Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #162

Ryan Rutan: Welcome back to the episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rotan from startups dot com. Joined as always by Will Schroeder, my friend, the founder and CEO of startups dot com. And as we sometimes do, a full audience of founders have joined us today and we will be hearing from all of them at the end when we get into the discussion. But before that, let's kick off, the topic will startups all just start uh then you ignite them, they take off like rockets and they forever move up into the right until you exit for good. No, we need to rewrite that chapter. Ok. Yeah. OK. Perfect. Yeah. So no startups will often stall often many, many times as, as we go. How do, how do we handle this? Right? How do we feel about this? What do we do when this happens? Invariably when this happens?

Wil Schroter: Well, here's the thing, it's going to happen. It's gonna happen to every single person in this room. And by the way, I love sitting around like hanging out with all my friends right now right now, we say that this is our dream job. We get to sit around and bullshit with founders all day. And now we literally get to sit in a room with founders all day and talk about this stuff. So I'm kind of in heaven right now. The issue is, you know, what we're talking about is that for most startups, when you first start, everything is progress, even though it feels kind of funky. If you incorporate its progress. If you get one customer, it's progress. If you get an investor, no matter how small the deal, it's progress. So everybody thinks when they first get started, yes, it's hard. But we're used to everything kind of going up and to the right as we say, but what ends up happening is somewhere along the way, it could be 18 months in, it could be a, you know, three years in six years and whatever we stall and all those things that we thought were happening, all the customer contracts, all the the good vibes, everybody wanted to join the company investors calling us. Maybe they all goes away all of a sudden, it everything stops and we're not cool anymore for a minute and it really throws us. So what we can talk about here is when does that happen? What does it look like? And what is on the other side of that is stalling something that happens on a regular basis or is it the beginning and the end? So we'll dig into all of that all Right. So, before we get into this next topic, I just want to let you know what we talk about here is like 1% of the conversation, you know, really, this conversation is going on all day long online at groups dot startups dot com where Ryan and I pretty much talk endlessly with founders about every one of these topics. So if by the end of this discussion, you like the topic and you want to dig into it a little bit more with Ryan and I just head to groups dot startups dot com and we'll pick it up from there. Perfect.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. No, I generally not the beginning of, I mean, it is one of the ways that the end begins, but i it's definitely not the canary in the coal mine in most cases, right? It's not the harbinger of doom. It's like, oh, we stalled, this must be it Ryan and will said so we didn't say that, ok, we didn't say that your starter is not dying just because it's not moving. You know, I think it's, you know, at those early stages, like you said, there's so much that's going from 0 to 1 that everything does feel like progress. Like I got something done today, I got something done today yesterday. We had no mission statement today. We have a really poorly worded one that no one will ever read, but we've got one right. And so everything starts to feel like, things are moving forward. And so I think that a big part of that we have to look at how much of that was, sort of just like hygiene factor level stuff, things that needed to get done, jobs that needed to be completed. Were they really momentum? Because I think there's a, there's a, there's this sense in, in some cases I'm talking to founders, they're like, and now everything's just slowed down. I was like, well, what was actually moving before? Like, you didn't have customers before, but now everything's slowed down, help me understand what that means. And I think it's just that there's this period where you go around, you mop up, kind of all the obvious that use the phrase low hanging fruit around tasks that can get done. And sometimes we do these things, you know, will you and I have joked about this before, like used to be, you know, we're gonna start a business. What do we do today? I'm gonna design the logo and print the business cards, right? That felt like something we needed to do. It was something we could get done once a lot of that is finished. All of a sudden, there's this sense that momentum is lost. I'd argue there wasn't that much momentum there in the first place. Again, it depends on where this happens. So maybe we pick up with kind of like when and where we see this happen first.

Wil Schroter: Sure. Well, let's talk about too, the consequence of what happens when things slow down. And I just wanted to point that out because all of this is gonna map back to this startups, run on momentum. What we might do is our social capital and we use that everywhere. We use that for hiring, we use it for raising money, we use it for attracting attention early customers. We also use it as an excuse why everything doesn't work the way it's supposed to. We're a startup. Right. You know, it's kind of like being a freshman in college. You know, all those problems we got into. Ah, that was a freshman. What do you expect? It's the best. Get out of jail free card of all time. However, at some point when the novelty wears off when we're not a startup anymore, we're actually just a business and I don't mean that in a derogatory way, I just mean, comparison wise and the Pixie dust is worn off all of a sudden, things aren't that cool anymore. The hard stuff people aren't as excited about anymore when things are going up into the right and it looks like momentum and opportunity is endless. People are willing to put up with a lot of shit. The moment that stops when the moment you start to take away the dream a little bit, people get a, they feel a lot different right about what that looks like. And so again, as we talk through this. I wanna have this kind of hanging in the background that what's really concerning us is the consequence of what happens when the trend starts to drop.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, let's, let's talk about that first. Like what, what constitutes a trend? Like how do we know when we're really stalled out versus we've just lost a little speed or we're just in a transition period, right? You may have been working really hard on product and that felt like a lot of momentum. And at completion, now we've changed gears to, to marketing, we're gonna go start to talk about our product externally and now it feels like nothing's moving forward, it's moving really slow. We expected the same momentum to carry from product over to something that's entirely different. It's a new effort, it's nascent. There's no reason that, that, that momentum would really translate to that. So how do we discern between those two things where we've actually lost momentum and where this is just a natural transition where there's gonna be a little bit of starting over and we're going to continue to build up momentum from that point

Wil Schroter: forward. I think we've got to understand that there's a handful of places no matter what we do that we are going to naturally stall for a bit. I'll give you some examples. We win a big contract, whatever that looks like. And all of a sudden we're hiring like crazy, well, hiring like crazy feels like growth. That feels like that everything's taking off. But that's really just a means to an end. That was the actual win hiring was just activity, raising money. That was just activity. It felt like growth, it felt like momentum, but those were just a means to an end which we call revenue. And so a lot of times what we'll, we'll do is we'll have this big event that feels like everybody's excited and things are moving. And what we wind up finding out is that once everybody's hired, it's kind of just back to work, right? It doesn't feel sexy, it doesn't feel like things are taking off also when it comes to revenue and sales and things like that, things naturally have an up and down. You've got good quarters and bad quarters. The problem is if you've never done this before, if this is your first year in business, you don't know the difference yet. You don't know the difference between a seasonal period. For example, at startups dot com. Q four sucks for us. Why? Because nobody starts companies in Q four. Q one is amazing. Everybody has their New Year's resolution gym style. Everybody starts companies if this is our first year in business and all of a sudden things are crushing because we started in January like everybody else Q four hits and things plummet. We don't know the difference. We haven't been around long enough. Like how would we know and So part of not knowing whether it's a blip or a trend is we haven't been around long enough to know the difference. And I think that's an issue, you

