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Failing to Success

Failing to Success

Author: Chad Kaleky

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Top 10% Ranked Podcast! True stories of entrepreneurs falling forward and tripping over the finish line. Join us as we sit down to hear their real life experiences of triumph over adversity.

Our host Chad Kaleky interviews our guests to learn about their journey. From Tech Startups to Small Businesses to Fortune 500 Companies, we’ll hear how they turned their failures into success.

Business Inquiries: chad@ftspod.com
361 Episodes
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Company StatsFounded: 1881Revenue: $10 million+Employees: 40+Episode Highlights✅ E. E. Ward focuses on customer experience to differentiate itself in the competitive moving industry.✅ The company has navigated economic challenges by sticking to its core business of household goods moving and office relocations.✅ E. E. Ward's legacy as the oldest continuously operating Black-owned business in the U.S. is a key part of its branding and customer trust.Episode SummaryIn this episode, Brian Brooks, President of E. E. Ward Moving and Storage, discusses the company's rich history, growth strategies, and focus on customer experience. Founded in 1881, E. E. Ward has grown to generate over $10 million in annual revenue with a seasonal workforce of 40-45 employees. Brian highlights the company's commitment to providing a stress-free moving experience, emphasizing the importance of clear communication and reliability. He also shares lessons learned from diversifying during the 2008 mortgage crisis and the impact of maintaining focus on core competencies. The company’s historical significance as the oldest continuously operating Black-owned business in the U.S. adds a unique element to its branding and customer appeal.Notable Questions We AskedQ: How does E. E. Ward differentiate itself in the competitive moving industry?A: We focus on customer experience, ensuring a stress-free move by maintaining clear communication and reliability throughout the process.Q: What was the impact of the 2008 mortgage crisis on your business, and how did you navigate it?A: The crisis hit us hard, and we mistakenly diversified into freight. We learned to stick to our core competencies, which helped us handle the challenges of COVID-19 more effectively.Q: How does E. E. Ward's legacy as the oldest continuously operating Black-owned business impact your branding and customer relationships?A: It adds credibility and reliability to our brand. Customers appreciate that we've been in business for 143 years and trust that we'll continue to be here.Q: Can you explain the structure of your customer service approach?A: Our process involves a salesperson, a move coordinator, and operations staff, all working in sync through our CRM system to ensure a smooth and well-coordinated move.Q: What are the key lessons you've learned about sticking to your core business?A: Focus on what you do best. Diversifying too quickly into unfamiliar areas can lead to costly mistakes. It's better to excel in a few things than to be mediocre in many.Chapters:00:00 Intro00:08 Company Stats01:13 Customer Experience Focus03:38 1881 Strong: Legacy and Branding04:48 Navigating Economic Challenges07:17 Connect with E.E WardListen on:OUR WEBSITEYOUTUBEAPPLE PODCASTS‍SPOTIFYAdd us on:INSTAGRAMLINKEDIN
Company StatsFounded: 1998 (roots tracing back to the 1920s as the Western Union Telephone Answering Service)Revenue: $65-$70 million annuallyEmployees: Approximately 1,500Episode Highlights✅ AnswerNet has successfully integrated multiple acquisitions to expand its services and client base.✅ Gary Pudles highlights that employees in the call center industry value security and recognition more than monetary compensation.✅ The company's core values, represented by the mascot Pat the Fat Duck, emphasize passion, attitude, teamwork, and kindness.Episode SummaryIn this episode, Gary Pudles, CEO of AnswerNet, discusses the company's growth strategy, which includes both internal sales and strategic acquisitions. Generating between $65 and $70 million annually, AnswerNet employs around 1,500 people. Gary emphasizes the importance of people management, maintaining core values, and making quick, balanced decisions. He shares insights into the challenges and opportunities of operating a large call center and BPO business, highlighting the need for employee security and recognition. Gary also talks about the pivotal moment when he bought out his partners and investors, leading to significant growth.Chapters00:00 Intro00:10 Company Stats00:39 Growth Through Acquisitions01:46 People Management Strategies05:55 Decision Making and Core Values07:51 Core Values10:38 Connect with AnswernetNotable Questions We AskedQ: What has been the impact of acquisitions on AnswerNet's growth?A: Acquisitions have played a big part in our growth strategy. We've grown through both internal sales and acquiring underperforming companies, bringing them into our platform to help them grow.Q: What are some key aspects of people management you focus on?A: It's important to learn from people at every level and keep arrogance out of the equation. People in call centers want security and recognition, and it's crucial to treat them with respect and appreciation.Q: Can you share a pivotal moment that significantly changed AnswerNet's trajectory?A: A major change was when my partners and I split, and I bought out all the investors, going out on a loan. Since then, we've tripled the size of the company from 2015 to now.Q: How do you approach decision-making in the company?A: My decision-making process involves considering if it makes economic sense, aligns with our core values, and its impact on people. It's a balance between making good business decisions, considering people, and staying true to our core values.Q: How did you develop and implement your core value system?A: In 2007-2008, we brought in Vern Harnish and implemented the Mission to Mars approach. We identified core values by recognizing the characteristics of people who represented the best of our company, leading to the creation of our mascot, Pat the Fat Duck, symbolizing passion, attitude, teamwork, detail-oriented, good communication, and being kind and likable.#CallCenterManagement #BPOIndustry #BusinessGrowth #PeopleManagement #CoreValues #Leadership #Outsourcing #CustomerService #CompanyCulture #BusinessStrategy
