Foundr Magazine Podcast with Nathan Chan

Labeled the “Steve Jobs of Investing”, Ray Dalio is easily one of the most successful investors of our time. The Principles: Work & Life author is the larger-than-life mentor we all need in our day-to-day life. 

 

It’s incredible to learn that the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world's biggest hedge fund firm which manages roughly $150 billion, began his investment journey at the age of 12 using his pocket money to buy stocks.

 

Listen as we delve deep with the living legend himself to hear first-hand accounts of Wall Street in the 70s and 80s, the cycle of Empires and Cryptocurrency, and Dalio’s Ocean X explorer traversing the ocean floor. 

 

Listen to learn:

  • What happens if you punch your boss in the face (Dalio has first-hand experience in this!) 
  • Doing business in the 1980s and what it’s taught Dalio about today’s entrepreneur space
  • Why losing everything and hitting rock bottom is one of the best experiences a person can have
  • The inspiration behind Dalio’s book Principles: Life & Work 
  • The secret formula to the ideal composition of a founding team 
  • Decision-making frameworks that built a billionaire
  • What transcendental meditation is and why Dalio meditates daily
  • Reddit, Robinhood, Cryptocurrency, and the changing face of entrepreneurs 
  • What Dalio is searching for on the ocean floor with Ocean X 




Ray Dalio is the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, and is the author of the new book Principles: Life and Work.



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Direct download: FP368_Ray_Dalio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Full of wonderful ideas but don’t know how to make them a reality?

Our next guest had the same problem…until he managed to turn them into MULTIPLE startups, most of which he’s sold.

Paul English bought and sold his first business Boston Light Software for $33.5 million, within just 7 months of its founding. Paul went on to co-found the popular travel site Kayak, which he sold to Priceline for a whopping $1.8 billion.


So what has Paul learned through all this? Well, we asked him. In this episode of the Foundr podcast, Nathan Chan sits down with Paul to discuss: 

 

  • How you can recruit constantly to curate a team of only the most talented, energetic people
  • How to get employees to bring their best absolute best
  • How to validate your next winning business idea
  • How to solve the biggest problems with your tech company
  • The importance of vulnerability 
  • How to maintain a balance of skills at your company to ensure the business stays on track

    And so much more…

If you’re an idealistic entrepreneur who wants to build a business of true worth, this interview is for you. Don't miss it.

Who do you want to see next on the podcast? Comment and let us know! And don't forget to leave us a 5-star review if you loved this episode.

Wait, there's more… If you enjoy the Foundr podcast, check out our free trainings. Get exclusive, actionable advice from some of the world's best entrepreneurs. 

 

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Direct download: FP367_Paul_English.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

What do you get when you mix Daymond John, cozy toes, and a charitable mission? 

 

Bombas. 

 

That's right, you get the world's best sock company. 

 

Foundr CEO Nathan Chan recently sat down with Randy Goldberg and David Heath to learn how Bombas went from a growing ecommerce business to a Shark Tank sensation.

 

Randy and David talk about growing Bombas from heel to toe, including:

 

  • Why they bootstrapped as long as possible
  • How preparing for Shark Tank helped them boost their business—even before they got a little TV fame
  • The best advice Daymond John has given them
  • How an authentic, compelling mission inspires loyal customers and employees
  • The biggest mistake ecommerce entrepreneurs make
  • Why they're excited about the future of Bombas

 

If you're an ecommerce entrepreneur or just a sock-loving fan, this interview is a must. 


Who do you want to see next on the podcast? Comment and let us know! And don't forget to leave us a 5-star review if you loved this episode.

 

Wait, there's more… If you enjoy the Foundr podcast, check out our free trainings. Get exclusive, actionable advice from some of the world's best entrepreneurs. 

 

For more Foundr content, follow us on your favorite platform: 

 

Direct download: FP366_Bombas_Socks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

What does a savvy entrepreneur do when she sells her startup for $125 million? She starts another business, of course.

 

Radha Agrawal, cofounder of Thinx, has launched another passion project: Daybreaker. 

 

Daybreaker is a wellness community that offers sober dance parties in 100 countries around the world. With events at the top of the World Trade Center, Sydney Opera House, and even the White House, Daybreaker is quite literally on top. 

 

And now Daybreaker is offering virtual and hybrid options to increase accessibility to their events while the world navigates through the pandemic.

 

So how has Radha launched another wildly successful brand? Find out in the latest episode of the Foundr podcast.


Who do you want to see next on the podcast? Comment and let us know! And don't forget to leave us a 5-star review if you loved this episode.

 

Wait, there's more… If you enjoy the Foundr podcast, check out our free trainings. Get exclusive, actionable advice from some of the world's best entrepreneurs. 

 

For more Foundr content, follow us on your favorite platform: 

 

Direct download: FP365_Radha_Agrawal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

How do you raise capital for your startup?

Well, if you ask the co-founder of Airbnb Joe Gebbia, he’ll tell you what worked for him: 

 

Cereal. 

 

That’s right, the company that started with a single air mattress and grew to a $100 billion empire was kept afloat by selling custom cereal boxes. 

 

It was bizarre but it worked. Gebbia muses in this episode of the Foundr podcast:

 

“We made $20,000 in breakfast cereal, and we're able to basically pay off our credit card debt...The cereal, funnily enough, was how we were able to help keep the options open for us until eventually, the invitation came for Y Combinator.”

 

In undoubtedly one of our most riveting episodes, Gebbia recounts his incredible journey from struggling to pay rent, to Airbnb’s first angel investor, to one of the biggest brands in the world and Gebbia’s incredible charity work.

 

Gebbia is candid about how he overcame countless rejections and problems. Listen in as he shares specific advice for entrepreneurs looking to create the next industry disrupter: 

 

“You can see what’s hot. You can go after an emerging industry... Or you can solve a problem. Your own problem. Airbnb was our own problem. We had a rent check that we couldn’t pay. And it forced us to come up with a new way of making ends meet.”



Get FREE, actionable advice from legitimate founders on starting and growing ANY Business…
https://www.foundr.com/freetraining

And… If you are enjoying the Foundr Podcast,, please leave us a 5-star review and let us know who you want to see next.

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Magazine: http://www.foundr.com/magazine

Direct download: FP364_Joe_Gebbia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Tommie Powers is a legend in digital paid advertising. He's consulted on $100+ million in ad spend, including $30 million on YouTube ads alone. 

 

So when Tommie talks about paid YouTube ad strategies, we listen. 

 

In a recent interview on the Foundr podcast, Tommie talked with us about everything from diversifying ad spend to crafting a powerful message to calculating ROAS (spoiler: most people are calculating ROAS all wrong). 

 

Check out the latest episode of the Foundr podcast as Tommie tells us how he taps into YouTube's 2 billion monthly active users to bring in his downright mind-blowing ROAS.


Get FREE, actionable advice from legitimate founders on starting and growing ANY Business… https://www.foundr.com/freetraining

And… If you are enjoying the Foundr Podcast’, please leave us a 5-star review and let us know who you want to see next.

Website: http://www.foundr.com
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Magazine: http://www.foundr.com/magazine

Direct download: FP363_Tommie_Powers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Inc. Magazine called her the most important entrepreneur on the planet. Fast Company called her the "brand whisperer." Emily Heyward of Red Antler is a master at helping a brand stand out from the crowd.

Heyward has elevated some of the biggest brands on the planet, including Casper, Yumi, Four Square, BirchBox, and All Birds. In this episode of the Foundr Podcast, she reveals her creative process  and tells us how she got started  in the industry. 

If you want a new perspective on building a brand your customers will be obsessed with, listen in on our interview with Heyward.


Get FREE, actionable advice from legitimate founders on starting and growing ANY Business… https://www.foundr.com/freetraining

And… If you are enjoying the Foundr Podcast’, please leave us a 5-star review and let us know who you want to see next.

Website: http://www.foundr.com
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Magazine: http://www.foundr.com/magazine

Direct download: FP362_Emily_Heyward.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

In this episode of the Foundr podcast, we speak with Omaze’s Matt Pohlson to discuss how a near-death experience taught him a powerful lesson about optimism—and how it changed his perspective on business forever.

 

Pohlson is cofounder and CEO of Omaze, an online fundraising platform that supports causes by offering once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Some of the experiences they offer include top-tier influential figures like Michelle Obama or George Clooney, or million-dollar prizes like cars and properties. 

 

In this refreshingly candid interview, Pohlson discusses his unique business model, gate-crashing charity events to pitch to Bryan Cranston, and how he found himself at the Vatican with the Pope.


Get FREE, actionable advice from legitimate founders on starting and growing ANY Business… https://www.foundr.com/freetraining

And… If you ARE enjoying the Foundr Podcast’, please leave us a 5-star review and let us know who you want to see next.

Website: http://www.foundr.com
Success Stories: https://foundr.com/success-stories

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Magazine: http://www.foundr.com/magazine

Direct download: FP361_Matt_Pohlson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

As the CEO and founder of TrendHunter, Jeremy Gutsche is at the forefront of trendspotting, innovation, and creating the future. In this ground-breaking interview, the New York Times Bestselling author reveals everything he knows about entrepreneurship and ideas. 

 

Gutsche’s TrendHunter is the world's largest, most popular trend spotting firm with billions of views, and over 10,000 projects for almost every major brand on the market, from Samsung and Disney, to RedBull and even NASA. 

 

The ultimate TKTK interview for entrepreneurs looking for an idea, his 3 methods to identifying a product idea (assessing the market) and the 6 patterns that TrendHunter look for when creating and validating a product idea.


Get FREE, actionable advice from legitimate founders on starting and growing ANY Business… https://www.foundr.com/freetraining

And… If you ARE enjoying the Foundr Podcast’, please make sure to leave us a 5-star review, and let us know who you want to see next.


Website: http://www.foundr.com
Success Stories: https://foundr.com/success-stories

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/foundr/

YouTube:  http://bit.ly/2uyvzdt 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/foundr

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LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/foundr/

Podcast: http://www.foundr.com/podcast

Magazine: http://www.foundr.com/magazine

Direct download: FP360_Jeremy_Gutsche.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

In this episode of the Foundr podcast, Nathan Chan speaks with Jeff Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield to find out how they scaled Harry’s into a $20 million brand, and how they created other multiple million-dollar brands. 

 

The idea for Harry’s came about after Katz-Mayfield had a disappointing late-night shopping experience at the chemists, and noticed that all the men’s razors were overpriced and overdesigned. Almost 8 years later, Raider and Katz-Mayfield have multiple channels, over 1000 employees, and several multi-million dollar brands. 

 

Listen in as they discuss exactly how they successfully scaled their brands, how they identified potential gaps in the market, the dangers of launching something just to make money, and why they decided to pull the plug on their Harry’s brand of lip balm.


Get FREE, actionable advice from legitimate founders on starting and growing ANY Business… https://www.foundr.com/freetraining

And… If you ARE enjoying the Foundr Podcast’, please make sure to leave us a 5-star review, and let us know who you want to see next.

Website: http://www.foundr.com
Success Stories: https://foundr.com/success-stories

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/foundr/

YouTube:  http://bit.ly/2uyvzdt 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/foundr

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LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/foundr/

Podcast: http://www.foundr.com/podcast

Magazine: http://www.foundr.com/magazine

Direct download: FP359_Jeff_Raider_Andy_Katz-Mayfield.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:55pm AEST

Quitting her promising job at Google, Heidi Zak decided to take the plunge and launch ThirdLove, an ecommerce brand for women’s underwear. Today, thanks to Zak’s masterful approach to scaling, ThirdLove is the third biggest ecommerce lingerie brand in America with no signs of slowing down. 

 

Zak’s journey into the entrepreneurial space began after she moved to the West coast and got swept up in the startup world. Launching as a small bootstrapped brand, she never thought that she one day be competing with titans like Victoria’s Secret. 


Listen in as Zak discusses the ins and outs of the ecommerce world, navigating scaling, product vs. marketing, and why she believes successful entrepreneurialism is based on perspective. 


Get FREE, actionable advice from legitimate founders on starting and growing ANY Business… https://www.foundr.com/freetraining

And… If you ARE enjoying the Foundr Podcast’, please make sure to leave us a 5-star review, and let us know who you want to see next.

Website: http://www.foundr.com
Success Stories: https://foundr.com/success-stories

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/foundr/

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Podcast: http://www.foundr.com/podcast

Magazine: http://www.foundr.com/magazine

Direct download: FP358_Heidi_Zak.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

This week’s podcast is a deep dive with Schmidt Natural’s co-founder, author, and investor Jaime Schmidt. Building her brand from a side hobby to a 7-figure annual income didn’t happen overnight, but Schmidt refused to let fear hold her back. 

 

Although Schmidt says she has had 22 previous jobs, Schmidt Naturals was her very first business. Living off $35k joint-income with a new baby, Schmidt first started creating her all-natural products at home, selling them at farmer’s markets. After years of dedication and very little capital, Schmidt reflects on her 9-figure exit, her journey into investing, and writing her first book Supermaker: Crafting Business on Your Own Terms. 

 

The perfect podcast for anyone who has a vision and a dream, Schmidt is an inspirational entrepreneur who continues to lift up others with her infectious positivity.


Get FREE, actionable advice from legitimate founders on starting and growing ANY Business… https://www.foundr.com/freetraining

And… If you ARE enjoying the Foundr Podcast’, please make sure to leave us a 5-star review, and let us know who you want to see next.

Website: http://www.foundr.com
Success Stories: https://foundr.com/success-stories

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/foundr/

YouTube:  http://bit.ly/2uyvzdt 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/foundr

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/foundr

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/foundr/

Podcast: http://www.foundr.com/podcast

Magazine: http://www.foundr.com/magazine

Direct download: FP357_Jamie_Schmidt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Joseph Einhorn is no stranger to entrepreneurialism. With almost 25 years of startup experience under his belt, Einhorn knows the ins and the outs of the game. 

 

In this interview with Nathan Chan, Einhorn discusses his incredible journey from becoming a self-taught engineer for Capital IQ, launching and selling the global ecommerce phenomenon Fancy.com, and how his life-long love for comic books evolved into founding Loot. 

 

With a penchant for satiating curiosity and deep respect for creators the world over, Einhorn will leave you inspired to chase your dream and to never give up.



Get FREE, actionable advice from legitimate founders on starting and growing ANY Business… https://www.foundr.com/freetraining

And… If you ARE enjoying the Foundr Podcast’, please make sure to leave us a 5-star review, and let us know who you want to see next.


Website: http://www.foundr.com

Success Stories: https://foundr.com/success-stories

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/foundr/

YouTube:  http://bit.ly/2uyvzdt 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/foundr

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/foundr

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/foundr/

Podcast: http://www.foundr.com/podcast

Magazine: http://www.foundr.com/magazine

 

Direct download: FP356_Joseph_Einhorn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

As someone who always knew they had a passion for fashion, Tamara Mellon has come a long way from working in a PR firm. As founder of luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo, founder of a new direct-to-consumer brand bearing her own name, and author of In My Shoes, Mellon is a game-changer in the fashion industry. 

 

In this interview, Nathan Chan sits down to speak with one of the most influential figures in the fashion industry to discuss every step of her journey in the fashion industry. Not only has Mellon displayed an uncanny knack for marketing and branding, but she’s also redefined the way we think about shopping. 

 

A must-listen for anyone with a love for fashion, shoes, and disrupting the industry, Mellon gives a refreshingly wholesome insight into the world of entrepreneurialism.

 

Get FREE, actionable advice from legitimate founders on starting and growing ANY Business… https://www.foundr.com/freetraining

And… If you ARE enjoying the Foundr Podcast’, please make sure to leave us a 5-star review, and let us know who you want to see next.


Website: http://www.foundr.com

Success Stories: https://foundr.com/success-stories

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/foundr/

YouTube:  http://bit.ly/2uyvzdt 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/foundr

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/foundr

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/foundr/

Podcast: http://www.foundr.com/podcast

Magazine: http://www.foundr.com/magazine

Direct download: FP355_Tamara_Mellon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

In this episode of the Foundr podcast, CEO and founder of eToro Yoni Assia sits down to discuss how he built his empire, getting dinner with Warren Buffett, and how he scaled the world's largest social media investment network.

 

As someone who has always been passionate about connecting finance and technology, Assia says that he was always someone who loved the intersection between technology and finance. As his second startup, eToro was created to simplify the user experience to make trading and investing something that is accessible for more people.

 

With a global company spanning 12 offices, over 1000 employees, and now reaching 20 million registered users, Assia’s ability to scale a business successfully is nothing short of incredible.

Direct download: FP354_Yoni_Assia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

After launching 9 companies, Jon Oringer didn’t really think that his 10th company Shutterstock would be the one to stand out from the crowd. Started as a side-hustle, Oringer launched the stock photography business with $10k. Today, his estimated net worth is sitting at $1.5B. Safe to say that Oringer’s journey has been pretty impressive. 

 

Based out of New York, Shutterstock is a global provider of stock photography, stock footage, stock music, and editing tools used by the world over. 

 

In this Foundr podcast episode, Nathan Chan sits down to speak with Oringer to discuss how he launched Shutterstock, creating the first pop-up blocker, and what he believes will be the future of Fintech and entrepreneurialism.

Direct download: FP353_Jon_Oringer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

In this digital age, music streaming and subscriptions have quickly become the norm. This week at Foundr, we were lucky enough to speak to an entrepreneur who was there for the rise of streaming and the music-tech space: Ola Sars.  

 

Before he was founder and CEO of the fastest growing B2B music streaming service, Soundtrack Your Brand, Ola was co-founder and COO of Beats Music, acquired by Apple and transformed into Apple Music, as well as the co-founder of Pacemaker, the world's first DJ driven music platform.

 

Foundr’s Nathan Chan sits down with Ola Sars to map out his incredible journey through one of the most complex industries in the modern world: the music industry.

Direct download: FP352_Ola_Sars.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

In this delicious interview, Nathan Chan sits down with CAULIPOWER founder Gail Becker to find out how she took her ecommerce company from $0 to $100M in just 3 years. 

 

Becker takes us on her tasty food brand journey, from her experience in corporate life as a marketer, to branching into the unknown to create something she wanted to see on the market: more food options for celiacs. 

 

Listen in as she discusses the process of getting her product into 25,000 stores on her first try and the future of Amazon.

 

This interview is perfect for anyone interested in entering the food industry, as Becker lays out everything she has learned along the way. And why in life, you should do something  that you love.

Direct download: FP351_Gail_Becker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Coming from a long line of shoemakers, it seemed only natural that Joe Foster follow in his family’s footsteps, but instead Foster decided to push his horizons even further and create a brand that would become a legacy. Listen in as Foster shares his incredible journey through generations of shoemakers to bring us the global brand we know today: Reebok. 

 

Foster’s entrepreneurial journey is nothing short of inspiring, as he took the company through ups and downs, broke into competitive markets, and created a niche in the market for his brand. Acquired by Adidas in 2005 for a whopping $3.8 billion, Foster has since retired and authored a book: “Shoemaker: The Untold Story of the British Family Firm that Became a Global Brand”.

 

In this astounding interview, Nathan Chan and Foster discuss the entrepreneurial journey, and everything Foster has learned along the way when it comes to business and brand.

Direct download: FP350_Joe_Foster.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

When his 10 year old daughter was upset by negative comments posted about her artwork, Hovhannes Avoyan decided to do something about it. Almost a decade later, over 1 billion app downloads and 150 million active monthly, PicsArt has become a global movement. 

 

Before founding PicsArt, Hovhannes Avoyan was already a successful entrepreneur with five startups that he sold to Lycos, Bertelsmann, GFI, TeamViewer, and HelpSystems. With a strong understanding of the market, scaling, and what it takes to build a viable business, it’s no wonder that PicsArt raised over $45m capital and now boasts partnerships with the world’s biggest influencers like Kim Kardashian.

 

In this inspiring interview hosted by Nathan Chan, Avoyan discusses the importance of creating a safe space for creative expression, why community matters for a business, the future of AI and its place in design and art, and why he believes failure is part of success.

Direct download: FP349_Hovhannes_Avoyan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Power up, level up, and get ready to take your business to the extreme, with this incredible interview with Single Grain’s Eric Siu. 

 

A former pro-gamer, Siu has been on the quintessential entrepreneur’s journey. He’s faced scaling issues, failure, and trying to do too much at once, and now he is ready to reveal why he believes gamers make the best entrepreneurs.

 

In this electrified interview with Foundr, Siu discusses why every founder needs to have a good understanding of marketing, essential long-term skills you need to have, and why he predicts Clubhouse will be the ultimate training ground for entrepreneurs.

Direct download: FP348_Eric_Siu.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

How does someone launch a $200 million beverage company with zero experience and four children under the age of six? Just ask super-mom, author, and Hint Water empire CEO and Founder, Kara Goldin. 

 

Goldin was first inspired to launch her beverage company as an alternative to other unhealthy drinks on the market. Not only did Goldin manage to build a company that is now the largest privately owned non-alcoholic beverage company in America, but she placed Hint on the shelves of her local Whole Foods on the same day she went into the delivery room.


Revealing all of the ups and downs of her journey in her new book, Undaunted: Overcoming Doubt And Doubters, Goldin speaks to Foundr’s Nathan Chan about relentless pursuit of your dreams, and overcoming fears and self-doubt along the way.

Key Takeaways

  • How Kara Goldin first began her mission of creating a healthier option for drinking water
  • Facing challenges everyday, and Goldin’s commitment to learning all she could about an entirely new industry
  • Why Goldin believes the best thing anyone can do for themselves is continue to learn and grow
  • Dealing with naysayers and doubters, and how Goldin decided to instead use their feedback to hone her business vision
Direct download: FP347_Kara_Goldin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Direct download: FP346_Marc_Randolph.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

In 2011, Hiroki Takeuchi launched his first business GoCardless with his co-founders. Just under one decade later, they are processing over $15b in payments every year!

 

Takeuchi’s first business began as a service to help streamline the messy process of collecting payments informally. Over the next several years, funding, scaling, and pivoting led him to create a simple service that helped collect recurring and one-off payments from customers. 

 

Takeuchi’s approach to business is inspiring. Not only was he a first-time entrepreneur scaling a global business without experience, but he also knows the pains of imposter syndrome and anxiety over hiring overqualified experts. This interview with Nathan Chan serves to remind us all that greatness isn’t just past experience, it’s the willingness to learn that makes someone a great entrepreneur.


Key Takeaways

  • How Takeuchi launched GoCardless in 2011 as his first business, and how he developed the idea
  • Evolving the initial business idea from something that sought to solve the problem of collecting payments informally, to a global fintech empire
  • The importance of having a complimentary co-founder, and how Takeuchi first began planning with his co-founders
  • Why Takeuchi decided to leverage existing services in order to streamline launch
  • Demo day, and overcoming getting 64 “no’s” before they got a “yes”
  • The importance of focus on a singular product, especially in a global powerhouse like finances and payment
  • How Takeuchi approached scaling, planning, and proactive growth in a high-demand industry
  • The challenges faced by an international business and scaling
  • How Takeuchi tackles imposter syndrome, and how he continues to focus on learnings
  • The importance he places on his team and the people Takeuchi surrounds himself with
  • What you need to ignore if you want to hire the best of the best for your business
  • Why you should never underestimate the length of the journey ahead of you, and why you need to be ready for the challenge of being an entrepreneur
Direct download: FP345_Hiroki_Takeuchi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Building partnerships and mailing lists as an entrepreneur can be one of the trickiest and most elusive parts of the game. Targetting the right people, understanding brand identity - it’s all a delicate ecosystem to navigate. 

The good news is, when it comes to mailing lists and partnerships, we have all the answers you need from the mastermind and guru himself: Colin Darretta. 

Co-founder of a number of successful companies including WellPath, a health and wellness plan) and DojoMojo, a software company that helps you build partnerships, Darretta has all the answers. 

Not only has Darretta got decades of experience under his belt, but he also has the distinct honor of managing to build a 1million person email list in 1 year, and is the master of monetizing mailing lists.

Direct download: FP344_Colin_Darretta.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

For Sarah Leary, entrepreneurship has always been in her blood. Growing up in a household of small-business owners including her grandmother who was also an entrepreneur, she knew she would eventually be one, too. She remembers that even when she was working for Microsoft as part of the founding team for Microsoft Office, she knew that being a business owner was her future.

From her development, launch, and successful scaling of Nextdoor into the world’s largest private social network for neighborhoods, Leary has experience in every aspect of entrepreneurialism. Her advice for budding entrepreneurs comes from years of experience in both scaling a business, building a community, and growing brands. 

In this interview with Nathan Chan, Leary reveals the absolute essentials every new entrepreneur needs to tick off when they want to start something new. As a venture partner at Unusual Ventures, Leary has advice straight from the frontline of what she wants to see in a pitch. 

Key Takeaways

  • How Leary grew up in a household of business owners and entrepreneurs and why that means she always knew she would be one too
  • Finding herself in the early start-up culture of Silicon Valley in the 90s
  • Her first business and how she faced failure, the decision to pivot, and a whole new frontier
  • The beginning of Nextdoor, and it’s growth internationally over the past decade
  • Joining Unusual Ventures, and why she wants to dedicate her time to helping others build companies from the ground up
  • Why founders need to be comfortable validating their ideas and assumptions
  • The two essential questions entrepreneurs need to ask themselves before starting
  • How Leary developed Nextdoor through a combination of brainstorming, customer research, and why you need to consider customer painkillers
  • Why every entrepreneur needs to learn to do extraordinary work for a narrow band of people, and then expand
  • How Leary fuelled the Nextdoor community, and why networks need leaders
  • Why Leary believes authenticity is the most important part of community strategy, and why you need to start with it
  • Why Leary stepped down from Nextdoor, and how the team of Unusual Ventures is rolling up their sleeves to help new entrepreneurs 
  • Leary’s reveals the secret to pitching ideas correctly, and what Unusual Ventures looks for in a new business idea

 

Direct download: FP343_Sarah_Leary.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

When Alli Webb founded Drybar in 2010, it started as one small salon in Brentwood, California that was designed to do one thing and do it well: blowouts. 

Today, her brand has grown to over150 stores in 33 states, a hair care product line that she sold for over $250 million, her own podcast Raising The Bar, and a NY Times best-selling book Good Hair For All

Best of all, Webb is Foundr magazine’s cover girl for issue 95 (check it out, it’s a good one!)

Guess you could say that Alli Webb is an entrepreneurial genius. 

This week’s interview gives you an insight into Webb’s journey from working as a receptionist in a hair salon during high school to the decision to chase her passion for hairstyling. 

That decision to pursue her passion is what has led Webb to a $100m empire. Find out how she took the leap, and what advice she has for those looking to pursue their passion, too.

Key Takeaways

  • Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, and how that shaped Alli Webb’s idea of business
  • Realised she had a passion for hair and styling, and worked as a receptionist in a hair salon where she became mesmorised by the craft
  • Her journey through “a hot-minute” in college, to working in fashion in New York
  • Starting her own business styling client’s hair at home, and growing her business
  • How she started “Drybar” and what makes her brand unique
  • Franchising Drybar, and learning to operate her business on a global scale
  • How Webb developed her own product line, and how she sold it for $250m to beauty powerhouse, Helen of Troy.
  • How Webb continues to raise the bar, launching her own podcast: Raising The Bar, and authoring NY Times Best Seller Good Hair For All
  • Webb’s advice for all budding entrepreneurs, especially women in business, and why they need to follow their passion and what they love doing.
Direct download: FP342_Alli_Webb.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

If you want to start a business, you sure as hell better be made of the right stuff. Because Joe De Sena is here to tell you that in business, “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”, and you need to be mentally tough enough to handle it. 

In this Foundr interview like no other, Nathan Chan speaks with Spartan Race creator, best-selling author, and badass CEO Joe De Sena on why you need manufactured adversity. 

De Sena has faced mountains of failure in business and continues to rise, everything from losing someone during the first ever race and finding them marooned on a desert island a week later, to not turning a profit for 15 years. Nevertheless, this machine of a man bounces back and continues to rise.

This interview is just a snapshot of what you can expect in Foundr’s newest course, Mental Toughness. Touted as the ultimate entrepreneurs field guide to building mental toughness, this is not one to be missed. 

Find out why the Olympic wrestling teams are sent to De Sena shape up, why billionaires send their children to him to learn discipline, and why active military personnel flock to him to learn grit.

Direct download: FP341_Joe_De_Sena.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Gabi Lewis, Co-Founder, The Magic Spoon

In this yummy episode, Gabi Lewis, Co-Founder of The Magic Spoon, sits down with Nathan Chan to discuss his journey from founding the revolutionary EXO protein snack made from crickets, to dominating the $40billion a year cereal industry. 

Listen in as Lewis reveals how he managed to get Tim Ferris and Nas as angel-investors onboard for EXO snacks, his journey into the competitive world of cereal, and how Magic Spoon continues to stay ahead of the competition.

In this deep-dive interview, you’ll find out why Lewis swears by agencies, the opportunities in influencer marketing, and why product-fit is an absolute essential for any founder. 

Lewis’ incredible journey from crickets to cereal is a not-to-be-missed lesson in entrepreneurship and the importance of saying “no”.

Key Takeaways

  • How Lewis started Exo Protein, selling cricket protein bars
  • Recognizing the paleo food trend and targeting that market
  • How Lewis got angel investors such as Tim Ferris and Nas
  • His decision to sell the company and launch Magic Spoon cereal
  • Why Magic Spoon is a direct-to-consumer product and the advantages of ecommerce
  • The successful launch of Magic Spoon and the power of influencers
  • Why product-market fit is the most important aspect of launching a business
  •  How Magic Spoon was affected by Covid and the evolution of hiring and scaling
  • The decision to not sell Magic Spoon on Amazon, and the power of customer-brand loyalty 
  • Why Lewis believes that a high-quality product is the most important aspect of any business
  • Lewis’ advice to others that as a founder, you should never be distracted, and why your job is to say “no”
Direct download: FP340_Gabi_Lewis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

In this interview, Nathan Chan sits down with GT Dave, Founder and CEO of GT's Living Foods. GT discusses how he built a $1B empire from his bedroom and his journey of being the first seller of Kombucha in the United States.

In this interview, GT Dave discusses how he first began selling Kombucha, entering the market with a completely new category of product, and the challenges he faced in educating the market on what his product was. 

GT Dave is a firm believer in passion before profit, and his integrity and commitment to health shine through as he discusses his childhood and nutrition, how Kombucha helped his mother through medical issues, and the proven benefits of Kombucha.

With a personal net worth estimated at $1Billion, GT Dave’s journey will inspire you to follow your passion and begin building your future, today.

Key Takeaways

  • How GT Dave found an interest in Kombucha and how he began marketing it
  • Launching his company from his bedroom, and selling his product using his Dad’s Amex card
  • The challenge of entering the market with a new product and how he went about educating others on an unfamiliar health beverage
  • How GT Dave helped Kombucha to become the global trend it is today
  • GT Dave’s commitment to passion over profit, and what health means to him
  • The importance of validating your product and communicating with consumers
  • His key advice to those who are just getting started, and the questions you need to ask yourself
Direct download: FP339_GT_Dave.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

In this epic roundup episode, we took our favorite moments from every interview this year and combined them to create our most jam-packed episode yet: Foundr Best of 2020!