Ryan Rutan: know what I mean? Yeah. No, for sure. Yeah, I mean, we all, we all remember back to uh the geometry, we have to have two points to draw a line. Um but two points don't draw a very accurate line in a lot of cases, right? So the the when we have this really, you know, very little data to react to and we're trying to draw trend lines based on this. I mean, I I heard somebody say this a few weeks ago around doing customer discovery and we ask people to project kind of how they would use a product or what they would pay for it. We're asking them to predict the future, which humans are just not very good at the same thing applies to us as founders, right? When we try to project the future, especially on very little data, sometimes it's just a matter of tempering our expectations, right? So this may not really be that we've lost momentum, we're just not where we thought we would be er go, it feels like we've lost steam, but that was steamed based on our predictions and our assumptions, not the actual momentum of the company. I see this all the time where people are disappointed with where they're at, not because they lost momentum. But because they didn't get to where they thought they would as soon as they thought they would, which is not the same thing. Right. It doesn't mean you've lost momentum means you didn't gain as much speed as you thought you might have. Which is generally the case in startup land.

Wil Schroter: We go from sprints to slogs. Right. We sprint really fast because we're trying to raise capital, get product out there, et cetera. And then the other side of it, we just have to do the work. Now, that's the slog part. That's why I said, hey, we worked so hard to raise capital and we, we hired a bunch of people, but now we actually just have to do the work. And again, it feels like stalling. If we sign a bunch of contracts, we can't turn around and sign a bunch more because we still have to do all the work for the last ones we saw, right? So, again, a lot of these um, sprints and slogs are just a natural kind of wave of the business. But again, we haven't been running it long enough to know the difference. If you notice a trend in what I'm saying is a lot of what feels like the business stalling is a natural ebb and flow of every startup. Everything isn't just perpetually up and to the right. It just doesn't work that way. The difference for the founders is never done it before. I don't know, I've never run this business before. I've never run a startup before. I, I can't tell the difference. Like, am, am I sucking wind here or is this just the way it works? I don't know the difference. I think the way we can tell is if we look at the business and we say right now, are we in a growth spurt where we're just doing things for growth, hiring and, uh, raising capital, et cetera, product bills, et cetera or are we in a maintenance part? And I don't mean that in a bad way, are we in the part where it's actually just time to, to buckle down and focus on running the business for a while and by the way, that's super healthy, that's not a bad thing. Sometimes you can't tell the difference. Yeah,

Ryan Rutan: I, I think that there's, it's, it can be really hard to draw that distinction when you're in the midst of it. When you go from like experimentation mode, like take marketing, for example, you're experimenting with a bunch of different channels. It all feels like progress. You know, we've gone from Snapchat to Twitter to Instagram. Now we're doing Google paid and you're all over the place looking for those early traction channels. Um That experimentation feels really rapid, really fast. Lots is happening and then they start to work and then it becomes optimization. You operationalize processes. I can't talk today.

Wil Schroter: It

Ryan Rutan: does. That was why I couldn't do it. Like I can't even say the word, you can tell. I, I like that part of the process. So you begin to operationalize the, the processes and that just doesn't feel as fast. Uh You know, I heard a relative old timer in the startup space. Uh He actually, he is an old timer now. I guess he was telling me like you keep hearing this thing, you know, going from 0 to 1 is really hard. Going from 0 to 1 is really hard. He's like, yeah, and then you go from 1 to 2 and that's just as hard and 2 to 3 and 3 to 4 and 4 to 5. He's like it just, it continues to be more work. Uh Some of the sense of of this loss of momentum is around, it just didn't get easier. It's like, oh I did that thing. I want it to be done. Nope, all you've done is create a job that now has to be done in Peru, right? Maybe not you forever. But somebody's gonna have to keep doing that, which again, that can feel like a loss of momentum or it can actually create a loss of momentum. For example, within marketing, if you're a one person team, you begin to add those channels one at a time, the pace with which you can test and move forward in a single channel gets cut in half the second, you add a second channel, right. That can feel like a loss of momentum, but it's a geometric increase in terms of your marketing exposure. So it's, we have to be careful how we look at this

Wil Schroter: stuff. I think we also run into a situation where uh that momentum costs us in the eyes of investors or at least perceptually, right? Where we're saying, hey, we were cruising, we're growing so fast month, over month, quarter, over quarter and now we're not growing at that rate. Usually most investors can see through this. Usually it's because we're starting at zero, the fastest way to grow to 100% start at $0 in sales, right? No, no matter what you do, you will have a massive growth rate. It's easy to do that dollar wise. But once you start to get become a bigger business, it's really hard to move the meter at that rate. There are very few businesses just fundamentally statistically that once they start to hit that next threshold, the next threshold are going to continue to continue to have that rise. Take a look at Netflix recently, Netflix just got their market cap slashed by 37%. And Netflix has been around for two decades, right? It's just been a juggernaut again, this is, you know, one of the ultimate startup stories. But once again, there is some threshold at which they cannot grow anymore, which is kind of funny because when you look at, you know, the total addressable market of a startup. And you say one day we could hit that, nobody ever thinks you will. They actually did, they actually did, they actually did the unthinkable and got penalized for it because that's actually the worst thing you can do. Which is kind of funny.

Ryan Rutan: Where do you go from here

Wil Schroter: when we look at, what's it gonna cost us if we have the perception that we're running out of steam that we're running out of momentum? Are we gonna lose investor interest? Yes, we actually are. Investors want to see things that are moving up into the right? Does it mean we're done for it? No, no, it doesn't mean that, that, that everything's done. It just means investors love new stats. The irony is we're more valuable to investors before we've proven what we can do than after we've proven what we can do. And, and if you haven't lived through this, at least once the hilarity is, investors will look at a deal usually in the, the formative stages like preceed seed and they'll put huge valuations relative to where the business is. But the moment it does what it says it was going to do the valuations per rata in many cases will come down because they'll say, well, now we can actually project what the business is based on your sales conversion, et cetera and it's not nearly as high or as crazy as what it was when you were just making up numbers like, oh, what a surprise. But again, we're gonna deal with that all the time. The way I look at it though is I step back and I say, who does this affect if we're going to be losing momentum and whatever that looks like, who actually cares? And I mean that in a very specific way we go down the list, will it affect investors? It might uh it's not gonna help, slowing down, doesn't help, you know, with our pitch to investors, will it help with employees? Here's where it gets interesting. There are two types of employees. Those that love the job and those that love the future, those that love the future. I'm not saying that they can't be combined or a mixed, but I'm just giving you two routes for a second, two ends of the spectrum. Those that love the future will work almost for nothing because they believe the future is so bright. Those that love the job aren't going anywhere because they just love the job so much and they're just so glad they can get paid for it whenever we start to stall. Those that care about the future are the first to go. Right. They look at that and go, hey, my stock might be not be worth as much, et cetera. I'm gonna look for something else. Incidentally, they're typically the hardest employees to retain anyway because they're constantly looking for something they're always looking. Yeah, it, it is. Well, they should, I'm not knocking him. I'm just saying you're probably going to lose a few of the folks that you are probably going to lose anyway because those, those folks tend to be in and out and they're great to have when you have them and when the opportunity is there and when they leave, what you really care about are the people that love the job. Not so much the future, right? So I want to point that out a little bit of wheat for chafe uh moment right there. The other thing you look at is, is the business, the actual business we run less healthy. Maybe we're not growing like crazy, but maybe this is a really good business. All of my neighbors where I live have like pretty nice houses from businesses that don't grow that much, right? They're, you know, well into their careers, et cetera. They don't care about year over year growth. And I'm not saying you shouldn't, I'm just saying you can build an incredible life without hitting V C metrics. I'm here to tell you it can be