Company StatsFounded: Program in 1963, nonprofit organization in 1975Revenue: $31 millionEmployees: 45Voyagers: Operates two voyages per year, in fall and springEpisode Highlights✅ Semester at Sea generates $31 million in revenue annually.✅ The organization operates with a high fixed cost model, primarily driven by ship operations.✅ Scott Marshall emphasizes the importance of aligning personal ambitions with authentic career goals.Episode SummaryIn this episode, Scott Marshall, CEO of Semester at Sea, discusses the unique challenges and opportunities of running a nonprofit organization that combines elements of higher education and the cruise industry. Founded in 1963 as a program and established as a nonprofit in 1975, Semester at Sea has grown to generate $31 million in annual revenue with a team of 45 dedicated staff members. Scott delves into the complexities of their high fixed cost model, the impact of the pandemic on their operations, and the importance of staying true to their mission. He also shares personal insights about career ambition and the significance of following one's gut instincts.Chapters00:00 Intro00:08 Company Stats00:34 Operational Challenges and Opportunities04:36 Personal Insights06:33 Connect with Semester At SeaNotable Questions We AskedQ: How does Semester at Sea manage its high fixed cost model?A: Our ship operations account for 73% of our costs, and staff makes up 21%. This fixed cost structure works well in the nonprofit sector but would be tough in the private sector.Q: What are the main challenges of running a nonprofit organization like Semester at Sea?A: The complexity of combining study abroad, higher education, and cruise operations is challenging, but it ensures a clear purpose and meaningful impact every day.Q: How does Semester at Sea select and recruit students for its voyages?A: We partner with universities across the country and internationally, running two voyages per year. The program is self-selecting, appealing to students who want to study abroad and travel to multiple countries.Q: How did the pandemic affect Semester at Sea?A: The pandemic was extremely challenging, with no revenue for almost two years. We are slowly recovering, with a projected revenue of $32 million for the next fiscal year.Q: What personal lesson did you learn from not securing a leadership position at a previous job?A: I realized I didn't authentically want the position and failed to do a gut check. This experience taught me to align career ambitions with personal authenticity.#SemesterAtSea #NonprofitManagement #StudyAbroad #HigherEducation #CruiseIndustry #Leadership #MissionDriven #CareerAdvice #EducationalTravel #GlobalLearning
Company StatsFounded: 2019Users: More than 200,000 users, with over 7,000 on the paid tierEmployees: 12Episode Highlights✅ Hexact automates data collection and analysis, saving businesses valuable time.✅ Stepan Aslanyan leverages 20 years of entrepreneurial experience to drive Hexact's success.✅ Hexact's platform integrates with GPT, enhancing its data processing capabilities for users.Episode SummaryIn this episode, Stepan Aslanyan, co-founder of Hexact, shares his entrepreneurial journey and insights into building successful tech businesses. Hexact, founded in 2019, has grown to over 200,000 users, with 7,000 on the paid tier. The company specializes in workload automation, helping businesses with data scraping, collection, and analysis. Stepan discusses the challenges and successes of his various ventures, emphasizing the importance of adapting to market demands and the accidental nature of business exits. Hexact's integrates with advanced technologies like GPT to enhance its automation capabilities, making it a valuable tool for e-commerce and data-intensive businesses.Notable Questions We AskedQ: What inspired you to start Hexact?A: My entry into the tech business was very accidental. I saw the dot-com boom and decided to start an online store in Armenia.Q: How did you pivot from your first idea to focusing on web development?A: After realizing the demand for websites, I shifted from e-commerce to selling websites. Over seven years, we became the biggest web development company in Armenia.Q: What lessons did you learn from your initial e-commerce venture?A: I learned that timing and market readiness are crucial. Launching an online shop in Armenia in 2001, with limited internet access, was premature.Q: How do you identify when it's time to sell a business?A: It's never planned. You start with an idea and a problem to solve. The decision to sell comes when you realize it's the right time to move on.Q: What are the core problems that Hexact is solving?A: Hexact allows users to delegate repetitive tasks related to data collection and data analytics, especially in e-commerce and research-intensive areas.Chapters:00:00 Intro00:06 Company Stats01:16 Stepan's Entrepreneurial Journey04:03 Insights on Business and Exits06:08 Contact Hexact#Entrepreneurship #TechStartups #Automation #DataAnalytics #BusinessGrowth #Ecommerce #WorkflowAutomation #StartupSuccess #Innovation #TechSolutions
Company StatsFounded: 2017Revenue: $11.5 millionEmployees: 200+Episode Highlights✅ HypeAuditor ends 2023 with $11.5 million in revenue, showing significant growth.✅ Influencer marketing requires products that appear natural on social media for effective promotion.✅ Successful influencer campaigns often involve a mix of micro, mid-sized, and celebrity influencers for maximum impact.Episode SummaryIn this episode, Alexander Frolov, co-founder of HypeAuditor, discusses the evolution and impact of influencer marketing. Founded in 2017, HypeAuditor achieved $11.5 million in revenue by the end of 2023, with a team of around 200 employees. Alexander emphasizes the importance of having products that look natural on social media to succeed in influencer marketing. He explains how brands can effectively approach and incentivize influencers by offering not just money but also interesting products. Additionally, Alexander shares insights into building successful influencer campaigns by leveraging a mix of influencers, from micro to celebrity, to achieve the desired reach and engagement.Notable Questions We AskedQ: What year did you found HypeAuditor?A: 2017 is the date of foundation, but we made several mistakes in the beginning and then pivoted. HypeAuditor was launched in 2018.Q: What's the current revenue of the business?A: We ended 2023 with 11 and a half million in revenue.Q: How many employees does it take to run an 11 and a half million dollar business?A: It's close to 200 employees.Q: Who is the right fit for influencer marketing? What kind of business do I need to have?A: Your product should look natural in social media. Industries like beauty, fashion, food and beverages, and e-commerce see a lot of success with influencer marketing.Q: How do I approach an influencer and incentivize them to do a good job?A: Approach influencers as humans and creators, not just business units. Offering cool products and building a personal relationship can incentivize them beyond just monetary compensation.Chapters:00:00 Intro00:07 Company Stats00:33 Understanding Influencer Marketing03:12 Approaching and Incentivizing Influencers04:56 Tools and Strategies for Influencer Marketing06:23 Budgeting and Scaling Influencer Campaigns09:00 Connect with HypeAuditorListen on:OUR WEBSITEYOUTUBEAPPLE PODCASTS‍SPOTIFYAdd us on:INSTAGRAMLINKEDINTIKTOKFACEBOOK #InfluencerMarketing #DigitalMarketing #SocialMediaStrategy #ContentCreation #BrandGrowth #MarketingTips #Ecommerce #BusinessGrowth #OnlineMarketing #MarketingStrategy
