#39 - Getting a Billion People Working From Home
My First Million

Full episode transcript -


we're a platform for remote work. Our mission's to create great work from home jobs. Power bi i AA lot of companies and individuals use us to convert audio text. There's a lot of video all over the web from YouTube to Netflix, and it all needs to be captured and subtitled. And so we serve all of those needs for everybody from the one guy with a podcast


to large media companies like CNN Breaking News Coming into CNN now Father set of business. We have freelancers who work at home and can earn money from the pajamas at any time, and we give them the ability to choose to what they do when they do it. They can make money to helpfully the lifestyle they want. A lot of them are home with Children or family obligations and were able to fill the cracks in their day in a way they can't otherwise. D'oh way have 150 employees. More than half our engineers way raised $31 million There. We disclose for the first time that our last valuation $206 million. There are so many people around the world that would love to order. Multiple can't. They don't have opportunity in their small town or country. I just think that there's gonna be a huge change. Our lifetimes where by the time I'm dead, I think will be a 1,000,000,000 people who work remotely. Five million is not enough. $30,000,100 million. Half a 1,000,000,000 $150 million.

One or two people in a bedroom actually threats to these like giant multibillion dollar companies. Because you have creativity and you have nothing to lose. Add another zero to that price, buddy. At two more zeros every week we sit down with self made millionaires and asked him, How did you do it? I didn't start a podcast. I started my own personal business school. And the teachers are the successful entrepreneurs behind the biggest brands businesses that find today. I wanted to know the real stories where all the details like How did you get your 1st 100 customers? What did it feel like? Shit, I asked him, How do you spend your money now that you're rich? And what would you do if you were starting over from scratch again today? If you're like me and you want to own your own business instead of living a 9 to 5 job. This is the podcast for you. The Hustle Presents My 1st 1,000,000 Jason


is red dot com were a platform for remote work for customers. We convert audio text and our missions to create great work from home jobs. Power bi I. So where to set of marketplace


use you guys want If I transcribed our podcast using Rev.


Yeah, so ah, lot of companies and individuals use us to convert audio text. Podcasters uses a lot. People in media uses a ton, but so do a lot of other industries. Whether it's learning Web sites, the video's captioned. Whether it's market research firms that have a focus group to transcribe, there are user research teams that transcribe audio. There's a lot of video all over the web from YouTube to Netflix, and it all needs to be captured and subtitled. And so we serve all of those needs for everybody from the one guy with a podcast to large media companies like CNN, who use us all the time for audio video and then on the other side of the business, we have freelancers who work at home and can earn money from the pajamas at any time they work flexibly, they can work is much worse than what they want. And we give them the ability to choose the work they do when they do it. And they can make money to kind of helpful the last, all they want. A lot of them are home with Children or family obligations and were able to fill the cracks in their day and keep them busy. Have to make money in a way they can't


otherwise. D'oh! And brag a little bit how far you guys have come. So you started the company. How many years ago?


Yeah, of the company. It's almost 10 years. Nine and 1/2 years ago. We have. If I mention some of our publicly available metrics, uh,


you could mention the prevalence


to its cool way have 50,000 people who work in the platform each month. We've raised $31 million. We were on the Forbes I was a few months ago, and it said in there there we disclosed for the first time that our last valuation was $206 million. We have 150 employees, more than half our engineers we have.


How'd you get 206 billion? Usually the valuations around numbers. Why? Why two of six? I think in that case, is a multiple of number. Is that how you interpret assist? You


know, it's always a peculiar process. E think it was a small round, and I think in that case we agreed to the round size. First is the pre pre money, and then that could add


it on. Catch it. Okay, got


about 2014 were having trouble hiring engineers, as everybody does because it's a competitive market and everybody in the Bay Area's fishing in the same pond. I started talking to advisors, and, um, a board members and one of my board members was involved in a company that had a big office in Seattle and also one of San Francisco. And he made the point. You know, that's not the only place to hire engineers. So I thought, Well, you know, that's a good point. Let me let me think a little bit about this and look around the world, and I realized that you're the Bay Area because of the lack of construction and the housing costs in the various way. The labor market and the Realtor market works here. I thought it would be a tough place to be on Lee based here,

right? The Bay Area has the best of a lot of things, but I felt that it would be good to have another office in a city with a little cost. Little data, much looking around for a lot of reasons chose Austin, and we now have office in both places, and we're hiring a lot in both offices. We think both markets are great for different reasons, and we have some people that go back and forth between the two. I think it's really hard to retain people for more than 10 years. If you're only in the Bay Area, I think is a lot of examples of companies that had a really strong start and then ah, lot of their people left after the vested and they ended up, you know, without maybe as much of the uh of the core original people they would have wanted. I know I saw some interview once remarks,

