Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #180

Ryan Rutan: Welcome back to the episode of the Startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rotan joined as always by Will Schroeder, my friend, the founder and CEO of startups dot com. And as we do once a month, we've also got a whole host of our founder, friends in here to ask us probing and deep questions at the end. Once Will and I are done battling today. We're gonna be talking about a uh a topic that we've covered tangentially in, in a number of episodes. But it's this idea of comparison and keeping up with the Joneses and looking around and, and feeling like, you know, there's that other startup or my, my other founder friend who's somewhere in front of me. They're ahead of me. They're doing better than I am. And we ask ourselves this question all the time. But like, well, do we ever actually get ahead? Is there ever that point where we're like, hey, I finally did it. I see people in the rearview mirror.

Wil Schroter: I would have thought like, honestly, I would have thought by now, I'll take myself for an example. I would have thought by now, I would have been like we're done. I'm good. I can honestly tell you in life and I've been a founder for 30 years now. I can tell you in life, I am geometrically further ahead than I ever thought I would be. And the funny thing is not because I've done so well because I didn't think I'd go very far based on my expectations were insanely low.

Ryan Rutan: Like, let me bury the bar and then I'll try to cross

Wil Schroter: everyone in my family when they graduate high school. If they graduate high school, they go on into some version of a trade. My dad was a carpenter and I thought if everything went really well, someday I'd have my own sweet van and it would be loaded with tools and I'd be a carpenter. Which is ironic because now, like, my biggest hobby is being a carpenter without the van. But that's, that's it, man. That's as much as I thought I, I would ever accomplish. And I'm not being modest about that. That is actually pretty much it. And if you knew my back story, you would not be surprised by that. And so now, you know, things have gone a little bit better and now I'm looking at it like, no matter how many times I've leveled up and this isn't just me. This is kind of everybody, no matter how many times I've leveled up, I always feel like I'm behind. Like, I always feel like I've screwed something up. So, I think we should just get into that today. And Ryan, I'd love to hear your thoughts and your own progression or what you've seen from other founders and kind of how they've leveled up or not leveled up in their own minds. Yeah. I

Ryan Rutan: mean, it's, I, I know, I know plenty of who have leveled up. I done some leveling up on my own and you just move the bar. I mean, that's, that's the, I instinctively like the second we cross the line or we feel like whatever that thing was and in some cases, maybe we were chasing somebody else, right? Like, oh, so and so accomplished this. So I, that's the, now the bar for me, I'm gonna use their accomplishment as my bar. Then I cross that and I'm like, now I need a new bar, right? It just, there's, there's very little satisfaction in the completion, which is what we keep urging people to like, enjoy this as you go because that is sort of the fun part of this is the journey, the accomplishments.

Wil Schroter: We also come out of a system where we have a, a consistently graded scale. Like we're all on the same scale. We all come through like elementary school, middle school, high school, maybe college. If you went, we all start out with pretty crappy jobs. We all start out with you pretty crappy salaries and we're all graded kind of at the same time for a long time and

Ryan Rutan: using the same scale.

Wil Schroter: Right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We, and we're all in kind of the same spot, kind of the same scale. And then a bunch of idiots like everybody in this room right now, we decide that we want to scrap all of that and just go in a totally different direction, run straight into the abyss with no idea how any of this is supposed to work and then somehow feel like we should be right on track. You

Ryan Rutan: crossed your fingers before you did that, right?

Wil Schroter: Yeah. No, I mean, come on, man, like, you know, we talk about this all the time. We're trying to build a company that with a product that's never existed before in a market that's never existed before with a team that's never existed before with a leader that's never done this before being us. And we're like, why isn't this going to plan? It's like based on what, what would possibly make this go to plan in any rational world then on top of that, we're like, and why am I not doing better than that person? Gee I want there because maybe none of this makes sense. You know what I mean?