Ryan Rutan: done. Most most people have done that.

Wil Schroter: Yes. Every great fortune has been built on just that. So while in startup land in our kind of mythology that we create, uh which builds a lot of false narratives, which we try to counteract here in our mythology. If we're not going up into the right, you know, that our business is a failure. I'm like, uh my business is making money and it's providing the life that I wanted it to, seems to be going pretty well for me. Like, I don't, I don't think I'm too upset about that fact. So I think we should, you know, come down to the earth a little bit

Ryan Rutan: for sure. We did an entire podcast on that where we talked about growth for the sake of growth is a really, really dangerous mindset, right? We want to be clear that like, ok, the momentum has slowed down a little a little bit. But is that necessarily a bad thing? You know, we talked about this in a lot of different contexts, but talk about this a lot with, with founders and saying like, look sometimes slowing down a little bit is exactly what you needed to do. When we accelerate, we start to move faster. We shorten our horizon for making decisions. We shorten our horizon for hiring for achieving other success, right? All of a sudden, we talk about this in the, in the context of taking on investment capital. All of a sudden you have a runway which dick take certain decision making, right? In that case, you do have to achieve certain momentum so that you can pull up before you hit the end of your runway. If you haven't put yourself in that situation, a little loss of momentum probably doesn't impact too much to your point. Well, what's the actual consequence of the loss of momentum? Right. And look in a lot of cases, it's just founder mentality and that's super important, right? How we feel about the business has a lot to do with what it's going to do in the future. But we have to remind ourselves that's the one that we actually have a ton of control over. If we're willing to lean back, give yourself a little perspective and say, does this actually matter? Right? Does slowing down a little here hurt us if so in what ways and then what can we do to, to ease that pain? Right? And I think that's uh that, that's sort of the crux of it in, in as much as you said will, which is like, let's pay attention to what this is actually going to do to us. Does this have any measurable meaningful impact to the business outside of us? Feeling a certain way about it

Wil Schroter: live by the hype, die by the hype. That's the issue, right? If, if our whole thing was based on this is all hype and it's, it's all like it's gonna be the biggest thing in the world. Then the moment we break that narrative and you will break that narrative. Everyone does, then you get crushed on the in the very capital you use to get you there, right? All those big promises I went through this in one of my last startups where we were raising money. I was selling the dream. Like I'm supposed to, I told all these investors what we could do. Our initial numbers were so good, so good that even I couldn't believe there are numbers. So what did I do? Like an idiot. I ran around and told everybody about it about how incredible our month, over month numbers were and you know how, what a bunch of geniuses we were and lo and behold those numbers stop happening, right? Like they do every single time reality set in and we had a slow quarter. And after that, we had a tough hiring period. And after that, we had a tough fundraising period and all the things that startups actually have in all of the press that I got so to speak for championing my startup and how great we were doing became my greatest nemesis because now every time I made the slightest mistake, it was thrown in my face and we've referenced this in the past few episodes on different specific startups and how when they get all of that hype, they've got to live up to it even if they're actually just building a good business. You know what I mean? Like you're

Ryan Rutan: not allowed to anymore, you're not allowed to just build a good business anymore.

Wil Schroter: I've seen a lot of businesses where it's actually just a good business. You know, if they stop right here, they want, they've, they've done everything right. But e either they're, they're on a venture track which I'm not knocking. It just is what it is. They're on a venture track. So they have to keep showing growth whether that's a good idea or not. And in that case they can't stop and say, hey, I'd really like just to, to run this business as is, it's doing all the things I set out to do and I'll give you an example. ABIs startups dot com. It does exactly what we want it to do. Could it be bigger? Sure, I suppose. Right. And I, and I hope it is, but our whole goal is to get to where we are right now where, like I said, we can just sit around and bullshit with our friends all day and somehow get paid for it. Right. There's a point at which growth is great and, and we'd love to grow. There's nothing, no downside to it, but there is a point where more growth actually isn't gonna make us a better company. You know, I, I, I heard it said massively

Ryan Rutan: diminishing return at some

Wil Schroter: point, right. Harvard's not trying to be the biggest university that's not their goal. They want to be the best university, right? Accepting three X more studentss doesn't get them there. It doesn't accomplish anything. And I think we need to think in those terms, what, where are we a great company now? Maybe we're stalled and we're a shitty company, right? Maybe that's why we're,

Ryan Rutan: that, that can also happen. Yeah.

Wil Schroter: Right. Totally different story. But I just want to point out that stalling or pace of growth isn't always the death knell. It can often indicate this is where the business is supposed to be. This is where we kind of find our footing, you know.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, for sure. And I think that's an important analysis to go through again. Look at what the actual pain is and then look back at the, what, what were the causes, right? In so many cases, what we find is kind of harkening back to what I said earlier as you go from, you know, you create one new thing right now, you're, you're responsible for running that thing, right? So we've now created a new department. Gotta run that new product line, gotta run that new, new team, got to run that all of a sudden, you're getting divided a whole bunch of different ways. You're now, you know, you were pushing one boulder up the mountain before now, you've got seven or eight of them, right? And so we want to look back at the causality of this and say, like, look, was this just a natural part of growing the business? Right? Is this the the the cost of growth was a little bit of loss and momentum, counterintuitive, but this can happen, right? As we start to divide our attention, as we start to spend time on lots of different disparate things and build out those teams, the momentum can slow down just by natural force of like, we only have two hands in 24 hours, right. That doesn't change regardless of how fast your startup is moving, right? You're not going to violate physics. That rule will still be there. And I think we need to be aware of that and just be clear on like, why did we lose momentum? And was that a worthwhile trade? Because in a lot of cases to your point, if that's what got us to this point and then now we're at that level, we're a good business now, maybe we need to achieve growth because we're on the venture path or there's something else we're trying to achieve that requires that great figure out how to recreate growth. The other thing that is almost always absolutely true in startup land is that what got you from 0 to 1 is not going to be the thing that gets you from 1 to 22 to 33 to 4, right? You you those early growth channels, the early employees, the early mindset, the early strategies, all of those things are good up to a point and then they have to be reconsidered. And so you may just have found yourself having achieved success with what you set out to do and with the resources you set out to do it with. Now it's just time to reconsider that and So again, like when you find yourself stalled, I think first best thing to do, lean back a little bit. Take a look at what got you here. Find out if there are cost to this loss of momentum and then start to piece together the solution and move forward.

