Andrew Schmitz – Co-Founder of Proceed.app
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We are underwritten locally by the Bank of Sun Prairie.
My name is James Kademan, entrepreneur,
author, speaker and helpful coach, to small business owners across the country.
And today we’re welcoming slash preparing
to learn from Andrew Schmitz, co-founder of Proceed.a pp.
Andrew, how are you doing today?
Hey, I’m doing well. Thanks for having me on,
james. T hanks for being on the show.
I’m excited because I love talking
to people that got essentially software making the money
It’s like an endless multiplier, which I love.
So, yeah, no, I agree.
I love software for that very reason as well.
There’s there seems to be a lot of companies that are doing OK
with software, so I think you pick the right niche.
Yeah, well, we’ll see.
We’ll let the audience decide, I guess. Yeah, that’s fair.
That’s totally fair.
Why don’t we start with you telling us what is the app?
Yeah, happy to.
So that app is a cloud based mobile app and browser app.
Basically, businesses use us to create
standard operating procedures, training materials, safety instructions,
work guides and other forms of operational documentation using photos and videos.
So we call ourselves a visual knowledge
management system and we help businesses, train employees, support employees,
all that jazz through visual operational documents.
So it sounds like if I understand this correctly,
the problem that you’re solving is essentially people were either messing up
or misunderstanding would have given company was doing or is doing or employees
were just not being trained very well or efficiently, is it?
Exactly. So the the kind of problems or challenges
that we help businesses through, they kind of vary.
But at the end of the day, if you’re
depending on people doing things with their hands,
we’re a more efficient and more thorough way of showing people what to do versus
telling them what to do with text based documentation.
And as it turns out, sixty five percent of humans identify as visual learners.
Yet the minority of our operational documents are text based.
So we we like to say sixty five percent of humans are visual learners.
Well, sixty five percent of your employees are most likely visual learners.
So why not use visuals to train them
to capture the knowledge that they know about your business as well?
So holding on to institutional knowledge or tribal knowledge, but
more importantly, just being really quick in terms of how to show people what to do
versus having them read manuals and binders that sit on shelves.
All right. I just picture the kid that got hired
at McDonald’s that’s just thrown in some back room to just watch these videos.
So food service like McDonald’s is
definitely an industry that we play in the industries that we we
probably have more traction in our manufacturing facilities.
As well at fabrication centers and distribution centers, logistics.
So they’re usually like really highly
technical positions and jobs that have a lot of knowhow and technical knowledge.
And we just make it easier for them
to create standard operating procedures and training materials.
You know, the thing I think about, James,
something that I bring up often when talking about that app is
if you had to create a standard operating procedure on your shoes.
What words would you type into Google Doc to make that happen?
I mean, it’s such a simple task, we all know how to tie your shoes,
but like, what words would you use to describe that process?
It would be really difficult.
It would it would be extremely difficult. Yeah.
I’m just thinking now I got a kid
that I’ve been trying to teach him to tie his shoes for two years now.
Yeah. And he does it every time he does it.
I look at his shoes and I’m like, those aren’t tight.
Yeah. I’m going to be a shoe when, you know,
whatever if you had to text him and I know he’s he’s two years old,
but if you had to text him instructions, like what words would you use.
Right. Boy, screw it, get Velcro.
It’s way easier to to capture that process using visuals.
And it turns out the same is true in a lot of business operations.
You know, it’s easier to take photos
and videos to show people what to do than it is to sit there and try to think
of words and type words onto a piece of paper that maybe one person will read
one way and another person will read another way.
Sure, you avoid the misinterpretation as well.
So these are kind of the problems that we help businesses with.
It’s more efficient, it’s more thorough, and it’s easier.
You don’t have to be a videographer, photographer to do this stuff.
It’s easy in the mobile app.
It capture everything directly in the app.
There’s no file management if you know how to use like Facebook or
social media platforms, you know how to use Pursey.
Not at all. Right.
So that’s in a nutshell,
kind of some of the issues and problems that we have with.
So how long have you got? How long have
you are there business partners involved? Yeah, yeah.
So I’m really fortunate to have two awesome business partners,
Darren and Mike.
They are the technical and the sales
and products, what we call product owner and so project manager.
But sales, marketing and then product owners are my rolls.
But yeah, Darren and Mike are on the team.
We’ve been launched for about a year at the end of January
and twenty twenty was when we brought our system online.
So we’ve had a fun year of events and growth and we twenty twenty I think
for a lot of business owners was way more than we bargained for.
but we were able to make it through and had a lot of positive growth,
learned a lot about our business and about our customers.
So yeah. But yeah, we’ve been around for about
a year and Darren and Mike are my business partners.
OK, so how did you guys come up with this
idea? Were you at a job and you’re like, oh my gosh, the training here is terrible.
Well, I’ll tell you this.
So I’ve been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember.
I mean, at least not maybe not in the official sense,
but I’ve always loved solving problems, building things,
seeing if I can make enough value for someone to give me some money in return.