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. And then again, like we, we've talked about this before too, but sometimes we're also comparing to an absolutely false version of that person, right? We're using their highlight reel and you know, the the 32nd clip on, on Instagram versus the eight years, it took them to get where they are right now that we're using as the benchmark for where we, we feel like we should be. You know, I, I had a conversation, I, I made this reference earlier jokingly but a couple of weeks ago talking to a founder about, you know, where they were and, you know, where they felt like they were behind. And I said, well, what are you using to compare that to? And they said, well, you know, there's, you know, this other company that I've been using kind of as a proxy. And I was like, ok, so what did, what did they do differently? And there were this whole host of things that they had done differently, including that person's background, the backgrounds of the two co-founders that they had. And I, ok, so you don't have all the same resources, you haven't done all the same things, but you're expecting the same outcomes and they're like, yeah, I know, I get, it doesn't sound right like, but I've been at this for so long and I was like, well, that also doesn't really matter. It's not like, you know, you're your six year senior. Nobody cares, right. The time doesn't matter, right. Not important. But these comparisons are really and truly like, and, and you've said this before, well, but it's, it's us just fighting ourselves.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, in a difficult place to make a comparison.

Ryan Rutan: Nobody else is keeping track of this, right? So we are comparing ourselves to these other founders. They don't know that, right? And, and then that moment we beat them. You've talked about this before too, then, then what are the two possible outcomes of us actually transcending them? Like, so if we, if we are like we put a target on somebody's back and we said that's the one like this is the person I've got to be to feel good about my startup. What actually happens when we pass that person or that company?

Wil Schroter: It never works. Ok. So like here I I'll lay it out here are the milestones I see over and over and over that. I went through myself that I'm 100% sure other folks have gone through. Here's one, for example, we start off and we say, man, if I could just get enough cash to get this thing break, even just to be able to pay myself just for like week over week, if I could just pay myself, I'd be fine. And I remember that milestone, I was in college and my entire cost per month was $750. I mean, it was just insane how low my expenses were. Would you

Ryan Rutan: kill for that $700 a month burn right now? Like what if that was it? I didn't know what that

Wil Schroter: means. Right? And, but I couldn't get there. I spent a long time trying to get to that point because I had to pay so many people and I had so much money going out that getting that 7 50 number. I was like, I, I don't have that kind of money. I'm not gonna be living like that any time soon. And then lo and behold, at some point I got there and it took me about nine seconds to forget about that milestone. And then I moved on to the next milestone, which is, can I make payroll every week? Can I pay people that aren't me? And I'm like, that'll never happen. And then it didn't, for a long time, it actually didn't happen. And I spent years trying to just get to payroll while racking up insane debt. And all I could think to myself is the panacea is a person who can build a company pay themselves and make payroll. And then somehow some way we did that and we were making payroll and guess what? Then we didn't have enough people, then they weren't getting paid enough, then we weren't growing big enough clients. Then guess what other people are raising money and scaling faster than we are no matter what we did, no matter what milestone we got to and get this. Now, I go on the other side. Now I get to the point where I've sold a company. Guess what comes next? That person sold one for more than I did. That person sold two companies. It doesn't end. And we always think in the moment when we're sitting in front of those milestones that if we could just get to where they are, if we just, you know, move where they are, we'd be fine. I have met no one that's fine. I would love to tell you I meet this whole like late stage cloud of Jedi Zen masters that have figured out all things that are like startup, like, like Zen, it actually gets exponentially worse as you get further down the track part. Nobody talks

Ryan Rutan: about look no further than Elon Musk, sending Bezos the runner-up trophy when he passed him as the richest man on the plane, right? Like, are you fucking kidding me? Right. Did that really need to happen? Right. We're still like comparing that's not enough. Like you still have to like it just, it never ends, right? And it becomes the stakes get higher and

Wil Schroter: higher. The problem though is like I said, at its core, we're thinking that this is a sequential scale for all of us that we all grow at the same rate and the same timeline. That's just not how it works. We're all gonna grow at astronomically different timelines and here's the best part about it. You generally can't predict that timeline and this is the part nobody gets, you can't replicate it. I'll give you an example. So I've mentioned this before. My old co-founder, my last business unsubscribe dot com, Jamie Semenov. Who started a ring the doorbell company, right? Which after obviously, Jamie and I had started six companies each prior to that. So we had a lot of reps on how to build companies and we came together to build unsubscribe dot com, which did, ok. Not great. And even with both of our capabilities, I'd been doing it for a long time. He'd been doing it for a long time. We came together, we were gonna, you know, do something really incredible. Didn't do that. Incredible. I mean, again, ok, not great. I'm not being modest, but then we all, we go on to do our next thing. We go to start. I go to startups and he goes and does ring and it takes off. There's no way either of us could quit what we're doing. Now, start the next thing and get the same results. I don't think people who have never done this before understand how freakishly random this path is.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. Well, again, we're constantly building things that didn't exist, right? This is, this is kind of the purpose we're with. So there's no game plan for it. It's not like, you know, we can beat Tom Brady and just keep winning Super Bowls because there isn't a defined start stop or win for any of this shit. Right? And so comparison by nature is completely and utterly fruitless and useless time. Spain.