Wil Schroter: Right. Well, you also have a lot of options at that point. Number one, do I hate the business? Am I at a point now where I, which happens? Right. Sometimes we get to the thing, like the only thing that was keeping me going was the opportunity in the business and I'll go back to the one I was referring to before me and Elliot, our coo had started a business together called afford it dot com. And it let people buy stuff using weekly payments. It was literally a firm 10 years before a firm. So what was interesting about it though is once we started running the business, it turned out that people who can't afford to buy an Xbox and are paying for it weekly, don't have a lot of cash. You know who our number one customer was. Single moms, single moms buying uh xboxes for their kids who then couldn't make their payments, who we had to go collect on. I grew up with a single mom. The last thing I wanted to be doing was running around collecting payments from single moms. Right. I hated that business. Right. So just to be clear, we may get to a point in the business where it stalls and we also don't like the business. What had me excited initially was I saw this really interesting financial model. There was like some novelty to it, but often we get into the business and maybe we're not in love with the product, the customers, the team, the market, like you name it. That's ok. And so sometimes when we stall, it's time to just bail, you know, just look at it and say, ok, what are my options here? I don't love this business. It's sort of stalled. It might be a great opportunity for someone else. You know, I, I promote someone else and they kind of run the company. It might not have gotten far enough that I have someone else. It's just me, I'm gonna run it as a side business and I'm gonna go get a job somewhere perfectly. Ok? People do it all the time. I think when we look at that stall moment, we don't have to just throw our hands up the first time it stalls. But let's say we're a couple of years into it and like, you know, sort of nothing's happened for quite some time and kind of the, the thrill is gone, the magic is lost. I think there's nothing wrong with stepping back and saying, ok, now that I know what this business is, it's kind of a, a fixed outcome if you will. What I wanna do with it. Move on perfectly. Ok. There's a million things you could do. That's what I, that's kind of my point is that the business stalling is an opportunity to reassess. It's not like if it doesn't get back to its former glory, I'm totally screwed. Not the case

Ryan Rutan: whatsoever. No. No, not at all. Yeah, and interesting. We're seeing some new scenarios where, where things stall and restart and stall and restart side gigs, right? The side hustle. This was not as much of a thing, you know, when you and I started starting businesses, this wasn't a thing, you know, it was your hustle. And now the side hustle is really interesting to me because the, the pain and penalty in kind of the ebb and flow. I've been talking to a founder for probably a year and a half now building a, a technical product and it comes in spurts, right? Like here one day gone the next, like, you know, he's got, we've got a huge project at work. I have to focus on this and I can't look away from this project at work for a while. So the, the startup is just gonna kind of sit there. Nothing wrong with that. Right? And so I think again, assessing, what is that? What is that pain and what else do you have going on? Right to your point? Like, look at this holistically and say, like, do I have to focus on this full time, right? Does it matter that it slows down for a little bit? And the answer is most of the time. No. Right. Startups achieve success chugging forward like, you know, the the last car on the train, right? It's like a herky jerky motion. It's never just this smooth launch acceleration lift off and then orbit. It's just not how it works, right? Uh I think, you know, when we become peaceful with that notion that this is what it's going to feel like that it is going to take our stomachs away at times that it is going to feel like nothing's happening. That just is how it goes. That's ok. Right. I think if we can be comfortable with that, we're in a much better spot. Right. We

Wil Schroter: also have a lot more optionality than we used to like uh my buddy Andrew Gaz Deck, he runs micro choir and there are now thousands and thousands of companies on micro, which are exactly what we're talking about. A company that, you know, got to a certain point kind of hit its stride. It was a side hustle that maybe turned into more of a side hustle and that founder is looking for someone else to take over the business. I dig it. I love it. Right. And now there's more of a liquid market for kind of those conversations, which is wonderful. But the reason I bring it up is because every single company listed on, there was likely somebody's dream of being some massive, for sure. Yeah, but they're all good companies. That's why there's buyers, that's it. There are

Ryan Rutan: buyers even earlier stage. Sorry. While, while we're on the topic, there's another one out there called Tiny Acquisitions. Now, they were originally focused on transactions of $5000 and less and, and you might go, like, that's just ludicrous, like who would sell the idea for that? Not very many people. Um These were like, you know, little plugins, little things like that, but it was this nickel ideas, little, little solutions. They've now bumped it up to, I think it's either 50 or 100,000 is the top limit. But a lot of things, right, these things that got started stalled out for one reason or another. A couple of the founders that I've talked to have been on there. It was for exactly the reason that you stated before, they got to understand more about what this would be as a business and while it was a fun project, it was a fun exploration. They built the tech, they built something and they realized what it was gonna be to run the business and grow it, take it to the next stage and they're like, yeah, I don't actually want to do that. It's stalled out and I don't have the passion to do the thing that's required to take it to the next level and now to your point. There's, there's liquidity for this. Right. There are options, there are places we can take this stuff. There's