That’s right, in this very special episode, you’ll hear valuable insights from: 

  • Drew Houston, CEO and founder of DropBox: On problem-solving, his formula for success in business, and how he— as a billion-dollar CEO — still learns every single day. 
  • Dylan Mullen, Founder, and Director of Happy Skin Co. Mullen reveals how he built a $20 million dollar company in 24 months, and how they’re acquiring their customers. 

  • Alexa Von Tobel, Founder of Learnvest, & Inspire Capital: Why you shouldn’t spend a dollar on marketing, and what it takes to be a ‘good entrepreneur’. 

  • Gretta Van Riel, 4x Multi-Milion Dollar Founder. Van Riel discusses why she would spend $500k on a post from Kylie Jenner, and her $1.3m manufacturing horror story. 

  • Henrik Werderlin, founder and CEO of Barkbox, and the strategy that Apple and Amazon have used to build global, beloved brands. 

  • You’re about to learn the mistake that every new entrepreneur makes, as discussed by Alex Osterwalder, the Swiss business theorist who developed the “business model canvas”. 

  • Author Kamal Ravikant reveals why you don’t need a mentor (from someone who’s been down the road a few times).

  • Christina Stembel, founder of Farmgirl Flowers on how she managed to turn $49,000 into almost a million dollars in 3 years— all thanks to the success of her company.

  • Here’s Skillshare founder Malcolm Ong… who’s about to reveal the one word that will make you a better entrepreneur. 

  • Thor Ernstsson, Founder of Strata. The 2 tips that every single entrepreneur needs to hear.

  • One of the internet’s greatest pioneers, cofounder of WordPress Matt Mullenweg on what motivates him. 

  • GT’s living foods founder, GT Dave. He reveals to us the key to staying on your path, and not losing your identity. 

  • Andy Frisella, founder of 1st Phorm with one of the most fired up conversations of the year. Enjoy this snippet where he’s going to tell you why building a brand is important, and the issue with comparing yourself to Steve Jobs.
Direct download: FP338_Best_of_2020.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Ever wondered what traits and characteristics Google looks for in a founder?

Wonder no more, because in this interview, Nathan Chan sits down with CapitalG Founder, David Lawee, to discuss the journey of finding the next $1B Unicorn Business. David is Google's Lead Investor, and has over 13 years of experience under his belt working for one of the largest companies on the planet. 

Prior to joining Google, Lawee has been a serial entrepreneur. His biggest takeaway from the experience was how to successfully scale companies, and during the interview he finally reveals exactly how to do it. 

Lawee shares what he believes it takes to create a billion-dollar company. Lawee reveals all the traits and characteristics he looks for in founders when it comes to investing billions of dollars, and exactly what the company needs to look like.

Key Takeaways

  • How David Lawee found himself working for Google, CapitalG, and what he learned during his time as a serial entrepreneur
  • The characteristics and traits that he looks for when it comes to investing
  • The difference between an ordinary company, and the billion dollar unicorn
  • Lawee’s advice for those looking to open more doors 
  • The change in the market, and an insider's view into Google investment world
  • Lawee discusses how to align your company with investors’ needs
Direct download: FP337_David_Lawee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Meet Thor Ernstsson.

The founder of global giants such as Alpha, Strata, and lead architect for Zygna responsible for Farmville, Ernstsson knows business and products. 

In this interview, Nathan sits down with Ernstsson to discuss his journey from Zynga game developer, to creating a company that serves half of the Fortune 500. Honest and candid, Ernstsson reveals his decision-making processes behind some of the company's largest pivots, changes, and challenges.  

While most people would shy away from the idea of launching a business during a global crisis, Ernstsson is perhaps living proof that not only is it a good decision, it’s the best business decision one can make.

Key Takeaways

  • Thor Ernstsson discusses how he first began working at Zygna, and how he felt about the global success of Farmville
  • His next business ventures, including Alpha and Strata
  • Why he decided to pivot the company
  • The importance of “now”, and why starting a business during a crisis is a good idea
  • The decision to launch a business that aimed to connect people, while it was the start of the pandemic 
  • How to change the world, and why you should always aim to solve a problem that won’t change
  • The importance of customers and why they need to be invested in your business’ success
Direct download: FP336_Thor_Ernstsson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Faced with 104 rejections, zero-funding, and the prospect of launching a new business during an economic downturn, Christina Stembel has not only grown her company Farmgirl Flowers to a $65m empire, she has also done it completely bootstrapped. 

Stembel’s journey from bootstrap to business mogul is nothing short of inspiring. What began as $46k savings and a 2-year window to achieve her goal, her ecommerce flower business saw 5x growth in the first 2 years. As Stembel says,  “the fact that I was able to bootstrap without running out of money is the biggest accomplishment of my life”

In this interview, listen in to discover how Stembel marketed and advertised her brand on a shoestring budget, the importance of word-of-mouth and how that helped her achieve her first million, and why she views FarmGirl Flowers as the workhorse among unicorns.

Key Takeaways

  • How Stembel started FarmGirl Flowers, and why she gave herself 2 years
  • Marketing on a shoestring budget
  • Complications she faced selling perishable products
  • Why she views FarmGirl Flowers as a workhorse among unicorns
  • The importance of product-quality, and why she believes that a good quality product will outsell any level of marketing
  • The future of FarmGirl Flowers and reaching her first billion
Direct download: FP335_Christina_Stembel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

As someone who has pioneered the tech industry with his open-source software, and boasts 38% of the internet using his product, Matt Mullenweg is still one of the most humble and inspiring entrepreneurs we’ve ever met. 

In this insightful interview, Mullenweg discusses the biggest challenges faced by companies today, and the importance of looking after your team and people. As a company that has operated remotely since it’s beginnings, Mullenweg stresses the importance of team-building, and why he took his entire company to Disneyland. 

Mullenweg touches on some key issues faced by entrepreneurs the worldover - chronic dissatisfaction in progress, and that whatever you do is never enough. He says instead of saying to yourself that it’s not enough, entrepreneurs need to say “it is enough, and there’s more to do!” 

From the acquisition of powerhouses such as Tumblr, WooCommerce, and his dedication to supporting others, Mullenweg discusses his life’s plan to create as much open-source software as possible and encourage creativity across the globe. 

This interview will leave a smile on your face and give you the motivation and drive to work towards a better future for all. 

Key Takeaways

  • How Mullenweg founded WordPress, and operating as a remote-working business in the early 2000s
  • Mullenweg’s beliefs on company culture and the importance of in-person team-building activities especially for remote workers
  • The future of the office and why he believes it will be obsolete post-Covid
  • Mullenweg reveals that as an angel investor, the key things he looks for in a business or founder
  • The future of web development and WordPress
  • The biggest challenges faced by companies today and the importance of looking after your team and people
  • Chronic dissatisfaction as a founder and why needs to become a more positive drive

 

Direct download: FP334_Matt_Mullenweg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

In this week’s Foundr podcast interview, Nathan Chan sits down with Lisa Spiden, CEO of Workforce Analytics and Foundr of Fibre HR to discuss everything a team leader needs to embody in order to help their team do their best work. 

Spiden discusses key tactics and methods that team leaders can adopt to help lead their teams through any crisis. Not only does this mean offering support for them during the work-from-home culture shift, but also taking the time to understand and adapt for each individual's needs and workflow. 

With something for every team leader, this interview will help you to understand how to build a culture within your team, hiring strategies, and top-talent selection.

Key Takeaways

  • How Spiden found herself working in HR, and the origins of Fibre HR and Workforce Analytics
  • Spiden discusses tactics to keep team morale high during forced WFH
  • Why staff motivation is the key to staff retention
  • Team standups, retros, and other remote team bonding exercises
  • Addressing top-talent selection, and whether pro-culture or pro-skills is best for your business
  • Building a great culture inside and office, and how to build on it strategically
  • Understanding what your team wants, what drives them, what motivates them
Direct download: FP333_Lisa_Spiden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Ever wondered how the elite pros do Facebook ads? This week’s interview with course instructor Nick Shackelford is just that: a no-holding back, all inclusive, step-by-step discussion on running successful Facebook ads. 

Returning again to Foundr’s exclusive podcast, Shackelford discusses his learnings on media buying, running facebook ads that convert, and exactly what he learned from spending a ridiculous amount of money on fb ads. 

This interview dives deep into the nitty-gritty of all the lessons Shackelford learned doing media buying for Apple, including the budgets he worked on for the launch of the iPhone 7, iPad Pro, and the Apple Watch (and we are talking huge budgets). 

Shackelford also discusses how he single-handedly popularized the Fidget Spinner by using Facebook Ads, and how he started his own agency, Structured Social. 

In this interview, not only will you discover why Shackelford’s Structured spends close to $20million per month on Facebook ads, you’ll also hear first-hand tips and strategies to success in FB ads within the hardest markets, across all GEOS, for every product or service. 

This is an episode you cannot miss! 

Key Takeaways

  • How Shackelford first found his way into the industry
  • Working for Apple and what he learned from running $100 million Facebook ads
  • The rise of the fidget spinner, $1m run rate in the first month, and the importance of opportunity
  • How Shackelford has built Structure Social, and now spends close to $20million a month and has over 50 employees
  • The biggest lessons he has learned over the years, including the intricacies of media buying, copywriting, positioning, and creative 
  • Why you only have 3-seconds to make an impression with your ad
  • Shackelford’s key advice for those looking to grow their business through Facebook ads
Direct download: FP332_Nick_Shackelford.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Mental toughness isn’t something you’re born with, it’s something you learn and practice and develop over time. And Andy Frisella is living proof of that. 

The Founder of 1st Phorm, the “Real AF podcast host”, 75Hard program creator, and all around badass Andy Frisella knows discipline and mindset, and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. 

It’s no secret that Foundr is a huge fan of Frisella’s work with developing mental toughness and discipline (in fact, most of our team has completed his 75Hard challenge!) and after listening to this interview, you’ll be a fan too. 

Frisella is raw, real, and straight to the point with everything he believes in with mental health, building a brand, company values, and aspiring to become the best version of yourself possible. 

Key Takeaways

  • Frisella discusses how he has always been an entrepreneur at heart
  • Frisella reflects on how he began his first business, the struggles, the journey, and how he stayed focussed
  • Company values and how Frisella recognises greatness and celebrates it within his team
  • The importance of being a good leader and why you need to communicate values with your team
  • Why Frisella still compares himself to others above him, and why this is a driving force in success
  • The struggle of finding the right support at high-levels of success
  • How to push through discipline blocks and shake off burnout
  • The evolution of 75Hard and what Frisella is most excited for as a legacy
Direct download: FP331__Andy_Frisella.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Yancey Strickler, Author and Kickstarter Co-Founder

In this inspiring podcast interview, Nathan Chan sits down with Kickstarter co-founder and author Yancey Strickler to discuss his 'Bento Box' method for making better decisions, how his company Kickstarter found it’s feet, and our unhealthy obsession with “financial maximization”. 

Strickler was working as a music journalist in New York when a chance encounter with future co-founder Perry Chen in a restaurant led to the creation of Kickstarter, and crowdfunding as a category-defining player in a new field. 

A writer at heart, Stickler used his time post-Kickstarter to write the groundbreaking This Could Be Our Future. An in-depth look at our current obsession with financial gain, and how society has conditioned us to always choose whatever will make the most money.

Making the right choices in life is a mission close to Strickler’s heart. As such, he created the revolutionary “Bento Box” framework, an inspiring and humbling process for individuals and businesses alike to frame and structure their decisions.

This podcast is one of our most inspiring insights into human nature and the importance of caring for our future selves and our future business.  Learn from Strickler as he gives you the secret Bento Box method to help you make the right decisions in life. This is a conversation you won’t want to miss!

Key Takeaways

  • Strickler discusses how the idea for Kickstarter came about in 2005 while working in the music industry
  • Why it took Strickler close to 4 years for the idea to be executed
  • The conscious decision to frame Kickstarter as a funding method for passion projects and new ideas rather than a charity platform
  • Why Kickstarter was originally called “Kickstartr”
  • Pitching the idea of Kickstarter and the initial investors, and getting Andy Baio onboard with the project
  • How they went from unpaid developers to profitability in 14 months
  • The effect of being a category-defining player in a new field 
  • Stepping down from his position at Kickstarter
  • Strickler’s new book “This Could Be Our Future” and our current obsession with Financial Maximisation: whatever makes the most money is the right decision
  • Strickler’s Bento Framework
    • Now Me: profitability 
    • Future Me: as a business, your values
    • Now Us: stakeholders, employees, suppliers, etc.
    • Future Us: the bigger idea of what you want to be

Key Resources From Our Interview 

https://www.ystrickler.com/book

Direct download: FP330_Yancey_Strickler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Kamal Ravikant, Author and Founder, Venture Capitalist

In this special podcast interview, Nathan Chan sits down with renowned author and founder Kamal Ravikant to discuss his thoughts on mentorship, entrepreneurs, and everything in between. 

Ravikant traces his journey back to a point in time most entrepreneurs face: he was doing too much and he was burnt out. In fact, it took losing everything for him to realize what he needed to change: his mindset. Throughout his journey, the ups and downs, the lows and highs, Ravikant is a master of maintaining a balance between persistence and open-mindedness in everything he does. 

Listen in as Ravikant discloses the powerful reason he chose to write his bestselling book: 'Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It', and how the book developed from a self-published book to a global success spreading joy and love published in 16 languages. 

This podcast is raw, honest, and a deep insight into personal growth. Learn from Ravikant as he discloses the universal importance of loving yourself, being humble, and caring deeply. This is a conversation you won’t want to miss!

Key Takeaways

  • Ravikant holds the honor of being the fourth ever podcast interview by Foundr back in 2014
  • His beginnings riding the wave of the internet boom 
  • Why it took losing everything to realize he needed to change his mindset
  • His ideology that you should build a business by identifying a problem and creating a solution first
  • The power investors hold over entrepreneurs, and what drove him to become a doer
  • Why he believes in having a strong entrepreneur mindset
  • His re-launch of the global bestseller Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It published in 16 languages worldwide
  • Ravikant discusses his upcoming projects and behind-the-scenes of funds
  • Ravikant addresses the changes in Silicon Valley, and what advice he would give to upcoming entrepreneurs
  • Why you need to be humble and care deeply, always.
Direct download: FP329_Kamal_Ravikant.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Joanna Griffiths CEO Knixwear

CEO of global intimates brand Knixwear Joanna Griffiths sits down with Nathan Chan to reveal how she took $20k to and made $50m in revenue last year. 

In this wonderfully inspiring episode, Griffiths’ discusses how she became an “accidental entrepreneur” with Knixwear. Initially begun as a passion project to create high-quality leak-proof intimates, Griffiths’ put aside her initial goal to run her own media company and instead decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. 

 

In school, her business plan won a competition, and she used the $20k prize to begin chasing her dream of solving a universal problem. After years of trials and errors, including a first-time sample order of 40,000 pairs of underwear, Knixwear quickly found it’s feet and is now a $50m a year company. Knixwear has 85 employees globally, and Griffiths’ still reels at the idea that her company sells an item every 6 seconds. 

Listen in as Griffiths’ discusses the lows and the highs of being a first-time business owner, TV advertising, and why she always chooses the path of risk so she doesn’t look back and wonder “what if”. 

Key Takeaways

  • How Griffiths’ original plan to run her own media company led her to pursue her MBA
  • How her intimates brand Knixwear began as high-quality leak-proof underwear
  • Why Griffiths dedicated her time to solving this universal problem, and why she feels she is an accidental entrepreneur as a result
  • Why she chose to take a chance rather than risk looking back with regret
  • Griffiths’ discusses her initial business funding: she won a business plan competition at school and received $20k 
  • How she used the $20k for product development, launching, and crowd-funding
  • Griffiths’ reveals that the first order was the biggest mistake, but she values progress over perfection
  • Knixwear has passed $50m annual revenue, and that they sell an item every 6 seconds
  • Griffiths’ discusses the early days of wholesale business, and the struggles first-time entrepreneurs face
  • How she identified her target market and shaped her product accordingly
Direct download: FP328_Joanna_Griffiths.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Ulrich Boser, CEO, The Learning Agency

Founder and CEO of The Learning Agency, best-selling author, and Foundr course Instructor Ulrich Boser sits down for an in-depth discussion on becoming a better learner, the misinformation surrounding information, and the big secret to mastering any skill (and we mean any skill).  

The ability to absorb and retain information effectively is often thought of as some sort of elusive skill that you’re born with, but Boser seeks to dispel this once and for all. The ability to learn effectively isn’t something assigned at birth, no one has a “set learning” style, and your ability to absorb information ultimately comes down to how you decide to approach everything.

Author of the best-selling Learn Better, Boser reveals to Foundr’s Nathan Chan why he started his company, why feedback is crucial, and why he believes everyone should throw away their highlighters if they want to learn better. 

In this conversation, Boser takes everything you thought you knew about learning and spins it on its head. If you have any questions about Boser’s upcoming course, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com. 

Key Takeaways

  • Boser discusses how his childhood sparked his passion to hone and master the ability to pick up skills effectively
  • Why Boser began The Learning Agency
  • Boser discusses the prevalence of learning myths
  • Common learning myths and why they impact learning
  • Why active learning will always overshadow passive learning
  • How to engage with the material; quiz yourself, and identify gaps in your knowledge 
  • Why previous knowledge on a topic will boost your learning
  • The importance of feedback on your learning
Direct download: FP327_Ulrich_Boser.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Malcolm Ong has never shied away from change. In fact, his ability to adapt is what has given him a front-row seat to multiple business transformations—first as the co-founder of education platform Skillshare to now as the Head of Product at South China Morning Post.

After launching Skillshare in 2010, Ong led the business through a significant pivot—from being a completely offline, in-person model to one that’s now membership-based and 100% online. In the process, he also witnessed the massive growth of the online education industry, which has only been sped up by the Covid-19 pandemic.

After leaving Skillshare, Ong joined South China Morning Post, a global, English-language news media company owned by Alibaba. His job has been to transform this company from a traditional, local newspaper into a more modern, global media empire. A task that he has exceeded, as he’s grown their number of monthly active users from 4 million to over 50 million and significantly expanded the outlet’s readership beyond Asia.

In this conversation, Ong gives us a deeper dive into these milestones throughout his fascinating career and shares his best recommendations on how to transform a business. If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com. 

Key Takeaways

  • Why Ong decided to tackle the education industry
  • How Skillshare launched as a 100% offline education platform 
  • What contributed to Skillshare’s success
  • The scalability issues that Skillshare faced, and how this led to the company transitioning online
  • Ong’s advice when it comes to pivoting your business
  • Why Ong eventually left Skillshare in 2016
  • What intrigued Ong about the job offer from South China Morning Post (SCMP)
  • Ong’s experience living in Hong Kong, and how it has given him the front seat to many historical events
  • How Ong has helped SCMP transform from being a traditional media company to a cutting-edge product and customer-focused business
  • Ong’s advice to entrepreneurs about trying on different hats

Key Resources From Our Interview With Malcom Ong

Direct download: FP326_Malcom_Ong.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

John Mackey, Co-Founder and CEO, Whole Foods Market

Right now, every company needs strong leadership to guide them through these challenging times. Thankfully, Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO John Mackey is well versed on the principles of leadership and is launching his latest book, Conscious Leadership, this month to help other founders put those ideas into practice. 

 

In addition to the book, people can see Mackey’s approach to leadership in action with Whole Foods. While Mackey is grateful that his stores are still in full operation during Covid-19, he doesn’t try to hide the fact that circumstances have been extremely challenging—from rapidly scaling its supply chain to accommodate the sudden demands of customers to generating almost no revenue as a result of all the sanitation products the business has had to invest in.

 

But these obstacles don't bother Mackey. As a conscious leader, his priority is making sure that every single one of their 100,000 team members has access to the resources they need to stay safe at work. He has also raised every in-store worker’s pay by $2 per hour, provided two extra weeks of sick pay for those who have to quarantine, and is giving unlimited callouts during this time. 

 

In this conversation, Mackey shares more about what it means to lead with love, how founders can attract and retain great talent in this challenging environment, and so much more. If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com. 

Key Takeaways

  • An overview of Mackey’s best-selling book, Conscious Capitalism
  • A sneak peek into Mackey’s latest book, Conscious Leadership, and what inspired him to write it
  • The two most important pillars of leadership
  • Why Mackey believes in leading with love 
  • How Mackey is putting conscious leadership into action during the pandemic
  • The challenges Whole Foods has been dealing with from a supply chain and revenue perspective 
  • Why being an Amazon subsidiary adds a layer of complexity to the Whole Foods business
  • How to attract and retain great people during these challenging times 
  • What Mackey has done to support Whole Foods employees during Covid-19
  • Why Mackey believes in the win-win-win mindset, and how this attitude can guide your business decisions 
  • The importance of leading by example 

Key Resources From Our Interview With John Mackey

  • Get your copy of Conscious Leadership here
Direct download: FP325_John_Mackey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Kurt Seidensticker, Former NASA Engineer & Founder and CEO, Vital Proteins

How did Kurt Seidensticker go from being a NASA engineer to the founder of one of the biggest protein brands in the world? Believe it or not, his career path has been a perfect culmination of experiences—one that has led him to his current position as the CEO of Vital Proteins, a brand that was recently acquired by Nestlé and is expected to generate a quarter of a billion dollars in revenue this year. 

 

Even when Seidensticker was working at NASA as an aerospace engineer, he was constantly running his entrepreneurial brain and thinking up new projects to undertake. After several years of working in a diverse array of industries—from cellular phone systems to high-speed internet—he decided to strike out on his own and started his own data center company and ecommerce platform. 

 

Despite appearing to be completely unrelated businesses, these two companies served as the launching pad that allowed Seidensticker to start Vital Proteins in 2013. His ingestible collagen product took the protein market by the storm and saw over 300% YOY growth in its early days.

 

In this podcast episode, Seidensticker discusses what led to the incredible growth of Vital Proteins—from having first-mover advantage to finding negotiating power when dealing with retailers. He also shares his best recommendations when it comes to influencer marketing, moving fast, and so much more. 

 

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com. 

Key Takeaways

  • Why Seidensticker decided to become an aerospace engineer 
  • The business ideas Seidensticker had while working at NASA and worked on space programs, underneath was entrepreneurial drive
  • How Seidensticker came to work on pivotal projects in the cellular phone systems and high-speed internet space
  • Why Seidensticker decided to strike out on his own
  • How the data center company and ecommerce platform he built became a launching pad for Vital Proteins
  • The experience that led Seidensticker to explore the world of protein, and how he created a whole new category around ingestible collagen
  • How Seidenstricker and his team approach influencer marketing differently 
  • Seidensticker’s school of thought when it comes to the power of product vs. marketing
  • The benefits of operating under the radar and having first-mover advantage
  • How Vital Proteins educated consumers and drove the market for collagen 
  • Why Seidensticker recommends going online before retail, and how he gained negotiating leverage with retailers
  • Details about Vital Proteins’ partial acquisition by Nestlé
  • Why Seidensticker believes in progress over perfection

Key Resources From Our Interview With Kurt Seidensticker

Direct download: FP324_Kurt_Seidensticker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Mike Michalowicz, Author & Co-Founder, Profit First Professionals

Right now, every entrepreneur has the same question on their mind: how do I recover or maintain my company’s profit levels during Covid-19?

 

That’s why we were so eager to sit down with Mike Michalowicz, who is a serial entrepreneur, author, and creator of the Profit First system. Our own CEO and founder, Nathan, used Michalowicz’s teachings to completely change the way he manages Foundr’s finances. And now we want to bring you the same level of knowledge to help you through these challenging times.

 

In this conversation, Michalowicz shares his best recommendations on how to manage your cash flow, financial priorities, and more during a pandemic. If you have any questions on how to take a profit-first mindset right now, this episode is for you.  

 

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.

Key Takeaways

  • What Michalowicz learned from building and selling his first two businesses
  • How going into bankruptcy changed the way that Michalowicz views entrepreneurship
  • Michalowicz’s path to becoming a small business author, and how running two of his own companies contributes to his books
  • What’s happening during “The Great Big Shift”
  • How to manage cash flow during the pandemic
  • The difference between sales issues vs. profit issues
  • Michalowicz’s tips to organize your financial priorities during Covid-19
  • Why Michalowicz recommends pulling off the bandaid instead of chipping away when it comes to tough decisions
  • An overview of the Profit First methodology and framework
  • Parkinson’s Law, and how it applies to toothpaste
  • Why Michalowicz recommends trusting wallets over words

Key Resources From Our Interview With Mike Michalowicz

Direct download: FP323_Mike_Michalowicz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Mikael Yan, Co-Founder and CEO, ManyChat

When Mikael Yan launched ManyChat in 2015, other messaging apps were trying to impress investors with their fancy AI and NLP technologies. But not him. Instead, he made it clear to investors that his app was solely meant to solve a business problem: helping companies better communicate with and market to their customers. 

 

Investors who were initially interested in ManyChat immediately lost interest. But not for long. Even though Yan and his founding team initially had to bootstrap their product, investors eventually recognized the potential behind their vision and got on board. 

 

Today, ManyChat has over one million Facebook pages connected to its platform in over 190 countries. The company also recently raised its Series A from Bessemer Venture Partners. Given that 2020 is the first time in history that the number of messaging app users will surpass the number of social media users, it’s clear that ManyChat is just getting started.

 

Listen to this interview to learn more about Yan’s thoughts on the future of messenger marketing, the global mobile industry, and the importance of mindset as an entrepreneur. 

 

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com. 

Key Takeaways

  • Why Yan, after years of dabbling in the consumer space, turned his eyes to B2B 
  • How ManyChat made timely use of Telegram Messenger’s API in 2015 and introduced the world of messenger marketing
  • The rise of private vs. public channels 
  • Yan’s analysis on why China is so ahead when it comes to mobile and messaging apps
  • Why Yan believes in being product obsessed and understanding the customer experience above everything else 
  • How Yan avoided the trap of building a product for the “cool” factor (and initially lost investor interest as a result) 
  • The power of self belief in entrepreneurship, and how to cultivate this mindset 
  • Yan’s personal glass ceiling 
  • A look into the future of ManyChat and what Yan is most excited about when it comes to the messenger app industry 

Key Resources From Our Interview With Mikael Yan 

Direct download: FP322_Mikael_Yang.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:51am AEST

In 2010, only 2% of beauty products were being sold on the internet. When Katia Beauchamp and her Harvard Business School classmate, Hayley Barna, came across this statistic, they were floored. This seemed like a huge missed opportunity—so they decided to dig deeper.

What they discovered was that people were overwhelmed by the prospect of shopping for beauty products. With this problem in mind, Birchbox was created as the simple solution. The monthly subscription box contained a wide variety of beauty samples, and customers could buy the full size of whichever product they liked. In short, Birchbox made the beauty shopping experience easy for the casual consumer.

Since the brand’s launch in 2010, Birchbox has grown to a nine-figure business that now has access to thousands of products, offers over 100 types of boxes for consumers, and has expanded globally. Listen to this podcast episode to learn more about Beauchamp’s thoughts on scaling relationships, building a trustworthy brand, and appealing to your target customer.

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.


Key Takeaways

  • Why people weren’t shopping for beauty products online in the mid-2000s
  • How this problem inspired Beauchamp and co-founder Hayley Barna to launch their beauty subscription box, Birchbox
  • The idea of the “casual consumer” and how this demographic became Birchbox’s target customer
  • Why Beauchamp doesn’t view beauty stores like Sephora or department stores as competitors
  • How Birchbox launched its beta test in 2010, and what it took to grow its customer base
  • Beauchamp’s thoughts on scaling relationships and building a trustworthy brand
  • What Beauchamp is most excited about when it comes to the future of Birchbox
Direct download: FP321_Katia_Beauchamp.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

It’s not easy to rebuild an entire company—especially when things are going well. But that’s exactly what Justin McLeod did with his dating app, Hinge.

After Hinge first launched in 2012, it saw exponential growth. Despite this, McLeod made the risky decision to rebuild his app from scratch in 2016. Why? He felt that the company had strayed too from its original vision or helping people find and build meaningful connections. So instead of remaining the brand that connects “friends with friends,” it rebranded to become “the dating app designed to be deleted.”

McLeod’s decision paid off. Today, Hinge is a subsidiary under Match.com, has seen huge growth on a global scale, and is setting up a date every three seconds globally. In this podcast episode, McLeod shares exactly what it took to get through this challenging transition and what’s in store for this beloved dating app in the near future. 

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com. 

Key Takeaways

  • McLeod’s own love story, and how it inspired the idea behind Hinge 
  • Why, after years of success, McLeod decided to rebuild his dating app from scratch
  • The reaction of Hinge’s board of directors and team in response to this change 
  • How Hinge fulfills its mission of getting more people out on great dates
  • The type of data that Hinge collects to set itself apart from competitors
  • The power of word-of-mouth when it came to Hinge’s growth 
  • What McLeod thinks are the mistakes he made while building Hinge for the first time (and how he fixed them the second time around) 
  • Why McLeod decided to join forces with Match.com, and how this decision has helped the business scale globally 
  • The type of research that’s happening at Hinge Labs 
  • McLeod’s approach to user testing and product development with Hinge 
  • Why McLeod recommends being firm about your vision but flexible about your tactics
Direct download: FP320_Justin_McLeod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools that brands can leverage during the pandemic. With face-to-face interactions still being limited and people spending most of their time at home, there has never been a better time to hit ‘send’ on those email campaigns and flows.

To help guide you in the right direction, we sat down with Chase Dimond to get his best recommendations on how to crisis-proof your email marketing strategy. Why Dimond? Not only is he the co-founder of Boundless Labs, an email marketing agency that was recently acquired by Structured Social, but he has also helped his clients make over $40 million in email attributable revenue during his career. 

In our conversation, Dimond shares specific examples of the most successful email messaging, campaigns, and flows that his clients have used during Covid-19. He also reveals fascinating data on the email marketing trends he’s noticed since the start of the pandemic. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started on your email marketing journey, you’re sure to learn something valuable in this interview. 

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com. 

Key Takeaways

  • Dimond’s agency merge with Structured Social 
  • How Dimond is thinking about Covid-19 from a business perspective
  • Examples of email messaging to use during the pandemic 
  • Why Dimond is staying away from fear mongering and focusing on adding value
  • The difference between email campaigns and email flows
  • Which categories of email campaigns are working well for Dimond’s clients
  • The importance of creating an email marketing calendar 
  • Why Dimond recommends splitting your time between campaigns and flows
  • Examples of successful email campaigns Dimond’s clients have run in the past
  • Dimond’s thoughts on giveaways
  • What Structured Social’s data is showing when it comes to open rates, mobile traffic, and the impact of stimulus checks on email marketing
  • Dimond’s recommendations on getting emails prepared for the summer 
Direct download: FP319_Chase_Diamond.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Founder and CEO of ActiveCampaign Jason Vandeboom sits down with Foundr’s Nathan Chan to discuss his journey from launching a small part-time business to running a global SaaS empire.

An email marketing, marketing-automation, and sales CRM platform, Jason owes the company’s success to its “customer first” approach and mindful framework.

