Product Hunt Radio

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On this episode Abadesi talks to Matthew Paul, software product designer, researcher, and front-end engineer. He’s a former product designer at InVision, he’s worked on software and design systems at IBM, and has designed prototypes at Apple.In this episode they talk about...The open-source design project he’s working on, and how to make good design more accessible“As a designer you always have to bring the customer back to the conversation, and you have to invite the engineers, product directors, VPs, into your conversations with the customers, and let them hear what the customers have to say.”Matthew points out that type is being used on screens in more and more places these days, including in non-traditional places like in heads-up displays in vehicles and in VR headsets. He says that it’s important to make sure that good type is accessible to everyone, everywhere, and explains how the project he’s working on will enable that.Common design pitfalls to avoid and advice for working with designers“Seriously, don’t be afraid to ask for help. At a decent company, at a decent place, no one’s gonna get dinged for asking for help. You’re going to get dinged, not right away, but you’re going to get dinged if you don’t. You just end up burning out or not doing a good job at any of the things.”He runs through a bunch of different common mistakes that people make when they’re designing a product or working with a design team. He walks through some projects in the past that he’s been a part of that didn’t work out as intended and what the key issues turned out to be on those teams.“Don’t run a design sprint unless you actually know what it is and how to do it and have a plan to make it successful.”He explains the right ratio of designers to software engineers, saying that you want to usually have one designer for every eight software engineers. He also talks about the pitfalls of running a design sprint without really knowing what you’re doing. He also talks about what it means to be “neuro-atypical” and why we need more inclusion of different thinking, learning, and communication styles in the workplace.“They expect them to be a certain person, to fit a certain mold, to have good executive functioning, to have a set of cognitive processes that allow you to work in a linear fashion. The fact is, our brains are not all built that way. That’s neurodiversity.”How he’s working on his personal development and where he learns the most“I try to meet new people. I literally have gotten every single job that I’ve ever had through Twitter, just through them reaching out to me, me reaching out to them, and introductions happening that way.” Matthew explains the evolution in his thinking over time on how best to keep up with the latest trends in design and says that he used to follow all the blogs very closely when he was younger but has moved away from that as he’s grown as a designer.He offers a book recommendation if you’re interested in getting into typography, and says that he learns the most from other people. He tries to travel often to be exposed to new people and talk to them in person about what they’re working on.“I think I just learn the most from meeting new people and hearing what they’re working on — taking a little spark of what they’re working on and seeing if I can include that in my work.”We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Headspin Mobile for their support. 😸Books and Products Recommended in This Episode1Password — Save your passwords and logins with one click.AirPods Pro — New AirPods with active noise cancellation.Detail in Typography by Jost HochuliHeadspace Sleep — Sleep section of the popular meditation app.Magnet — Window manager for Mac.Simplenote — Simple, lighter alternative to Evernote.
On this episode Abadesi talks to Pieter Levels, founder of Nomad List, a global community of international travellers working around the world, RemoteOK, a job board for remote jobs, and Hoodmaps, a unique neighborhood map app.In this episode they talk about...Bootstrapping versus VC, and why he doesn’t want to build a team around his products“I don’t want to lose my skills. If I stop making stuff and become a manger, I’m going to learn a new skills but I’m not a business guy. I’m a creative person. I get happy from making stuff that works and people use.”Pieter says that he originally thought about creating a venture-backed business, which was going to be a proto-Uber in Amsterdam, before he pivoted to bootstrapping businesses. They discuss the questionable ethics of big venture-backed businesses who have often had to compromise on their values to get really big, really fast. He says that he works with one other person on his products but otherwise works on them all on his own — and he likes it that way. He explains why he doesn’t want to become a manager and instead prefers to keep working on his current products and potential new ones on his own, instead of delegating them to someone else once they’ve become successful.The difference between creating a website and building a community, and how to think about charging for your product“It’s psychologically difficult to charge people money.”He talks about how Nomad List has evolved over time and the features he has added to the site. He explains how it transformed from a website to a community. He breaks down the benefits of a community in expanding the reach of a movement and the intangibles that a community brings with it.He talks about how he got over the psychological barriers to charging money for access to a community, and says that at one time he explained to a member that he was even somewhat embarrassed to be charging, though now he hears from people all the time about the value that it brings to their lives. He also talks about the difficulty of managing and moderating a community.What the future of remote work and the digital nomad lifestyle will look like“You start off as a nomad thinking that you are going to travel the world forever but you go insane if you travel too fast.”Pieter talks about the evolution of the digital nomad lifestyle from its infancy to now, and why it’s being talked about more than ever. He says that it was at one time a somewhat fringe movement and that he never expected it to expand like it has. He says that creating the community around the lifestyle has helped accelerate its acceptance in mainstream culture and has resulted in there being more resources than ever for digital nomads.He says that in time we won’t be calling it nomadism anymore, it will just be something that becomes a normal part of life as remote work gains more and more acceptance. He says that eventually “digital nomadism” will become a term like “netizens” (an early term for people who used the internet) that we don’t use anymore, because it is so pervasive, just like the internet has become.“I flew less than my Dutch friends last year. Travel’s really fun but it’s more about finding a place where you feel better than where you were born and grew up.”We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Headspin Mobile for their support. 😸
On this episode Abadesi talks to Waseem Daher, founder and CEO of Pilot. Pilot is bringing bookkeeping into the modern age. He has started (and sold!) two other companies prior to Pilot.In this episode they talk about...The story of starting Pilot and what Waseem learned from his two previous companies“The end-to-end solution is really what made the business work. We are going to be your bookkeeper, your finance team, rather than sell you software.”The story of Pilot goes back to his first company, where they tried to do their books themselves, but realized how tedious it was and how much could be automated. He explains why he tries to have a more focused approach to company-building now:“I try to have a better sense of what is actually important. We were so worried about all of the stuff that we thought represented an existential threat but in practice literally zero of those things mattered. Of all the things I remember agonizing about, none of them had any actual effect on the business.”He also says that he makes sure to take time to rest and recharge, rather than working all the time:“In the first company we worked all the time, 6 days a week, 12 hours a day. Despite having worked that long, there were Saturdays where I still felt behind so I worked then as well, and every time I did that, it was always a mistake.”When it makes sense to take venture capital versus bootstrap a business“There’s a very pervasive and harmful narrative in Silicon Valley that the VC way is the only way to do it. I actually think the VC way is the unnecessarily difficult or hard way.”Waseem explains how to think about starting a company and talks about the principles to keep in mind when you’re thinking about the risk and reward of different approaches:“If your objective is wealth creation, you should not start a startup, you should go work on Wall Street or something. The easiest way to make $10M is to own 100% of a company that’s worth $10M, not to own 1% of a company that’s worth $1B.”He says that “lifestyle is not a bad word” and that as a founder you don’t need to care about serving a massive market unless you’ve taken venture capital funding.“Venture capital is not right for 99% of businesses. You have to be building something that is targeting a gigantic market to have a company worth billions of dollars doing hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue.”How to think about a potential acquisition“By raising a bunch of institutional capital, you’re prevented from taking exits that are otherwise very good or very profitable.”Waseem shares what he’s learned from two previous exits, one to Oracle and the other to Dropbox. He says that it’s most important to think about how you and your company will mesh with the acquirer and choose the offer that provides the best fit rather than the highest dollar amount. He says that if the fit is good, you will create much more value through the relationship together than the value of the acquisition.“Look at the acquisition as the start of a new relationship, not the end of something.”How Waseem stays productiveHe explains that he keeps most of his apps on his phone in folders rather than on his home screen. This creates friction and ensures that he has to be intentional about what exactly he is doing when he takes out his phone.He also explains exactly how to write emails that get responses from busy people:“Craft something that is really short, that is to the point, and that has a very crisp and clear call-to-action at the end of the email. Ideally the call-to-action is as easy to respond to as possible.”We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Headspin Mobile for their support. 😸
