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E3: Wil Schroter, Startups.com

Code Story podcast.

March 13

Startups are full of uncertainty and hard work. The path forward is murky and often uncertain. Startups.com is trying to fix that by offering a full-spectrum of startup services, including help with business planning and launch, mentoring, funding and more. Their vision was born when their own startup nearly failed, turning the founder Wil Schroter into a teacher, a coach, and an advocate for startup education.

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we watch every step that you take from the moment you have the idea until just after you launch and we say, Let's be there whenever Noah has a problem Now we've built a lot of companies were all entrepreneurs here, So we understand this journey incredibly well. We've got over a 1,000,000 customers on our platform. They tell us because they're all founders, you know, they're very vocal while they're all their journeys seem different. They all follow kind of a pattern, and that becomes the road map for the places that they get stuck. Hi, I'm Wil Schroder that you founder and CEO of startups dot com. This'll

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is code story a podcast. Bring you interviews with tech visionaries who share in the critical moments of what it takes to change in industry and build and lead a team that has your back. I'm your host New lab part. And today, how Wil Schroder created the 1st 1 stop shop for founders to get help building their startups. All this and more on code story startup veteran Wil Schroder is a family man and now amateur carpenter. He spends a lot of his spare time covered in sawdust and enjoying a balance of analog activities away from digital life. He's spent 25 years as a startup CEO, and during that time he learned that what he was best at was teaching people how to go through this startup process for his ninth startup. Yes, that's right. Ninth startup. He built startups dot com, a place to provide education and tools to help founders through the entire startup process, and the solution was catalyzed with the creation of a funding platform.

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When I started startups dot com is about seven years ago, it was my ninth startup, and prior to starting this company, I was really focused on what I want to do for the rest of my life, and there's a whole story to that. But the core of it is I wanted to focus on something. Ah, one project, if you will, that every day of my life I'd be working toward building something bigger, whereas before in other companies, I was more focused on how can I build a big or if not, it'll and sell it or go on to something else? This was the first time I didn't want to get involved in something unless it was gonna be something that was long term. Prior to this. Prior to starting startups dot com, which helps people start Cos I had done eight other startups,

notably the 1st 1 I did was in 1994 company called Blue Diesel, which was one of the first Internet companies were one of the first companies building Web pages were essentially a Web design company. Building Web pages on the Internet at a time would know what even understood what the Internet was, and it was wonderful. It's a great business. We grew that very quickly to about $700 million in about seven years and sold it wonderful, great experience. Did a bunch of other startups after that get into those if you like. But after that, like I said, I kind of got to a point where I only wanted to work on one thing, and it turned out that thing that I was best at was teaching people how to go through the startup process, walking them through every step, from ideation to customer acquisition toe funding, all the different expects. I'm not really good at anything else, as my carpentry wood with would tell you, but the one thing I'm an expert at is teaching people

3:45
My startups has a lot of competitors, how do I survive?

Startups.com came out of a failed equity crowdfunding platform, when facing a fierce competition and lack of traction. Here is how they did it.

Back in 2012, foreseeing changes in the regulatory environment, a few dozen teams were all competing to be the ones funding startups of the future, but the investors, ones who were supposed to do the actual funding, they never came.

Faced with this challenge, needing a path to survival, Wil and the team decided to pivot and start offering startups not just funding, but a whole range of services, starting from a business plan, customer acquisition, mentorship and beyond.

(press play to hear the story)



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how to start companies. Tell me about the original M V P, and how long it took you to build what tools you used.

3:53
My startups has a lot of competitors, how do I survive?

Startups.com came out of a failed equity crowdfunding platform, when facing a fierce competition and lack of traction. Here is how they did it.

Back in 2012, foreseeing changes in the regulatory environment, a few dozen teams were all competing to be the ones funding startups of the future, but the investors, ones who were supposed to do the actual funding, they never came.

Faced with this challenge, needing a path to survival, Wil and the team decided to pivot and start offering startups not just funding, but a whole range of services, starting from a business plan, customer acquisition, mentorship and beyond.