By throwing out the “product-first SaaS playbook” to a more customer-centric model, ActiveCampaign has evolved from an old-school on-premise contact management company to over 90,000 customers in 161 countries.

Jason doesn’t believe in a time-box window for creation, and he discusses his belief that you can create innovation over time. He says that when it comes to building a business that is sustainable and long-term, you have to start with the right framework.

With many small businesses facing uncertainty due to Covid-19, ActiveCampaign has made it their mission to provide support and security for their customers. Jason discusses how “there’s a former digital transformation that […] has become a necessity.” Above all, business is about trusting your instincts and trying to find a path that is a different shape to others.

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email.

Key Takeaways

  • Jason discusses his belief in the importance of staying true to being a small business
  • How ActiveCampaign found its footing as an on-premise contact management businesses
  • Why Jason believes the key to a successful business is customer-first over product-first, and how this can shape creative innovation
  • How ActiveCampaign slowly built its foundations in order to secure 100k paying-active companies and over $100 million in annual recurring revenue
  • Why you should ignore the typical SaaS playbook that insists that in order to obtain growth you will need to upmarket
  • Jason advises that you should always trust your instincts, and allow time for your company to grow. You only need passion, joy, and the strength to find our way through it all.
Direct download: FP318_Jason_Vandeboom.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:03pm AEST

From working as a server at Longhorn Steakhouse, to multiple successful startups, making millions in his 20s, to publishing a best selling book, Daniel DiPiazza knows the entrepreneur's journey like the back of his hand. Here to discuss his upcoming "Start Your Side Hustle" course with Foundr, Daniel is all too familiar with the challenges and doubts faced by today's hustlers, and is here to teach you ways to overcome them.

If you want to start a business but don't know where to begin, a low-risk side hustle by freelancing with your existing skills really is the gateway to entrepreneurship. It's extremely affordable with almost literally zero startup cost. In return, you can expect to make great profits with little to no overheads.

Daniel has done this multiple times and has a unique method for helping you identify your skills, find clients, and getting them to pay you for your service.

If there's any other type of content you'd like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don't hesitate to reach out to us via email.

Key Takeaways

  • Daniel discusses his first viral article: Hacking E-Lance, the infamous "butterball story," and how he dominated a job board website
  • Taking the first step towards starting your own business with "sweat equity"
  • Why service-based businesses are the gateway drug to entrepreneurship
  • Why freelancing teaches you all the business essentials
  • Taking the first step; how not to be afraid, what to focus on, and what the competition means for you
  • The importance of building a skill inventory, defining your skill, and seeing where they align
  • Gaining confidence in becoming an entrepreneur and why you don't have to be the best in the world at what you do
  • The fastest way for you to get paid for your big idea
Direct download: FP317_Daniel_DiPiazza.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

Ben Horowitz is one of the most widely recognized names in the world of entrepreneurship. Not only is he the co-founder of the famous venture capital fund, Andreessen Horowitz, but he's also a respected author and thinker with some of the most innovative ideas when it comes to the way companies are run.

In our conversation with Horowitz, we dive deep into the topic of culture—how to create it, move it, and adhere to it. Horowitz also gives us a glimpse into his book, What You Do Is Who You Are, and shares fascinating stories and case studies from it (such as his learnings from prison gang leader, Shaka Senghor).

This isn't a podcast episode you want to miss! Whether you're a fan of Horowitz himself or simply want to learn more about the art of crafting a company culture, you're sure to gain tons of insights in this interview.

If there's any other type of content you'd like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don't hesitate to reach out to us via email.

Key Takeaways

  • The problem that Andreessen Horowitz set out to solve for technical founders 
  • What compelled Horowitz to publish his book, What You Do Is Who You Are
  • What it takes to move a culture 
  • The importance of cohesion between culture and strategy
  • Why you don’t need to establish your company culture on Day 1
  • What a prison gang leader taught Horowitz about culture and leadership
  • The creative way that Andreessen Horowitz enforces their value to be respectful to entrepreneurs at the firm
  • Horowitz’s thoughts on the culture of Netflix versus McDonald’s  
  • The elements that go into creating a high-performance culture 
  • Differentiating between high performance versus long hours 
  • Why Horowitz looks for courage in founders 
  • Bonus: Horowitz shares his favorite rap album from 2019
Direct download: FP316_Ben_Horowitz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am AEST

In 2008, Jeff Rosenthal and his co-founders Elliott Bisnow and Brett Leve convinced 19 people they admired to go on a ski trip with them to Park City, Utah. They wanted to spend one-on-one time with this small group of thought leaders to learn from them and glean some knowledge.

Little did they know that this was only the beginning of their long and successful entrepreneurial journey. What started off as a small event production company has morphed into a global behemoth that includes everything from nonprofits to funds to a major ski resort that all fall under the Summit brand.

While the company is still primarily known for its famous invitation-only events, its biggest impact is its tight-knit community of innovative, creative individuals from around the world.

In this podcast episode, Rosenthal talks about Summit’s explosive growth, what it takes to host a truly extraordinary event, and more entrepreneurial gold.

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.


Key Takeaways

  • What inspired Rosenthal and his co-founders to start their event production company Summit in 2008
  • How Summit expanded into a family of companies, nonprofits, and funds over the last 12 years
  • What makes a spectacular event, according to Rosenthal
  • Why Rosenthal believes “keep it real” is terrible advice when it comes to events, and what he recommends instead
  • The importance of leadership when it comes to event planning
  • The correlation between creativity and capital
  • How Rosenthal manages to lead the multiple entities under Summit
  • The best advice on delegation Rosenthal received from his mentor
  • Why profitability isn’t the only measure of an event’s success
  • What it takes to attract top-notch speakers (and how to set them up for success)
  • The way Rosenthal approaches balancing quality of experience and scaling
Direct download: FP315_Jeff_Rosenthal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:12am AEST

When Tiffany Masterson was a stay-at-home mom, she was always looking for ways to make a little extra money. So when the opportunity came around to start selling a brand of bar cleanser as a side hustle, she didn’t think much of it.

Little did she know that she would soon develop a passion for skincare, cultivate her own philosophy around what skincare should look like, and launch Drunk Elephant—a brand that was eventually sold to Shiseido in 2019 for a whopping $845 million.

In this podcast episode, Masterson takes us through her unexpected journey as an entrepreneur—from having her brother-in-law as her first investor to snagging a partnership with Sephora, to building an incredible company culture.

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.


Key Takeaways

  • How Masterson, a stay-at-home mom of four children, started selling bar cleanser as a side hustle
  • Why she developed a fascination with the world of skincare
  • Masterson’s skincare philosophy, and how she started to create her dream product on paper
  • What it was like to have her brother-in-law as her first investor
  • Why Masterson kept the launch of Drunk Elephant in 2013 as minimal as possible
  • How Drunk Elephant caught the eye of Sephora
  • The cost of formulating, producing, and packaging 5,000 units of six products
  • The tough financial conversations Masterson had to have
  • Why Masterson chose to take things day-by-day instead of looking too far into the future
  • The biggest trap Masterson believes most founders fall into
  • How Masterson has kept her turnover rate at less than 2% since 2013
  • The reason why people get excited about the Drunk Elephant brand
  • Why Masterson doesn’t believe in trying to “outcompete” other brands
Direct download: FP314_Tiffany_Masterson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:18am AEST

Parker Conrad is no stranger to hard times.

His first startup, Wikinvest, failed to take off during the seven years he was with the company. He then had a falling out with his co-founder, which caused him to leave and start over. Conrad’s next venture, Zenefits, faced scrutiny while he served as the CEO. And now, his current company Rippling is feeling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But Conrad’s strength has always been approaching problems with a realistic and humble attitude. Despite the fact that Rippling’s existing customer base has shrunk since the pandemic hit, the company's top-of-funnel performance hasn’t been impacted. They’re setting up record numbers of demos and doubling down on product investment. Most importantly, Conrad is being strategic about finances and still has three years of runway left.

In this podcast episode, Conrad shares his most honest thoughts on the challenges of Covid-19, what he’s been doing to get through this transition, and what he thinks other struggling founders should do.

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.


Key Takeaways

  • Conrad’s most challenging chapter as an entrepreneur of a failing startup, and why he chose to stay for seven years
  • The pain point that inspired the idea for Zenefits
  • How Rippling provides an employee system that goes beyond HR
  • How the pandemic impacted Rippling’s existing customer base
  • Why Conrad is focused on burn, and what he’s doing to maintain runway
  • The importance of acknowledging what’s not working while also looking toward a more promising future
  • Why Conrad hates working from home, and how he got through the difficult transition
  • Conrad’s unpopular advice for struggling founders
Direct download: FP313_Parker_Conrad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:56am AEST

It’s not every day that an entrepreneur creates an entirely new industry category and a nine-figure company at the same time. But that’s exactly what Dharmesh Shah did when he started HubSpot.

Before the company launched in 2006, marketing relied solely on outbound tactics such as cold calling, purchasing billboards, and buying email lists. Shah and his co-founder Brian Halligan saw an opportunity to completely change the game. Together, they founded the concept of inbound marketing, which is all about creating value for your audience to draw them into your company.

Since then, HubSpot has quickly become the most respected and recognized brand within the marketing world—known not only for being the inventor and category king of inbound marketing, but also for adopting an incredible company culture. In this interview, Shah touches on all these topics and shares his biggest takeaways from serving as the co-founder and CTO of HubSpot.

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.


Key Takeaways

  • How Shah and his co-founder Brian Halligan simultaneously came up with the idea for HubSpot and an entirely new category of marketing
  • The biggest challenges of inbound marketing in the early days
  • Why Shah decided not to trademark the term “inbound,” and how this decision helped the inbound marketing movement flourish
  • The history behind HubSpot’s famous 128-slide Culture Code deck
  • Shah’s tips for keeping culture consistent across a decentralized team
  • Why Shah recommends approaching your company culture as a product
  • What Shah and his team do to make sure their customers and employees stay happy
  • How a maniacal obsession with your craft will help you find success
Direct download: FP312_Dharmesh_Shah.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:40am AEST

Peter Yared has a wealth of experience as an entrepreneur. Not only has he built and sold six different B2B enterprise companies (making more than $500 million in exits), but he’s also lived through three different recessions and managed to stay afloat through them all.

In this conversation with our CEO Nathan Chan, Yared dives deep into the world of software businesses and takes us through his process of coming up with an idea, turning it into a company, and successfully selling it. He also explains the most important lessons from the three previous recessions he’s lived through, as well as what he’s learned during the current pandemic.

Whether you’re an engineer who wants to step into the world of entrepreneurship or a business owner who is struggling with the impact of Covid-19, this episode is jam-packed with helpful knowledge!

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.


Key Takeaways

  • How Yared initially fell in love with programming
  • Yared’s journey to building and selling six B2B enterprise companies
  • Why software businesses usually end up being bought out
  • An overview of Yared’s most successful exits
  • How Yared decides when to turn an idea into an actual company (and why he prefers to call them “projects”)
  • The importance of being part of trends
  • Why Yared’s last five projects started off self-funded
  • Yared’s best advice for engineers
  • The idea of push vs. pull selling
  • Why Yared doesn’t believe the superior product always wins
  • How to use an engineering perspective to successfully go to market
  • How Yared managed the impact of Covid-19 for his global company
  • Yared’s best advice based on his experience with multiple recessions, and how the current pandemic compares
Direct download: FP311_Peter_Yared.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:16am AEST

What does it take to create, market, and sell a profitable online course?

This question is likely on the minds of many people⁠, especially now that the pandemic is pushing people to turn to online courses as a way to level up their skill sets. Ankur Nagpal has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to this topic, from running his startup Teachable for the past six years to growing his online course platform to host 50,000 creators and reaching over 30 million people since its launch.

Nagpal shares insights on everything from how to create a full-time income from an online course to best practices to follow as a beginner course creator. He also predicts what the future of the online course industry looks like.

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.


Key Takeaways

  • How Nagpal got started with Teachable, the startup that converts passions into online courses
  • The three factors that are contributing to the growth of the online course market
  • How the pandemic has impacted Teachable
  • What it takes to create a full-time income from an online course business
  • The importance of an NPS, and how it distinguishes the top 1% of courses
  • Nagpal’s best practices for online course creation, especially for first-timers
  • Strategies to drive more sales
  • How to overcome limiting self beliefs
  • Nagpal’s best advice when it comes to niches, tools, and list building
  • A look into the future of the online course industry
  • What Teachable’s recent acquisition means for the future of the business
Direct download: FP310_Ankur_Nagpal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:53am AEST

Gina Bianchini has always loved working with creators. That’s why she co-founded Ning, an online platform for people and organizations to create custom social networks, with Marc Andreessen in 2005. Even after leaving Ning, she couldn’t stay away from the world of creators for long so she launched Mighty Networks in 2017.

Since then, the team at Mighty Networks has been obsessed with serving “creators with a purpose.” The platform powers brands and businesses that bring people together via online courses, paid memberships, events, content, and community.

In this podcast episode, Bianchini explains why she’s so passionate about providing more opportunities for creators. She also shares her best recommendations when it comes to creating successful online courses and communities, and how her team at Mighty Networks approaches these goals within their own platform.

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.


Key Takeaways

  • Why Bianchini has always loved working with creators
  • A brief history of Bianchini’s first company, Ning, and why she left in 2010
  • The three pillars that inspired the idea for Mighty Networks
  • Why Bianchini believes in the power of small communities
  • The reason why creators want to get away from Facebook Groups, and why it’s beneficial to encourage this migration
  • The story of why Bianchini launched her own online course, and why it’s the best thing she’s ever done
  • What makes a successful course
  • The most important things to know about community building in 2020
Direct download: FP309_Gina_Bianchini.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:30am AEST

Henrik Werdelin has never been about chasing money, power, or fame. Instead, his focus has always been on creating cool things with people he enjoys being around. That’s exactly how BarkBox, now one of many subsidiaries under BARK, came to be.

Despite Werdelin’s non-material approach to BARK, the dog subscription box company has exploded in popularity since its launch in 2012. Today, it boasts hundreds of thousands of subscribers and it is a nine-figure business.

In our conversation, Werdelin shares the most important learnings he’s collected as an entrepreneur—from finding the right funding option for your business to maintaining the right headspace during challenging times. Werdelin also gives us a glimpse into BARK’s incredible company culture and how he managed to build a quirky, kind, and smart team of people to pave the path for the organization. As a bonus, we also get a sneak peek into Werdelin’s book, “The Acorn Method” to understand how companies can grow in an ever-changing environment.

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.


Key Takeaways

  • Why Werdelin and his co-founders decided to start creating cool stuff for dogs in 2012
  • The funny story of how Werdelin met one of his co-founders in a heart-shaped bed on a cruise ship
  • What the pet industry was like when BarkBox first entered the market
  • Werdelin’s advice on finding the right funding option for your business
  • How BARK has dealt with the pandemic, and why the pet industry is recession proof
  • The importance of staying in a good headspace during tough times
  • How Werdelin and his co-founders approach leadership and decision-making
  • Why BARK is an inside-out brand, and what that means
  • A sneak peek into Werdelin’s new book, “The Acorn Method” and the advice it shares on how companies can continue growing during uncertain times
  • Werdelin’s best advice for entrepreneurs who are struggling during the pandemic
Direct download: FP308_Henrik_Werdelin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:02am AEST

As we start thinking about re-opening our businesses and offices after Covid-19, many people are wondering what the new “normal” will look like.

While co-founder of Basecamp David Heinemeier Hansson doesn’t know for sure what the outcome will be, he certainly has an idea of what the new world of work should look like. As one of the biggest advocates of remote work, Hansson is hopeful that more and more companies will see the benefits of allowing employees to choose how and where they want to work.

But his vision for work doesn’t stop there. Hansson is also passionate about creating an environment where employees can protect at least a few hours of their day to accomplish deep work. This means no daily stand ups, no open calendars, and no unnecessary distractions that take away from your ability to get s*** done—an approach that’s imbued in Basecamp’s own culture.

If you’re fascinated by the topics of remote work and productivity, you don’t want to miss out on this conversation with Hansson.

If there’s any other content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.


Key Takeaways

  • The email from Hansson to Jason Fried that eventually led to the birth of Basecamp
  • Why it’s difficult to tell what the new “normal” for work will be after Covid-19
  • A look at the most common misconceptions about remote work, and how the pandemic has proven them to be false
  • Why Hansson believes we need to focus less on the number of hours we work and more on the quality of those hours
  • The reason why Basecamp isn’t renewing the lease for its Chicago office
  • Why Hansson doesn’t believe in daily stand ups and open calendars
  • How to maximize deep work
  • Why Basecamp’s approach to work is less about productivity, and more about human health and happiness
  • A sneak peek into Hansson’s upcoming project, HEY
  • Why the phrase ASAP is overused
  • What Hansson’s schedule looks like on most days
Direct download: FP307_David_Heinemeier_Hansson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:02am AEST

Chris DeWolfe excels at creating massive user bases—a skill he has demonstrated with two companies you’ll likely recognize: Myspace and Jam City.

After DeWolfe launched the biggest social network of its time in 2003, it was only a matter of months before Myspace completely took off and attracted millions of users around the world. Only two years after the start of his company, DeWolfe sold the platform for $580 million. But he wasn’t done yet.

When DeWolfe asked himself ‘what’s next?’ he found himself drawn to the world of gaming. Not only was it easy to scale, but he also believed the current trends pointed toward an explosion in gaming. He wasn’t wrong. Today, Jam City is known for famous mobile games like Cookie Jam and Pop! and Panda, and it’s still going strong to keep up with the growing demand of casual gamers.

In this interview, DeWolfe discusses the hyper growth of his companies, how to stay focused when running such a behemoth of a company, and what it takes to build massive user bases.

If there’s any other content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.


Key Takeaways

  • How DeWolfe built the largest website in the world and the biggest social network of its time, Myspace
  • The trends in pop culture and technology that led to the launch of Myspace in 2003
  • A look into the rapid growth and eventual sale of Myspace in 2005 for $580 million
  • How Myspace created a roadmap for companies like Spotify and YouTube
  • The top three lessons DeWolfe learned from his journey with Myspace
  • How DeWolfe figured out his next step into the world of mobile gaming
  • Why Jam City targets an underserved audience for gamers
  • The acquisition of Mindjolt
  • How to be a great storyteller and create amazing games
  • What’s exciting for DeWolfe in the future of the mobile gaming business
  • What it takes to build large user bases
  • Why DeWolfe recommends taking measured risks in the pursuit of innovation
  • A sneak peek into Jam City’s latest upcoming mobile game
Direct download: FP306_Chris_DeWolfe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:20am AEST

By now, the story is legend. When Drew Houston boarded a bus from Boston to New York and discovered that he had—yet again—forgotten to bring his thumb drive, he was frustrated. So frustrated that he sat down and began writing the first lines of code of what would eventually become Dropbox.

After over a decade of changing the way files are stored, synced, and shared, Houston is changing the way people work, once again. This time, to solve a problem that likely plagues every single knowledge worker today: our fragmented, overcomplicated workspaces.

In this episode, you’ll learn more about Houston’s journey—from ideation to launch—with Dropbox Spaces, as well as the most important lessons he’s collected while building a multibillion-dollar company with over 500 million users.


Key Takeaways

  • The relatable experience that inspired Houston to come up with the idea for Dropbox
  • Why Houston doesn’t believe there’s any “magic” involved in building a multibillion-dollar company
  • The importance of decision making and learning continuously on the job
  • How a conversation with a SpaceX engineer sparked the vision behind Dropbox Spaces
  • Houston’s advice on “harvesting” versus “planting” when it comes to your business
  • Why Houston is such a huge believer in intentionally designing your environment—at work and with your personal relationships
Direct download: FP305_Drew_Houston.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54am AEST

Alex Osterwalder is primarily known for developing the Business Model Canvas, a template that helps startups develop and document new or existing business models.

In this interview, Osterwalder shares his best insights into the world of business models—ideas that are especially applicable now as entrepreneurs try to launch businesses during Covid-19. He explains why products, technology, and price alone aren’t enough to keep your company competitive. Osterwalder also breaks down the innovative models that Apple, Netflix, and Nintendo have used to become industry leaders (and why even these behemoths aren’t safe from disruption).

We also get a sneak peek into Osterwalder’s latest book called “The Invincible Company.” Not only does it contain an entire library of business models for companies of all sizes, but it also provides guidance on how startups can continuously reinvent themselves to stay ahead of the curve.

If there’s any other content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.


Key Takeaways

  • How Osterwalder came to study business models in graduate school
  • Insight into Osterwalder’s latest book, “The Invincible Company”
  • Why companies can’t compete on products, technology, and price alone (and why your business model can provide the ultimate competitive edge)
  • The scalability of business models
  • Why companies need to transcend industry boundaries
  • The reason why Osterwalder urges entrepreneurs to test before they build
  • How Apple, Netflix, and Nintendo are prime case studies of innovative business models in action—but why even they’re not safe from disruption
  • Osterwalder’s stance on the “magic bullet” when it comes to business models (hint: there isn’t one)

 

Direct download: FP304_Alex_Osterwalder.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:06am AEST

Adam Hendle’s company, Ballsy, is eye-catching and humorous, which are some of the most defining characteristics of the brand.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t take his business seriously. On the contrary, Hendle is obsessed with producing the highest quality products and finding creative ways to take his company to the next level. This is exactly how he brought in over $10 million in sales in just two years. And now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, he is still finding opportunities to grow.

In this podcast episode, Hendle discusses his unique approach to everything from community engagement to customer acquisition. He also opens up about his most challenging moments in business and explains how he finds opportunities in unexpected times and places (such as during a pandemic). This is a conversation you don’t want to miss!

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com.

Want some training on ecommerce? Check out our free masterclasses:

FREE Masterclass: Start a Profitable Online Store (In 12 Weeks or Less)

FREE Masterclass: Discover the “5 Core Drivers” Behind Today’s Fastest-Growing 7-Figure Stores


Key Takeaways

  • What’s changed with Ballsy since the last time we talked to Hendle
  • An overview of Ballsy’s growth from a sales, marketing, and team perspective
  • How Covid-19 gave Hendle’s brand an opportunity for growth
  • The approach Hendle took to lean into customer demand for subscriptions and stocking up on products
  • How Ballsy stays engaged with its community in fun and creative ways
  • A deep dive into one of Ballsy’s most unique customer acquisition channels: podcast advertisements
  • Why it’s important to test your assumptions
  • Insight into some of the biggest business obstacles Hendle has had to face
  • Why Hendle has Ballsy’s influencers on a monthly retainer
  • The reason why product quality is paramount to the Ballsy brand
Direct download: FP303_Adam_Hendle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:24am AEST

All three of Rory Boyle’s ecommerce businesses were negatively impacted by Covid-19.

But thanks to his strategic—and insanely fast—pivot, two of his companies are now making double the revenue they were before and one (which historically made most of its money through conferences) is still pulling in around 50% of what it used to make.

How did Boyle recover so quickly from the pandemic? In this interview, we were lucky enough to get a detailed analysis around his thought process and strategic decisions. Boyle takes us through how he shifted his sales and marketing tactics (which still includes getting on the phone) and explains how he’s using this time as an opportunity to give back to his community and customers. He also shares tons of tips around scaling sales efforts, the art of cadence emails, and other tactics you can use to grow your revenue.

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com to let us know.

If you need want some training on ecommerce, check out our Free Masterclasses:

Learn How You Can Start a Profitable Online Store (In 12 Weeks or Less)
Discover the “5 Core Drivers” Behind Today’s Fastest-Growing 7-Figure Stores


Key Takeaways

  • The origin stories of Hampers With Bite, Promotions Warehouse, and Snacks With Bite
  • What Boyle means when he says to “control the controllables”
  • How COVID-19 impacted all 3 of Boyle’s businesses—and how he pivoted all of them at breakneck speed
  • The approach Boyle is taking to sales and marketing during the pandemic (and why his team is still hopping on the phone to talk to customers)
  • Why Boyle believes every ecommerce entrepreneur needs to be thinking about the next step instead of focusing on current performance
  • How Boyle is giving back to his community and customers
  • How he’s planning around stocking challenges, especially for the upcoming holidays
  • A super deep dive into Boyle’s best sales tactics and strategies
  • Why Boyle would encourage entrepreneurs to launch their business in today’s climate
Direct download: FP302_Rory_Boyle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54am AEST

Today, we’re excited to share another valuable interview to help you overcome business challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We had the opportunity to pick the brain of Ashwin Sokke, the founder of WOW Skin Science. His global 8-figure skincare and haircare business is extremely popular in India and across the U.S., and it has been a top-selling brand on Amazon for the last four years in those countries.

In this interview, Sokke shares how his company dealt with the impact of Covid-19 which shut down half of his business for several weeks. For businesses who are going through similar pains, he provides incredible insights across many topics—from how to communicate with customers (he believes we should be sending them more emails and texts during this time) to getting creative with your marketing tactics (remember giveaways?). Sokke even digs down into the nitty gritty and breaks down his thoughts on subscription models, ad investments, and SKUs.

We believe this conversation will be valuable for any entrepreneur to listen to, especially those with ecommerce businesses. If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com to let us know.

If you need want some training on ecommerce, check out our Free Masterclasses:

Learn How You Can Start a Profitable Online Store (In 12 Weeks or Less)
Discover the “5 Core Drivers” Behind Today’s Fastest-Growing 7-Figure Stores


Key Takeaways

  • How Sokke got into the health and beauty space
  • The path to growing WOW Skin Science in India and the U.S. and becoming a top-selling brand on Amazon
  • Why Sokke develops all of his products from scratch
  • A glimpse into the company’s incredible numbers: 8-figure revenue and 370% growth in the U.S. last year
  • The impact that Covid-19 had on Sokke’s global company
  • Why Sokke believes companies should be sending more emails during this time (and how to be strategic about it)
  • Why giveaways have been a successful tactic during Covid-19
  • An overview on a winning stock keeping unit (SKU)
  • Sokke’s thoughts on how to win with subscription models
  • The best advice Sokke can offer to the community during Covid-19
Direct download: FP301_Ashwin_Sokke.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:47am AEST

The latest installment of the Foundr podcast is a landmark—our 300th episode! So to mark the occasion, we’ve got something a little different for you today.

Daniel DiPiazza, the founder of Rich20Something, was on the cover of Foundr Magazine last year, and today, he returns to Foundr to “reverse interview” our own CEO, Nathan Chan, ahead of the relaunch of Foundr’s beloved Instagram Domination course.

Together, Nathan and Daniel share the details of how they each found success on Instagram for their respective brands. They also explore Instagram’s algorithms, how it compares to other social media platforms, and the right way to use this powerful tool during the Covid-19 pandemic. Plus, they swap stories about their friendly competition, their time in the “Motivation Mafia,” and more!

If you want to learn more about our remastered Instagram Domination course when it launches, sign up for the Free VIP waitlist here (Get a FREE Lesson!).


Key Takeaways

  • The reason for this special “reverse interview”
  • How Nathan and Daniel got started on Instagram and are still finding success with the platform today
  • Why Instagram is the most powerful tool for both personal branding and ecommerce
  • A glimpse into Instagram’s algorithms and metrics
  • Why Instagram needs to be about more than just follower numbers
  • How Instagram can be a powerful tool through the current pandemic
  • A throwback story about the “Motivation Mafia”
  • Why Nathan would still pick Instagram as his platform of choice if he were to start a new company today
  • A comparison of Instagram vs. YouTube
  • How Daniel’s Instagram account helped him seal a six-figure book deal
  • The question that stumped Nathan (and why he prefers to focus on the present)
  • Why Daniel owes Nathan a trip to San Sebastián
Direct download: FP300_Daniel_DiPiazza.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:07am AEST

Dylan Mullan took an extremely unconventional path to entrepreneurship.

While he was in school, Mullan was convinced he wanted to be a lawyer, until he started taking classes at university and realized that he hated them. After that, he spontaneously took an acting course and spent almost five years as an actor. It was eventually a desire to have more control over his life that led him and his business partner to launch Happy Skin Co together.

Through a mixture of hard work, strategic decisions, and a deep investment in understanding their target customer, Mullan managed to grow his at-home hair removal business from $0 to $20 million in just two years.

In this interview, Mullan maps out exactly what this path to explosive growth looked like. He breaks down his approach to everything from market research to Facebook ads and explains why mindset is ultimately an entrepreneur’s most valuable tool.

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com to let us know.


Key Takeaways

  • The path from aspiring lawyer to aspiring actor, and how Mullan eventually wound up in the world of entrepreneurship
  • A look into Happy Skin Co’s early days, from long nights of planning to packaging products in Mullan’s living room with friends and family
  • The turning points that catapulted the company from $0 to $20 million in 2 years
  • How Mullan approached market research and influencer marketing in the early days
  • What the impact of Covid-19 has looked like for Mullan and his team, and the new opportunities it has opened up
  • Mullan’s best advice when it comes to creating profitable Facebook ads
  • An overview of the Happy Skin Co product development process and a sneak peek into what’s next
  • How to deal with industry copycats
  • Why Mullan is a huge advocate for visualization and believing in yourself
Direct download: FP299_Dylan_Mullan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:01am AEST

Josh Snow always finds ways to thrive in difficult situations.

Growing up, his family didn’t have a lot of money, and he wanted to help them cover basic expenses. So Snow taught himself how to create websites at his local library, which is how he stumbled into entrepreneurship. He eventually took that knowledge and built a software company from the ground up, which he sold by the age of 21.

Now Snow runs multiple successful businesses—with the most prominent one being his nine-figure teeth whitening business, Snow.

And he’s still finding ways to overcome adversity. Just as most businesses have been impacted by COVID-19, Snow also took a huge hit in terms of sales, with its conversion rates cut in half when the pandemic first emerged. However, by making fast, strategic changes, Snow got his company through the temporary setback and is today seeing higher-than-average sales on its site.

In this interview, Snow shares exactly how he made the necessary changes to his business. He also provides advice to other online businesses on how to get through this time by adjusting everything from your subscription model to your approach to influencer relations strategy.

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com to let us know.


Key Takeaways

  • How Snow stumbled into entrepreneurship through necessity
  • The journey to selling his first software company at the age of 21
  • Why Snow believes adversity gives you the opportunity to pause and reprioritize
  • The inspiration behind Snow, and how it grew to be a nine-figure business
  • How the company has been affected by COVID-19, and the changes Snow made to help his business bounce back and make more sales than before the pandemic
  • Snow’s recommendations on how to adjust your subscription products, influencer relations, and paid ads strategy during this time
  • The importance of evolving and meeting your customer where they’re at
  • Why Snow believes you have to be an “everything” person if you want a successful business
  • Advice on using Shopify vs. funnels
  • The choice between hunting rabbits vs. elephants (metaphorically)
Direct download: FP298_Josh_Snow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:53pm AEST

Steve Blank is a legend in Silicon Valley. In addition to launching eight startups in 21 years, he’s also a well-known author and educator at Stanford University, Columbia University, and the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.

Having worked in the realm of entrepreneurship for so long, Blank has survived some of the worst recessions in U.S. history and has first-hand experience of what it’s like to keep your business afloat under high-pressure circumstances—knowledge that’s directly applicable to the COVID-19 global health crisis.