On this episode Abadesi talks to Ethan Eismann, VP of Design at Slack. He has previously worked on flagship products at Google, Uber, and Airbnb, as well as at Adobe back when Flash was still a thing!In this episode they talk about...The consumerization of the enterprise and bringing personality to software“You need somebody who is really able to think of your customers first and who can translate your customers’ perspective into your own unique tone and personality.”Ethan talks about the trend of the “consumerization” of the enterprise, why workers are demanding better software, and how Slack has played a role in the trend. He talks about how they’ve brought some personality to software that is typically utilitarian, to the delight of millions of users. Ethan tells the story of the pivot that Slack made from being a gaming company called Glitch to a communication tool for the enterprise. He also talks about how one of the early employees helped to shape the unique personality that Slack has today.The design philosophy at Slack and how they use hypotheses in designing their products“It’s critically important to have a perspective on what your customers need. They will often tell you where to focus. They have these unsatisfied needs and deep wants and desires. They will tell you the path.”Ethan breaks down the design philosophy at Slack, explaining some of the unique processes that they use to develop software. He says that they iterate rapidly, and are constantly testing new features on their own live data from their internal Slack channels. He says that they encourage their engineering teams to contribute design ideas as well. “We try to keep a history of our prototypes and we document the learning that comes along with each prototype. We have a library of the past experiments that we’ve tried and what we’ve learned.”He explains their process for testing their hypotheses and how they determine what to do based on the results of their experiments. He says that sometimes they find unexpected results which change the direction of their efforts.“When you're thinking about your product, consider that people only have so many cognitive calories to spend at any given moment. If you have a complex product that could be okay, as long as you break it down into simple concepts that people can consume.”Customer-centric design and what it means to communicate energy as well as information“Fundamentally, the companies that have been most successful are the ones that have prioritized their customers. They’re always making time every week to get closer to customers. Having a customer-centric company means that everyone has a perspective because everyone in the company is spending time with them.”Ethan talks about the importance of listening closely to what your customers have to say. He says that at Slack they are constantly co-creating with their users. He breaks down exactly how they do this, including how they uses shared channels to interface with power users around the world who are always sharing feedback and helping them shape the direction of the product. He also breaks down why communication is not only about information, how they are using things like emojis to communicate energy in addition to information, and how this is allowing workers to express their unique voice.“Communication is information as well as energy. Software tools are often great at allowing you to create information but don’t always let you express energy. We try to design in a way that allows individual personalities to shine.”We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Headspin, Safety Wing, and Trulioo for their support. 😸Companies and Products Recommended on This EpisodeOP-Z Synthesizer — An advanced fully portable 16-track sequencer and synthesizer. OXO Spatulas — Designed to serve dishes with comfort, efficiency and style.Slack Shared Channels — Allows Slack teams in different organizations to use Slack to collaborate together as easily and productively as they do internally.
On this episode Abadesi talks to Michelle Bacharach, founder and CEO of FINDMINE, a retail technology company that uses machine learning to scale the currently manual and tedious process of product curation. They are a fast-growing company with clients like Adidas, Perry Ellis, and Callaway.In this episode they talk about...What led Michelle to found FINDMINE, and how they’re changing the buying experience“We’re trying to close the information gap between the customer, who isn’t an expert on what they’re buying, and the brand, who is an expert at what they’re selling. The customer gets better information and spends more money and the brand is happier because they make more revenue and they save time."The inspiration for FINDMINE came from Michelle’s experiences as a shopper. She says that she struggled with buying things that might have looked intriguing at the point of purchase, but realized later that she didn’t have the use for it that she thought she did, or it didn’t work with the rest of her purchases, as with a couch that didn’t match. She says that she started the company to help the people at companies who know the most about products and their potential use cases transfer that information to the buyers of those products. She says that they are using machine learning to hone the marketing campaigns for products and in the process saving time for those selling products and increasing customer satisfaction on the buyer’s side.“Artificial intelligence and automation are very valuable when there’s a bottleneck of human effort, and we scale out creative human effort. The starting point is a human they set the vision for what this fashion brands stands for and how they define style.”Her advice for startups pitching big companies as potential clients“Pitch the companies that you’re trying to land as clients. Maybe one takes a chance on you and if nothing else, you’re going to learn a lot, like what features are important and what the product feedback is.”Michelle explains how, as a relatively young company, they have landed contracts with so many big-name brands. She explains the process that she used to pitch them, and talks about her key pieces of advice for smaller companies pitching bigger ones. She says that it makes sense to aim for clients that have fewer legal requirements for suppliers when you’re just getting started.“People don't necessarily always know they have a problem or the severity of the problem that they have or how to tackle it. You can get analysis paralysis from a customer sometimes. When they realize there's a problem, that's half the battle. They may realize we are the solution, but they don't know how to start using the tools.“How to close enterprise customers“It’s so funny because our whole mission is to help the buyer understand how to be successful with the product that they’re buying and that’s exactly the same thing that we have to do for our customers. They have less information about how to be successful with our FINDMINE technology than we do and we have to close that gap for them. It’s so full circle.”She walks through the process of landing a client from the initial pitch to signing the contract. She says that it’s important to educate your customers on the true value of the product to them when they don’t know exactly what kind of problem they have or how to solve it, let alone with new technologies that they may be unfamiliar with. She talks about the value of case studies and why successfully landing just one client can lead to many more.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Headspin, Safety Wing, and Trulioo for their support. 😸
On this episode Abadesi talks to Ryan Simonetti, co-founder and CEO of Convene. They call themselves commercial real estate’s first workplace-as-a-service platform. He co-founded the company in 2009 and have raised $260M in funding to date. He is also an investor in and advisor to tech startups.In this episode they talk about...The story of founding Convene and his advice for finding a co-founder“Partnerships evolve over time. You have to be open-minded enough to go on that journey together.”Ryan grew up in an entrepreneurial household and worked in the finance and real estate industries in New York City where he saw an emerging need in the space. He says that they’ve seen lifestyle becoming a primary concern for people that they view their clients as users rather than as customers. He co-founded the company with his business partner and long-time friend Christopher Kelly, intending to disrupt the commercial real estate industry. He also explains his philosophy for finding a co-founder. “When thinking about choosing a co-founder, you have to know yourself first. You want to make sure that you are aligning yourself someone who is complementary.”How they have created a strong company culture and the importance of gratitude at Convene“We obsess over customer experience but we put that same energy and attention into team member experience.”Ryan explains how they have created a team that can deliver the consistently high standards expected by their members. He says that it starts with the right culture and philosophy, which means hiring the right people. He says that building the right culture begins even before someone is hired. It starts right at the initial interview process, where they eliminate candidates if they don’t meet the high standards that Convene has for culture.He also talks about the culture of gratitude that they have instilled in the workforce and says that their executives pass around handwritten notes about what they appreciate that other team members have done.Ryan’s predictions for the future of work in an increasingly distributed world“I think that there is a whole generation of companies today that are being born that will never sign a lease for their own office and will outsource to companies regardless of how big they ever get. It’s remote-first and experience-first.”He explains the three big trends that he says will define the future of work and explains the implications for his business of the remote-first companies that are being created around the world.“Even though the future of work will be more distributed… no matter what happens, place will continue to be really important in the future of work.”How he is investing in his personal development“Don't be afraid to ask for help and surround yourself with people with more experience than you. Never be afraid to steal wisdom. I like to think of myself in the wisdom theft business — the more I can steal, the smarter I feel.”Ryan says that it is important to him to relax and de-stress, and that this is part of the key to his productivity. He also explains how he makes time to be present with his wife and children consistently. He also says that he was not afraid to “ask dumb questions” when he was a first-time founder starting Convene. He credits surrounding himself with mentors and coaches that he could ask for advice for his success thus far, and suggests that founders do the same.He also talks about some of his favorite products and a great book that he read that helped him as he scaled Convene.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Headspin,Safety Wing, and Trulioo for their support. 😸Companies, Products, and Books Mentioned in This EpisodeBlinkist — Key insights from 2,000+ non-fiction books.Headspace — Meditation made simple in just 10 minutes a dayPeloton — World-class indoor cycling wherever you are.The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky
