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Join Susan as she sits down with Richard White, the incredible Founder & CEO of Fathom.video, as they delve into the thrilling journey of entrepreneurship. In this episode, Richard dives deep into the art of navigating the unpredictable funding landscape of 2021 and shares his invaluable insights on decision-making and bouncing back from rejection. Get inspired and discover the secrets to entrepreneurial success in this captivating interview!

-Richard White

Raw And Real Entrepreneurship with Richard White

Topics covered in the interview

The season of ‘No’

Hardest part of raising capital

Managing stress

Monetization

Richard White’s Bio

Richard White is founder and CEO of Fathom.video, a free app that records, transcribes & highlights your calls so you can focus on the conversation instead of taking notes. 

Fathom was a part of the Y-Combinator W21 batch, is one of only 50 Zoom App Launch Partners, and is one of a small handful of companies Zoom has invested in directly via their Zoom Apps Fund.

Prior to Fathom, Richard founded UserVoice, one of the leading platforms that technology companies, from startups to the Fortune 500, use for managing customer feedback and making strategic product decisions. UserVoice was notable for being the company that originally invented the Feedback tabs shown on the side of millions of websites around the world today.

Richard previously worked on Kiko, a company in the first batch of Y-Combinator, with Justin Kan and Emmett Shear who subsequently went on to found Twitch. Richard is passionate about designing intuitive productivity tools with delightful user experiences.

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Show Notes

Read Full Transcript

Susan Sly 00:02
This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, the show that brings the no nonsense truth of what is required to start, grow and scale your business. I am your host, Susan Sly.

Susan Sly 00:14
Well, what is up Raw and Real entrepreneurs whereever you are in the world, I hope you're having an amazing day. And prior to starting the show, we were having a conversation, this incredible guest and myself, and we were talking about, are there any topics that are off limits? And the answer is no. And then I said to him, is there anything you want me to ask that you have been asked? He's like, no, like, no. So who knows what we're going to talk about, you know, on this show, we talk about all things. It could be martinis and donut combos, it could be the, even in breastfeeding, your children. We won't talk about that on the show today while you're raising funds. But what we are going to talk about is the season of No, which is like I'm so excited about this. So my guest today is the CEO and founder of Fathom video, which is cool. Go there after the show, and go to fathom.com. It is amazing. I'm excited. I just said to our COO, go and download the free trial, we're going to use it. So this is a free app that records, transcribes,and highlights your calls so you can focus on the conversation instead of taking notes, which is cool. I love taking notes too, so that, I'm old school, but we all know that. And Fathom was a part of Y Combinator w21 batch and is the only one of 50 Zoom app launch partners, and is one of a small handful of companies Zoom has invested in directly via their Zoom apps fund and, which is so cool. So prior to starting Fathom, my guest founded User Voice, which is one of the leading platforms that technology companies from startups to Fortune 500 use for managing customer feedback. And we're going to talk about customer service today, which I'm also excited about. User Voice was notable for being the company that originally invented the Feedback tab shown on the side of millions of websites around the world today. And prior to that he worked on Kiko, a ccompany in the first batch of Y Combinator with Justin Kan, and Emmett Shear, who subsequently went on to found Twitch, and I could have many comments about Twitch, but I won't. And he is passionate about designing intuitive productivity tools that delight user experiences. My guest today is the one and only, live from San Francisco, Richard White. So Richard, thanks for being on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.

Richard White 02:41
Susan, thanks for having me.

Susan Sly 02:42
Well, Richard, I'm gonna jump in, season of No. So here, Wall Street Journal says 1500 startups have shuttered their doors, we know tha, I think it's like 36.4% funding was down in Q1 from Silicon Valley VCs. We had SVB. Big stuff this year. You and I we're both in a season of raising money. And you said you're calling it the season of No. Can you expand on that?