Episode Highlights:✅ Joe Eisner transitions from Amazon to founding Ronin Advisors, focusing on direct customer engagement.✅ Guerrilla marketing tactics, like hosting partner events, prove highly effective for customer and partner engagement.✅ Learning from past failures, Joe identifies timing as crucial for the success of innovative solutions.Episode Summary:In this episode, we talk with Joe Eisner, principal of Ronin Advisors, about his journey from Amazon to founding his strategic advisory firm. Joe shares insights on the importance of direct customer engagement and the effectiveness of guerrilla marketing tactics, such as hosting partner events. He discusses his experiences working with a wide range of clients, from technology ISVs to large private equity firms. Joe also highlights a significant lesson from his past failures—understanding the right timing for market readiness is crucial for the success of innovative solutions. He concludes by discussing his new venture in AI, aimed at optimizing and simplifying the sales process.Notable Questions We Asked:Q: What brought you into the space of strategic advisory?A: After five years at Amazon, I wanted to work directly with customers again. I started my advisory practice soon after leaving AWS.Q: What range of clients have you worked with over the years?A: I've worked with technology ISVs with $1M in revenue to large private equity firms making tens of billions annually, needing advice on strategic acquisitions.Q: How important has guerrilla marketing been throughout your journey?A: Guerrilla marketing has been crucial, especially at Amazon, where we used creative tactics like hosting partner events with limited budgets to drive engagement and co-promotion.Q: What is your failing to success story?A: One profound lesson came from a wearable device startup I co-founded in 2001. Despite solving a real problem, the market wasn't ready, teaching me the importance of timing.Q: How is your new AI startup different from your past ventures?A: My new AI startup focuses on optimizing the sales process. Learning from past mistakes, I've ensured there's a clear demand and market readiness for this solution.Chapters:00:00 Intro00:11 Joe's Journey to Strategic Advisory00:46 Client Range and Experiences01:15 Guerrilla Marketing Tactics03:26 Challenges and Lessons Learned06:52 New Ventures and AI Innovations08:04 Contact Joe#StrategicAdvisory #GuerrillaMarketing #Entrepreneurship #BusinessGrowth #CustomerEngagement #Innovation #AIVentures #SalesOptimization #MarketTiming #BusinessLessons
Company StatsCapital Raised $5.5 million Episode Highlights✅ The construction industry faces a workforce crisis with 41% retiring in the next seven years.✅ Learning from failure is crucial for success; success can be a misleading teacher.✅ Building a synchronized, complementary team is essential for startup success.Episode SummaryIn this episode of "Failing to Success," we welcome Shreesha Ramdas, the CEO of Lumber, a startup focused on construction workforce management. Shreesha shares how Lumber raised $5.5 million in a seed round to address the critical workforce crisis in the construction industry. With 41% of workers set to retire in the next seven years and younger workers not entering the industry at the same pace, Lumber aims to tackle this significant challenge. Shreesha discusses the lessons learned from his previous startups, emphasizing the importance of viewing failure as data and the necessity of building a synchronized team. His insights into maintaining velocity during uncertain times and iterating to solve problems offer valuable guidance for entrepreneurs.Notable Questions We AskedQ: How much money did you raise for this startup?A: We raised $5.5 million in a seed round last year.Q: What motivated you to start Lumber?A: The construction industry faces a serious workforce crisis, with 41% of workers retiring in the next seven years and a slow influx of younger workers.Q: What are some key lessons you've learned from your previous startups?A: Viewing failure as data, understanding the importance of team synchronization, and maintaining velocity during uncertain times.Q: How do you go about building a strong team?A: By identifying top performers, ensuring team chemistry, and maintaining a network of skilled professionals across various functions.Q: How can listeners get in touch with Lumber or learn more about your mission?A: Visit our website at www.lumberfi.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.Chapters00:00 Intro00:13 Company Stats00:31 Challenges in the Construction Workforce01:40 Lessons from Previous Startups05:36 Building a Strong Team07:22 Connecting with Lumber#ConstructionIndustry #WorkforceManagement #StartupSuccess #Entrepreneurship #Innovation #Leadership #TeamBuilding #BusinessGrowth #StartupLessons #FailingToSuccess
Company StatsRevenue: $50 Million+Employees: 1,000+Founded: 1900 Episode Highlights✅ Vummidi Bangaru Jewelers has over 1,000 employees and $50 million in revenue.✅ The company is expanding from India to the U.S., starting with a flagship showroom in Texas.✅ Transitioning cultural approaches from India to the U.S. market has been a unique and educational experience.Episode SummaryIn this episode of "Failing to Success," Scott Bates, CEO of Vummidi Bangaru Jewelers, shares the remarkable journey of the oldest and largest luxury jewelry brand in southern India as it expands into the U.S. market. With over 1,000 employees and a revenue exceeding $50 million, Vummidi Bangaru Jewelers recently opened its first flagship showroom in Texas. Scott discusses the challenges of transitioning the business to the U.S., the importance of melding Indian and American cultures, and the lessons he has learned from his diverse career background. The company's future plans include expanding into Northern California and Virginia, emphasizing the importance of in-person shopping experiences for luxury jewelry.Notable Questions We AskedQ: How many employees does Vummidi Bangaru Jewelers have currently?A: We have over 1,000 employees and are continually growing.Q: What is the revenue of the business?A: Over $50 million.Q: How did you get involved with Vummidi Bangaru Jewelers?A: I was recruited for my background in jewelry, diamonds, marketing, and management, and was selected after several meetings and a trip to Chennai.Q: How has the transition of the business to the U.S. market been?A: It's been unique and educational, integrating Indian and U.S. cultures to cater to a younger demographic of Indian-Americans.Q: Do you plan to expand throughout the U.S. with multiple showrooms?A: Yes, we're looking at markets in Northern California, Virginia, and more locations throughout the U.S.Chapters00:00 Intro00:10 Company Stats00:46 Scott's Journey to Vummidi Bangaru Jewelers01:12 Transitioning Cultures: India and the US02:04 Scott's Career Before Jewelry04:27 Entering the Jewelry Industry05:56 Expansion Plans and Customer Experience07:52 Connect with VummidiListen on:OUR WEBSITEYOUTUBEAPPLE PODCASTS‍SPOTIFYAdd us on:INSTAGRAMLINKEDINTIKTOKFACEBOOK