On this episode Abadesi talks to Jill Salzman, founder of The Founding Moms, a “global collective of offline masterminds and online resources for mom entrepreneurs.” She was formerly the founder of a music management firm and was also the creator of a line of baby jewelry.In this episode they talk about...The story of the creation of The Founding Moms and how it’s helping mom entrepreneurs around the globe“No one wants to say that they’re a mom entrepreneur. They’re an entrepreneur. They don’t like to use the word mom. They don’t want people to know they’re distracted by kids. There are tons of moms who are making things but don’t want to say it because nobody else is.”Jill tells the story of the businesses she founded prior to this one, including her time managing bands and how it was akin to building communities, although in a very different manner than she does today with The Founding Moms. She says that the community and business grew out of an inauspicious beginning after she created an informal meetup in Chicago for moms with businesses.She was surprised at the number of people who showed up and also that there were people from outside her city who were requesting a chapter in their own cities. The Founding Moms has since grown to include countries around the world, with chapters in Singapore, Guatemala, and more.“I posted on Meetup and I said ‘if you’re a woman with a business and a baby, please come have coffee with me and tell me how you’re doing it because I think I’m going to lose my mind.”How she grew the community and her advice for those who are new to community-building“I think we need to eradicate the idea of networking being a dirty word.”Initially, Jill showed up to the meetups without a formal plan or agenda for what should take place. She realized that when she showed up with a piece of paper with handwritten notes, people commented on how organized she was. She then started showing up with a printed piece of paper, and has since created much more structure for the meetups.She says that in her case and for those new to community-building, it’s best to show up and listen and ask a lot of questions of your community members. If you listen to them, they’ll tell you what they need and lead you to the ways that you need to change to grow the community further. She explains why you shouldn’t feel the need to include absolutely everyone in your community and why in fact it’s actually best to set yourself a goal to make sure that the wrong types of people are not feeling a part of the community.She also gives her advice on branding, outreach, and content marketing.“I know in my heart of hearts ten years in there is nothing that trumps meeting up in real life at all.”How she approached the decision to charge for access and subsequently increase prices, as well as how she stays productive“If you learn to lean on the community and become a little more vulnerable than you’re used to, I can’t tell you how exponentially you’re going to grow.”Jill talks about the thought process that went into deciding whether to charge for access to the community and how she came up with the number that she would charge per month. She started at $10 and has since increased it to $35. She says that everything she does is “literally trial and error” and that she simply Googled what other communities were charging. She explains why you shouldn’t be afraid to charge for your community and how to overcome your fear that your members will leave if you do so.She also explains how she manages her schedule, why she uses three (!) virtual assistants and the work they each do, as well as how her team of contractors at The Founding Moms works together.“I have three virtual assistants. I am a huge VA proponent. I think you’re all missing out if you don’t have one because they’re extremely affordable and amazing at getting things done for you.”She also talks about some of the products she’s loving right now.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Headspin for their support.Companies and Products Mentioned on This EpisodeLoom — Seamless screen, mic, and camera recording for Chrome.Marco Polo — Find your phone by shouting MARCO!Slack — Be less busy. Real-time messaging, archiving and search.
On this episode Abadesi talks to Brianne Kimmel, founder of Work Life, an early stage venture firm in Silicon Valley that invests in tools and services for the modern workplace. She was formerly head of product and GTM strategy at Zendesk.In this episode they talk about...Why she started Work Life and what she learned while fundraising“There are a lot of non-traditional folks who are breaking into venture, many of which are solo GPs.”Brianne started angel investing on the side when she was working at Zendesk. She enjoyed working with and meeting new entrepreneurs so decided to start her own fund to “do what she was doing on evenings and weekends full-time.”She explains the focus of the fund and talks about the fundraising process for it. Initially, she says, she started with a “friends and family'” round before she became comfortable raising from other people. She started pitching to people outside her network and tried to run a “tight process.” She explains her strategy for follow-up and why her personal productivity regime was such a big part of her pitch. She also talks about why she created her own list of questions that were often asked by potential investors and how she continually weaved those back into her pitch deck.“The list of FAQs kept getting smaller because the pitch was getting incrementally better every time I give it.”No-code tools, distributed teams, and the future of work“Only 0.5% of people can code, so for the 99.5% of us code is actually a real barrier.”Brianne is passionate about no-code tools, especially those that can help employees be more productive in the workplace. She talks about the importance of growing “bottom-up” in the enterprise market and talks about some of the companies she’s investing in that are employing that strategy.“Increasingly, startups will compete on culture and culture alone and having great tools and creating a very inclusive work environment is one great way to do that.”She also talks about some of the tools that are enabling remote work and why more and more early-stage teams are going fully distributed. She says that people are traveling more, the world is getting smaller, and people who formerly didn’t have flexibility at work now have the flexibility to work from home or anywhere else in the world.“The question is not, ‘can you find enough work?’ It’s, ‘can you find the right problems that you want to work on?’”How she’s building a community around her fund“People are a little bit tired of networking. They have to be the best version of themselves at all times and come in very confident but you end up leaving with something that doesn’t feel truly authentic.”Brianne started building communities while at Zendesk. She also runs a program called SaaS School in San Francisco. She talks about how she built a community of fellow product managers who met regularly in an informal setting where they could be open, authentic, and vulnerable with each other. She says that she’s doing the same for her fund and explains why it’s important to build a community when investing. Brianne also gives tips for fellow community-builders.She also talks about some of the products she’s loving right now.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.Companies and Products Mentioned on This EpisodeBunches — The easiest way to start a paid group chat about anything.Canary — A complete security system in a single device.Chroma Stories — Create stunning and engaging stories with easy-to-use tools.Deep Sentinel — A robust, AI-powered home security system.Muze — Messaging and social media platform.
On this episode Abadesi talks to John Henry, venture partner at Harlem Capital and host of Hustle on VICELAND.In this episode they talk about...How he got into entrepreneurship and how the expectations for today’s entrepreneurs have changed“I think the world of business and entrepreneurship can seem pretty scary these days. There's so much at stake, you got to get it right, you got to raise money, you got to go public.“John got his start as an entrepreneur through trying to help out his family when he was young, starting a dry cleaning service in New York. He says that he didn’t have big aspirations at the time and that he didn’t come to entrepreneurship with visions of a glamorous lifestyle in his future.He says that these days entrepreneurship can seem very daunting and that rather than feeling the weight of the expectations that people have you should instead take the approach of doing something creative and fun and then see if you can sell it to folks.“I have to be honest, if I were starting now versus a decade ago when I started I might feel like the weight of the the expectation might have crushed the seed of enthusiasm that I had to start.”Why he says getting a regular job is riskier than starting a company“There are a lot of macroeconomic changes and not only are older corporations cutting jobs but you also see it in new companies. For me taking a normal job felt riskier because your own income was not in your own hands.”When John started working he realized that it would be better for him to put his time and effort into building a company instead of putting it into working for someone else at a conventional job. He says that although it can take years to get off the ground, it’s nevertheless better to work at something that you own entirely.How he discovered financial literacy and how to be a “multi-dimensional earner”“I’ve discovered this entirely new way of earning that I never would have known about when I was a doorman ten years ago because back then my best understanding of how to earn income was clocking in.”John says that he is investing in assets rather than experiences these days. He says that through doing so he wants to “build something for your family that can’t be taken away.” He explains how he learned about how to effectively invest his money after coming from a disadvantaged background where he didn’t normally have much exposure to those types of concepts.He also talks about how to find a good business idea for aspiring entrepreneurs and how he has diversified his income streams so that he’s not reliant on any one of them. He explains that he is making sure to “circulate” the funds that he earns so that he’s always re-investing and putting them to work instead of just stashing them away in a savings account.“You have to meet the moment. For anyone who is listening who is curious for one reason or another what they can do to earn income, look around at the moment. There are a lot of changes that are specific to right now, to 2020.”The history of VC and how they’re changing the flow of capital to underrepresented founders at Harlem CapitalJohn explains some of the ins-and-outs of venture capital and the history of the space including how it came to be that a “handful of zip codes and a handful of schools determine which companies go public.” He explains what kinds of barriers to entry exist for people who find themselves outside of the networks of privileged people with connections to the large institutions that normally contribute to venture capital funds (yes, venture capitalists have to fundraise too!).He also talks about how he invests in personal development and talks about some of the products he’s loving right now.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.Companies and Products Mentioned on This EpisodeLED Ring Light — Beautifully lit photos and video calls.Nespresso — The connected espresso machine.Sodastream — Carbonated water, at home.