In this interview, Blank shares his three-step process for what every business needs to do right now to survive the pandemic. He breaks down everything from calculating your burn rate to reassessing the way you work with your team. Blank also shares his own personal experiences with the 2008 recession and dot-com bubble.

If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com to let us know.


Key Takeaways

  • Why Blank believes today’s entrepreneurs should listen to the advice of seasoned founders
  • The three-step process Blank recommends to understand where your business is headed, from calculating finances to reassessing business models
  • The biggest lessons Blank learned during the 2008 recession and dot-com bubble
  • Why Blank believes in planning for the morning after
  • The importance of high-level execution during times like today
  • How to think about recalibrating in terms of retaining staff and hiring
  • The importance of setting expectations—whether in your marketing or management
  • Why this pandemic could be an opportunity to re-evaluate how you want to spend your life
Direct download: FP297_Steve_Blank.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:50am AEST

CEO Dallas Tanner on the breakneck creation and growth of multibillion-dollar home rental company Invitation Homes.

Like a lot of successful businesses, Invitation Homes was a seemingly overnight hit that had been in the making for many years.

“We bought the first 30,000 homes in the first 18 months,” says CEO Dallas Tanner, of the single-family home rental company.

Based on that burst of early success, it might seem as though Tanner did the impossible—come up with a brilliant idea, instantly get buy-in from an investor, and reap immediate rewards.

But long before Invitation Homes launched in 2012, Tanner had already cut his teeth in the home rental business. During college, he bought a couple of houses with his dad and managed them while going to class. He later founded the Treehouse Group Companies, which focused on workforce housing in the Southwest.

So, when Tanner set out to start Invitation Homes, he did so with a large body of experience, knowledge, and accomplishments in his chosen field. That could have had something to do with the quick traction he got at Blackstone, his early capital partner and provider of funds for those 30,000 homes.

“High speed, low drag,” Tanner says of their initial goal. There was an intense focus on getting out there, scaling up, and achieving meaningful gain in as short a time as possible. Were they worried, though, that the swift pace might blind them to any turbulence ahead?

“If you’re building an airplane while flying it, there’s always a risk that you may miss a step. We were lucky to have no major issues and that’s because we were comfortable in the area we were building. We knew it and understood it.”

That early work and knowledge of the industry paid off. In 2017, Invitation Homes went public with an initial share price of $20. Two years later, it hovers between $29-30 per share, a 48% increase. Blackstone sold its remaining shares (11%) of the company in November 2019 for $1.7 billion, bringing Blackstone’s total profit from IH to $7 billion.

Systemize to Scale

Tanner attributes much of the company’s success to its fast, effective scaling. “Economies of scale give us a really strategic advantage in terms of the services we can provide residents, and establishing predictability of the experience.”

Cases in point: Each of the 80,000 homes in the company’s portfolio is visited by one of its 300 technicians every six months, whether there’s a known issue in the home or not. Customer care is offered 24 hours a day. Day-to-day management and communication are provided by local teams of 10-15 people or, as they’re called at Invitation Homes, “pods.” Each pod has 3-5 maintenance technicians to service its portfolio of properties.

And the system seems to work. On average, Invitation Homes residents stay for about three years. More than 80% of them take advantage of another system innovation—online auto-pay.

Tanner is constantly reviewing data, though, to ensure they’re being as efficient as possible.

“As we think about our business, we’ve gotten more and more efficient here in year seven,” he says. “We’re focused on the kinds of things that deliver a really good customer experience but make us as optimized as possible.”

For example, the inaugural days of the business found technicians switching out locks each time a home got a new resident. New tech eventually provided the option of electronic entry, which Invitation incorporated into its homes. Now, when a resident moves out and a new one moves in, only the code needs to be changed. This made the move-in experience that much smoother for new residents and saved time for the team.

Knowing What to Hold Onto

Crunching data is also how Tanner reviews the performance of each property and whether it’s time to sell. Their typical home is a three bedroom, two bath with 1,800 square feet, which will rent out for about $1,800/month, depending on the market.

Invitation Homes sometimes sells off certain properties that either aren’t performing or have experienced such increases in value that a sale presents a better gain for the company.

“Just like any good asset manager,” Tanner says,” you look at the data and make these decisions in real time.”

And, true to form, he’s even created a system that kicks in when the decision is to sell. The “Resident First Look Program” allows the home’s current resident to consider purchasing before the home goes on the open market.

Dallas Tanner’s Advice for System Creation

Tanner is firm in his belief that fine-tuned systems allow for the best customer experience and most efficient performance within the company. So what’s his advice for others who are looking to create systems that allow for scale?

  1. Align yourself with good people who are willing to carry the flag.
  2. Be willing to understand that you do not always have the answer yourself.
  3. Do your research and challenge yourself as you develop systems and processes.
  4. Do not be afraid of being wrong. You’ll learn through trial and error. Use regression analysis to reveal if your decisions were right.
  5. Early on, figure out how to capture your data.

That last point is crucial. “If you’re not capturing data from an early stage, then you’re kind of playing with one arm behind your back,” Tanner says. That early information provides keen insight and helps you make sound decisions about best practices in years two and three.

Remember, though, that the quest for good systems shouldn’t overwhelm everything. “You’ve got to spend your time being as efficient as possible, but driving growth at the same time,” Tanner says. “It’s always a balancing act.”

For Invitation Homes, the priority is to find long-term residents and put them into homes in markets and submarkets that are the most appealing and as efficient to manage as possible. This priority steers decisions and interpretation of data at the company. It defines how the company and its people best use their time.

Finally, Tanner offered two key activities that he believes lead to success for startup entrepreneurs:

  1. Gather people who share the vision and will work.
  2. Work hard.

He acknowledges that it also takes some luck and good timing. “But, the only way those things go your way is if you’re head down and going hard.”

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Rebeca Seitz


Key Takeaways

  • Tanner’s early experiences in the home rental business
  • Why “high speed, low drag” was Tanner’s initial goal when he launched his single-family home rental company, Invitation Homes
  • A look into Invitation Homes’ quick and efficient scaling process, which resulted in the purchase of 30,000 homes in the first 18 months
  • Why crunching numbers is a critical part of Tanner’s role and his company’s success
  • The road to going public and growing a multibillion-dollar company
  • Tanner’s advice for other entrepreneurs who are looking to create systems that allow for scale
Direct download: FP296_Dallas_Tanner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:46am AEST

Believe it or not, there are many parallels between the world of boxing and the world of entrepreneurship. Tim West is familiar with both.

As the founder of the fastest-growing global boxing franchise, 12RND Fitness, West has had his feet squarely planted in both realms for many years.

He started his journey working in brick-and-mortar fitness centers before jumping into tech entrepreneurship, and eventually launched 12RND Fitness in 2014, which quickly exploded across Australia and is now expanding globally. In fact, West is in the process of opening up their first locations in New Zealand, Singapore, London, and Los Angeles this year.

In this interview, West dives deep into his thoughts on the franchising model, his biggest lessons from working in tech, and his approach to overcoming obstacles. Check out the full conversation below!


Key Takeaways

  • How West worked his way up the rungs of the fitness ladder—from aspiring professional athlete to strength and conditioning coach
  • Why he jumped at the opportunity to open up one of the first franchises for Jetts Fitness, the first 24-hour gym in Australia
  • West’s first foray into tech, and the most important lessons he picked up along the way
  • Why West decided to return to brick-and-mortar fitness, and how he came up with the MVP for 12RND Fitness
  • How West pressure-tested his business model across Australia
  • The reason West tested his business for two whole years before opening up to franchisees
  • A sneak peek into West’s data-driven approach to working with franchisees
  • Why West is grateful for his struggles
Direct download: FP295_Tim_West.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:46pm AEST

As a founder, you’re likely feeling a lot of stress and anxiety around the current situation with COVID-19. While we hope your business isn’t being too heavily impacted, we want to let you know that we’re always here for you and want to help in any way we can.

We’ve been mulling over how we could be the most useful to the Foundr community and decided it would be incredibly valuable to sit down and talk to Steve McLeod. McLeod is uniquely equipped to share advice about the current circumstances for many reasons: he’s a business coach that has guided thousands of organizations through challenging situations (including Foundr); he founded his own company called Fire And Safety, which is now a $20 million business; and he’s a former firefighter who dealt with many disasters during his eight-year tenure.

In this interview, we touch on many topics—from managing cash flow reserves to communicating with customers to adjusting your mindset—that we hope you’ll find helpful as we navigate this unfamiliar territory together. Whether you’re getting ready to launch a new business or are already running a seven-figure company, the contents of this interview should be applicable for entrepreneurs at every stage.

If there’s any other type content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at support@foundr.com to let us know.


Key Takeaways

  • How McLeod’s background as a firefighter, founder, and mentor is allowing him to guide businesses today through the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The importance of understanding where your business is today: positioned for growth or in survival mode?
  • Why you need to be transparent with your teams, regardless of your current situation
  • McLeod’s advice: cut costs but don’t stop your sales and marketing efforts
  • Why you need to focus on your existing customers and how you can help them
  • How to keep your mindset clear during this stressful time
  • Why connection, discipline, and alignment are more critical than ever before
  • An overview of cash flow reserves, and how much you should have in the bank now
  • The reason why McLeod doesn’t believe it’s the right time for work-life balance
  • How to be a good leader in unprecedented circumstances
  • Why leaders need to be asking themselves the tough questions today more than ever
  • McLeod’s advice for businesses that are thinking about launching soon
Direct download: FP294_Steve_McLeod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:49am AEST

Jim McKelvey needs to solve problems. “It’s not about money. It’s not about recognition. It’s not about anything you can measure. It’s just this burning need to fix something.”

That burning need is what sparked the ideas for all of his startups, including the massive small business payments company Square, and now his current project, Invisibly.

“I look for a problem that I care about,” McKelvey says. “I look for something that bothers me, something that angers me, something I will get up and bend my life into a pretzel to solve.”

In fact, the problem that became the catalyst for Square—which, by the way, has grown to a $34 billion market cap—evolved from McKelvey’s first profession as a humble glassblower.

That same unstoppable drive is something he’s seen in so many successful startups around the world, and it’s now the subject of his new book, The Innovation Stack. Someone sees a problem and, without experience or previous knowledge, they set out to solve it. For McKelvey, this is what true innovation is all about.

Mira Publishing: Turning Failure Into Opportunity

McKelvey’s first company, Mira Digital Publishing, solved two problems, actually. First, McKelvey wanted to create image storage and recognition software, something that was still in its infancy when he founded the company in 1990.

Second, he needed a way to break out of his own rut. He had graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 1987 with degrees in computer science and economics. At 19, he’d published a textbook called The Debugger’s Handbook: UCSD and Apple Pascal. 

But after he graduated, he was running at what he calls a “high level of mediocrity,” freelancing for IBM, blowing glass, and running a company that built storage cabinets for CDs.

In 1989, his mother died suddenly, and it made McKelvely reevaluate his priorities. “I just asked myself, do I want to be mediocre at everything? And so I decided that one of the things I had not done in my life was focus.”

So he gave up IBM and the CD cabinets (but not his glassblowing) and focused on starting Mira. Unfortunately, Adobe released Acrobat in 1993. “We got our heads handed to us by Adobe. … It was a giant mess.”

But while their imaging software failed, some good still came out of it all. That’s when McKelvey met Jack Dorsey, the future co-founder of Twitter.

The Entrepreneur and the Artist

McKelvey is a trained glassblower, who has even written a textbook on the subject. In the past, he’s used his studio to support himself while working on his startups.

“The cool thing about making a physical product is that you can do it whenever you want. So I could work on my technical companies during the day and head into the studio at night, make a bunch of work and stick it in galleries and make enough money to survive.”

For him, art and entrepreneurship go hand in hand, not just because one can fund the other, but because they are parallel endeavors that achieve the same outcome. McKelvey says he uses an archaic definition of the word entrepreneur, which broadens its scope beyond merely starting a company.

“The original meaning for the word entrepreneur was this crazy person who did stuff that hadn’t been done before.”

Square: Starting With a Problem

Dorsey started as an intern at Mira, and the two developed a bond that held fast over the years. After Dorsey was forced out of his position as CEO of Twitter in 2008, he reconnected with McKelvey and they decided to start a business together. They just had no idea what that business would be.

They brainstormed together and came up with a few ideas. They knew they wanted it to be something mobile. They started looking into a journaling app, until another idea came to McKelvey while in his glassblowing studio.

He tried to sell one of his glass pieces to a customer who wanted to charge it to her American Express card. But Dorsey couldn’t process her credit card.

He lost the sale.

“And so I called up Jack with the iPhone that I had in my hand and I said, ‘Jack, you know, it’s really stupid that this iPhone that does everything that I want it to do—it becomes a television, it becomes a book, it becomes a radio, a compass—but it couldn’t become a credit card machine. And this is stupid. We need to fix this.’”

And so, they came up with Square. They originally wanted to serve artists who couldn’t take credit cards or receive electronic payments.

“The tough thing about being an artist is, I make stuff nobody needs. Like, nobody has ever needed anything that I’ve made in the glass studio. So, you better be ready when they’re ready to buy and not make it too difficult for them.”

The challenge Square faced was serving a community that didn’t have the typical business setup.

“These little guys who didn’t have credit reports. Some of them didn’t have bank accounts. Some of them didn’t have credit scores. Some of them didn’t have mailing addresses. I mean they were weird outliers to the financial system.”

Even some of their bigger customers were still too small by the standards of the industry to process credit cards. So, they were forced to reinvent the entire process, from signup to hardware to pricing schemes.

And for McKelvey, that’s where real innovation comes from, when you are forced to improvise.

“Invention is something that has to almost be forced upon us. And people get inventive when they have no other choice.”

The Innovation Stack

A few years after Square launched, McKelvey and Dorsey learned that Amazon had launched a small business payments service that was nearly identical to theirs. For the second time, McKelvey thought he was done.

But then, an amazing thing happened. About a year later, Amazon shut down their service and sent all of their former customers a Square reader. For a long time, McKelvey couldn’t figure out how they had survived a direct attack from a giant like Amazon.

“I was like, well what’s special about us? What did we do to be still standing after Amazon comes after us? And I couldn’t answer the question.”

He talked to former executives at a number of companies Amazon had directly targeted. Some of them sold to Amazon, while others went out of business. None had survived.

“I was happy we won, but I couldn’t answer the question, why did we win? I knew we’d won, but I’d like to think it’s more than just luck, but I just couldn’t explain it. So I went on this two-year quest to figure it out.”

McKelvey found that Square wasn’t actually alone. Many companies had survived direct attacks from large competitors, and they all had one thing in common, what he calls the “innovation stack.”

He describes the innovation stack as a series of interlocking inventions that create something you can’t attack. Instead of one big innovation, the companies that survive are innovative in several ways that all contribute to the overall success of the company.

And that series of innovations is almost impossible to copy in their entirety. For Square, it was easy to copy the hardware, but that was just one of 14 different innovations that made the company different in the online payments field.

“So I talk about 14 things that we did differently. Every one of those was necessary for the system to work. So, if we’d done 12 and we hadn’t done the 13th and 14th, Square wouldn’t have worked.”

One of the 14 was their system for handling fraud.

Since Square is a company that handles online payments, McKelvey says, it got hit from day one. Three years later, when Amazon came out with its product, Square had already developed unique processes for dealing with fraud, something Amazon couldn’t replicate.

But, McKelvey says, even if every aspect of a company’s innovation stack is visible, it’s hard for large companies to copy it all successfully. Why?

“Organizational culture,” he says. When a startup comes along with a new way of solving a problem, it’s difficult for a well-established brand to pivot, to change its ingrained processes to compete.

His example is Southwest Airlines. They revolutionized the boarding process, turning a 45-minute process into a 10-minute one. And they did it by rethinking the whole process, right down to cleaning the plane.

With Southwest, even the pilots helped clean the cabins before boarding new passengers, something McKelvey says United or Delta Airline pilots would not be willing to do because they were already used to a certain organizational culture.

Because Southwest was new, they could set their own culture. “Let me tell you that the Southwest pilots, you didn’t become a Southwest pilot unless you were willing to play their game.”

McKelvey writes about Southwest and several other companies who shook up their industries in his new book, The Innovation Stack.

No Experience Needed

As he researched his book, McKelvey noticed something else about these innovative companies. Companies from Southwest Airlines to the Bank of Italy all began the same way he did—by solving a problem for a previously ignored segment of the market and having no idea how to do it at first.

He came to the realization that starting a business isn’t about the market needs, but rather the needs of a small, even fringe group of people. “I don’t think you should choose a big market. I think you should choose a big problem,” he says.

From Southwest, which figured out how to make flying affordable, to the Bank of Italy, which started out giving loans to farmers and immigrants when other banks wouldn’t, they were all sailing in uncharted waters.

And because of that, none of their founders had any kind of expertise in their field.

“I looked throughout history and I saw all these people who had basically no qualifications for what they did.”

That included himself and Jack Dorsey. While McKelvey holds two degrees, he finds neither relevant to what he does today. As for Dorsey?

“So, like, Jack’s professional credential, he has one professional credential. He is a massage therapist. I mean, you’ve got a glassblower and a massage therapist and they start a payments company. We knew nothing about payments. We didn’t know a thing.”

The Innovation Continues

McKelvey still sits on the board of directors for Square, but his focus is now on his new startup.

With Invisibly, he wants to change the way publishers monetize their online content. The current model, where ads pop up in the right rail, across the top of the page, and even on top of the content you’re trying to read is infuriating to McKelvey.

“Our attention is being bought and sold without our permission or knowledge. So when you watch something or read something, you’re essentially trading your attention to advertisers in a system that is largely biased against you, and in many ways subverts your interests.”

And, he says, ad blockers are not the solution, which is essentially saying to journalists, “Starve to death, guys, because I’m not paying anything.”

So he and his team at Invisibly are working on a way to allow users to control the ad experience.

McKelvey has also founded a nonprofit called LaunchCode, which trains programmers for free and helps place them in jobs. Oh, and he’s also a deputy chairman for the Federal Reserve in his hometown of St. Louis.

McKelvey has built his success by solving problems. “If you have a problem that has never been solved, man you probably want me around.”

And he’s seen other people create world-changing companies by doing the same, and by building innovation stacks that all but guarantee their success.

He looks at entrepreneurship, not as the process of starting a business, but as an art form, a means to bend and mold an industry to create something no one’s seen before, something that makes life a little better for everyone.

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Laurie Mega


Key Takeaways

  • Why McKelvey believes he was running at a “high level of mediocrity” early in his career, and how a family tragedy shifted his priorities
  • The launch of his first company, and why it ultimately failed
  • McKelvey’s unique background as a glassblower, and why he believes art and entrepreneurship go hand in hand
  • How McKelvey and Jack Dorsey came up with the idea for Square
  • How Square survived a direct attack from Amazon
  • How the answer became the inspiration behind McKelvey’s latest book, The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time
  • How McKelvey plans to continue solving problems with his newest startup, Invisibly, and his nonprofit, LaunchCode
Direct download: FP293_Jim_McKelvey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:42am AEST

We’ve all heard the motivational mantra that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. But Alexa von Tobel sees things a little differently. 

“If you love what you do, you’ll work every day of your life,” she says, “and it’s because I’m so passionate about what I’m doing.” 

The mission that gets von Tobel jumping out of bed every morning is one that impacts every one of us—finding financial stability. Without it, whether you’re a working family or a creative new startup, it’s near impossible to plan for the long term and ultimately thrive.

Von Tobel came to this understanding after graduating from Harvard and beginning a career on Wall Street, when she realized that, while she was great at managing the business finances of others, she was woefully unprepared to manage her own. And she quickly discovered that she was not alone. 

That lit a fire underneath her to improve financial education, inspiring her in 2008 to launch LearnVest, a digital financial planning business that teaches investment and finances. The award-winning company became wildly popular, especially among women. 

She ended up selling that business, but in 2019, van Tobel decided to take her passion for financial advising in a new direction. Today, she manages Inspired Capital, a $200 million investment firm that’s supporting early stage startups. 

This massive new undertaking is all rooted in van Tobel’s desire to support ambitious entrepreneurs and help people achieve financial stability. That, and a deep love of math.

Freedom to Think Bigger 

Von Tobel says she was an entrepreneur from day one. She’s always been drawn to the toughest problems, outside-the-box thinking, and bringing joy to others. And when she recognized her own problem with managing her personal finances, she suspected that this could be a cause worth taking on. 

Von Tobel says that 78% of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck and that the average person doesn’t even have $400 in a savings account. And the crippling anxiety that comes from mountains of debt and living one medical crisis away from going broke? She firmly believes it holds people back from concentrating on something bigger.

“If you’re living for tomorrow, you can’t think long term,” she says. 

Despite her lifelong love of math and her driven personality, she’d never been taught how to manage her personal accounts, invest her money, or plan for retirement. It became clear that many of her peers had not either. 

“I think it’s insane that it’s not taught in every high school, college, and graduate program in America,” von Tobel says. “I mean, it’s not that dissimilar to basic hygiene.” 

From von Tobel’s perspective, money is a basic lifeline that enables people to care for themselves. Therefore, she believes everyone should learn how to intelligently manage it. 

That’s what drove her during her years as founder and CEO of LearnVest—the unwavering belief that financial education was a key to happiness. 

“If you can create real financial stability for a family,” she says, “you can help a family thrive.”

Among the strategies she taught through LearnVest were how to grow a successful savings account by setting aside 20% of each paycheck, no matter what, and the benefit of establishing firm ground rules for financial health. She taught when to begin investing (yesterday), preparing for retirement (the day before yesterday), and how to plan effectively for the ebbs and flows of life. 

But what about the people (like, oh, I don’t know, the writer of this article, for instance) who are deeply terrified of math? Von Tobel says that’s not a problem. 

“Personal finance is basic math,” she assures. “It’s not complicated math. It’s really straightforward math—what comes in, what goes out, is there something left, and are we saving it properly? Really, it’s more organization than math.” 

After more than a decade spent as a financial educator and the sale of her business to Northwestern Mutual in 2015, von Tobel decided it was time to give something new a try. 

And when her husband pointed out how many hours she had spent financially advising entrepreneurs for free, she realized she may have inadvertently stumbled upon her next big project. 

Shooting for the Moon 

Inspired Capital was born from von Tobel’s passion for financial education, combined with her desire to help entrepreneurs reach their goals. The result is an early stage and seed investment firm, driven by women (also led by former Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker) and funding startups nationally.

Von Tobel now meets with at least 75 founders each week in pursuit of new investments of all shapes and sizes. From tech to product-based business, von Tobel is interested in all of it, provided they have a good idea and a plan. 

She says that the best founders who have pitched her get to know her firm before reaching out. They also don’t get discouraged by rejection. Von Tobel says that just because it’s a no today, doesn’t mean it’ll be a no tomorrow. 

And while founders are waiting for their yes, von Tobel says there are many things they can invest time in learning. She says that the biggest mistake she sees founders make is running away from the aspects of the business that make them feel inadequate, passing it off to others before even giving it a try. 

“I think it’s the typical kind of head-in-the-sand ostrich move,” she says. “You’ve got to lean into the things that make you nervous.” 

She believes this is what enables businesses to address issues before they reach critical mass, while also making founders feel capable and bold. 

“If you want to build a really good business—if you want to get really good at being an entrepreneur—you’ve got to get good at everything,” she says. “And I don’t mean you literally have to hold every job, but you have to take the job, get pretty darn good at it to the point where then you know how to hire for it, and then you can pass it off to somebody better at it.” 

Once the machine of a new business really starts whirring, von Tobel says that it’s essential to have an eye on building up the reserves. 

“You want to make sure you are never within nine months of running out of cash,” she says. “Because if you need to go fix that, putting a plan together to go fix that can sometimes take three to six months, and you don’t want to be in a position where literally you can run out of money.” 

While she acknowledges that smaller businesses can get away with slightly less in the bank, she wouldn’t recommend leaving the stability of a company to chance or dependent on a tight timeline. 

And ultimately, von Tobel believes these healthy savings accounts are what embolden business leaders to take new and exciting risks. 

“I’m not risk-averse,” she says. “I shoot for the moon, but I have a plan B that has enough cash...that gives me enough confidence to shoot for the moon. Having a good solid financial plan gives you the comfort to take more risks.”

And the best part of all is that von Tobel believes there’s never been a better time to launch a business than right now. 

“Every year it gets less expensive to stand up a company,” she says. “Every year there are better online resources to make it easier to do.” 

From free online resources to highly affordable software for startups, she says founders need only do a light Google to find a flood of resources at their disposal. 

As an investor passionate about the startups and founders of tomorrow, she can’t wait to see what thrilling new business plans come across her desk next. And that’s why she encourages struggling founders to keep pushing, keep growing, and keep pursuing their dreams. 

“You’re building something new. You’re building something special that serves a purpose,” she says. “And that’s pretty powerful.” 

Alexa von Tobel’s Tips for Building a Successful Business 

  1. Get the product right first

Von Tobel says that entrepreneurs can be distracted so easily by the task of building a business and marketing a product that they forget to perfect the product. Talk to the customers. Find out what works and what doesn’t, and make adjustments. Before diving headfirst into marketing a product, she reminds entrepreneurs to really nail product-market fit. 

  1. Begin by stoking word-of-mouth marketing

Rather than sinking tons of cash into a paid marketing strategy up front, von Tobel recommends that founders begin by delighting their customers and encouraging them to share their experiences with the brand. She reminds entrepreneurs that word-of-mouth marketing is free and often more effective than traditional marketing for startups. 

  1. Wait to focus on paid marketing until revenue is up

Once revenue is climbing and there is a little more wiggle room, von Tobel says the time has come to give paid marketing a go. 

  1. Embrace a constant learning process

Above all, von Tobel reminds entrepreneurs that the constant pursuit of growth without fear of negative feedback is essential to success. 

“I think the best founders are learners,” she says. “They are comfortable with negative feedback. They want to make it better, and they are constantly just listening and learning obsessively.”


Key Takeaways

  • Why von Tobel, a Harvard graduate and Wall Street career woman, found herself struggling with her personal finances
  • How this experience drove her to launch LearnVest, a digital financial planning business that teaches investment and finances
  • Why von Tobel doesn’t believe a fear of math should stop anyone from pursuing financial education
  • The sale of LearnVest to Northwestern Mutual in 2015
  • The mission behind Inspired Capital, an early stage and seed investment firm
  • Why von Tobel wants to work with founders who embrace aspects of business they’re not good at
  • The reason behind von Tobel’s optimism for the future of business
Direct download: FP292_Alexa_Von_Tobel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:52pm AEST

When Peter Diamandis was a kid, there were two life-changing moments that shaped him into the person he is today: the launch of the Apollo space program and the release of Star Trek.

These two events inspired Diamandis’ love of space and taught him to always keep his eyes on the future. It’s no surprise then that Diamandis went on launch over 20 companies in the areas of space, longevity, venture capital, and education.

Diamandis has also dedicated himself to supporting others who make an impact on the world, which is why he founded the venture fund BOLD Capital Partners, the X Prize Foundation, and Singularity University—all organizations focused on promoting technologies that have the potential to improve society.

In this interview, he shares his thoughts on what it takes to build a sustainable business, his predictions for industries like education and healthcare, and what he’s most excited about in terms of future innovations. This is a conversation you won’t want to miss!


Key Takeaways

  • Why Diamandis ended up going to medical school, despite his love of space
  • How Diamandis carved out his own life path, which led to him starting 20+ companies in the areas of space, longevity, venture capital, and education
  • His predictions on which industries will transition from a scarcity to an abundance mindset
  • The golden rule Diamandis always follows whenever he prioritizes what to work on next
  • Why Diamandis believes a person’s mindset is the most valuable asset they own
  • The inspiration behind Diamandis’ latest book, The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives
  • What excites Diamandis most about the future, and why he feels optimistic about what’s to come
Direct download: FP291_Peter_Diamandis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:05am AEST

Craig Walker’s on a mission to overhaul the way businesses communicate, with cloud-based phone service Dialpad.

As a securities attorney in Silicon Valley, Craig Walker met regularly with a who’s who of Palo Alto venture capitalists, startup founders, and investment bankers. He thrilled at their stories of big ideas and bold risks.

Then one day in 1998, he decided it was time to live one of those startup stories of his own. When life offered him an opportunity to sit on the other side of the table, he said yes without hesitation. That decision shaped the rest of Walker’s life, first as a VC and soon after, as head of his own companies.

Today, he’s the founder and CEO of Dialpad, a cloud-based business communications company that is rapidly approaching the coveted $100 million revenue benchmark. The San Francisco-based startup is changing the way businesses communicate, by shifting them from traditional desk phones to cloud-based service, and all the powerful features that come with it.

In fact, much of Walker’s career after that fateful day has been all about improving business communications. He’s been disrupting the stodgy old office desk phone in some way or another for around 20 years, having laid the groundwork for Google Voice and Yahoo! Voice, and ultimately taking them on as a formidable competitor.

From Attorney to Founder

Walker was quite successful as a lawyer, but it was in that role that he became drawn to the prospect of starting his own business, and learned what it takes to make it happen.

“Once I was a lawyer and I met a bunch of CEOs and founders, I realized there wasn’t any real magic to it,” Walker says. “It was just taking a risk or taking a chance and having a good idea and a good team to go along with you.”

When a client asked him to leave his job behind and join a venture fund, he took the opportunity. But his time with TeleSoft Partners and Sterling Payot Capital, both of which invested in early-stage telecom startups, was only a combined four years.

In November 2001, when an internet telephony service asked him to step in as CEO, again, he took the leap. And he’s been in the game ever since.

That company was the first iteration of Dialpad, where Walker served as CEO and built relationships with his coworkers and others in the tech space, who would stick by his side through future ventures.

When Dialpad 1.0 was acquired in 2005 by Yahoo! as the base for Yahoo! Voice, he took on his first role as a founder and launched a similar company, GrandCentral Communications. This was yet another foray into the world of online phone communication, but in less than two years, it was also acquired, this time by Google.

For nearly four years, Walker continued on with GrandCentral, now called Google Voice, but before long it was time for him to move on once again.

Having now laid the groundwork for both Yahoo! Voice and Google Voice, Walker was ready to challenge them for supremacy.

Desk Phone Disruption

A good name is hard to find. So when Walker and crew decided to found a new online communication company, they knew they needed to have a little chat with Yahoo! first.

The owner of the first version of Dialpad agreed to sell the name back to Walker—including the all-important URL—and in 2011, Dialpad 2.0 was off to the races.

His goal remained very much the same—the master the art of using the the internet as your business phone. As Walker boasts, Dialpad offers “all the power of a business phone system, but from anywhere in the world.”

“The world has changed,” Walker says. "You’re working from anywhere at any time, and not having the ability to do that from your business phone system is crazy.”

Using the latest iteration of Dialpad, businesses can toss their hardware to the curb and use the cloud to connect team members and clients.

By importing existing numbers, companies can use a single system to manage all phone communications. There’s even an app that instantly transforms a cell phone into a work phone, allowing employees to port their number and merge into existing CRMs, productivity suites, and social networks. And with an AI integration that alerts supervisors of red flags like an irate customer, prompting them to step into the situation, sales teams could grow and improve with ease.