Company Stats:Founded: 2007Revenue: Just under 20 millionEmployees: Under 40Episode Highlights:✅ We started DevHub in 2007, now generating just under 20 million in revenue with fewer than 40 employees.✅ Licensing our software to media companies was a game-changer, leading to significant growth.✅ Focusing on franchise markets reveals the importance of local marketing and multi-location strategies.Episode Summary:In this episode, we speak with Mark Michael, founder of DevHub, who shares insights on scaling a business to just under 20 million in revenue with fewer than 40 employees. Mark discusses the journey of founding DevHub in 2007, the initial challenges, and the pivot to licensing software to media companies. He emphasizes the importance of understanding market needs and finding the right niche. The conversation also delves into the value of websites, especially during the pandemic, and how focusing on franchise markets has allowed DevHub to thrive. Mark offers valuable advice on acquiring companies and the significance of client relationships in driving growth.Notable Questions We Asked:Q: What year did you found DevHub, and how much revenue have you built it up to now?A: Founded in 2007, DevHub has grown to just under 20 million in revenue.Q: How many employees does it take to run a business generating 20 million in revenue?A: DevHub operates with under 40 employees.Q: What was the turning point for DevHub in realizing the value of your platform?A: The pandemic highlighted the importance of websites, as businesses needed to maintain their online presence, making our platform more valuable.Q: Why did you decide to focus on the franchise market?A: Focusing on franchises allows us to target a broader audience, emphasizing local marketing and multi-location strategies.Q: What insights can you share about acquiring a company for growth?A: Acquiring a company is a significant step that involves being respectful and understanding the legacy of the business you're taking over. It's about continuing their legacy in a new world while advancing your own company.Chapters:00:00 Intro00:09 Company Stats00:27 Early Challenges01:17 Pivoting and Licensing Software04:24 Focus on Franchise Market08:11 Acquisition Strategy and Insights11:21 Connect with MarkListen on:OUR WEBSITEYOUTUBEAPPLE PODCASTS‍SPOTIFYAdd us on:INSTAGRAMLINKEDINTIKTOKFACEBOOK#BusinessGrowth #Entrepreneurship #FranchiseMarketing #TechStartup #SoftwareLicensing #PandemicPivot #ScalingBusiness #LocalMarketing #BusinessStrategy #CompanyAcquisition
Company StatsCapital raised: Over $22 Million, including angel investors and grants ($9 Million).Employees: 6 (35 during technology development)Founded: 2012Episode Highlights✅ Innovation in grant acquisition by developing groundbreaking technology.✅ Microbiome's critical role in human health and disease prevention.✅ Revolutionary approach to microbiome mining with large-scale technology.Episode SummaryIn this episode of "Failing to Success," we welcome Ross Youngs, founder of Biosortia, to discuss the innovative process of raising grants and the transformative technology in microbiome mining. Ross reveals how Biosortia has secured around $9 million in grants and over $22 million in total capital. He explains the critical role of the microbiome in human health, noting that we have more microbial cells than human cells. Biosortia's groundbreaking technology enables large-scale extraction and analysis of untapped microbes, paving the way for significant advancements in therapeutics, agriculture, and more. This technology could revolutionize our understanding and application of microbiome science.Notable Questions We AskedQ: How much money have you raised in grants for your business?A: Around $9 million.Q: What is the total capital raised for Biosortia?A: Over $22 million, including angel investors and grants.Q: How do you raise such significant grant funding?A: By developing innovative technology that catches the attention of granting agencies looking to support next-generation technologies.Q: What is microbiome mining?A: It's the process of extracting and analyzing microbes at a large scale and quality to discover untapped molecules and enzymes that have vast potential applications.Q: How do microbes impact human health?A: Microbes outnumber human cells and genes, playing a crucial role in disease courses, inflammation, and overall health, making them vital for therapeutic opportunities.Chapters00:00 Introduction to Ross Youngs and Biosortia00:16 The Financial Journey: Grants and Capital Raised00:56 Exploring the Microbiome: Untapped Microbes and Technology03:34 The Revolutionary Approach to Microbiome Mining04:59 The Impact of Microbiome on Human Health and Beyond05:57 Scaling Up: The Future of Microbiome Mining08:16 Closing Remarks and How to Learn More#Microbiome #Innovation #Biotechnology #GrantFunding #HealthTech #DrugDiscovery #Sustainability #MicrobialEcology #Startups #ResearchAndDevelopment
Company StatsRevenue: $10 Million Patents Held: 3 Episode Highlights✅ Customer discovery and validation are crucial for successful inventions.✅ Filing patents requires hands-on work and strategic narrow focus.✅ Sustainability and reliable sourcing are key concerns in the electrification transition.Episode SummaryIn this episode of "Failing to Success," we delve into the journey of Cory Hewett, a prolific inventor and entrepreneur in the electrification sector. Cory shares insights on generating over $10 million in revenue from his inventions and the importance of rigorous customer discovery in validating business ideas. He emphasizes a hands-on approach to filing patents, highlighting the strategic decision to focus narrowly to ensure defensibility. Corey also explores the significance of sustainable and reliable sourcing of materials for electric vehicles, emphasizing the need for innovative solutions in the electrification transition. His journey from vending machine challenges to groundbreaking patents offers valuable lessons for aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs.Notable Questions We Asked:Q: How much revenue have your products generated?A: Comfortably over $10 million in total revenue.Q: What is your process for taking an idea and deciding it's worth pursuing commercially?A: The biggest factor is customer success; validating that people need and want the invention.Q: How hands-on are you with filing patents?A: Very hands-on; initially did most of the work ourselves due to limited funds and later worked with a great attorney.Q: What was the unique challenge your inventions addressed?A: Creating a device that could last a decade on a single battery charge and communicate with any iPhone without user setup.Q: How do you approach sustainability in the electrification transition?A: Focus on reliable sourcing of materials, considering environmental and geopolitical factors to ensure sustainable production.Chapters00:00 Intro00:09 Company Stats00:28 Decoding the Invention Process01:47 Navigating Patent Challenges02:49 Innovations in Electrification and Technology04:51 Exploring Electric Vehicles and Material Science07:37 Venturing into New Business Horizons09:07 Connecting and Sharing InsightsListen on:OUR WEBSITEYOUTUBEAPPLE PODCASTS‍SPOTIFYAdd us on:INSTAGRAMLINKEDINTIKTOKFACEBOOK#Innovation #Entrepreneurship #CustomerDiscovery #PatentStrategy #Electrification #Sustainability #ElectricVehicles #MaterialScience #StartupJourney #BusinessInsights