On this episode Abadesi talks to Kathryn Duryea Wyndowe, founder and CEO of Year & Day. They make beautiful tableware that they sell direct-to-consumer online via their website.In this episode they talk about...How she came up with the idea for Year & Day“I felt very empowered by this idea of buying a new set of plates outside of this proposition of getting married and a wedding registry.”Kathryn graduated from Stanford GSB and started working at Tiffany & Co., helping to bring them online. She was inspired by the new direct-to-consumer brands and had always loved the ritual of setting the table. She decided she wanted to make “tableware fun again.” Through trying to buy a set of tableware for herself, she found that the experience was confusing and uninspiring. After going through that, she “turned on the other side of her brain” and dug into the market for tableware, which accounts for $7B in annual spend, which led her to start Year & Day.Her crazy year preparing to launch the brand“It took about 11 months, almost a year, to go from basically this is my full attention, full-time professional endeavor to now we are selling to customers.”Kathryn thought that she could launch in eight months, but it actually took almost a year. She talks about the wide range of tasks that she had to tackle, basically by herself, from design to manufacturing to fulfilment to arranging for web development. She talks about “fighting against the inertia of the world” to will the brand new company into existence. She says that her launch strategy was to email 500 of her friends about the company and that in the beginning she had her brother doing customer service. Since then they’ve grown to a team of 8 based in San Francisco.“All aspects of starting a business are both wildly thrilling with high highs and low lows and real challenges, but what's so exciting about those early months and days is that this idea that you formulated, now you're starting to bring it into shape into the real world.”The power of Instagram and the rise of direct-to-consumer“A lot of the product discovery these days happens on social media on platforms like Instagram. People are relying more and more on people that they follow there to help them discover products that they’ll love, that suit their lives.”The rules for marketing to the digital-native generation have changed with the advent of social media platforms and influencers. Kathryn explains why Instagram is such a powerful platform and why people are gravitating towards a different kind of shopping experience. She talks about the importance of curation when it comes to products like tableware.She also talks about some of her favorite productivity hacks, including why she meditates, works from home one morning a week, and why she still uses good old fashioned pen-and-paper for her to-do lists.“As an entrepreneur you could literally work 24 hours a day and still feel like your list is growing, so in order to have a healthy balance you need to actually set some boundaries.”She also discusses some of her favorite products.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Knowable for their support. 😸Companies and Products Mentioned on This EpisodeAudm — The world’s best longform journalism, read aloud.Insight Timer — The best free meditation timer.Snagit — The best screen capture software.
On this episode Abadesi talks to Bill Loundy and Jeff Camera, co-founders of Readup. Jeff is the sole developer on the team, and Bill handles everything else. Readup is a social reading platform designed to help you track and improve your online reading habits.In this episode they talk about...How they came up with the idea for Readup and how it has evolved over time“Pick a problem that’s personal for you, because otherwise how can you care and keep working on it?”Bill and Jeff are longtime collaborators and have actually been friends since preschool — when they’re not working on Readup, they also like to work on motorcycles together. They explain to Aba how the original spark of an idea for Readup evolved into what it is today. They were frustrated with social media and were lamenting the quality of the comments on online articles, so they got together to build a Chrome extension that would measure the amount of time that you spent on a page, in order to determine whether a person had actually read the article or not. It has since turned into a new take on community and led to the creation of a tool that is like “Fitbit for online reading.” They also discuss the design of the site and why they’ve taken a minimalist approach to it.How you can have a more peaceful existence on the web and the problems with the current state of social media“What we’re doing is measuring very precisely the amount of time and engagement that you have on an article and tying that to your reputation and experience, so in some ways we are actually a true attention economy.”They explain why social media is broken today and why we are perpetually distracted online. They say that social media has become like a slot machine, but that there is no reason that we should have to navigate a slot machine to find someone else’s baby pictures. They point out that we need tools to help us have a better relationship with the web, because we can’t exercise the immense amount of self-control that we would need to block out all the distraction out there on the web. They also talk about some of their favorite books about how the internet has evolved and the unhealthy trends that have sprung up from it.The challenges of being a maker and how they have overcome them“Sometimes things are really dark and like it doesn't feel like things are connecting and making sense. For me, the way to survive that experience is to always remember how big the need is for what we're building.”They talk about the immense effort that went into getting something out there — not just in building the site but also in overcoming the self-doubt they felt to finally release what they’d been working on into the world. “The extreme indifference that the rest of the world has to your ideas has kind of helped. The first time we put it out there it was crickets. When we posted it again, we would start to get more feedback and it was helpful. I don’t know what we were afraid of.”They talk about how they overcome the dark days that they sometimes encounter when working as indie makers, and why being reminded of the magnitude of the problem they’re solving helps them persevere through them.They also talk about why books are still their favorite products of all time.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Knowable and NetSuite for their support. 😸
On this episode Abadesi talks to Cat Noone, CEO and designer at Stark, a suite of integrated accessibility compliance tools for teams. She is also co-founder of Iris, a modern-day emergency alert system.In this episode they talk about...The story behind StarkCat was raised by her grandma and says that that experience ingrained in her the drive to create things for people who are otherwise “put aside.” She is a designer by trade and turned out to be an accidental founder. She explains how the project arose out of her earlier work on Iris, which involved creating experiences for older adults. Stark ended up being a product that they built for themselves when they were working on Iris and then evolved into its own standalone product that they now sell to other teams. Why accessible design matters“There may be only twenty thousand people on a product using it that have only one arm but what you don't realize is that there are more individuals that have a broken arm. There are also millions of people that are new parents for the first time and only have access to one arm. So now your 20,000 just skyrocketed to 2 million.”Cat talks about why designing for accessibility and inclusion is important and talks about some of the other initiatives underway in the tech industry to make the web a more inclusive place for everyone. She explains why it’s important from an ethics perspective, but also why it makes financial sense to do so given the risk of negative PR and potential lawsuits. She says that sometimes compliance can be daunting but they are working to make it easier to be compliant with accessibility regulations through their work at Stark. Why they are “investing in customers” at Stark“I’m a huge proponent of investing in customers and so I think a lot of people think about cost of acquisition but we should ask 'how do we build a community that give back and in turns fuels our mission to be the gold standard.'"Cat explains the company philosophy they have at Stark and discusses what it’s like to be a first-time CEO of a “company that’s going somewhere.” She talks about how they think about culture as they grow and the initiatives that they are working on to grow the company, including content marketing, newsletters, and community. She explains what it means to be investing in customers and why they don’t look at customers as an acquisition cost. She talks about why traditional sales don’t work in a company like Stark and why sometimes the best practices for big companies don’t translate well to smaller ones.How she uses time design to be productive“I was someone who spent a lot of time working for a long period of time. It’s hard for me to sit here and say you can’t do that, because that’s how I got to where I am now. If I could go back in time, I would probably still work those long hours — but I’d take care of myself.”Cat admits that she struggled with managing her time in the past but that with some help she’s been able to “design her time” more effectively which has allowed her to get a lot done in the time that she has as a new mom. She says that her entire workday is planned out and that she starts by reading for thirty minutes every day, which she says helps her approach her work with a calm mindset rather than being frantic about all the things she has to do that day. She also says that she works first on the three things that she needs to make sure she gets done in a given day and then starts tackling the rest. She also says that she still makes sure to take care of herself and says that she can be the best mom and businessperson by prioritizing herself.She also talks about some of her favorite products, including the classics like Twitter, Slack, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Airtable, as well as DuckDuckGo for search. She says that she uses a record player to listen to music and explains what it is about vinyl that makes the music sound so much different from electronic music formats. We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Knowable and NetSuite for their support. 😸
On this episode Abadesi talks to Sylvain Kalache, co-founder of Holberton School, a project-based alternative to college where you can become a software engineer in two years. They have campuses in the United States and Colombia. Sylvain formerly worked at Slideshare and LinkedIn.In this episode they talk about...The story of founding Holberton and why a new type of school is needed“Some companies are tech and the ones who are not, are either becoming a tech company or they are going to die. Even a non-tech company, like healthcare, retail, media, transportation, you name it, they all need software engineers.”Sylvain talks about how they came up with the idea for Holberton and the experiences he had that convinced him of the need for the school. He explains how he and his co-founder decided to set out to fix those issues with Holberton. He says that many people he interviewed when he was working as an engineer had spent a ton of money on an education but didn’t have the right skills for the job they were applying for.How they designed their software engineering curriculum“It’s really hard in the first place to find a good software engineer, so it’s exceptionally hard to find a good software engineer who’s also a good teacher.”He talks about the hectic first year of working on the school and what it was like getting everything ready for the first cohort of students in January 2016. They needed to create a curriculum for their school and says that they relied on the community to help them figure out what to include in their education. He also points out that the world of software engineering moves at a really fast pace, so it’s important to have a curriculum that can be flexible and always up-to-date.How to find motivated and passionate people“Most of the people I would interview were right out of college and spent a fortune or took out huge student loans to take this training. They were not prepared to take on the job. They knew things, but not the type of skills that we would need from these people.”Sylvain talks about how to find motivated people in general, which is useful for both admissions at Holberton — when it comes to figuring out who to accept or not, as well as hiring at Holberton — because in the early days of the company it is difficult to match the perks that huge companies offer, so you have to find people who believe in the product or vision and have a lot of motivation and passion. He says that looking at someone’s side projects, blog, and GitHub can give you a good indication of how self-motivated they are.How they are working to increase representation in the tech industry“We gave a lot, as much as we could, not expecting something in return. The power of community is something that we find in Holberton in the learning methodology itself, where students are pushed to work in groups and where helping is not cheating, but helping is collaboration.”He says that admissions at Holberton are completely blind and that the system for admissions that they’ve developed is automated. He says that there is talent everywhere, but that a lot of that talent is missing the education, which is where Holberton comes in. He says that their program is comprised of half people of color and nearly half of their students are women. He says that they baked in inclusiveness into their philosophy and operations from the very first days of the company.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Knowable and NetSuite for their support. 😸
