others build lives and careers to be proud of.
I worked corporate for about eight years, and I had a fantastic career, but I wasn’t really building and I wasn’t building on my values and love for people and community. Once I became a US citizen, my drive to participate in growing communities was renewed. At the same time, I was doing pro-bono work for a non-profit and I saw the value in social media work. I documented the process and realized I had the blueprint for something that could turn into a business. I decided to go for it and I never looked back.
Lightspan is now in a position where we help—we help non-profits through Chicago Cause and I help start-ups as a teacher and mentor with different programs housed at 1871. The Lightbugs are all involved with different charities and local community-focused efforts, from Gateway for Cancer Research’s Team Demand to Paws, from the Door County Half Marathon to LoganSquarist: we have a group of employees who love, live, learn and teach. And those are just four of Lightspan’s 10 values. As long as we keep living the values we will be able to grow Lightspan and the businesses around us. We’ll just keep on building.
What apps or services are essential to the operations of your business?
Believe it or not, we went from digital to analog this year. It became clear to us that most software and apps require that we fit within a pre-set methodology. We decided to take a step back, go analog, accept and evolve our own methodology, and later this year we’ll pick or design tools based on that. So right now, good ‘ole spreadsheets, Google Docs and Dropbox storage are our essential tools.
What apps, services or gadgets do you recommend to other business owners?
TaskRabbit. Whenever I’ve been in a pinch (needed a designer for an overnight job, or someone to deliver a Christmas tree to the office) I turn to TaskRabbit.
Not buying things you don’t need.
Favorite mobile app(s)?
I love many apps that are also desktop apps. But mobile first, I love Cardmunch, Soundhound, Feedly, Uber and Roku Remote. Oh, and Walgreens. They’ve done a great job with their mobile app and rewards program.
Favorite personal app(s)?
How can others reach you?
Other: mana at lightspandigital.com or manamica on skype.
If you have a suggestion for someone we should feature, additional questions we should be asking, or would like to be featured on Firmology’s How I Power My Business series, email [email protected] with the subject line: How I Power My Business