Richard White 03:15
Yeah, I mean, what's the physics term is like, for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. And I think once you get to realize how insane 2021 was, and we started Fathom in 2020, we went through Y Combinator 2021, we raise money. 2021. It was good time raise money. But I had no idea until recently how insane that year was from a financing perspective. And I think once I sort of wrap my head around how many egregious kind of indefensible deals were done in that year, you start to realize why the pendulum has swung so hard, and so fast back the other direction. And now you've got a lot of investors that are, and we're just wrapping it around now. But I mean, we, I, you know, I talked a lot of founders that were like, you know, two years ago, you would have closed the thing in two hours, right? With the metrics you have and stuff like that. But you're just in this environment now where everyone's still kind of like shell shocked and so afraid, because of the ridiculous things that a lot of them did in 2021. And so I think, you know, people are looking for a reason to say no, whereas before they were, you know, looking for any reason, say yes. And it kind of speaks to this thing of, like one of my friends, it was actually well, I won't quote him because maybe he won't disclose. But he kind of said something like, you want investors to be ATMs. But they're not. Right? He's like, you want them to show up and you got your metrics and you got your thing. You checked all the boxes and you want, you want that to just be it's an ATM, okay, where's my money? But the it's not, right. Investors have their own opinions or perspectives. They're like, they have, and they have a lot of frankly, there's a lot of like a group thing, right, like, VCs all know each other and so they very quickly get this like hive mind kind of thing. So when the hive mind is all thinking, everything goes up. Yeah, GameStop, that sort of thing. Good time. And when the hive minds like on, I lost 80% of my net worth last year, the hive mind goes the other direction. So, yeah, I've been calling this with other founder friends the season of No. And I think it resonate with a lot of them because I think everyone's seen that same thing.

Susan Sly 05:24
I want to borrow that thank you. And most of my guests do become good friends. And I'm taking that one. Thank you, it's, I might have a T shirt made, and it could have many multiple meetings. You know, anyway, the interesting aspect of fundraising in this current climate, I have found, there's a lot of interest, great initial conversations, and then, you know, next thing and next thing, but to your point, for someone who has never raised money before, each one of them have a checklist, and it's like they're looking for that No, as opposed to the majority of yeses. So let me ask you this. How long has this fundraiser, for this particular round you're doing, how long has the, have you been at it raising for this round?

Richard White 06:19
Oh, so we've been in diligence for a bit. So if I get, if I think about the pre diligence part, probably about eight weeks, so not, not exceptionally long. But a lot of conversations most AVS right. But yeah, you're right. I think good. I think it's interesting to happen. It's like, we've reverted back to the mid 20. Teens in terms of availability, like you used to be going raised in certain windows of the year, because it's the only time all the partnership was on some vacation and Mykonos. And 2021 arose. One is going to it's not true. Everyone worked the entire year was funding deals day after Christmas, if you will. And now that's not the case, either. And I think the thing that's interesting, when I've talked to some VC friends, they still get tons of deal flow. Right? So it's like they don't, I think that's the thing that I have to remember as an entrepreneur, sometimes, like, I think my thing is, you get special and look at our metrics and blah, blah, VC is so much stuff. So they're like, they find the reasons tto say No, create their vision, just on to the next one. Right? And like, you know, with all these, and I think right now, the other problem you have is a signal to noise ratio of, there are a lot of things that are funded in 2021, that probably shouldn't have gotten funded, right? Especially at the seed stage, and now they're all running out of money. And so you're also gonna see them noise ratio, like, you're there, was something maybe compelling, it's actually working, but you're surrounded. You also remember, like, you're, you're probably one of eight calls that VC had that day, the other eight ones were all these things that are floundering, and their metrics went up, and now they're coming back down. So just the overall vibe, if you will, rooms, like everything seems like it's crashing. I don't want to catch a falling knife type of thing. So it'll be interesting to see. And I think this next, this year will be brutal. Because of that, right? Just, I mean, in our YC bachelor a lot of things where I was like, How is this ABC Fundable Company and you know, $4 million? There you go, right? So it's, it's like I said, for every crazy, boom, there's going to be a crazy bust. And both of those things like, it shouldn't be as bad as it is now. And it shouldn't have been as good as it was back then. But that's human nature.