Convenience was key, and customers of Dialpad rapidly embraced the new technology. After winning TechCrunch Disrupt and being featured several blog posts and articles, Dialpad saw a flood of new inquiries.

But even with all the buzz around the new business, Dialpad wasn’t above the need to make cold calls. As you might expect, however, Walker’s approach to cold calling is a little different than just picking up a phone and hoping for the best.

He explains that they first built a list of “modern-thinking companies.” Then, they investigated what tools those businesses were already using to accomplish basic day-to-day tasks. If they found a list of antiquated, on-premise technologies, they crossed the business off their list. If, however, they found that a company used other cloud-based technologies, they knew they’d found a lead and would reach out.

“Ultimately you want to get up to the CIO, but building champions below the CIO is great,” Walker says. “The folks who are going to be actually responsible for managing the day-to-day of the product are great ones to start with.”

As momentum built, so did Dialpad’s sales team and advertising budget, along with a loyal customer base.

“I don’t see any other competitors on the horizon coming out of the startup world,” Walker says, “so now you’re just competing against the legacy guys that you know you’re ahead of and can out-innovate because you’re more modern.”

Despite their edge as an innovator, Walker acknowledges that no business grows without facing its share of challenges.

“On the road to success, there’s plenty of roadblocks and challenges on a daily basis, and I think every startup goes through those.”

Staying Nimble

The first major hurdle Dialpad had to clear was convincing major corporations to trust all of their critical calls to the cloud. This was back in 2011, when the concept was still fairly new.

But even if they could achieve that goal, Walker had to struggle through the complex process of raising money, gaining traction, finding early customers, building a healthy organization, remaining innovative while serving existing customers, and so much more.

Most importantly, Walker had to become excellent at making decisions. He insists, however, that this doesn’t necessarily mean being right all the time.

“There have been many times I’ve been wrong,” Walker says. “You just need to adjust and move on, because you’re never going to always be right, and if you wait until everything is so clear that you’re always right, you’re going to be moving way too slow.”

The key is to remain attentive and flexible.

“One of the beauties of a startup is if you do realize you missed something or you moved too quickly one way or you moved too slowly one way, you can pretty quickly adjust it as long as you stay nimble,” he says.

And, above all, Walker advises founders to trust their instincts. Even though he has spent the last two decades gathering a collection of trusted friends and advisors, he still occasionally throws caution to the wind and goes his own way.

“The decisions all come down to you, and, because of that, I do think you’ve got to trust your gut,” he says. “You’re the one that’s going to live with the outcome. Don’t let people talk you into things that don’t make sense to you.”

Walker explains that, because everyone has a different perspective, two equally intelligent and well-informed people can come to diametrically opposed viewpoints on a situation and what is best to do next.

So his best piece of advice to new founders is simply this: “Stick to the North Star of what your idea was, and see it through.”

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Erica Comitalo


Key Takeaways

  • Why Walker, a Silicon Valley securities attorney, decided to transition into the world of entrepreneurship
  • How the first iteration of internet telephony service Dialpad came to be
  • How Walker became involved in companies that were eventually acquired by Yahoo! and Google
  • The reason Walker decided to buy back the name Dialpad in 2011
  • Why introducing the cloud became a game changer for Dialpad and its customers
  • Walker’s unconventional approach to cold calling
  • Why it’s OK to make the wrong decision sometimes
  • The best advice Walker can offer about staying nimble and trusting your instincts
Direct download: FP290_Craig_Walker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:38am AEST

Zvi Band describes himself as an introvert—someone who tends to be inward-looking, generally preferring to spend time alone. At the same time, he’s a successful entrepreneur, writer, and speaker who preaches the importance of relationships.

“I actually found that all of my business, and more importantly, all of the amazing opportunities in my life came from, of all things, knowing the right people,” Band says.

That may not sound like something an introvert would say, but for Band, human connection is about quality over quantity. He isn’t focused on collecting new friends on social media or passing out stacks of business cards at mixers all over town.

Instead, he is focused on maintaining and nurturing the relationships he already has. That, he says, is the key to success. Yes, it’s all about relationships, but in a world of constant connectivity, it’s about focusing on the meaningful ones.

“I was in a room of a hundred real estate agents this morning and everyone raised their hand when I asked, ‘Who here thinks their relationships are their most important assets for business?’”

The power of relationships is more than a philosophy for Band; it’s his business. His enterprise SaaS platform, Contactually, helps professionals, particularly real estate professionals, build and maintain relationships by automating personal communication.

A resident of Washington, DC, he’s been named one of Washingtonian Magazine’s Tech Titans six years running, and has been featured in publications like TechCrunch, Washington Post and USA Today. He’s even written a book on the topic, Success Is in Your Sphere: Leverage the Power of Relationships to Achieve Your Business Goals.

Why Are Relationships So Important?

Band understands that humans are naturally social creatures, and the biological need for connection translates directly to the business world. He sees that as an opportunity to build success through the support of a professional network.

“We rely on social connections and relationships to help keep us safe and therefore help us identify who we should work with,” he says.

To Band, relationships are directly connected to reputation, something that has become either an asset or a hindrance, depending on how people view you as a professional. Because the world is so connected, professionals are now competing with other professionals with the same skills on a global scale. The only way to differentiate, he believes, is through reputation.

“Because no one can fully copy you. So that reputation and your ability to maintain that reputation ended up becoming us.”

How does a good reputation resonate in the business world? Through the relationships professionals build.

Band points to a study of banking customers in Germany and the relationship they have with their bank. “They found that when a customer is referred by another customer, there’s a 25% higher contribution rate, so referred customers become better.”

Relationships Paved His Own Career Path

Band started out as a software developer, eventually leading a team at an intelligence agency. In 2009, he struck out on his own, creating a software design and development firm called skeevisArts.

It was there that he started thinking more about relationships and how they can make or break a career—or a company. But he also found that maintenance and development of those relationships was tough.

“I would meet people for coffee and two weeks later completely forget who they were. So, a lesson learned for me was, ‘Okay, well, what’s the right thing to do, here? Well, how can I solve this with software? How can software help us build and maintain better relationships?’”

And that’s how Contactually started. With the help of fellow co-founder Jeff Carbonella, he developed a platform to organize and automate personal contacts in order to maintain and build relationships that he knew were so critical.

They brought on Tony Cappaert as the third co-founder to lead business development. Both Cappaert and Carbonella were connections Band already had. Carbonella was a lead engineer at Band’s consulting firm, and he had gotten to know Cappaert through the local community.

He started small, not really thinking about building a company but more fleshing out an idea. They initially decided to focus on real estate agents, who rely heavily on relationships to sell homes and build their business.

In 2011, they were chosen to participate in the 500 Startups accelerator program, where they raised their first venture capital.

“We quite literally had an apartment with three mattresses on the floor,” Band says, laughing.

Over the course of eight years, however, the company has raised $12 million in venture capital. It now has, according to Band’s personal site, “tens of thousands of customers, including eight of the top 20 real estate brokerages in the country.”

And Band practices what he preaches. To this day, he uses his own tool to maintain his professional relationships, keep up with current and potential investors, recruit new talent, and stay connected to the media and important influencers.

He even used it to develop a relationship with Compass, the national real estate company that acquired Contactually in 2019.

“Robert , the CEO, knew me well enough that he had absolutely no problem reaching out to me to say, ‘Hey would you be interested in a potential partnership?’ And that’s an  important thing, right? It’s not like companies just get sold overnight.”

Band now using all he’s learned about relationship building to mentor a new generation of entrepreneurs.

In 2010, he founded MadeInDC, which markets startups in the DC area and helps entrepreneurs get started. He is a co-founder and co-organizer of DC Tech Meetup, one of the largest tech meetups in the country. And he created DC Tech Summer, where over 550 interns apply to work at tech startups in the area.

That’s a lot of new, powerful relationships that Band is out there, helping to form. Not bad for an introvert.

Key Lessons in Nurturing Relationships

Throughout his career, Band has learned some valuable lessons about harnessing the power of relationships. He shared some of them with us.

On Starting a Business

Band tried to start a few companies before his success with Contactually, while he was still running his consulting firm. None of them really took off, and he realized it was because he was working on his own and only on the side. He wasn’t committing to their success.

This was true of nStructo, a backend-as-a-service tool he tried to get off the ground.

“With nStructo, we had no customers, we had no users, we had no team. It was just me. So it almost could exist in my head or it could shut down in my head and no one would know and no one would care. And so I knew that I needed to have a team around me.”

He realized how much he needed that team to keep him accountable and give him the discipline to invest time in his next startup venture.

On Identifying the Right Relationships

While cultivating relationships is the name of the game, Band stressed the importance of identifying the right relationships first.

To do that, he says, you first have to identify your goals, which will lead you to the right people to reach out to. He learned that the hard way when networking for his consulting firm.

“So, for example,” Band says, “I used to think that going to a lot of tech meetups and developer meetups was a great way of doing business.” But Band had to find companies in need of software services, not other developers.

“I was looking to work with a lot of design agencies, so I would go to design meetups and pitch myself as a software consultant. I would go to marketing meetups.”

By clarifying his goals, he found the right people to reach out to.

On Cold Outreach

While Band stresses the importance of cultivating current relationships, he does see merit in cold outreach to expand a network. But, he cautions, a generic or overly produced message will fall flat on your audience.

“Everyone is used to getting slammed with cold emails,” he says. “Therefore, if you write a cold email that actually stands out, or if you do it via LinkedIn or you do a handwritten card, or something that says okay...this person genuinely wants to talk to me or be of value to me, then I’ve actually found that people are pretty receptive.”

Also, he says, make the contact short and sweet. An email, for example should be no more than a few sentences that engage your contact directly. Asking a simple question of your prospect rather than talking solely about yourself can draw them in and send the message that you’re interested in a conversation.

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Laurie Mega 


Key Takeaways

  • How Band’s background in software development and challenges with building new relationships inspired the idea for Contactually
  • Why Band, despite being an introvert, believes in the power of relationships above everything else
  • The connection between relationships and reputation
  • Why Band and his co-founders decided to focus on real estate agents for their SaaS platform
  • From accelerator program to $12 million in venture capital
  • How Band practices what he preaches
  • The relationship with national real estate company, Compass, that eventually led to Contactually’s acquisition in 2019
  • How Band is using his relationship-building knowledge to mentor a new generation of entrepreneurs
  • A sneak peek into his book about relationship marketing, Success Is In Your Sphere
Direct download: FP289_Zvi_Band.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:34am AEST

Erik Bergman’s entrepreneurial journey started with trading hockey cards on the playground.

When Bergman realized that owning coveted sports memorabilia made him feel valued and won him friends, he became obsessed. As he got older, his focus eventually shifted from trading cards to making cash.

After a brief stint as a professional gambler, Bergman co-founded a website consultancy firm called Catena Media in 2012. The affiliate-based marketing company focused on the online gambling industry and eventually IPOd at €160 million.

Despite achieving the wealth Bergman had relentlessly chased since his youth, he was still unhappy. So he set out to learn the true path to fulfillment and eventually found deeper meaning in his life through charity work with his latest project, Great.com.

Check out this interview to learn more about Bergman’s journey to finding happiness and the most important lessons he learned along the way.


Key Takeaways

  • How trading hockey cards instilled a sense of entrepreneurship in Bergman from a young age
  • Bergman’s brief stint as a professional poker player
  • Why Bergman and his best friend Emil Thidell launched a gambling-focused website consultancy agency
  • From making side-hustle money to officially launching Catena Media
  • How strategic website acquisitions helped Catena Media skyrocket
  • The long and difficult road to IPO
  • Why Bergman found himself in a dark place, despite his newfound wealth
  • How Bergman became involved in charity work and discovered his “splash of color”
  • The inspiration behind Great.com
Direct download: FP288_Erik_Bergman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:58am AEST

Richard Li puts customer service above all when it comes to his luggage company, July.

This unfaltering commitment is why he personally makes house calls to address complaints and why he recently hand-delivered packages after realizing that some customers wouldn’t receive the luggage they ordered in time for the holidays. But this high level of service is only a small piece of Li’s success story with July.

Li, who has previous entrepreneurial experience from his furniture company Brosa, has also figured out a “magic” formula for manufacturing, marketing, and selling physical products. He used this knowledge to grow July from $0 to $5 million in revenue in just a year. And now he’s looking forward to opening up additional retail stores, introducing more products, allowing for more luggage personalization, and expanding into international markets in 2020.

If you want to learn more about what it takes to launch and scale a business that revolves around a physical product, be sure to give our interview a listen!

Also be sure to check out our latest online course, Ecommerce Masters, where Richard Li is one of the five instructors teaching advanced ecommerce skills.

ATTENTION: We're excited to announce that Richard Li has partnered with Foundr to teach one of the modules in our course, Ecommerce Masters. Get on the Free VIP Waitlist to be notified when we open enrollment!

Get a FREE Lesson from Our Course: Ecommerce Masters! Learn the FASTEST Path to a Million-Dollar Store


Key Takeaways

  • The opportunity Li saw in Australia’s furniture market that led him to launch Brosa
  • Why he stepped back from Brosa after five years to focus completely on his new direct-to-consumer luggage company, July
  • An overview of July’s funding journey, go-to-market strategy, and first sale
  • The journey from $0 to $5 million in one year
  • How to find a manufacturer that can grow with your company
  • Why Li offers July customers a 100-day trial and lifetime warranty
  • The rules of product development that Li follows
  • Why Li decided to follow the direct-to-consumer trend of opening up a physical store
  • July’s four growth pillars for 2020
  • Li’s best advice for entrepreneurs building a business around a physical product
Direct download: FP287_Richard_Li.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:28am AEST

Rob Ward always seems to be one step ahead.

Before Kickstarter took off, Ward and his co-founder Chris Peters launched two successful campaigns on the platform, funding Opena and Quad Lock—the two products that led to the founding of Annex Products. Then Ward was early to the Shopify game, which he successfully used to sell his products for several years. Ward was also quick to see the potential of Facebook Ads and has used them to scale Annex to a multimillion-dollar business.

This ability to spot trends, paired with his finely-tuned approach to product development, has helped Ward find tremendous success as an entrepreneur. While Opena is no longer active, Quad Lock has become a leading device mount and accessory company, serving a wide variety of users—car commuters, motorcyclists, kayakers, even hang gliders. As a result, Quad Lock sells hundreds of thousands of units each year in over 100 countries.

We’re now thrilled to have Rob Ward as one of the five instructors of our latest online course, Ecommerce Masters, teaching advanced ecommerce strategies.

If you’re curious to learn more about Ward’s approach to trendspotting, product development, and more, we highly recommend you check out this episode!

ATTENTION: We’re excited to announce that Rob Ward has partnered with Foundr to teach one of the modules in our course, Ecommerce Masters. Get on the Free VIP Waitlist to be notified when we open enrollment!

Get a FREE Lesson from Our Course: Ecommerce Masters! Learn the FASTEST Path to a Million-Dollar Store


Key Takeaways

  • An overview of Ward’s prior entrepreneurial experiences with everything from laser machines to 3D printers, and how they helped him get to where he is today
  • How he and his co-founder, Chris Peters, founded Annex Products in 2012, building on two successful Kickstarter campaigns
  • Why the duo decided to eventually focus their resources on Quad Lock
  • How Ward stays on the cutting edge and predicts trends
  • Insight into Ward’s approach to the product development process—when to start thinking about the next product, the iterative process, and more
  • Why Ward isn’t too worried about Quad Lock copycats
  • Why Ward doesn’t believe in following other people’s blueprints for success
  • A sneak peek into the module Ward will be teaching for Ecommerce Masters
Direct download: FP286_Rob_Ward.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54am AEST

At 27, Chase Dimond is already considered a marketing veteran. In addition to overseeing the marketing teams of various companies, Dimond has also founded many of his own ventures, such as Soundjuice and ZenPup.

His most recent company is Boundless Labs, an agency that focuses on email marketing for ecommerce—with a special focus on CBD companies. Thanks to its modern and human-centered approach to emails, Boundless Labs acquired 30 clients with six- to eight-figure revenues in a little over a year.

Dimond has also secured mind-blowing results for those clients, such as sending emails with 40% to 70% open rates (compared to the industry average of 20% to 25%) and helping companies generate 20% to 30% of their total revenue with emails.

If you’re looking to master the art of email marketing, this podcast episode with Dimond is a great place to start! He gives us a sneak peek into the best practices he uses with his own clients at Boundless Labs, along with other helpful insights.


Key Takeaways

  • How Dimond got his start in marketing, growth, and acquisitions
  • An overview of Dimond’s ventures, from CBD pet products to a social media platform for musicians
  • Why Dimond decided to launch his email marketing agency, Boundless Labs, and how he scaled from zero to 30 clients in a year
  • How design sets Boundless Labs apart from the rest
  • Dimond’s perspective on email marketing as a source of revenue for his clients
  • The importance of the human touch when it comes to customer retention and acquisition
  • How Dimond achieves a 40-70% open rate on customer thank-you emails
Direct download: FP285_Chase_Diamond.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am AEST

Nick Shackelford used to be a goalie for the American pro soccer team, LA Galaxy II. So how did he end up being an expert in the online ad space?

After leaving the soccer league at the end of 2015, Shackelford felt limited by his career options—either training people or playing in a low soccer division—and decided to take the road less traveled instead. He gained experience in paid social media through an internship at PepsiCo. and a stint at a digital marketing agency.

Shackelford used the knowledge he gained to start his own fidget spinner business called Fidgetly. This was where he further cemented his paid marketing know-how and also mastered the art of scaling quickly without breaking the bank. Even after the close of Fidgetly, Shackelford continues to put his knowledge to good use by helping brands through his online marketing, branding and consulting company, Structured Social.

Whether you’re looking to learn more about scaling, media buying, or paid advertisements, Shackelford is your guy. Make sure to check out his interview to take a deeper dive into these fascinating topics!

Key Takeaways

  • How Shackelford went from pro soccer player to intern at PepsiCo.
  • His experience working on paid social media campaigns for the iPhone 7, iPad Pro, and the Apple Watch
  • The rise of fidget spinners, and how this trend helped launch his own business Fidgetly
  • The discovery of Shackelford’s superpower: scaling via paid marketing
  • An overview of Shackelford’s work with various brands after closing Fidgetly
  • How he helped one company clear $10.7 million in sales in 35 days using online ads
  • Shackelford’s best advice for 6-figure businesses that want to accelerate growth
  • The traits of a good media buyer
  • A sneak peek from Shackelford into the new Foundr course he’s teaching
Direct download: FP284_Nick_Shackelford.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:45am AEST

Gideon Shalwick believes there’s one trait every entrepreneur needs, and it’s not persistence, a strong work ethic, or creativity. It’s self awareness. His own desire to better understand himself has led him down a winding road of serial entrepreneurship and self-exploration.

It’s what first inspired Shalwick to drop out of the 9-to-5 club early in his career, move to another country with his wife, and start fresh. The pursuit of his true calling led him to publish a successful ebook in 2006, and two years later, develop a blogging training product that boasts over 40,000 subscribers. Meanwhile, Shalwick was also building up a personal brand as an expert in video marketing.

But his journey didn’t stop there. In 2012, Shalwick founded video captioning service Splasheo, which has become a major source of passive income. He followed that success in 2014 with Veeroll, a SaaS company that automates the production of video ads for YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, and now dominates the video advertisement space.

While Shalwick saw great success with these companies, he found that tug of self-discovery pulling at him again. He realized he had become so caught up in the startup world that, in the process, had forgotten who he was.

So he decided to walk away from the projects he spent over a decade building. Now, he’s in a period of self-rediscovery and is sharing his entrepreneurial wisdom with others while plotting his next move.

Starting Over

Five years into his career, Shalwick decided to start over, for the first time. He had graduated with an electrical engineering degree from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and immediately recognized that he didn’t enjoy working for someone else.

In an attempt to try another path, Shalwick got his master’s degree in engineering management, which focused more on the people side of business. Still, he felt frustrated by his job.

“I don’t think there was any job in the world that would allow me to live out my potential the way that I wanted to, so I felt really stuck,” Shalwick says.

He turned to his wife and suggested that they quit their jobs, move to Australia, and start from scratch.

At first, the plan was for Shalwick to find a job in Brisbane as their ticket in. But three months later, he still hadn’t found employment. He asked his wife to try applying for jobs as well and,  within a week, she had three offers. While this allowed them to successfully relocate, Shalwick still had no idea what to do with his own career.

Millionaire Secrets

Shalwick began reading books on entrepreneurship, with the hope that they would point him in the right direction. It was Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which talks about the importance of building up an asset, that eventually struck a chord. Shalwick wondered how he could build up his own asset and started to explore a variety of options.

He considered everything from franchises to a dog-washing business, but ultimately ended up attending a book-writing course that gave him his first taste of entrepreneurship. In 2006, Shalwick wrote and sold a personal development ebook for $47. The title? Millionaire Dropout Secrets.

“I blush when I think about the title, but I have an excuse,” Shalwick says. “The course taught us that titles with the words ‘secrets’ and ‘millionaire’ in it do really well. So I came up with the title Millionaire Dropout Secrets...I wrote it as a reporter, looking at everyone who dropped out of the system and became successful.”

The ebook was a huge success. The instructor who taught the course offered to help promote the product to his database of 10,000 people. An email was sent out on a Friday night and, by Saturday morning, Shalwick’s ebook was selling like hotcakes. In fact, he sold enough copies to where he felt extremely optimistic about the idea of selling digital products from the comfort of his home for the rest of his career. Shalwick was on cloud nine.

Until one day, his ebook ran out of steam.

Video Ventures

After the initial rush of sales, Shalwick’s ebook experienced virtually no traffic for two years. Because he had little experience with business building, traffic generation, or customer relationship management, he had no idea how to bring his sales back to life.

But Shalwick knew he could learn by tapping into the expertise of others, so he purchased a camcorder and decided to start interviewing people on video to better understand how to set up successful online businesses.

Shalwick snagged his first interview at an industry event, where one of the speakers agreed to talk to him. Over time, this was the formula Shalwick used to eventually collect five gigabytes worth of video interviews. He planned to upload them all to a membership site, but before he could launch, the sheer size of the files ended up killing his PC and the project never got off the ground.

But all the effort wasn’t for nothing. Shalwick became close friends with one of his video interviewees, and together, they launched a product called Become A Blogger (a course for those who are just starting out with blogging or looking to take their blogging to the next level) in 2008. Within the first two weeks of launching, the business had over 10,000 subscribers and an income of over $20,000 per month. This was life changing for Shalwick, who had been making no money for the previous two years.

That business gave Shalwick the exposure he needed to start building up his own personal brand, as he took to YouTube to teach people about building successful video products and online businesses. His channel grew to 36 million views and 360,000 subscribers, and the name Gideon Shalwick became widely associated with the video marketing space.

Changing Priorities

When Shalwick and his wife welcomed their first daughter in 2010, everything changed.

“I realized...what if something happens to me? Then what’s going to happen to the business and income for the family? So I decided I’d better change tactics.”

This dawning realization is common for entrepreneurs who build personal brands. Shalwick believes the most important thing is to know yourself and understand the benefits and drawbacks of each type of business.

For instance, personal brands are simple to start up, have low overhead costs, and make it easy to build a connection with your audience. But as Shalwick realized, the trouble is that a personal brand can’t survive without its creator.

If you have a personal brand, Shalwick recommends looking at other ways to build assets that can run independently of you. This could mean investing your income in other wealth vehicles or creating a separate product or service.

That’s the reason Shalwick decided to launch his human-powered video captioning service, Splasheo, in 2012. To this day, it still functions without Shalwick and serves as a passive source of income for his family.

A few years later, Shalwick decided to venture into the SaaS space. He initially wanted to set everything up through Splasheo, but decided it would be cleaner to create an entirely new entity based in Singapore. And that’s how Veeroll was born in 2014. This SaaS company was created to automate production of video ads for YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. The idea came from the nine years Shalwick had spent in the video marketing industry, where he constantly heard about the biggest pain point in the market: the production and editing process.

Because this software so directly addressed a source of frustration for video marketers, Veeroll quickly became a leader, and today is a million-dollar company.

The Hunt Continues

Despite the success of Veeroll, Shalwick decided to sell his shares and walk away from the company earlier this year. Working in the world of SaaS was intensely challenging, he explains, even for someone with a technical background.

He recounted the time he reached out to Clay Collins at Leadpages for advice when he first started Veeroll. Collins told him, “There are a million things, and you have to get them all right.” While Shalwick didn’t understand what he meant at the time, he grew to appreciate the truth behind this statement.

But it wasn’t just the technical aspects of the SaaS business that were overwhelming. As Shalwick describes, he was also burned out by a high-stress environment, brought on from pursuing extremely aggressive goals. That’s when he recognized how easy it was to get caught up in the wrong things and lose sight of what’s important.

So he decided to step back once again, and focus on rediscovering himself.

Shalwick has spent a lot of time contemplating his life’s vision. He believes that for each of us, this vision is guided by an “unconscious drive,” what some people refer to as their “why.”

He discovered after much reflection that his unconscious drive is for significance. All of his actions had been driven by a desire to prove himself. He was embarrassed by this realization at first, because it felt superficial, but he came to embrace it over time.

Now that he understands this reality, he has made an intentional effort to channel his drive from achieving significance for himself into helping others feel significant. For Shalwick, this has been a huge game changer and has made the vision for his life much clearer.

“As entrepreneurs, you really have to get to know yourself,” Shalwick says. “Each of us has a unique capability and gift or talent we can give to the world. But it’s conditioned away by society...and it’s a real challenge to rediscover that again. When you can rediscover that and find your true why, then everything becomes a lot easier.”

The Formula for Successful Video Ads, From Gideon Shalwick

Shalwick uses the AIDCA formula to ensure successful video ads that consistently convert customers. Below is a breakdown of each component of the formula:

A = Attention. The first part of the formula is all about grabbing people’s interest with a hook. According to Shalwick, one of the most effective ways to do this is to identify your audience’s biggest pain point then turn it into a question. For instance, if your intended audience is video marketers, you may ask: “Are you struggling with video editing?”

I = Intrigue. You can build intrigue with a story of open loops that draws people in and makes them want to keep watching. In other words, create a sense of mystery. This part of the formula relies on the Zeigarnik Effect, which states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.

D = Desire. Now it’s time to create desire around the solution. Shalwick recommends listing the benefits, features, and differentiators of your product or service to make it more appealing to your viewers.

C = Conviction. According to Shalwick, it’s important to provide as much proof as you can so the audience is convinced that the solution you’re offering actually works. This can come in the form of testimonials, social proof, or a stamp of approval from an authority figure.

A = Action. Finally, you have to ask people to do what you want them to do. This is where you insert a call to action and guide your audience in the direction you want them to go.

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Sophia Lee


Key Takeaways

  • Why Shalwick and his wife decided to quit their jobs and start over
  • How he got his first taste of entrepreneurship with an ebook (and why the title makes him blush to this day)
  • Why his ebook sales skyrocketed, then saw virtually no sales for two years
  • Shalwick’s journey to better understanding online businesses
  • How he built his personal brand in the video marketing space
  • Why the birth of Shalwick’s daughter made him reconsider the way he approaches business
  • The birth of Splasheo, and how it became a source of passive income for Shalwick
  • Shalwick’s successful venture into SaaS with Veeroll
  • Why Shalwick sold his shares and walked away from Veeroll
  • The importance of discovering your true “why” as an entrepreneur
Direct download: FP283_Gideon_Shalwick.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:10am AEST

How Clark Valberg and InVision are bringing founders’ creative ideas to life, and leading the way for remote workplaces.

Clark Valberg can tell you the exact date that his digital product design platform, InVision, launched. It was also his wedding day.

In hindsight, it’s telling that Valberg was able to successfully overlap these professional and personal milestones—InVision is known for its culture of work-life integration, with a 100% remote workforce nearing 900 employees. Eight years later, both InVision and Valberg’s marriage are still going strong.

When Valberg first launched the platform in 2011, it was meant to be a simple prototyping tool for his creative agency. Today, the company offers a full collaboration suite, InVision Cloud, that has redefined how companies design their products.

In addition to collecting over $350 million in funding and a being valued close to $2 billion—officially making it a unicorn—the startup now boasts over 5 million users and is the platform of choice for 97% of Fortune 100 companies, including major names like Amazon, Starbucks, and Uber.

Along the way, the company also redesigned the way its employees relate to the workplace, demonstrating early on just what’s possible in a remote company culture done right.

A Graceful Stumble

Before Valberg was known as the CEO of one of Silicon Valley’s most beloved tech companies, he ran a New York-based creative agency called Epicenter Consulting, from 2003 to 2011. It was a design and development shop that created websites for software companies. However, there was one issue their team consistently ran into when working with clients—incorporating feedback.

Valberg found it challenging to bring his clients along on the design journey, which meant that the first time they saw their website or app was after it had already been coded. That made the feedback process difficult and inefficient. This got him wondering: How could his team show designs to their clients earlier and more often?

That’s how the idea for InVision came to life. It was created to put all their designs into a platform where clients could see and comment on them — similar to how a Google Document allows multiple people to collaborate within the same project. This was a huge step forward compared to the standard method of sending out designs in PDFs or as screen shots.

Valberg had zero intention of turning this product into a standalone business. It wasn’t until someone inside his agency suggested sharing InVision with other companies that the thought even crossed his mind.

At first, Valberg resisted the idea. He figured people wouldn’t be open to drastically changing the way they worked with their clients. However, he was eventually swayed and put out feelers to see if people would bite.

As it turns out, people were interested. While Valberg was pleased with the response, it still hadn’t occurred to him to turn InVision into a full-time business. After all, his agency was doing extraordinarily well and bringing in $1 million in revenue each year. Again, fate stepped in and a designer Valberg worked with suggested raising venture money. And again, Valberg brushed off the idea.

However, the designer persisted and made an introduction to angel investor Daniel Wolfson.  Immediately, Wolfson saw the potential of InVision and connected Valberg to investors at FirstMark Capital. From there, a deal unfolded rapidly.

All of these events were, as Valberg puts it, a graceful stumble onto the path that he’s on today.

By the time Valberg secured his seed round of $1.1 million, users were signing up by the hundreds every day. This was when he realized that he needed to go all in on InVision. His wife took over his agency and successfully ran the business until 2018, while Valberg went through the next eight rounds of funding and elevated InVision to its esteemed status.

Ahead of the Curve

One of the characteristics that differentiates InVision from other companies is its 100% remote workforce. While the concept is more common now, it was considered bizarre back when the company first launched.

The idea originally came about as a talent hack. When the startup was in its early stages, Valberg and his co-founder, Ben Nadel, spent entire days taking engineers out to lunch to woo them into being their first developers. They quickly discovered how competitive the New York talent market was—especially with a behemoth like Google opening up their new office next door.

They sat down and asked themselves—what do we have to do over the next six months to be successful? They came to the conclusion that their focus needed to be completely dedicated to finding product-market fit and product development. However, they didn’t have the resources to address either of those priorities with the amount of time they were spending on recruiting. So they decided to hack it.

Valberg recalled working with many contractors at his agency. They were extremely talented but lived in far-off places, like Phoenix, Arizona. What if they hired those folks and let them stay where they were? Valberg reached out to the freelancers he worked with in the past and, instead of pitching a job, he pitched a lifestyle.