Wil Schroter: But we don't know that if we're, if we're starting a business for the first time and we see other founders and I see this all the time in our actual founder groups where we get, you know, 8 to 10 people together. And always in the first meeting, we'll go around the room and everybody's incredibly vulnerable, incredibly honest, which we appreciate. But invariably, you'll get one of the first time folks that will raise their hand because honestly, I'm so far behind all of you guys. Like, I, this actually makes me feel terrible. You know, you're, you've just raised around and you've just, you know, you're getting ready to sell your company and like, I don't even know if I can make payroll next week. Right. And that's where it starts and that's where we start to say, hey, let's go around the room right now. Anybody here right now, ask me or tell me a year ago. Did you have any idea you'd be able to make this update? And every single person is like, not the faintest again. It's, we think it must be this expectation that compounds every year that, like, I've been doing it three years. I must be this far. Nobody has any yardstick. I've done nine companies. They've all gone at totally different paths in totally different ways. I'm the same dude. Right. But, and if I do the next one, I already know, I have no idea how it could go or what timeline. So, comparing my time on to other people it doesn't work, it

Ryan Rutan: doesn't help. I mean, and let's, let's play it out for a second though, even if it did. Right. What would it actually change? This is, this is the question that I like to ask and, and, and it's like, ok, so what would you change if you knew that you were actually building something that's so similar? What's very similar resources at this other company? What data points are you looking at that would actually be actionable. What could you do as a result of that? And nobody ever has an answer, right? Because again, even once you get past whatever base level similarities, there might be, there's so much randomness behind that both in terms of just like how things play out who you interact with, who you hire, you know, what technology you built on all of these other random external factors that we have no control over that will dictate the outcomes at least partially,

Wil Schroter: right. Let's stack on that. Whatever's happening. Again, I'm using the founder groups as a proxy just showing where a lot of founders are specifically comparing themselves to each other. We'll get together and one founder will announce that they raised a funding round and every other founder in the room immediately goes to why didn't I raise a funding run? They raised a funding run. It's a totally different business and a totally different industry with totally different, like why would you have raised? Just because they've raised, there's, there's no comparison whatsoever, but what happens is we need money, they have money and then that makes us feel shitty and I'm not saying it should and we're not bad people for feeling that way. That's a very honest reaction. But this is where it really breaks us down. It's a very difficult comparison to make because we all think the decisions that we made must have been the wrong decisions. And that's what led us here. Here's a crazy thing. Sometimes all your right decisions still don't get you where you're supposed to go. The math doesn't work like people think it think it works right. You could make tons of good decisions or bad decisions for a very long time and then make one good decision or bad decision and it goes the other direction and I'll give you an example. Take all of the companies in the past year when we're recording this at Q three of, of 2022. Take all of the companies that have just announced massive layoffs. You'd be quick to be reminded that all of those same companies announcing massive layoffs would have been the one high fiving themselves to death 18 months ago for how much money they raised, how

Ryan Rutan: much money they raised, how many people they were hiring, right, who were all 100

Wil Schroter: percent and, and, and to be fair. And I, and I want to give credit to those people and justifiably so that when you get to those levels, it's very hard to have that accomplishment. But now think about this at the moment in that founder group again, as our proxy, our metaphor here, all the people in the room are going, oh my God. I can't believe that person raised all that money and they're thinking what a hero, none of them know that in six months, that very same person is about to go through the worst moment of their life having to lay off maybe dozens on the low end, hundreds, in some cases, thousands on the high end. Again. All of those good decisions, you get one flip, the market turns et cetera. And now it's horrible. This is not a linear path and all of the paths work so different from each other. That's the part that's hard for us to wrap our heads around.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. So let's, let's talk a little about some of the consequences then of, of comparison, right? So what, what do, what do you see as the, the major side effect of like I can think of tons. Like what, what's the one that comes to mind that you think is most important?