Wil Schroter: also second acts and I think that's the part that a lot of people don't understand having been doing this for 30 years. I've seen it a million times now. There's a lot of companies that many of us follow and admire that were essentially a second act for the company itself. Base camp is a second act of what 37 Signals was 20 years ago. Mail Chimp was a second act of their web design business, right? In other words, second act means they ran their companies for 10 years, which when I say 10 years isn't all the time in the world. But in startup lore, it's like 1000 years, like dog years, they ran their startups as a decade for a decade, as a different business altogether. Then found a moment where what they did made sense in a different context. By the way, the world just changes and then became the company that they are today. People forget about this. A lot of revisionist history, right? You go back into the bowels of companies like Tesla, et cetera. There's a very different backstory, right? Elon Musk did not start Tesla and, and you start to dig into those things and you realize that companies have these trajectories, great companies have these trajectories where what happens is they cruise along. They hit an inflection point where the initial idea just wasn't what they thought it was gonna be one, a popular one, Slack Stuart Butterfield. Slack has nothing to do with what Slack did not start off as Slack. It started as a video game company. Slack was just a little conversational chat tool that they were building as a side project of the video game company. Right? Totally different. And, and there's so, so many companies that have this story, what you don't realize because these stories don't get told in many cases is that many companies have different lives that involve starting stopping. I don't wanna call it a pivot because that, I, I don't know, it's got kind of a negative connotation. I'm gonna call it an evolution and I'm not trying to avoid the pivot term. What I'm saying is we evolve, we adapt and we give ourselves time to kind of read the, the lay of the land right now. We've built founder groups a year ago. We're 10 years old, actually, we're 10 years old next month. By the way, we're 10 years old and we're now building the best product we've ever built the products we were building 10 years ago, right will probably up and die at some point and we'll be focus on something new. Every stall is an opportunity to reassess and sometimes the stall and the reassess is the best thing for the business. So I don't, I don't look at, at stalling solely as Oh my God, everything is over. I look at stalling as this is the new opportunity to reassess the business and consider where we want to go next. You know, by the way, I just want to mention if what we're talking about today, sounds like the kind of discussion you wish you were having more often. You actually can, you know, we're online all day, every day working through exactly these types of topics with founders just like you. So any question you would have or maybe some problem you just want to work through. We're here and we love this stuff and we're easy to find, you know, head over to groups dot startups dot com. And let's just start

Ryan Rutan: talking fantastic. And I agree, I couldn't agree more. Shall we uh shall we take this to the, the broader, the broader discussion? Should we involve everybody at this point?

Wil Schroter: I want my friends

Ryan Rutan: in this. Yeah. Do it in the comments. I saw, I just scrolling past fast. I saw the word preach in there. I can't wait to see what that was in my. We do try. All right, Sebastian, you're the first one up there. Thank you for addressing this aspect of the journey for founders. Uh You just answered my question, how do investors think about the ebbs and flows? Why were you wondering about that Sebastian? What, what sort of pain was that creating in your life when you thought like, how are investors thinking about what I'm going through right now specifically for me because I'm about to send out an and there's been been flow in the past 90 days that I need to address in there. Got it. And I'm, I'm assuming it's not all hockey stick growth that you're trying to figure out how do I capture all this in a single slide? It, it is not. But from my perspective also, we're prep product. We have not launched our product yet. And still there's been some stall outs on the progress made to get that product to market. Pretty, pretty par for the course. Yeah, you,

Wil Schroter: you also have some, some get out of jail free time before you actually launch the pro product. I mean, it always takes longer than you think. I mean, everybody kind of knows that but it's once it gets in market and people are buying it or not, that your feet are really to the fire. So you, you've kind of got a minute. But when you said about, you know, how did investors think about these ebbs and flows? I wanna be clear, there's not a one size fits all approach to investors in general. If they could, would they all want to be able to see everything go up in the right share? But investors also invest in lots of companies. They are well aware of how there are different kind of moments in time for companies and a good investor will help work you through that. When we were doing a for uh the company I mentioned earlier and I was running around telling everybody how great we were one of our investors. Mark. So who's now the, the managing partner at upfront ventures? Mark pulls me aside. Mark does not mince words. He's like in, in part of my friend, she's like, shut the fuck up. And I was like, what, what, what that's specific like, you know, Mark was very specific, pulled no punches. He said shut up because as soon as this stops happening, you're gonna look like an idiot and guess what? It stopped happening and I look like an idiot, right? So, but he, but he had seen the ebbs and flows. He knew he knew that it was inevitably gonna kind of go each direction. And so he was able to say, hey, I get it and he was trying to protect me from getting myself in trouble. It didn't work my fault but still it's exactly how investors look. So, Sebastian, I say all that to say good investors, patient investors will understand the ebbs and flows. The best way to present to them is to say, here's where we're at based on what you've seen before, where have you seen people kind of accelerate? It's always an opportunity to kind of engage them a bit and pull them into the conversation. It also shows a bit of humility which I think is always on your side, which I demonstrated none of with Mark. So that's me.

Ryan Rutan: We live, we learn awesome uh investors want to get on board once there's growth. But a lot of time we need the investor money to grow in the first place. Yeah, and, and I the interestingly enough, the point will was making there was that once they actually start to see the real growth, their, their opinions change. Right. So even if we achieve exactly what we set out to achieve, they may cool off at that point, right? Everybody, I mean, nothing, nothing like reality to sober everybody up. Right? Uh Well, in, in your experience, how much did that change? Because there was that period, you know, where did you see a ton of additional investor interest? All of a sudden when a Ford had that amazing, amazing month and, and a couple of quarters like was about a quarter, right? Had this like crazy hockey

Wil Schroter: stick. Yeah, it was incredible. Well, we got completely bombed. We were building a high risk consumer finance product, right? At the dawn of the Lehman Brothers incident when the entire financial market melted down. So we were like, you know, what'd be great? Why don't you put all your money in a high risk consumer finance product? And then we were like, are you out of your mind? Did anybody

Ryan Rutan: say subprime debt? We got it. Come

Wil Schroter: on. Oh my God. It would be like trying to, to organize Coachella at the beginning of COVID, right? Everybody was like, this is the last thing that we wanna, we wanna be doing right now. Um So no, it's kind of wrong place at the wrong time, ironically again, and I'm not saying that it would have been the same outcome, but Max Levchin who is 1000 times smarter than I am did the same model with a firm and became a multibillion dollar company. So the company worked, he kind of picked a better time to do it and it helps if you start out being Max Levchin. Ok. So uh what do we have next? We have uh Jen, I find it's the momentum that keeps my energy and hope up. I agree when there's a lull or a plateau, I interpret it as well. This will never work and it's kind of hard to see through. Right, Jen. Yeah, very much so. Yeah, it, it's hard to sustain. Are you at a lull right now? You know, we are. Um And actually I met with one of your brilliant advisor yesterday, I think she all today and she actually said it might actually be the best opportunity for you right now during this, well to step back, take some time off because there's no pressure, nothing's being expected of you in this moment. And so take it as a gift of time. So that was actually a really good way to frame it but I do feel that and I'm sure I'm not alone. I run on the adrenaline of the momentum for the hope. And so when there's not that I got nothing you got nothing to give. So by the hype, die by the hype. Right. Yeah. And I think it's at those moments that it's a good time to reassess, you know, mentally, emotionally and everything else like that and say, if I become so invested in the hype, it's never going to give me what I want. It's the way celebrities kind of live off to the paparazzi. You know, everybody's kind of like looking at them in the moment that starts to slow down is, is they, they move on to something else. They feel hollow and empty. It's because they were basing who they are and kind of their being on something that doesn't, it's not real. The, the momentum is great, but we can't base too much on it. We've got to take a long view. Other thing I wanna point out while we're talking about it. Startups take 7 to 10 years to build if you get it right longer, if you get it wrong, we're very short. If you think about it. Right. They take 7 to 10 years, go back in history. Look at every single fast growing startup that went public 7 to 10 years. I don't care if it's Facebook, Google, you name it right. There's a few that have been able to bend time to do it faster, old space if you will, Groupon did it, you don't even remember who they are anymore. But Groupon was one of the fastest growing companies, right? But that's so rare and these are the fastest growing companies in history, right? Companies that none of us will probably ever be. And those same founders will never recreate. I say that to say you gotta have a long view no matter where we're at right now, no matter where we're at right now, it's gonna take many, many, many years to get to where we wanna be at startups dot com with what we're building right now with founder groups and everything that we've built, it's gonna take us 5 to 10 years to finish this finish. This being, get it to where we wanna go. Part of this law, Jen is sitting back a little bit and reminding yourself that this is a marathon, not a sprint and you got, you've got a reset. Otherwise it it's never going to work. You cannot sprint to the finish line on this. Yeah, very true. And actually you touched on it earlier when you said it also is a time for reflection on, is this a lifestyle I want, is this, you know, knowing that it may take seven years, is this the lifestyle I want for seven years? And by the way, you're crazy as if you say yes, because there's nothing cool about this, this is not help our health Ryan, you want to uh get over to Melanie. So here's