Episode Highlights✅ Evaluate AI tech companies by examining technology, innovation, scalability, and market opportunity.✅ Emphasize ethical AI, avoiding hype, and focusing on core human values in development.✅ Look for strong teams and business models, ensuring monetization and scalability potential.Episode SummaryIn this episode, our panel discusses crucial factors in AI tech investment, focusing on technology, innovation, scalability, and market opportunities. Emphasizing ethical AI development and avoiding hype, the conversation highlights the importance of integrating core human values into AI. The panelists also stress the need for strong teams and viable business models, ensuring monetization and scalability. The discussion covers common pitfalls, risk management strategies, and promising opportunities in the AI sector, particularly in healthcare, education, and robotics.The conversation delves into the importance of thorough due diligence and portfolio diversification in AI investments. The panelists share insights on how to leverage AI-driven tools for investment processes and the significance of adapting to market trends. They also explore the potential of AI in transforming various industries, including healthcare, education, and private equity, emphasizing the balance between technological advancement and maintaining human values.Notable Questions We AskedQ: How do you assess an AI tech company before making an investment?A: Evaluating AI tech companies involves examining technology, innovation, differentiators, scalability, and market opportunities. It's crucial to look at the team's passion and the business model's monetization potential.Q: What are the key factors for successful AI startups?A: Successful AI startups need a strong team with relevant experience, a scalable business model, ethical AI practices, and a clear path to dominate a niche market. Regulatory compliance and risk management are also essential.Q: What are some common pitfalls in AI investments?A: Common pitfalls include over-reliance on hype, weak business models, inexperienced teams, and lack of regulatory compliance. It's vital to avoid buzzwords without clear differentiation and ensure data privacy and ethical considerations are addressed.Q: What are the most promising opportunities in the AI sector right now?A: The most promising opportunities lie in healthcare, education, and robotics. AI-driven innovations in these fields can significantly improve quality of life, with potential applications ranging from personalized education to advanced medical treatments and automated industrial processes.Q: How do you manage risk when investing in AI startups?A: Risk management in AI investments involves thorough due diligence, using AI tools for the investment process, and diversifying portfolios across subsectors. It's crucial to stay updated with market trends, regulatory changes, and ensure robust ethical practices and data security measures.PanelistsSam Sammanehttps://www.sammane.com/Susan Lindeque https://www.avestix.com/our-teamJacques Ludikhttps://jacquesludik.com/about/Chapters00:00 Intro00:27 Key Factors in AI Tech Investment02:19 The Importance of Team and Business Model03:28 Ethical AI and Avoiding Hype04:25 Red Flags in AI Startups09:30 Managing Investment Risks in AI14:22 Promising Opportunities
Company StatsActivations: 45 million Nift activationsEmployees: 40+Founded: 2015Episode Highlights✅ Build a culture organically, matching the right people to your organization's needs.✅ Maintain core elements of excitement and hard work to drive growth and revenue.✅ Culture evolves; treat your team well and believe in long-term goals.Episode SummaryIn this episode, Preston Junger, co-founder of Mile Square Labs and VP of Restaurant Solutions at Nift, shares insights on building a successful company culture. He emphasizes the importance of organic culture development, matching the right people to the organization's needs, and maintaining excitement and hard work. Preston also discusses the evolution of culture, highlighting the need to treat team members well and believe in long-term goals.Preston delves into his journey post-Yelp, explaining how his experiences led to the founding of Mile Square Labs. He outlines the challenges he faced and how these inspired him to help early-stage companies build their go-to-market strategies. Through Nift, Preston explains how the company replaces traditional advertising with gifting moments, benefiting both e-commerce and restaurant groups by acquiring new customers.Notable Questions We AskedQ: How do you build a successful company culture?A: Culture should develop organically, matching the right people to the organization's needs, and maintaining excitement and hard work to drive growth and revenue.Q: What is the role of culture in a company's success?A: Culture is crucial for aligning the team with long-term goals, fostering a sense of shared purpose, and ensuring sustainable growth.Q: How does Nift help restaurants acquire new customers?A: Nift uses a two-sided marketplace to provide gifting moments that replace traditional advertising, helping restaurants gain new customers through surprise and delight moments.Q: What challenges did you face after leaving Yelp?A: Transitioning from Yelp to consulting, I faced the challenge of finding a role that matched my passion and expertise, leading to the founding of Mile Square Labs to support early-stage companies.Q: How does Mile Square Labs support early-stage companies?A: Mile Square Labs helps early-stage companies build go-to-market strategies, providing a strong foundation for growth and realistic expectations for key hires.Chapters00:00 Intro00:14 Company Stats00:39 Nift and Its Impact01:20 Building a Strong Company Culture03:20 How Nift Supports Restaurants06:02 Preston's Journey Post-Yelp09:30 Founding Mile Square Labs11:22 Connect with PrestonListen on:OUR WEBSITEYOUTUBEAPPLE PODCASTS‍SPOTIFYAdd us on:INSTAGRAMLINKEDINTIKTOKa...