(press play to hear the story)



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The very first version in 2012 of startups dot com was actually not quite what you see in the startups dot com platform today. Today you see all of these different tools, like fungible and lawn truck clarity in biz plan. And then, of course, the education that's on startups dot com itself. But a lot of those were acquisitions. Those are things we didn't build what we started to build from scratch. Ah was a product called fungible dot com in circa 2011 heading into 2012 when we launched it and the idea at the time, it was the dawn of crowdfunding. This is right around the time anybody even heard of Kickstarter as a different type of crowdfunding platform. Ours was intended fungible was intended to be an equity crowdfunding platform, and this is before the Jobs Act had kicked off. That made it legal to do so, and we were just kind of in the right place the right time, we thought. But here's what actually happened,

and I think this is really useful to know. For a lot of folks that are building something, we did everything right. In theory, we had a great idea to help start up companies raise started Capitals, equity startup, capital, online raising money. It's so hard, it's such a complicated and painful process. We wanted to put more of it on rails. We want to give you the opportunity to say This is how much I'm raising. These are my terms and here's essentially my profile. And again, a lot of people understand the Kickstarter analogy from the non equity side, you know,

from the rewards side. And we wanted to bring that to the equity side. We built the product and probably a span of I'm going to say, six months and the M V P. A little more complicated because in this case it couldn't just be a landing page and sign ups you. Actually, you're dealing with equity. It's a little more complicated, but man, right at the time that we were building this, everyone and their brother thought of the same idea at exactly the same time. So much so that I was sitting across from a really good friend of mine one day in Santa Monica, and we're both catching each other up on what we're up to, he says. To me said, Yeah,

I'm working on this new thing I'm super excited about Great. Tell me about it. It's worth noting most of my friends, our founder. So we have this conversation all the time. This it wasn't that unusual. And so he starts explaining. He said, Look, I think there's gonna be a huge change in the framework by which companies get fund that I'm like, Oh, man, I couldn't agree more, He said. I really want to build a platform that allows people to raise capital online, and you gotta be kidding me.

I'm working on exactly the same thing. And so that conversation got very awkward at that point. And so he ended up launching almost an identical copy of Funda Ble. So much so that he and I had to coordinate because we're friends. Which day we're each gonna make the announcement that our companies were going out because we're launching the same damn thing at that moment Damn near 30 companies launched an equity crowdfunding platform. I mean, within, like, nine months of each other. I've never seen anything like it. I mean, I've seen a lot of copycat designs were uber launches than every launches, something like it. I had never seen a timing event where everyone launched the same thing at the same time without anyone knowing what anybody else was even working on. We had a small team, you know,

maybe a team of about five people at the time working on fungible in the V one. You know, we get this thing launched and the timing couldn't have been better from the standpoint that the same year the Jobs Act would pass, which would allow people to raise equity online, which was supposed to be a big deal, Kickstarter became a thing. I think the Pebble watch had launched, if not that year, than something close to it, which brought so much attention to the crowdfunding space and an absolute look like we're exactly the right place at the right time. To be fair, it looked like that way for 30 other competitors as well. Here's what's important and unusual. We get about a year into it, and every startup is thinking about Crowdfunding. Everyone's think it's exactly how you're gonna fund raise going for it.

And so the hype is at its peak. But something weird starts happened. We start getting all of these companies coming to us saying that they want to raise capital, and we built a little team toe on board them toe really kind of help them with their collateral materials and things like that. But as we're talking to, these companies were starting to realize something. Two things. Actually. First. None of these companies have any business raising capital yet. You know, there's this gold rush mentality that you know, if you had an idea, everyone would just fund it. Maybe if you're doing Kickstarter and it's just people throwing away some of their pocket change, but it doesn't work that way.

When you're talking about investment capital, when you're talking about hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, you know, no one's just taking a flyer on throwing $2 million in your company. It's us and work that wait'll So you had this massive flood of entrepreneurs trying to raise money with very little credentials. Basically, they shouldn't have been raising money. So you had that. On the other hand, there was no demonstrable change in the number of investors, something not a lot of people were talking about at the time. You know, there's so much hype. I was going to conferences about crowdfunding, and I kept saying, and nobody want to hear it kept saying,

I don't see more investors coming to the table and the reason I'm bringing this up nose because, ah, lot of times when we're in the middle of the hype cycle, the last person to step back and say, Is this really happening? The way we all think it is are the very people building the products.

