Skip to main content

In this episode of the “Raw and Real Entrepreneurship” podcast, Susan Sly engages in an enlightening conversation with Zackary Klima, the visionary founder behind WaitTime. Together, they uncover Zack’s remarkable journey from the bustling streets of Detroit to forging impactful partnerships with tech giant Intel.

Zackary Klima’s narrative is nothing short of inspiring. He reflects on his early days when every challenge in Detroit’s dynamic business landscape became a stepping stone toward mastering communication and conquering fears. This period honed his entrepreneurial skills and fueled his passion for revitalizing Detroit. This passion would later shape WaitTime’s core mission of revolutionizing customer experiences through innovative technology.

Throughout the podcast, key moments illuminate Zack’s unwavering determination. From pitching to influential figures like Dan Gilbert to embarking on a transformative journey with Intel through a business accelerator, Zack’s resilience shines through. The episode also highlights WaitTime’s strategic collaboration with Intel, emphasizing the critical role of technology in amplifying business growth and fostering strategic partnerships.

Listeners are invited to join Susan and Zack on this insightful journey, where they uncover invaluable lessons on tech frameworks, optimizing partnerships, and nurturing personal well-being. These lessons are indispensable for aspiring entrepreneurs navigating the challenging yet rewarding path to success in the ever-evolving entrepreneurial landscape.

 

Topics Covered In This Episode:

  • Building a tech company outside of Silicon Valley.
  • Entrepreneurship, communication skills, and overcoming challenges.
  • Overcoming fear and adapting to change.
  • Partnering with Intel for AI and software scaling.
  • Fundraising, productivity, and recovery for a startup founder.

About Zack Klima:

Zachary Klima is the founder, CEO, and creator of WaitTime, a company that provides artificial intelligence solutions for crowd management and customer experience optimization. He has over nine years of experience in leading the global implementation strategy of WaitTime, overseeing partnerships with major sports, entertainment, and hospitality organizations.

Klima conceived WaitTime in 2013 and was selected out of more than 500 applicants for participation in the rigorous Bizdom startup accelerator founded by Quicken Loan’s renowned executive Dan Gilbert. Prior to WaitTime, he was in the field of architecture, design, and sales engineering, where he developed skills in marketing communications, new business development, and graphic design. He holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Detroit Mercy and has published a book and a patent on his innovative ideas. He is passionate about the gentrification of Detroit and the potential of AI to transform the world.

Connect with Zack:

 

About Susan Sly:

Susan Sly is a Tech Co-founder and Co-CEO, a tech investor, best-selling author, keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and host of the highly acclaimed podcast – Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. Susan has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime Television, The CBN, The Morning Show in Australia and been quoted in MarketWatch, Yahoo Finance, Forbes, and more. She holds Certificates in Management and Leadership, Technology and Operations, and Strategy and Innovation from MIT. Susan is the author of 7 books. Her book project with NY Times Best Selling Author, Jack Canfield, made six Amazon Best Selling lists.

Connect With Susan:

Read Full Transcript

This transcript has been generated using AI technology. There may be minor errors or discrepancies in the text as it follows a natural conversational flow. Thank you for your understanding.

Susan Sly 00:00
Hey everyone, Susan here, I hope you're rocking your day today. You know, I get the privilege to be able to interview incredible, incredible founders and bring those stories to you in a very raw and real way. And today's guest is someone that I have watched and been absolutely impressed with for the last few years coming from the computer vision space in AI, and he is not only the founder and CEO of a company called WaitTime, which provides artificial intelligence solutions for crowd management and customer experience optimization. And thinking about stadiums, thinking about retail, all sorts of different verticals. He's also a scrappy Detroit boy. And in this episode, we're going to talk about building a company, a tech company, a big one outside of Silicon Valley, we're going to talk about how to really develop partnerships and relationships that matter and what that can do for you. And most importantly, we're going to talk about the power of being an optimist and how that really allows you to, to build a company in a way that means that not much fazes you. So this is a very, very cool episode with my friend, the one and only Zack Klima. And I hope that you'll absolutely love it. And don't forget, stay tuned in at the end when I will share this week's video diary of building my own startup because there's, you can read a lot of books, I'm gonna be very candid, you can listen to a lot of other podcasts, there are lots of things but the raw and real truth of building a startup especially when you're, you're having to wear so many hats, it's very rare that you're going to hear it directly from the person in a way that's not glossed over. So stay tuned the end for my weekly video diary, I'd love to share that with you. And don't forget, if you are looking to optimize your profile, especially on LinkedIn, go to agency8.com It is an agency that I founded I no longer run it but I have an amazing team of women over there who do so check it out agency8.com. And so with that, let's get started with this next episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship with my friend, founder of WaitTime Zack Klima. 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. Well hey, what is up Raw and Real Entrepreneurs wherever you are in the world, I hope you're having an amazing day. And I am so excited about this interview. It's kind of like two ships that pass in the night and we're at the same conferences and this friend of mine might just be a little more like, on LinkedIn more than I am, which I don't know, we might have a support group starting here. But you know, it's it's, it's just an incredible honor, privilege to get to hang out with him on the show. And so Zack, I want to jump right in. You are crushing it, you know, I'm seeing all the time you're on stages. You WaitTime has an amazing technological Partnership, which we're gonna get into it, you know, new customers, and it's just this growth and momentum. And there's a saying that goes, you only see the glory, you don't know the story. And this is, you know, now a company with an 11 year story, but I want to go back further in time. And talk about your first business. What was your first business?

