#YAPLive: Start Up School with Netflix and Kickstarter Founders, Marc Randolph and Yancey Strickler (Cut Version)

#YAPLive: Start Up School with Netflix and Kickstarter Founders, Marc Randolph and Yancey Strickler (Cut Version)

If you want to launch your startup and get tricks and tips from legendary startup founders, you’re in the right place. In this #YAPLive, we get schooled on the startup world by Netflix and Kickstarter founders, Marc Randolph and Yancey Strickler. Marc and Yancey are known for their innovative ideas and tremendous successes, so who better to show us the ropes? In this episode, Hala, Marc, and Yancey chat about the traits and qualities of successful entrepreneurs, Yancey’s philosophy of Bentoism and why it’s important that businesses are led by deeper values than profit, how to determine if a product has demand, and how to know when to pivot.

Topics Include:

– Traits and qualities of successful entrepreneurs 

– The story behind creating Netflix

– Yancy’s philosophy of Bentoism

– What is the biggest lesson learned from failure 

– How to determine a product that has demand

– How to know when to pivot vs close your business

– How much should we pay attention to the competition? 

– Q & A: Pitching your ideas

– Advice for a new entrepreneur

– And other topics…

Marc Randolph is the co-founder and first CEO of Netflix, and a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur, investor, and advisor. He is also the author and podcast host of That Will Never Work.

Yancey Strickler is a writer and entrepreneur. He’s the co-founder of Kickstarter, cofounder of Metalabel, and co-founder of the artist resource The Creative Independent. He is also the creator of Bentoism and The Ideaspace, and the author of This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World. 

Sponsored By:

Open Door Capital – Go to investwithodc.com to learn more!

Wise – Join 13 million people and businesses who are already saving, and try Wise for free at Wise.com/yap

Shopify – Go to shopify.com/profiting, for a FREE fourteen-day trial and get full access to Shopify’s entire suite of features

Faherty –

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Resources Mentioned:

#YAPLive: Start Up School with Top Tech Founders on Clubhouse: https://www.youngandprofiting.com/yaplive-start-up-school-with-top-tech-founders-on-clubhouse/ 

YAP Episode #116: How Netflix Disrupted The Entertainment Industry with Marc Randolph

https://www.youngandprofiting.com/116-how-netflix-disrupted-the-entertainment-industry-with-marc-randolph/ 

YAP Episode #81: Bentoism For a Better World with Yancey Strickler:

https://www.youngandprofiting.com/81-bentoism-for-a-better-world-with-yancey-strickler/ 

Marc’s Website: https://marcrandolph.com/

Marc’s Podcast: https://marcrandolph.com/podcasts/

Marc’s Book: https://marcrandolph.com/the-book/

Marc’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marcrandolph/ 

Marc’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thatwillneverwork/ 

Marc’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/mbrandolph 

Yancey’s Website: https://www.ystrickler.com/

Yancey’s Book: https://www.ystrickler.com/book

Yancy’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yancey-strickler-486b4557/ 

Yancey’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ystrickler/

Yancyey’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/ystrickler 

Connect with Young and Profiting:

Hala’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/htaha/    

Hala’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yapwithhala/    

Hala’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/yapwithhala 

Clubhouse: https://www.clubhouse.com/@halataha  

Website: https://www.youngandprofiting.com/ 

Text Hala: https://youngandprofiting.co/TextHala or text “YAP” to 28046

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Hala: [00:00:00] Let's talk about mindset because I think that the first step to learning how to build your dream business is really telling yourself that you can and actually believing that you can do it. And I think we all agree that not everybody should be an entrepreneur. And so I would love to understand what you guys think makes a good entrepreneur in terms of their personality traits or the background experiences that they should have before starting a business.

Hala: Why don't we start off with Yancy first? This. 

Yancey: Yeah. I mean, it's such a different mindset, you know, being an employee versus versus an entrepreneur, you know, as an employee, you're kind of waiting for things to be done for you and as an entrepreneurial, nothing happens unless you do it. I mean, I remember I had a day job throughout the pre-launch days of Kickstarter for like three years Kickstarter.