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I remember specifically being in a crowd funding conference saying, Guys, I understand how big this could be, but it won't be any bigger if we don't Seymour investors showing up. And I don't see us doing anything to change the number of investors. What What do you know? Years go by in the number of investors just didn't really changed. It changed a little bit, but not nearly the way it did for rewards. Crowdfunding etcetera. So about a year into it this 2012 gonna 2013. I say to our team, this isn't a good bat. We made a huge bet. We went all in on this, But it's not a very good bet. In order for us to really help startups, we're gonna have to do a lot more than just help them raise money. We're gonna have to help them with their business plan with their customer acquisition with their education finding mentors because there's all of the problems that they're bringing us as they're trying to use this one product. And so at that point we made a tough decision to break away from just fungible and build a bigger platform. So

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How do you build a product when you are all out of time?

Instead of building the entire Startups.com product line from scratch, Will decided to acquire them. After pitching to hundreds of different startups, he finally had a handful that were ready to join.



when you made that decision, what sort of decisions in trade offs did you have to make in the short term? How did you cope with those?

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It was tough because the biggest part about it, when we started to come up with the vision that would ultimately become startups dot com This platform that helps people walk through the startup process is essentially a virtual incubator. We didn't have any of the products that we needed, and the stuff that we needed was pretty complicated again. We need to tool for customer acquisition. We didn't have one, and it would take a long time to just build that. We didn't have a business planning tool for idea validation, et cetera, and it would take a long time to just build that. But we needed all of these things kind of. Now, if we're gonna build this virtual incubator concept, the only way to do that in any reasonable amount of time would be to acquire the companies that had already built it. Which, by the way, we weren't a venture funded company.

Were a self funded company where bootstrap company, You know, I had funded the company because the little success prior to and it was a big play. It was a really big plays, an acquisition play. And so I moved my family to San Francisco, where most of these companies were that we'd want to acquire. And I just had five meetings a day non stop with every company that was possibly within this field of view of helping startups start up. And in the end, we ended up acquiring six companies, six venture funded companies in a span of about 18 to 24 months.

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How many meetings did you have before you came up with those six companies to acquire?

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This is no exaggeration. It was north of 2 to 300. You gotta understand. Nobody knew who the hell we were. So it wasn't like people were knocking on our door. Right? We're going to people there. Like who? Who are you? Got? What? You're from Columbus. You're where? What am I doing here? It wasn't an easy pitch. However, People did see the vision of what we're trying to build. We're trying to build something very massive, not just the number of users or something that but something could have a massive impact on the startup community. And I think a lot of people really did understand that vision.

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So you acquired these six cos you got past that hurdle. How has the product progressed?

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Well, part of the challenge and this is an insurmountable but part of the challenge was a lot of these companies were all in different Tex, Tex. So we're trying to unify the text back and clarity dot FM was built on Ruby earlier versions of the company, but we're built on Lauraville were react shop now, But even to be fair, racked wasn't really a thing back when we were buying these companies. And so we're kind of evolving our own text back off of, incidentally, a wearable tech sec into react, which became phenomenal for us while also trying to acquire and then develop all of these different text axe. It was a nightmare for awhile, and we're just finally coming out of it.

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I would imagine that was super challenging

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at the very least because we didn't have any ruby developers. So clarity is built on Ruby. We acquired the company, but the developers went on to take other jobs, which was part of the plan. And we were like, Well, okay, great. We need to make a change. How do we do that? You know, there's no user has a problem, do we fix it? And so you know, you find ways to get it done. But it was.

It was a huge task, not to mention integrating the business operations, the customers and everything else in tow. One more unified platform and we're still in the process to be fair. But we've really come a long way,

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so How do you build your roadmap, then end today? I would imagine that a large part of the road map is that core integration, peace between the different tech. How do you figure out what you're going to build next?