Zack Klima 03:55
Yeah, that's a good question. So, um, gosh, it has to go. You know, I'm from Michigan, and in the summertime, there's really not a lot to do unless you are up north because that's where all you know, it's so beautiful up there. So of course, you know, I played a ton of sports growing up, and when I wasn't doing that I was I was running my own lawn business. So I would I would go around the neighborhood and knock on people's doors and deliver flyers and things of that sort to cut their lawn. And so I probably I probably lost all the money that I you know, from gas and I didn't realize you know, the ins and outs of a business but that was my first business was going around the neighborhood cutting people's lawns and knocking on their door. So then,

Susan Sly 04:40
You know that as you said that I was thinking we had, you know, Glenn Stearns on the show Undercover Billionaire. Glenn's a friend of mine, just like you, super scrappy. And he he had a business where he was literally, you know, knocking on doors of these mansions in Southern California. When he first moved there, and he asked this guy, you know, how did you get a house like this? And the guy goes, Hey, man, this isn't my house. I'm the gardener. But what I hear is that these guys are all invested in real estate. And that's where Glenn got the idea to go into real estate. What did you, what did you learn from that first business? I mean, you just.You said it yourself. Like you didn't really know about business, you probably spent more money, but what did you learn?

Zack Klima 05:28
It was all really about talking to people, getting over the fear of cold calling, or in this case, knocking on doors, talking to people dealing with, you know, objections, and people saying no. And as opposed to being locked up in my basement playing video games, you know, that was really where I wanted to be come out in the world to be in front of people to develop and sharpen my sort of communication skills. That's really it was communication. Number one.

Susan Sly 05:58
The we were talking to you, because since I grew up in Ontario, Canada, so I had a, I would shovel snow to make some extra money in the winter. Right, like, and, and I think I still have the upper body strength from all that like that was oh, yeah, that's hardcore. Oh, yeah.

Zack Klima 06:15
A lot of snow where we come from? Oh, my

Susan Sly 06:18
gosh, yes. There's lots of things we could talk about about Detroit too. It's interesting, because one of the things you are so passionate about, in preparing for the show, I was looking at your interviews, and you are passionate about the gentrification of Detroit, Detroit has gone through a lot of really, really challenging times. And yet, you're choosing as a tech founder to really plant your flag. And there's this, there's this movement that you and I see from some of our friends who are founders who are saying, No, we're not going to live in the Bay Area. We're not, you know, we get to choose where we want to live, we get to do things our way. What has been a benefit for you, in terms of planting that flag, and what has also been perhaps, maybe a challenge.

Zack Klima 07:09
Yeah, I'll start with the reverse. I mean, the challenge was people taking it seriously. Right. You know, you're from Detroit, what, what is the tech scene in Detroit look like, you know, no, successful companies have come out of Detroit. You know, a lot of people in, you know, the city that were successful, had no idea how to run technology companies, because they never, that's not how they made their money. So that was the negative. Now the positive was, which I am an eternal optimist. So I see positives, and literally everything I'm sure you are, as well, is the fact that you become a small fish, or a big fish in a little pot. Because if you do anything, and if you create any kind of noise or buzz with your team, then you are heard loud and clear, far and wide in your area. Because of wow, this is something that's not you know, this is not used, we're not used to hearing this kind of news. We're not used to hearing about artificial intelligence and computer vision and progressive technology being created out of Detroit, you usually hear that out of Silicon Valley, right? So I used what was what could be viewed as a negative, as really a positive, I thought, there's no downside and being you know, and really planting the flag in Detroit, because I always thought to myself as a, you know, as such a, maybe it was naivete back in the day. But hey, when this becomes a massive success, it'll put Detroit you know, on a map in some way to say, hey, this was born here, we take pride here, we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. Coming from Detroit, a little bit of grit and grind, and you know, all of that to where you just become so blended in, if you're from Silicon Valley, trying to do a technology startup, like, oh, yeah, you and my grandpa, my mom, my grandma all trying to do a technology startup in Silicon Valley, you know, and raising money over there is it's so easy to do. Raising money here is not hard, it is very hard to do. It's not easy at all. Because no one believes in, oh, this can't be done. There's no expertise in Michigan, or in the Midwest. So we kind of weaponize that negativity to our advantage moving forward.