Yancey: Nights and weekends and more. Well, I kept a day job and the notion of quitting my day job to do this full time was a really scary thing. Cause I had no financial security. And once I did it, [00:01:00] I could feel this change in how I saw the world. And it was, it was switching from, you know, kind of almost passively waiting for things to happen to instead just, just feeling this compulsion that if I don't do it, it won't happen.

Yancey: If I don't do it, it will never happen. And it's like, now that I'm on the other side of it, it's hard for even me to articulate how big a shift mindset shift that was. But I did feel that real change in how I saw the world. Thank 

Hala: you so much, Nancy, for sharing that mark, I'd love to hear your opinion in terms of the personality traits that make up a good entrepreneur.

Hala: And what qualities do you think an entrepreneur should have before getting started? 

Marcus: Well, and they don't necessarily need to have them before they get started. And in fact, so it's hard not to dissect the question. I'll get to the answer in a second, but the most important thing is don't let anything get in the way of getting started.

Marcus: You know, the big danger is thinking I fill in the blank, I have to quit school. I have to get a D quit my day job. I've got to get a computer science degree. [00:02:00] I need a certain skill. Anything you do, which delays that start is a mistake. In fact, that actually probably goes into trait. Number one, which is this predisposition to action.

Marcus: I think the really defining characteristic of an entrepreneur is someone who kind of thinks less and does more, who does not go back and think about the problem. And let's put together a task force and let's value it. They go fuck it. Let's just figure out if there's a quick, easy, cheap way we can test this.

Marcus: Let's try it. Let's just jump in. I'm not going to stand. You're looking, trying to figure out to see around the corner. I'm just going to take a few steps and see if the view is a little bit better from there. I think that's the big one and there's a whole ton others, but you know, maybe one other off throw out there is what I've noticed is that really great entrepreneurs have this weird ability to kind of almost intuitively know what are the one or two critical things they have to focus on [00:03:00] to make the business go.

Marcus: I mean, and this is don't forget, startups are notoriously under-resourced, there's a hundred things broken. You just don't have the bandwidth to do all of them. And so your ability to kind of sense that, okay, these will fix themselves. These are going to be screwed up no matter what I do. But if I focus on this one or two.

Marcus: I can really change the game and then have this ability to put the blinders on and focus on them. And it's a really bizarre kind of set of skills, but it just seems to be one of the things that keeps coming up over and over and over again, not just in the things I've done, but in the work I've done in the last 15 years of working with, you know, hundreds of other entrepreneurs and scores of other stars.

question for you, mark. I know that, you know, you didn't get the idea from Netflix because you got the, like you had wanted to start a business and you and Reed Hastings were brainstorming all the different types of businesses that you could start. So could you shed some [00:04:00] more color in terms of the process that you guys took to come up with those ideas and some of the ideas that you threw out and how you kind of decided that you were going to go ahead and start off with this Netflix idea and continue on with it?

Hala: Like, how did you decide that was the idea you were going to choose? 

Marcus: So the first thing you kind of have to understand is that I'm, I'm going to say I'm not it kind of still not, but I certainly wasn't a movie guy. So this did not spring forth from some deep passion about cinema. I didn't even call it cinema.

Marcus: I was just kind of a startup guy in general. You know, when the company that I was working for, the company that Reed Hastings had found that it was running, uh, that I had joined when he bought one of my companies, when that was being intern acquired, both of us were kind of going to be out of work and it was kind of what's next.

Marcus: And for me, it was let's start a company, a Reed was going to go back to school, but of course wanted to keep a hand in. So we had this kind of natural thing about, [00:05:00] okay, what next. For anyone who has done that, it's one of the most fun things in the world is to brainstorm, okay, what should we do? What could a cool business to start be?

Marcus: And listen, you do that all the time. You don't, you have no intention of starting X. It's a fun intellectual game. But in our case, we were kind of playing it for real. And the way this would work is read nice to commute, to work together. And every morning when he picked me up, I got in the car and I'd be ready.

Marcus: And I go, okay, here we go. Here's today's pitch. And I would lay one out for him. And again, these were not music ones. They had some common denominators. They were all about e-commerce. They were all about personalization. They were all about things that I was already interested in, but otherwise they were all over the place.

Marcus: I mean, I think we talked on, on your show about the, you know, one of them was personalized shampoo by. Another one was customed dog food. Uh, another one was, uh, personalized sporting goods that were made one of a kind to exactly your [00:06:00] specifications. But this process was almost identical each time. So I do this pitch and then read me driving.