Wil Schroter: I'll steal from Bernie Brown saying coma comparison kills joy. Comparison kills progress because the moment we start trying to tell other people that your path must, must be my path. It won't work. You actually can't take someone else's path and make it yours even if you wanted to, even if you are really good at it, it just doesn't work that way. They, they're on a totally different set of connected dots than you are. So, the first thing I try to say is you gotta zoom out if everybody's raising money and you're the one person raising money, doesn't matter if they lose all the money or they raise twice as much. It doesn't change your path at all. Right. There's an equally good, uh Jay Z quote that I'll never forget called what you eat. Don't make me shit. And he means it in two ways, right? But what it specifically means is it doesn't matter what you do, right? It doesn't change my outcome. And the truth is the truth is that's really hard for us to wrap our heads around. It's really hard when you're in a room of other entrepreneurs, founders that all seem to be killing it or you're on Twitter and everybody talks about how they're killing it and you feel like you're not. Yeah, it

Ryan Rutan: is tough. It is tough. But again, like, like you said, the comparison kills progress. And I think that the, we're all doing something that's vastly different than the next person. But for just a minute, let's, let's use an example where in business, we are actually following a pattern, right? It's called franchise, right? And even in that world where you have a plan laid out for you, you have the resources and support of a larger organization to help you build this business, which in theory is a carbon copy of all of the other ones that exist. Yeah, you've

Wil Schroter: eliminated variables.

Ryan Rutan: People still have varying degrees of success and failure within that model. And that's one that's like it's as close to being business on rails as anything could possibly be. Right. And it doesn't even hold true there. It doesn't even work in that context. So when we decide to build something that doesn't exist at all, and it gets to your point with a team that didn't exist until eight minutes ago with money that still doesn't exist, this is really, really difficult stuff. And so rather than comparing, you know, to external stuff, what I've always found to be far more useful is to turn that inward and start to compare into like, where were we a week ago? Where were we a month ago? Right. How much progress have we actually made? Forget about the relative pace to anybody else because we don't know the length of the road they're traveling or the speed of the vehicle that they're in? And it doesn't matter at all. What matters is, can we see progress? Are we objectively completing things that we know to be important to the future success of this business? That's the only comparison that we need to draw.

Wil Schroter: I also think that the part is that the my concern, what I tell founders when when they're wrestling with this and most are, is that your personal self worth is not tied to this. In other words, even if you're very good at what you do, you're going to lose more often than you're going to win. And let me give you some examples when Steve jobs started Apple that worked out pretty well. But then he also got fired, right? And then he started a company called Next Computing, which was by comparison, an abysmal failure. I if I remember he sold it to Apple computer for like $400 million. So if I had abysmal failures, I hope they look like that. But, but my point is he's also Steve jobs that went on to start Pixar et cetera, right? Or not start bought. But point is here is a guy who is infinitely capable, maybe one of the most capable entrepreneurs of our, of our age who also misses after he had success. Not before he had success, right? He would have had all of the tools that could possibly be available to him by the time he started next and next to it wasn't even a bad idea if we're being honest, but still misses. Right? And now you take a look at the rest of us and you say this may not be your moment. I'll give you an example. The best success I ever had was 20 years ago when I was running a $650 million company when I knew the least that I've ever known. I had no idea. By the way, at that age I was 27. I didn't even know what a calorie was. That also has to be do with being 27. But if you want to talk about how little I knew about the world back then you didn't have to know yet. Now, I

Ryan Rutan: know. Don't become important until 30 plus I found it. Yeah. Exactly.

Wil Schroter: Right. But the point is I could not have known less and yet financially, that was my biggest success as far as growing a company. And I look at that and I say that's so interesting to me because I didn't know 10% of what I know now. But I can't just magically replicate that I also don't want to be in a services business to do it. That's here, nor there. The point is if you look at every founder's career, you have some that somehow magically grew in a linear path. But most don't, most are a series of abject failures, then a success and then a part again, nobody talks about a couple other failures, but you're rich at that point. So nobody talks about those failures in the same way. No,

Ryan Rutan: then you're just experimenting.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. What I'm saying is even the most successful people where you take their success as they must be infinitely capable. And therefore that's the reason the startups working well, it doesn't hurt. Right. It helps if you're good. But what I'm trying to say is even those people who you assume they are the constant, the Steve jobs constant still fail. You know? Something that's really funny about everything we talk about here is that none of it is new. Everything you're dealing with right now has been done 1000 times before you, which means the answer already exists. You may just not know it, but that's ok. That's kind of what we're here to do. We talk about this stuff on the show, but we actually solve these problems all day long at groups dot startups dot com. So if any of this sounds familiar, stop guessing about what to do. Let us just give you the answers to the test and be done with

Ryan Rutan: it. There was nothing constant about him. Right. Yeah.

