Welcome to the supporters fund ask an investor I’m your host Jeffery Potvin and let’s please welcome Ryan Else the managing partner of Roadster Capital as our investor today welcome Ryan it is a real pleasure having you join us today.
Ryan: Hey thank you for having me it’s great to have the opportunity to catch up with you and and talk about a few things of interest to to you and your listeners.
Jeffery: Totally agree and I’m pretty excited about the conversation because there’s so many things in the Venture world that we can dive into but specifically I think there’s some great material around just kind of all the things you’ve done in your career and the big underlying subject a lot of it goes into sales and so I’m excited to kind of dive into that amongst a few other uh hard-hitting questions that I have for you but to start the show off what we like to to dive into is maybe you can share a little bit about your background uh from you know all the way from the McAfee’s and all the the great companies that you’ve worked for and then kind of where you’re at today and then one thing about you that nobody would know.
Ryan: Okay sure so I think in the interest of time I’ll try and keep it short and I’ll give it really high level so um let’s see so I started my career out early I was a probably 20 years old and I was an intern at Oracle in Redwood City California and uh I found myself working at Oracle upon graduation from undergrad where I earned a Bachelor of Science and marketing and from there I moved over to to PeopleSoft and worked on the development of the E-Business network uh in both of those roles I worked in sales and value-added resellers and channels businesses um and from there I moved moved around and ended up working in network and application security for a company called secureify that was eventually acquired by krollogara uh so we became the um the digital security arm of a company that primarily was focused on kidnapping reconnaissance and armored vehicles and things of that like and eventually through a lot of ups and downs during those that transaction we ended up eventually being acquired by McAfee and so um I worked with the great guy there named Tahir al-gamal who’s actually an advisor to my Fund in tahiros the founder of secure socket layer he was a chief science officer at Netscape way back when and currently he’s the chief security officer at salesforce.com somewhere along the way I earned an MBA in finance from the University of Notre Dame and uh founded a company co-founded a company that made environmentally friendly cleaners we we we sold to Lowe’s Home Improvement Home Depot Ace Hardware and the like grew up to be kind of a nice nice size company with a decent exit eventually and then went to lead a global turnaround for Oregon scientific where I was the uh the president of North and South America and reported to a CEO in Hong Kong and I um we sold that company for 500 million to a much larger Global conglomerate in nanching China and uh while I was in that role we made some strategic investments in a few startups and eventually I started making some of my own Investments and you know here we are today if you know with Roadster Capital uh investing in you know in in Founders solving our world’s greatest challenges with science and technology while trying to transform Industries and the way we live and my perspective is that business people and Planet will lead us into the next decade of digitization while accelerating economic growth and sustainability.
Jeffery: Awesome I love it it’s a great background and you’ve worked for some not only for yourself of course and building out a great comp building out great companies but at the same time you’ve worked for some very large entities that have obviously still continued today to grow and be pillars in in every Community across North America.
Ryan: yeah you know it’s been a really good mix of really large Fortune 500s uh and um incredibly agile uh and fundamentally transformative startups.
Jeffery: Agreed now it’s going to go back a little bit well well before I jump into that one thing about you that nobody wouldn’t know.
Ryan: Well I’m not sure if this is recording for video or not but in the background behind me in my office is a a poster of the Hulk a movie a big Hollywood movie that Ang Lee directed and so I was in that movie and in fact I’ve been in a number of movies over the years I’ve been a member of The Screen Actors Guild for I’d say probably 18 years now so I’ve worked on a number of films primarily as a featured extra um one one role in a film where I had lines but they cut the lines out but it won an Emmy but the Emmy was not for the good acting everyone the Emmy was for costume of all things and that was something on the History Channel where all of my scenes were filmed on Horseback so uh yeah it’s been a fun a very fun um time for me to be involved with the Screen Actors Guild for so many years and just a fun passion hobby if you will it’s never paid the bills but it’s always been a lot of fun and I’ve had some great experiences and I you know I love all things production film and Building Things from the ground up and film much like business has many similarities in those respects.