Marcus: And he wouldn't say anything. It's been looking out the window. And maybe a minute would go by and then it may be a minute and a half, two minutes, but you know, be patient, I know it's coming. And then finally, maybe three minutes in, he would turn and go, okay, that will never work. And then boom, and goes this brilliant dissertation and dissection of the idea, you know, why the market's wrong.

Marcus: It's too complicated, whatever a million. And then I, you know, I'm no baby I'd launch right back at him. I've done my research. Here's the numbers. Here's what will work. And we would just beat this thing up together during these 40 minute commutes. And we would just do that day after day after day, trying to find one, which would at least survive the initial intellectual attack.

Marcus: And one of them was of course, this idea of doing video rental by. I had my whole previous [00:07:00] first career was in direct marketing. Um, and I had done a two catalog companies and I certainly know all about shipping stuff all over the world. And I was going, this could be a way for us to actually attack blockbuster, but it was VHS and it wouldn't work.

Marcus: So that got abandoned too. And the breakthrough for us, which led to us deciding to actually do something, was when we heard about the DVD, which we realized was thin enough and light enough and small enough that we might be able to actually use the U S mail rather than having to use FedEx or DHL or ups.

Marcus: And then we did that classic as we were talking about earlier in the room, you know, with the think, do more, think less, and just said, rather than going on, working on a business plan or debating this further, let's just find out whether in fact this works or not. And we went down. I wanted to mail a DVD to read.

Marcus: We couldn't find a DVD cause they were in test markets. So he settled for mailing, a used music CD to his house. And when that got to [00:08:00] his house in less than a day for the price of a stamp, that kind of was an all we really needed to say, okay, this actually might work. Let's give it a shot. 

Hala: I love the fact that you didn't waste time on a business plan.

Hala: You didn't spend weeks kind of, you know, drafting everything out and studying the market. You took action and just mailed yourself a music CD and was like, okay, this actually works. Let's just give it a try. And you just did something. And that taught you a lot more than a business plan would have, because you just got to see if it worked or not EMC.

I want to talk about Yancey's philosophy of bento ism, and I think this is going to be a great conversation between you two, because I'm thinking that you guys have.

Hala: Different perspectives. So Yancy, you wrote a book called this could be our future. It's all about bento wisdom, which is a philosophy that you created that really tries to help move the world away from the idea of financial maximization, where businesses [00:09:00] really revolve around making profit to businesses that are led by deeper values.

Hala: And so as tech advances and, you know, the field is getting level with more platforms like Kickstarter in terms of funding, I think it's getting easier and easier to launch a business. So I'd love for you to kind of explain what bento ism is, so that everybody's on the same page. It's kind of a new phrase that's out there right now.

Hala: Explain my bento is amiss. And then maybe talk about some of the values you would like future startups to have when it comes to starting a business and what you think those values should be. And then I'd love to hear Mark's thoughts about Ben tourism and things like that. So Yancey, let's kick it off.

Hala: Let's give some context around bento. 

Yancey: Let's do it. I'm eagerly rubbing my hands together. Um, yes. So the rental is a very simple idea that I came up with. It's an acronym bento for beyond near-term orientation, and it's a very simple framework, a two by two matrix that helps you see the full picture of any [00:10:00] situation.

Yancey: And these four boxes start with now me as the box in the bottom left, what each of us as individuals want to need at any given moment. And this is the part of us that wants to feel safe and secure that, you know, has desires that, uh, has a desire for say wealth or to be loved. So we all have this now me part and the bottom, right?

Yancey: We have our future meet the person we are trying to become. You know, that future me becomes, you know, the person we want or don't want based on the choices we make at any given moment. And the top left box of this two by two is now. So the people in our lives, who we care about and care about us, our decisions affect them just as they're as affect us.

Yancey: And then the top right is futurist to give out the world. Our kids will inhabit and everyone else's kids do. And so it's very simple, four boxes of now me a future mean now us future us is a map to really be impacted. Every choice we make, every decision leaves, a footprint and all of these spaces, but the issue that most of us [00:11:00] have, and that we struggle with is that we really have a very limited self-awareness beyond this now may space.