Susan Sly 09:19
And it's so interesting, you say that, because there's a there's the hurdle to even explaining what WaitTime is, you know, because when you think of Detroit, you think of automotive, you think manufacturing, and and now it's it's you're explaining, hey, this is what artificial intelligence is. And oh, by the way, there are many types of artificial intelligence, like everyone's talking about AI and I find myself going, Whoa, wait a minute, like, let's get a bit granular first, so you know, in time being in computer vision, and then it's like, okay, yeah, and I'm gonna be a tech founder, and I'm going to be from here and I'm going to own it. Did I, there's so many places I want to go with the WaitTime journey. So I think like going to the beginning, so 2013, you get the idea for this company. Where did that come from?

Zack Klima 10:14
Yeah, great question. So I'm a massive sports fan, just so you're probably not met a bigger sports fan out there. So you're

Susan Sly 10:21
bringing the lions into this conversation, I just I have a feeling Yeah, Red Wings, it's gonna be the lions somehow it's coming in.

Zack Klima 10:29
So I'll insert Red Wings right now. So I'm at the Old Joe's arena, you know, years and years ago. And I the game goes into overtime. So I spent all my money. This is post grad school. This is, may have been 2014. But I had the idea in 2013, at the end of 2013. So I go I spent all my money to go buy these playoff tickets, it's really great time with my friends. And they're still, they still serve beer at the Old Joe that was ruined because of the old dilapidated arena. And there were kind of no rules there. So I left my seat to go buy a beer, I stood in this super long line, it's maybe like 40 people long. So in stores, the front end stores the front end towards the front, I'm kind of getting skittish, because it's Overtime. I mean, there's anything could happen if the golden goal could happen right now. So in just pure fashion, the horn goes off, the crowd goes wild, everybody comes running out. And I'm sitting there like, like, fool with this beer in my hand. And I'm just like, I would love to know how long lines are before I leave my seat. That's number one. I think anyone in the world with a logical mind would agree with that we I would like to know how long lines are as a patron. On the flip side, I want organizations to handle crowd management way better than they are because they're not even scratching the surface. So that's to me that define there's a there's a patron and the user side, a guest side. And there's an operation side. And if you have those two things working together, you have the start of what could potentially be a business over time. Because there's too much fufu fan experience of things that don't really have business value, that, you know, ultimately, you know, cream rises to the top will ultimately be a hot flash in a pan that happens pretty quickly, and then goes away. So that was really the inception. And I thought to myself, Wow, this could be a good idea. I started socializing with my friends and my family and you know, other people out there, I wasn't afraid to talk about it. I wasn't one of those founders. Like, before I talk to you, I need you to sign this NDA. I think that's the most , that's foolish, because you don't ever know who you could talk to you, that could change your life. So that was the inception. And then I became obsessed with the idea. And I became, you know, over 5,6,7,8 months. And then I got to a point in time where I was actually able to meet Dan Gilbert, who is the founder of Quicken Loans. And he is the Bruce Wayne of Detroit who really gentrified Detroit. And I had a chance to pitch him an idea. And he was able to pretty immediately place me in his business accelerator in Detroit called Bizdom, which is basically his version of Shark Tank. So he takes five ideas out of like, 5000 applicants, and he puts you through this rigorous program about how to be a CEO, which I think is kind of counterintuitive. But along that way, that's, you know, I quit my job and I jumped right in. So yeah, how long started?

Susan Sly 13:28
What job were you doing that you quit? So

Zack Klima 13:31
I have a master's degree in architecture, like building architecture. So I was, I wasn't designing buildings, because that was pretty boring to me. I went on the flip side, so I sold manufacturing lines, I needed to be in front of people. So I was selling manufacturing lines. And, you know, again, that wasn't the right wasn't the right fit for me, obviously.

Susan Sly 13:50
So was, was quitting your job? Like, did you get the butterflies in your stomach? You know, as an optimist, were you like, Yeah, that's awesome. Or was there a point where you're like, oh, my gosh, because we have people listening. And one of my friends, I'm not gonna say his name, but he keeps texting me. It's like, he works for a bank. And he's in tactics like, thinking of starting my own company. I think I'm thinking, you know, yeah, but but it's, there are a lot of folks who listen to the show who are just looking for the courage to do that. So what about for you, Zack, was there like a like, was it were you nervous? Were you excited? How? How did that go? And financially because when we go into startups, like it's not like we're suddenly on a yacht, like, no, there's like, you might have a period of time where you're not making any money. So how did that go for you?