A similar to I’m sure you, James.
So I’ve been doing that kind of stuff for a while.
I had a business in middle school, actually, a genuine business that I grew.
I hated deejaying, but I can make some money doing it.
And I ended up hiring other people to do
it for me and did school, middle school and high school.
Yeah, and the middle was when I started the actual business.
But I realized I didn’t want to be a DJ very long for the rest of my life.
So I quit that.
But something that I like to point out is I’ve always been a visual learner
in that business and in my work and in other ventures.
I’ve always thought to myself, like,
if I’m going to show someone else how to do this or hire employees,
I want to support them with either training video or training manual.
So I tried college for a while.
College wasn’t for me, dropped out of college.
I ended up getting a job offer, which kind of
accelerated my decision to drop out of college at a software company.
And that’s when I fell in love with cloud based companies.
The margins, the ability to serve people way outside your neighborhood and connect
with people from all parts of the globe through the Internet.
I thought that was just way cool.
there’s still a lot it’s in many ways a new frontier.
There’s so many things to discover
in the Internet space still for for entrepreneurs.
So anyway, I fell in love with
cloud based companies and then while
working at that software company, I wanted to kind of pick up a side hustle again.
So I started consulting with small businesses.
I go in and create training manuals and training.
Videos and then build a private training
websites for clients and how proceed a second.
Hold on a second.
Yeah, you’re working for the software company here.
Like I have the most boring side hustle idea in the world.
The businesses train their people. Really?
I love operations.
I was a project manager at the software company, so I just love managing
and not really I hate the word managing,
but empowering other people to be good at their jobs.
Right. And everyone aligned.
So I didn’t initially start the side also in training and
training, video development and training, manual development.
What it was was just kind of a media solution.
So I would do I mean,
I built websites for people really different miscellaneous like media jobs.
But what I ended up getting known for was training videos and manuals.
And being being very visual about it.
So in my manuals weren’t full of text,
they were like huge images with, you know, call outs and that kind of stuff.
Graphics and my videos were the same way.
And so that’s kind of what I got known for.
I did some work with a couple
of companies, mainly manufacturing companies,
and how it came about as I actually ran out of vacation time at my full time job.
So I couldn’t go on site with my camera and shoot videos.
And I had a client that approached me with a big project.
They had a press that they wanted to document a bunch of things on.
the business owner, said, can you come in and do your normal process of kind of.
I did work with them on a different part
of their business earlier, so knew my services.
And I was like, hey,
I totally would do this, but I just don’t have vacation time.
I can’t take off and come in and do my normal process.
So he’s like, is there any way you can help us out with this?
So what we did was we I had the employees at the business actually take photos
and videos on their phones and then text them to me.
And then I would at night take the photos
and videos of texted me and try to make something out.
And it was a really messy and I’d end up requesting other like photos and videos
from them that they would take the next day.
And but it worked.
It did the job.
I was exhausted one day and I was laying
on the couch and I snapped chatting my friends
on the weekend and it hit me.
I was like, Oh, man, Snapchat and Snapchat.
James, are you a Snapchat guy?
I don’t know. And I’m aware of it.
Know I mean, it’s when there’s that. Yes.
A lot of social media, most social media arguably is like a rabbit hole.
I think it was on there once and I was just like, walk away.
Just like it’s lines of power too.
anybody that Snapchat one day Snapchat,
you basically send photo and videos to your friends.
Usually they’re really small videos.
You know, they loop and you can add captions and
markups, symbols, different things like that.
So it’s not just my friends and I realize
I was in the middle of this project with this manufacturing company.
I realized that Snapchat is an incredible visual communication tool.
Like I wish that this manufacturing company could just Snapchat me
on content that they’re doing instead of this messy texting it to me,
adding like notes and text and stuff, it’s hard to keep track of.
So what we ended up doing was we we use Snapchat.
I built a private Snapchat account and I showed the employees how to actually
use the private Snapchat account added to a private story.
And at the end of the day, since Snapchat expired twenty four hours
later, just on their download, all of their snaps every every day.
And and it worked really well.
I mean, they paid me for it.
The project wrapped up really well.
And they actually brought me back in for a couple other things using the same model.
So that’s when we I realized maybe well,
I knew right away, like Snapchat, it’s never going to scale.
I couldn’t go to other people and it would just get too messy.
And it’s not the right tool for the job. Right.
So I looked into some other solutions that existed online in terms of doing
similar kind of visual based knowledge sharing.
And there just wasn’t a person.
Solution that that was so centered around visuals like what we were doing,
so obviously I weighed some metrics in my life and I decided, you know,
I was twenty two at the time.
So I was I was kind of.
So I quit my job and try to build this thing and
and stuff, and so I did, I I quit my job in March of twenty
nineteen, spent the next couple months finding a team to develop it and.
There’s tons more I can go into, but we launch our platform and in January,
in January 20, 20,
we’ve been growing ever since nine.