Yancey: We know what it is that we want right now. Maybe we can see like a week ahead, but for many of us know, really thinking about the future implications of our decisions is really cloudy. And most of us fail to think about the key people in our lives, as much as we should. And so the bento is just a very simple tool, that simple two by two matrix that is a user interface, a way to make decisions to have all those spaces.

Yancey: Now what this leads to and what you getting to, how is that? Once you start to see all these dimensions, the values that are important to you begin to change a little bit, because while it is important to now me that say we're getting paid, we feel safe, we feel secure, you know, our future me voice.

Yancey: They're thinking more about what kind of legacy are you going to live? What is the ideal version of you look like? How do you make decisions that are building to something you really going to be proud of? You know, your now us is saying, what are those core [00:12:00] relationships in your life and how healthy are they and how much are you really giving to the people that need you?

Yancey: And how much did they give you? Like, how good is that part of your life, really? And then future us, you know, for whatever you're doing right now, like, what is this going to mean for your kids or the rest of the world? If you keep acting the way that. And so this just becomes a way that all these spaces become just very active in your decision-making.

Yancey: Um, and so the Bentall method is a way of seeing your organizational decisions or your personal decisions through these lenses. And what it does is it just widens the frame for you as a company. It means a good choice. Isn't just the one that satisfies, like what'll hit our Q1 goals. It's also, what's the one that will satisfy, like our brand ideal.

Yancey: This thing that we say we want to be, or that we are, what's the choice that company makes. And how do we think, like a future may want, if we're launching a new product to our customers, how do we do it? Really seeing them as like a core part of our constituency and people are. Certain expectations or promises that we've made to them.

Yancey: Um, [00:13:00] and then how does this decision contribute to this ultimate vision? This futurist vision that every company is working towards. Like Microsoft's putting a computer on every desktop. And so these are things that are present in our lives, are present in our companies and the bento and the bento method is a way that that becomes very literal and very actionable.

Yancey: And, and it doesn't make it that money doesn't matter or that short-term decisions are wrong. It simply puts them in a larger context. And I think what it ends up showing are the choices that produce, not just the outcomes we might want in this moment, but that are also leading us towards this ultimate destination.

Yancey: So to me, it's just an, a tool that extends our awareness and extends our self-interest both individually or as a group. And then just helps us make more consistent decisions, seeing that bigger. 

Hala: Awesome breakdown of bento as him. So mark, I'm going to throw it over to you. I, I'm not sure if this is the first time you've heard of Ben doism, but what's your thoughts around the belief that any decision right or wrong [00:14:00] when it comes to businesses all about making more money, making more profits?

Hala: Like, what are your thoughts about the values outside of just profiting in business? 

Marcus: First of all, I am familiar with Ben twoism. I mean, not intimately, but I've certainly have seen this represented. I didn't even know. I know I'm meeting the origin originator of it, which is pretty cool. And listen, what's possibly could be set against that, but being more aware of how the students you make are impacting not just you and your company, but the rest of the world and not just now or the future, it's a wonderful framework for things.

Marcus: And I'll certainly go on record and saying that. I've never believed that the sole purpose is economic gain. Certainly not individually. I'm. In fact, I spend so much time lately really trying to dispel that myth, that that's what entrepreneurship is all about. Trying to fight against all of this cultural imprinting that the reason you should do this is because [00:15:00] you can be rich or famous or whatever the media is communicating about what entrepreneurship is.

Marcus: It's much more a personal fulfillment job. So the challenging thing is, and these are all these, all this sounds great, but the question really is how does a founder put these things into action? And it's really why I counsel so many people that you have to be so deliberate at the beginning about how you set expectations for yourself, for your company and for your partners.

Marcus: And I'll just give you a simple example. I tested. Right now w actually having, yes, it's the perfect counterpart to this. I mean, there's certainly many, many ways to raise money, to try and support your dream. It turns out that most of the time for the companies that I'm involved with venture works great.

Marcus: There's certain aspects to it that I'm very familiar with. I know how to use it. Most of my companies are venture backed. The [00:16:00] problem is that if you come in and say, I have this vision for what I want my company to be is mission driven, but you're not clear with your investors. That that's what the purpose of your company is.

Marcus: You're going to have a problem. And that's what I think creates so much conflict, because if you go to a classic venture investor, not necessarily a social impact investor and a classic venture investor, and they're going to invest in your company, they're not doing so because. Oh, wouldn't it be great to support Mark's dream.