Wil Schroter: In other words, where you're beating yourself up thinking, oh my God. I, I must be terrible at this. This company would be better if I were better, et cetera. Again, it wouldn't hurt and I'm not taking you off the pedestal here altogether. What I'm saying is that yes, and there's about 900 other factors and as much as we want to believe we control it all sort of, don't,

Ryan Rutan: we just do not. Now, there's so, so little that's actually under control. And again, the comparison isn't going to help you, right. It's not gonna help you control anything, there's very little to be gained from that comparison. Can you learn from what other people are doing? Sure. Right. But trying to just simply replicate it one for one with maybe 1% of the information based on, you know, what you can see from the outside and the decisions that they're making just doesn't have anything to do with it. Right. And, you know, to your point, this isn't just because you've done it once, doesn't mean you can do it again, right? We have the term serial entrepreneur. Do you know what you rarely hear along with that? A serial and perpetually successful entrepreneur, right?

Wil Schroter: Mark Cuban said it best. You only need to be right once. That's exactly it. And he said it because he was only right once. He

Ryan Rutan: was, he was so it's, and it's worked out just fine. Yeah. Yeah. And I, I think that's, there's something else that we've talked about a number of times. I think this is, this is part of it and it's just simply being around, right? Staying around long enough so that your moment can come, right? Recognizing through maybe so maybe there is some positive nature to this comparison. If you compare enough startups and will you and I have the ability to do that because we see so damn many of them, we realize how random and how different and and how varied the paths are that you can start to understand that most of them didn't see their moment coming. They worked hard, they did all the right things. They did some of the wrong things, they did all the wrong things and some of the right things. And eventually there were some outcomes, some good, some bad. But there's still a lot of randomness involved there. A lot of hard work, a lot of effort, a lot of forethought. Right. Whatever. But there's still a lot of randomness there. And so maybe some positivity can come out of all this comparison, which is to say, once you realize that if you don't have comparison, you realize that you can feel OK, knowing that you're not in the same place that everybody else is and that's OK. And that maybe you're moving faster or slower, you've made a bigger mistake than somebody else did. It's OK. You're fine, stick around long enough to find your moment. I think the danger in comparison is when we start to use that. And I've see founders do this to start to decide to stop doing what they're doing. When they start to use the comparisons to say, look, they've made all the right moves. I've made all the wrong ones up till this point. I'm not cut out for this. I'm gonna fold my tents, I'm gonna go home. And to me it's a huge, huge tragedy because the likelihood is that the information they were using to make that determination was as flawed as it could possibly be.

Wil Schroter: I'm not entitled to a win. It doesn't matter how hard I work, no matter what I think I've earned, I'm not entitled to a win. If someone else did something exponentially better to me, I'm not entitled to their success. Their success is their path, not mine. And again, all I'm entitled to is my own outcome. Right. And no matter how I got there, whether it was dumb luck or whether I had to spend 30 years grinding to get it. That's all I can do. It doesn't matter again how easy it came to some, somebody else or how fluish it was for somebody else. All I got is is my own effort. Right? And just because somebody else did well, they owe me nothing like, like that comparison owes me nothing. Conversely, if someone else is doing poorly, it doesn't put me any further ahead. Right. So either way that it goes, it really doesn't help me. So what I would say is for us as founders, the only way to win at this game, if we're calling it a game of this comparison game is to not play. It is, is to get off the board altogether and just focus 100%. Stay in your lane and only focus on what you can accomplish because no matter what happens around you, it won't matter.

Ryan Rutan: Fantastic. Well, for sake of comparison, why don't we talk to some of our friends from the audience see what they have to say about all

Wil Schroter: this. Let's do this, let's go to the

Ryan Rutan: top. This is the part of the game where, where everybody gets involved. This is where it gets exponentially more interesting and more fun.