Susan Sly 08:20
Yeah, a lot of the founders I'm interviewing, right now we're on Episode 311, I think or 12. I don't know, the team tells me, I don't know the answer. But so many of the founders I'm interviewing now, Richard all founded their companies during the pandemic, the 2020. And one of the things I look at is we, your company, when it becomes a noun, a verb and an adjective, that's when you've made it. And so we look at Uber, Airbnb, like Instagram, all these companies that were founded during the recession, and they survived. I almost feel like VCs right now are not looking to invest now, but they're kind of like, it's like Game of Thrones, and it's like, okay, well, we're looking at like, in our case, we're looking at six computer vision AI companies, and whichever ones are able to survive this season, those are the ones we'll invest in next year, or if it looks good 16, 18 months out, because to your point, and for people who don't know, we have a lot of people who are in the startup ecosystem thinking of doing startups listen to show that the, to Richard's point, investments in 2020, 2021, early 2022, these valuations, some of them are crazy. I know a company that had a 10 location pilot that raised at a $500 million valuation and with a 10 location pilot, and you know, it's crazy. We're a production level company and in computer can vision. So our largest deployment is 1000 locations. And if we were raising in that environment, we would, our first raise would have been at like, a billion dollars or something silly, right? So you have a lot of VCs, their portfolios are down, because these companies are all doing down rounds for the average person who doesn't understand this stuff. Let me ask you, what is, for you rhe, because this is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. I mean, this is not your first rodeo. But what is for you, I guess the toughest thing about going through the fundraising process, personally?

Richard White 10:38
Um, I mean, I think like everyone, even if your preseason doesn't like rejection, right, and doesn't like, smart people take a look at your business and say, I don't like it, right. I think that's it for us. But actually, the hardest part is not over rotating on that feedback. Because I think is very, you know, I think earlier in my career, when some VC would tell me something like, Oh, crap, I better go do something about that. And now I think, okay, it was interesting, single visit, their perspective on this, like, I should go, I can investigate that, like, Should we do that, What not. But oftentimes, I feel like no, no, like, they just don't understand this business. Right. And it's hard to sometimes explain businesses in 30 minutes or less, right, which is often what you're getting, right? If you go a couple rounds, sure you spent two hours together, but you've spent, you know, three years on this business, like there's generally doing it right. There's only a lot of new ones and stuff like that. So, you know, I think a lot of times, it's, you know, I think I went back into, oh, I didn't communicate this well, which person they were to communicate. But that doesn't mean I should over rotate on what came out of the other end. So that's what I think it's one of those challenging things. There's a lot of people that I think optimize their business for fundraising. And I think this has happened a lot in recent years. I've been around long enough that I remember, I remember that era, right, that Airbnb came from and whatnot. And it was very much just people just building things because they wanted it to exist, and then oh, then starts working, then they get funding. And I think more recently, you got all these people that are like optimizing for building a funded startup, right? And, you know, how quickly can you get to a million dollars, and that was, if you get to a million dollars in three months or six months, like, you can go raise, I mean, there's someone I think that's a million dollars in like six months, they raised $30 million at like a couple 100 million dollar valuation, and then they flat revenue the next year, right? Because there's no visits again, it's like cargo culting it was just purely like, Oh, what are the, what are the check, what are the boxes, people, the investors want you to check? Not how do I build a good business from first principles around a problem space that I know well. So I think the hardest thing about the fundraising process is not letting these little rejections get to you, and don't let them rattle you and shake you off of the core hypotheses that you've spent years validating, right?

Susan Sly 12:53
That's beautiful. And so wise too because again, that, you know, you've gone through YC a couple of times, you're, you're in San Francisco, the heartbeat of it. You see it, you've seen founders soar, you've seen them flail. You know how the game is played. And it is a lot of times to your point, it's like window dressing. It's like buying a fixer upper staging it, like how do we want it to be staged? How do you handle stress personally, because the, as entrepreneurs, we work longer hours. There was a study that was published in Forbes. And it illustrated that the average startup founder works, you know, over 60 hours a week where the average employee you know, we hear quiet quitting is maybe working, you know, 30, 35 hours a week. How do you manage stress?