Marcus: Now they're going to give you money and they expect it back. And ideally they expect it back times a hundred. And once you accept that money, you have an obligation to do what you can to make that happen. And that's where you begin having this collision between what you may want, what you may feel is right.

Marcus: And what you [00:17:00] feel this obligation is to the partner who you brought into your project on with certain expectations. 

And I want to get into failures. So Malcolm, it's got a question on failure. I'd love to hear your question for the panel.

Hala: Yeah, 

Marcus: definitely. Thanks a lot. So yeah, basically I was, I was doing a company and I've just gone through the process of resolving it after working three years on it. And it definitely still burns like hell and I found it helpful to reflect on kind of things I learned from there and like jotting them down before I kind of pivot to something totally different.

Marcus: So I was wondering, you know, what is the one biggest lesson that you guys have learned from failure in a past 

Yancey: company? I think I've learned more, more than once. And it's the same with the relationship, but that everything in the beginning is material. You know, how, how things start, what those initial conversations are like, what, what expectations are set, you know, conversations that might not see meaningful often echo for a long [00:18:00] time.

Yancey: So I think really just how, how you start, you really can't be too deliberate, which is something mark said the other place where I just see, you know, I've just seen a lot of people run out of steam. You hit levels of burnout. I've certainly gotten there. Even if like a company you may succeed. Certainly I think everyone will experience that personal feeling of like, do I have more to give to this?

Yancey: But to me, a lot of the dyes casts with how, how things start, I'm curious what you would say, mark. I 

Marcus: think probably the single most frequent question I get asked is how do I know when to give up. And the answer usually is you don't give up, you get forced out. I don't mean forced out of the company. In other words, you just can't raise that last round of money.

Marcus: Something goes wrong. And all of a sudden you're done and it's with a, with a whimper, not a bang, and I've never really had a wind anything down. Uh, and to me, the, [00:19:00] the ones that were the closest were the ones we recognize. We're not going to make it. And it could be just because, oh, it's a great idea, but it's too soon.

Marcus: Or I just don't have enough money or I made some fundamental error too early on, but more likely what usually happens is this the very nature of starting companies, you're starting things and you're requiring three or four dependencies in a row to go your way. You know, Netflix, if, if the DVD hadn't achieved cheap, widespread household adoption, if it had gone the way the laser disc, I wouldn't be, I wouldn't be on this call, uh, today.

Marcus: So certain things have to break your way and sometimes they don't. Other times you go shooting up in the stratosphere only to realize, uh, there's no one, nowhere else to go. So in other words, then you're kind of saying I'm going to, I'm going to navigate the soft landing, but, uh, you're right. It's not a pretty thing, but it's part of it.

Marcus: And I don't know, my opinion kinda just gives you this opportunity to move on to, uh, to the next. 

Hala: [00:20:00] Awesome. Malcolm. That was a great question. So we're talking about failure right now and actually the number one reason startups fail 42% of startups fail because they offer products or services that the market doesn't need.

Hala: So basically there's no product market fit. So I'd love to hear your guys's thoughts around how do we determine a product that really has demand? How can we test that idea before we actually get too far down the line? Because a lot of the times we have a great idea. We think it's going to do great.

Hala: Technically we can do it, we have the funding, but then there's no demand. And then, you know, that's the number one reason why startups fail. So anyone want to kick that off first? 

Marcus: I'll go first on this one, I guess I hear a gazillion pitches. I blah, even if existing companies and the worst scenario is the company who has a solution in search of a problem.

Marcus: They have this product, it's the best product, but [00:21:00] now they're frantically searching for someone who has a problem that needs it. And that is. Just the kiss of death and it's just so much stronger to reverse things. And to start by really understanding what problem it is you're trying to solve and deeply understanding who has that problem and in what circumstances and who else is trying to solve that problem, because then you really have a very, very focused search for what your solution is going to be.

Marcus: Um, so much of what I work with the earlier stage companies on is these methodologies to try and validate their ideas. And I, I don't mean minimal viable product stuff. Cause even that I believe is building way too much. It's being able to take the concept and figuring out how to isolate the one component.