So let’s start with the name. How did you come up with that app?
Yes, we love the idea of helping people
move forward, helping people, the organization, move forward by being
able to document and proceed into the future because they
have all their processes documented nicely.
We also just like to play on how we do step by step documentation.
So you record short little bite sized
videos or photos instead of watching a five minute training
video, you have like all these bite sized steps that you step through.
So it’s like, OK, I’m ready to proceed.
I’m ready to proceed.
So that’s kind of how we we came across that name.
Gotcha. Tell me about the app.
Yes. IDOT app is really just our website.
So that app is how you can find this if you type that into a web browser.
To be honest with you, if anyone is thinking about starting
a business, why we call it pretty dot app is because it’s remarkable.
there’s other software companies called proceed out there,
but we can trademark it if we added the DOT app.
That is why we did that. It’s kind of funny.
Any time you look at a website that is not
dot com or some other or something like that, I think that’s super cool.
And in your case, it definitely works with
a client of mine that was a photographer with drone pilot stuff.
And he had whatever his business name is, either dot photo or dot photography.
And even I because you’re so used to seeing the website name, whatever dot com
say, whatever dot photo dot com.
I was like, wait, no, no.
There’s no doubt
It was like people would mess up the email.
So even though it was clever, this is we’re talking
maybe four years ago,
five years ago, it didn’t quite as popular like the the different
when I was a consideration.
I mean, I got someone emailing me right
now trying to get me to buy proceed app dot com.
But I think like for us, I mean, the Internet has changed so much, right?
I mean, the the domain doesn’t really.
I don’t think anyone has been able to find us because of that.
Actually, I think the biggest issue
that we get is people will type my email wrong.
This to Andrew at Christine Dotcom and sure of that, but totally fair.
Yeah, I love to proceed that app
because in my mind, it tells you more or less that it’s an app.
Yeah, there’s no like. What do you do.
Yeah, exactly. There’s a quick.
You know, without even explaining it, it
it tells you what we do for sure, or at least what it is.
So tell me about the market that you were targeting.
How did you decide to go to manufacturers and things were more physical stuff.
Yes. As a service-based or anything else.
So, I mean, you kind of going back to my journey, my initial journey before
starting persay, but it was mainly the customers that are
working with where a lot of manufacturing companies in Wisconsin.
So manufacturing is
pretty present here.
So that that that was probably the decision.
But to be honest, I don’t see another reason why
I decided to start Percy Dunlap, was I was looking at the landscape
of other knowledge management and training systems.
And there are a couple that
would work for manufacturing companies,
but the majority of of training system is not.
And knowledge management systems that are
easy to get going and that kind of stuff are
for office type jobs.
So so we kind of decided, you know, like we want to be the solution for
small and mid-sized manufacturing companies that don’t want to pay a million
dollars for an enterprise system, but also don’t want to use their binders anymore.
We want to be that that solution.
So the idea is just for clarity, is the idea that the individual employee
would have their phone kind of bring your own device thing and they would watch
the video or the procedures, whatever? Yeah, so great question.
I mean, it really depends on the business.
Some businesses don’t let devices on the work floor, which then
oftentimes you’ll see them using their workstations throughout the floor.
So computers, different things like that
actually work once again.
James, I’m not sure I have a flower delivery here.
It’s my fiance’s birthday, so I just have one second.
No worries. No worries.
I’m so sorry about that, James.
No, it’s all good, man.
Then I told them just to drop it
on the porch, but apparently flowers like freeze or something.
So they. Oh, sure.
Were sitting there looking at me like, you know, pick these things up.
No. Well, good.
I forgot we were them.
yeah, bring your own device, bring your own.
Yeah, exactly. Sorry about that.
So you do I need to clap or are we good?
They’re not just firing.
So some some manufacturing companies are
totally OK with employees bringing their own device onto the workforce.
Some don’t allow any devices and some provide devices to their employees.
So it really depends on the business.
But how employees actually use proceed is
they open the app on a device or on a computer.
They can search a library by keyword
to find what they’re looking for and also a future that we see used all the time.
We’re actually in beta testing for right now our QR codes.
So this idea that you can put QR codes
either on equipment or in certain locations in your business so that when
your employees scan them in the app, it either brings them
to the content relevant to what they scanned or where they scanned it.
So, you know, it’s
one of those kind of benefits that you get from using technology.
But yeah, and then all it is, is it can bring up the documentation.
It shows them a nice visual.
So like, if it’s how to change the blade on a table, saw shows them step one.
It’s a video that might keep looping
and looping until the user’s right to move on the hit next or swipe
to the next step. All right.
That’s pretty cool.
So it is able to be used on a desktop as well as a tablet or from across platforms.
So Apple Android browser, usually Google Chrome.
You can use us on any device. Gotcha.
So from a technical standpoint, was that tough to do
to come on, you’re essentially going to come up with three main platforms, right?