Zack Klima 14:41
Yeah, that's a great question. So first and foremost, I was very young when I started my company. And I thought I had no fear. I was like, Hey, we're gonna do this thing. There's no failing. I grew up in a family where you know, there is no such thing as failing. You know, you can, you can find a way. You can find out a way not to do something, that's not a failure, that's actually getting you closer to success. And so that's the way that I was raised, especially in a very quite a lot of sports growing up. So like that, you know, that never quit middle championship mindset of, okay, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do this to my best. And I'm not going to stop until you know, you reach, you reach the value of what you, what you want it to be in the first place. So, of course, it's nervous, you're nervous, you know, it's nerve racking, you're nervous, but at the time, you don't really see risk. You know, I might view you know, risk a little differently than most people. But I never really saw risk. I never really saw the downside. I only saw the upside, which was the fuel in my fire that fueled my fire to keep going when I didn't take a salary for four years. That's a whole tenure of high school. You can get a degree from a university in that point in time. Right. Did

Susan Sly 15:58
How did you support yourself? How did, how did you survive?

Zack Klima 16:02
Yeah, so I refuse. So the first thing I did after college was I bought a house. You know, it was in this up and coming area in Detroit called Ferndale, and I had $7,000 to my name. So the house was, you know, kind of a flip to quickly a Home Depot flip house. And I put $3,000 on a house for $120,000. And so (the) it took off and boomed and I sold the house for maybe 230 grand after like four years, three, four years. So the equity in my house saved me over time. And then I was able to sell the house, parlay, you know, take that money and parlay into real estate real estate. I did that three times. Throughout my my time of starting WaitTime. So that was number one. Number two, I would sell, I am a massive sneakerhead, always selling shoes. Anything I could get my hands on I sold watches. I mean, we, you think about just like anything, you know, from a survival standpoint, that that's what I did. I refused to take help from my parents or anything like that I wanted to, I want us to be in the movie. So

Susan Sly 17:12
Which is huge like that, that whole piece and I love like, you're smart financially. And it's it's tough. Like even, you know, I wait, Zack and I were talking before we went into the show. And so Zack knows me from my previous role when I was the Co-Ceo, Co-founder of an AI company in the computer vision space. And I had a salary, I had benefits and then I was going to start this company. Fortunately, in 2003, I had started a business that still pays me. So if I was able to walk away and start a new company, and not have to raise money that would ultimately pay me but just that I could, you know I had something else to live on, which is which is significant. So the first time I heard about Zack's company, this story came to mind. And hopefully we'll still be friends because it is not going to mention the lions. But I was at the Super Bowl with my Patriots, and it was here in Arizona, and they were playing the Seahawks. And firstly, I was seated behind, in front of these Seahawks fans. And you know, if you're a Seahawks fan, you know that whole thing that they do like Nancy, and I felt like I was surrounded and we were down. And I can't remember how many minutes were left. But I said to my husband, I'm like, I have to go get some red wine and I go tearing out and I'm literally running around the stadium, Zack and I like the lives are long, the lines are long, and I red wine and I go to two places and there's no red wine left like, and I go back and we got an interception and won the Superbowl, which was all fantastic. But I remember when I heard about Wait Time from our mutual friend Andi, and I was like, Where was that? I needed that. Right? To your, to your point that that need whether it's you know, a mom with her kid wanting to buy a jersey in a stadium and I know you have expanded into other areas as well. The, the pandemic really shifted your business model. So when I was looking at the history of the company, and I'm looking at the whole evolution, what did the pandemic do to the company? Because it was ,I found it was fascinating to read about that.