Marcus: That's your true question and figured out how to hit that off the person who you think has this problem. Um, um, Certainly [00:22:00] know that you can get to a point, we don't have product market fit. I'm just not, I'm not, but I'm just saying, if you say you're stuck, there's one thing to go. I really understand this problem.

Marcus: And I can't find the right product for it, but it's unexcusable if you have the right product and you can't find anyone that wants it, 

Hala: I love that. 

Yancey: Yeah. Yeah, I would. That was all great. And I would just build on that, especially early on. I think you want to be building for an actual customer and not an imagined customer.

Yancey: There might be that person that you think out there that has all these needs that wants all these feature sets. But if you don't, you don't actually know that if you haven't had conversation more than once, then I think you might be tricking yourself. And that, and that leads to what I think is, is also a step that people kind of skip or overlooked.

Yancey: But learning how to explain your idea in a way that other people connect with it, that they are excited by it, that on its own tells you a lot. Can tell you a lot about what your product actually is. So for us, you know, when we're artists [00:23:00] trying to put people on Kickstarter and we're struggling to get our, our demo done, that led to having to have conversations about this over and over for multiple years, trying to explain the idea of crowdfunding before anyone knew what it was.

Yancey: And as painful as that process often was, it was incredible for letting you know how to talk about something and ha ha letting you know, what's actually interesting about your idea because you do that enough. And then you see the moment that people's eyes glaze over because you're boring them or you're becoming too complicated.

Yancey: And then you learn to learn to Titan and you learn what it is that, that people are really excited by. And that I think can be like a pre MVP process. Um, just can I, can I tell a story that lets people see this and get excited by it? And you know, that's, that's a lot of the hurdle of getting people to care about a startup.

Marcus: I want to add one thing to this. I loved when you said build it for a real person rather than an imaginary one. Um, and I'm going to go further. I'm going to say build it for one, [00:24:00] not for many, don't have this huge audience of people who you're envisioning this works for is so powerful. If you can say, I have one person that I can get to do this rather than a hundred people who are all has slightly different needs and desires.

Marcus: It's kind of that, that strategy that says that you define your market, uh, by its center, not by its boundaries. You pick the ideal persona where, you know their name, their hobbies, how old they are, where they live, what they do, what they're struggling. And you're building it for them. It's just a really nice way to focus your product management and product development efforts.

 So earlier in this conversation we were talking about, when is it the right time to kind of throw in the towel and kind of close shop that this was a failure and move on.

Hala: And I think being a good entrepreneur is knowing when to quit. Buzz word that everybody always says pivoting, you know, and I know mark Netflix started as a direct [00:25:00] mail service mailing DVDs, and then you guys pivoted to streaming. So pivoting is like I said, a really hot word these days, especially in COVID or post COVID.

Hala: So how do you know if you need to close your business or if you need to just pivot, like, what is that decision-making process like? And maybe let's start with mark since you did it with Netflix. 

Marcus: Well, you would only close your business if you couldn't pivot. I mean, certainly the very first thing you're trying to do is if what you're doing is not working is try and move to something that's going to work better, but I wanted to spell it.

Marcus: You know, pivoting isn't always necessarily, it's not a defensive position. It's an offensive position too. And the reason people sometimes think that it's this defensive thing, then it's what you do when it's not working is because as I, I mentioned the person who asked the question a few minutes ago, They see what needs to happen, but doing that is going to impact their current business.

Marcus: In other words, it's [00:26:00] not a question of just doing something on the side, but the very act of doing the thing they can clearly see as the future undermines their existing business. And if I, let me say two seconds, give me a quick example of what I'm talking about. So as a company I worked with, which was a large manufacturer, it's sold through multi-step distribution, they sold to distributors and they have very high price salesmen I'll distributors and distributors sold to retailers, retailers to end users price got stepped up all on the way, but it was this dominant product had like 80% market share and they were raking in the money.

Marcus: And then of course, what happens is all of a sudden someone develops a product pretty similar and began selling direct it's about half or less than. And begins taking very small amounts of market share because they have no brand. The other guys have the dominant brand. So the CEO is, she's an intelligent person.

Marcus: She goes, I see what's happening. This is easy. We'll start our own little direct consumer division. We'll head this off of the past with our [00:27:00] marketing strength, our product strength, our brand strength. But of course, the minute the word gets out. They're thinking of selling direct. They get the call from the big distributors who go, whoa, you're going to compete with me on no, thank you.