Jeffery: That’s pretty cool and so that means that you would have your name in the credits somewhere along the lines uh throughout.
Ryan: Yes the credits on uh on a few of them not all of them but it’s pretty exciting it’s screen time along the way.
Jeffery: Ah that’s pretty exciting that that’s a great story and I guess you continue to do this is there any up and coming films that you’re going to be part of.
Ryan: No not in the foreseeable future I I’m based in Portland Oregon and we there isn’t much activity in the film industry in Portland and I I have so much time dedicated to the fund in working with Founders that that becomes more of a distraction than anything at all so if a great opportunity surfaces um I will you know I’ll seize the moment and go for it but typically it doesn’t happen you have to really put yourself out there you need to have an agent and you have to be actively go you know working the craft and going out for it and you know that’s not me but hey Hollywood if you’re if you’re looking for me you know how to find me.
Jeffery: That’s awesome well hopefully they find you then maybe we’ll uh we’ll push this out so that uh there’s some leading role that you can jump into.
Ryan: Yeah right
Jeffery: Very cool well to go back a little bit to throughout the kind of history of where you were and where you started to where you got today um you know one of the I guess big things that I noticed and thought was pretty interesting is that not only do you come to the Venture firm Venture side of things with a Founder background but you do have a strong uh sales background you’ve worked for a lot of companies uh from on the tech side Innovation side so are there a couple of things that you kind of realize that when you’re working with Founders today that there are some things that they could be better more efficient in that you’re able to kind of Coach them through on this like looking back at your background saying look this is kind of why you got to approach this being very commercialized because again you worked in very commercialized businesses they understand the the metrics they understand things a lot differently than a small startup are there a couple of lessons that you kind of built up over the years and you kind of helped pass those through to uh to Founders.
Ryan: Yeah there certainly are I there’s there’s probably too many for us to dive into them all but you know I’ll just kind of rattle a few off the top of my head for me you know having lived both sides I think it’s really critical for Founders to to look Beyond just the money and a lot of times a Founder at an early stage where I’m working gets caught up in in trying to raise that Venture funding and in most cases Founders don’t need the Venture funding and so they’re looking to it because they think it’s something that they need but they’re not really um Venture fundable businesses but it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t change their perspective on how they build their business and a a really strong founder from my perspective also has the ability and the and the chops if you will to to knock on many doors just as they’re knocking on investor doors but knock on customer doors and while doing so there are a few critical questions that need to be asked and those are you know how much are you willing to pay for for the service that we’re offering what are the value points that you perceive and then comparing those value points to what their internal engineering and development teams believe they are what their internal sales team believes they are of course they probably don’t have a sales team by the time they’re meeting with me um but you know you have to ask why because if you continue this to cold call and get someone on the phone a buyer and you sell them your bucket of goods and they tell you no but they continue to take your calls you need to eventually ask them why are you saying no and you have to have the ability to reflect upon what they tell you and adjust accordingly so I think you have to definitely build a nice solid pipeline that aligns with what you think the company needs to do going forward but at the same time you have to listen to your customers and you have to work for your customers because at the end of the day it’s your customers who are paying the bills that are allowing you to grow a business that adds value and changes you know an entire Market’s outlook on you know what options are available to them so therefore your customers are so critical my my first job um a long long time ago was selling shoes at Nordstrom’s which is a retailer here in in North America based in Seattle and one thing they always taught us was when you bring a shoe out to a customer bring them three shoes give them options and so and you might not end up selling them the shoe that they wanted because it might not fit right but we have other other things that we can offer them and you should let them see that value and in doing so don’t give them a hard sell on any of the items but just let them know that we have options and we’re thinking of you and based on the the brief discussion we had this is you know these are two other options and it actually works it works best in women’s shoes um more so than men’s shoes but uh they you know but it’s a nice tactic to have and if you have three skus three off earnings that you can bring forward into any meeting it’s good even if one of them is still in early development it’s nice to put it on a table and see if there’s interest because you do have to think about what will be next while you’re selling what’s hot today.