So I’m not the the brains behind the technology.
I leave that for my two co-founders, but I will say so.
They use a platform actually made from Madison,
Wisconsin, called Ionic, which is a centralized code base
that deploys to both Apple and Android or iOS and Android.
So it simplifies things right.
You write one code base says it decides or knows how to convert it to each platform.
I had a programmer of mine use a Shinsei
program of my guy that I hired with a flower ordering website.
he’s putting together an app and website thing for it.
So that’s cool. Yeah, yeah.
So and so.
That saves a lot of time.
But we do maintain a web browser version, which is its own code and a app,
and then they share the database obviously where all our customers data stored.
But yeah, I mean I was definitely
there was it was it wasn’t a overnight thing.
It took nearly six months to get
development done to the point where we could launch.
But to be honest, something I love talking about James, and
I’ll kind of just tap tap on this.
But, you know, when I started proceed, I was a non-technical guy with an idea.
And I had some traction through
a prototype or a test scenario with that Snapchat and a manufacturing company.
But at the end of the day, I was a non-technical guy.
I needed someone else to build that or I needed to pay someone else to build it.
And so something I love talking about is,
you know, I’ve built proceed on zero dollars.
I haven’t paid a single dollar to the development of the actual platform.
Other than some charges from Amazon and maybe like
buying a theme or something.
But the actual laborer is done
by my co-founders, but they weren’t in on the initial vision.
I started the company.
I had some traction.
I built this idea of where I wanted to go.
And it was my job to pitch to the
who would become my co-founders to join the team and actually put their sweat
equity into a company to build the platform.
And so it’s kind of following.
I love a book called The Lean Startup, which is a book maybe share a lot of your
listeners might have heard of, but increase
it shows you how to build MVP minimum viable products and test your assumptions,
learn from them and then reiterate.
And that’s exactly what we did.
It was build a prototype,
get users in there, test your assumptions, we ended up
throwing away the prototype and rebuilding from the ground up over fall
of twenty nineteen to launch them in January of twenty twenty.
But it’s an interesting.
You know, I just if you would have asked me,
like four years ago, like Andrew, could you start a tech company,
I would have probably told you, like, now I can’t do that.
I don’t have the skills or the technical skills.
But honestly, the technology,
even though, yeah, it took six months to develop the technology, is the easy part.
I mean, so many people have ideas in terms
of, oh, I want to build this app or that app or this app.
And to me, like, I get a lot of people come to me with their app
ideas and I love talking to them about that stuff, like, yeah, let’s talk about
what you’re doing
and let’s say I’d love to hear ideas and talk through how you could test it.
Right. But the risky part of ninety seven percent
of the ideas is not can the technology be built,
it’s can you acquire customers, change behavior and drive
drive customer traction.
If you can’t do that, it doesn’t matter.
If it’s built, you’ll end up building something to have no one use it.
Which is what you want to avoid, General,
like every great business and no customers.
And so, you know,
here’s like the prime example.
If you say if you come to me and you’re like, yeah,
I’m I’m building that Uber for bicycles or something like that already you’ve said
that the technology isn’t going to be hard
to build because you have something already that exists that’s doing
all you’re doing is applying it to a different market.
So that’s what your idea is. That’s awesome.
I mean, I’m not saying that it’s not doable.
You can totally do it.
And little niche things like that are awesome.
But where your risk lies is not can be built.
So if you’re if you’re thinking
to yourself, I need to go find a technical co-founder right now to build this,
that’s probably not what you need to you should do is build a no code prototype or
a way of testing your assumption without writing a single line of code.
I hope I’m not on too big of a tangent here.
No, no, no. That’s great advice.
Essentially, what you’re what you’re recommending to people is
to prove the model before they stick to time or money or effort.
Yeah, because the technology is the easy part.
I mean, if you can prove so like in my case.
Right, I and I, I’m not claiming to be a genius because I burned a lot of money
and other businesses not doing it this way.
So this comes from it comes from failure, right?
I hit it out of the park right away.
But in the case of proceed, I use Snapchat to gain traction
and someone pay me to use Snapchat to do what I wanted to do with my own platform.
So with that traction, that’s really exciting.
Now now I can go to a developer and say, hey, listen, I’ve built this.
I’ve already proven that people will pay me for it.
Now all you have to do is and it’s still like it’s still a lot
of work, but all you got to do is turn it into turn it into the real thing.
it’s less risky because I’ve already
proven that I can change people’s behavior and and drive customer
traction. And so,
you know, that’s the model that I encourage people to go with whenever
thinking about any business, but especially tech businesses.
There’s so many great tools out there
where you can build incredible prototypes with no coding knowledge.
And so it’s just getting a little bit creative.
But that’s the fun part of entrepreneurship, I think.
It’s interesting how I talk with business owners
from the coaching and Calls On Call side where they want to start this business
and they keep building upon the what I want to say, I suppose the
the utility of the business, like we should have do this.