Huckleberry said. If you go back in time, he would have done Facebook in Boston. I don't He meant it, but he said it. What's the big thing you said for a guy like that? And I was reading one book. It was Chaos Monkey to talk about Facebook. And the guy said that he had the Facebook. He met somebody who was employed in the 29 of Facebook and that he or she was the only person of the 1st 30 other than Zuckerberg was still there, right? And so I can imagine if that's a Sudanese factor. True, he must have been kind of bummed


that the first cruise gone 20


people he got. I mean their case, they made obscene amounts of money that is great. And they went on to other things. It's got to be hard to keep innovating the way you want Thio. When he was talking like that, And what I see is that, uh, you're very housing costs. Create this pressure on people to jump ship pretty fast. And it's a rational economic strategy to kind of hop around company, a company where the ego to a big company and get paid a lot of cash or you're gonna start up and you get some options that may be worth a lot of money. You do that to three times, and one of them strikes gold and it works out. And that's probably good for the individual. Not great for the company if the company has long term aspirations to do big things, because our Google's are very impressive company,

obviously they produced this incredible search engine that is, you know, maybe the best economic asset of all time. But what I find it almost more impressive is that a company like Amazon, at 25 years old, can launch something totally new like a convenience store and see it kind of work. And, you know, to me what's really impressive is innovation. That could happen in the second or third decade. And I think to do that, you need a different approach to culture, and you need to try to build um, a company where people don't burn out and where they stay energized, excited about the next chapter on building great new stuff. And I think that having officers in two places has helped us to do that,

to create that kind of more sustainable culture. So right now is we approach a second decade, Um, are besties air? Definitely. Yet the kami were right now building some things with artificial intelligence that could have dreamed of three or four years ago. So we're going to be producing our best products for sure in our second decade.


And you guys is kind of interesting one, right? Because the service you provide is really simple, which is awesome, because I love simplicity in general. But be it's just easy for customers and employees. Even t grok. What are we trying to do here? What is this service for? And so where you guys were transcribing audio to text and you're doing it really well. You're doing it efficiently. Companies like Google are releasing a I. I feel like every year that's getting closer and closer to being able to do real time capsules because watching a live stream video and the captions were so good and it was live only these. These are only being done, I guess through ml and like that's an existential threat right where you guys are employing 50,000 people right now, which is awesome, and people were making money in their pajamas at home.

How does the sort of obviously you guys are using a i to assist humans, but like the aye Aye, Is coming to be able to do this really, Really? Well, how do you think about that?


Yeah, I mean, that's that's one of our biggest strategic questions. And I'll tell you, our view on that and other people are different view. Um, the people who want to pay the people who care about quality, um need the human in the loop Thio make it accurate and let me give you some some examples here. Let's just say you a podcast. You should have a lot of listeners, right? But you're kind of small business. There are plenty of podcasts smaller than you. And then there's this American life, right? So for the guy in his garage with no budget, he's probably perfectly okay to use an automated transfer from Google or we actually have a service for that.

You could get rev automated transcript that's more active than Google's. And the automated version is probably good enough for the small guy if he doesn't need a perfect plus podcast. Kennedy recorded with good audio cause we're sitting here with these great microphones and on a good room and so forth. This American life wants it right, didn't want mistakes. And even if the aye aye is a lot better than today, it still takes a human to make it near perfect. And when we go out to the market, whether it's our customers that want captions for Netflix or whether it's a market research firm, there's a focus group. They want things that accurately. They don't want them full of mistakes. They want a translator caption files to go to a bunch of people, and it can't be wrong. And as good as the aye aye is, it still makes a lot of mistakes like a lot,

and the A I, um, we used the term they are, which is really a misnomer. It's probably more accurate to call it machine learning because the software we have that audio detects, it's not intelligent in the way that you know my three year old or my dog, frankly, is intelligent. It's not doing inferring and reasoning. It's doing strict pattern recognition using brute force, and so it makes all kinds of mistakes that human just wouldn't make right particularly human that, uh, knows our culture. So if you have so understanding if I'm if I'm talking to you and I know you a little bit or you know, people like you or your style, I can probably guess what you're gonna say next,

based upon the threat of the arguments and it's kind of software can't do, Can't do those things. I think the way we look at the market is, uh, the aye aye is definitely gonna shrink the market in certain areas because there will be some use cases where somebody says, Hey, I was paying you a dollar, Let's say for human to do it and I could have an A I do it for a lot less I'll do that. But what we also see even more so is that as we've rolled out, ah, cheaper I service are volumes have grown dramatically because what's happening is you're coming to us and saying I have a whole back catalogue of content that wasn't worthwhile for me. It was wasn't important enough to be a human to do it. But it's your lower ad price. I'll do all of it, right? And so we're looking around and saying,

Well, how much audio and video is really out there? So let's just take a listen. Think about TV TV For a minute. When I was a kid, I had a black and white TV in my bedroom. 40 ones. I'm not that old, but it had, like two knobs, the U H F A V H F knob, and so you could count. It only had, like, maximum 40 stations, of which probably like on Lee.