Jeffery: Now that’s a that’s an awesome point and it’s it’s interesting because I recently had bought a pair of shoes and I think back of Mike has anybody ever done that tactic um and I think back it’s probably been years since I’ve seen that but I do agree that there’s so much opportunity when a person has their eyes set fast on one product and because you know feet or you know the way someone might walk or talk inside of this uh the shoes that they’re looking for their sports or whatever they’re asking the right questions that they could come back out with something as an upsell kind of like on a meal side when somebody asks you um you know what is the best meal that I should order and they always go to the most expensive dish instead of asking some questions to get more information that will allow you to deliver here’s three great meals that you should look at versus go for this one and it’s uh the 200 uh gold hamburger so I think there’s got to be some way to play with this but asking the right questions are going to help you deliver those three great pair of shoes.
Ryan: Yeah they definitely will and it you know it’s nice to have a sense of humility in your approach I mean you it’s really it pays dividends in the long run to just ask a question and sit back and listen.
Jeffery: I agree with that so now when you were talking about putting together a pipeline um listen to the customers and work for your customers maybe to go a step and maybe one step back is there any tactics on how to get these customers like what you’re kind of recommending we’ve talked to lots of different Founders over the time and they’re always in this process of I don’t know what my beachhead is I’m trying to figure out what vertical I’m going to fit in so I’m trying all of these different things and like as you know that takes time and time takes money and all of those things keep driving down before they actually funnel it into who’s going to be their real buyer of their product are there certain criteria that you look for that you can help the founders with uh when you’re breaking their product apart and saying hey go after this group I can introduce it these are the ones that are going to really enjoy your product is there a formula for this or any way that you can describe as the best way or best practices.
Ryan: Yeah there there is uh from my experience I think that the formula is do not attempt to sell to the biggest fish in the room right so it it you wanna you want your business to grow and you want those Marquee logos big name customers that you can speak to other customers about because once you have the real big names it makes it easier for everyone to say yes because there’s less related career risk if you will right but you cannot spend an exorbitant amount of time selling name your big company right say say you’re selling software like or say a selling infrastructure software don’t go after the the US Air Force immediately or don’t go after um salesforce.com immediately don’t go after Google immediately go after a smaller customer that will actually give you the time of day a customer who has less bottlenecks in front of them as a buyer someone who can either you know beta test your product sooner or become a paying customer sooner and it typically is going to be a a smaller Size customer the the beauty of working with these smaller customers first is it’s okay if you break things and because you’ll have the ability to fix them and they’ll let you and if you go after the real big dogs or the big fish right out of the gate and it doesn’t work good luck getting back in the door so you have to build up you have to build a foundation and work out the Kinks before you start selling to the biggest customers in the room um and it’s sometimes challenging to convince yourself that that’s the right approach but it really works otherwise you’ll end up spinning your wheels for six months 12 months your pipeline ends up being you know 24 months trying to sell one customer that always tells you no meanwhile you could have spent that 24 months selling into you know a bucket of 20 smaller customers and maybe you could have closed two of them and it it takes one customer to get two it takes two to get three and then it takes three to get to 5 10 15 and up and so it’s better to take those smaller steps and have the ability to to work with people who are more engaged and will give you more more valuable feedback initially that will help you understand you know the the questions and the needs of your target buyer so that when you do go to a much larger organization you’re not trying to sell to the the CTO of a business you’re actually able to find out who reports up to that CTO within that organization and you know if you take a Bottoms Up approach as many as today’s software companies are doing you can start to you know put your product into you know areas like GitHub and let users experience the product and use it and talk it up amongst their their different networks to where it bubbles into organizations that aren’t even top of mind to you and then you start getting they start reaching out to you because whatever they’re using that you’re developing is working great a company that I’ve invested in that’s doing a really good job at that is called IO and they you know they’re they spend a significant amount of time in GitHub in building repositories and work working with developers in a developer first approach and it’s working you know they’re now doing business with you know companies like like Bosch where they had no initial contacts and so it’s a good it’s a good approach for software companies.