Ryan Rutan: the preach comment. This is the one I've been waiting for. There's an obsession with 10 growth and all the trendy growth mindset. Uh But damn, I'm aiming for an awesome personal income while achieving the mission of the organization. And that does not mean it's a fixed mindset, right? Melanie. So yeah, so look, this is, this is fantastic and this is, this is congruent with what we were saying earlier around, like sometimes just growing for the sake of growth doesn't, doesn't fit what you want to achieve, right? If you want to grow, that typically means reinvesting heavily, you know, running on razor thin margins and just push, push, push, which doesn't usually involve, you know, having a a comfy lifestyle while we do this, right? There's always going to be some level of discomfort in building a startup, but we can certainly make it less comfortable by always trying to be on the bleeding edge of growth. So in, in your case, what, what was resonant there Melanie? And and what of this? Are you still trying to figure out because I see that you're aiming for, it doesn't say that you've achieved yet. Well, even I think a little bit of what Jen was saying, right, in the sense of if so much of like my academic career, 15, 16 years is in entrepreneurship, right? And so then you get in this group and so much of the resources and the tools and things are aimed at the, the V C, the the big, big startup goal, right? And there's this sometimes perception that like if you're not there, then you're nowhere. Like you can still be a, a starter, a venture, very successful, long term phenomenal revenue generating without obsessing and constantly striving for those hyper growth companies that, you know, are unicorns that you'll never build. And, and for me, it's that reminder that like, I, I have tiny mouths to feed and if all of my activities and tasks are constantly driving and striving for the big, what if and not doing the activities right now that are creating, you know, good sustainable companies that are attacking the mission of the organization, then it's anticipated that you're gonna stall whether it's from burnout or lack of motivation from that lack of momentum that Jen was talking to and all of those things. So it's constantly like, I think a balancing act of, you know, keeping your own personal goals in mind and not always striving for, you know, what that sort of startups umbrella if you haven't taken on venture capital funding, right? The choice to actually try to grow like a funded startup if you're not a funded startup is kind of weird, right? Number one, you're probably not resourced for it. Number two, there's no reason you have to take that on right. Once you choose that path, you have no real choice, you have to try to show that growth. That is the expectation. This is what you gotta do. You gotta go for more funding, more funding, more funding has gotta get liquid at some point. Otherwise everybody that contributed gets nothing back out of this. If you haven't done that right, then you are just building a startup company that's like every other company, right? This is the way most of the businesses that you drive up and down the street. Uh you know, look across the internet and most businesses were built that way, right? Yes. The big massive businesses that IP O where, where most of them were venture funded, not all of them, but this is the minority of businesses to will's point everybody that lives in his neighborhood and these are nice, big, beautiful homes uh in, in a lovely area. Did exactly what you're describing, right?

Wil Schroter: Yeah, none of them cared about 10 X growth at all,

Ryan Rutan: cared about 10 X growth, right? They're like,

Wil Schroter: yeah, well, also remember where that narrative is coming from. It's not coming from startups, it's coming from investors. And again, that's the business that they're in. So just to be clear, I'm not knocking investors for the narrative. What I'm saying is we get dragged into that willfully, we can do whatever the hell we want, we choose to because we need capital to start our business. So we have to play with those outcomes. They invest capital because they expect a return. And in order to get a return, they need to see massive growth. As you know, for every one success they'll have, they'll have 20 that fail. So the one success fundamentally has to make up for all the failures. If every company was successful that they invested in, they could have very small returns, they could care less about the TEDX growth, but they, they're in high risk, high return kind of uh mode. And so they have to push their investments to sign up for that. Imagine for a second, you had a different investor and that investor said, I actually don't need a 10 X outcome. A one X outcome would be just fine, which by the way, a lot of angel investors actually do feel that way like they could take distributions, you'd look at things very differently, you'd look at like this essentially what a partner is in your business. You look at and say, hey, are we making money? Will we make more money next year? We have um at startups, we have a whole bunch of companies that are essentially on our cap table because we acquired other companies who had investors in those companies. And yesterday, one of those investors uh reached out and asked for an update on how the business was doing and I very politely, they're a great investor and I love them. So I'm not knocking, but I very politely said, we don't care. Right. In other words, it's, it doesn't like we don't care about our business. I'm our CFO, I, I, hopefully I would care about the numbers and Ryan can attest that I do. But when I say we don't care, this business is doing everything we dreamt it to do. If it gets two X bigger, it won't be a better company. It will make more money. Ryan and I aren't allergic to money. We dig that but it won't change what we set out to do. What we're doing right now with all of you in this room right now is exactly what we set out to do. That's our North Star. And so I think part of what we're talking about is, you know what, there's a stall moment, a growth moment or whatever is where we calibrating our North Star. If it's all toward growth at the expense of everything else, maybe that's a shitty North Star and that's something we need to consider.