A dozen had actual factual content in it. Now, with YouTube, I have, like half a 1,000,000 decent stations I can choose from, right. So in my lifetime it went from like 12 stations, toe like 500,000 and not every station there needs closed captions. But all the big ones want it, and even the medium ones wanted to, because it's better for the better. For the audience, it's better for CEO. It's better for foreign foreign visitors or people with his second


language. It was good and cheap. You would want it, and what you guys are doing is making it easy and cheap


s o the amount of audio and video that is a high quality is growing exponentially, right? And so what a I does is it makes things more affordable, and we're seeing mass market expansion. The other example, I would say, is how big was the taxi market in SF? You know, circa years or 10 years ago, right? It's a It's a lot bigger now. The market for personal transport is so much bigger, even though the prices got lower, How can I be? Well, now, every millennial who save one in the bar is probably gonna use an uber pool and pay like seven bucks.

Where's before? There was no option. You know, the taxes weren't available, and if there were available, it would have cost three times that. So the efficiency


people used to say this about uber. They said, Well, you know, how big could this be? Is this overvalued? Well, even if it took 100% of the taxi market, it wouldn't live up to this. And what turned out was in cities like San Francisco, they that same year remember this when when I read this argument that same year, they three ext the total size of the San Francisco taxi market


themselves. I remember some somebody telling me. Somebody tell me that same thing, right? And it's We see the same type of dynamic. How much audio video is out there? It's limitless, right? And how many times were you in a meeting where


somebody wanted to know what was set? Right? All right, it's 2020 new year. It's gonna be a big year. And, you know, we had to come in with some new awesome partners. So for January, we're partnering up with Microsoft and my 1st 1,000,000 That's right. This episode is brought to you by Microsoft because whether you're just starting out or you're well on your way to your 1st 1,000,000 Microsoft teams can help your team hit the ground. Running with must have features like real time chat, editing and video calling all in one easy to use platform teams is a no brainer at a price you can afford. Yep, there is a free version of teams, as in it cost $0. See for yourself at a k a.

M s slash the hustle again. That's a k a dot M s flash the hustle to check out teams brought to you by Microsoft Lovett Microsoft that is a trillion dollar company, right? We're talking about my 1st 1,000,000 there on my first trillions. That's goals for everybody. They got there because they build epic products. Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point. These are products that stand the test of time, and now they've come out with teams to help teams chat, communicate, work together. And I think it's also all right, great. Let's get back to this upset.


The amount of audio and video that matters is limitless. So A. I is a breakthrough technology that is delivering higher value at a lower cost. And so it's going to spend the market. And, you know, there's a lot of headlines that say robots are coming for the jobs People have these sort of dystopian notions of people think of like Terminator, and one of the robot's gonna gonna come and kill us all. That's not what we see, right? E mean, I think it's that sells movie tickets, But what we see is that when we go to our freelancers and we give them software that does the most tedious parts, their job better. They think it's great because those are the parts they enjoy, right, they want to do the parts that require them to think and use judgment.

So, um, if you look across ah, economics geek, If you look at the history of industry, what I see is that as a CE, factories bring in Maur technology. They produce more stuff with fewer people per widget, and they require more skilled people. Right now, if you thought you read the Big Johnson factory owners is any workers that could deal with robots, right, Right. And because, like, well,

it's kind of hard to work with Robot compared to the teenagers. Basically, Yeah, maybe. Maybe so. Um,


let me ask you when you guys before you guys built software for your transcribers, what would the cost be if there was no software per minute? And what is your average cost now? So, like, that's the efficiency gain right through through adding the sort of machine learning components where you helped their workflow. You speed them up, you get you take away the tedious parts.


Yeah, all into question, but kinda go one step back before then. You know, um, we we intentionally chose an industry that we thought was very large, but that hadn't received any real innovation ever. Frankly, and, you know, once in a while I'll be reading some book about something that happened 202,000 years ago and talked about scribes trend transcribing what was said by by a by a president or king or general. So as long as people could talk and right, people have been transcribing. And, um, you know, when I was in high school,

I remember one of my my biology teacher had a wife who his wife would do medical transcript encryption, and she would get cassettes mail to her, and she would sit there, type him out on a word processor or something, and that was that was job. And so it was. It was opening the mail and taking the cassette and putting it in and playing it. And that was state of the art when I was in 10th grade, circa 1994. And so then, when I started this nine years ago, State of the art was you get emailed of audio file and you imported to some, uh, software that's designed to play audio for transcription, as the typically you get often control it by a physical foot pedal that you plug into the USB port. So people have tried to make it more efficient to the software made for transcriptionist,

and someone that was good would have a physical foot pedal. So that way they could have 1/3 hand. And the reason for that foot pedal is it Would it would control things like Playersplayer pause or go back five seconds. People had done some basic things that try to get speed, but the technology wasn't very good. It really wasn't. It was desktop software. He looked at it. You just with your kind of area particle. And you said not not nice software. And, um, they were typically typing into Microsoft work. And that's how we started. Um, we started something everybody else did.