Richard White 13:44
I think it's perspective thing for me. I will get playing, I look at working on my startup as like playing my favorite video game. And, and I actually think it's kind of funny. I actually think that like your second startup is actually playing a video game for the first time so, I don't know maybe your listeners are playing Minecraft but Minecraft is game you get dropped into it. You have no idea what to do. There's no instructions. And I'm gonna, the first time I played it took me like half an hour to figure out you have to punch a tree to get some wood to then get a torch like, right. That's your first startup. Your first startup is like you're dropped in this game. Everything is open ended, you're not told what to do. You see someone else's castle on the hill, and you're thinking I want to build that and I'm not sure how. Second time you've done it a third time you've done it, it's like Oh, you dropped me in Minecraft, within 10 minutes, I've got the castle on the hill myself. I've got a factory like all this new having, because you've taken all these things are like open ended questions and actually find out most questions in your startup. Right? Once you get to know it. It's all carte menu, right? Like, marketing is not opening question. It's okay, which of these eight channels are you gonna do? You're not gonna do eight. You're gonna be like one, maybe two. Right? Just get started. And so all that says like, I have this mindset about my startup, which is like, it's like playing a video game. It's like, I don't know about you, but I can play video games all the time, like very gratifying just, I can do it over and over. I'm kind of like a dog, I play fetch for hours. But I feel like with the startup, I'm excited to get back to it. So yeah, maybe I work 80 hours a week, doesn't feel like work because it feels like, oh, man, I've, I was playing tennis. And the whole time I was thinking about like, Oh, I really want to tweak this part of our, polish this part of our stone of the state that we're building, right? Like, oh, we should tweet that message. Oh, I've got an idea for fixing this feature. And I think that mindset means it's not stressful. It's just exciting, right? I guess it is a form of stress, technically. But my relationship was so much different than oh my gosh, I'm crushing more things to do. When I am, hat's like, the positive thing. There are moments where it's like, oh, I have too many things coming inbound to me, my backlog is getting really high, how do I deal with it? Right. And I think that you have to develop some discipline around when you find those moments, you have to take a step back and figure out a way to like, get yourself out of that hole, like one bit at a time and not get overwhelmed by the amount of things and be very honest, we will cut the **** in half and get rid of the stuff that does matter. Right?

Susan Sly 16:00
And what's your strategy for that? So like, you know, a bunch of stuff coming at you at once. And there's a, there was a study done at University of Florida, on decision fatigue, and specifically, times of day for certain people, you know, some people are great early in the morning, and some people are great later at night. But there, we all have a part of our day where we have decision fatigue, and where it is a lot harder to make the right decisions. So let's say Richard, you have things coming at you there's, you know, maybe some unexpected things that are being thrown at you, what is something that is your go to that can instantly reset you because there are so many people listening, they, we can't afford as entrepreneurs to be out of the game for two weeks and have a pity party, we can't afford to for two hours, honestly, we have to be in the game all the time, to your point. So what is your go to that resets you super quickly?

Richard White 16:57
So I actually find the biggest stress is actually the tension between maker and manager, where you gotta a lot of stuff you have to do yourself, you're almost done. I see, I've got to send an email, write that document, come up with a design, whatever. And then the manager, I need to review this thing that you know, I get to answer questions from my team, I get to review emails from clients, that sort of thing. And I find the real tension is when I've got these, usually what happens is the lots of little things overwhelmed the important thing that takes more time, oh, I need to sit down and spend four hours working on this thing. But I never get to it because I've got all these little things coming at me. And it's just easy, I feel good and bad and down. And now I'm getting stressed out that this important thing is never getting done. And now I get behind, now I don't even want to touch it. So I think finding a way to manage the tension between maker, the need to be maker manager. And the way I just do I mean, me, I'm lucky that I'm a night person. And most of my team is east coast. And so I spend most of the morning so like from when I wake up to about two or three o'clock, I don't even, I have no expectation I'm going to get anything done. Like I'm not going to try to do any, my maker projects. I'm only going to have a high SLA, high response time on anything needs for me. And so I just, I play tennis all day, and knock the ball back over the net, right? What is the decision, whether it's email, whatnot, and then I know that I carve out the afternoon in the evening for okay, we sit down, like what are my top projects, let me resort them every night and great, I'm gonna get to these two because these are now the most important ones. And so I think I got really frustrated when I felt like there was a tension and I'm trying to interleave the two things, trying to do the maker work in the middle of management and now I'm getting frustrated I'm getting interrupted and whatnot. Just had an expectation of like, I'm going to be interrupted for the next four hours and that's what I'm here for. And I'll have time to do that stuff later.