Wil Schroter: All right, Roman, we're starting with you, my friend. That's definitely true. Even outside of the startup world, all accomplishments are fleeting. What made you think that?

Ryan Rutan: Because that's my personal journey. I mean, I was in the tech industry for 20 years and it was like, let me get the next raise, the next promotion and this bigger better company and eventually came to a point where it was like, nothing was enough anymore. Like it didn't have the payoff.

Wil Schroter: Why do you think that is, why didn't it feel like it was enough? I think for me, it was part

Ryan Rutan: of it was because I was chasing something the whole time where I probably need to go do a little introspection about like what I was missing inside of me instead of trying to find the answer outside of me. And so that was kind of just like just taking some time to reflect on like, what are the things I want out of life and is chasing the next big shiny star gonna be? What's gonna give that to me or not? Can I follow your question with a question, Ronan. I want to know because I, because I know you fairly well, I want to hear your perspective on this now that you have made that change from that corporate environment where the achievements while fleeting were at least fairly clear, right? You sort of always knew here's roughly what's required to get to the next promotion. Here's roughly the skill set I'm gonna need if I want to make that lateral leap to a different department or if I wanna move from tech company, Y to tech company, Z, how has that changed now that you're outside that environment? And are, do you still find that the accomplishments are fleeting or are you finding them impossible to determine at all? Like where, where's your head now? Yeah, I mean, at this point, I don't even know what the accomplishment would be, right? Because the, the game is so different because I feel like I'm making up what it means to have an accomplishment because it's very different for me than most other people. So and there's definitely times when, when I feel like, oh, look at all these people, like there's all these milestones in the company, right? When you get an M V P out, when you make your first money, raise money, et cetera. And like, I'm still fairly early on. So like I'm still in customer discovery. So there's not a lot of tangible accomplishments to have. And so I have to focus on kind of other things that do. I still want to be doing this. Like, is this something that I feel passionate about? Do I want to be in this game? More of a measurement of like where I am versus what's tangibly out there? I'm gonna go counter to the entire purpose of today's episode and ask you to compare that feeling to the, so you're making up your own accomplishments now, right? And you're, you're striving towards these things. Do you feel like there is more purpose, there is more excitement around these accomplishments or are you more excited about maybe getting to that next accomplishment that you've defined than you were about getting the next promotion or the next raise or whatever it was in, in the corporate world? I think I'm learning to enjoy more of the process instead of the accomplishment because a lot of times the accomplishments are few and far between. So if that's the only thing that keeps me going, I would have quit a year ago when I started. Right. So it's really about like, how can I find something interesting? Something that keeps me curious, keeps me wanting to doing this. Yeah, in between, like in the process itself.

Wil Schroter: All right. Uh Sorry, ready. We've got uh how to help your team be OK with the move the benchmark paradigm. What were you thinking?

Ryan Rutan: I love the chaos. I have to have just some edges that are fuzzy and some things that are unknown to feel like I can actually put that next piece in place. But I can tell how hard it is on my team, especially when we're small. If I have something that kind of has a process already, you know, then it's much more checklist. I can give them a successful benchmark, but sometimes it's just like, well, I don't know what the answer is. We're just going down this road until we can't go down it anymore or decide to change. And it just, I can tell that's hard for them.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. Most people do not like hard

Ryan Rutan: because I love it so much. It just, yeah, you're the one member of the family who enjoys riding roller coasters and you make everybody else come along with you. Right. That's, that's the sense that you get. Right. It's like everybody else is either vomiting, terrified or both. Right? Yeah, it's, it's tough. Do you find that they're drawing comparisons in this case? Are they comparing this to maybe a previous job or how things were three months ago? Where, where's comparison in, into this? Absolutely. I would say 100%. I also think it's a lot of our industry. I'm, I'm from the veterinary industry and so in clinic world, if you do something wrong, an animal dies. I mean, there, there's really, we learn these really, like hard edged consequences. And so when I tell my team, well, we're looking for something, no one's dying right now. It's fine. Like they, we, we need to make him a, so we can be better. It's just, it's a hard thing to come out of, to sort of be ok with, I don't know that I accomplished what I was supposed to, but I'm gonna go take a break. It's, it's tough. Is anybody on your team outside that clinical environment? Do they all come from that same environment? It's the time point where they're at, at the moment, the team sort of needs someone who's from outside our industry. But from my piece that I'm working on, I need that industry mindset. So it's just that crux of a moment where we really do need that outside support. But it's, there's still enough chaos. I can't, I don't know what I'm asking for yet. There, you'll get there,