Zack Klima 19:32
You know, it's really interesting because we were preaching for years and years and years that you have to manage crowds effectively. You have to take this seriously. Computer Vision is going to be a thing. Artificial Intelligence is going to be a thing. And when we were starting people didn't take us seriously, they go this is amazing. But you're we don't even know what to do with this data. Or this is you know, this is beyond us. We're still getting our head wrapped around it. On the ROI of Wi Fi, right or on network or something crazy like that. So, you know, we were just preaching this, preaching that, preachers that we need, we stay on the course. And we said, we're not going to change the way that we talk about this because this is what's right. And this is what this is where the future is going. You know, being an entrepreneur, you have to, you know, the only the dots can only connect when you look backwards, you know, the whole Steve Jobs thing, but you know, when in the moment, you just have to believe that at some point, they're gonna connect over time. And then right when 2020 of the world shuts down, no sports arenas are open, no stadiums, no more. No, nothing. The world was crazy at the time. Obviously, everyone knows. So what that did for us, though, was terrible. Number one that was first, it was bad because nothing, no one was paying. It kind of was a terrible time regarding revenue for a lot of different company layoffs were happening. But luckily, we didn't lay anyone off. You know, we were, we were very lean with the way that we operated. But we kept our nose to the grindstone. At that time of when that happened, there started to be a shift in the way that decision makers thought about the world. Number one, there's two things that happened. Number one, all decision makers were booted out, it was a good way for these organizations to reset. If there was a CTO or CIO, that had been there for 20 plus years, they're out if it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's the way their mind work. I'm sure we come across this all the time in our world, you know, it's something that gatekeepers, right, they were gone. So that's number one. Number two is the new people that they brought in, came from the technology space. So they get disruptive technology, they get the future, they get a lot of things that were We were preaching. So along the way, when we reset with a lot of these organizations, they said, why are we not doing this? You know, we need to know how our crowds are behaving that in that, you know, you know that helps to craft our revenue strategies to change our revenue strategies, our food and beverage strategy, our programming, even for architectural redesign. To the guest experience, this is a no brainer, especially now in COVID, you have to monitor your crowds in order to stay open. So we didn't change our product in any way, shape, or form. What we did is we placed an emphasis on the operational side, as opposed to what we were selling as the guest experience. I want to know how long lines are while I'll be at that's great. The real value is in the operational side. How can you monitor your crowds? How can you manage your crowds? How can you adjust staffing? Security? How can you use this information to monetize foot traffic? So same product, but we changed the way we told the story based off of you know the new world that we live in?

Susan Sly 22:50
Hmm, yeah, that adaptability scrappy Detroit boy. So the,you and I, over the course of the last few years there, you know, we've had many, I guess, opportunities to partner.You know, partner with various OEMs, various hyperscalers. And you chose Intel. And they're you're very you're such a huge advocate of Intel. I mean, it's all over your Wait Time website. It's all over your LinkedIn, and your 20,000 plus followers, they hear about Intel. As a fun aside, I was just there, Zack, on the week before we're recording this show, I was at the Intel head office. And Zack I'll go totally geeky, because I haven't been able to share the story on the show yet, but we're all familiar with Moore's law. And even Jenson Huang was mentioning in the NVIDIA keynote, he was like, well, Moore's law, you know, doesn't really exist anymore. I was in Gordon Moore's office, and they haven't changed it. They have not changed it, like everything is on his desk, and you know, so forth. It was, it was really cool at the Intel museum. And people have said, well, you know, Intel, what are they really doing? Are they leading the AI revolution? Like, say, an NVIDIA is, but you've chosen to partner there, and you and I both have a lot of friends at Intel? Why Intel?

Zack Klima 24:20
Well, um, you know, this, this story with Intel started years ago where, you know, I was on a podcast with Cisco, because we started you know, when these big companies started to say, hey, WaitTime, you're kind of a, it's kind of a good thing for us. The first company that raised our hand was Cisco. So I started to do is spend a lot of time with Cisco, you know, on the OEM side, educating, and hopefully to get in from, from a sales perspective. While that was great. I was on a podcast or a kind of a webinar with a guy at Intel named Rajiv Gupta. And now Rajiv handles Cisco from an account side. So Rajiv goes, Hey, Zack, I email him after the webinar, I'm like, why are we not working together, Intel and WaitTime? You know, WaitTime it comes down to the microprocessor chip, right? That empowers WaitTime, it helps us. And he talked about Moore's law, you know, you know, we double our speed every year and here and here, why don't we let Intel do the work for us. And the more WaitTime sells, the more Intel sells, and it's such a good, easy to understand story. That is such a good marketing play, as well, as you know, from a technology to scale play, we need Intel to scale, and they need success stories to remain relevant. And so, you know, he started to help to fund some different projects through MDF, across the world, like the Dodgers, Mall of America, etc. And so what that did is that got the attention, you know, kudos, the regime, he got the attention of the rest of the intel team, and the intel team at the time, they were putting together their software strategy. So, you know, a lot of these different companies. So to answer your question number one is Intel's like family to WaitTime. Number one that helped us get to where we are, you know, starting way back when, but also, they have a they have a software, a real software strategy, a lot of these big companies out there, you know, they want to sell boxes, or they want to sell chips or whatever it may be. But they're not even looking at the other side of the equation. What are they enabling? They're enabling software companies, right? Why are they not? Why are they not benefiting off of that, while also scaling software companies guess what software companies want to scale. And what Intel wants is, you know, they want to be relevant, as you talked about earlier, they want to have success stories, they want to have marketing, they want to remain the leader. And so it was kind of this perfect match made in heaven. Where, okay, we need Intel, Intel needs us. And the reason why we chose them really expensive, you know, all of our time, still to this day with them is because they have a very, very executed and very smart and prescriptive software strategy. And which plays into our exact where we want to be as a company.