Susan Sly 18:40
That's fantastic. I love that and how self aware you are Richard, to be able to know that. A lot of people don't like, this is when I'm my most creative and least likely to get interrupted. This is when I'm in decision making mode and I'm gonna make 1000 decisions in a very short period of time, right? And to know that about yourself, I just, it's funny you mentioned the East Coast. I was on the East Coast for this three weeks I just got back, and it was great because a lot of our team is on the west coast. So for me, my go to is like, as long, even if I go for like a 20 minute run, just clear my head, I love running in the cities I'm in, and just to be able to get all that stuff done and for me do my creative work before they were up and going and needed decisions was like the best.

Richard White 19:28
Sometimes times offsets are really magical, right? I've also had times where I've been traveling in like, Asia and it's like, oh I'm like really out of pace with my team. But that means I only get one batch emails to go through per day, I don't get any more. Once I answer all those emails are not coming back because everyone's asleep. And there's just something kind of magical about some of it. Sometimes just shifting times everyone's awake gives you more perspective on oh wow okay, I live it every day because I'm in sync with all my team. If I get four hours out of phase of them. Oh I do notice now I've cleared up this thing, but I can only just clear up that up those three hours that I got from timezone shift when I go home, Why, imagine how productive I'd be?

Susan Sly 20:03
Absolutely. And sometimes just to that point to you, like you can be over available for your team and then they become codependent. And so when you're not as available, they're forced, they're forced to create and innovate. How big is your team at Fathom now?

Richard White 20:17
Pretty small, pretty nimble, about 16 people.

Susan Sly 20:19
16 people? Wow, that is, and the, as a CEO, you wear many hats. I'm so curious about this. So now where you're at in your career, is there ever any time that something, you know, comes out of your mouth that you think like 20 years ago like, I can't even believe that I have this area of competency? Is that the case? And if so, what is that?

Richard White 20:47
Um, I think as time goes on, you get better at just making decisions faster, right? Because you're, you're just you're, you've shifted from, I have to judge every decision from first principles to Oh, I like now a lot of pattern matching that I can do. It's also your weakness, right? It's also why sometimes people get stuck in ruts of thinking, right? Because you're just so used to pattern matching. But I think, you know, I think someone once said, like, I'm gonna butcher this, but like, there are, you know, good, fast decision that good slow decisions, but there's no such thing as a good sorry. There's a fast bad decision, faster decision, but there's no decision that you can do slowly that you really want, right? Like, just, you could be wrong, but just be quick with your decision making. And then you'll, you'll get some feedback after that, right? Like that was wrong, right? Like, most decisions you make are actually pretty low consequence. And generally pretty reversible. So it's more important that you make decision quickly, then you agonize over it, right? Because that's the, that'll eat up your time. Right? And that's the thing, you know, just keep moving. You can always change it later, really.

Susan Sly 21:53
Yes, that's huge. The, you know, it's funny when I look at now, for me, in AI, right, and AI is this, it's like thing, crypto. It's so general. And there's there's a lot of lack of understanding,

Richard White 22:11
So there's real use cases in AI.

