Henry Balanon on Following an Entrepreneurial PathBy Yvelette Stines on January 19th, 2015 /
Once the entrepreneurial spirit is in your soul, there is always an encouraging tug that directs you to develop innovative ways to pursue your dreams. This drive and passion is no different for Henry Balanon, Co-founder and CTO of Stratos, a company that has created an easier way to use credit cards and payments systems.
As a computer science major in college, Balanon had dreams of “having a big company that would change the world,” he says. After graduating from Michigan State University, his journey led him to D.C. working for Lockheed Martin. While he was there, he also had a personal interest in finance.
“In order for me to learn more about the (financial world) I became a blogger. This experience gave me a taste of marketing and entrepreneurship,” he explains. Balanon enjoyed his job in D.C., but he was also missing home, so he returned to Michigan where he could work remotely.
This was another great opportunity to give Balanon the skills that he would later use as an entrepreneur. “I liked working from home and I learned a lot about scheduling, timing, and business operations. This was a great lesson and experience working independently. It was like entrepreneurial training wheels,” he reminisces.
Little did he know his “on the job” entrepreneurial training would position him to make his dream a reality. Balanon was ready to celebrate on December 31, but one phone call changed everything. “I don’t remember the year, but I remember the feeling that I had when I was told all the remote workers were let go due to downsizing.”
He was disappointed, but it was his wife that had some hard love and strong motivating words of encouragement. She told Henry, “You always tell others to be an entrepreneur, now you have an opportunity to do it for yourself. Go make some moves!” Balanon did just that. With her words in mind and knowing he always wanted to be an entrepreneur, Balanon started developed mobile apps, co-founded Detroit Labs in 2011, and then after leaving Detroit Labs co-founded Stratos.
Based in Ann Arbor, Stratos is a company that’s developing a payment system that is easy, accessible, and safe for to use all in one place.
“Payments are becoming more digital. Stratos wants to create an easy way for people to make payments,” explains Balanon. The vision is to “downside from multiple physical cards and shift to connected hardware devises so consumers will have the choice to make, informed payment decisions in a secure format,” he continues.
With a successful business and living his dream as an entrepreneur, Balanon is happy to have his company in Michigan.
“There is so much talent in this area and it is great to see the growth,” he said. As start-ups are growing in in the state, Balanon leaves some advice for those who would like to step into the entrepreneurial world: “Spend time with like-minded people, find a good co-founder, and learn from each other. We can all contribute effectively.”
Here more about Stratos and entrepreneurial advice from Henry tomorrow at Startup Grind Detroit, 6:30-9:30 at Bamboo Detroit.
To learn more about Stratos visit https://www.stratoscard.com.