On this episode Abadesi talks to Yassmin Abdel-Magied, a mechanical engineer, social advocate, writer, and broadcaster. She is the author of multiple books and is the founder of Youth Without Borders.In this episode they talk about...Her aspirations to work in Formula 1“I remember it was the best half-day of my life. I walk past two McLaren F1s on my way into the office and I’m working with all these people with English accents and then I get a call from the admin lady at lunch and she’s like ‘hey, do you have your work visa?’ I didn’t, so they escort me off the premises.”Yassmin grew up in Brisbane where as a young girl she wanted to be a Formula 1 driver. At nineteen years old she managed to find a job with an F1 team in England. She flew across the world for the job only to find out on the first day that she didn’t have the appropriate visa to work at the firm. While staying in the UK for a few weeks afterwards, she honed her hustling skills.How she hustled her way into jobs“I wallowed about for a bit and then I started cold-emailing people in the motorsport industry to ask if I could meet them. So I started catching trains to meet all these heads of different motorsport teams. I got offered a place in a really exclusive program but it cost 50,000 pounds, so I decided to work in oil and gas, which is really where my engineering career started.”Yassmin’s career is a clinic in hustling. From humble beginnings she worked her way to a potential job at an F1 team, and when that didn’t work out as expected, she hustled her way into another job at an oil and gas firm. While working in the industry, she managed to complete a program that normally takes five years in just eighteen months and was poised to take over her own drilling rig.Navigating engineering culture“I did mechanical engineering which was super male-dominated then I went into like motorsport and the drilling industry. Throughout I was surrounded by a very strong culture which said women were just less valuable. You internalize that and you think the way for you to be valuable is to be as close to a man as possible and to really minimize your womanhood. So I for a long time was also like, ‘yeah women probably aren't really good engineers, I'm just the exception.‘She talks about the pernicious culture in male-dominated industries such as engineering and how it affected her mindset and how it held back her career. She explains how she had to fight for credibility and how certain people supported her on her journey.How she has successfully pivoted her career multiple timesYassmin no longer works in motorsport or oil and gas. She wrote a book about her experiences as a person of color and what it was like working on the rigs. The company she worked for did not take kindly to the publication of her first book, so she pivoted her career to becoming a full-time writer and broadcaster. She talks about realizing that the company you work for is not a family and that the company will always put the company first. She has also since pivoted from Australia to London. We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Knowable and NetSuite for their support. 😸
On this episode Abadesi talks to Ruben Harris, founder and CEO of Career Karma. They help match you to the best coding bootcamp for you and publish a directory of over 450 bootcamps.In this episode they talk about...How he broke into tech and how Career Karma is helping people get into the industry“There are currently about 50,000 people graduating from four year universities every year [in software engineering] and about 40,000 people graduating from bootcamps. There are about half a million open jobs for software engineers. In the next five years there will be about 400,000 people graduating from four year universities and 1.4 million open jobs — so about a million people have to get jobs outside of college.”Ruben talked about his hustler’s approach to getting into investment banking after having graduated from a small school. He applied the same approach to getting into tech and talks about what he wishes others knew about the industry knowing what he knows now. He explains what Career Karma is doing to help more people get into the industry and talks about the transparency they are providing in the bootcamp landscape. He also talks about some of the benefits of downloading their app, like coaching, mentorship, and motivation.How to level up your career“As a software engineer and really anybody in general, you really want to think of time as your most precious commodity. Whether you’re exploring college or online courses or bootcamps, you want to factor in the time that it takes you to complete the program, so that whatever time you’re investing now creates more time for you in the future.”Ruben says that most people who are in software engineering now are actually self-taught. He talks about how software engineering is analogous to the music industry in that most musicians are not classically trained either, yet the music industry is accepting of most people, regardless of what their background is like, if they can do the work. He explains how people who are already working can increase their earning power by enrolling in a program that provides them with a credential, without having to go back to school. What makes a good software engineer“The ability to communicate is underrated — being able to communicate what you want, what you need help with, what your value is, the way that you talk to yourself, the way that you talk in a corporate environment, the way that you communicate with others, the way that you express your emotions, the way that you express how you feel.He breaks down what makes people in the Career Karma community successful, talks about the importance of passion, and why it’s important to treat your work like play. He also talks about the perception of hiring managers and why presenting yourself in the best possible light is an important piece of the puzzle.The importance of humility“Humility matters. There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance and I think confidence is extremely important, but you can be humble and confident at the same time.”Ruben talks about confidence and humility, and why it’s important to get the balance between them right. He says that it’s like playing the cello, where a good musician can move a room to applause even while playing very quietly, while beginner musicians want to play as loud as they can all the time. He also talks about authenticity and one of his favorite books of all time: The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance.“If you think about most people who go to work, they have masks on. If they go home and are a different person, they were pretending to be a different person to get the job. What would the workplace feel like if everybody came to work with their mask off?”We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 😸
In today's episode we have collected the very best from the interviews we've done with founders in 2019. Mathilde Collin, CEO of Front, shared lessons on building a strong company culture and talked about the questions she asks when hiring. Sahil Lavingia, founder and CEO of Gumroad, told the story of founding the company and explained some of the challenges that come with taking venture capital.Sharmadean Reid, founder of Beautystack, talked about the unique way she ran her fundraising process, the power of storytelling, and had some great tips for entrepreneurs raising capital.Delane Parnell, founder and CEO of PlayVS, talked about failure and how facing adversity early in his career helped him build PlayVS.David Heinemeier Hansson,co-founder and CTO of Basecamp, talked about how to build a sustainable company and why “small is not a stepping stone.”We'll be back with Season 3 in January!Thanks for listening! Be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 😸
On this episode Abadesi talks to Thomas Kutzman, co-founder and co-CEO of Prevu. Prevu is a real estate technology platform that saves homebuyers money.In this episode they talk about...How he decided to leave his finance job to start Prevu“I think we got to the point where we were talking about the idea too much and you hit a moment as an entrepreneur and you think to yourself, if i don’t do this, will I kick myself if someone else does, and we hit that point.”Thomas and his co-founder worked in the finance industry and Thomas worked in Geneva as an equities trader for a US hedge fund before he left the firm to start Prevu. He talks about how his finance background helped him with starting the company. He says that it gave him a greater understanding of the real estate market but more importantly, working with risk all day made him more comfortable with taking the risk to start the company.Advice on starting a tech company as a non-technical founder“I had no intention of being the person who was going to code our application, but I wanted to be able to understand it, so I could properly communicate. If you’re a non-technical co-founder you should at least invest time in learning the language so you can be more productive in your conversations with your product team.”Prevu uses a ton of technology in their platform, but neither Thomas nor his co-founder were technical. This can be a daunting challenge for many founders but Thomas talks about how they found the right people to do the work for them in the early days. He also says that he took courses on Ruby on Rails so that he could communicate effectively with the people who were doing the work for them and so that he had a better understanding of how everything was going to work.Why they bootstrapped the company and how doing so helped them“By being bootstrapped and by being disciplined with how we used capital, we were able to last far longer and prove out the concept in a much more attractive way from a data perspective, from the amount of traction we had, and the actual learnings on our customer acquisition, our technology, and where we wanted to go to company. I think if you have the luxury to try to bootstrap, bootstrap as long as possible, so you have data and a story to tell investors.”Some founders view bootstrapping as something that is forced upon makers when they are unable to secure funding, but we’ve had plenty of people on the podcast who say that it is instead a more desirable path to growth. Thomas believes this is the case, and explains why it is a better option than raising venture funding. He says that it forced them to have operational discipline and to make sure that they knew exactly where every dollar they were spending was going. All of thiss also helped them when they later went on to raise funds from venture investors.Lessons on leadership and how he invests in personal growth“For leadership, it comes down to if you show you’re going to learn something that you don’t know, others around you will go and learn something they don’t know and you’ll find your passions that way.”Thomas talks about his leadership style and how they manage being co-CEOs. He talks about how he’s trying to grow personally and as a leader, and gives out some of his book recommendations. He also tells us which podcasts he’s always listening to and says that he actually hosted a real estate podcast himself. He explains that doing so helped him learn a ton from the people he invited on the show.He also talks about some of his (and his wife’s!) favorite products.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 😸Companies and Products Mentioned In This EpisodeAllbirds — Silicon Valley’s favorite shoe.Rent The Runway— Rent four items of clothing every month, for $89.
