Episode 167: Ben Johnson -Legacy to Leading-Edge, Tailored Tech Solutions, Modernizing Businesses

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In this dynamic episode of the builders, host Matt engages with Ben Johnson, the innovative CEO behind Particle 41, to unravel the complex interplay between technology, entrepreneurship, and business growth. The dialogue opens doors into the formulaic aspects of transforming ideas into executable and profitable business ventures, with Ben underscoring the vitality of thorough market research and entrepreneurial adaptability.

The conversation covers the nuances of business strategy, market segmentation, and the importance of addressing industry needs with a creative touch. Pondering the technological advancements since the days of the Commodore 64, Ben reminisces on his formative experiences with tech and how his journey has led him to equip companies with the tools to thrive in a modern, digitally-driven landscape.

Key insights into the role of technology in scaling businesses are explored as Ben maps out the process of transitioning from legacy systems to cloud-based solutions. As an advocate for custom software at customer-touch points, he provides a pragmatic view on leveraging technology as a conduit for business growth and customer engagement.

Key Takeaways:

  • A successful entrepreneur needs to validate their business ideas with market research and be willing to pivot or adapt as necessary.
  • Building a business often requires a co-founder or team that can complement one's skill sets and share a unified vision for growth.
  • Moving businesses from legacy systems to the cloud is not merely trendy; it's strategic for scalability and future-proofing.
  • Investing in custom software can offer high value at the intersection between customer experience and brand identity.
  • Engaging in mastermind groups and seeking counsel through coaching or advisory services can be pivotal for business owners at any growth stage.

Ben Johnson

Benjamin Johnson is the CEO & Founder of Particle41.

Benjamin Johnson is a serial technical co-founder with a track record of success and hands-on open-source programming experience. He has a wide range of being both a board-level advisor and founder but also an in-depth understanding of how things work. Through his 20+ years as a software developer and leader, he has gained extensive experience with remotely distributed development teams and business hacks.

Benjamin is the CEO & Founder of Particle41, a dev firm founded by industry veterans that aims to help companies accelerate their initiatives through Software Development, DevOps, and Data Science.

With a constant focus on results and ways to improve, Benjamin is having fun building highly scalable and highly secure applications.


  • Introduction to Ben Johnson and Particle 41
    • Background and role at Particle 41
    • Journey from a tech enthusiast to a CEO
  • The Entrepreneurial Formula: Idea to Execution
    • Importance of market research in validating business ideas
    • The dynamic process of ideation and adaptation
  • Building a Complementary Team
    • The significance of finding the right co-founder or team
    • How diverse skills and visions drive business growth
  • From Commodore 64 to Cloud Computing: A Technological Odyssey
    • Early experiences with technology and their impact
    • Transitioning businesses to modern, digital infrastructures
  • Navigating the Shift from Legacy Systems to Cloud-Based Solutions
    • Strategic reasons for moving to the cloud
    • The benefits of cloud computing for scalability and innovation
  • The Power of Custom Software in Enhancing Customer Experience
    • Custom software as a tool for unique customer engagement
    • Tailored solutions at the customer-brand intersection
  • Leveraging Mastermind Groups and Advisory Services
    • The value of community and coaching in entrepreneurial growth
    • Recommendations for engaging with mastermind groups
  • Conclusion: Key Insights and Takeaways
    • Recap of Ben Johnson's insights on technology and entrepreneurship
    • The importance of continual learning and adaptation in business

Click to See Episode Chapters and Timestamp

0:00:00Matt and Ben discuss the importance of executing ideas and market research.
0:01:03Entrepreneurs often find missing pieces in the market and explore new opportunities.
0:01:42Introduction to Ben Johnson, CEO and founder of Particle 41.
0:02:54Ben shares his background as a military brat and his journey in building various businesses.
0:04:40Ben talks about his experience in the travel industry and selling a company to Legalzoom.
0:06:04Ben describes the roles of his team members and their complementary skills.
0:08:15Ben's early interest in technology and his experience with Commodore 64.
0:10:23Ben's passion for computers led him to study computer science in college.
0:11:29Ben discusses the ups and downs of his previous businesses and the lessons he learned.
0:13:17Ben talks about his role in a travel marketing company and the success of targeted advertising.
0:13:46Ben's previous businesses and joining Investing Channel
0:14:18Discussion about Investing Channel's uncensored channel
0:15:20Starting Particle 41 and creating an LLC formation API
0:16:16Integration of the LLC formation API with various brands
0:16:52Selling the LLC formation API to LegalZoom
0:17:34Process of coming up with innovative ideas
0:18:14Criteria for evaluating founders and their ideas
0:19:20Product development process and idea validation
0:20:10Factors that contribute to the success of a business idea
0:21:14Exploring market research and finding missing pieces
0:22:08Services provided by Particle 41: CTO advisory and software development
0:22:43Application modernization and transition to the cloud
0:24:02Challenges in convincing businesses to invest in cloud migration
0:25:42Pressure to modernize legacy systems and replace outdated technology
0:26:27Challenges in data migration and coexistence of old and new systems
0:27:21Strangulation pattern for transitioning to new architecture
0:27:54Evolutionary process of migrating customers from old to new products
0:28:27Need for a synchronization layer or shimmer between old and new
0:29:06Leveraging technology to scale and grow a business
0:30:07Categorizing and selecting best-of-breed tools for different business needs
0:31:36Importance of high-value custom software at the customer-brand intersection
0:33:34Unifying multiple tools and services for a seamless customer experience
0:34:34Understanding the landscape of tools and making informed decisions
0:36:02Switching costs and stage-appropriate tool selection
0:39:08Importance of systematizing and evaluating business tools
0:40:34Learning from past experiences and advising based on scar tissue
0:41:06Matt advises against a certain approach
0:41:08Ben agrees and shares insights on WordPress multisite
0:41:57Matt asks where someone should start to grow their business
0:42:23Ben suggests reaching out to him on LinkedIn or joining a mastermind group
0:43:03Ben recommends Collective 54 for service-based businesses
0:44:12Ben encourages finding a coach or CEO coaching
0:45:14Matt discusses the value of mastermind groups and coaching
0:45:44Ben shares his positive experience with mastermind groups
0:46:44Ben mentions Rise Up Kings and Collective 54 as helpful mastermind groups
0:48:08Matt and Ben discuss how to reach out to Ben and his upcoming website
0:48:34Matt and Ben emphasize the importance of conversation and getting help
0:49:14Matt concludes the episode and mentions his agency, Unified Web Design
Matt Levenhagen
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