Wil Schroter: Felix, here's what you said to us and we're gonna uh join you in a moment here as CEO part of my role is to bring in the money to pay the team. I tend to think that once I've successfully raised the first round, we can officially start which I get because that's what other CEO S do. Even in the meantime, we have already made a lot of other progress. Our platform has been launched by our team and we have users on both sides of the marketplace without external funding. It still works, but it's definitely not easy to survive. Let me ask you this, Felix, would you say that at this point if you raise the series a today or that next round of funding that you're on not autopilot but like, that's the last time you'll have like a negative downside or things will, could be exponentially terrible. No, not at all actually. Like, I believe, like, we are focusing too much on, like, the money actually. Like we made progress on the, the product and this is the most important part. So, yeah, it's just hard to be able to, like, put that on the, the side when you don't really know how to, I don't know, make sure that uh the team is gonna be there next month. So, yeah, you're constantly wondering how you're gonna pay that next bill. Here's the other side of it. So I talked to series A funded or series B funded founders. Let's talk about specifically series A funded founders. And I say now that you finally broke the seal now that you're on the series a side of things, you got that venture money, how you feeling they're like awful. It goes. Now, now two things have just started number one, I have to raise another round in another round in another round. Wish somebody had mentioned that part. Like I kind of knew that, but now that I'm in it, I realize I'm gonna be living in 18 month cycles for the next 7 to 10 years. And I'm only as good as my next funding round. And I never know whether the next funding round is going to be my last funding round. So I talked to a lot of founders right now who are obviously in a, a challenging funding cycle. And they said it was fun when people were writing checks. Not so much fun when they're not, I'm talking founders raising 50 100 $200 million not just 10 $15 million checks, you know, which are kind of now on the lower end of series A's, but I'm talking even huge sums because all of them, once they raise that money, now they're on a timer where, like I said, every 18 months then on top of that, I've got to scale a bunch of people knowing full well, I don't know if we're gonna raise more money at the end of 18 months. Right. And so they look at it going, I thought this was the panacea. I thought this was the one place I could get back to. And now I'm like, how do I get out of this? No, I'm on the hamster wheel. Do you see that or? You know, is that a thought that crosses your mind? Yeah. Sure. Every day I think like, yeah, we're always trying to put this on, like, put the money on another wheel or another part of the, the process and trying to like, I don't know, just, uh, find a solution to move forward. Uh, like with the startup. Yeah, it seems like a logical path. I always say that every funded startup wishes they had bootstrapped and every bootstrap fund, uh, startup wishes they had gotten funded because the grass is always greener. They kind of always look at things the other way. But everybody knows if you don't have money, you need money. So, I definitely get that Ryan, who haven't we talked to yet? Let's see

Ryan Rutan: here. I think that is all the questions that have been asked thus far. I mean, there's plenty of people we haven't heard from yet. So away gang

Wil Schroter: thoughts, questions, feedback.

Ryan Rutan: Kirsten. You must have something for us. Well, I mean, you and I had a pretty lengthy discussion last week and a big part of that was specifically you comparing your startup to another startup. I mean, we, we literally, I

Wil Schroter: found another one to make myself good. We

Ryan Rutan: need to know even better. Now we've got two points. We can draw a line. Yeah. You know where that line needs nowhere.

Wil Schroter: Started with the same services that are just winning it. Yeah. It's so funny. If I had a dollar for how many times I thought some startup that just got funded or had the same idea was gonna eat our lunch. I'd have a lot of dollars because let me tell you every single time here's what happens. It always looks like this. It always looks like I'm running whatever business and I've done nine businesses over the years, which is just to say I've run enough different businesses that I've had this happen enough different times. It's also just a weird

Ryan Rutan: way of saying you're old. Will. What's,

Wil Schroter: yeah, how have you lived it? And so what happens is every single time I'll be running a business, it'll be going fine and then a couple of things will happen. First thing that happens is I see somebody post something like an upwork. Hey, can someone build, insert whatever my site was for $500 right? Every single time. And they always, it's

Ryan Rutan: always clarity. Every,

Wil Schroter: oh my God, every week, a different version of clarity, like every week. And so, yeah, pretty much. The second thing that happens is someone has an almost identical idea and they raise so much money that I'm like, oh, ok. Well, that was fun. I guess we're all done here every time and, and maybe it's just some weird thing that I'm into every time they get blown up, they implode at an epic level. Maybe it's, maybe it's the voodoo dolls. I created them. I don't know what it is. Is that what I, is that the one webinar that I missed here in Star Flat Com is how to create a voodoo doll for you.