But we knew we were gonna build software to do everything that I could do to help in the whole process and a lot of pieces to that. It took us a couple of years, but we build software to help people do the job, which is to listen to audio transcribe it, and it was full of little productivity hacks in the software. So, for example, they would have the person would have shortcuts for things like for a very common word that might see a lot. They might have a little shorthand for it. So instead of writing a word because B E. C A U S E. They would be see space and been informed because And there's like 10 other different types of little hacks in the software that each one is not that big of a deal. But when you put them all together, it means somebody faster. And so what? We had teams of people that would we would watch people work, almost like with a stopwatch and figure out when they're getting tripped up


and say, Let's go fix that fight We got unblock this,


Yeah, because because we understood that the faster they could work, the better for everybody. They're happier customers happier. They make more money per hour of their effort. Everybody wins. And we put that software through dozens and dozens of versions and and we believe it's the best out there. And so we probably as best we can tell, uh, cut the time to do a job or rather dull party. Vitti. It was kind of having a job in half or dull party Vitti on what the norm was in the industry. And that was before we brought a Iot to bear and so we could bring in a I into the picture over the last year. I think we're still you know, anyone of this journey and the eyes not always helpful because aye, aye, it's garbage in,

garbage out. You know the old saying You can't make chicken salad out of chicken bleep bleep. And if if I record here with you with these microphones, the I will do a great job. Whereas most people are doing that right, a lot of it's in a conference room with an iPhone Doritos bag next


to the mind. Fan on, fan on, then a guy with a cough. Yeah, they're not thinking


about it. And then maybe somebody's got, ah, foreign accent because they, you know, recent immigrant, which is which can be harder for certain people to discern that words. And then somebody like me get excited, interrupts too much, and so you have a perfect storm of that's That's reality, right? Right, so there's like, perfect conditions, and then there's reality, and we get both right


It's like self driving cars in a parking lot versus, you know, in a city when it's raining top. That's


right. Tahoe in the snow with the fog, You know, in winner I and icy conditions. So, uh, the aye aye today. What do you mean by eye? We have proprietary technology that converts audio text and we run it. We run all over audio through it, and we find that in some cases, the day I could do a really good job and we give it to the human being and they love it. And other case of the I can't do a good job. And so we kind of throw away the transcript right now we're in it for scratch.


So the master question you started this business when you were, um you left your job to start this business, but your job was somewhat related, right? You were at, I think, oh, desk which has been rebranded or acquired or whatever to be up work. And so did you see this opportunity while you were there? That Hey, man, a lot of these jobs or transcription jobs. What if we just did that? Really? Well, you know, How did this come about?

What's the origin story from? Take us from your guy with a job to do. You start this company. What happened? Sure.


Um there was a step. Another company in between On and I'm not a start of all involved in this story. So I joined, um started. It was called Odessa. Gets knocked up work in the company. Went public in late 2018 was doing pretty well. Um, I joined this company to before when it was super tiny. And what


was your job title


then? The title title and what actually did the title was director of marketing sales. In reality, I did a lot of product management. I did on the marketing. I did a little selling before the automated ourselves process. I did fund raising. I helped the founder with the SYRIZA and Sirius B. Uh, financings. I kind of got Did Tim operations work? I did everything to be done. Except for I never wrote software. And I had a great founder like experience. Ah, was early employees not quite a founder, but I did a lot of different things on.

I joined the company early, and I join the company. But before that, you pay me to work for free for a few months. The founder before you could find Why'd you do that? Because I believe he was building something really important. And and I will tell you, frankly, personal motivation on there's a little bit. So one of the biggest question is for somebody who wants to join an early startup is how do you negotiate with the founder, particularly for equity, which is the thing that matters most in the early stage company. And, um, I see a little bit of money. In my previous job, I was willing happy to work for a few months for free.


You people a sense of your age at the time of your 20 kid out of call. Okay, so a couple years out of five, maybe yet 24 25.


And I remember calling on one of my mentors, was a venture capitalist for advice, saying, I want to go work with this founder. We have tremendous chemistry. I think the world of him and he respects me, and there's things that he's good at. Our different when I'm good at, and I think together we could really do a great job building building this business. And the question was, how do I frankly negotiate with him for what equity stake I'd be working for? Because that was that was one of the main attractions for joining a company that was so early they had no funding, no money. The bank that couldn't pay me. Nobody had ever heard of them that, like four customers. Um,

but it was a big idea. I love the idea. And the advice he got from this mentor was, and I'll never forget. This device was great advice. It was. Look, right now the information is very asymmetric. You don't know he doesn't know what you're worth and you don't know how to sell that to him howto show him that. So he said, just work for a little while demonstrate value, and he'll realize that he wouldn't want to do this without you. And, um, it's ah, A lot of people want to put a lot.

I mean, I think it's a general point here about negotiation. All the people want a lot of time to use a phrase you dividing ah, pie that may never get baked and you want to start baking the pie and a little later how to divvy it up. So what we did is we agree. We said we'll work together for we pick some time period of about three months. Three months. We're working, sit down and try to figure this out. And during the few months we work the other as if we were married. I was 100 and dedicated, making him in the company successful. And we put in place on the marketing programs with Google. And we, uh, did a lot of product work to get customers coming in off the website.