We should never do this and keep adding
bells and whistles and we’re like, hold on, time out.
Let’s make sure that your main product actually is valuable and that you can find
an audience for it before you make it shinier or you have more special
to build upon your success.
But first, you have to have that initial success.
Yeah, well, and it’s important in the startup world.
One of my business partners always says,
you know, you don’t want to boil the ocean.
Right, like that.
Like you can’t because you won’t. Right.
You have to start
and start starting with a niche as the best way, in my opinion.
So, yeah, I mean, and it all ties together.
At the end of the day,
you should be rushing to customer traction
and you’re your first
early revenues and and let that let your customers direct the next steps.
Yeah. Rushing to customer traction.
I like that. That’s cool.
That’s very good.
How are you since you’re doing essentially
the sales, how are you reaching out to companies and saying, hey,
I know that you’ve trained people before, you’re doing it wrong.
Are you not doing efficiently by my app kind of thing?
Yeah, just totally. It’s useful.
But I guess I’m curious how you do that,
since with Calls On Call we have a challenge telling people, hey,
you’ve been in business for a while, you may be doing some of it wrong.
Yeah. You know that.
That’s a great, great, great question.
That know so.
So I’ll tell you this over the over twenty twenty, one of the things that
we’ve pivoted is who were who our customers are.
And so we initially when we started, we were going after the same people I was
going after with my consulting business before I proceed.
Small businesses like 50 or fewer
employees usually turns out when a worldwide pandemic hits,
the last thing small businesses do is accept a new software subscription,
let’s say the last or the first thing to go right.
They don’t want to get into more contracts unless you zoom, right?
Yeah. So we had to rethink
our model a lot and we made countless
pivots or twenty twenty that eventually led us by accident
to talking with larger companies.
And so what I realized is.
And I don’t mean this, and I have
I come from a bunch of small business owners, I’m a small business owner myself,
but at the end of the day, small business owners are small,
typically for a reason, and it can be for a very good reason.
You’re a small business owner and you you don’t want to grow.
I mean, like you’re very happy
with the business that you have and that’s like perfect.
And sometimes there’s other reasons why.
what I realized quickly is like calling
small business owners and saying, hey, I have this training software.
You can get rid of your binders.
You can reduce errors from peer-to-peer
training that exists today because peer to peer training is like the telephone game.
By the time it gets to the end user, it’s not the same message.
But at the end of day,
small business owners weren’t really interested in that because they see all
of their employees anyways and they’re very hands on in their business.
So we made a shift again by accident.
We did some Google ads and some huge companies responded to our Google ads
within the first like two hundred dollars that we spent.
Wow. All right.
No, not really excited about that.
So we we started
then shifting our focus to like, OK, well, maybe we do work with bigger businesses.
Maybe that’s who we go after.
And some of the reason why we weren’t
going after them is just because we wanted to
test our product with smaller businesses
first and lower risk businesses that, you know,
can still find a lot of value and point out bugs and that kind of stuff.
And we can get used to working with customers.
But when when a Fortune 500
company signs up for your app and is seriously interested and.
He has done their homework on you and it’s
been on their website and likes everything that they’ve seen.
Then then you start to think like, oh,
well, how can I get to know you better?
So we ended up at that point shifting our focus to larger businesses.
With that. It changed the whole sales process.
Right. Which is why I brought it up,
because that was your question is how do we reach these companies and what how do
we how do we convince them to ditch the binders or the current ways?
how we reach people today, we use LinkedIn
pretty, pretty well.
We also have a template on our website that’s a lead lead magnet.
So you can download our free Google Doc S.O.P template.
There’s actually one of the first things I
saw on our website when we launched our website three years ago
and we get probably 12 leads a day through that.
And we don’t we don’t really we pay
for some of them, but a lot of them are organic.
We’re number one are like on the first
page of Google, if you look at Google Doc S.O.P template.
And so that alone has been huge in terms of a lead magnet.
I mean, what that does is it identifies,
hey, this person is currently working on operations, so maybe
they would be interested in talking to you
if they’re updating or redoing some kind of operational document.
Right, right. So that’s a way of identifying a potential
person who might be open to change right now.
The other way is you just identify different industries
and particular customers that are businesses that are likely
doing something or using a training system or method that could be beneficial or
could be could be that they could benefit from a system like privacy data.
And really, one of the biggest benefits that bigger businesses get from app versus
smaller businesses is the data stuff that we do.
I mean, larger businesses,
when you have three hundred, four hundred five hundred employees,
you don’t necessarily see all your employees every day.
So you depend on your staff’s tools
to collect data to help you with continuous improvement and
understanding how employees are actually using your knowledge management system.
So, for example, like one of our
probably most useful reports that we’ve
seen larger businesses really appreciate is
called A Search Report.
And what this tells you is like what
people are searching for inside of your knowledge library every month.
And if it brought back any results so you could pull insight from this.