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Really? What it comes down to is what is the founder journey look like? So let me kind of lay that out for you. The founder journey is the moment Noah has an idea. We have to find what are all the places? He's going to move forward with that idea and get stuck. Okay, so you have this idea. You're sitting in your cubicle and you watch Shark Tank. And you had this idea nine seconds ago. You said, you know I want to do this. Okay? First thing is you're gonna have to validate the idea. That's a little bit tricky, because you don't know that, you know,

you don't know that. You need to validate an idea. You know you have one. But you have no idea that this process exists. So we have to find you and convince you to even go down an idea validation path. And so we start to build a product for that, then we say you need to put a plan together per your validation to figure out this is a pretty good idea. Let's put a plan together and kind of blow it out a little bit. So you need some sort of business planning or pitch deck tool. Okay, We had to go build that or by in this case, and then we watch every step that you take from the moment you have the idea until just after you launch. And we say, Let's be there whenever Noah has a problem and that becomes the road map Now we've built a lot of companies were all entrepreneurs here. So we understand this journey incredibly well. We've got over a 1,000,000 customers on our platform.

They tell us because they're all founders, you know, they're very vocal about what they need. And while they're all their journeys seem different. It seems like every entrepreneur journey is different. They all follow kind of a pattern, and that is the becomes the road map for the places that they get stuck. That's super interesting. You

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building your roadmap around feedback from what people want that's so normal

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that it feels right

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but it's a super interesting set of customers being extremely vocal. Sometimes you have to entice people to give feedback through incentives or rewards. But I imagine with a large group of founders, there's no shortage of feedback.

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Wait till have any shortage of feedback. You've got kind of two camps here. You've got the absolute newbies. Now, is this a people who had that idea nine seconds ago? And to be fair, no one's done this before, right? I mean, you got cereal founders like me who have done it before, but we're in an incredible minority. The average founder getting started has no idea what they're doing. They're terrified of the way Ford as they should be, because it's a terrifying process and they just don't know where they were supposed to go. That's it. The freshman in high school, and so you've got that one camp.

But once they've been through it, you've got the seniors in high school. They've been through the whole thing before. They understand how the whole thing works. Those were the ones that are particularly vocal because they're saying, Hey, I've now been through this before. This is how the product should have performed better. This is how the product should have been a little bit different. The folks in the freshman class, they're just so happy to get help. The folks in the senior class air trying to give us really good, usually very constructive feedback about how to build the product. And we listened very intently because they've made it through the whole process. All of their challenges are things that we want to be very close to and build a product or shape our products around.

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So my next question is a little tricky. Having acquired six companies, you know, they're being different stacks, having to focus a lot on integration where the scalability come into effect here with your product planning with technology, because bringing on a 1,000,000 customers using all of these different tools could be pretty hefty from a band with need or throughput infrastructure, things like that. So how are you factoring that into how

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you are building the product? We've got a sunset, the old stacks. I mean, it's kind of that simple that the beauty would be if somehow all of these things we acquired had a stack that we understood and or had a stack that was scalable or current. They don't. You know, some of these companies we bought now 45 years ago. They were built on technologies that are long since past their prime. And so our focal point has been kind of two pronged. One side is too. Look at what The product. You know that that the stack is and look at how we could build the same thing and using our our current stack again, which is mainly focused around react. And then the second thing is saying how much of that product has the same inner workings that all of our other products have? In other words, they all have user profiles.

They will have user search, they will have company search. How can we build one central stack? That kind of fits all of the modules for all the products that we've acquired and then start to migrate all of them onto our new stack, really using a combination. We kind of call them Legos jokingly of Legos that fit that products needs. As it turns out, a lot of the products, like I said, kind to do the same thing. They have a different purpose. But if you look under the hood and you look at one of the core components, they're often very similar. And so once we built a good set of core components for a master set of software, if you will, when we want to bring on in sunset on older product, we can really just look at here. Is that the new stuff that doesn't exist, that we're gonna build for the master stack and just sunset the rest of the product?

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So as you step out onto the balcony and look across all you have built with startups dot com, what do you most proud of?

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It'd be a number of things that actually really great question. It would be a number of things, though. The first thing I'm proud of it. I think Founders will understand this better than anybody is that we survived. So some folks here like look off. Okay, great. You survive. Big deal, man. It's not incidental, you know, I've done this many times myself and I've worked with thousands of founders and of course, there were a 1,000,000 on our platform surviving, making it past the first year. Two years were coming up on your eight is not incidental.