Company Stats:Revenue: $1.5 million ARREmployees: 11Founded: September 2019Episode Highlights:✅ Ryan Estes leverages personal experiences to shape KitCaster’s services, ensuring the offerings mirror client needs.✅ WildCast introduces host-bred ads, enhancing podcast marketing by fostering genuine host-audience connections.✅ The Bell Fast System at KitCaster strategically anticipates 10 client interactions to optimize conversions, achieving up to 17% success.Episode Summary:In this episode, Ryan Estes, founder of KitCaster and Wildcast, delves into the mechanics behind his companies’ successes. KitCaster, with a revenue of about $1.5 million and 11 employees, specializes in securing podcast spots for prominent business figures, utilizing Estes's unique 'Bell Fast' marketing system to ensure a high conversion rate of up to 17%. Launched in 2019, KitCaster has effectively served around 800 clients. Wildcast, started in 2023, focuses on host-bred podcast advertising, offering a more personalized and effective approach to podcast ads compared to traditional methods. Estes's entrepreneurial journey is marked by his ability to adapt and innovate in the evolving landscape of digital marketing and media.Notable Questions We Asked:Q: Can you share how KitCaster reached its current annual run rate?A: KitCaster is at about a 1.5 million annual run rate, largely due to our effective marketing strategies and understanding our client profiles deeply.Q: What were the key factors in founding KitCaster and then WildCast?A: KitCaster was founded in September 2019 and WildCast in August 2023, driven by the need for specialized marketing in podcasting and adapting to new challenges and opportunities in media.Q: How do you manage to attract high-quality clients at KitCaster?A: We use a strategy called the Bell Fast system, which involves anticipating 10 touches with a prospective client to nurture them through the sales funnel effectively.Q: What conversion rates do you experience with your marketing strategy?A: The conversion rate varies between 10 and 20%, with recent trends around 17%, demonstrating effective targeting and client engagement.Q: Could you describe the transition from your previous ventures to KitCaster and WildCast?A: The transition involved leveraging experiences from past businesses, focusing on what worked, and applying these lessons to newer, more focused ventures in podcast advertising.Chapters:00:00 Intro00:15 Company Stats01:51 The Bell Fast Marketing System04:37 Podcast Advertising with Wildcast07:47 Ryan's Entrepreneurial Journey11:02 Contact Ryan EstesListen on:OUR WEBSITEYOUTUBEAPPLE PODCASTS‍SPOTIFYAdd us on:INSTAGRAMLINKEDINTIKTOKa...
Company Stats:Clients: 500 global clients in 38 countries.Users: Over 2.1 million participants globally.Employees: 65Founded: 2009Episode Highlights✅ Alejandro Rivas-Micoud navigates the complexities of global enterprise sales with innovative strategies, fostering significant growth.✅ Userlytics thrives by offering detailed insights, transitioning from a startup to a prominent player with a substantial client base.✅ Persistence and adaptation are key as Userlytics maneuvers through early-stage challenges to establish a robust market presence.Episode Summary:Alejandro Rivas-Micoud, founder of Userlytics, shares his journey of establishing and growing a company that transcends traditional analytics by explaining user behaviors in depth. Founded in 2009, Userlytics has a client base nearing 500 enterprises globally and a robust participant panel of over 2.1 million users. Alejandro discusses the strategic shifts from his previous ventures, the challenges of penetrating the global enterprise market, and the unique insights gained from each entrepreneurial endeavor. His experience underscores the importance of resilience, precise market targeting, and leveraging feedback to refine service offerings.Notable Questions We Asked:Q: How did you navigate the transition from a startup to a global enterprise provider?A: Navigating the transition involved continuously refining our service offerings based on critical feedback from early enterprise clients, allowing us to enhance our product and better meet market demands.Q: What were the major lessons learned from your previous business ventures that influenced the foundation of Userlytics?A: Previous ventures taught me the importance of adaptability and listening to the market. These lessons were crucial in shaping Userlytics' approach to providing actionable insights into user behavior.Q: Can you describe a pivotal moment when Userlytics began to gain significant traction in the market?A: A key contract signing, despite initial doubts about continuing the business, marked a turning point, leading to sustained growth and confirming the market's need for our in-depth user analytics.Q: How do you approach selling to enterprises across different global markets?A: Approaching global enterprises requires understanding regional business cultures. In the U.S., startups are welcomed for innovation, while abroad, enterprises may require seeing U.S. clients first before engaging.Q: What strategies have proven effective in gaining the trust of large enterprises?A: Establishing trust with large enterprises involves showcasing proven track records, leveraging existing high-profile clients, and providing critical feedback to continuously improve our offerings.Chapters:00:00 Intro00:08 Company Stats00:50 Selling to Enterprises04:43 The Startup Journey09:47 Contact Userlytics#Userlytics #EnterpriseSales #GlobalBusiness #StartupGrowth #UserExperience #TechStartups #Entrepreneurship #BusinessStrategy #MarketInsight #InnovationLeadership
Company Stats:Revenue: Protecting over a billion dollars in subscription revenue.Employees: 15Founded: 2021Episode Highlights:✅ ChurnKey protects over a billion dollars in SaaS subscription revenue, showcasing robust growth.✅ Tripled team size within a year, ChurnKey rapidly scales operations to meet demand.✅ Founded in 2021, ChurnKey builds on past successes, immediately following a significant company exit.Episode Summary:In this episode, Nick Fogle, founder of ChurnKey, dives deep into the realms of SaaS client retention, sharing how his new venture is protecting over a billion dollars in subscription revenue. Founded in 2021, right after exiting his previous successful venture, ChurnKey has rapidly scaled up, tripling its workforce to 15 employees in just over a year. Nick discusses the lessons learned from his past business experiences and how they shaped the strategies at ChurnKey. He emphasizes the importance of client retention in the SaaS industry and how his company has crafted solutions to enhance this crucial aspect, thereby ensuring sustained growth and profitability for their clients.Notable Questions We Asked:Q: What led you to start ChurnKey?A: Nick started ChurnKey immediately after exiting his previous company in 2021, motivated by the lessons learned and the desire to continue improving SaaS client retention.Q: How has your previous startup experience