Are my employees looking for things that don’t bring back any results?
And if so, maybe we need to create documentation that fills those gaps.
Or maybe we need to reorganize our library so that when they search certain keywords,
that actually brings the relevant content up.
You know, there’s a ton of insight being pulled from that kind of data.
And that’s why, like.
That’s how we get them to convince them to move over to our system is showing them
like, well, we can give you data, insight that you don’t get from Binder’s today.
We can give you insight into
what types of content people are creating
and and how often they’re viewing it, when they’re viewing it,
if it’s time of day kind of stuff like these kind of next level
data reports and insights that you just don’t get any other way.
So sounds to me from a sales point of view that you’re probably not doing a whole lot
of cold calling or reaching out actively to potential clients.
Is it safe to say?
So we don’t cold call direct clients because it’s really
difficult to know, right, like I mean, everyone’s problem,
your customers don’t usually walk around with a sign that says,
I’m going through whatever problem that you solve right now.
Right? No, they’d be pretty cool if they did.
It would be really awesome if they did.
And that’s why it’s so we do Google ads
and that’s like they’re actively searching for a solution and we pop up on Google.
So that’s like a great way of having
someone identify themselves to you that they are looking at that.
But in terms of cold calling,
who we cold call and I know cold calling kind of has a.
You sometimes can have
a ring to it that people don’t like,
but who we call typically are centers of influence, right?
People who maybe they’re financial
consultants or manufacturing consultants, people who go have relationships
with the customers that we want to be working with and want to help them even
further, because obviously, if you’re a manufacturing consultant
and your client is having issues with training
and and knowledge retention and could use some help with that,
you’re going to want someone in your Rolodex to be like, hey,
you should go talk to James. I know he’s got this business and he can really help
you out because that makes you look good, right?
So that’s who we call usually our
consultants or people who would end up working with our end users.
All right, so the cold calling thing,
I don’t consider it bad, I don’t either, but I love cold calling.
I think some people have told me, like, cold calling is dead.
I couldn’t agree and like it at all because,
I mean, to me, it’s like it depends on what you’re cold calling for.
I’ve cold called customers before.
And my my response is always our initial
conversation is, hey, I’m a startup and I’m looking for some advice on something.
And I know that you’re a professional in this this field.
I would love to just ask you a couple of questions about how you do operations.
And what that does is like, I’m not asking for a sale.
I’m not asking them to open their wallet.
What I’m saying is, like, I think you’re really good at this.
Yeah. I want your opinion on some stuff.
Right. And pick your brain.
Sure. Of giving advice.
They love it. And what they also
love is that I’m not trying to sell them right away when I call them.
And to be honest, like we are a startup and I am looking for advice all the time.
I mean, I
there’s hardly a phone call that I take that I don’t learn something new about how
people do operations, how they train their team.
Know it’s really fun to get to know these people
and to talk with them.
But then at the end of the day, some of them do come and turn to be actual
customers because they realize, oh, what you’re doing is actually really cool
and it actually solves the problem that I’m having right now.
So why wouldn’t we start?
I would be a trustworthy guy.
You told me you’re a startup.
You’re not trying to hide or be something that you’re not.
So that’s how I that’s my approach to cold calling.
At least that’s cool. That’s cool.
I like your.
How did you end up finding your business partners?
Did you know them before
you get on Craigslist and find somebody who knows how to code?
Or as a great question.
So if I’m honest with you, James, the best way.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So the the the initial co-founders that I found are actually not the same
co-founders that I have today that’s organized.
Yeah. And that is one of the
that was one of the biggest lessons I learned in twenty nineteen was
about building a team and also about being a better leader.
So I found a lot, my initial co-founder tech guy, he brought on another friend
of his and we built the first version of Presedo over the summer of twenty
nineteen and it was we had Draw In Customers in there.
But what I quickly realized is like the company was going in one direction,
they were going in a totally different direction.
And I didn’t do a good enough job painting the vivid vision of the company.
So how and you asked me how did I find them?
Well, I found I found the initial one just through another social circle.
So I knew he was in the technology and web based development.
I knew he was good.
we started I asked him if he was interested.
Turns out he was kind of looking for a side project.
So it worked out.
And we ended up building a prototype that summer.
How I met the current co-founders that I
have after we all decided with my initial co-founders that it wasn’t going to work
out, I actually met my my co-founder through one million cups.
So I’m sure you’ve done one million cups.
Well, Michael looks at my one million cups
presentation and I did four proceed the first one ever at Appleton.
And he stuck around afterwards, introduced himself.
And we had a couple of coffees when I was still with my other co-founders.
I learned a lot from from him.
I thought he was a really cool guy who doing his own startup at the time.
So it was just kind of an entrepreneurial friends.
And then when the initial co-founders left,
I was alone, really
I mean, I had quit my good job and here I
am with a tech product with no technical expertize way of changing anything.
We had users in the system like I had
no way of supporting them if something were to go wrong.