Ryan Rutan: Craig's quoting we crash. Uh unicorns aren't real. Sooner or later. You're gonna have to show a profit. Yes, that is absolutely true. Absolutely true. Let

Wil Schroter: me grab a all right. So, uh she's loving this discussion. Um Let's see. Uh Building a startup is definitely a roller coaster journey, no doubt, true words. Uh Thank you for highlighting the realities that there will be growth spurts and stall points and it's perfectly normal. It is, it is actually part of how it works. The reason is you probably haven't seen it yet and also it's ok to evolve and adapt as you reassess and learn more about the customer, the problem, the solution, the business and yourself. Guess what? That is the process, everything changing, not being what you thought it was going to be is literally what the startup process is. We don't know anything like as a group, as founders, we have no idea where we're going. We are explorers in a world that's never existed before with a crew that we've never met before on a, on a distant land that, that no one understands how dangerous it might be. That's what we do. Everything is a question, everything needs to evolve. So if the business isn't growing at the rate we did or thought it would or the product isn't, you know, being accepted the way we thought it would. That's the business. There actually isn't another version of this business. We have to adapt. We have to look at when things stall and say cool, maybe we have to burn everything down and start over. That's OK. That's what we do. That's kind of how we do things. So I think that's important. Yeah.

Ryan Rutan: Shot he's back again. Yeah. This time we've got uh yet once you see a stall, you, we're saying that we're not sure when is the right moment to I, you say bootstrap versus look to raise in order to hire more people who know the market more than the founders. Sure. I, I'm sure it's quite that binary. I understand. I understand what you're asking. So, yeah, assuming that you were bootstrapping, is this a signal or an impetus for, for fundraising? Certainly could be. Right. Uh, it kind of depends on why you're stalled and what's next and whether money is going to solve that, you know, what is it that you actually need to do to get unstuck and, and whether, whether cash solves that problem also the added complication of if you've stalled out, not exactly the easiest time to go and ask people for money. Right? Like, hey, this was going great. Now, it's not, would you like to invest? Um, obviously that's not the way we'd couch it. But, uh, is this, is this a current consideration for you? I think it's a little rough,

Wil Schroter: um, to analyze, like, when is the right moment to ask for funding? Because, I mean, in my case, and I've, I've seen a couple of familiar faces in other meetings that we've had, we're ac P G company. So it doesn't, it's not the same as software where, you know, the margins are big or whatever. And so a lot of times I find myself thinking, OK, how much should I bootstrap and then how much should I leave it to quote unquote professionals? Like people who know what they're doing with regards to marketing or with regards to like even actual distribution channels and stuff like that. So I'm constantly like, shit, I don't know where my job should end or where someone else's job should kind of begin. You know? You bet and, and everybody feels that way. The problem is founders too guys is that we're required to be experts at a tonn of stuff. We couldn't possibly be experts at best case. Maybe we came from a marketing background. Cool. I don't understand code. I don't understand product. I don't understand financials. I don't like, I don't understand any of this stuff. And yet we're required to be a master of all of these things at a time when we're actually a student at all of them, we're learning for the first time. Couple things to note there, there's a fundamental anxiety and insecurity that we have that someone else will fix these problems. Uh They're more experienced, they've, they've got a, a better track record, et cetera. This is gonna sound odd. I have rarely found that to be consistently true. Obviously, it's true to some extent. There are some people that are better, but they're often not the wizards that we think they are, right? Like if no one's buying my product and I say, hey, I need to get a great salesperson in here and that's gonna change things nine times out of 10. They won't nine times out of 10. The problem is in the sales person. My product still sucks. It's not ready for market yet. People say this all the time. We've got to find a killer CMO that's gonna solve all of our customer acquisition problems. No, you need to build a product that people actually like at a price point that they can actually afford. They've actually taught me that, that exact, that exact phrase, you just said you need to go higher. It's um and so again, we all have this notion that there's this, this kind of grand wizard when I was first starting out uh in my first business, I thought anybody with gray hair had the answer, right? Because I was just young, I just said I had a teenager, I didn't know any better. And so every time I would listen to their advice, I was like, oh my God, that's incredible. You're a genius. And what I realized was not only were they wrong, like in retrospect, looking back, they actually didn't know what they were talking about. I didn't know any better. So I just assumed everybody was a genius and I followed, you know, like word for word, everything they said and it always went horribly just as I'm thinking about it. The other person that's the biggest culprit here are investors giving advice. And Ryan, I think we've done whole episodes on this where investors like, oh no, you need to be doing this or you need to be doing this and now I look back and I'm like, hm, that's funny. You actually never did this. You spent nine seconds thinking about my problem while I've been thinking about it for three years and all of a sudden you have this solution, I find that to be highly suspect. And in fact, it was, that's

Ryan Rutan: a tough one though because that one, that one comes with the, you know, the, well, it's your money. So you telling me how to spend it, kind of sort of makes sense until you lean back and look and go like, no, that's a, that's not, that's not what we agreed to, right? I asked for your money and you agreed that I knew how to spend it and that I would grow a business based on that. So, yeah, we gotta be really careful there. Uh Look at the motivations, look, I mean, they're generally trying to be helpful. We talked about this a couple of podcasts ago, well, uh around the, the local advice, but I think this extends beyond that sort of anybody's advice, take with a grain of salt, make sure that they actually know what they're talking about and be careful that you take action on these things simply because they're an investor simply because they have gray hair, right? Not great reasons to just simply take people's advice wholesale, Ryan

Wil Schroter: and I have gray hair. Now we're not that bright. I do

Ryan Rutan: not, I just

Wil Schroter: have no hair, you know. I mean, God. So, all right, James. I love what you're saying here. I fully subscribe to this idea that any decision made to satisfy anyone else is the wrong decision. True words, my friend. Uh It's your decision, make it and live with it. What's your take on trying to force momentum? James? I wanna get some, some back story. What's in your head right now? Is that apply to a problem you've got right now? Or just general thoughts, I wouldn't call it a problem. I fully believe in forcing momentum because it, it's as much of a team building thing as anything. It's my job to push everybody to get the momentum back on track when we stall and being virtual doesn't help and being a startup doesn't help when nobody's getting a paycheck. But, you know, hopefully I can inspire them to stick with the, the goal and force that, that progress. I had a conversation a couple of days ago with my team. I said, I don't want to talk about anything anymore. I wanna do. And if we're not doing, then we're not moving anything forward. Agreed. I think our job as founders is to fully illustrate reward and consequence, reward. If we get this done. If we take that hill, here's, here's what we're gonna do if we don't, here's the consequence and let our team decide how they want to fit within that. Some people work better with with Carrot. Some people work better with ST, and I'm not saying that, that we're, we're threatening anybody. That's not what I mean. But, I mean, some of us, some of my best work I've ever done was when I was terrified of what would happen. Now, that's not exactly how I want to keep doing my best work if I'm being honest. Right. But, but, but it is a factor and I'm sure we all deal with it. But our job like you were saying is to be able to say, ok, you know, here's where we're going next. Here's the opportunity. Sometimes the momentum is created again by reward. Sometimes it's created by consequence. And I think it's our job to be able to illustrate how that fits within our organization. And sometimes stalling is actually consequence. Like guys, if we don't get our shit together right now, this isn't gonna go well, we need to rally right now and we've had some of our best moments even at startups dot com in exactly that moment, it can be AAA powerful force for good, not always, but it can be. And I think a lot of startups all have this story