Jeffery: And it makes a lot of sense to start looking after the the companies that are trying to compete with the big dogs or the big players so if you’re going out for those mid-tier or even smaller players they’re going to give you that time and focus which enables you to work through the bugs or work through some of the potential issues you might find the product isn’t even to fit anymore in that space so you might have to Pivot or you might have to make a change but at least that Insight is going to be valuable to help you coach you through that next phase of the business before you start going after and spinning your wheels on the bigger players.
Ryan: Yeah I I I believe that’s really important that you just you believe that that is the case because at the end of the day it is and you also have to tell yourself that after after four or five calls you need to put these people into a different classification of of hot versus you know not hot and you gotta Circle back to them later on stop stop
knocking on that door you know over and over again just keep moving forward once you get a big hit and then go back and knock on those doors again and then talk to them about the success once they start to hear about the success then they’re going to be more interested in wanting to give you the time of day and eventually even though this was a customer that you wanted more so than anything even though they came along later it doesn’t matter they still came along at the end of the day and that’s your objective is to to you know build build revenue build growth build customer base so.
Jeffery: And and how do you approach that when you’ve got investors outside of yourself of course that are looking at this saying oh go after these big players you need to get in there because they’re looking at maybe their own self-growth inside of their uh their Adventure because of their investment instead of looking at it programmatically and saying okay here’s the stages and phases you need to go through can you help coach your Founders to say hey maybe you’re going at this a little bit differently or the wrong way maybe take it smaller bites and start going after these smaller companies first let the big dogs lay for another year or so before you approach them have something behind your belt before going in and sharing what uh Your solution is.
Ryan: Yeah Founders need to manage their investors just as their investors are trying to manage them and I think the the most effective way to manage their investors is to be transparent with them and provide you know monthly or quarterly updates on the business and the business growth and what the drivers of the business have been and what you perceive them to be moving forward in and how you’re executing on those drivers and if you if you make that really clear to your investors um in a clear concise way they’re not going to be hammering you asmuch as they would if you’re not because they’ll be able to see that growth and you know how the pipeline is building they’ll be able to see that you’re you’re sharing with them you’reforecasted pipeline you’re sharing with them what’s been closed or sharing them you know how your ARR is changing and forecasting and you can even speak to them about what your your customer acquisition cost may be in the Market along the way and how they how they’ve changed and what you’re doing to adjust to it so they can see how you’re spending money and then maybe they can give you more value-added advice on on how to make adjustments to the machine without telling you you should call I mean you know go call Microsoft well great go call Microsoft doesn’t do me as a Founder any good how about you say why don’t you call my my buddy you know JT who works at Microsoft in this Division and I’ll make an introduction for you that would be great so ask your investors for help be really blunt about it and say you know this is what we’re up against this is how we’ve been growing this is where we’ve won this is where we’ve failed this is a customer we thought we had and this is how we lost them and we are interested in approaching that these three names do you have anyone within your network that could make a valuable introduction to us it’s a it’s a simple ask and if you don’t ask um people aren’t gonna give you what you need so you have to be okay with just letting them know that you need help too.
Jeffery: I love it and I think that um the win and fail column is going to be super helpful again for everybody to kind of think that’s pretty valuable uh now taking that same kind of approach um when you were working in your own business and building up these different lines and verticals uh Tech has changed dramatically over the last five years versus the last 20 years um are you finding that Founders are more enabled because of the amount of tech that’s out there to help them support sales or do you find that there’s just too much out there and it was simpler uh when you were selling through and getting in front of all the big groups that you needed to.