And we sort of hiring, hiring people for rules that we needed. And we went to fund raising, and we were having some early early traction, that process. And when we sit down to, um two bc discussion and negotiate on talk have you been talk that we build up Thio? Amazingly, we walked in each thinking each with the same number of our heads. Wow. Um, So,


uh, what do you chalk that up to you or to low? He's too generous. How do you How do you square that circle? Why does that happen? you both had an accurate view of what this was worth.


You know, I think that, um there's this phrase in negotiation like, Do you go for the last dollar? And I think it depends on life about what kind of relationship with a person down the road. And I think we each try to come up with something that we thought would be fair, fair to the person, but attractive but unusually attractive. And we work together enough that, you know, I was aware of how awesome the company potential was. He had an idea of what I could. D'oh. And if we try to have that conversation too early, too early, it wouldn't have gone well, um,

and you know, he could you know, he knew that I took a leap of faith toe work for for no pay for several months because I believed in him in the business. And, um,


did you work out? Did you signal even at the beginning? Because I've had a similar experience Where I had a company, a guy literally was like, I want to work on this with you guys. I'll work for free. Oh, you know, sleep on a couch and we'll figure it out in 36 months. Don't worry. Well, I'll show you first and one challenge we ran into. And I love the guy. Sam. Big shout out to Sam solely. Um, you know,

we ran into was when? When it came time for the talk, we didn't know where the other person's extra stations were at all. We had, like, beat around the bush so completely that when it came up and he was like, Well, I basically want to be an equal partner And we were like, Whoa, well, like we didn't even think That's the discussion we're tryingto have. We thought it was between X and Y, and that set off a pretty bad tone. So I'm curious. Just compare personal experiences. It might just be that every experience is different. But did you do a better job, maybe, of setting the tone or benchmarking in some way at the beginning? Or did you just happen to have a better outcome than we did?


Um, so it's been 16 years, So details A little hazy, but I think we did have some rough discussion's over maybe not quite range, but but some benchmarks I mean, I was. I had the good fortune to you. I was coming out of a job at a VC firm where I was a very junior person. But I had a lot of data on what people earned at startups and what they had in various roles, and we probably had a little bit of maybe some book ends on the conversation before going into it. I think, um and certainly certainly that's a very it's a very delicate uM, that's a very delicate question, but I do think that it's important to always have some broad meeting of the minds before you go into something. I mean, it's it's right, and there's no easy way to do


that. So one question. I get a lot as I do. This podcast is people company for career advice, and I'm like, You know, look, uh, you don't want advice on B. You gotta look at your own situation. But one question off to get is, should I, you know, go down this past, start my own company, go down this path, work for big company and the other one that's most interesting because,

you know, I would say at least known to people is what it's like to do what you didn't join early at a company that might make a base. And the question I get a lot is around. What? What what what's my expectations be? So, for example, you joined ODS, which became up work and ultimately in a public company. So that's the That's the wind. You know, Financial Win is what that that started actually made it through the gauntlet of things that starts normally could could fail in and give people a sense if they're that that person is 24 years old and weighing their options, they don't quite have a business idea. They love and want to start. They kind of know they don't want to be in a big company, and they're trying to figure out okay,

the big companies very clear what I'm gonna make. And at this startup, I kind of don't know howto think about these options. And, you know, if a company makes it all the way like you did, where does that set you up financially? How How would you sort of inform somebody who's trying to make up who's trying to do a sort of, ah, rational decision financially between those two options. How would you talk, talk, talk to people about that?


So it's a really important question. Obviously, there's no there's no like that, the finance for anything, and I could give an answer and that somebody could say, Well, I did the other path and I was really successful, So you're wrong. But you framed it as big company versus Join a founder and started. I want to add that there's a lot of room ranging between arranged between that, Okay? And I would think that for most people who let somebody says, I want to be an entrepreneur cofounder one day, if they haven't yet, I would probably advise them to get involved in a high growth start up first, because you're gonna learn a lot really fast now if you start the company great. If you have some incredible passion for problem.

Your father had a certain illness, and there's a company is going to solve the illness and you have a dying desire to solve it, and you have skills to do something to do it. But what I find is, ah, lot of people wanted. You start up for kind of lifestyle reads like they want to be an entrepreneur. They want that lifestyle and they're just hungry for it. And most people who haven't been in the game for a while probably don't have the background to be able to evaluate a new idea with high confidence that they're going to get it right. It's all really hard thing to Dio, And that's why if you go, if you look at a start up that has raised venture capital from some decent venture capital firms, is growing quickly, is innovating a lot, and you can join in a capacity where your building and growing something, ultimately hiring people,

you're gonna learn a lot of skills, and along the way you'll be exposed to a lot of different markets and categories and start to develop a better view over over what a good opportunity company might be for you. Because there are a lot of people that jump from start to start up. A lot of little startups that don't go anywhere and they probably have a lot of fun and maybe they end up happy in the end. But I think probably they went in hoping for, um, either Aah! Financial outcome or some kind of legacy. And if you jump too much company that that they're going where you don't get it, I think that if you find that high growth venture back company and do it a couple of your stint that depending on what what sort of function you're into, you wantto get in a position where you get exposed to multiple functions, so you have some exposure to the business side of things. Product is often a good back, a good area because it cuts across all departments. But you can get you could get that from a lot of different fields. I think most you're better off the high go start up as kind of bridge.