Sure. So let me ask you for a moment, quick.
Did you like was a commercial when you
broke up with these other guys and you’re just like, screw you, I’m out of here?
Yeah, it was I mean, I knew that the company couldn’t move forward with them.
It just wasn’t going to work out and they were cool.
You had to present it.
I imagine it’s the.
One different thing is very it was very mutual.
They also knew that it wasn’t going to work out.
And I don’t you know,
I’ve talked to another podcast about this, and I say the same thing every time.
You know, I.
I don’t I don’t blame anyone.
It was like a lesson that had to be learned
by doing it and being involved in a startup like this.
the biggest thing that I took away from that is
the downfall happened because we started a company and I didn’t paint the vision.
All right. We just like, all right, let’s go.
Let’s build it here. Here.
Here’s the screens that you need to the mock ups that you need to get moving.
But we didn’t talk about, like,
are we going to raise money?
Is there who who do we want to be our customer?
Right. That’s a big one.
Can we expect to pay ourselves, like, is this a full time job,
like those kind of questions that should fit into the vision of the company?
And like initial expectations we just didn’t talk about?
I mean, it’s partially because I didn’t know to talk about them.
But I didn’t do a good enough job painting the vision.
And so then frustrations happened. Right.
All right. When when I’m like, you know,
like, what’s going on?
Like, why aren’t you working as much as I am or why why are we
why are we doing this when that was never agreed upon?
Or we can’t raise money until we do this and this and this.
You know, like there was just there is conversations that weren’t had.
And then when we when we started having them, it was too late.
So but it all it all ties back to I didn’t have a vivid vision for where I wanted
the company to go and how I wanted to build it.
By the time we started pissing in the vision, it was too late,
right? So, yeah, I mean, they decided to leave.
I didn’t I didn’t have to.
Oh, you didn’t have to trigger it. No, no.
So, I mean, like, basically it was.
You know, through through the conversations that we had,
it was understood that, like this can’t move on this way.
So either either I leave or you guys.
And and this wasn’t going to work. So they left.
And I mean, honestly, there I have I have no negative feelings against them.
Like, they taught me one of the biggest lessons that I needed to learn.
And I hope that they learn stuff, too, and I’m sure they did.
And I am still connected with them and their friends.
yeah, very amicable and clean.
It was very clean. All right.
All right. Which I realize I’m really lucky.
And you are not the first person to have business partnership go south, I’m sure.
So, yeah, that’s it’s a thing it’s probably more
common that they don’t work than they do in situations.
I mean, it’s like any relationship that you have,
you know, communication is key.
Oh, that was something I learned about and.
And also, like
some people just aren’t meant to be together, and that’s OK.
That’s all right. Like, you can’t force it, right.
If anyone is listening to this and being
like, well, what did you do differently with your next team
And we set up a probationary period, right.
It was understood on both sides like, hey,
we want to make sure that we can work together successfully.
I don’t want to rush into this.
So let’s get going.
But let’s have some options in terms of if things don’t work out.
And here’s one, we review the options.
That’s how we move forward there.
But to be honest, like my
my team right now is great.
I mean, Darren and Mike are to just incredible individuals and engineers.
There are way older than I am. I think.
I don’t know if they like it when I say this, but they can both be my dad,
my dads, which is which is actually like
a really cool kind of company culture kind of thing.
Sure, they see technology way differently than I
do, and the balance of that is really important.
All right. It actually is a huge strength of ours,
but I’m very, very fortunate to be able to wake up every day and work for Darren
and Mike and and and I know that they they do the same for me.
And it’s it’s working really well.
We’ve we’ve had nothing but good times so far.
Very cool. Very cool.
I do want to ask you,
since you brought up the age thing, most of the manufacturers that I know as
far as the business owners are older generations.
So is it challenging to come to them and say, hey, this
technology based improvement for your business,
or most of them tech savvy since the machines that they got are
they’re always coming up with new and better things?
Like it’s a great question.
That’s a great question.
Typically, I don’t talk to business owners anymore.
I mean, it depends on the business,
but I’ll be talking to an H.R. person, our manager operations that kind of shop.
But at the end of the day, I mean, like,
I don’t like to I personally don’t like to attach.
Your comfort level of technology to age, so that’s why I usually will say
to people who are less comfortable with technology.
This is how I talk to them or this is how
we’ve made it easy for you, because, I mean, to be honest, like,
I’ve I’ve you have friends of mine that I’m like I can’t believe that you’ve
grown up with the Internet your whole life because it’s like you would literally give
your Social Security number out to someone who asked for it online.
Right. It’s amazing.
But but, you know, at the end of the day, like,
what I think is really cool is business is business
technology or not.
Like business is business and.
What I mean by that is, like
people who have been in business longer usually can understand
when a piece of technology or even if it’s not technology, whatever product you’re
selling, they can see how this is going to affect their business.