Ryan: Uh you know I just I guess it just depends on how you use the tech and um it’s like anything how do you manage your time how do you use the tools that are in front of you you don’t need to have every single shiny tool that is presented to you in order to to implement a successful process so um yeah the tech is good LinkedIn is an interesting space it’s become it from my perspective too much like uh Facebook people are sharing way too many things on there and the one thing I really hate about Facebook is every time I accept a new um a new LinkedIn request and I get so many of them every day and that person automatically falls into my my line of sight on on LinkedIn so like I think you automatically follow people when you accept their their link I don’t want to automatically follow everybody because it’s just too much noise right so I have to go back one by one and unfollow when I accept these requests I think it it’s better to use LinkedIn as a place for for business and if you want to communicate effectively you know become an author on LinkedIn and and write things on LinkedIn posting things you know sporadically throughout the day it what it tells me is that you’re not focused on building your business you’re sidetracked and you know you’re like a lot of these Venture investors and you’re on Twitter all day long and you’re not actually like look reviewing deals talking to Founders doing the hard work and and rolling up your sleeves and helping them with their most critical issues that are at hand you’re more interested in gaining followers or you know sending out something about Elon Musk who you’ll never meet and you know criticizing him when in fact what you ought to be doing is just picking up the phone and saying how you doing today founder X how can I help and there’s not enough of that that goes on so I think Founders just the same way should be picking up the phone to to the rest of their team and saying how’s it going today how can I help where can I be of value what do we need to what do we need to do how can we adjust where have we won and how can we repeat that process.
Jeffery: I love it there’s so much valuable insight there on kind of helping a Founder stay focused because I think a lot of the time there are a lot of bells and whistles there are a lot of things out there that we’re trying to look at or go through and your real key focus is how do I commercialize my business how do I set up the sales funnel how do I move this business to the next stage the next layer so that I can go and get venture or whatever that next phase is for your business but staying hyper focused and there is a lot of noise out there as you mentioned and we might spend too much time doing the wrong things which aren’t really proof points into why our business is doing well I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard anybody say that I have 30 000 LinkedIn followers that’s why my business is doing really well so I’m guessing that it’s not a kpi that anybody can use but at the end of the day if you can build out a funnel from it then that’s great but I think you do really have to figure out what that hyper focus is going to be for your business.
Ryan: Yeah I mean there’s all this talk around thought leadership and yeah it’s it’s great but at the same time you you have to build the business so you know you’re and some people don’t aren’t great writers so some people get forced into writing and posting things and what they end up doing inevitably is they post too often and and they post things that aren’t necessarily relevant to the the true Mission or objective of the company or what they are as a founder and you know it becomes a distraction.
Jeffery:Aagreed agreed now to take kind of that distraction side and and taking this into a different layer you mentioned that you know you have to look beyond the money uh can you describe a bit more what you mean by looking beyond the money and I know you kind of referenced it to maybe you’re not Venture investable and sometimes as a Founder as you’re working through these funnels and it’s really early on and you’re having discussions with other angels and VCS to invest and you’re trying to figure out who you want to be or the lane you want to take uh what does it mean by looking beyond the money and what is that how does that shape up for a Founder um in the future.
Ryan: Well I I think as a Founder it’s it would it’s nice for you as to to build you know funnels of you know good better and best from your perspective as an investor and then if you look at building your business and you’re doing a similar funnel who would be your good better best customers and then eventually you start to say maybe it would be nice if in one way or another they could all Interlink and they could all benefit one another and work together you know in symmetry in some form or another and when you look at Venture funds I think it’s important to look at the portfolio companies that they have backed in the past because you’re going to become a part of that family if you will um and I say family because you know family has been a big part of my life and I’m I believe in in family and support systems and you you know these funds when you take money from a from a VC it’s a relationship and we’re going to hear this a lot from a lot of people you’re going to be working with the investor that led that investment or an you know an analyst at that fund for the duration of the life of your business while you are continuing to take Venture money so they’re going to be part of your family but also the companies that they’ve that they’ve invested in they could become potential customers of yours they it makes sense to me for a Founder to look at funds that have invested in companies that they think their company can benefit because if you can get those type of investors and you can get them on board to see how your technology your company your service offering can benefit all of their portfolio companies you’re you’re now selling them not just as an investor but as a customer and saying if you come to us we’re going to be able to benefit your entire portfolio and we will work well with them and we can all in turn grow collectively that’s that’s beautiful if you can find that and make that happen and then you’re going to have um you’re going to have a built-in customer base right out of the gate and if they say no and you’ve been a good salesperson they’re gonna make introductions to you for you across their portfolio and you will and now you’ve built a real credibility and each of those uh teams that you end up speaking with is coming from a trusted investor and they are going to give you the time of day and hear your pitch and you know perhaps become a paying customer.