influenced your approach with ChurnKey?A: Nick's past experiences, particularly the challenges of client retention in his previous company, directly shaped the focus of ChurnKey on providing robust client retention solutions for SaaS businesses.Q: Can you describe the transition from your first successful startup to founding ChurnKey?A: After exiting his previous startup, Nick leveraged his insights and experiences to found ChurnKey, focusing on enhancing subscription retention, which was a significant challenge in his earlier venture.Q: What were the main challenges you faced when founding ChurnKey, and how did you overcome them?A: Nick identified that high churn rates were limiting the valuation potential of his previous ventures. He founded ChurnKey to specifically address and solve this widespread issue in the SaaS industry.Q: How does ChurnKey differentiate itself from other SaaS solutions in the market?A: ChurnKey addresses a critical pain point—retention and churn—by offering tailored solutions that not only help retain customers but also optimize the subscription models based on in-depth analytics and customer feedback.Chapters:00:00 Intro00:06 Company Stats00:31 Business Acquisition03:37 The Birth of ChurnKey04:50 Nick's Origin Story07:47 Contact NickListen on:OUR WEBSITEYOUTUBEAPPLE PODCASTS‍SPOTIFYAdd us on:INSTAGRAMLINKEDIN
Company Stats:Founded: 2022Revenue: $3 million in ARREmployees: 40Episode Highlights:✅ Adam Spector transitions from a service business to founding Levy, focusing on back-office operations for startups.✅ Levy, under Adam’s leadership, approaches $3 million in ARR with a robust team of 40, highlighting significant growth.✅ From a $10 million raised startup to founding Levy, Adam utilizes past experiences to enhance his current venture.Episode Summary:In this episode, Adam Spector, founder of Levy, discusses the evolution of his entrepreneurial journey, emphasizing the transition from his previous venture to starting Levy. He highlights how past experiences and the initial concept of automating back-office operations for startups led to the creation of Levy. With nearly $3 million in annual recurring revenue and a growing team of 40 employees, Levy aims to alleviate the back-office burdens for startups. Adam also delves into his investment strategies, sharing insights from participating in over 150 startup investments and the philosophy behind spreading risks as an investor compared to the all-in commitment required as a founder.Notable Questions We Asked:Q: Can you share how the concept for Levy evolved from your previous company?A: We spun off from a service business within my previous company that handled back-office operations, recognizing the persistent need across startups for such services.Q: What lessons from your past ventures have been most influential in shaping Levy?A: Learning from the complexity and limitations of automating back-office functions led us to refine our approach with Levy, focusing on service rather than full automation.Q: How do you balance your roles as both a founder and an investor in the startup ecosystem?A: My role as a founder informs my investments; I leverage personal experience to connect with and evaluate other founders, focusing on their commitment and the potential of their ventures.Q: What criteria do you prioritize when deciding to invest in a startup?A: I look for founders who are exceptionally dedicated and optimistic about their ventures, as this often correlates with the resilience needed to overcome inevitable challenges.Q: With numerous startups under your belt, what have you learned about managing growth and scalability?A: It's crucial to focus not just on scalable solutions but also on sustainable business practices that can support long-term growth and adaptation in a dynamic market environment.Chapters:00:00 Intro00:07 Company Stats00:35 Learning from Past Ventures01:42 Investment Strategies and Startup Insights04:44 Lessons from Failure06:15 Investment Successes and Philosophy08:18 Personal Investment Strategies and Startup Passion10:18 Connect with AdamListen on:OUR WEBSITEYOUTUBEAPPLE PODCASTS‍SPOTIFYAdd us on:INSTAGRAMLINKEDINa...
Company Stats:Founded: 2017Annual Revenue: $50 million+Employees: 218Episode Highlights:✅ Rhett Roberts scaled LoanPro to a $50 million enterprise by focusing on technological solutions for loan servicing.✅ Transitioned from auto lending to creating powerful software that supports diverse loan management needs.✅ Emphasizes the importance of innovation and iteration in evolving business models and technologies.Episode Summary:In this episode, Rhett Roberts, CEO of LoanPro, shares the evolutionary journey of his company, which now garners over $50 million in revenue and employs 218 people. Founded in 2017, LoanPro emerged from the practical needs of auto lending to become a leader in loan servicing software, providing tools for various types of loans and compliance needs. Rhett discusses the origins of the company, the challenges of managing a vast array of loans, and the strategic pivot from internal tools to a comprehensive tech platform for lenders. The narrative underscores the importance of adaptability, technological innovation, and customer-focused solutions in the financial services industry.Notable Questions We Asked:Q: How did LoanPro evolve from a tool within an auto lending business to a comprehensive software platform for various lenders?A: Rhett explains how the initial challenges in auto loan management led to the development of LoanPro, emphasizing the transition from a niche solution to a versatile platform that addresses broader market needs.Q: What strategies have you employed to scale LoanPro's operations and reach over $50 million in revenue?A: Rhett discusses the importance of iterative development, customer feedback, and staying ahead of technological advancements to continuously improve and expand the software's capabilities.Q: How do you ensure that LoanPro stays compliant with the varying regulations across different types of loans?A: He highlights the adaptive nature of LoanPro's software, designed to accommodate changes in legislation and industry standards, ensuring compliance and ease of use for clients.Q: Given your journey, what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs aiming to innovate within established industries?A: Rhett advises on the necessity of resilience, the willingness to pivot when necessary, and the importance of building a product that genuinely solves user problems.Q: Can you elaborate on the significance of customer feedback in LoanPro's developmental process?A: He underscores how customer insights drive the evolution of LoanPro's features and services, ensuring the software not only meets current demands but also anticipates future needs.Chapters:00:00 Intro00:07 Company Stats00:42 Business Adaptation01:42 The Birth of LoanPro06:47 The Family Business09:20 Sustainable Culture10:42 How to Connect with LoanProListen on:OUR WEBSITEYOUTUBEAPPLE PODCASTS‍SPOTIFYAdd us on:INSTAGRAMLINKEDINa...