If you can show them in Iowa, hey, you use dust, Apple will save you 30
percent or 67 percent on your onboarding time while you’re talking it.
It doesn’t matter if I’m a genie in a bottle or
app on a mobile phone.
Right. Like if you can save money, do it.
Yeah, that’s fair.
That’s totally fair. Oh, I love it.
That’s super cool.
So I guess from a.
From a standpoint of your business now
and where it’s come in the past year, I feel like.
I feel like you talk like you’ve been in business for nine years and going
through all these trials and tribulations, but it’s been a year, year and a half.
So in May, it will be three years that I’ve had the business going OK, but
the platforms going around for just about a year.
But I’ll tell you this, I mean,
in technology and in any startup like the faster you move, the better.
In many ways I feel like we move pretty slowly.
But in other other ways, we’ve we’ve been very quick.
I can’t believe that it was less than three years ago that
I went through all the partner, the partner stuff that we just talked about.
So, yeah. Yeah.
I mean, it’s pretty crazy, but we haven’t been around that long.
It’s definitely not been nine years, or at least I hope not so sure.
Time flies here. So what do you see going
on with your businesses in the next three years?
Yeah, so we are thrilled about some of the opportunities that we see
with helping, particularly businesses that are dealing
with institutional knowledge loss from retirement.
This is something that we are
working on from retirement is a huge issue in in the workforce right now.
I mean, like 60 percent of the workforce
is up for retirement over the next 10 years with 60 percent.
Yeah, 10 years. Wow.
It’s it’s a huge concern for a lot of leaders and businesses.
And they know that the incoming workforce
sticks around fewer years or has small employee average employee tenure is like
three point two years versus ten point seven years.
Is the workforce over Plyler Esme’s that says that it’s about four months.
So, I mean, there’s some huge workforce
and workplace human resource challenges that we’re going through and we’re just
thrilled to be a part of it and helping businesses with it.
I mean, one of our taglines that we say
and if you’re going to turn Overstock.com in,
will actually bring you to our website, because that is what we do.
Most businesses think about employee
turnover and they’re like, how can I get employees to stay longer?
How can I increase employee retention?
We are starting this wanting to get people
to think differently about employee turnover.
And I’m calling it a movement, although it’s not really a movement.
But I want to challenge employee
businesses with employees to think how can it be?
The solution to employee turnover is not just retention.
Anything you can do to get retention up is
great, but if you can make employee turnover just sockless.
That’ll bring huge returns to you,
you don’t always have employee turnover, no matter what humans.
OK. OK, so you’re saying essentially if you
can get someone up to speed faster to replace the person that left,
if you can get someone up to speed faster, if you can capture knowledge from people
before they leave, if you can get your operations in order so
that when you lose an employee or say goodbye to an employee and you welcome
a new employee in, it just doesn’t pain you right on it.
It’s done like, oh, yeah, we have it all figured out.
And here it is. Of course you’re going to always have
it’s always going to be painful.
You’re never going to get rid of everything.
At the end of the day, if you can just make it subclass.
That’s fair. That’s fair.
That’s an interesting perspective because that’s a problem that although
we’ll fight tooth and nail to prevent it, it’s just like a flat tire.
Eventually it’s going to happen. Yeah.
Like it’s just better to make it easier
to deal with rather than to attempt to avoid it.
Forever interesting. I like that.
So that’s what I’m most excited about over the next three years.
And we are I think we are the right solution
at the right time for manufacturing companies,
because they if you’re not worried about employee turnover and the effects
of retirement for your business, you need to be.
And, you know, we.
We just love helping businesses navigate that.
So, yeah, that’s a constant thing.
You know, it’s funny because I was thinking of this the other day.
I saw a van for a plumber go by and on the van, almost as big as their logo.
It said, always looking for quality people.
Yeah, you got that permanently on your van.
Does that mean that you guys are so bad
to work for or that you have so many customers like you have so many customers
coming in that you can’t possibly take care of all of them?
You have the combination of both.
It just seemed weird that that was so
permanent on this little van running down the road.
Yeah, no, I mean, it’s
it it’s definitely something businesses always need to be thinking about.
you know, it’s only going to get worse. That’s that’s my thing.
So, like, why, why, why spend a ton of time and headache.
I’m trying to get people to stay longer when they want.
Why not just make it easier to accept it to deal with a replacement.
That is a fascinating, fascinating way to look at that.
I like it. Cool.
Andrew, thank you so much for being on the show.
This is super cool. Yeah.
Thanks so much for having me.
I hope it was it was at least some nuggets of interest or
value to be taken from it.
But yeah, I’m really happy to be on today
and thanks for the opportunity to share my story.
Dude, I think you helped a lot of people with this. So that’s the name of the game,
right? A couple of nuggets of wisdom wrapped up in a cute little podcast.
Right. All right.
Awesome. This has been
Authentic Business Adventures, the business program that brings you the struggle,
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Andrew, how can people find you or I guess reach out to you of saying, yeah,
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