Susan Sly 22:16
And AI isn't something that just appeared this year. I mean, you know, people have been using Siri and Alexa and you know, search and all sorts of things. They, you know, whatever. But it's interesting that I look in my career now. And as a, as a startup co founder in the space of AI. And sometimes I'll be explaining, like, GPUs or whatever. And you know, why Nvidia stock is soaring? And I'm like, wait a minute, you know, when did that conscious competency come about? Like by osmosis, right? It's funny how you learn. For Fathom, everyone loves an origin story. So you already, you know, you do two companies, and then you see a problem. How did you get the funding for the first beta version? And that's the first part of my question. The second part of my question, because everyone, like, who doesn't have a million great, you know, ideas, but it's the execution that makes the difference? And how did you take that beta and find your first early users?

Richard White 23:19
Sure, yeah, I think the, I think the thing has shifted a lot in my career, I used to just go, this is a cool thing. I want to build it, and circled in, because I'm in kind of a builder, to shifting to like, what's a unique hypothesis that I have about this business? And like, what does it mean? And I think there's a big difference between entrepreneurs that are hypothesis driven versus those that are not. And again, going back to this conversations with like VCs, if you know your business is built on a couple core hypotheses that you've now either validate, or in the process of validating, it gives you this bedrock, that's like, Okay, you may not like to have done this, but you disagree with this core hypothesis, right. And for us, the core hypothesis was transcription cost is going to zero. And, you know, early 2020, I was using zoom a lot, actually my last company and I think I did like 200 Zoom calls or something the first like four weeks as a lot of customer research. And as you're like, oh my gosh, taking notes and trying to synthesize them afterwards and trying to have them carry the same gravitas at the initial conversation had to other people that weren't there seems a nightmare. It's stressing me out. And that's where the idea for Fathom came from. But they, and so history, it was built up with a hypothesis, there's two. One was get transcription glasses go to zero. And because at the time, it cost us about $2 dollars, but 85% of the costs of running this business, it was like it's gonna go to zero. And we go sub zero means you can build this, you can give this product away for free. If you can give this product away for free, it can be viral, because you can't really have viral products if you charge money, mostly because it's like too much friction. But if you give away for free, it's going to be in your meetings recording and people get what's the thing in the meeting, oh it's by Fathom recording. So that was our core hypothesis unsettling. If we can recover over time and get them should cost down to afford it. And we can be the first and only people to give this product away for free, because we weren't the first ones to do it or the first ones that make it really easy and give away for free. And so that was kind of our core hypothesis. And I think, you know, with that I was able to basically, you know, basically started from day one with some of the top engineers, my last company, and this is I think, the advantage of being second time, right. The second or third time founder, oh, it's so much different the first time or the first time I did this, I had to beg, borrow and steal people did like, do engineering work with me. Thankfully, I could do my own engineering work. So that's part of it. This time around, I started on like, third base where I felt like, four great engineers, I could go to my network and say, I've got this really interesting hypothesis, we've got this core product, check it out. It was like an a, you know, barely functional alpha. And it's able to go to my network and raise the first like, 500k, we need to get started. The downsides of this model is, you know, I've got four engineers that have engineer salaries up on day one, so I have to raise money out the gate, right, versus my previous company, I think we we burned 100k, over the first 18 months, we burned 100k in the first like, I don't know, like, three months, this new one, right. But I think again, you just played your strengths. I've had network enough to raise money and, and whatnot. So that's how we got that first initial funding for it. And then in terms of first initial users, also in network, it went to everyone on LinkedIn, say, Hey, I got this product, you want to try it? And I think, I think went back and good stats, like, it took us about 800 people or so signing up for the product to get 50 people that use it regularly. And because we kept bringing cohorts of people, like I bring in 50 people, let them try it, there'll be enough bugs in it. It's kind of a you know, it's a unique product, where it's like, if it doesn't work perfectly, it doesn't work at all right? It needs to join your meeting seamlessly, every time not drop anything, yada, yada. And what we found is like, you know, I bring in cohorts people it's like, you know, we lost everyone's cohort because everyone had this bug, or like, hit Oh, great. Let's pick a new cohort. You know, at one point, we got 50 people that were using it day in, day out, and the rate, we're on to the next phase, right, we finally got some level of stickiness with the soft core problem, but it took us hundreds of people to get to that point.