Susan Sly 27:07
And to your point two, they have a very focused AI strategy. And whether you know, we're looking at enablement, because what a lot of people you know, they talk GPUs, but they don't understand necessarily like in these boxes, quote, unquote, there's going to be a CPU. Oh, there's a, there's also really started. Yeah, near edge, far edge, Zack. And I could just geek out about you know, that maybe we'll do a live show. You probably don't know this about me, Zack, but I used to be an avid NHL fan. And I used to back in the early 90s. I trained pro athletes, I was a pro athlete. And one of the athletes I trained was Kirk Muller. And I got him four more years in the NHL. So I used to be like, I was at the Old Montreal forum, the last time that they played in the old forum. So you talk about being in the stadium getting the beer and you're like, is this building going to fall down around me and we ruins which was like Montreal and Bruins total? This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. So we could talk about things like, I've had a lot of sports conversations. But that you know, that that whole piece of the nostalgia that pulling back from the hockey just for a moment, that that piece around the strategy, the enablement and when I when startups asked me to advise them, one of the things that I say no more often than I'd say, yes, that I look at is what is your tech stack? And are you partnered with the right people in order to, in order for, for them to benefit for, you to benefit to scale? So people look at you're having a moment now like, you're, you're like the Beyonce of computer vision right now. Out of why so Beyonce, you're like the Eminem of computer vision will choose? Love Slim Shady, so the, you know, people would look at that and go, Oh, he's lucky. What is it? They don't know about the last 11 years?

Zack Klima 29:19
Well, you know, there's a there's a great phrase that I was, was taught long time ago. And it was you know, the harder you work, the luckier you become. And and so I thought to myself over the years, I said, Okay, I don't know a lot about a lot. And I'm not going to be that prideful fodder to say, okay, yeah, I'm going to do this all myself. I know how to do this. I know. You know, okay, me hear me roar. I took the opposite approach. I said, I'm going to be the dumbest person in every single room that I'm in for the for a very long time. And I never want to be the smartest person in the room I am in, because I'm in the wrong room at that point in time, but I said okay, I'm gonna to surround myself with people that have been there and done that. You know, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, not entrepreneurs, but that also on the flip side is from this tack the tech stack perspective. Okay, great. So we came to a point in time where we hit a crossroad. Okay, we, we got to a certain point in time with our company, though, do we hire a sales team? Or the opposite. And as time went on, it became very clear. And I see this all the time with technology companies. If you hire a direct sales team, you're not going to scale. And so we set it where in the beginning, we said, okay, great. Intel, right, going back to Intel, who owns the world of technology? Who owns the literally the world technology Intel does, okay? Now, if you can create a story through your technology that camouflages into their global sales motion through the channel, and through global distribution, they're going to be your sales force. And as opposed to you hiring a bunch of, you know, Joe, you know, you know, John Smith and Jane DOE's to go sell your solution. Okay, great. Who are they going to trust more? Are they going to trust a bunch of Jane DOE's and John Smith from WaitTime? Are they gonna trust Intel Corporation, your transaction time is going to be, you know, it's gonna go from, you know, I'll call it a year to one to two months, because of the trust that Intel has, and the credibility that Intel has. So I started to really listen over the years and say, Okay, this is how a lot of these different companies that got acquired for a billion dollars plus, or who have, you know, their sales and their revenue is up in the hundreds of millions of dollars. This is how they did it. And no matter what I thought in my head, in my own, you know, mind, get that out of your mind that you don't know anything. I said that myself. So you don't know anything. You've never done this before. You shouldn't really listen to people. Because if you had a chance to, in football analogy, you get a chance to look at Bill Belichick's playbook, if you're in the Super Bowl, you're playing Superbowl as a coach. Don't you want to take a look at that? And he's got seven rings, right? The answer your question is you probably want to take a look at that. So I thought to myself over time is to listen, and shut up. First shut up and then listen. And then you know really study how people were successful in the past and don't have any pride whatsoever. So that's kind of the mindset that we had or that I had as a founder when we started to kind of get rockin and rolling.

Susan Sly 32:43
I love that. In you are like knowing you in person you are humble and you are very wise. And going into the room and just saying hey there's stuff I don't know and I'm here to observe and listen. And utilizing the the Salesforce of these partners that it is always better. People would say to me and my other role like how many salespeople are you going to hire and I'm like one why zero

Zack Klima 33:10
yeah why maybe one to

Susan Sly 33:11
oversee the relationships right? That's it like that one works with you know all of the relationships in our in our hyper scaling partners, right? Like why do that because they benefit they need new things to sell. They need managed services to sell everybody will have that everybody wins. Okay, rapid fire and tides raise all ships. Here we go. You ready? Rapid fire. All right, what do you do to relax?