Or is it maybe a step before breaking out of their own? That's just doing doing the numbers of Matthew multiple better off that way. In my personal journey, I had spent the two years before joining up work at a venture capital firm where my job was to a virus started. I had the good fortune to to be able to see probably hundreds of companies from the inside and understand how to compare things had a benchmark companies, and also I had the opportunity to learn a lot and talk a lot of people about. How does a company build enduring advantages, what people these days would call a moat defense and defense ability in? I got a lot of great advice, man and a bunch of very wise BC partners and entrepreneurs and oversimplified the story. Well, there's a lot of ways to build defense ability, I think network effects. He's a really powerful one, and it was very clear from the first minute that if if up work had any level attraction, it would have great network effects will be very difficult to rebuild that.

And that's proven to be the case. So, you know, I went in knowing that if it worked, whatever they work


and when you you said you had that experience and then you did something between then you decided to start. Rev.


I was it up work for about three years. For a lot of reasons, I decided to leave. Uh, you know, the company. The CEO changed a couple times, and, uh, people be the rule that didn't think was the right role for me. So I said, Let me go off on my own, get a job where I can save some money and start a company on my own terms on be able to call the shots in a way that I hadn't been. Ah, it up work and that's that's what I did. I had a friend who worked the product. We find that he was nice enough to introduce me and is able to get a job.

It wasn't relevant. Attack directly the work. But I learned a lot and was able to save a little bit of money so that when I was ready to start a company on my own for the first time, I could do it with the flexibility of nine needing to raise capital of Day One. And when I started thinking about what company I want, I want to start. I got to thinking about what I learned from up work, which is that there are so many people here in the world that would love to work remotely but can't. They don't have opportunity in their small town or country, and I just think that, um, there's gonna be a huge change in my life time in our lifetimes, where by the time I'm dead, I think will be a 1,000,000,000 people who work remotely up from a much smaller number today. And that takes some time because the technology has to mature. Bandit has to get better.

Industries and business have to change. That work that is done today in a cubicle farm gets spread across people's homes through software, and a lot has to happen for the tradition to happen. And so I thought, Why wouldn't read me the company? Why wouldn't I sort of company, too? Accelerate that to bring that forward, to get opportunity people and I was able to more. Let's dissect what did I think were the Achilles heels in up works business model and build a different business model that we don't compete without work in any meaningful way. But there's two things they're different about, about revving up work for the customer. We guarantee quality because we only do one thing. We've never argued to text, and because up work does everything under the sun, they can't possibly guarantee quality on infiltrated


service's you pick a you picking up worker. You hope that that up workers gonna deliver what you want with Rev. Rev. Is telling you, You're going to get what you want.


That's right differently. That's right, different phrase that is, that I know, but you hire a person and roll the dice on rev. You pay for a service that we stand behind it. So it's a different thing. It's it's staffing, diversity of service, and then the other side of the business is the freelancer. So if you work on up work or five or a platform like that, you spent a lot of time applying for jobs. The median case of somebody these platforms is create account. A lot of jobs don't find work right, and even the success successful ones are applying for jobs. If they don't get so that's time they're spending. That I get paid for,

and applying for jobs means putting yourself out there emotionally, getting excited about something. It's doing a sales pitch, and most people don't. We have an endorsement of the face getting turned out, and you have to turn down a lot to get a job which is most will not fund. It's time. So we felt is if we had a platform that would provide one kind of service, and we standardized it. So we knew we would only accept jobs of a given category. In our case, it's audio files we can transcribe that are in English to start. Then what we could dio is we could vet a workforce so we don't let anybody do it, but without anybody apply. And if people passed our test and meet the criteria, we have a tiered workforce where there's different level in our workforce.

If you're the top level, the workforce, we let you do any job anytime, right? And so those people spend no time applying for jobs, right? They could work as much. Or is that what they want? And that's by design. So we had these key differences. I wanted to have guaranteed experience with customer, and I wanted somebody with the right skills to be able to work as much or as little they want. I never have to sell themselves, never have have to bid on a job, never have erased the bottom of saying that that guy will do for dollar. I'll do it for 98 cents, but never have any of those things. Wake


up and you have your cue. That's


right, That that was the concept. And then the question was simply, Well, what would they be doing? What kind of and we considered every kind of work under the sign We look good. Should they do software of elements of the do graphic design? We were like, What are all the common job types of people do across the Internet? And we studied what was out there, and we quickly rejected any job. That was pretty subjective. Sign can't work. Yeah, so, like a restaurant, he needs a logo for its website.

But you think it's pretty. I think it's ugly, or vice versa. We'll never agree on that where we've chosen categories that air pretty objective. Now there's always lots of activity, but what? We was pretty subjective. You give your podcast, we get back the words to it. You or somebody else would probably agree that we did a great job or not a great job.