Susan Sly 27:17
And what was the time period?

Richard White 27:20
That took about, eee, we started the company in the fall. And I think we took about eight months to get to that point where we had eight, nine months, we had that group of 50 use it regularly.

Susan Sly 27:31
And I love your patients because the, Okay, let's all admit like us, founders and co founders we have, there's this whole joke, you know, we have ADD and that, you know, there were impatient and results driven and things like that. But the the fact that you were this willingness to say we need the right consistent users, not just the one off like this is so great. So let me ask you this. What is the, what is the number one piece of positive feedback your user base gives you about how this product is impacting that?

Richard White 28:10
I think it's what I noticed. And I think it's really for it's, it's, it's an emotional response. People are like, I can't imagine life without Fathom. I'm so less stressed out than I was before on these calls. And I think that's the only thing and when I go to build a product now, sure, there's features and there's jobs to be done and things you're doing. But I think of like, what is the emotional problem we're solving for the user? And like, what is the emotional response we're trying to, we expect to see, right? People are in meetings all day long, especially if you're in like sales or consulting, they all sound the same, you get really stressed out that oh, my gosh, I forgot something important that Susan said, I can't get Susan back on the line, I'm gonna look like an idiot, my boss is gonna, I'm gonna, like there's a lot of anxiety around the stress of these, like these one to one calls that people are on. And so I think we just had a few years ago, Yeah, occasionally, I zone out in the middle of a meeting. That's fine. I can go back and watch the recording. I've got the summary. I've got the notes. So but yeah, I think to your point about the patients, I'm a big fan of doing the core things sequentially. So I was like, we don't need to worry about onboarding, we don't need to worry about growth, we wouldn't worry about virality if we don't have retention. So we're gonna, first we're gonna, first build a product that people love. And we know they love it, because they use it day in day out, but they also tell us they love it has to be both can just Yeah, doing the qualitative and the quantitative. And then once we've done that, then we're going to focus on how do we onboard people better? Our onboarding uawd to be terrible, and that's fine. We're going to manually onboard people, once we get to good retention piece. Now we're going to make our onboarding really good. We make it really easy to sign up, or you know, and we're intrument that funnel. Once we get that working now we're gonna worry about virality. Okay, great. Now we've got this thing that just grows. Now we're going to worry about monetization. And so we could even for a b2b product. We took kind of a more of a consumer playbook where it's like, we deferred monetization until we figure it out. Cool. We've got this core product that eople love and use, because I don't want to monetize early because what if we don't figure out the growth and virality? Now we've got a very small businesses, we don't have to grow. So let's solve the hard parts first, hard part's retention, hard part's growth. You got a product people are using every day and love, there's always a way to monetize it.

Susan Sly 30:15
RThat is so genius, Richard, and that, that wisdom that comes from your experience, because so many people will go to monetization too early. And they don't have a product, to your point, that people are gonna love day in and day out. And, and I was asked by an investor that I thought it was a great question. And she's like, AI is not cheap to build. I said, it is not cheap to build. And, you know, I've spoken to VCs who don't understand that, and that's okay. They're not the right VC. To build a product that, you know, b2b, that the enterprise users for our product are going to want to love, are going to want to bring alongside as part of a team. That there, it's the same thing and that's, that's what we spent the last five years doing and it's not easy, because the going back to the VC things like okay, monetization, monetization, monetization, it's like, okay, but can't monetize a piece of garbage. So that so as we wrap up, I'm gonna rapid fire you questions since you like, you know, you like games, and so we're gonna go fast. Okay. All right. All right. Here we go. Do you have a particular book that has like really blown your mind that you would say, yes, every entrepreneur needs to read this.

Richard White 31:37
I really like The Score Takes Care of Itself, which is a book by Bill Walsh, the old 40 Niners coach. It speaks to my methodologies, like, do the little things right and don't worry about like, I don't really worry about our revenue. I worry about all the little things that lead to us getting revenue.

