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Monday, November 19 , 2018, 12:28 pm | Partly Cloudy with Haze 65º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Santa Barbara’s ONTRAport Puts Entrepreneurs at Ease With Advice, Software

Local company to host its fourth annual ONTRApalooza conference helping people grow their businesses

ONTRAport founder and CEO Landon Ray addresses attendees of a past ONTRApalooza conference in Santa Barbara.
ONTRAport founder and CEO Landon Ray addresses attendees of a past ONTRApalooza conference in Santa Barbara.  (ONTRAport photo)

Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

That piece of advice cautioning to take on only what tasks you can handle was simple yet essential for Linda Croyle, a first-time entrepreneur trying to get her holistic healing and wellness business off the ground after leaving a 20-plus career in residential housing at UC Santa Barbara.

She heard the tidbit in 2010 at the first ONTRApalooza, an event now in its fourth year and put on by Santa Barbara-based ONTRAport, which offers small to mid-sized businesses automated software services.

ONTRApalooza sounds more like the name of a music festival than a business conference — maybe because that’s the type of awe Croyle has for the two-day event.

“It just blew my mind,” the Everything Healed owner said. “They pull out all the stops.”

Not taking on too much, over promising or under delivering was among the most sage advice she’s received.

The fourth annual ONTRApalooza returns to the Lobero Theatre this Thursday and Friday, and Croyle will be among the 400 or so business-savvy attendees out to nurture and grow their ventures.

Some breakout sessions show how to better use ONTRAport software — offering a one-stop-shop platform for marketing, bookkeeping and other essential yet technical aspects of running a business — but many keynote speakers share tips for new and seasoned entrepreneurs.

ONTRAport has been working to take technological challenges away from entrepreneurs since 2006, when founder and CEO Landon Ray developed the software while working for another small company.

He and fellow serial entrepreneur Lena Requist, ONTRAport’s COO, came up with ONTRApalooza after attending their fair share of business and marketing conferences.

Once there, business owners would be inundated with 100 new tasks but no priority list or plan of action.

“They’re really giving these business owners the wrong information and advice, not to say that we have all the right answers,” Requist told Noozhawk.

“That’s not the way to build a business, in my opinion. Our philosophy about building businesses isn’t about jumping from one fire or opportunity to the next. It’s about looking at what’s amazing in your business.”

And then creating processes around what you’re already good at, she said.

ONTRAport might not know all the answers, but the company that’s grown from a half-dozen employees to more than 100 has been getting a lot of attention.

ONTRAport has been named a fastest growing company on Inc.’s 500/5000 list three years running, along with mentions as one of Forbes’ 100 Most Promising Companies and as a Great Place to Work.

Entrepreneurs from more than 60 countries across the globe use its software — 60 percent of its business is international — and about 20 percent of ONTRApalooza attendees are from outside the U.S., Requist said.

She said about half of all conference attendees are software users.

“It’s my favorite time of year,” she said of ONTRApalooza.

“I love meeting our customers. One of the things we’ll talk about is the idea of creating remarkable experiences. The people who create products and services need to shift their focus to what kind of remarkable experiences they can deliver for their clients.”

Croyle, who is taking advantage of the discounted ticket she gets as a local, said she’s looking forward to learning how to further grow her business operating out of two office locations in Santa Barbara and Goleta.

She wants to one day have a healing center, where other like-minded practitioners who treat chronic pain or illness outside of traditional western medicine could also work.

“To me, it’s kind of a no brainer,” Croyle said. “If you live in the area and you are a business person or entrepreneur — or both — there’s something for everyone at this conference.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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