But how we did and not a super high skill bar, either for the workforce, right? So I don't need to have a degree or special training of like, you know, programming or whatever that's harder for


me to enter. That's right. Yeah, a lot of people can do it. I mean, it's surprisingly challenging and that you need a good ear. You need to be a good type, pissed and good judgment. But you're right. It's a broad. It's a broad need for businesses because a lot of people have audio and video that matters. And it's a broad skill set that a lot of people knowing that you can type. And there's some things that that led us to it. A ce faras the name, uh, bit tangent. There we started off with a,

um, kind of a funky name. We started off with the name Fox translate dot com and the reason for that Waas. So our first idea was to translate documents, and I thought, Well, I wanted a website name that was very clear, not confusion to people. So one of the word translate to be in it. I wanted to stand out versus others that they were out there and I don't know where I thought of this. They were out of this at the time. Surveymonkey and male chimp. We're like animal doing well so and task animals are cute. So, um, what animal could I get?

A stick in the name. And I wanted oxes quick to be short. And I mean, somehow I came across things idea of a bunch of ideas. But then you look at what can you buy and go, Daddy for $10 dollars and


a great creative constrained, by the way


totally, totally, and I knew was temporary. But we did it. And we made a fox translate dot com and hired a cartoonist in Indonesia to make a cute cartoon Fox. It was really, really cute. People would see the website and they would smile. It was a very adorable cartoon fox. And on our home page, you can still find it, You know, the web somewhere. And that was a great, perfect danger. Get going. So,

you know, I think I kind of tell people, don't think about naming something I would spend, like no time to be kidding, thinking about a name because the odds of your business gonna work or, like, not super high. And so make me get the visit to work. One of his works. Then you'll know more about what the business really is and then think about with any Model B. And so, um, we got going in 2010 in 2012. I made it my big priority to figure out what a name would be And lots of advice from some investors I read. I read books on naming cos I read books on domain names. I looked for inspiration.

And, um, you know, the problem is you come up with a great our name that you think I'd be awesome for business and you find you can't possibly get it. So So it's really a two part problem. One is picking a name you love and then figure out, can you get the domain name? I was given a bunch of steps here, but, uh, I actually hired two different domain brokers to go out sort of by names, because any people do reviews on names. I've from the beginning I had what I call a multi decade aspiration of. The company wanted to build a company that creates many 1,000,000 to work from jobs over many decades, So I didn't want the name to be narrowly tied to our first service. I wanted to be brought enough to give me room to maneuver.

And I also thought that a good name that had to mean tow it would created stronger brand connection to customers. I wanted people to think of us is more than some commodity service. Uh, the first name I fell in love with that it was not able to get was Ah, circle. I wanted to get the name circle dot com, and I hired a domain broker to find it for me, and she was unable to get it. I learned later that I think it was Jeremy Allaire had the name for his Bitcoin wallet company that launched, like, a year after. I was trying to get it because, you know, she couldn't find out where it was. She had this. She could be roadblocks like,

No, we will call me back, Right? Doing brokers usually gonna get a callback. Ultimately, we couldn't get the name. And frankly, I think it's better that we didn't because that limited more time thinking about possible names. And we ended up coming up with the idea for Rev. And we paid a bunch of money to get it. I don't have disclosed, but we'll never find we spent four grand on


the name. Nice. How do you know how? How do you know howto where to draw the line? That right? I mean, we didn't have much money. Okay? That was a big


business. Was doing pretty well, So we weren't burning how much money, But that was That was like a huge portion of our over acid the time. But I kind of felt like, Well, look, if you can't be successful, this is drop in the bucket. And if it fails,


it's still an asset, by the way, Yeah, you could sell the remaining for sure, for sure.


The reason for the name was probably there's sort of two reasons. One is that when people hear the word, rev, they think fast. That's kind of the first thing they think about anything. Speed like rev. Your engines accelerate. And the nature of our service is we're really fast because we do something that is usually done by people in a body shop that slow like a typical customer that wants ah, 30 minute podcast transcribed prior to us 89 years ago. It would take you 40 hours to get something turned around. Maur that day. Several days, 34 days and we were at the beginning. We were probably like 20 hours and you know, for that. And today we're like a couple of hours were we're so much faster of the alternative that customers, it kind of blows their minds is one of most common question.

