2022 Top 40 Under 40: Ian Hoppe, Con.doit – Birmingham Business Journal – The Business Journals

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career? The initial jump away from my previous career to start Con.doit. Quitting your stable job in the middle of a pandemic is not generally advisable, but believing in the future of this idea and seeing a path to get there was something that I really couldn’t pass up. It was scary to take that leap of faith, but absolutely necessary to get where we are.
Have you had a strong mentor in your life? What did you learn from him/her? My dad has been a major force in my life. Not only did he teach me everything I know about electrical from a young age, but I see him in the ways that I problem solve and work with other people. I can see his influence in most aspects of my life. From a business perspective, Nate Schmidt (managing director of Alabama Techstars) has been a huge mentor and friend to me for years.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? I don’t have an exact quote but my wife, Haley, has taught me a lot about self-care. A few years ago I had to learn some hard lessons about taking care of myself, body and mind. My default state is to burn the candle at both ends forever. As I’ve gotten older, that kind of thing is not sustainable. Learning how to shut down and what that means for me and how important it is for success was an important milestone in my life. I’m still working on it. 
What’s a lesson you learned from a mistake? When you see a problem you need to fix it immediately. I have a tendency to let things slide or to put off having hard conversations. In the startup world, where a few weeks can mean life-or-death, you’ve got to nip things in the bud as they crop up since they’re only going to make things worse.  
Where do you see yourself in five years? Here in Birmingham. Hopefully with a couple of kids. Con.doit will have either secured acquisition or be booming, changing the face of the electrical industry.
Why did you choose to live in Birmingham, and what keeps you here? I was born and raised in Birmingham, but I chose to live here because of the potential. I’ve always said that I’d rather be on the front crest of a wave than riding it after-the-fact. I feel like there’s actually things that I can affect here. An individual with ideas and some ambition can really make things happen and I like that.
What’s one change you would make to improve Birmingham? The fragmentation of the municipalities is the No. 1 thing holding back real progress in the city and region. Hands down. Cooperation and collaborative services between the disparate cities in the metropolitan area would change the trajectory of this city for generations to come.
What’s your ultimate career goal? I’m going to write a novel. 
What is your favorite thing to do in Birmingham? Sit on the patio of Lou’s Pub in Lakeview and sip bourbon.
What would you like to see Birmingham accomplish by 2032? I think that high-speed rail from Birmingham to Atlanta would fundamentally change our city and is attainable in the next decade with the right leadership.
What are steps young adults can take to be successful? In order to become successful you need to ignore all the people that tell you to focus on one thing. Those people are boring and jaded. Read about everything you’re interested in and things you’re not, talk to wildly different people, plan whole careers that may or may not happen. Before I started Con.doit I was writing screenplays, producing documentaries, and neck deep in linguistics. Eventually something will really start to burn and then you’ll know what to focus on. Until then, keep all your irons in the fire.
How has the pandemic impacted your life and career? I’m a lover of history and if you read enough of it you begin to realize that it’s in the times of dramatic uncertainty and turmoil that opportunities loom large. When the world is in transition there’s lots of gaps to be filled. I’ve viewed the pandemic in this light since the beginning.
If you had to choose a different career, what would you pick and why? I started my working life as an electrician and I miss it a lot, especially recently. The very practical, hands-on, problem solving nature of it is really attractive to me. But more than anything it’s the definiteness of it. If something isn’t working, there’s a very clear answer why, it’s just a matter of finding it. The startup and business world is very, very different from that.
What do you think the office of the future will look like? I operate an office over at Hardware Park. I think for startups like ours they’re absolutely essential for the executive team at least. There’s so many conversations we have offhandedly in the office that end up shifting the direction of the whole business. Hybrid remote work is the future I think, but there’s still a place for offices.
Where did you go to school? UAB
What’s your favorite restaurant? Chez Fonfon, Helen, The Essential, Gordo’s
The Birmingham Business Journal is taking nominations for its 2023 Top 40 Under 40 awards.
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