Ryan Rutan: at bare minimum. It's at least that reminder, kind of like we talked about earlier to, to pause and, and lean back a little bit. Take a minute and reassess, right? Let's let's evaluate why are we here? You know, why do we still want to be here and what are we gonna do next? I, I think it's, you know, we don't have enough of those built in save points as founders. Uh And so I think that when we are presented with them, it's important to, to, to give some credence to it, lean back a little and say like, OK, like, let's let's evaluate what happens next here. Jeff is talking about the, the responsibility. Sometimes the feeling of responsibility of taking money and high growth promises uh can lead to not feeling like there are other options. I would actually argue and I would take that a step further, Jeff that like when you do take on uh investment money and you have sort of uh agreed to that high growth contract, you really don't have any other choices will. And I have talked about this in a couple of podcasts taking on venture funding, taking on funding, all really limits your options, right? And we've, we've made jokes about this, but, you know, you, you can no longer build a lifestyle business. The joke there being that we, we believe that V CS kind of run the ultimate lifestyle business. So a little bit of hypocrisy and irony there. But yeah, when you, when you enter into that contract, that is sort of taking away a lot of these options of just being a good business that churns out cash for its owners, you can't just do that anymore. That doesn't fit the investment thesis of the V C world. And so if that's the route you've gone, you are kind of trapped into that. And yeah, that can be, that can be a tough feeling. Uh And this is why we, we do a lot of pushback on, you know, do you need to take on funding? Are you just accelerating for the sake of acceleration or is there some real fundamental reason why this needs to move faster? Why this has to happen in this way? So, yeah, that's a, it's a tough feeling. You still, you, you feel that now you you in that space? Yeah, for

Wil Schroter: sure. Um Basically in the space of incredibly proud of what we've built and like we have a product going out the door, we just closed another funding round and like you get that Victor, thanks and then we get that victory for five seconds and then it's like great. Now the next funding round in three months we're gonna start. It's gonna be amazing. And also with that next funding round comes the realization of what that actually implies is that the first two, let's say, right? Like taking a million dollars or $2 million is like fake money, it's fine and your valuation is whatever it is. But then the valuation start meaning something they're like, oh shit, this means I have to have five extras for these people. Like, do I have the same? I understanding now what that means, and it just, you can't veer anymore. So it's like, well, now it has to be this. Right. So let's make sure we're still building a company that supports that. Well, also most companies can't, I mean, fundamentally, statistically, right, how many companies get started? How many companies make it to the public market? Right? A fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction, just because we have an idea doesn't mean it's going to have that growth trajectory. Fundamentally, we're all gonna have the idea. We're all gonna paint that initial big picture of how crazy big things are gonna be. And statistically none of us are going to hit it. So there is a point and with every business funded or otherwise where we're gonna stop and we're gonna say shit, this wasn't what quite what I thought it was, but I raised money. I created a contract under the terms of what it might be. Now, I've got to pay for what it is. And Jeff, I just want to point out that, you know, I just started to have those thoughts and conversations, you know, I, I, I don't think it's appropriate to have it in, in, in, in a public forum here but hit us up, get on the phone with us. You have a lot of options actually. And, and we'd love to talk through them with you and kind of give you a game plan founder to founder. So you can understand what you can do. A million people have been in this situation before you and a lot of them have feared that their way out of it and we'll show you what they did. All right, we've got time for uh one more comment. Uh Carrie, I'm gonna, I'm gonna call on you. You're the last person in the class and you said you've felt this the most in the marketing space. Can you tell us a little, a little bit about, about how you felt or why you felt that way? Uh Yeah, I was just going back to the comment you um you guys made earlier about, you know, founders needing to, you know, to be experts in all these various areas, but we're all just learning and I feel in the marketing space the most uh disappointment if that's the right word to use in engaging with different organizations who have, I have all these, I don't know fantasy ideas about how it's gonna be once I engage with them and, and really, I mean, not to, to flatter Ryan too much, but he, the time I spent on one of those joint calls with him, I got more value out of doing that than I have of paying certain people lots of money. Um And then being sadly disappointed in, in their work product. So I'm just, yeah, I, I feel disappointed sometimes in that space, the most

Ryan Rutan: understandable. I, I'll make a comment on it and thank you for the, for the feedback. I love that and it makes me very happy beyond that. I think one of the reasons why we tend to feel this in places like marketing is because it's so obvious, it's so apparent, it's so black and white. We have the numbers, right. We spent money. We, we had, you know, very objective things that we can track either people showed up at the site or they didn't, either people show up the site and bought or they didn't, right when we're working on our product, when we're working on our team building, there's so many other things that we don't have these objective metrics around. So we just go, I guess those are moving forward that feels good. And we run into something like marketing, marketing where it's just like the numbers are what they are, right? There's no way to like paint that into a prettier picture. And I think so, I would just, I would, I would ask you to lean back and say, like, look, should I be that worried about this? Is this? And of course, this is just part of the game at the early stage. There's gonna be ups and downs, there's going to be stalls and you and I talked about this when we talked, you're, you're, you're a hyper intelligent founder, you're really talented, you know, a lot of these things um remind yourself kind of to will's point around, you know, just because somebody's got gray hair doesn't mean they know everything. Don't continuously lean on expert. I, I wasn't talking about you carry, I see what you did. I see what you did there. Uh It wasn't, it wasn't about you. Remind yourself that a lot of times you will have the best answers for your business, right? Take things with a grain of salt and don't assume that somebody else is gonna have that magic bullet for you. Speaking of magic bullets, I've got to put one in this podcast because we're running out of time. So, thanks everybody for joining. This was fantastic. Fun. Awesome for me. I assume the same for Will. Hopefully for all of you and we'll, uh, we'll do this again. Uh Well, will and I will do this next week, but we'll see you guys in a month.

Wil Schroter: All right. So that was fun. But let's actually keep this conversation going. You've heard what we think about this. But, you know, Ryan and I would really like to hear what you think and we're online like all day long, pretty much talking about every startup topic you could think of from fundraising to customer acquisition to just really how to get all of this crazy startup stuff out of your head. And there's tons of other founders just like you, they're weighing in on these topics. So you'll get a chance to just hang out and meet some really smart founders. We're also super, super easy to find you head over to groups dot startups dot com and let Ryan and I hear what's on your mind. Let's get to know each other a little bit and let's just start having more of these conversations.

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