It is hard, you know. Now we've had over 200 employees. We are a profitable debt free business with no investors. Not a lot of people can say that. And it ain't easy, you know. And I'm not saying taking money is easy. The last three companies I did, We're all venture funded companies. I understand that route very well. It's got its own challenges. But let me tell you, making it this far without any additional capital and having to make just lots of good decisions. You don't know if they're good until you go through, but have to make a lot of good decisions and hope they pan out and making it this far as as a result of them.

Man, I'm very proud of that because I can't believe it. I can't believe it worked. So making it this far is probably what I'm most proud of within that we've built a culture within this company that I'm incredibly proud of. We have so much work flexibility. We often look and feel like an anti startup, meaning people don't work more than 40 hours here. I mean, it's heretical. If they do, no one works on a weekend. No one works past six o'clock in the days of Badge of honor work. Every hour there is, which I used to do. That is the biggest culprit, so I'm wanna point that out.

For decades, I was the biggest culprit. It's like I said, a bit heretical, and I'm so proud of that. I'm so proud that our our staff has a life. You know. Ah, lot of us now have families and kids that we can spend lots of time with them and make them a priority. A lot of people would say, Hey, I'm proud of the product that does this or that I'm proud of the company that makes the product more so than anything.

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How did you go about building the team? How did you go about picking the winning horses to come join you on this journey way? Talk

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How do you find the ideal team for a startup?

Founders have this feeling that we've got to pick all the right people, and they've got to stick with the company forever. But you are not going to, and the ones that are poor picks should get out of the organization as fast as possible.

There's a good chance that your tech team, for example, is going to roll over three or four times. That sounds like the worst outcome ever, and it can be,but sometimes you need that many iterations before you find the team that's supposed to be with you.

A lot of founders hold on to that original team, as if the original bet was always the best bet. In reality, the original bet was the bet you made with the least possible data. Now that you know what you need and the company has evolved.



about this a lot. You know, we have our started therapy podcast where we talk about a lot of the things we deal with it internally, but also the patterns we see among founders and one of the things that we talked about is an organization has to shed its skin. I think as founders, we have this feeling that I've got to pickle the right people, and they've got to stick with me forever. What I'm saying is you're not going to pick all the right people, and they should get out of the organization as fast as possible. There's a good chance that your tech team, for example, is going to roll over meaning have a whole new staff. Three or four times a lot of people will look at this. Oh, my God, that sounds like the worst outcome ever in it can be. It can be.

But I would say no. You need that money iterations before you find the team that's supposed to be here, be personality, their accomplishments, their output, et cetera. You know all the vectors that you might use to say they should be Here. I see a lot of founders holding on to that original team, as if the original bet was always the best bet. The original bet was the bet you made with the least possible data. Now that you know what you need, the company's evolved, it's it's found its footing. Now you know who you need in the likelihood that you just happen to find the right people, your cofounders, even the first time at bat before you knew any of this is damn near impossible.

So with that, we've got about 200 people on staff. Now, we've shed our skin numerous times, meaning not a full staff turnover. But a lot of staff turnover and not always in a terrible way. You know, it wasn't like, you know, every everybody got fired kind of thing, just on a case by case basis. We kept finding people that either hadn't evolved fast enough for the organization. Four. The organization in itself just had gotten bigger in a way that they just weren't quite as relevant as they used to be. That said, and this is gonna sound totally counter to everything I just said.

We just talked about this. Maybe an hour goes toward the end of the year when recording this broadcast today, we haven't had a single person leave with which is to say, it's a good thing. I suppose you know, it's a testament to our culture, but it's shocking to Meeks. I'm used to turn over. I don't. I'm not against

26:26

it. Sure. Well, that's amazing. But I hear you on the team. It's hard to make the right choices without the data. In the very beginning, you're giving it a shot. And if you make a wrong choice or a wrong match, you have to make

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amends quickly. Yeah, no, let's just build on that for a second. If you don't mind, you're the right person. Whoever we're hiring for right now. If we say that when we believe that it's not making less of a commitment to that person, it's just being mindful that life changes, right. It's kind of like, you know, the person that you met, the partner that you met when you were in high school, changed for when you were in college. Change from when you're getting your beginning, your career change from when you're in your thirties and forties.