Marcus: I'm going to drop the line. And they're $900,000 a year. Sales person goes, oh, you're going to make my job harder by competing with us. I quit. And then I'll of course now the decision is not, do I do the right thing? The question is, do I pursue this direct business, which is going to represent in a good case, 5% of my revenue and dump my main core business by 20 to 30%.

Marcus: And on one hand direct is the future. It's a really hard thing to do because you have to go to your shareholders. If your public's even worse and say, we're going to have down quarters four or five quarters in a row while we transition this business to direct. That is why you pivot as a [00:28:00] proactive step.

Marcus: And for example, I'm sorry, I'm rambling on here, but you got, you got me on a really good one is that you look at, at the beginning, you know, Netflix was renting and selling and we were 98% sales. We couldn't figure out how to rent. And the problem with that was not just, oh, we can't get rental with going, is that when you try and do both at the same time, it's really hard.

Marcus: You've got to pick up. And we can go. The future is going to be renting. Sales is commoditized. We're going to lose to Amazon. So we're going to walk away if 98% of the revenue to focus on that same thing happens when the streaming comes along. It's hard to do both the future though is streaming. So you're willing to walk away from your DVD disk, business and trash, your numbers to invest everything you have in getting streaming, right.

Marcus: And companies that don't do that either because they're unwilling or unable or scared. Um, [00:29:00] just leave it wide open for someone else to come in and take that share. The pivot has to be a offensive move, not a defensive one. Oh, 

Hala: I love everything that you said, mark. Thank you,

Hala: How much, or how little should we pay attention to the competition? Like when you guys were at Kickstarter and Netflix, were you studying the competition like crazy and like assigning people to kind of spy on the competition or were you guys kind of just operating and doing your own thing and not paying attention to your competition?

Hala: I'd love to hear thoughts on that. Whoever wants to kick it off. First, 

Yancey: I focused on the customer, you know, I focused on creators and I was always very aware of what all tools are our creators were using, you know, because the creator has a lot of different things they have to do. So I always wanted to know what their toolkit was about, but that wasn't specifically to keep out the competition angle.

Yancey: I was felt like time spent talking about competition was just it's, it's defocusing you from your own story. And [00:30:00] if we're doing our thing, right, like most markets can have room for multiple players. If you're smart about how you're focused and, uh, and how you execute. You know, for us, we would have the team, especially sales related.

Yancey: People would have to focus a lot on competition cause they might be in some one-on-one sales scenarios. But overall I always felt like it was to the detriment of the company. 

Hala: I could see that. Mark, what are your thoughts on 

Marcus: this? I totally agree. I think that certainly in some scenarios you have to be cognizant of what the competition offers, uh, largely in ensure that you're actually offering something to customers, which is not already being offered.

Marcus: You have to be doing something which allows you to differentiate yourself, but you should not be focusing on that and responding to every little, move your job at least at an early stage company, which is what I'm familiar with is entirely about delighting your customers. All the rest can wait. You need to at [00:31:00] the beginning, just delight the customer and everything else will follow from that.

Hala: Makes sense. Okay guys, we're going to start the Q and a. So Elizabeth, I love your question. I think it's really relevant. Please ask your question to the panel. Sure thing. 

Marcus: Thank you so much for this room. This has been such an intriguing conversation. So my question is how do you deal with people who just don't get your startup 

Hala: idea and how did you push through the naysayers?

Hala: In 

Marcus: the early stages? My startup idea came from my own lived experience, being a patient, being misdiagnosed, which almost led to my death and the solution that quite 

Hala: literally saved my life 

Marcus: is a scalable solution to crowdsource health solutions. But communicating this to people who've just never been in my shoes or I've never been sick, just don't get it.

Marcus: But our customers are fervent believers, but people who have just never been sick, like investors, a lot of people that I'm talking to in the startup world, they don't really get it. So how do you bridge that [00:32:00] gap when you know that your solution can really save someone's life? It's we have strong believers, strong customers, but people who've never lived that experience.

Marcus: Like how do you bridge, do you have any recommendations on bridging that gap? 