Company Stats:Founding Year: 2007Switch to Franchise Model: Officially in 2014Annual Revenue: $25-30 millionTotal Employees: Between 400-500 across all locationsEpisode Highlights:✅ Shuckin Shack grew to $30 million in revenue through effective bootstrapping and focusing on core competencies.✅ Transition to a franchise model in 2014, expanding to 16 locations without sacrificing the essence of the original successful restaurant.✅ Maintains high standards by ensuring product quality through national contracts and empowering staff to deliver genuine service.Episode Summary:In this insightful episode, Jonathan Weathington, CEO of Shuckin Shack Seafood Franchise, shares the journey of growing the business from a single restaurant in 2007 to a thriving franchise with a revenue between $25 to $30 million. Jonathan highlights the strategic decision to bootstrap the business, fostering a robust growth trajectory without external capital. The franchise model, initiated in 2014, now boasts between 400-500 employees across all locations, demonstrating effective scaling while maintaining quality and company culture. Jonathan discusses the challenges and triumphs of franchising, emphasizing the importance of agility, risk tolerance, and focusing on strengths to succeed in the competitive restaurant industry.Notable Questions We Asked:Q: How did Shuckin Shack manage to grow significantly without external funding?A: Jonathan details the disciplined approach to bootstrapping, emphasizing agility, risk-taking, and leveraging core competencies to fuel growth.Q: What strategies have you employed to maintain consistent quality across franchise locations?A: He explains the dual approach of securing product quality through national supply contracts and enhancing customer service by empowering employees to be authentic and customer-focused.Q: What were the main challenges in transitioning from a single restaurant to a franchise model?A: Jonathan discusses the initial capital challenges, the learning curve in franchising, and the importance of selecting the right franchisees who share the brand’s values and vision.Q: How does Shuckin Shack ensure franchisee success and maintain brand standards?A: He highlights the importance of comprehensive training, ongoing support, and fostering a culture of authenticity and excellent customer service among franchisees.Q: Can you share insights into your decision-making process when scaling from one location to multiple franchises?A: Jonathan reflects on the strategic timing of scaling, assessing market readiness, and the critical role of internal sacrifices and team commitment in expanding the franchise network.Chapters:00:00 Intro00:04 Company Stats00:37 Debt-Free Bootstrapping03:30 The Franchise Model05:57 Maintaining Quality Across Franchise Locations08:45 How to ConnectListen on:OUR WEBSITEYOUTUBEAPPLE PODCASTS‍SPOTIFYAdd us on:INSTAGRAM
Company Stats:Annual Revenue: $10 millionEmployees: 2Founded: 2018Episode Highlights:✅ Pete Grett leverages decades of industry experience to deliver substantial results in supply chain management.✅ Blackrock Group thrives by focusing on high-value, long-term client relationships rather than conventional time-based billing.✅ Strategic use of technology and expertise enables exceptional efficiency, maintaining a lean operation with substantial revenue.Episode Summary:In this episode, Pete Grett, founder of the Blackrock Group, shares his unique business model in the supply chain management industry that emphasizes selling results over time. Starting the company after an unexpected career setback, Pete has grown Blackrock Group into a $10 million enterprise with just three employees over six years. He attributes this success to focusing on delivering concrete results and leveraging technology to streamline operations. Pete's approach involves working with a small number of high-ticket clients, which allows for deep relationships and extensive project commitments. He discusses the importance of experience, strategic client engagement, and the innovative use of software solutions in achieving operational excellence and customer satisfaction.Notable Questions We Asked:Q: How has Blackrock Group achieved such impressive revenue with a minimal team?A: Pete explains that the key to achieving high revenue with a small team is focusing on selling results rather than time, leveraging technology, and engaging in high-value, long-term projects.Q: What led to the founding of Blackrock Group, and how did you secure your first clients?A: After being unexpectedly fired, Pete leveraged his industry connections and expertise to establish Blackrock Group, quickly securing his first client within weeks and a major client within months.Q: What is the ideal client profile for Blackrock Group, and how do you maintain such profitable operations?A: Pete details that their ideal clients are large companies with complex logistics needs, allowing for substantial contracts and long-term engagements essential for the company's profitable business model.Q: Can you describe a typical client engagement process at Blackrock Group?A: The process involves long sales cycles and relational interactions, often requiring board-level approval, which underscores the strategic and high-stakes nature of their client engagements.Q: What strategies have you employed to pivot and integrate AI into your business model?A: Pete discusses the recent shift towards using generative AI to enhance operational efficiency and client results, signaling a forward-thinking approach to adopting new technologies in traditional industries.Chapters:00:00 Intro00:07 Company Stats00:42 The Evolution of Blackrock Group01:48 Business Model Insights04:25 Ideal Client Profile06:13 Connect with PeteListen on:OUR WEBSITEYOUTUBEAPPLE PODCASTS‍SPOTIFYAdd us on:INSTAGRAM
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