That's okay. Life changes, and the people that are a compliment to you during those changes are going to be different, and that's okay. And I think hiring definitely follows that same pattern. If you've been doing this long enough and understand why those changes occur,

27:26

well, let's flip the script a little bit. Tell me about a mistake that was made and how you and your team responded to it.

27:35
Can you be too loyal to your team?

Loyalty can be blinding, prohibiting you from seeing flaws in people that you cherish. Blind commitment rarely leads to a good outcome, and when people are underperforming, you have to let them go, be that friends or family.



You know, I think this is actually I mean, I'll pick up right where I left off just now. The mistake I made early in my career was holding on to people. I'm fiercely loyal to people. It's what fall I don't like people say spiritually loyal, You know what a great guy? No, not really. It's not that at my I don't appreciate loyalty. It's that I confused loyalty with outcome. I you know, I thought if I was loyal to people, there would be a solid outcome. It was really true. The mistakes I often made were No, I'm gonna hire you.

You're my co founder, or you're the C t. O. The company that we brought on, et cetera. And I'm gonna be with you through thick and thin, and that makes me sound like a pretty good guy. All that does really is that leaves me open to so many errors. You know, it leaves me blinded to maybe how poorly you might have performed. And in spite of that, I'm just so locked into this loyalty that I'm not willing to see what's really happening. And I had some really tough conversations with really good friends, and I lost really good friends because of this, because I let my loyalty really overshadow my ability to lead. I lost friends because of my loyalty,

and that sounds odd. You would think. OK, well, it's guys, you know, super loyal hockey lose friends. I lost friends because my loyalty didn't allow me to see their performance for what it actually was. You know, they weren't performing a simple as it sounds, and I want to hold on to them because they were friends. People say Don't hire friends And look, in some cases, these warm friends that I hired, these were people that I hired. They became close friends.

I think consistently over the years, some of my low points, if you will in my leadership or my career came when I was working with friends, didn't see how they were really performing and things went negative and having to part company and lost those friends because of it. I really wish I could have separated the tip.

29:33

So what does the future look like for the product and for the team and start ups dot com.

29:40

We look at it in two ways. We look at it. What's the team? I'm sorry. What's the future for the team internally on, then what's the future for our customers, Our customers? We need to do a better job of getting all of our customers connected to each other. So right now you can hop on startups dot com. There is a bananas amount of education there, so much education on there. There's so many great tools that you can use, and that's wonderful. But I think the real magic in our product are the founders themselves and their ability to help each other. And we do that in some ways. We've got this great product called Clarity, that FM,

which allows people to connect with each other, schedule call with each other, et cetera. But I genuinely believe that if this thing really works well, we'll start bringing our founders together and start connecting them with each other, building groups around each other and allowed them to help each other through what is a very lonely journey. So that's from a product standpoint. That's a huge, huge step for us. From a company standpoint, we've actually. And if we're at the Progress bar No, I think we'd be at 90% of where we want to be. Internally, we made incredible strides. We've got a tremendous amount of work,

flexibility. The work life balance is incredible. People are very well paid here. There's just so many upsides again, I mentioned we didn't have a single person leave this year. People that will leave in January. I can't predict the future, but I'm really proud of the culture we've built here. But I still think there's a little bit further We can go. So

31:9

who influences the way you work? Name a CEO, CTO, Entrepreneur leader. Someone that you look up to tell me why that is.

31:20

It's a really interesting question. I hadn't thought about that in a while, and I have imagined everybody cops out says Steve Jobs or something like that. Even though he was real ability or didn't for me, I actually I'm gonna be dead honest. I don't have a single person that I've modeled anything around, you know, and I'm gonna say it's interesting you say that because I've had so many business books, a lot of them being personal biographies or biographies on a company and how was built. And I'm always amazed at how those folks operate, but at no point that I look at it and say, Man, that Jack Dorsey, I wanna build things just like he does, you know, like Jack Dorsey is fine. But I don't get up in the morning thinking I want to build anything like he does. So for me, I think may have taken a little bit from everybody, but not really a significant amount from anybody.

32:5
One advice for a startup CEO?

You have plenty of time, take it. Focus on the long run, avoid burnout, and work on something that going to matter for the rest of your life.