Yancey: I don't know that you can. Uh, but I think it could be that those people who have had the same experience are going to be your believers. And that's where things start, you know, nothing's going to start with everybody loving it.

Yancey: And they're just, it's just never going to work that way. But can you find, you know, those 10 people, those, whoever, many people who do connect that one investor who did go through hell and honestly, that's all it takes. If people don't get your story, it's, it's hard to sway them. Honestly, it probably takes it until their personal life, like requires them to realize it, that, to have that same depth of feeling, but that's okay.

Yancey: You don't need everybody to be a customer day one. You just need to find those, those people who do feel it and they will be. 

Marcus: I'm not sure about how to bring customers along. [00:33:00] I would probably agree with 

Yancey: Yancy. 

Marcus: You can't, you've got to find the person for whom your solution resonates, but certainly if you're pitching your idea to potential employees or you're partitioning it to potential partnerships or petitioning it to potential investors, I may be a minority in this, but I just don't believe in ideas.

Marcus: I don't believe in your idea. I don't even know what it is. Every idea is wrong. Almost no company, no company wavy present company, except with the NSC is successful doing what their original idea was, which is why getting someone to believe in the original idea, doesn't really make a difference. And it's kind of the same answer I had before when I was talking about the fundraising piece of it, which is that the thing to do is to prove it, to be.

Marcus: And I work with a lot of people who are business side marketing side, and they're trying to confined engineer to build their idea for [00:34:00] them. And I go, you are just wasting your time. You're never going to find that just way too hard. I said, the best thing you can do is figure out a way to demonstrate that what you're talking about is real by actually doing it in a non repeatable non-scalable way.

Marcus: And then what happens is when you show them what you're working on, they will be drawn in. I'll go, oh my God, this is amazing. You're actually, it's actually working and you're doing it in this completely crazy manual way. Maybe we could. And then there in, um, people believe in things that are working and sometimes you just have to kickstart if you'll pardon using the term, kickstart things yourself, Oh, yeah, this was extremely helpful.

Marcus: Thank you so much. I 

Hala: appreciate it. Thanks so much for your question and good luck on your entrepreneurship journey.

Hala: Okay. So we are running up on time. I want to be respectful of time. So Yancey mark, I'm going to ask you guys your last question and I love to leave all of these episodes on a high note.

Hala: And so I want to know what is your one piece of advice that you would give a new entrepreneur? [00:35:00] Maybe somebody who's scared of taking the leap. They're in a corporate job. They're, you know, they have this security blanket of their corporate job and they have a great idea. They feel like it has product market fit.

Hala: They feel like they can handle it, but they're just scared. They're scared of going out on their own and taking that leap. What are the words of encouragement that you would give them? Let's start off with Yancey and then go to mark and then we can close out. 

Yancey: Entrepreneurship is just like the, the pro level path to personal actualization.

Yancey: The level of. Maturity, you will have to develop the hard conversations. You'll be forced to have the ways you'll, you'll be forced to confront your weaknesses, but also to discover these strengths that you have, it's ultimately just going to turn you in to a wonderful person. It's going to be painful.

Yancey: It's going to take some time, but I really feel like it's just an accelerated ration of self-understanding that will just benefit you for the rest of your life. Even regardless of what happens for the business itself. 

Hala: I love that. [00:36:00] Mark. What are your thoughts? 

Marcus: I got to write that one down the pro-level path to personal actualization.

Marcus: I love that. I think that if you're lucky in your life, you get to do these two important things. You get to do the things you're good at, and you get to do the things you like. And if you're feeling that being an entrepreneur, being a founder, doing your own company is going to give you that level of fulfillment.

Marcus: Then life is too short, not to go for it. There airy, huge, many, many, many ways now to do all this stuff that mitigates so much of the risk, don't quit your day job. Don't mortgage your house. Don't pull your kids out of school, uh, and begin feeding a dog food to save money. You know, there are ways to take this idea.

Marcus: You're so sure we'll work that has product market fit and increment your way in. And you can always stop. Nothing is [00:37:00] irreversible. If it works, if you like it, it is the most incredible way to spend your time. I it's absolutely I'm actualized. I couldn't be happier. I would the best possible life I could.

Marcus: And it's all come from being able to spend my day sitting down with really smart people, solving really interesting problems. And it's hard to imagine someone not also wanting to do that. Good luck with it.