According to Valberg, it wasn’t the remote work that was appealing; it was the shift to life-work integration that his company offered. Valberg recognized that work-life separation wasn’t realistic in today’s society. Instead, he decided to focus on offering a flexible lifestyle that would allow employees to better integrate their work and home lives. The idea resonated. The co-founders hired 10 people remotely in less time than it would have taken to hire two people in New York.

“At the time, this was a big, scary idea. It’s a question about trading complexities. We can handle the complexity of this extremely challenging market and end up overpaying for talent that wasn’t necessarily the quality we needed. That feels like a war you can’t win. Or we could figure out this remote thing, which felt like a design challenge,” Valberg says.

Clearly, this strategy has been a huge success for InVision. The company is anticipated to reach 900 employees by the end of 2019 and doesn’t have plans to slow down. Valberg recognizes this as an inflection point in their growth, and he remains extremely conscious of the problems that may pop up from scaling, HR, and culture perspectives. However, he believes the advantages profoundly outweigh the challenges—and his team is ready to lean into any they run into.

Solving Problems With Bad Ideas

At a design-forward company like InVision, creativity is paramount. But even the brightest minds experience slumps and roadblocks. That’s why Valberg and his team have a secret weapon in their back pockets for any time they get stuck in a rut. It’s called “bad version.”

This phrase, which has become a cultural mantra at InVision, is a permission slip that says, “What I’m about to say might not be a great idea, but that’s OK.” Valberg says his team uses it whenever they hit a wall during brainstorms. Most of the time, the wall is a result of people holding back their ideas out of a fear of judgment. “Bad version” serves as a catalyst for the creative process and empowers people to share less-than-perfect ideas without fear of judgment.

Valberg recalls one time he was in a room with five other marketers, designers, and engineers. They were trying to figure out what to call the new plugin they created for Sketch and Photoshop, and they were stuck. To break the rut, someone said “bad version” and suggested the name Craft. The person who suggested the idea didn’t think it would end up being the name of the feature. But, as Craft users know today, it did. More importantly, it sparked the conversation and allowed the team to consider other options.

Valberg uses “bad version” at home with his wife too. He says it gives each other permission to not be right and asks the other person to help expose the best part of their idea. In other words, it’s a way of encouraging healthy conflict. This is a mindset Valberg hopes more people will adopt for work, life, and beyond.

“You probably have decent ideas that you’re just unwilling to share at that time for fear of judgment. That doesn’t make you an insecure person, that makes you a human person. … We become so fixated on arriving at the right answer, that we forget it’s a winding road.”

Clark Valberg’s 3 Tips for Scaling a Remote Workforce

  1. Take advantage of in-person time.

When the InVision team gets together in person, it’s not about getting work done—for them, the real work happens in the cloud. Instead, in-person time is used to get to know each better.

Valberg believes that sharing this experience positively translates to the online environment, which is why in-person gatherings are an important part of every remote workforce. That’s why InVision has an in-person all-hands once a year and encourages employees in the same cities to get together regularly.

  1. Consider time zones, but don’t be limited by them.

InVision is a truly global company. Its presence extends across the United States, South America, Europe, and beyond. Which means they have to take time zones into consideration. However, they don’t let those differences limit their teams.

For instance, InVision is mindful of not having geographically-bound teams work on projects together. So while they might not group an engineering team in Australia with one in San Francisco, that doesn’t stop them from hiring engineers all over the world.

  1. Use the right tools.

Of course, using the right project management software and communication tools is key to maintaining a remote culture. Valberg believes these tools can make remote cultures more efficient than working in physical places.

Consider the amount of time spent gathering people physically for meetings. People run late, dip in and out of the conference room, and have to quiet down before diving into the agenda. Whereas, tools like Zoom enable people to start meetings within seconds and allow everyone to take advantage of any dead time in between. “If I’m five minutes late to call you, you don’t have someone waiting and twiddling their thumbs doing nothing,” Valberg says.

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Sophia Lee


Key Takeaways

  • The biggest challenge Valberg faced while running his creative agency in New York
  • How Valberg created an in-house product to make the feedback process easier for his clients
  • Why he didn’t want to sell his product to the public, and what eventually swayed him
  • Valberg’s graceful stumble into securing his first round of funding
  • Why the official launch for InVision was also the most important day of Valberg’s life
  • InVision’s journey to unicorn status
  • The reason Valberg decided to make the company 100% remote, and how he scaled it to 900 employees
  • How the InVision team ensures employees never get stuck in a creative rut
Direct download: FP282_Clark_Valberg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am AEST

Joe De Sena, like many of us, is a fitness fanatic. But his approach to fitness is a bit more...intense than most.

De Sena used to participate in countless obstacle course races, Ironman events, and marathons around the world. But even those weren’t challenging enough for this hardcore athlete. That’s why, after wrapping up a decade-long career on Wall Street, De Sena decided to start his own adventure racing company.

The first race De Sena hosted was on the British Virgin Islands, and it didn’t go very smoothly. That race cost De Sena half a million dollars and resulted in a participant getting lost at sea for several days.

Thankfully, the races have evolved a bit since then—although are no less challenging—and are known today as the Death Race and Spartan Race, which are collectively a $60 million business that has revolutionized the world of obstacle racing.

Check out this interview to learn more about De Sena’s financial, mental, and physical journey to popularizing this global franchise.


Key Takeaways

  • De Sena’s decade-long stint on Wall Street, and how it helped fund his next venture
  • Why De Sena decided to start his own adventure racing company
  • How the very first race De Sena hosted on the British Virgin Islands went terribly wrong for one participant
  • The birth of Death Race and Spartan Race
  • Why De Sena never gave up on his company, despite losing $8 million in the process over a span of 15 years
  • How the network effect eventually helped the obstacle course races gain traction
  • The expansion of Death Race and Spartan Race to 45 countries
  • De Sena’s honest thoughts on work-life balance and what it takes to be an entrepreneur
  • A sneak peek into his latest book, The Spartan Way
Direct download: FP281_Joe_De_Sena.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09am AEST

Jeff Epstein paid off his law school student loans in an unconventional way.

When he and a couple of friends noticed the booming online poker sites in the mid 2000s, they created an affiliate company to refer traffic to them and get paid in return. The business did well enough that Epstein was able to sell his stake to his partners for a nice profit that helped him pay off his debt.

Epstein ultimately decided not to pursue law, but his entrepreneurial experience stuck with him. In particular, he recognized the power of referrals to help businesses gain more customers. As a result, Epstein eventually founded Ambassador, a referral marketing software that enables brands to build and scale referral, affiliate, partner, and influencer programs.

While the journey to growing Ambassador was far from a smooth ride, Epstein picked up many valuable lessons along the way that helped him grow as both a person and an entrepreneur. Eventually, Ambassador became successful enough that it was acquired by a large corporation.

Check out this interview to learn more about Epstein’s journey and hear him open up about his biggest mistakes, regrets, and lessons learned.


Key Takeaways

  • How Epstein used his poker affiliate business to pay off law school debt
  • What he learned about the power of referrals in the process
  • Why Epstein regrets acquiring his first SEO company, and what ultimately led to its demise
  • How this failure informed the idea for referral marketing software, Ambassador
  • Why it took six months for Ambassador to get a repeat paying customer
  • What it was like to run a “fat” startup
  • How Ambassador’s acceptance into Techstars helped the company take off
  • The growth of Ambassador and its stressful acquisition by West Corporation
Direct download: FP280_Jeffrey_D_Epstein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:33am AEST

Investing in the Future

How three women from Iceland launched Crowberry Capital, a Nordic venture capital fund seeking to support the next generation of creative entrepreneurs.

To be boldly creative, you often have to strike out on your own adventure. So that’s exactly what Hekla Arnardottir, Helga Valfells, and Jenny Ruth Hrafnsdottir did.

While working together at an investment capital fund, the three women noticed a pressing need for more early-stage funding in their region. The trio wondered if they could not only meet that need, but also create something exciting and visionary by launching a private fund of their own.

In 2017, they took the leap, and set out to launch Crowberry Capital, a Nordic venture capital fund with its sights set on supporting creative technological advancements in spaces ranging from gaming to health.

No matter the field, their goal was to help young and promising Nordic companies (in Iceland and Sweden) grow into global brands. And just two years later, they already have 10 startups under their wing.

There were, of course, many steps in between the launch and the fund’s present day success. For one, before a fund can start scouting new talent to back, it needs a whole lot of cash to invest in the first place.

Cold Calls

As you might imagine, launching a venture capital fund isn’t cheap. But you might be surprised to learn that venture capitalists don’t necessarily need to have their own personal wealth to get started (although it certainly helps). VC firms offer financial and other forms of support to early stage companies with high potential for growth, often deploying assets from other sources—wealthy individuals, banks, other investment funds, etc.

Although Arnardottir, Valfells, and Hrafnsdottir knew many of the institutional investors in Iceland and had impeccable reputations, they still found themselves cold calling smaller investors. They even spread word through the media that they were launching the fund.

“We went out early in the process to the local media and said we were going raise this fund,” Hrafnsdottir says. “So we sort of got it out in the open. Of course, that increases the risk that if you fail, you fail publicly, but we took that risk.”

Although they acknowledged the risk, for them, failure was never an option.

“That’s why it’s great to be three,” Valfells says. “There was always at least one optimist.”

That process of raising capital also gave the team a fresh perspective on life as an entrepreneur.

“It made us more empathetic toward entrepreneurs, because you realize you just have to cold call rich people you’ve never met and say, ‘Would you like to invest in my fund?’” Valfells recounts with a laugh.

Being on the “selling side,” as she puts it, helped them to recognize more clearly what it takes to pitch effectively and reemphasized the importance of passionate energy, lessons they carried forward into choosing where to invest once the fund was up and running.

But despite the daily strain of cold calling for investments, Valfells says that living in Iceland took away much of the stress others might experience in their position.

“There’s a great safety net,” Valfells says. “Everybody has access to childcare and school and healthcare, so I think you’re willing to take a risk with your professional life because you know there’s a safety net that catches you.”

She says that this safety net makes walking away from stability much easier and, because of that, creativity is free to flourish. And by extension, people are more liberated to do what they love.

“I think we’ve all made sacrifices in the sense that we’ve turned down higher paying jobs and jobs with more security, but it hasn’t been a sacrifice because this is what we love doing,” Valfells says.

After six months of phone calls and meetings, they had raised $40 million, and Crowberry Capital was ready to take flight.

Comfort in the Chaos

When the time came for the trio to begin investing in up-and-coming companies, they weren’t just focused on the products coming across their desks. Instead, they took the time to learn as much, if not more, about the minds behind the products.

“Everybody wishes to invest in bold, creative, and hardworking entrepreneurs,” Valfells says, “but I think that one part of the process with us is we get to know the entrepreneurs really well and really see the ones that can kind of do things to move the needle.”

By taking everything into account, from the passion behind the pitch to the willingness of the entrepreneurs to leave jobs behind and throw themselves entirely into their projects, the three founders of Crowberry Capital single out investments with staying power.

“It’s about finding the comfort in the chaos,” Hrafnsdottir says. “I think the ones that really go with the flow and are determined with their mission manage to prosper at this early stage.”

They also consider how the entrepreneurs plan to enter the market, draw attention to their product, and brand themselves. Essentially, they have an eye on the creative spirit that exists within a team.

“It’s becoming more important than anything, because in this age of artificial intelligence it’s really important that we as people build up our and social intelligence,” Hrafnsdottir says. “These are the things AI is never going to bring to the table.”

Arnardottir also says that they pay particular attention to what kind of team the entrepreneurs surround themselves with, citing gaming companies as being particularly talented at building stellar teams. Do they communicate well? Do they represent a diversity of skillsets? These are the questions the trio talks over before choosing to invest.

Valfells even noted that she’s seen particular success when it comes to going global when a team is international from day one.

“Having a diverse, international background helps build an international company,” she says.

But, while they try to find teams and companies that can thrive and grow internationally, they aren’t just on the hunt for the next unicorn.

“I think there’s a risk in the world today that unicorns overshadow a lot of good businesses that can give investors great returns,” Valfells says.

She explains that, while unicorns are great, they also keep their eyes peeled for racehorses: companies that won’t make a massive splash but will never fail as they faithfully speed forward into the future.

And the future is where all three women have fixed their sights.

Planning for a Digital Future

In an increasingly digital world, Crowberry Capital has chosen to focus on businesses that are focused on building a better future within that reality.

“We invest in technology that we believe is changing the world for the better,” Valfells says, “and that makes you feel really happy and good about your job.”

For example, Travelade provides online travel guides curated from the recommendations of locals, and Aldin is an immersive VR company. They’ve also welcomed Monerium, an e-currency supported by blockchain technology, and Kind, a virtual communication tool for the healthcare industry, into the fold.

They are also very mindful to choose companies they will want to work with for years, because Crowberry doesn’t just offer seed money to startups. They also plan to support businesses through B and even C round funding, with up to $6 million set aside for each company as it grows over the 10-year lifespan of the fund.

So, Arnardottir explains, if one of the three founders is more passionate about a company than the others, she takes point on guiding that business while the others serve more of a support role.

But no matter how passionate they are about a business, they are very careful to let the entrepreneurs make the big decisions.

“I think it’s very important that we are hands on and not hands in,” Valfells says. “For us, it’s very important that we’re backing teams that are really good at execution and are in the operations, and we’re more like sounding boards and mentors.”

So, as the trio behind Crowberry Capital presses forward into the future, searching for the final five investments they plan to make, they are excited to lead another generation of Nordic entrepreneurs onto the international stage as creative innovators who will change the world.

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Erica Comitalo


Key Takeaways

  • The pressing need Arnardottir, Valfells, and Hrafnsdottir noticed that inspired the idea for their Nordic venture capital fund, Crowberry Capital
  • Why the trio relied on cold calling and local media to launch their venture capital fund
  • How raising $40 million in capital made the founding partners more empathetic towards entrepreneurs
  • How living in Iceland relieved some of the pressure of taking a professional risk
  • Why Arnardottir, Valfells, and Hrafnsdottir keep their eyes peeled for “racehorses” in addition to unicorns
  • The reason the founding partners take so much time to get to know the entrepreneurs they invest in
  • The difference between hands on versus hands in
  • Why Crowberry Capital chooses to focus on businesses that are building a better digital future
Direct download: FP279_Crowberry.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:56am AEST

Konrad Bergström and X Shore have set out to change the boating industry, one electric motor at a time. 

Timing is everything for Konrad Bergström.

So when he first got the idea for X Shore in 1996, he trademarked the name immediately, but didn’t launch the company he had in mind just yet. It wasn’t the right time.

Bergström wanted to build safer boats, but he realized that the boating world was lagging behind the automobile industry when it came to details and design. Instead of forcing his dream, he chose to wait.

Over a decade later, inspiration to launch his boat company struck once again, but this time the dream had become bigger. With the world beginning to fully embrace electric vehicles, he wanted to build and sell a sleek, top-of-the-line, 100% electric marine craft.

“This makes actually more sense on the water,” Bergström says. “Because it’s an open area where you are getting fumes, and you are getting noise disturbance, and it’s actually taking more energy to drive in the water.”

Twenty years later, in 2016, X Shore developed its first working prototype. Today, Bergström and his team are ready to change the world’s view on how boats are powered. Not only do they hope to reduce pollution and the impact on wildlife with their electric engines, but they also hope to improve the overall boating experience for the consumer.

But long before Bergström would design his first boat, he started with headphones.

One Journey Ends, Another Begins

If you ask Bergström, he’ll say that he’s never experienced what a real job is like. He’s just experienced different ideas.

From an early age, Bergström has had an entrepreneurial spirit and a knack for creativity. At just 16, he moved to New Zealand, launching a distribution company for windsurfing gear called Thule Roofracks, among other projects. However, his greatest achievement was founding Zound Industries in 2008, where he served as its president until April of 2019.

While at the skateboarding fashion company WeSC, Bergström helped the brand to create a line of fashionable headphones. Wanting to take the concept one step further, Bergström founded Zound and turned it into an electronics giant, specializing in headphones and speakers. The company created many popular headphone brands such as Urbanears, and held licensing deals with audio behemoths like Marshall.

During his 10 years as president of the company, they would go on to sell over 20 million products in 135 countries. Despite the strong sales, Zound and Bergström parted ways over differences on the direction of the company.

“I always think that things happen for a reason,” Bergström says. “So I have moved on and I wish them all the luck. And I did build a fantastic company, so that’s never gonna go away, even if I don’t have any ownership anymore.”

The separation from Zound allowed Bergström to give all of his attention to X Shore, which had gained new life in 2012 after Bergström saw the rise of Tesla and its technological advances. With the electric revolution for automobiles well underway, he felt that concept of the electric boat would also take off.

“We started the electric product in 2012, and basically, I thought it was going to be easy,” Bergström says. “Looking at the internet at some lithium batteries and some engine, like, how hard can it be?”

Very hard, as it turned out.

Over the next four years, the team would work on the concept before completing their first working prototype in 2016. And although it took years longer than he anticipated, Bergström was glad that they went through the growing pains.

“That one, by the way, looked like crap,” Bergstorm says about the initial prototype. “Sometimes, an idea on paper is very far from getting it industrialized. So it takes time, especially with such a big product, to go through all the details and find solutions that economical, so you can have the margins and survive as a company.”

Let the Other Guy Build the Tech

Bergström and X Shore don’t want to recreate the wheel. Rather, they just want to right the ship.

With Tesla and other companies openly releasing their electric technology, Bergström didn’t feel the need to develop his own tech for boats. Sure, he’d have to develop some things on his own, but for the most part, why not use what’s already out there, he figured.

“X Shore, of course, has some of its own technology,” Bergström says. “But basically, we are piggybacking on the automotive industry.”

With armies of engineers grinding away on this type of technology, which is changing all the time, it made more sense to have others advance the technology and for X Shore to translate it into a marine environment. Not to mention, this approach helped their bottom line.

“Instead of having like 100% of the development cost, say that we are paying like 3%,” Bergström says. “But it’s still a lot of money. … We have the first mover advantage of building a new segment, but we are not driving the technology.”

The approach has also allowed X Shore to keep its staff smaller, which includes not having an in-house engineering team. That’s basically unheard of for an innovative company such as this. X Shore has partnered with automotive giants such as BMW and Rolls Royce to help find the best solutions for maximizing speed and driving range.

Despite not having an engineering team in house, it doesn’t mean that X Shore is done innovating. They still have a lot of work to do in order to become a leader in the marine industry.

“We spent around 50,000 engineering hours so far,” Bergström says. “And I think that we are going to have to spend another 50,000, so it’s a total of 100,000 engineering hours.”

Next Up

Bergström is excited to start selling boats and shipping them, starting sometime next year. More importantly, he’s ready to bring more awareness to X Shore, which includes unveiling the third generation of its product in January.

When he first started to openly share the idea of an electric boat, the reception wasn’t warm. Now he feels, the timing is finally right. Proof lies in the company’s recent investment campaign, which raised €1.5 million.

“With a product like this, I needed the car electric revolution to go first,” Bergström says. “When I talked to people in 2012 and said that I’m going to do an electric boat, they are like, you are crazy. But now when we are at the tradeshow, everybody is like, oh that makes sense why didn’t anyone do it earlier.”

Even if people are still skeptical about the concept, however, all they’ll need to do to become convinced is take a ride.

“Once you experience the power of silence, you never go back,” Bergström says. “It’s truly amazing.

Tips for Inspiring Creativity

Konrad Bergström has built a career around opportunity and creativity. A founder of multiple businesses, he’s always kept his eyes open for new concepts and has kept his ideas free flowing. Since 1980, he’s created businesses that ranged from snowboarding contests to stereo headphones. Bergström now is onto his next adventure, X Shore, where he hopes to change the world of boating by making it greener and quieter.

If you’re in a creative funk, here are three tips from Bergström for inspiring creativity:

Be Patient

Bergström initially wanted to start the boat company in 1996, so much so, that he trademarked the name X Shore before actually creating the company. Unsure of the direction he wanted to take, he waited until 2012, when after witnessing Tesla’s new technology with electric cars, he was inspired. It only was then that he knew wanted to build boats that were fully powered by batteries.

If at first you don’t find the right concept you feel comfortable with, especially when it comes to creating a business, be patient. Pursue other interests, and along the way, you may get the inspiration you were looking for in the beginning. Even if it takes 16 years.

But Also Be Persistent

“It took me a long time on different things,” Bergström says, “But sometimes, time is what you need because when you can think things over and over again, it does make you come to better conclusions, especially when you work in design.“

X Shore launched its first working prototype in 2016, nearly four years after officially moving forward on building an electric boat. However, just as Bergström was patient in coming up with the initial concept for the company, he was also very persistent when it came to the design and functionality of the boat. He wanted everything to be just right before releasing it to market.

Look Around You

Bergström was raised in a home of creative individuals. His mother was a theater director, his father was an engineer, his grandmother exposed him to nature, and his grandfather was an innovator in medicine with over 200 patents. Wherever he looked, he saw a creative role model.

However, according to Bergström, you can be inspired anytime and anywhere. You don’t have to be from a family full of creative individuals. It’s more about exposing yourself to different environments, people, and settings. You just have to “change rootings” as Bergström puts it. You can draw inspiration from playing with children, products you’re buying, or even the food that you’re eating.

“You just have to open your senses to make the right choices when it comes to creativity,” Bergström says.

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Nick Allen


Key Takeaways

  • The series of unconventional jobs Bergström held from a young age
  • Why Bergström trademarked the name X Shore in 1996 but didn’t launch it for two decades
  • How Zound Industries took over Bergström’s life for 10 years, and what ultimately led him to walk away from the company
  • Why Bergström decided to let the electric car revolution play out first
  • The growing pains that came with creating a working prototype for electric boats
  • How X Shore piggybacks on the automotive industry
  • Bergström’s plans to start selling and shipping X Shore boats in 2020
Direct download: FP278_Konrad_Bergstrom.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:04am AEST

Content in a Flash

How Grant Munro and Flashstock created an agile solution for on-brand, custom photo and video—and reaped a big windfall.

For Grant Munro, nothing felt right.

He had always aspired to start his own business, but never knew what to pursue. He went on to work for larger companies as a software developer and product manager, but those paths didn’t feel quite right either.

Despite not having an explicitly creative background (what with coming from tech and software development), Munro finally found a pursuit that excited him—helping brands express themselves creatively.

He first came upon the opportunity after major clients he was working with at a creative boutique kept asking for help with creating custom visual content. As photo and video on social media were taking off, and major brands were seeking solutions for creating unique content, Munro realized it was time to start his own thing.

“It got to the point, I was like well, if I’m gonna to start a company, this seems like a pretty good one,” Munro says.

Good turned out to be great. In 2014, Flashstock was born, and it was perfectly timed to the rise of Instagram as an advertising platform.

As a leading custom content creation company with a global network of freelancers and contributors, Flashstock’s proprietary platform allowed hundreds of brands across the Fortune 500 to streamline on-demand visual content (think photos, videos, GIFs, and so on). With its steady growth, unique software, and a list of high-profile clients, Shutterstock acquired the Toronto-based company in 2017, after it had been in business just four years, for $50 million in cash. Flashstock was subsequently rebranded as Shutterstock Custom.

However, had it not been for a former employer making a change to its business model, Flashstock may never have come into existence.

This Seems Like a Good Company to Start

After those early stints at major companies and acquiring his MBA, Munro took his first steps into the startup world, joining a boutique social media agency in Toronto. That’s when he really started to find some joy in his work.

With his experience in product development and software engineering, he joined the company’s product team with the hopes of coming up with new ideas to increase their SaaS revenue. Along the way, he learned that he enjoyed the customer development process, and understanding clients’ pain points and problems.

As the company’s product business grew and it became established as an early player in social media management, the team realized that they no longer wanted to focus on traditional creative agency services, such as content creation.

“They viewed that as something that wasn’t a good type of revenue that they wanted to continue, so they discontinued offering it,” Munro says. “And because we were providing content mostly for social at the time, and some digital stuff, the clients were very unhappy about this.”

Munro was surprised by his clients’ reactions. Although this shutdown may have provided a temporary inconvenience, he assumed that someone else would simply take over their content production, maybe another agency.

That wasn’t the case.

The agency had created a formula for creating low-cost, quick-turnaround content for social media, and clients loved it. They didn’t want to see it go away, and they kept asking Munro for different solutions around content, despite the agency no longer providing the service.

Realizing that these questions would never go away, and that companies were not finding a solution for their content production, Munro got creative and took a risk.

“I ended my role there and then sort of rolled over and started Flashstock pretty much the next week,” Munro says. “And went to some of the early clients from the previous company that had requested help on the content side and offered up a solution that would basically connect them, through some software that I wrote, directly to freelancers all around the world.”

By acquiring early customers and refining the product, it provided Flashstock with some growth and sustainability early on, but not without some changes.

Visual Identity Calibration

When Munro initially started Flashstock, the positioning for the company was that it was an alternative to stock photos and videos. The messaging was working with marketing agencies, but brands were not as interested. Munro knew he had to change it up.

As Instagram was making some changes and starting to take off, Flashstock’s positioning went in a new direction. It was no longer just an alternative resource for stock imagery—it was now a place where brands could go for help in telling their stories in unique ways, using differentiated content, but at a much lower cost.

More brands started to buy into this concept, recognizing that creating custom content on a large scale posed a great challenge. Major corporations didn’t have the time to find freelancers and manage the creative process, so they need needed a service to do that for them. They needed Flashstock to do this.

Munro first and foremost needed to come up with a way for a brand to communicate in a non-ambiguous way what it stood for and their target audience. And most importantly, all of this needed to be presented in a way that a freelancer could understand, despite never meeting the client.

“If you’re a big organization, it’s usually okay , because when you’re creating content, you’re usually with the people that are creating it,” Munro says. “But when you’re in this networked world where you’re communicating through software and you’re never talking to people, that level of ambiguity breaks the system. So we needed to come up with a way to solve that, frankly, for our own survival.”

The solution?

Something Munro calls visual identity calibration.

This phrase describes a system in which a brand enters its information and describes its identity to Flashstock, and then the Flashstock team puts the brand through an exercise to pin them down on the right details. The end product is a well defined set of creative variables, which Flashstock then provides to their freelancers to create new, on-brand content.

The system garnered great feedback and has been praised for its innovation in solving this communication pain point. So much so, that some companies have even used a lot of these tools internally to communicate with each other, according to Munro.

Power of the ‘Gram

Around 2014, Instagram really began to open up its platform for anyone to be able to post and create company pages, and major brands wanted to get in on the action. In order to fully take advantage of it, brands would have to post often, but on the cheap for it to make sense for them financially.

This was right up Flashstock’s alley.

“Every organization wanted to be on the platform, but because there was no paid promotion behind it, they wanted the cost of the content to be as close to zero as possible,” Munro says.

This demand allowed Flashstock to be able to acquire new clients regularly, as many brands wanted to create content for Instagram, but not many agencies were offering this custom service at an affordable price. With Flashstock, brands could log in to the platform, find contributors around the globe, and receive on-brand content in a timely fashion.

“I was really able to complement what a traditional creative agency was doing and not really be a competitive threat because they didn’t want to create that type of content,” Munro says, referring to custom content at low cost.

Soon thereafter, Instagram turned on its ad platform, allowing brands to really promote their content that they made native for the platform. Once Instagram flipped this switch, it really took off as an effective place for brands to advertise, and Flashstock’s growth took off with it. The rest, as they say, is history.

The company grew extremely quickly, and within just four years of operating, was acquired by leading stock photography company Shutterstock.

Today, Munro is the senior vice president of Shutterstock Custom, where he has been since Shutterstock acquired Flashstock back in 2017. The division operates as its own unit, where it continues to provide major brands with quick, authentic branded content.

As for Munro’s future, and whether he’ll ever return to entrepreneurship, he’ll never say never.

“Right now, I’m still with Shutterstock and I plan to be with Shutterstock for some time,” Munro says. “When you’re a startup, you’re out there doing it alone and sort of fighting for your life, and then when someone takes you into the fold like Shutterstock has, they provide you with a ton of resources. So, we’ve got a bunch of unfinished business that we have left to take care of.”

3 Tips For Scaling A Creative Company

When Grant Munro decided to start Flashstock, he was learning everything in real-time. Building a company culture and fostering creative talent were all new to him. Fortunately, Munro was a quick learner. He found the right formula for success and company growth, and in just four years, sold Flashstock to Shutterstock for $50 million.

Here are three of Munro’s tips for scaling a creative company.

Know Your Customer

During a stint at a startup, Munro learned how much he enjoyed the process of customer development and understanding what a company’s pain points were. By really diving in deep and talking with his clients about their problems, or even understanding your own company’s problem, it becomes easier to think of novel solutions, or to have “aha” moments.

When you’ve invested the time into knowing the problem and understanding the ecosystem of that problem, you open yourself up more to those flashpoints of creativity and resolution. If you don’t spend the effort doing customer development, you’re making it harder on yourself, maybe not now, but later.

“I feel like a lot of that gets overlooked at companies of all sizes,” Munro says. “Where they almost have to reinvent the wheel every time they want to launch a new campaign because they haven’t created that discipline around customer development.”

Go Chat With Someone Who’s Done It

When a person sets out to create a product or scale a business, they tend to focus first on what they’re good at and what interests them. And if there is a challenging task ahead that may be intimidating, it is quite natural for them to put it off and go back to working on something they’re good at. This can stunt the growth of your business and make it hard to scale.

Munro suggests that if you’re struggling with a component of your business, or need some guidance, go talk with someone who’s done that task before.

“When you talk through your current priorities with people who have sort of done it and been there, they can help you recalibrate those ,” Munro says. “And they can help you say, ‘No, no, you don’t need to write another line of code, or you know, you don’t need to tweak your designs anymore. What you need to do it is set up your accounting software.’”

Define Your Core Values and Mission

Flashpoint’s growth was very, very fast.

Within the company’s first few years, they had grown to around 80 people, so they had little time to set up any processes, let alone establish values or have a clear company mission.

It was when he was repeatedly asked questions about the company’s future, and he realized he didn’t have a hand in the interview process with some key employees, that he felt it was time to create a company mission and values.

With the help of a third party to facilitate a retreat, Munro and key members of the team came up with Flashstock’s mission and values. And immediately, he saw results across the company. It would help them formulate an employee handbook, and to use these values in the hiring process.

“It simplified everything,” Munro says. “We would reference them all the time. From a creativity perspective, people feel really comfortable, people feel really consistent, people feel really welcomed their ideas based on the culture and that sort of frees up their thinking.”

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Nick Allen


Key Takeaways

  • Why the creative boutique Munro worked at stopped offering custom social media content creation
  • How this decision left his clients with an unmet need and led him to launch Flashstock
  • Why Munro pivoted the focus of Flashstock
  • The problem Flashstock solved for brands looking to tell their unique stories
  • How Flashstock’s “visual identity calibration” works
  • The impact that Instagram’s growth had on Flashstock’s business
  • Flashstock’s rapid growth and acquisition by Shutterstock
  • Why Munro doesn’t plan to return to entrepreneurship any time soon
Direct download: FP277_Grant_Munro.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:27am AEST

Rise of the Urban Beardsman

How Eric Bandholz challenged the stereotypes of bearded men and built a booming community with Beardbrand.