On this episode Abadesi talks to Dave Charest, Director of Content Marketing at Constant Contact. He’s here to walk us through all the common mistakes that makers make when marketing their products, and how you can avoid them.In this episode they talk about...How to contribute to an online community as a marketer“Don’t approach it as an opportunity to get your message in front of people, approach it as an opportunity to participate. You can go there and say, ‘hey, check out our stuff,” or you can go there and ask questions and be part of that community. That’s the big difference.”Dave and Aba talk a bit about the different types of marketing approaches that exist and the fact that marketing can sometimes get technical. He talks about why he says “if you’re thinking about starting with content marketing, then yes you should start with content marketing.” He breaks down how to be a good online citizen when you’re approaching a community on behalf of your product, and how to make sure you add value to the discussion, rather than only viewing it from the perspective of how to get the most out of the community that you can.Top tips for developers, designers, and others who are first-time marketers“One of the downfalls of social media is often we don’t see the months, potentially years, of work that went into getting the ten thousand or ten million followers. There’s that saying about overnight success: ‘it took me years to become an overnight success.’” Dave gives his advice for people who are designers, developers, and other makers who usually do not dabble in the marketing space. He says that you need to have a long-term orientation and ensure your plans stretch to twelve to eighteen months, which is when you would expect to start seeing some benefit back to the company or product from your efforts.Which marketing channels to focus onDave points out that the big social media platforms each have their own unique personalities, and that the people that you are trying to reach probably have a personality that meshes with one of the platforms more than the others. That is likely where you are going to find the audience members that you want to reach. He says that it’s also important to think about which channel matches your own personality and interests, so that there’s a good fit between you and the platform, since you are going to be spending a lot of time on it.Common mistakes people make in email marketing“When you're thinking about writing an email, think about answering three questions: What are you offering? Why should the reader care? And what do you want them to do next? If you can answer those three questions, you're actually going to write a pretty persuasive email because you're saying hey, this is what I have for you here today, this is why I think you'll find this thing valuable, and here's what I want you to do next to get it or do it.”Dave talks about why email marketing is so powerful as well as the pitfalls that first-timers encounter and how you can avoid them. He says that it’s important to remember that email lists should always be opt-in, meaning you shouldn’t even think about adding all those emails that you’ve gathered over time without getting permission first. He also talks about the importance of being succinct, making sure that your emails are responsive for mobile, and why perhaps “the original vanity metrics were opens and clicks on emails.”We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 😸
On this episode Abadesi talks to Tige Savage, co-founder with Steve Case of Revolution, and managing partner of Revolution Ventures. He was formerly VP of Time Warner Ventures and got his start at age fourteen working at a computer store, where he helped create a community for customers before there was a commercially available internet.In this episode they talk about...How to think about whether to raise capital“Work on product-market fit, identity what you’re good at, be willing to back away from what you’re bad at, and continue to iterate over time. Don’t over-capitalize yourself until you believe you have something that works. Then make the decision on whether to take on other people’s capital.”Tige talks about why they intentionally focus on markets and companies outside of Silicon Valley, and how this has benefitted them. He says that it’s been fifteen years to their “overnight success” at Revolution and talks about how he got into the venture capital game in the first place. He also talks about why the thought process when raising capital from LPs for a venture firm is similar to the process of thinking about raising money from investors for your company. The future of direct-to-consumer and Tige’s breakdown of a number of companies and industries“If my kids were to go back thirty years and see how things were purchased back then, they would be astounded at the friction that’s in the system. The companies that understand ways to deliver to consumers what they want when they want with the least amount of friction are finding the most success and the incumbents that don’t do that have been or will be threatened.”Tige says that it’s “never been a better time to be a consumer.” They’ve invested in a number of different DTC companies and Tige breaks down the market opportunity and why the founder and the idea were a great fit for each of them. He gives his analysis of why DTC is flourishing, including why the millennial generation has fuelled the DTC boom. He talks about some of the unique ways that these startups are taking what have traditionally been online sales techniques and applying them to offline products. He also explains what he wants to see in the future in the space, and what will end up being disrupted.How to scale a startup“Companies have political environments, so my advice always is call it like you see it and don't play the game. There are people who are very political and play the game and indeed have succeeded simply by dint of that capability. My advice is not to be that person, to be as authentic as you can, and to call it out when it's time to call it out. If you do that, you've got to be awfully confident in what you're bringing to the equation, because if you're not playing the game, you better be delivering the goods.He explains how running a seed-stage company as CEO is different from running a larger enterprise as CEO. He talks about the ways that a leader needs to grow along with the company, as “you go from pure hustle to a larger business.” Tige gives out some of his unorthodox leadership tips and talks about why it’s important to also upgrade the management around you when you’re CEO of a fast-growing organization. He also explains why it’s okay if a company’s management doesn’t necessarily have the answer to every question that’s asked of them, even if it feels as though they need to.Tige also talks about some of his favorite products.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 😸Companies and Products Mentioned In This EpisodeAirPods Pro — New AirPods with active noise cancellationApple News + — An immersive news experience.Bloomscape — Living room ready plants delivered to your door.Bright Cellars — The monthly wine club with the best wine for you.Framebridge — Online custom framing.Garmin InReach — Explore anywhere, communicate globally.Policygenius — Compare and buy insurance online. PowerCube — The smallest multi-functional power distributor
On this episode Abadesi talks to Andrew Mason, founder and CEO of Descript. He was formerly founder of Detour, which Descript emerged within before it was spun out into its own company when Bose bought the technology behind Detour. Andrew was also founder of Groupon.In this episode they talk about...Descript’s origin as part of Detour, and how to know when it’s the right time to pivot from your original idea“We would have been over-investing in Descript if all we were using it for was for Detour, but we knew there was a potential business there and were treating it like a kind of a backup plan when you’re pre-product-market fit, like we were. You’re staying open to different paths.”Descript actually emerged as a part of Detour, the company Andrew founded to create local audio tours. The team built themselves a better workflow for editing audio and realized that the internal product they had created could be much larger than Detour itself. They also recognized that a confluence of factors in tech were going to allow them to create the next generation of audio editing tools. Andrew explains how he went through the process of figuring out when to “cut bait” on Detour. He previously had pivoted The Point into Groupon, so he has some insightful things to say about when and how to pivot.“We tried every last possible approach that we could think of and eventually it was like, it’s not supposed to be this hard. Having been through this before, it felt like we were doing the most elaborate things to market the product and reach customers, and at some point it just clicked that it’s not supposed to be this hard and we should move on.”Andrew’s advice on managing people and scaling a company“In a lot of companies the way that people get into management is they'll be individual contributors who have great ideas and nobody wants to listen to their ideas because it's the people in management that get to have those conversations. So people say 'okay, I guess I'll become a manager' and then they become a manager for completely the wrong reasons — not because they care about people or unlocking the best possible incarnation of their teams, but because they care about having their ideas listened to.”He gives a rundown of the history of the company and where they are at now, after having raised a large Series A round and made the acquisition of Lyrebird. He talks about what the next stage of growth will hold for them, and how he is managing the scaling process by putting into place processes and protocols that will provide structure for the company as it grows. He also talks about the importance of delegating the work that the founder has been doing in a growing company.Personal development as a leader and helping your team growAndrew explains what a typical day looks like for the team at Descript. He explains how they manage internal tools and how he tries to create an environment where feedback can flow freely among the team members. He talks about some of the best ways to grow as a leader, including some of the events that he attends and why he reads a lot. He also says that they have created an internal podcast for the team, a cool idea which you might expect from the company given what Descript is typically used for!Andrew also tells us about one of his favorite products that he uses to build tools for the team.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 😸Companies and Products Mentioned In This EpisodeRetool — Customized internal tools in minutes.