Zack Klima 33:36
Workout and big gym guy, play basketball. I played paddle tennis, which is kind of weird. I played though as well. And I used to play a lot of drop-in hockey but I witnessed a pretty gruesome knee injury for my friends. So I kind of stopped that. So athletics number one,

Susan Sly 33:54
okay, and what about stress? Like, do you get stressed and if so, like, other than working out what what strategies do you have?

Zack Klima 34:04
You know, that's a great question I should do first I would say the stupid me like being the most positive person in the world. I'll say I'm never stressed because I have so much fun every day in my life, but ultimately that you do have stress, right? So honestly, I took a page that you know, my mom has she's, you know, she's a hey, Zack you know, you know, relax, take a take a deep breath, and you know, self care, right? Which is crazy, you know, do a face steam every day you know, meditate come up with you know, just get in touch with your feminine side really I mean, if you don't just do something that's that's kind of mindless regarding sit there and think and don't think about work but you know, just kind of purify and cleanse your body, which sounds kind of preachy but that's honestly it works for me. So that's where I see is as a Big one.

Susan Sly 35:00
I love that. Yeah, I'm reading Dan Sullivan and Ben Hardy's book. 10x is better than 2x. And so every day, I go for thinking time, and I go, and I just walk outside or a walk on the treadmill. And I just think, and that's it, or I go in the Steam Room, and I just think, and then I go in the cold plunge, and I just think, and it's like, since I've been doing, and I used to do this, but since I've been doing it again, and I reclaimed my schedule. So I said to my team, we're not doing internal meetings on Monday or Friday. So don't even ask me for an internal meeting, unless there's something urgent, it's not happening. So it's like that that time and it's I'm sleeping better. It's absolutely amazing. Okay, staycation or vacation. Where are you going?

Zack Klima 35:49
Oh, good question. So, I have a little bit of a thing, when I when I go on a plane, I always say to myself, if I'm going to travel somewhere in the air, I have to make I have to make business out of it just because I want to be the most productive with time management possible. So with that being said, I'm originally so I'm adopted. I'm not sure if you knew that I'm adopted. I'm originally from Southern California. So Southern California is kind of like my happy place. Laguna Beach. Newport, that area right there. That's like my happy place. So if I'm thinking vacation there, if I'm thinking staycation, obviously run Michigan up north Michigan is a beautiful, beautiful place. You know, my my girlfriend, her name is Paige she, they have a place in Bay Harbor. So if you look at Michigan, it's really up here. So that's crystal clear water. It's like, Wait, we're in Michigan, you know, one of those things. So those will be my two answers for them. Because

Susan Sly 36:51
It's close to the Canadian border. And you know, I give a shout out to my home. Every chance I get so you know, of course you have that pursuing well, that I you know, firstly, you know when I'm as your as your friends like I just, I am so privileged to get a front row seat to everything you're accomplishing and your eternal optimism and and what you're doing and your ability to just adapt and to pivot and to do what you need to do is just, it's, it's it's so amazing. And so I'm excited for Zack, I know that you're like WaitTime is just going to continue to soar. And I can't speak for the Lions or the Red Wings. But best of luck my friend. Yeah,

Zack Klima 37:40
there we go. Our boy Amon-Ra St. Brown. Where he's gonna bring us a Super Bowl title.

Susan Sly 37:45
So all good all from your lips to God's ears, brother. That's right. That's right. We keep saying for the Patriots. We're in a rebuilding year. We're gonna rebuild the year like that. We've been saying that, you know, for a while but you

Zack Klima 37:57
guys had your time though. You gotta and he went to the perfect Super Bowl. With that last minute touch or interception. I don't know why they didn't give Marshawn Lynch the ball. I don't get it. You guys are very lucky that that happened. But yeah,

Susan Sly 38:11
I wouldn't say we were lucky. I would say we were divinely blessed.

Zack Klima 38:18
Tom Brady did what Tom Brady does. And you know, obviously he's a Michigan guy. So I have to you know, Tom Brady. Yeah.