Eric Bandholz didn’t like being put into a box.

In his former life as a financial advisor at a big bank, for example, he was expected to fit the stereotypical facade of a banker—suit, tie, clean-shaven.

He didn’t like it, so he quit.

With his newfound freedom, Bandholz embarked on an entrepreneurial journey, all while sporting a fresh, full beard. While he loved his rugged new look, he noticed it was happening yet again. This time, he found himself stuffed in a box with the likes of ZZ Top and the guys on Duck Dynasty.

Of course, Bandholz didn’t identify with any of these well-known bearded figures either. And he began to realize that other full-bearded men from all walks of life didn’t fit this mold either.

“I ended up going to this event where I sort of meet other guys like me, like stay-at-home dads and ministers, salespeople, doctors, lawyers, who are all rocking beards and they didn’t really fit the traditional stereotype,” Bandholz says. “So I was thinking about it. … Who are these people? How do I describe them?”

Seeing there was a broad community of bearded men without a home to call their own, Bandholz founded Beardbrand in 2012. Along with co-founders Lindsey Reinders and Jeremy McGee, Bandholz created a community where bearded men could unite, evolving later into a full-fledged lifestyle brand complete with their own beard care and styling products.

With an army of loyal followers on social media, which includes a YouTube channel with over a million subscribers, Beardbrand has grown into an “upper seven-figure business” with ambitions to reach eight in the near future.

Bandholz has come a long way from his suit-and-tie-wearing days.

In the Beginning

In 2011, Bandholz was working for Merrill Lynch in Spokane, Washington, as a financial advisor. It was a respectable career that had a bright future and potential for growth, however, it wasn’t a future he saw for himself once he was in it full time.

Although he loved the work of financial advising and investing, it was stuffy atmosphere and the overall “bank life” that Bandholz knew was not for him. Not wanting to spend another moment in a job that wasn’t a good fit, Bandholz packed up his portfolio and moved on.

The next move?

With a background in marketing prior to his career in finance, Bandholz founded Sovrnty, a startup with a mission to help companies set up marketing automation. Although he had great plans for the business, it never took off.

“I was like one of those gurus. I’d never done it, right?” Bandholz says. “So I’m telling people to do something that I had never really done.”

Unable to sell businesses on his idea, he shifted Sovrnty’s focus to something that he was good at, which was designing and building WordPress sites. Although he was getting some business, it still wasn’t enough. He was pulling together around $2,000 a month at Sovrnty, but he was mainly relying upon his wife and her full-time job to keep the lights on.

Always searching for new clients and ideas, Bandholz was a regular at networking events. And at whichever event he attended, he was always getting called out as one of those cliched bearded figures.

The light bulb went off.

If he didn’t like to be lumped into the stereotypes about bearded men, there had to be others who felt the same. These guys weren’t lumberjacks, roadies, hillbillies, or hipsters, but how exactly would he characterize them? What would he call them?

He settled on “urban beardsmen.”

And in 2012, Beardbrand was born.

The first thing to launch was the blog, Urban Beardsman, which would become a place where Bandholz could help foster a community and connect with other men who didn’t fit the Grizzly Adams stereotype. Beardbrand would soon follow, an organization that united that community of urban beardsmen. There they could also find the tools they needed to feel confident about their beards and personal styles.

But getting from simple blog to full-fledged business proved to be a difficult task.

Startup Weekend

Although Bandholz was still working at Sovrnty to help make ends meet, he had high hopes for Beardbrand. However, a clear vision on how to grow this new community was nowhere in sight.

“Aw man, it was terrible. It was just terrible,” Bandholz says. “There was just no strategy at all in those early days.”

The community was growing, but it was hardly going viral. He was posting regularly to Urban Beardsman, had a Tumblr page, and posted some videos to YouTube, but nothing was really taking off.

Despite its middling traffic, the blog was the only one of its kind back then, which by default made Bandholz an expert on the topic of beards. Because of its uniqueness, the Urban Beardsman would catch the eye of a reporter at The New York Times who was writing an article and wanted to quote Bandholz.

As Bandholz waited for the Times article to be published, he convinced friends Reinders and McGee to join him and collaborate at a Startup Weekend, where they could share their ideas on potential projects. They originally came together to work on a different startup idea that Reinders had, but it soon became clear that they didn’t have the capabilities to create her software product in house.

Needing a new business to work on, Bandholz proposed his side project.

“I was like, hey, I got this Beardbrand thing and this New York Times reporter is going to quote me in an article,” Bandholz says. “Why don’t we turn that into something?”

And turn it into something they did.

Reinders and McGee were on board, and in 2013 the business arm of the company was born. Without much capital to start making their own products—they only put $30 into the business at first—the team opted to become an ecommerce company that sold beard oils from a vendor with standard retail markups.

“When the New York Times article posted, we were able to get a couple sales,” Bandholz says. “And I think the first month we did like 900 bucks in sales. And then it was kind of like 900 bucks, 1,000 bucks, 600 bucks … 2,000 bucks, 3,000 bucks, 7,000 bucks. And then it just seemed like we got a lot of momentum into that fall season and holiday season.”

After almost seven years in business, which included an appearance on Shark Tank (spoiler alert: they didn’t get a deal), the momentum is still going strong. Beardbrand continues to grow in community, employees, and revenue, and is now located primarily in Austin, Texas with about 15 team members and 120 products sold through their website.

Bandholz, whose main focus is on the creative direction of the company, still has major plans for the future of Beardbrand. They intend to try their hands at branching out to create their own custom barbershops, where they can create the same experience a customer may see in a Beardbrand YouTube video. They do this by not only creating an amazing barbershop environment, but also by hiring the right barbers and stylists and coaching them on the information a customer is looking for when they sit in the chair.

“[Customers] can to go Great Clips or they can go to their local barbershop and get a really good haircut,” Bandholz says. “But what we want to deliver is that education similar to how we deliver it on our YouTube Channel.” 

Whether it is through their popular YouTube videos, blog, or even future barbershops, Beardbrand will always work towards its core mission.

“We’re not just here trying to sell products for vanity,” Bandholz says. “We believe that when you invest in yourself, you become a better person and you make the world a better place. You live longer. … I feel this responsibility that I’ve got to get that message out there as much as possible so that we can make the world a better place.”

3 Content Marketing Tips for Bootstrapped Startups

When Eric Bandholz first started Beardbrand, cash was minimal. He was still working at his first company, Sovrnty, and was building Beardbrand on the side. They knew that they didn’t have the money to pay for marketing, but what they did have was their time to invest in content marketing. Bandholz knew that with the right content and strategy, they could reach millions of people.

“Content marketing was essentially our only option in those early days,” Bandholz says. “We didn’t have cash to put into the business. So it started with sharing our story on Reddit. It started with, you know, reaching out to people on Twitter and sharing our product with influencers and not paying them for it.”

Being proactive with their content marketing strategy in the beginning was a key component of Beardbrand’s success. Here are three tips to help your startup bootstrap using content marketing.

Get Started, But Be Patient

Without a marketing budget, Bandholz turned to content marketing to help draw eyes to Beardbrand. It was cost-effective, with the bulk of the investment being his own time to create the content.

The trick was not only to post content and to post it often, but to also know that in the beginning, you won’t get much of a return on your investment. Content marketing is a long-term play. The first step is to just create something. Anything.

“While it does build up over time, it also doesn’t do anything in the beginning,” Bandholz says. “And you really have to like… stoke that fire and get it going. And you get it going by creating, you know, 20 or 40 or 50 pieces of content that start to build that foundation.”

Do What You Like To Do

With so many different funnels and channels to produce content for, it can be intimidating on deciding where to start. According to Bandholz, the type of content you should produce first should be for the channel you’re most interested and passionate about.

“I think you look at yourself and what you like to do,” Bandholz says. “Are you more of an audio person? Then maybe podcasting’s the way to go. Are you more of a writer, you know, introvert? Do you like to express yourself through words? Then blogging is a great way to go. Then, of course, if you’re narcissistic like me…then video is a great source for you.”

The more passion you have for a certain medium, the more likely you’ll churn out content and stick to the long-term plan.

Understanding Expectations

Not all content is created equal, and it’s important to understand the goal for each piece of content you create. At Beardbrand, they use the sales funnel model, where their “content at the top” is there to bring awareness to the brand, the “middle” is used to introduce the products, and the “bottom” hopefully helps to turn the reader into a buying customer.

“Sometimes we have content that is there to inspire people,” Bandholz says. “You know, it’s not going to drive any sales. It’s just there to help build awareness to the brand. And then other good content is stuff that drives sales and gets engagement, or gets people talking and spreading the word.”

By diversifying the types of content you create, you enhance your chances of attracting different types of readers and content consumers on different platforms. As Bandholz says, as a creator, you don’t know exactly what part of the funnel really “helped them become a customer.” For instance, the customer may have first learned about your company through a YouTube video, but it was perhaps the blog or an email newsletter that really got them to trust you and that turned them into a paying customer.

Whichever type of content strategy you decide to implement, one thing is for certain—just get started. You never know who is reading.

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Nick Allen


Key Takeaways

  • What drove Bandholz from his career as a financial advisor
  • Why his first startup Sovrnty failed to take off
  • The lightbulb moment that inspired Bandholz to launch Beardbrand
  • How Bandholz leveraged content marketing to grow his business on a tight budget
  • The struggle to grow the community into a full-fledged business
  • How Beardbrand eventually caught the attention of The New York Times
  • The partnerships that helped Bandholz start selling beard grooming and styling products
  • From investing $30 into an ecommerce business to making 7 figures
  • What Bandholz envisions for the future of the company
Direct download: FP276_Eric_Bandholz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:46am AEST

The dramatic tale of how Marc Merrill and Brandon Beck set out to make a better video game, and changed the industry with League of Legends.

Marc Merrill and Brandon Beck were typical college roommates. They went to class. They studied. They played video games. OK, a lot of video games.

But they also shared an avid interest in business, including the business of their favorite hobby. So while other gamers helplessly yelled at their screens when a glitch popped up or they felt burned by an expensive new sequel, Merrill and Beck thought up ways they could fix these shortcomings—ways they could make the industry and the gaming world better.

Today, the duo co-chair Riot Games, a video game company that places a unique focus on the needs and experiences of gamers. As their signature game League of Legends approaches its 10th anniversary, it operates in 19 languages worldwide, has inspired a line of Marvel comics, and holds competitive tournaments, with the latest championship drawing nearly 100 million viewers.

How does a free game that can only make money through selling virtual goods become such an enormous business? The answer is in the radical vision for gaming that Merrill and Beck strongly believed in, and were determined to realize—even if it meant challenging game publishers, investors, developers, and themselves.

As Merrill tells it, the story of how they pulled it off is legendary.

From Passion to Plan

“We had two shared passions,” Merrill says. “One being gaming—we were both incredibly hardcore gamers, and we loved playing games with each other—and the other being business.”

Merrill and Beck were studying business at USC and, although they spent every spare second gaming, they never imagined it would lead to a career. Even as they worked toward their “responsible, adult jobs,” they constantly bounced ideas off of each other, dreaming up ways to solve the problems that irritated them most as gamers.

After they graduated, and Merrill moved into a career in banking and Beck went into consulting, they continued the conversation in their West Hollywood apartment.

They, and many other gamers like them, found the current model of game development frustrating. The industry ran on new releases, sending gamers to retailers to buy endless $60 sequels to beloved games. Meanwhile, those who played the games didn’t actually want a brand new game or a sequel to what they were playing. Instead, they would have preferred updates, new features, and new adventures to appear in the game they already loved.

Was there, Merrill and Beck wondered, a way to create a game that first and foremost served the wishes of gamers, rather than the needs of retailers? One that could grow over time with the players?

They sensed that the video game industry was headed toward a significant disruption, and as the days passed, they began to realize they might be the disruptors.

“We, as passionate players of games, had identified that we felt really underserved at the time,” Merrill says, “and so had a whole thesis about how to go create a company that solved a problem that we deeply felt.”

So, when the twentysomethings weren’t working diligently away at their respective day jobs, they drafted a business plan for a new kind of game. But they were nervous about taking the plunge, and they wanted to be sure this was something they could see all the way through before moving forward. So they asked themselves three crucial questions.

Was there a demand for what they wanted to build?

Could they build it?

Would they be able to find the necessary capital to turn their dream into a reality?

The moment they felt comfortable answering yes to each of these questions, they charged forward and, in 2006, Riot Games was formed.

Establishing Credibility

The creation of something revolutionary is never easy.

“We’ve had many catastrophic circumstances that should have torpedoed the company,” Merrill says.

From day one, they knew that overcoming their lack of credibility was going to be the biggest challenge in creating the game they were imagining.

“Knowing what we know now, we literally wouldn’t have invested in ourselves back in the day,” Merrill says. “We ironically believe that our naïve optimism was one of the incredibly important ingredients for success.”

Experienced developers were hesitant to join the team because of Merrill and Beck’s inexperience and lack of funding. Meanwhile, shrewd investors were skeptical about hopping on board due to their inexperience and lack of experienced developers. But Merrill and Beck moved forward anyway with the best they could recruit, and they strove to build credibility.

At one point, they tried to bring someone on board as CTO and executive producer who had thrived in the industry for years and even had a publishing background. But as the three of them worked to recruit talent for the business, Merrill and Beck soon realized that they didn’t quite gel with their new teammate.

They felt more drawn to interns who lacked experience, but understood the vision of the game and had great potential. Meanwhile, the senior staffer tended toward experienced developers the co-founders would not have chosen themselves.

Because they didn’t want to come off as overpowering, micromanaging founders, Merrill says they let the developers work freely. But this soon created a serious problem. Merrill says they discovered that the lead developer had plans to steal the company and had been secretly pitching his own version of the game to other publishers.

The cultural divide Merrill saw growing within the young company, punctuated by this betrayal, inspired the co-founders to become far more hands on with their business.

“That was a really galvanizing event that helped teach Brandon and I that when experienced individuals say, ‘Trust me, because my 20 years experience in this particular industry or this field means that I know what I’m talking about,’ it’s really important to say, ‘Well, enlighten us,’” Merrill says. “If somebody can’t articulate a good rationale for whatever it is they’re doing, even if it’s a deeply technical concept, that’s a red flag.”

Merrill and Beck righted the ship, took a more active role, and set out toward building a game demo that would illustrate their idea to investors and publishers. But after constructing the demo, they realized they didn’t have the internal talent yet to fully realize the game they envisioned.

So they established an advisory board, through which very experienced, talented developers could gain free shares in the company by mentoring Riot Games’ young developers, without leaving their full-time jobs.

Over time, the relationships with those on the advisory board grew. While initially, those developers would have said no when invited to join the the team, things began to change. “As that equation changed, those eventually turned into yeses,” Merrill says.

With each new, experienced addition to the team, the game development leaped forward with new input and inspiration for the junior talent, pushing the limits of what was possible for the company.

While the game slowly took shape, they started approaching publishers with the idea. Unfortunately, Merrill says, every publisher they spoke with believed the concept of a free battle arena game that generates revenue through in-game purchases was insane.

“Our whole business model was very unproven at the time,” Merrill says, “because our game was planning to be free, and we were literally selling virtual goods.”

Because of this, they realized they were going to have to publish the game on their own. And that was going to require some serious cash—$20 million, in fact.

“We had no idea if we were going to be successful until spending about $17 million of other people’s money and bringing the product to market and then starting to get validation,” he says.

This made investors nervous, and Merrill says that 50 VCs turned them down before Benchmark and FirstMark Capital decided to come on board at $7 million. Riot Games was given the first half of the investment up front, with the second half to come after they had conducted a 1,000-user beta test.

The only problem was that in 2008—before widespread smartphone adoption or cloud computing—the technology was not yet in a place to support the user base they anticipated for their game, meaning they had to build that, too.

After briefly partnering with a startup in an attempt to outsource the creation of the necessary backend, they were $1 million poorer and no closer to what they needed. So, in the second half of 2008, they worked to build the platform internally from scratch.

With only three months of funding left in their account, Merrill says they hired 1,100 people in the Philippines to beta test the game in internet cafes. The test was successful, and Riot Games lived on.

Charging Toward Launch Day

But Riot Games’ potentially catastrophic struggles were not in the rearview just yet. With launch day rapidly approaching, Merrill, Beck, and the 55-person team prepared to self-publish in North America and to publish in Europe through a licensing deal with GOA, a division of Orange Telecom. They even had a set “ship date” despite the downloadable nature of the game, to try to build credibility with media outlets skeptical of the level of quality found in most free games.

Everything was ready to go. At least it seemed like it was.

Rather than building the store feature of the game themselves, Merrill says they had hired an online store provider to handle the construction and management of the in-game shop. But as the beta tests progressed, the store struggled to keep up with growing demand. They tried removing unneeded features, but it made little difference.

The store was the hinge on which the door swung. It was the only way for the free game to generate revenue, and it housed the players’ in-game wallets and account systems, meaning that without the store, players wouldn’t have any content.

Because of this, Merrill was eventually forced to conclude that, once again, it would be better for them to build something of their own from scratch that could meet their needs. He reached this decision two weeks before Oct. 27, 2009, the set launch date for League of Legends.

It was time to get creative.

To buy themselves the time necessary to build the store, the game started with a “launch party,” during which all players could access all of the game’s content for free. The strategy worked well, attracting tens of thousands of players to the game, and once the shop was introduced, the paid content began immediately generating revenue.

But Merrill says that the main reason League of Legends succeeded wasn’t their ability to attract new customers. It was their ability to retain them. So when the game continued to grow steadily in North America but remained stagnant in the European market, they had to take a closer look at what was happening underneath the hood.

In North America, Riot Games made players feel heard, addressing their concerns with regular two-week patches. The European publishing partner, however, was unable to meet this same level of service, and Merrill says this is what caused the stagnation.

So they immediately set to work unwinding the deal they had made with GOA, and then had 45 days to create a European entity, build an office, hire staff, create servers, and get the whole operation rolling so that gameplay in Europe would go uninterrupted.

Despite the hassle, the change made all the difference.

“We were able to operate differently and demonstrate why quality service matters because the second we took it over, we started growing,” he says. “Then, Europe started growing faster than North America.”

Slowly but surely, month over month, League of Legends gained an avid fan base until it became the worldwide sensation it is today.

But there was one more dream Merrill and Beck wanted to try to bring to life.

A New Kind of Sport

Both Merrill and Beck grew up loving and playing sports in the same way they loved and played video games.

“We always believed that competitive online games of a certain type had all of the same dynamics that ‘real sports’ did,” he says.

They knew that someday, a game would become an arena sport just like basketball or football. So why not theirs?

In July 2010, they introduced the first significant update to League of Legends called Season One. With this update came the concept of singles and team rankings. This enabled them to launch a tournament system that would end in a final tournament in Sweden for a $100,000 cash prize.

Interest in the tournament exploded as gamers battled for the crown. But Merrill says the realization that this could actually become something big came not from the competitors, but from the fans.

During their first end-of-season tournament, over a million viewers tuned in to watch.

“For us, that was validation of, like, ‘Wow, a lot of people are like us and really do want to watch games played at a competitive level.’”

From that moment, the esports aspect of Riot Games grew rapidly. They established leagues worldwide and a world cup system similar to soccer.

Today, they operate 13 leagues across the globe and hold their World Championship in the Staples Center, home of the LA Lakers. Merrill says there is even a player in China sponsored by Nike and that their most recent World Cup had more than 99.6 million live viewers, besting the viewership ratings for the Super Bowl.

“As a League player, there’s always something to watch,” he says. “There’s always something to talk about. There’s interesting drama between teams. There’s players and pros to aspire to or to become fans of. There’s events that are happening all around the world.”

Podcasts have sprung up analyzing players and teams, and fans cheer on players from their country the way they would with any other sport.

Merrill says that about half of League players will never spend a cent in game, but that’s OK with him.

“Our business is fundamentally about keeping players entertained and engaged over the long term,” he says, “and our view is that the only way to really do that is by delivering incredible value to them.”

And if they don’t buy in-game items, they might buy one of the ancillary products, like the comic line currently running through Marvel. Or they may simply tune in for big events to cheer on their favorite players.

While they work to further establish esports leagues, Riot Games is also striving to improve every aspect of the game itself. Merrill says that, since launch, they’ve redone every aspect of the game multiple times, improved their tools pipeline, overhauled their engine, and expanded their team to 3,000 globally.

They are also looking into the creation of new games.

“Riot is Riot Game right now, we’re not Riot Games,” he says. “The ‘s’ is still aspirational.”

But Merrill knows that there is so much more to come for the video game company he and his college roommate founded to solve the woes of gamers like them.

“We really feel like we’re just getting started.”

Marc Merrill’s Tips for Building a Successful Business

When founders set to work on their first companies, they are faced with a whirlwind of concerns, needs, and potential goals. But Marc Merrill believes these four items should be at the top of every early-stage founder’s to-do list:

Set a Clear Mission

“Having a deep sense of purpose and mission can really carry you through the darkest days, and also carry you and your team to great heights.”

Build the Ideal Team

“In our view—and I think in many businesses—the team is by far and away the most valuable asset. So getting the right people, building the right culture, being thoughtful about mission and purpose…those are all really important things to evaluate when building a team.”

Establish a High Level of Trust

“I think Riot’s success has largely been fueled by incredible people who are very committed to our mission and are willing to acknowledge mistakes and learn rapidly through failure because there’s a lot of trust.”

Don’t Get Discouraged

“You’re going to have days where you feel like you can take over the world, and there are so many possibilities, and then other days where you’re like, ‘Oh my god, how are we possibly going to solve this problem. We’re so in trouble.’”

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Erica Comitalo


Key Takeaways

  • How Merrill and his roommate Brandon Beck mixed their love of business and video games
  • The frustrations the duo had with game development industry
  • How the co-founders overcame their lack of credibility in the industry
  • A betrayal that changed the way Riot Games was run
  • How a strategic advisory board solved their talent acquisition challenges
  • Why game publishers and VCs alike weren’t on board with Riot Games’ business model
  • The creative problem-solving that made the launch of League of Legends a success
  • How Riot Games exploded the world of esports, leading to 13 leagues around the world
  • The hunt for the next big video game
Direct download: FP275_Marc_Merrill.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:44am AEST

Turning Obsession Into Success

Real estate mogul Grant Cardone explains his obsessive approach to business, and his 10X Rule for goal-setting.

Grant Cardone, a self-made real estate mogul, sales and marketing trainer, and bestselling author, credits his success in life to persistence and an obsession with being the best. That, and his time working at a car dealership.

“The first real job I had was my sixth job,” he says of the gig. “I was fired from my first five. Fired from my sixth job. I was fired six times, but I wouldn’t leave the last job. I just would not leave.”

Part of the reason Cardone’s bosses kept getting so fed up with him was that he was a terrible driver. Not a great quality when working in the car business, as he kept smashing up the merchandise. But his relentlessness made up for it.

“I would wreck their cars and they would fire me,” he says. “And then before I would leave, I would go sell something and they would keep me on. Selling something was always forgiveness.”

By the time Cardone finally did leave, he was the highest-grossing salesman at the dealership. He was the first one there in the morning and the last one to leave at night, his goal always being to make himself indispensable to the company. And to make a lot of money.

So yeah, Cardone is, well, obsessive. Coming up from nothing, financially speaking, he quickly learned that was the way to rise to the top. It’s helped him achieve his lifelong goals to make money, have a successful career, and help people along the way. Now, Cardone’s exploring that approach to life and business with his new book, appropriately titled Be Obsessed or Be Average.

The Origins of Obsession

In his book, Cardone writes, “I didn’t have a father who could lead me to the land of the rich, lend me a million dollars for my first real estate deal, assist with political connections through introductions at country clubs, or show me the ways of business.”

His fate was forged, instead, by the tragic death of his father when Cardone was just 10 years old. Until that day, he had watched his father work hard to provide for his wife and his five children, starting a variety of businesses, from opening a grocery store to starting a life insurance company, and finally becoming a licensed stock broker.

His father’s “drive and his obsession,” as Cardone puts it, were inspiring. And when he died, leaving the family behind to get by on their own, Cardone became obsessed himself—with the idea of creating enough wealth so he would never worry about money again.

But his was a winding path to success. He carried around a lot of anger about his difficult situation, and fell into the wrong crowd in high school. He started smoking and drinking. He got into a lot of fights and a lot of trouble. By the time Cardone graduated, he writes in his book, “I had a massive daily drug problem.”

He did go to college, however, fulfilling a promise his mother had made to his father. He graduated with an accounting degree after what he called “five long, miserable years.”

At 23, he was broke and still doing drugs every day, just barely getting by at his car dealership jbo. “I was 20 pounds underweight and had a gray complexion, thanks to the drugs,” he writes.

At 25, his mother gave him an ultimatum: get clean or never come back. Cardone checked himself into rehab, and although he says it didn’t address the underlying problem, he discovered he could get by without drugs. He vowed to never touch them again and to use his “addictive personality” to his advantage.

Turning It Around

After rehab, his boss gave him his job at the dealership back, a move that Cardone says probably saved his life. He worked harder than any other associate, and doubled his earnings in the process.

“It wasn’t until I figured out how to make somebody else rich that I could be rich,” he says.

Cardone finally left his sales job at the car dealership and moved to a sales consulting firm. “I treated my little department as, ‘This is my company within a company.’ And I wanted to make that company as a strong as possible,” he says.

When he left the firm to go out on his own, it was because he felt there was no more opportunity to grow. So at 29 he started his first company, Cardone Automotive, a sales consulting business for the automotive industry. By 30, he’d already made his first million, but it didn’t come easy.

“That was a company where I was cold-calling other businesses across the U.S. and Canada.”

Cardone was working hard, doing what most entrepreneurs do and devoting all of his time to his business.

“I was just hustling. Everything was a transaction...to get money and pay the taxes and have a little bit of money left over.”

And even though his company was making money, year after year, Cardone knew he had to do more to become a true entrepreneur.

‘You’re Not a Business’

Cardone had never stopped to think about what an entrepreneur really is. Sure, he’d started a business and it was running smoothly, but he wasn’t reinvesting in it. He wasn’t thinking about marketing or expanding. Instead, he was following the old adage, hard work pays off.

“All I was doing was knocking on doors. It was pure effort. I wasn’t spending money. I wouldn’t spend real money until I was 50 years old, about 10 years ago, when a guy said, ‘Bro, you’re not a business.’”

Cardone knew it was time for a change if he wanted to achieve the kind of success he’d set his sights on. He had to rethink how to do business, how to expand, and how to get the word out.

“The first thing I did was flipped everything. I could no longer be sales first. I had to be marketing first. Marketing and branding. Because to me, a business is, I can walk away from it and it will still operate. I was a guy. I was no different than when I was 30, just pounding doors.”

That’s when he came up with the 10X Rule.

The 10X Rule

In 2011, Cardone published his personal business philosophy in his first book, called The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure.

The 10X Rule challenges readers to estimate the amount of time and effort it will take to achieve a goal and then multiply that estimate by 10. It also trains readers to think differently about what they can achieve in the first place.

Cardone writes that most people underestimate themselves and what they can achieve. If they identify a goal, say making $100,000 in a fiscal year, they should multiply that by 10.

“10X woke me up. 10X was not for the public. 10X was for me,” he says.

He created it because he was trying to figure out why, despite his success as an entrepreneur, he wasn’t growing the way he had expected.

“I work hard, I’ve got great products, I’ve got a great reputation, great reviews. People like me. They like my content. They like my content actually better than they like me. That might have been an exaggeration.”

Is 10X totally achievable? Not necessarily, but that’s not really the point of the rule. It’s to shake up the way you perceive what’s possible.

“It’s not achievable, but it’s worth it. You have four, five million dollars sitting in an account today. What if you had $50 million? It’s not achievable, but it’s worth going for it. It’s fun shit, man.”

Even if you can’t achieve 10X, anything you hit will surpass your original goal.

Investing in His Brand

Cardone started toward his own 10X goal by spending the money he made, reinvesting in his business, starting or acquiring new businesses, and making himself known across industries.

“People knew me in a particular industry. They didn’t know me in every industry. So the first thing that I took on was that I need to get people know me in every industry while I continue to knock on doors and pay my bills.”

He began by writing books and business programs, which got his brand out there while generating their own money. His next two businesses were sales education platforms, Cardone Education and Cardone On-Demand, online training seminars that established him as a subject matter expert and drew in revenue from large and small businesses alike.

He also started to grow his influence on social media.

“I started with one follower, just like everybody else, and I was the follower. My second follower was my wife because I created an account for her on YouTube and said you’re going to follow me.”

Currently, he has 6.1 million followers on Facebook, almost 395,000 followers on Twitter, 2 million followers on Instagram, and almost 1.2 million subscribers on YouTube.

“I’ve grinded for every one of those followers. And delivered content to them so I could scale out.”

His goal was to expand his reach beyond the U.S., and bring in a global audience for his 10x message. He now holds speaking engagements that attract thousands across the globe. He consults for major brands, and his videos on Grant Cardone TV get thousands of views.

Investing in Himself

The best business advice Cardone has ever received came not from someone in business, but from his mother, he once told CNBC. “She said, ‘The best investment you will ever make is in yourself. It’s a no-lose deal. It will always give you a return. Nobody can take it from you. It’s yours.’”

Cardone looks for every opportunity to improve himself, whether that’s a charity event that helps him build new relationships or a seminar that will help him acquire new skills or refine old ones.

“People should be invested in the beginning, just in themselves. Every chance you can get to go to something that could possibly help you. If it has a 1% chance of even adding to the value. Spend the money. Don’t sit on the money. Money’s useless.”

He eschews saving money or even spending it on something most people wouldn’t think twice about—buying a house.

“That’s the dumbest thing anybody could do. That’s the dumbest thing I ever did was buy a house. I bought a house and I didn’t improve myself. I spent more time picking furniture out than I did , “Hey, how do I fix me?”

What’s 10x for Cardone, Now?

So what’s the next big move for Cardone? Turning those millions into billions, of course.

“10x is how do I do a billion dollars a year in income? And then how do I do $10 billion in real estate? How do I have a $10 billion real estate portfolio? How do I start competing with these banks so they’re like, you know what? We really don’t like all this noise you’re making. You’re a noisy guy. And we’re kind of getting tired of it.”

Cardone’s ability to disrupt industries and make noise has landed him where he is today, as an influential sales trainer and real estate mogul.

He turned an obsession into a reality and used a quirk in his personality to create a global empire.

Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs

Cardone now runs five privately held companies, including Cardone Capital, an $800 million real estate company. His 30-year success as an entrepreneur has given him the unique opportunity to share insights with other budding business moguls. He shared with us some of his best bits of advice.

‘Make money your battle cry.’

“Make money. Make money. Make money your battle cry. Go collect money. Don’t make money, just go collect money. Have a great product. Have a great service. Over-deliver. Collect money. Charge for it.”

Put your team in the spotlight.

“If you notice, I show off my people a lot. I don’t keep them behind the scenes. I’m like here, let’s have more than the Cardone show. Why do I do that? Where did I learn that? Great companies.”

Don’t cling to your money—reinvest it.

