Carol Craig: Putting Everything on the Line from Earth to Space!
Carol Craig shares how she started and how she dealt with problems and growth toward the success of her company, Craig Technologies, that deals with technologies from Earth to space.
As a child, Carol Craig liked to do anything. She played both piano and violin, and in her seventh grade, she started doing sports. She then continued these even until college wherein she earned her two degrees in Computer Science and Computer Science Engineering.
Following college, she was then accepted into the Naval Flight Officer Program becoming the first female aviator to join the P-3C Orion squadron. However, after three and a half years, she left the US Navy due to a training injury.
She then worked in the private sector until 1999 wherein she started Craig Technologies, a firm that specializes in systems engineering, infrastructure installation, and software design and engineering, among other custom technical services.
While also managing her company, Craig continued in getting her master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and her doctorate degree in Systems Engineering.
Craig also founded the Danny Craig Foundation and became a member and a chair to different councils, including the US Department of Commerce Manufacturing Council, National Space Club Florida Committee, and Florida High Tech Corridor.
In the last decade, Craig has also shifted her focus on aerospace and defense through Craig Technologies Aerospace Solutions and the creation of Sidus Space Technologies, a framework and platform for customizable and low-cost satellite testing alternatives.
With all of these, Craig won numerous awards including the recent Women’s Chamber of Commerce “Innovation and Performance” Award and became one of Florida 500’s Most Influential Business Leaders in 2019.
“I think when there’s something that you really, really love, that’s when you can bring it all in, you can focus on it and did that with computers. And then I think I’ve done it with the company sort of a little bit.”
TRANSITIONING FROM SOFTWARE TO SPACE
Craig never really thought of being an entrepreneur but after someone suggested starting a business, she thought she should give it a shot.
As a startup, she faced different problems from hiring more people to help her and moving to different places in order to just keep the company going.
“I was like, ‘Okay. Well, if it doesn’t work, I’ll just go back to, you know, a real job. And if I owe some money fine, I’ll just be paying that debt off.’”
However, when they moved to Brevard County, home of some of the world’s largest technology and aerospace companies, this is when Craig Technologies started to grow and even shifted in space.
At first, the company was introduced in the manufacturing industry because of someone Craig met who wanted to create something. Because of this, she purchased a small manufacturing company that was going out of business.
Although, doing business with that person turned into a disaster, they were able to create something larger than just a small prototype support that they introduced to NASA.
“Honestly, I don’t think we thought we would get it. We just kind of were like, why not? Let’s see what happens. And probably the story of my life now, you know, what could possibly go wrong but we ended up applying for it and we got it.”
FOCUSING ON THINGS THAT MATTER TO HER
1. Giving time to her family.
Focusing her time and money in building Craig Technologies Aerospace Solutions, Carol realized that she forgot about her family.
“Family integrity, loyalty, passion, community, those are our core values but I was kind of forgetting my own family in the priority of making sure that we’re secure.’’
Now that Craig is already able to manage the business and her family, there are times that Craig really thinks that it’s okay to drop one aspect so that you can put emphasis on the other, especially that her son has Prader Willi Syndrome.
“Again, there’s never a balance. It’s always, you know, one gets a little more attention than the other. I think I’ve quoted this before, but there was a professor at University of Florida Institute of Technology who said, ‘It’s okay to drop balls as long as you drop the ones that bounce does.’ That means that it’s okay to drop balls every once in a while, as long as they’re the ones that bounce. Right? So, it’s the ones that don’t matter.”
2. Helping the community.
In pursuit of helping the community, Craig joined different boards and organizations. In fact, she founded Danny Craig Foundation to help children with medical challenges, not just the ones who have the same health problem as her son.
At first, she didn’t understand what she’s getting into but when she became really involved with it, she was able to appreciate what their progress and impact on the community really are.
“You know, should I be more focused on things that are really truly personal? And so what I’ve done now is I’ve kind of scaled down on, you know, I’m just focusing on a few things and realizing, ‘Okay, it doesn’t have to be huge donations. It can be small ones.’’
ADVICE FOR STARTING BUSINESSES
1. Put it all on the line.
In starting Craig Technologies, Carol wanted to have that personal guarantee that she still owns the company so she put everything on the line by getting loans, using the house as a collateral, and even using her husband’s share in Microsoft.
Although, you can still become more conservative in building your own company, but when it’s the only thing that you have, you will surely ‘just jump and build your wings on the way down,’ like Craig’s favorite quote from Ray Radburry.
“I don’t mind saying it because even some of my leadership a few years ago didn’t understand what was involved or how much I had kind of on the line. They didn’t realize that, I mean, I looked back and I’ve over 20 years, I probably put in, you know, I don’t know, I can’t even imagine how much money I do have my own money that we’ve put into the company and have not gotten back out.”
2. Learn from your mistakes.
As part of Craig Technologies’ growth, Carol made a lot of mistakes. Also, they need to make a lot of changes including changing their NAICS code and figuring out how to navigate the marketplace now that they are not a small business anymore.
“We made a lot of mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes, especially as a leader. I may allow a lot of mistakes over the last several years. And I feel like it’s a chance, second chance, you know, maybe to learn from those mistakes and do it right the next time… I guess that’s another takeaway is, you know, just learn from the mistakes, you know, don’t get sucked in again.”
3. Appreciate the growth.
When Craig was starting out, she was doing different aspects of her business from hiring people to doing the payroll because she aimed to be involved in the business.
“So, there’s an advantage, I think, to growing slow because you, as a leader, as the CEO, and a founder, understand what all is involved. You’ve worn the shoes. You’ve walked in somebody else’s shoes.”
Besides, this better helped her to really learn the ins and outs of her business as it grows to what it is right now.
“So, we did that and it did not go as planned. I wouldn’t say it didn’t go well because we’re, you know, the things that we’re doing right now on the international space station, the potential for our satellites, all these things that were involved with, we would never have done if we hadn’t taken that leap.”
If you want to watch the full video of the interview with Carol Craig as she shares how she started and how she dealt with problems and growth toward the success of her company, then be sure to click the links below:
069: Carol Craig – From Earth to Space She Isn’t Afraid to Put it all on the Line
Collegiate 🏃🏼♀️ATHLETE🏃🏼♀️to Space 🛰Tester, Craig Technologies