So if you could go back to the beginning, what would you consider doing differently?

32:11

Oh, man. You know, I mentioned a moment ago that we talk about this stuff a lot of the start up therapy podcasts and bring this up because Ryan and I keep saying something over and over in the podcast, which is, man, if I had a time machine, I would do this if I had a time machine and I went back. Thio will when he was 19. I'm 45 when we're recording this podcast. When I was 19 all I would have said to him is, you have plenty of time. That sounds bizarre, right? Because I was always in such a hurry. I was working the 80 hours a week I was rushing. I was killing myself.

Nobody ever stops you and says, Dude, you have plenty of time and I found this change in me. Almost incidentally at the time we started startups dot com because I was at a point. I was 37 years old at the time. I was at a point where I was so burnt out. I mean off the charts and I go in the whole diatribe about that one, too. But I was really burnt out, and I said to myself, You know, I think part of the reason I'm so burnt out is because I constantly feel like I'm on a treadmill and I'm the timer's running. And I have to get to this next milestone or else. And I was like, Man, I don't wanna be in an or else situation for the rest of my life.

I just want to work on something that I'm just gonna work on for the rest of my life, and it just takes a CZ long as it takes and You know what? The moment I came to that realization the moment I kind of got on board with that thought process, this huge weight came off my shoulders. I didn't lose any ambition. I'm probably more productive now than I've been for the last 25 years. I just don't have this fake way. I call it being chased by a paper ghost. I don't have that paper goes chasing me down. You're scaring me that something's going to happen. I've got a long time to go, right, And I'm knocked on wood. I've got another 50 years to work on this project. When I think in those timelines, I'm good,

man. If I could have told you know, 19 year old will, you've got 25 years to figure this out. Just give it a minute. Take your time. Breathe. You know, go do that. One thing that you felt like doing today because you've got time to figure this one out. I would have been so much better off for it.

34:41
How can I conquer the world?

Focus on what you want to build right now, and do that in the shortest amount of time. What can you do by this Friday? Work on that because failure to achieve your goals will be obvious, keeping you motivated and on-time.



So you're getting on a plane and you're sitting next to someone that just built the next big thing. They're like a 19 year old Will and this may be the same advice that may not. But what advice would you give them, since they're just getting started on this road,

35:0

distill everything into really small pieces. When you start something really anything. I don't care for trying to lose weight or trying to build a company. We all make the Cardinal mistake where we try to get it all done quickly. You know that New Year's is coming up, so we're all going to say we want to lose weight so we'll say, I want to lose £20. That's a dumb goal. It's, I hope you get there. But it's a dumb goal. The right goal is I want to lose £1 and I want to lose it, hopefully within a relatively short period of time, because, like anything in life, if you can't lose £1 who really cares about the rest of the pounds we all create within startups, these big,

amorphous goals. I want to conquer the world. I want to start up to these great things, and I'm sure great, but instead try to focus on what are you going to do by Friday? That's it. Incidentally, in the organization of 200 people, our entire project planning our Dev planning, marketing, planning, any planning that we do never extends past Friday. That's it. There's a few reasons we do that. One of the reasons is you can't fake Friday If it's Monday and you have to get stuff done by Friday, there's no room to store rap.

Debs are notorious for this. They'll say, Yeah, here's our project plan for the next 12 months, and I get why we do it. I've been building suffer for a very long time, but what gets lost in that is Hey, I can push this out. All that got delayed or this got delayed, etcetera. Man, when everything only exists from now till Friday, you have no room to screw around. This goes for building anything but a particularly a startup. Yes, you want to build this big thing. What is the smallest thing that you want to build right now that you could build in the shortest amount of time possible?

36:49

That's all that matters. Well, thank you for being on code story. Thank you for telling the creation story of startups dot

36:56

com. Thanks for having me. No, it's a great yes,

36:58

great questions. And this concludes another chapter of code story code Story is hosted and produced by Noel Apart. Season two episodes or co produced and edited by Bradley Denham. Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcast Spotify or the Podcasting. Appy your choice. Support the show on patri and dot com slash coat story for just 5 to 10 bucks a month, and when you get a chance, leave us a review. Both things helped us out tremendously, and thanks again for listening.

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