Susan Sly 31:54
Love it. I also love a good football reference. All right, next question. Do you have a podcast you listen to you? Do you have-

Richard White 32:02
I mean, some probably a lot of us listen to it. I listen to All In podcast a lot. I think those guys are great. When they get out of the lane of entrepreneurship, a little questionable, their geopolitics, but their entrepreneurship stuff is spot on.

Susan Sly 32:15
Nice. What is the, what is the strangest thing a VC has ever said to you?

Richard White 32:21
Oh, gosh. I had one recently that said, like, you know, have you thought about doing this? It's probably a terrible idea for your business, but it's gonna be great for your series A narrative. At least honest, but it's pretty funny.

Susan Sly 32:37
Okay, all right. Um, last and, last and final question. It's your, it's your perfect day off. And yes, you're thinking about your business, but you're not in your business. Where are you in the world? And what are you doing?

Richard White 32:50
I'm on top of a mountain with my skis on. And I've got my air pods in. And I've got some friends behind me because I'm faster than the ski. And so that's, you know, because I don't want to ski with people that are slower than me. No , yeah, to ski, you know, I, you know, mattered a lot during COVID. And it was fantastic. Actually, it was great break from work, because it's the only thing that gets you, takes a lot to get my brain out of work and find out amount and 50 will do it.

Susan Sly 33:18
Well, I'll high five you on that brother. We Telluride every year. And I freaking love it. Like it's just I want to be up there. Like, and with my helmet on. It's like, I'm just like any other person out there. And it is freaking fabulous. So, Richard, I want to, I want to commend you. And I like, I think what you've done is incredible. I love that how resilient you are this season pf no. And also to all of the salient pieces that you gave for everyone in this season of raising money, because it is, you're going to have to talk to more people, the VCs want to know more before they even go to due diligence or go to term. And it just is what it is. But for those of us who are warriors and survivors, we're going to come out the other side and be the household names that are going to, everyone will know in the next three to five years.

Richard White 34:11
The last thing I'll say on that is I think your instinct is right. I think the worst thing has happened to startups in the last couple years was this over focus on MVP and everyone's got a crappy first product and they want to get to a million dollars in three months. The good companies took a long time. It's easy to not care what the VC says because I get emails every day from people saying this product has changed my life, my business. And I think that is what I tell everyone to focus on. Build a great product, build customers that will love it like you and I have, and then it'll give you the strong like, bedrock or conviction that you can weather any season of No that comes up ahead.

Susan Sly 34:43
Yeah, I love it. Well Richard thank you so much. You rock. I'm excited to use Fathom. It is going to change my life and I will be one of your testimonial emails. So with that everyone, if this, if you love the show, give Richard and I a shout out on social. We'd love a five star review. Share the show with friends. Send your comments and I read every single one personally. And with that, God bless. Go rock your day and I will see you in the next episode.

Susan Sly 35:13
Hey, this is Susan and thanks so much for listening to this episode on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. If this episode or any episode has been helpful to you, you've gotten at least one solid tip from myself or my guests, I would love it if you would leave a five star review where ever you listen to podcast. After you leave your review, go ahead and email reviews@susansly.com. Let us know where you left the review. And if I read your review on air, you could get a $50 amazon gift card and we would so appreciate it because reviews do help boost the show and get this message all over the world. If you're interested in any of the resources we discussed on the show, go to Susansly.com. That's where all those Show Notes live. And with that, go out there rock your day. God bless. I will see you in the next episode.

Susan Sly 36:07
Are you currently an employee looking to start your own business? Maybe you've been thinking about it for a while and you're just not sure where to start? Well my course Employee to Entrepreneur combines my decades of experience as an entrepreneur with proven methods, techniques and skills to help you take that leap and start your own business. This course is self paced, Learn on Demand and comes with an incredible workbook. And that will allow you to go through this content piece by piece by piece, absorb it, take action and then go on to the next module. So check out my course on Susansly.com Employee to Entrepreneur.

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Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is the CEO and Founder of Step Into Your Power Inc., the Co-CEO of RadiusAI, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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