On this episode Abadesi talks to Mike Vernal, partner at Sequoia, the legendary venture capital firm. They are celebrating their scout program turning a decade old. Mike shares stories about the early days at Facebook, transitioning to VC, and advice for founders seeking funding.In this episode they talk about...Why the culture at Facebook in the early days was so special“People self-consciously avoided ever saying they managed someone else at Facebook. It was frowned upon for people to try to assert authority in that way. It was actually far more common for people to say that they ‘support’ teams within an org.”Mike gives a rundown of his career in tech, including working at Microsoft and Facebook. He says that he started as an engineer instead of a product manager, but eventually would work as a product manager despite being labelled an engineer. He talks about what it was like working at Facebook in the early days and how he worked on some of the key products that he worked on at that time that you probably use today.“For people earlier in their careers, you probably have to pick one function to start with, but being able to move between functions fluidly is incredibly valuable.”Going from product manager to VC“It’s surprising just how similar life as a product manager at Facebook is to being a board member at an early stage company.”He says that when he started at Facebook, the aim was for every new hire to have deployed at least one line of code to the live site in their first week. This was a significant departure from how software was typically developed and was definitely a stark contrast from his time at Microsoft, where a piece of software would be worked on for years before being sold in a box in stores. He says that he did deploy his line of code in the first week at Facebook, but it took the site down, so he had to come back early from lunch to fix the site to get it back up. He gives his advice for people who want to advance their careers in tech, talks about how he was introduced to Sequoia through partner Bryan Schreier, and explains why being a product manager is similar to the work he does today at Sequoia.What founders need to know about pitching VCs“I don’t think you should do anything because investors ask for it. That is probably a waste of time, but you should try to figure out why people are asking these questions and what is the kernel of truth or insight that they are trying to get to.”Mike talks about some of the common mistakes that people make when they pitch VCs, including why so many people find a random market size number on the internet and put it in their pitch deck. He talks about why investors ask the questions that they do and what the difference between a good product and a good business is. He also explains why he prefers that monetization be baked into the product, not bolted on as an afterthought once a company or product achieves a critical mass.Trends Mike is excited about, including the no-code revolution“When we talk about the community of professional software developers in the world, it’s stark just how small it is. It’s somewhere on the order of 20-30 million people around the world. When I think about Excel, it and its brethren probably have a billion users around the world and really Excel is a programming environment.”He talks about the scout program at Sequoia, why founders should consider a scout as an investor, and some of the benefits that scouts bring. Mike talks about the importance of the no-code movement that has come about in the last few years, and how it is opening up the high-leverage tools formerly reserved for developers to a wider range of people.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 😸
On this episode Abadesi talks to Marcus Taylor, founder of Venture Harbour, a digital product company based in the UK. They’ve launched nine companies in the last few years and have grown them to millions in revenue. He is also the youngest patron of The Prince’s Trust youth charity and has committed £100,000 to support young entrepreneurs across the UK.In this episode they talk about...The business philosophy at Venture Harbour“We built a WYSIWYG form editor for ourselves initially and put it out there to see if other people found it useful. This is how a lot of our ventures happen. We’re working on one venture and we discover a problem and solve that problem and it’s like, okay, new venture!”Marcus explains how he got started with Venture Harbour. He was working at a digital marketing agency out of school and was building side projects. Those side projects started earning him more in revenue than he earned from his salary, so those projects became Venture Harbour. He explains how they approach building an audience for their products, and why they don’t “buy audiences.” He explains the power of content marketing and why they invest so many hours in creating the very best content for a particular topic, as well as the tools and strategies they use to find the most impactful pieces of content to create.How the team works together“Often we will build these hacked versions of ventures keeping the team very small, and then it over time as that venture matures, we start assigning more people and building teams around those ventures.”He explains the in-the-weeds details of how they actually get things done at Venture Harbour, and how he thinks about his role of head of product at the company. He explains how he tries to facilitate and coach to get the most out of the team, and why nailing their vision and values has been so important for them — something that you may not necessarily think of as pragmatic but has really helped with the day-to-day at Venture Harbour.Some of the unconventional views Marcus holds“I started Venture Harbour with 500 quid in my bank and a broken laptop. We've never raised any money for any of the ventures. I find so many friends in the startup world spend so much time messing around with cap tables and pitch decks and high-fiving each other when they raise money. I believe so strongly that if you had spent that time listening to the customers and letting your customers be your investors, you'd be in a far better position.“Marcus explains why bootstrapping is his preferred way to build companies, and says that it is in fact a more sustainable way to build a business than raising venture capital. He also talks about his leadership style and how he uses coaches to get the most out of his work. He also explains why he likes to read books slowly, why he doesn’t have social media, and more.How he thinks about personal development“You’ve got primary books, where the book should have been 2,000 pages but it had to be condensed down to 300 pages. Then you’ve got secondary books — most business books fall into this. They are extrapolating stuff and applying it to a concept. And then you’ve got tertiary books, which are more storytelling and anecdotal.”He runs through the strategies he uses to make sure he is always getting better as a maker and manager. He explains his method of categorizing books and how he decides which to read and which to only read the summary. He also talks about overnight conferences and why he seems to get the most out of those types of gatherings. Marcus also talks about how he used the tips from the book *Getting To Yes *by Robert Cialdini as part of his wedding planning.Of course, he also talks about some of his favorite products.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. ?Companies and Products Mentioned In This EpisodeLeadformly — Capture 3X more leads with high converting Leadforms.LessPhone — The app that won’t let you use your phone.Light Phone— Phone designed to be used as little as possible.Serene — The macOS app to get your focus back.Status Hero — Automated stand-ups, reports, and insights.