Ryan Rutan: It's an Easter egg on the site. We don't, we don't hand out the link for that one. You got to find it.

Wil Schroter: I'm trying to think of something that would be. I have a, as most of, you know, I know half of you on here. Um, I have a consulting model that I don't enjoy. I love what I do but I don't enjoy the consulting model, business model. And I've been, um, on a mission to find a scalable way, but in a way that I think has integrity and ethics, um, that still delivers high quality because that is why I do. What I do is I really believe in like, the thing, the financials that I deliver, that's basically my journey. If that is of interest, I'm not raising, which is different than a lot of folks here. But I will say like bootstrapping versus raising and what will I think it was, will that said it or Ryan said it? He said like everyone wishes the grass is greener, everyone wishes the other way. Yeah, it's really true because yeah, like work with both businesses. And so the advantage of bootstrapping is you kind of have a little bit more security because you work for the client revenue and you feel like that's gonna keep, keep going. But at the same time, that's a really long and possibly slow moving runway.

Ryan Rutan: It's a potential rate limiting factor.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. Yeah. Did you want me to come up with a question really quickly? Is that why they put me on the hot seat?

Ryan Rutan: I just i it, it was just you came to mind because you were in the room and you and I just had that lengthy conversation where I would say 30% of that hour and a half was a discussion around comparison for three

Wil Schroter: hours. Three hours. Yeah. Sorry, I shouldn't say that none of you get Ryan that long.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, nobody gets that long. I, I, I must have, I must have blacked out for at least some of that I would not.

Wil Schroter: It, like my mind is still in a wheel turning from this conversation.

Ryan Rutan: Um, thank God, I thought you were gonna say I'm still so confused based on everything like I didn't

Wil Schroter: get any. What was that? Right? I was like, no. Um One of the things that I don't know, I don't think this applies to anyone else. But one of things that was insightful for me is uh Ryan pointed out a comparison that I thought was like really hit the nail on the head of the challenge. I'm running into. I sell what would be considered vitamins in an industry that generally prefers to only have drugs when they hit a pain point. So I sell services that are quite boring. You don't really see any like drama as you go through the services every month, but they keep your company from going off the rails, bleeding out, bleeding out, which is a common one like you just don't see it coming and then suddenly bam the company uh I think you might in general, I just posted about a retail vendor that is looking for a buyer because they mid order like they receive funds for customers. Not me, I didn't place an order. They receive funds and um paid manufacturers to develop and can't has, have no more money and cannot ship, cannot purchase the items for the manufacturers and ship them out to customers that have already paid this company. That is an example of bleeding out. They obviously did something wrong along the lines to get to that point because you should never be in theory robbing Peter to pay Paul. So, yeah, so I'm selling the vitamin. It's like, hey, you don't have to bleed out. But I tend to only get businesses that come to me once they're way past a saving point and then I get all the brunt of their emotions and like stuff like that. So it is interesting, but I just will say maybe

Ryan Rutan: we should teach them to compare themselves to other companies who are running proper financials in that way. So maybe, maybe they do need some comparison.

Wil Schroter: Yes, I'm working on this, but it was just really awesome of Ryan to compare if that's helpful for anyone else. Looking at your analysis of where your friction, white meat might be for your business.

Ryan Rutan: But it, it'll be different for everybody else. That's the, that's the thing, right? That's, that's why, that's why we do one on ones.

Wil Schroter: So in addition to all the stuff related to founder groups, you've also got full access to everything on startups dot com includes all of our education tracks which will be funding customer acquisition, even how to manage your monthly finances. There's so much stuff in there. All of our software including BIZ plan for putting together detailed business plans and financials launch rock for attracting early customers and of course fund for attracting investment capital. When you log into the startups dot com site, you'll find all of these resources available.

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