“The first sheet of paper I get every day is how much cash I have. That’s not for bragging rights. It’s because I want to get rid of it. It’s like trash. I want to get rid of this money. Money is being devalued worldwide right now. I didn’t say I have no reserves, but I don’t need $167 million.”

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Laurie Mega


Key Takeaways

  • How the death of Cardone’s father shaped him from a young age
  • The winding road to overcoming drug addiction
  • Why Cardone was fired from his car dealership job six times—and why he kept getting rehired
  • How Cardone channeled his addictive personality into his work
  • The launch of Cardone Automotive, and how it got him his first $1 million in a year
  • Why Cardone decided to rethink the way he ran his business
  • What the 10X rule means, and how it can be applied to any aspect of your life
  • How Cardone leveled up his personal branding and became an influencer
  • Why Cardone is passionate about the idea of investing in yourself
  • A sneak peek into his latest book Be Obsessed or Be Average
Direct download: FP274_Grant_Cardone.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:14am AEST

How Jack Zhang and the Airwallex team built a billion-dollar company in just three years.

By the time he was 30, Jack Zhang had already launched more than 10 businesses, with interests ranging from coffee to real estate.

While many of them were successful, Zhang never got to the point where he left his full-time job.

“I just tried to do different things to see if I could achieve something or feel happy about what I was doing,” he says, “but I hadn’t really found anything I was passionate about.”

He certainly wasn’t afraid of the hard work and long hours that came from starting and sustaining businesses, saying that “work was never a torture.” Despite all that time and effort he invested in each startup, he ultimately felt that none of these businesses ever amounted to much more than a new way to make some extra money. Nothing ever became a greater purpose.

With a passion for technology and a love for writing code, Zhang longed to do something within the tech sphere that would have a real impact. Like so many serial entrepreneurs, he finally found a business he was passionate about by looking at his own personal pain points.

Zhang would become the co-founder and CEO of financial tech company Airwallex, which eliminates foreign transaction fees in an increasingly globalized world. In doing so, he’s created a company that, in just three years, entered the $1 billion club.

While the creation of a fabled “unicorn” company was far more nitty-gritty and far less magical than one might imagine, he still owes a little bit of his success to that almighty and mystical force: luck.

The Magic of the Perfect Team

The idea for Airwallex came from the difficulties Zhang and one of the co-founders ran into while running import businesses between Asia and Australia. Sending international payments through a payment service provider (such as PayPal) not only slowed the process but piled on an unpleasant foreign transaction fee.

So, with his background in tech and foreign exchange trading, Zhang and friend decided to tackle the problem themselves. They soon invited three other friends on board as co-founders, forming the Airwallex quintet: Jack Zhang, Jacob Dai, Ki-Lok Wong, Lucy Yueting Liu, and Max Li.

With $1 million invested between Zhang and his first co-founder, along with an additional $2 million from outside investors, they began creating the first version of their product, geared toward the SME (small-to-medium-sized enterprise) market.

“ believed in the team we had at the time, and believed in the company’s vision, and believed we were solving something quite important in the global scale,” Zhang says.

And as the business grew, so did the team. But Zhang says that as they hired new people, they presented an intentional hurdle to ensure that new additions were passionate about their vision. Every new hire was required to take a pay cut to work at Airwallex.

Zhang says that, for ambitious, passionate, top-tier talent, the money isn’t the deciding factor in where they choose to work. He believes they pay far more attention to whether the work aligns with their passions and if the scope of the work presents an exciting challenge. And these were the kinds of people Zhang wanted to hire.

“I still think that the people willing to take a massive pay cut to join you are the most fundamental people who really believe in the vision,” he says. Even with that condition, Airwallex was able to scale from 80 to 320 employees in just 12 months.

While hiring was going well and the business continued to grow, because the creation of Airwallex cost so much, they flew through the initial $3 million investment and needed another round of financing to go to market. Turns out, building an expansive, global financial network isn’t easy.

Hard Work and a Little Luck

“My personal experience is full of luck, really,” Zhang says, “but also we put an incredible amount of effort into the business in the first 12 months. Me and my co-founders slept in the office every day.”

They put in long days, but that gave them a familiarity with the product that only comes from an all-in, hands-on approach. And the challenges didn’t stop Zhang and the rest of the Airwallex crew. It only made their belief in the product grow.

“When you talk to investors, they can feel your genuine passion,” he says. “That honesty—that genuine transparency—about how you want to solve , and you can describe it in detail.”

Investors ended up putting in another $13 million raised, but they were still only able to cover further development of the product. So they decided to begin pursuing other opportunities that could bring in revenue, rather than focusing solely on the SME market. They created a suite of APIs (application program interfaces) that would appeal to much larger corporations, positioning themselves as more of an infrastructure company. But they were still living on borrowed time.

Zhang says that, for the first two-and-a-half years, they didn’t bring in any revenue, with only three to six months of survival guaranteed at any given time.

And that’s where Lady Luck collided with crazy hard work, and the first signs of the unicorn-to-be showed its face.

“We just went from almost no transactions to processing billions of transactions a month,” Zhang says.

While long hours and business savvy played a major role in his company’s success, Zhang is also quick to credit forces beyond his control. He says plain ’ol luck is one of the reasons that his business took off, which perhaps accounts for Airwallex’s good timing and sudden influx of users.

Gazing Into the Future

Because Zhang and the rest of the Airwallex team focused on building a strong foundation and infrastructure, they were able to attract high-profile clients like MasterCard, and retain them when they came on board.

These important connections then put Zhang in the room with other top executives who were excited to try out Airwallex in their own businesses. And as the infrastructure grew through these strategic investments, it only added value to the business.

Today, Airwallex has built connectivity with more than 50 banks across the world, is equipped for international banking through accounts unhindered by borders, and grants access to competitive exchange rates and international payments, with more features on the horizon.

Zhang says he is always looking at least five years out, planning for the future of the company. He also invests time in learning from others who have been in his shoes by attending conferences and interviewing other CEOs.

“I spend a lot of time interviewing people to learn from people,” he says. “Whether they are good or bad, there are things I can learn.”

After three years of explosive growth, and now with the added pressure of leading a billion-dollar company, Zhang isn’t ready to slow down.

With his “get shit done and grow” mentality, he plans to continue taking Airwallex to new heights.

“Not everyone can do it. You have to sacrifice a lot of things," Zhang says. “Are you willing to sacrifice your house, your time with family, everything to do that? If the answer is yes, then maybe you are born to be an entrepreneur.”

To learn more about Airwallex, check out airwallex.com

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Erica Comitalo


Key Takeaways

  • Why Zhang didn’t leave his full-time job, even after launching 10 side businesses
  • The problem Zhang encountered that inspired the idea for fintech company Airwallex
  • Why every new Airwallex hire was required to take a pay cut
  • How a pinch of luck and tons of hard work eventually paid off
  • What Zhang believes inspired investors to put another $13 million into Airwallex
  • From no revenue at all to showing signs of unicorn status
  • How Airwallex started to attract high-profile customers like MasterCard
  • The journey to securing a $1 billion valuation in three years
  • Why Zhang believes in planning at least five years out
Direct download: FP273_Jack_Zhang.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54am AEST

Suzy Batiz’s journey from bankruptcy to founding Poo-Pourri, a $100 million business that’s become a household name.

For many consumers, the initial reaction to Suzy Batiz’s product is laughter.

I know it was for me. I remember back in 2008, my mother waving me over to the checkout register of our favorite boutique soap shop, giggling uncontrollably. I saw the tiny bottle and laughed out loud myself. Then handed one to the cashier.

After all, you just can’t walk away from a product called Poo-Pourri.

But it’s Batiz who has had the last laugh. A little over a decade since it launched, Poo-Pourri has become a household name and a $100 million business. The all-natural air freshening spray, once a boutique-only brand, is now sold by major retailers like Target, Costco, Walgreens, and more. Poo-Pourri has taken the world by sweet-smelling storm.

Given her success, you probably wouldn’t have guessed that Batiz had previously gone bankrupt (twice!) and once swore never to launch another company ever again. With a list of former businesses so long she can’t even name them all, Batiz had always come up short in pursuit of her big break.

It wasn’t until she failed hardest and stepped away from the world of entrepreneurship entirely that she had her life-changing epiphany.

The journey from broke to multi-millionaire wasn’t an easy one for Batiz. But her commitment to creativity, willingness to remain flexible, and her indomitable spirit helped her to shake the stink of failure and bring lovely aromas to bathrooms around the world.

Sh*t Happens

For years, Batiz was the kind of person who always had a full-time job and a side hustle, with another side-hustle in mind should the current one fail.

“I had a lot of businesses, and nothing seemed to really work long term. Nothing stuck,” she says. “But I was desperately trying.”

She’d owned a clothing store, a beauty salon, and a tanning salon to name a few, and she grew accustomed to taking big risks in the process. She learned early on how to bounce back from failure.

For example, Batiz went bankrupt for the first time before she was even old enough to drink. At 19, she took on a bridal salon, and at 20, the salon had gone under. But that didn’t slow her down.

“I was in this frantic race,” she says. “I was doing everything that you’re supposed to do, you know, pushing through.”

She continued trying new business ideas until, in 1999, she experienced her second bankruptcy. This one hurt far more than the first.

Batiz had sunk much of her own money into building Greener Grass, a recruiting platform designed to match employees with the right company cultures. If views were dollars, she would have been swimming in cash, but when the stock market crashed in 2001, so did her fledgling business. Batiz lost everything.

“They took away the big house, the two cars, and I had to face myself,” she says.

Batiz realized that all her life, she’d been chasing success—which really meant an overflowing bank account—without taking the time to find out what she was actually interested in.

“What’s worse than losing everything is losing everything and realizing you didn’t even have fun to begin with,” she says.

So, Batiz called it quits on the business world and decided to take some time away from it all for herself. During those years of self-discovery, she found the world of essential oils.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Ordinarily, if dinner party conversation trended toward discussing bathroom odor, it would be bad news for everyone involved. But when Batiz’s brother-in-law began to wonder over dinner if that unpleasant smell could be trapped and eradicated, sparks fired in Batiz’s mind.

After the time she’d spent working with essential oils, she realized she might be able to create something that would do exactly that. Off she rushed to her kitchen to spend nine months concocting the perfect blend of oils that would one day become Poo-Pourri.

In January 2007, she sold her first bottle.

“I really wasn’t interested in owning another business,” Batiz says. “I had sworn off business, but the product was so good, I had to bring it to market.”

She started with a website, and before long the wholesale requests came flooding in. Within a year, she’d brought in a million dollars in revenue. And it all happened through word of mouth.

“When you have an idea that is great, people tell other people about it,” she says. “I see a lot of people in founder stages stop at a good idea. And if you just have a good idea, it’s like pushing a train uphill. But when you have a great idea, people will stand on the rooftops and tell other people about it.”

Boutiques everywhere began selling little spray bottles of the cleverly named product, and before long, larger chains followed suit.

Seven years after launching, Poo-Pourri was bringing in $8 million in revenue, Batiz spent 12 weeks a year in Maui, and she truly felt like she was living the dream. But she believed her product could truly breakthrough and become the premier bathroom air freshener if she just made a big enough splash.

So, she decided to partner with the Harmon Brothers, the well-known creators of viral advertising videos, to create one of her own. You may recognize the Harmon Brothers’ name from their hit ad for Squatty Potty (yes the one with the unicorn you-know-what), or the Purple Mattresses “egg test” video.

In September 2013, the now-iconic video of a sassy-yet-classy socialite in a turquoise dress proclaiming that “our business is to make it smell like your business never even happened,” burst onto the scene.

In just four days, Batiz’s entire inventory had sold out, with $4 million in backorders waiting their turn to be fulfilled.

With the explosion in sales, Batiz knew it was time to invest all of her attention in creating a stable structure for her business, while still maintaining her company culture.

But how?

Fear of Being Number Two

There are three words that define everything done at Poo-Pourri: defy, liberate, and transform.

“We don’t do things status quo, and we don’t ever want to,” Batiz says. “We’re over here shakin’ shit up.”

Batiz strongly believes in hiring employees who can become experts in their areas without micromanaging, and can make big decisions. Of course, with that freedom comes the responsibility of owning up when those decisions don’t pan out. But Batiz believes the best idea can come from anyone or anywhere, so she wants to make sure every employee feels comfortable taking initiative.

But above all, Batiz believes the thing that sets Poo-Pourri above the big air freshener companies is their ability to shift direction at a moment's notice. She calls that agility their “superpower.”

So when the time came to build structure into the business, she knew it couldn’t come with the rigidity some organizations hold to.

“We are this young, rebel kind of company,” Batiz says, “and how do you put some procedures in place, yet keep this rebel nature?”

She tried bringing in a string of leaders, but with each attempt to establish a more defined system, the company’s culture died a little. So, Batiz had to find a way to balance shift-on-a-dime agility with much-needed stability.

She realized that much of her stability could come from within her supply line. By keeping six months worth of sprayers (a part of the product that can take up to 16 weeks to arrive) in stock, she’d be ready for the next boom when it came.

While the company’s edginess has provided a competitive advantage, that need to be the fastest or the hippest has also been a liability at times.

As a rule, Batiz tries not to worry about the competition, but she once became aware that a product similar to hers was going to hit the market, using an automatic dispenser. In a fit of competitive panic, her company tried to release its own version, pushing through timelines and moving far quicker than they should have to keep up.

As a result, they sold 500,000 faulty units to major retailers and had to take them all back, losing millions of dollars and three-quarters of a year in creative energy.

“It was a really good lesson for us to keep our blinders on and stop worrying about what other people are doing,” Batiz says. “Sometimes the best lessons cost us a lot of money or time or energy. The key is to learn.”

The Future Smells Sweet

As Batiz heads into the future, she’s not that focused on expanding the Poo-Pourri line, although they have branched out here and there, including a shoe freshener line, and some clever bathroom art.

“I’m not worried about the dollars as much as remaining king of the hill of what I’ve created,” she says.

The focus on the core product is clear, as Poo-Pourri somehow manages to create a bathroom air freshener that is irreverent but not crass, all while avoiding the grandma’s house aesthetic of most bathroom products. The smells are creative, the names are funny, the packaging sharp and sometimes even beautiful. Some could even be mistaken for luxury items. There’s an obvious level of care here placed on something we may not like to think about, but we all have to deal with.

Batiz hopes to achieve and maintain the level of awareness brands like Kleenex and Band-Aid have, becoming totally synonymous with the product they sell.

“What I want is when you have a “before you go” spray—knowing other people will enter the market—that they go, ‘Oh, do you have a Poo-Pourri,’” she says. “We are that iconic brand.”

To achieve such iconic status without a cent from investors is nothing to sniff at. Batiz says that when times get tough, she sees many entrepreneurs race to investors for help. She, on the other hand, prefers to keep total control of her business and figure things out on her own.

“If you have a problem with the problems, that’s a problem!” she says, laughing. “As an entrepreneur, all you do every day is solve problems, and they’re only going to get bigger.”

But despite the big problems she’s faced both in her current role and past businesses, Batiz has emerged triumphant. This year, Poo-Pourri is on track to bring in $100 million in revenue.

The boutique essential oil concoction with a cheeky name now sits on bathroom counters around the globe. And she’s hoping the scent will continue to spread.

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Erica Comitalo


Key Takeaways

  • The many side hustles of Batiz, and the lessons in failure they taught her
  • How Batiz went bankrupt in her teens
  • The frantic race to find success
  • How a second bankruptcy forced Batiz to take a step back and self reflect
  • The question that sparked the idea for Poo-Pourri
  • The power of word-of-mouth, and how it brought in $1 million in revenue in the first year
  • How a partnership with the Harmon Brothers took Poo-Pourri to the next level
  • Lessons learned on balancing structure with innovative company culture
  • Why Batiz believes it’s important to not worry about the competition
  • How Poo-Pourri got on track to $100 million in revenue this year
  • A peek into Supernatural, Batiz’s newest company that sells home-cleaning products
Direct download: FP272_Suzy_Batiz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32pm AEST

Ben Simon showed up at his college classmate Ben Chesler’s door with a giant, ugly sweet potato, plopped it down in front of him, and declared, “This is the future.” Chesler believed him.

Simon had visited multiple farms in California, and discovered that 20% of the state’s produce was being thrown out, which amounted to around 3 billion pounds of unnecessary waste. Together, with their friend Ron Clark, the trio launched a service in 2015 that would save ugly, unwanted fruits and vegetables and deliver them to consumers at low prices. They called it Imperfect Foods.

Thanks to an admirable mission and relatively untouched market, Imperfect Foods took off. Four years after the launch, the company now boasts six fulfillment centers in over 20 cities and more than 1,000 employees. The team is also expanding their offerings in order to fight food waste across the entire system, now offering dairy, dry goods, and canned foods to their customers as well.

Learn more about food waste, the power of customer interactions, and the importance of giving employees a stake in a company in this interview with Chesler.


Key Takeaways

  • How Chesler and Simon got their start tackling food waste in the nonprofit world
  • The giant, ugly sweet potato that became the catalyst for Imperfect Foods
  • The hilarious story of how Reddit brought in more customers for Imperfect Foods than The New York Times
  • Why the original founding team’s first hires were a bunch of teenagers
  • A look into Imperfect Foods’ massive growth over just four years
  • Why product-market fit wasn’t on the team’s mind until six months after the company’s launch
  • The brilliant marketing strategy that helped Imperfect Foods take off
  • The power of customer interactions
  • Why Chesler and the founding team make sure every single employee works in the warehouse at least once—and has access to stock options
  • The biggest challenges Imperfect Foods faces
  • Chesler’s reasoning for hiring people you have no business hiring, early on
Direct download: FP271_Ben_Chesler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm AEST

If you’ve ever bought a bottle of Jack Daniels BBQ sauce or Febreze kitty litter, you’ve seen Michael Stone’s powerful approach to brand licensing in action. This attorney-turned-entrepreneur pioneered the form of corporate licensing that makes such products possible and wildly successful.

Stone made his first foray into the world of licensing with the launch of his company, Beanstalk, in the mid-1990s. The firm quickly became the go-to resource for prominent brands like Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and AT&T—all corporations that were eager to expand their reach into different product categories and strengthen their relationships with consumers.

In 2018, Stone and his company were responsible for generating over $7 billion in retail sales of licensed product. While he stepped down as the CEO a few years ago, Stone still serves as the chairman of Beanstalk and is committed to innovation in this industry.

Check out this interview to learn more about the ins and outs of licensing and to hear about Stone’s experience writing his book The Power of Licensing: Harnessing Brand Equity.


Key Takeaways

  • Why Stone switched lanes from practicing law to pioneering brand licensing
  • The uncharted territory Stone noticed, and how it led to the launch of Beanstalk
  • The necessary components for successful corporate brand licensing
  • How Beanstalk became the go-to resource for prominent brands
  • An explanation of why Febreeze is a better candidate for expansion via licensing than Citibank
  • Handing over the reins of a business that was responsible for over $7 billion in sales in 2018
  • Why Stone decided to stick with his existing niche instead of starting multiple new businesses
  • Stone’s honest warning for aspiring entrepreneurs
Direct download: FP270_Michael_Stone.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:52am AEST

Cannabis King

How Matt Morgan, a misfit from Montana, took the booming marijuana industry by storm.

A typical life was not in the cards for Matt Morgan. Fortunately, he found an atypical career.

Growing up, he was fired from every traditional job he ever had, and when he tried college, he lasted just 10 days before dropping out. Next, Morgan became an electrician apprentice at the age of 19, still hoping to find a career path that he might enjoy. But like his previous ventures, this too was short-lived and he resigned after a year.

Having always possessed an entrepreneurial flair, Morgan did find quick success as a realtor, which would lead him in a roundabout way to the world of legalized marijuana. Finally, it was in the Wild West of the cannabis boom where Morgan found his home.

Within a three-and-a-half year period, Morgan would become one of the most recognizable leaders in the cannabis industry. He is the founder of multiple cannabis companies, such as Bloom Dispensaries and Reef Dispensaries, with the latter becoming the first in the world to hit a $100 million revenue run rate. In 2018, Morgan was named one of the most influential people in cannabis by High Times.

But as we all know, the highs are so often preceded by lows, and had there not been an financial crisis in 2008, he may have never entered the business in the first place.

Taste of Entrepreneurship

Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Morgan had a hard time finding his niche in the working world, but he did find one thing that he was quite good at, which ended up being a gateway drug to starting his own business—real estate.

“ really opened up my eyes to entrepreneurship,” Morgan says. “Running your own business. You know, basically, eat what you kill. It’s totally up to you, whether you’re going to survive or not. That’s the type of environment that I thrive in.”

And thrive he did. By the time he hit 22, Morgan became the managing partner of his own real estate company.

By early 2008, he had begun to take notice that prospective homebuyers were reaching out to him with very specific guidelines on the type of home they wanted to purchase. Not only were they asking for roughly the same amount of land, they were all specifically requesting that each home have a shop out back — a detached garage or external structure that could be used as a hobby space.

And if it didn’t have a shop, he didn’t have a deal.

This left Morgan perplexed. He had met most of their demands, and more times than not a deal fell through because of this one caveat. This finally left him to ask himself, “what’s so important about these shops?”

At the time, Montana’s legal cannabis industry had just started to boom, and people wanted in with a place to grow. This was an industry that Morgan was not in tune with at the time, but he started to pay attention to.

Then the financial crisis of 2008 hit and Morgan’s real estate business was dead in its tracks. He needed a new play.

Despite his youth, Morgan was old enough to have seen one tech boom and one housing boom, and had an itch that he may be in the presence of the next gold rush.

“All these crazy people talking about this marijuana stuff, there must be something to it,” Morgan says. “So I started digging into it.”

One day, after months of research, it became clear to him that marijuana was going to be the next big boom.

“That day I went and found a light and a warehouse and I was damned if I wasn’t going to grow some marijuana, “ Morgan says.

Growing Pains

With the exception of spending some time on his grandparent’s farm, Morgan wasn’t that experienced in horticulture. He knew the basics of how to grow some crops, but after looking around at the competition, he felt he could succeed in marijuana.

“How hard could this be?” Morgan says. “There’s a bunch of hippies in tie-dye with hoop houses out in the wilderness growing, you know, grade-A cannabis. I’m sure I can figure it out.”

He didn’t. At least not at first.

Morgan set up a small operation in his garage, and after about 15 failed attempts, he finally found a grow system that worked. Then in 2009, he teamed up with another grower in Montana and they opened a state-of-the-art, 15,000-square-foot cultivation facility, one of the largest in the state at the time.

This new abundance of space gave them a controlled environment to grow a significant harvest of plants. Within Montana’s medicinal marijuana caregiver program, as long as you had a patient card, you were legally allowed to grow six plants per patient that you were a caregiver for. With Morgan’s patient list growing to over 500, he was legally growing over 15,000 plants. Not bad for a guy who didn’t know much about the business just one year prior.

But just as quickly as he had struck gold, a new law would bring things grinding to a halt.

Next Stop: Arizona

Per Morgan, in 2009 Missoula’s population was over 65,000 people and the city was home to over 60 dispensaries. That equates to around one dispensary for every thousand people.

In short, that’s a lot of dispensaries.

The state began to worry that the new industry was growing too quickly. So to help slow it down, Montana had an emergency legislative session and reversed its laws so that a caregiver could now only have three patients total. Instead of having 15,000 plants, Morgan was suddenly only allowed to have 18 plants total.

Once again, Morgan was stopped dead in his tracks. Feeling the cons outweighed the pros of running the facility in violation of the new laws, he shut down his operation in 2010.

Having tasted the fruits of his labor, he turned his focus elsewhere. He immediately began to look around the country for states with more favorable marijuana laws so he could scale a business.

“I knew I had the skills sets at that point, I just needed the right vehicle and platform to do so,” Morgan says.

Arizona ended up offering that platform.

The Grand Canyon State was about to roll out an extremely favorable and innovative program that was to be the first of its kind, and Morgan wanted to be a part of it. Morgan says the state’s population was also substantially larger than Montana’s, and it was going to allow a permit holder to have unlimited plants, unlimited square footage to grow, and unlimited weight in product. He felt like it was a “dream” and couldn’t wait to head south.

“I literally packed up all my stuff into my Chevy Silverado and I drove down to Arizona within that week,” Morgan says. “And literally, probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I was 25 years old.”

Upon his arrival, Morgan opened up a chain of hydroponics stores to help gain a foothold in the area and to network with the locals as he waited for the new laws to roll out. While doing so, he befriended the son of a senator who would become key in helping him land one of the state’s limited marijuana licenses. (Morgan chooses not to divulge the senator’s name during our interview.)

“These licenses were looked at as a valuable asset,” Morgan says. “There’s no way these guys are giving some kid from Montana one of these licenses that could end up being worth, you know, millions of dollars.”

His chances may have been slim, but a senator’s chances were very good.

After agreeing to terms, Morgan says he and the senator’s son partnered up and convinced the senator to put his name on the application. Soon thereafter, the two won a Sedona license through a lottery system and within four weeks after that, they purchased a Phoenix license on terms from its winner for $450,000. With two licenses under their belt, Bloom Dispensaries was well underway.

Like Morgan’s real estate business, Bloom took off, and in under a year grew to 100 employees and was generating $1 million in revenue a month.

Everyone came calling.

By 2013, Bloom was drawing national attention and was destroying its competition. This led to private equity firms and wealthy families to reach out to Morgan for advice and potential opportunities.

“People were starting to look at marijuana,” Morgan says. “It was still kind of in the shadows, but it was starting to come to the light.”

Due to Morgan’s knowledge in the space and Bloom’s exponential growth, companies wanted to replicate his success and learn his secrets. However, Morgan says one such wealthy family, worth billions, wanted to do more than talk. They wanted Morgan and offered to purchase Bloom in order to get him. However, after negotiations between the family and Bloom’s investors fell through, the family extended a proposal to only Morgan for him to come and launch their new venture.

Realizing a good opportunity when he saw it, Morgan accepted their offer. As for Bloom, he divested his shares and gave the company to his partner in order to remain on good terms. Now armed with over $100 million in capital from his new partners, Reef Dispensaries was born. And its growth was on a whole other level.

“I came out of the cannon like a cannonball,” Morgan says.

Reef quickly expanded to 200,000 square feet of cultivation, had two extraction laboratories, and six retail dispensaries, with one of them becoming the busiest dispensary in the world. And to top it off, Reef became the first cannabis company in the world to hit a $100 million run rate.

Despite the success Morgan was able to create at Reef, he says tensions began to grow between him and his partners. After months of disagreements, Morgan resigned as CEO of the company in November 2017, forcing a buyout and shocking the cannabis industry.

The Next Frontier

Morgan’s next major move took some time to develop.

Much like the beginnings of Bloom, an entrepreneur reached out to Morgan about a potential partnership. However this time, the individual challenged Morgan to look at the other chemical compounds in the cannabis plant other than THC, and to research how they were being used in the healthcare space. After spending close to a year discussing healthcare and the science on how to use cannabinoids, the two of them founded Oneqor Technologies.

“It’s really a hybrid of a biotech pharma company that’s leaning heavily on cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, excluding THC, the psychoactive one,” Morgan says.

After spending 10 years in the THC business, Morgan says he was becoming bored with the industry. Oneqor presents something new and exciting for him, plus he’s able to operate it almost like any other typical business. Working in a business that doesn’t deal with THC is a whole new frontier, and one with barely any restrictions.

And without the restrictions, Morgan’s ambitions grew.

On top of helping brands such as GNC create private label CBD products, Morgan wants Oneqor to revolutionize the market. He hopes to dominate the cannabinoid industry in the same way Intel did with computers by becoming the secondary brand.

“If you see a product and you know it has cannabinoids in it, I don’t want it to say CBD inside,” Morgan says. “I want it to say Oneqor inside.”

Matt Morgan’s Playbook for Building a Business

In a span of less than 10 years, Matt Morgan became a leader in the cannabis industry by creating Bloom Dispensaries and Reef Dispensaries, along with his new venture Oneqor Technologies. After some early growing pains, Morgan came up with his own playbook on how to grow a successful business.

Believe In Something

Many founders, especially first-time entrepreneurs, tend to look at only the financial aspect of creating a business, rather than if it’s something they actually want to do. Other times, people may start a company because they feel that the idea might be a fun thing to do.

Morgan believes, that although the financial upside is something to consider, you must also believe in the product and have passion for it if you’re looking to build a company. Otherwise, you may lose interest and not do the things needed to succeed.

“You shouldn’t pick something you want to do because you think it’s cool,” Morgan says. “You should pick something you do because you believe in it and you see a lot of upside potential. Or else, what are you doing it for?”

Look at the CEO

Morgan credits much of his early success to the teams he’s built. From building a C-suite team to hiring the employees for his stores, he believes that everyone is important. And to find those right employees, it starts at the top with the CEO. That means either looking within yourself if you’re the CEO, or by sitting down with your leader and asking them what their core values are. Skill sets are important, but if your employees don’t share the same values, the culture won’t work.

“You want to hire people that have the same core values as you, because you can’t teach people core values,” Morgan says. “They’re born with that…or their environment, whatever it may be. You can teach people anything, but you can’t teach them that.”

Be Uncomfortable

Another trait that Morgan says led to his success is the ability to go outside his comfort zone. He used to be a nervous wreck, he says, but wanted to rid himself of that anxiety. So beginning from the age of 20 until he was 28, he put himself in uncomfortable situations daily in order to grow as a person. This not only helped in his everyday life, but also as a professional and leader. It helped him with everything from speaking in front of 10,000 people to raising capital for his businesses. In order to succeed, you must be willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations and get to the point where you’re calm and collected in every situation.

“Human beings have a defense mechanism and they don’t like getting out of their comfort zone,” Morgan says. “You don’t know what to say, what to do, how to operate. But that’s really your biggest growth potential as a human being, is outside of your comfort zone.”

Maintain Focus Among the Chaos

Founding your own startup can come with lots of unexpected surprises. Especially within an emerging field such as the cannabis industry, things can become chaotic as the rules are still being established. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of chaos around you, a lot of drama, and a lot of arguing. But the only thing you can do is figure out how to control your reaction to it and always remain focused on your goals. Find what makes you relaxed and focused, and master it.

“One thing that has really helped me with that is meditating,” Morgan says. “It’s really helped me, you know, keep my concentration, collect my thoughts. … There’s not really anything that can rock me mentally.”

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Nick Allen


Key Takeaways

  • A look into Morgan’s struggles to fit into the traditional working world
  • How real estate became the gateway drug to entrepreneurship
  • The impact of the financial crisis of 2008, and how it led Morgan into the cannabis industry
  • From 15 failed attempts at growing marijuana to a patient list of over 500
  • How a change in Montana’s laws sent Morgan’s business to Arizona
  • The political relationships that helped the launch of Bloom Dispensaries
  • How Bloom Dispensaries reached $1 million in revenue and dominated the cannabis industry
  • Why Morgan decided to sell Bloom and launch Reef Dispensaries with new partners
  • Growing Reef Dispensaries to become the first cannabis company to hit a $100 million run rate
  • Behind Morgan’s decision to quit as Reef Dispensaries’ CEO and his next step with OneQor
Direct download: FP269_Matthew_Morgan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:50am AEST