On this episode Abadesi talks to David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder and CTO of Basecamp, and creator of Ruby on Rails. He is also the author of several bestselling books, including It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work, co-authored with his co-founder at Basecamp, Jason Fried.In this episode they talk about...Why you should think about your company as a product“This idea that the company itself is changeable — the policies of the company, the values of the companies — are things you can tweak and you can iterate on in much the same way as you would iterate on a product. The process is quite similar to when you put a product into the market and you get feedback from customers.”He tells the story of building Basecamp outside traditional tech hubs and how that influenced the culture at the company. He says that it’s important to build from first principles and to have control over the company you’re building. He talks about their values at Basecamp and how to think about and get feedback from employees on how the company needs to change and evolve. He also points out that you always need to be thinking about improving not just your product, but also your entire philosophy and way of doing business.Why we need new role models in tech“We've gone from everyone thinking the greatest thing in the world would be to be Mark Zuckerberg and to have Facebook to far more people now thinking, actually I don't want Facebook, I don't want Facebook's problems, I don't want to be Mark Zuckerberg. I think if we can start by having a takedown of the past idols, we can start building up some healthier models of what we should try to emulate instead.”David says that we need a new vocabulary in the tech industry. He lists a number of different words, from unicorn to angel to battlefield, that inaccurately describe the actual function or intent of that entity. He says that it’s easy to excuse unethical actions if we believe that we are actually at war in a startup. He also talks about why “small is not a stepping stone” for your company and breaks down why the obsession with growth has led people astray.How to break the cycle of overwork“We can live such better fuller, richer lives if we just stopped believing that the most worthy thing we can do is to give every waking hour and moment to the business. That's actually not good for business. If you were just trying to create the most efficient business, you would not come up with this regime of chaining people to the office.”He explains why you shouldn’t think about your co-workers as your family, and examines some of the current scourges of modern workplaces, like the open-plan setup. He also points out that Henry Ford realized a long time ago that people cannot work for more than forty hours a week without seeing a huge drop-off in efficiency, so it would make sense not to not push employees harder than that today.A new way of working“It doesn't work to constantly puncture and slice up the day [with meetings and standups]. So you should be extremely cautious about when you put things on many people's calendar. When we do instead is we encourage people to share where they are at [on a project] in an asynchronous way where someone can choose to digest that and respond to that on their time.”David talks about the current practices prevalent at most workplaces that result in people not getting things done, and how they can be improved on. He talks about the unique approach to meetings, standups, deadlines, and presentations that they have at Basecamp and how they have increased retention. He says that it’s a misconception that people are born superstars and says that high-quality talent is more akin to a tree, that you cultivate, rather than a “diamond” that you find.Of course, they also talk about some of his favorite products as well.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 😸Companies, Books, and Products Mentioned In This EpisodeBreatheSmart Air Purifier — Stylish and effective air purifier.It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier HanssonOura Ring — Advanced sleep and fitness tracker.Why We Sleep: Unlocking The Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker
On this episode Abadesi talks to Elias Torres, co-founder and CTO of Drift. He co-founded the company with David Cancel, a longtime collaborator. They have achieved smashing success so far, and Elias’s personal story of moving to the United States from Nicaragua and working at McDonald’s while simultaneously finishing high school and learning English is one you don’t want to miss.In this episode they talk about...Elias’s longtime partnership with David Cancel“He [David Cancel, co-founder of Drift] knew a lot more than I did and that was another good thing. If you look at Paul Allen and Bill Gates, Paul was older than Bill. That experience drew Bill to Paul and that’s something I like about David. He’s built many more companies than me. He’s always been in startups.”David Cancel is Elias’s co-founder at Drift and this is definitely not their first venture together. Elias talks about how they have been able to work so well across several different companies and how their partnership mirrors that of Paul Allen and Bill Gates. He also talks about the scary moments when he left his job to start a company in 2008 while the stock market was tanking during the financial crisis. What it was like growing up in Nicaragua and moving to the United States“It’s people. People have helped me. I look back and in high school I had a teacher who asked me to join math club. That exposed me to kids who were applying to places I heard called Dartmouth and Princeton, but I didn’t know what that is.”Elias grew up in Nicaragua and moved to the US as a teenager. He suddenly found himself in high school in the United States with a very different set of possibilities open to him. He also talks about how he ended up with his first computer and how that led to him getting into programming. It’s safe to say that when he was young, he didn’t see himself in the position that he is in now. He talks about some of the people who helped get him there and how Drift is giving back to help underprivileged people.A CTO’s tips on hiring and why he spends an hour a month fielding support queries“The recruiting process has to be personal. It has to be about conversations. Engineers are the most sough-out profession in the world. So you’re never going to hire someone that applies. You should not be spending your time there. You have to go and find the people you want.“Elias has a unique perspective on hiring engineers from his perch as CTO at Drift, so he explains how they think about hiring, why diversity is an integral part of their company, and why he looks for engineers who are also extroverted like he is. They are also not afraid to get into the weeds at Drift, with their engineers putting in time talking to customers to get a feel for what the end-user truly needs.Growing revenue from zero to eight figures in under twenty-four months“I went into Boston and asked founder friends of mine: ‘do you want to use my product?’ When I was a kid I went out there and sold mangoes from a tree carrying a basket with my mangoes. I went the same way door-to-door asking for twenty dollars. I got my first five to ten customers like that.”Drift grew from nothing in revenue to eight figures (!) in under twenty-four months. Aba asks how they managed to create such explosive growth and Elias talks about why SaaS businesses are so special and why they are a great way to grow revenue. He shares his best tips for makers looking to earn from their product, including not being afraid to charge, making sure you increase prices, and why to bring in salespeople early.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 😸
On this episode Abadesi talks to Delane Parnell, founder and CEO of PlayVS. PlayVS is the community for amateur high school esports. He was previously the youngest black venture capitalist in the US and built and sold his own esports team prior to founding PlayVS. He also has an incredible story of overcoming adversity to get to where he is today.In this episode they discuss...His incredible “origin story”“It wasn’t support in the sense that they were able to help me financially, but even encouraging words like ‘I believe in you. You can do this.’ You can’t put a monetary value on the impact that that can have on a kid.”Delane grew up in a tough neighborhood in Detroit. He says that he had to avoid a lot of gang activity growing up and got his first job at a very young age as a sign twirler at a cell phone store. It was at the cell phone store where he got his first taste for entrepreneurship. There, Delane realized that he needed to be an owner in a business to earn significant money from it. At age sixteen, he set out to be a partner in other cell phone stores around town.How he learned to set his sights high“I was never interested in small-time business. I think that's because I had the exposure super early on from working with Sam to how much a person who owns a dozen cell phone shops made. I wasn't really interested in that. I was dreaming about vacations in the south of France.”Delane had an aunt who was an executive at an auto company and she helped Delane by giving him business magazines, which helped form his life aspirations . He says that the individuals in his neighborhood typically didn’t have aspirations to make it big in business and that he was lucky to have family members who encouraged him to aim higher. He says that Jay-Z was his number one inspiration and explains why he is a “role model and icon” for Delane.How he became comfortable with risk-taking and his advice about giving advice“I try not to give people quote-unquote expert advice. People look at me as an expert because of the amount of money we raised or what we’ve accomplished. But I’m not an expert. People don’t realize the effect that expert advice has on entrepreneurs on young people finding their way.”Having been exposed to business at a young age, he became comfortable with the mindset needed to take risks and be an entrepreneur. He built a few companies that didn’t end up working out and explains how certain pieces of advice that he heard from certain people who he considered to be mentors left him very deflated. Delane explains why he remembers that experience so vividly and why it means he avoids giving advice to young people.What he learned from failure and why founder life is less glamorous than you think“People think it’s very glamorous, but it’s not as glamorous as people think. There’s a lot of pressure, there’s a lot of work, there’s a lot of responsibility. You’ve got to be prepared for it, otherwise you’ll really struggle.”Delane explains what he learned from failure, including why he was so inspired by Groupon, the story of the subscription-based competitor he came up with, and why it didn’t end up working out. He says that there is always the possibility for redemption and recalls that even Steve Jobs was written off as a failure at one time. He also talks about the day-to-day of his work at PlayVS, why it’s not quite living up to the high hopes that magazines and television held for his imagined future, and why it’s nevertheless rewarding in other non-material waysOf course, he also talks about some of his favorite products.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Companies and Products Mentioned In This EpisodeAlbert — Actionable financial advice on your phone.Discord — Find people who share your interests.Slack — Be less busy. Real-time messaging, archiving and search.Superhuman — The fastest email experience ever made.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Product Hunt
Podcast Status
Apr 13th, 2014
Latest Episode
Apr 15th, 2020
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour

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