Susan Sly 38:24
And you guys had a massive college win. So you're, you're all good. So you're like the Tom Brady of computer vision. Right? Friends. So let's, let's get those rings. Well, Zack, thank you so much for being on the show. And everyone go follow Zack on LinkedIn, because he is like LinkedIn is my favorite social media by all stretch of the imagination. And if you got some benefit from the show, please share the show, give us a five star review because Zack and I are competitive with ourselves. And we love that. And with that, I want to say God bless go rock your day. And I will see you in the next episode. Well, thanks for staying to the very end to hear this week's video diary, where I'm talking about what's happening every single week in building the new company, thepause.ai. And this week, I want to talk about fundraising. So when you're building your startup, you have some choices, you can either bootstrap it, what that means is you have money that you have yourself that you're putting into the company, you can raise money. So that initial funding round is usually called an angel round. And that means that it's friends and family or it might be called a friends and family round, that say hey, you know what, I believe in you. I believe in your idea. And the goal there is to raise as little money as possible because you are giving away equity in your company. Your company has the lowest value because it's so new that essentially people when they're in Investing in your company at that stage, they're getting the the, the the equity at the the lowest price it's ever going to be. So when you hear stories about someone who bought a yacht because they threw in, you know, whatever $10,000 into Facebook, when it was just an idea that Mark Zuckerberg had, it's because they bought into the company when it was really, really cheap. And so we are doing our angel round. And it's very interesting because the statistics for women for female led pitches to VCs, it's less than two and a half percent of women lead pitches to VCs get funded. And I've been in Silicon Valley, I have friends that are VCs. I know a lot of folks in this world. And there are different types of VCs, there are early stage, they invest when a company is really new, then there are later stage VCs. And this was a lot of terminology that I had to learn years ago as I was going into the space as a tech co founder. And one of the things I've learned is that not all money is created equal, because there are investors who will invest money, and then they're kind of hands off just you know, they want a return on their investment. And it's up to you to give them one. And then there are investors who are very hands on and they will text every day, they will send articles and that they can be great too, because they're always looking out for you. And then there are some investors that try and micromanage and they they might not even know a lot about what it is you do. And as someone who is an angel investor, I like to be the cheerleader investor, I like to promote the companies that I've invested in on social, I like to make sure that I'm reaching out to the founders and just uplifting them. And of course, I want to know what's going on with the company financially, what they're doing in terms of customer acquisition, and so forth. However, in building this startup, and during the angel round, I am being very cautious in terms of who I say yes to and I know that not all investors are going to be the right investor for the company. And so we're doing the angel round, I've got a, you know, a pitch deck, obviously, and have modified that deck a couple of times, depending on who it's for. And that's very common, you might have different pitch decks for you know, different types of investors, I met with a friend of mine who's a VC mentor went over the whole fundraising plan, I had lunch with him and including our angel round. And then when we'll do our next round our seed round, and then we'll we'll do our Series A round, which we're planning for next year. And he thinks we're right on track, I've met with our legal team, they think we're right on track. So it's, it's, it's been tremendous. And I think that the biggest thing, I will I will say is for myself. It's really energy management. I've found that when I travel, and you know, I love meeting people, and it's fantastic. I also don't sleep as much get the same quality work out, you know, eating different foods. And I'm reading this book by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy, called 10x is better than 2x. And one of the things they're talking about in the book is your production time. And then your recovery time. And in the past, I never gave myself the recovery time. And I should know better because I was a former professional athlete triathlete. But now this time with this startup, I'm saying, hey, if if I am going to be traveling, and I'm not going to be getting the quality of sleep, and the all the things I do to you know, to help myself stay productive, then I'm going to give myself recovery time. And I start to do that, and as it relates to fundraising, is to say no, you know, when I when I get off an airplane, I'm not going to go straight into a pitch because that potential investor, especially if it's an investor that I want to work with and partner with, they deserve the best version of me, not the tired version of me. So we're the I get to be home, which is great for the next several weeks. And we will be finishing out this angel round, our product is starting to get built, which we're very excited about. And we're right on track to be able to get the platform, thePause platform out there into the world. And so if you haven't done so already, please if you share with all the amazing women in your life who are approximately 42 plus that's when we're seeing menopause symptoms really start to hit to go to thepause.ai Our membership is free right now. And all you have to do is join our email list and you will get access to invitations to live events. You will get access to invitations to master classes, weekly tips, a private Community all sorts of good stuff on the pause.ai stuff. That's this week's video. We are and and podcast and video diary and however you're consuming this content. But I'm very excited for where we're at and where we're going and, and I confess I'm still in recovery mode. So you might hear a bit of like, oh my gosh, you know, she's not her usual perky self at the moment. But yeah, give myself another day. And I will be back into full on production. So with that I love you all to pieces. And don't forget to share the show, give a five star review and hit subscribe, and I will talk to you in my next video diary. 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 wherever you listen to podcasts. After you leave your review. Go ahead and email reviews at Susan sly.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 the show notes live. And with that, go out there rock your day. God bless and I will see you in the next episode.

Susan Sly

Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, 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.

More posts by Susan Sly

Leave a Reply