And because people will submit something Friday night, 11 p.m. And then at 1 a.m. That get back on Saturday, more one of Saturday night or whatever morning, two hours. And they're shocked. How does this even happen? And if you never work, it's kind of easy. Well, people are working somewhat. Someone's


work. Someone is gonna be


someone's working. And it was obvious, that is, we have more people working. We get faster, right? Right, so that red grab was good for that. But also, there's I thought I had some other kind of hidden meanings. One of my co founders actually did something sort of clever is something that, um, some of your listeners can try if they're trying to think of a name he went a mechanical Turk with, and he filled his account with, like, ah, 100 bucks,

and I think I had at the time, like 10 domain names I was thinking about. So for each domain name, he would pay people some small amount, like 15 cents to answer a question. And the question was like When you see this ward, what are three words do you think of Okay. And when you just were, do you think feel positive? Negative about it? So, for, like, $10 per domain name, we got like this tag cloud. Yeah,

well, here's Here's the Here's the words you will think about when they hear that when they hear this. And there were size based upon a frequency. So you could clearly see what we're too felt positive about. And what what people thought of what they saw. Word. And so the primary thing people thought of when they saw Rev. Was, um, with speed. There was secondary meaning that it wasn't helpful to us, which is Reverend Liquor, which was not not really what we d'oh. But I think the third reason was was revolution and you know that we've always wanted we've always wanted Thio help accelerate these kind of new industrial revolution towards letting people be their own boss. We're from home and be independent. And, um, you know, we thought were to create new lifestyle for folks and we wanted


to come through. My mom works for a company that has a very similar thing called user testing. Sure, And I remember introducing it to her because she was at home and she's like, kind of like retired now. She didn't really want to go. She worked in the workforce, but she didn't want to go back and get a job. She also was orders. Hell at home. Kids were gone now, and you know, if I told her Look, here's something you could do at home. Pick your hours as much or as little as you want, whenever you want in the day. You already have the skills to do this because you're just gonna browse a Web site and click around and tell people you know,

it'll tell you Go try to check out, and you you say If it's confusing to you, you don't have to be good at it. You just say what your actual opinions are and look, you're gonna make, you know, 10 15 bucks at a time, and that can add up to, like, you know, money for your manicure pedicure and taking us out to dinner, whatever it like. This is a little slush fund for you. And she loved it. She loved it. She did it so much that user testing hired her to review other testers and basically helped in a sort of helped build their workforce out.

And so I've seen this, like what this means for her to be like, you know, four hours a day, Um, picking her own hours, doing this stuff and having her own incoming, her own autonomy. And it is a game changer. And so I've had specific brainstorms around. How do we mobilize the stay at home work force? The stay at home mom Workforce, that's out there. How What are some other things? There's user testing. There's rev.

There's there's got to be some others because I just think that once you see the lifestyle that that enables, its clear, people are gonna want that. And that's a game changer for people who are sort of bored and lonely at home and not feeling productive. Andi. It's a pretty big change.


That's a wonderful example. Your mom's story and we see so many similar stories in our workforce. One of the things they hear most often when I ask people, Hey, you know what's not working and Rev they tell me I love the contents because they're watching movies. Look, listen, a podcast. You're interviewing interesting people. So if somebody and the way our system works, is they can favorite a client so they could put a heart next to your name, that's cool. So that way, when you have your podcast tickets, if they think that you do cool podcast, they're gonna think, man,

I can't wait. Here's podcast. The people on on, you know, the apple podcast app. Listen, your pockets, they don't get paid to it. So these people get paid to hear your podcast. Type it out. And if you think I mean, we do educational content, whether it's stuff from universities or stuff, online classes and how to use it, there will be all in class and how to cook or out of Baker had. So or we have churches doing sermons. There's content for every possible interest,


and this is kind of tough question, but we'll wrap up is kind of a fun one. So if you couldn't do rev let's pretend alternate universe. You can't be doing rev right now, but you wanted Thio t still work on this mission or are sort of pushed accelerate towards this future where people are working from home with this flexibility and autonomy. Um, what's another? What's another idea you've had that you guys you know won't pursue because it's two different or it's too out there? What's that? What's interesting to you that's in this kind of remote world that you're not doing today.


Online education is big. In fact, I mean a story here, and this is a humbling experience. We spent a couple years and millions of dollars trying to build a math tutoring service on we failed to meet our metrics, and so we shut it down. You know, I was a math tutor when I was in high school, and, um, you know, I spent a lot of time in driving from one person's house to another. I couldn't tutor until I could get a car, and maybe we're earlier. Maybe we picked the wrong market. But education is education's, an industry that where the government provides most of it and hasn't seen a tonic innovation.

And, um, you know, I think there's there's, Ah, everybody knows that There's this notion the flipped classroom, that the whole model of read the textbook and listen to a lecture may not be the best model anymore. And I think it's clear that all that education is ah is a massive opportunity. There's a big companies. There's a company out of China called V. I. P. Kid that, um, that has a lot of people in the U. S.

Often stay at home moms or retired teachers who will work online on video teaching English to Chinese Children. And that's a pretty big market. And I think if you play it out, you know, if I want to get the best education for my kid, well, where is that gonna come from? There's a lot of things that you get from a teacher in person, but if you want the specialized knowledge that you can't get or you don't the best teacher in your school, I think it makes a lot of sense to look at the whole world. And so I think I think education is an industry where remote technology is gonna be a really big factor.


Love it, Jason, This is awesome. Where can people find you if they wanna? You know, learn Maur, connect more with you. Follow you on Twitter shouted out. People were listening.


Confined you? Yeah, I'm on Twitter J's at Jason. She cola so you can connect the Emmy


and love Love to hear from Looks awesome, thanks very much.

powered by SmashNotes