Jeffery: I love that with the trusted and credibility side and maybe this is something that Founders you know when you were saying earlier that they’re spending a lot of time you know building um likes and and building the brand and trying to get out there and be more than the brand before they’ve even built anything up um maybe they could spend a little bit more time working with that trust and credibility side which is closing customers uh making sure the customers are happy and having them repeat customers and then start to expand in that Network and grow and build credibility from uh you know either from an investor VC side or from the customers that you’re out talking to there’s many different ways that you can start to build that street cred if you will that’s going to bring a lot more value in the future than just a bunch of different likes.
Ryan: Yeah I completely agree
Jeffery: So now taking uh and I have to ask this question because of all the hype that occurred because of McAfee in the past um I’m I’m really curious that when you guys integrated in did you end up working with uh John David at McAfee.
Ryan: No I did not no
Jeffery: Um I was so hoping you were gonna say yeah I met the guy it was pretty cool and uh I think way back when I was uh in my earlier Tech days I was always fascinated by McAfee and and there was a few celebrity people that I got to meet throughout my journey because I was an ex-soffer engineer so I got to meet uh different people and what I did I was always pretty excited about it because they were like the ones that paved the line for this type of tech or whatever it might have been and I’m not sure that’s still the same today because there’s so much Tech out there and so many players in the in the market but certainly 20 plus years ago there was uh a few a few smaller celebrities that when you got to meet them it was pretty exciting
Ryan: Oh yeah and I think they’re still out there um but yeah that’s a it would have been fun but no it didn’t happen for me.
Jeffery: Ah that’s okay that’s okay there’s lots to learn from his uh uh uh videos and everything else that were posted over time so um so now taking all these things that you’ve done and you’re moving forward and you start to jump into what you’re building today maybe you can share a little bit more about um kind of the approach that you guys are taking to the Venture world and how you’re looking at the landscape and utilizing your 20 years of big corporate and commercialization which I think is again phenomenally huge for any founder to be have that opportunity to work with you guys when it comes to commercialization very few maybe understand it till they get to series a and that’s being able to put together like this scaling process around sales and delivering um you know maybe you can share a bit more about how the Venture side’s working for you guys and and the way
it’s working foreign
Ryan: Well so so help me help me understand there was a lot going on there so are you wondering like how what type of businesses are we approaching and looking at or you know how we’re trying to add value to these companies or what type of attributes we look for in the companies that we invest in.
Jeffery: Yeah it’s actually a bit of both of those it’s what are you looking for and then what are you guys bringing to help them and what does that model look like um outside of uh you know a generic um Venture firm how are you guys approaching it and what are you doing that’s uh that’s certainly different to help these companies you’ve had some great successes so I’m just curious as to what that looks like for the rest of the founders that might reach out to you
Ryan: Yeah sure so you know we’re we’re really looking to my perspective is that we’re at this point of inflection within within business as a whole and industries have to achieve higher standards around everything from efficiency To Deni culture and Leadership and Global economies are you know there’s a lot of challenges going on in global economies uh and geopolitical issues taking place that are affecting everything from from Cloud to you know the way we use cloud to the way that we we use an automation or has semiconductors leading the way cyber security is really important we’re looking at AI robots Automation and you know semiconductors and cyber security things that can really companies that have the ability to Target industries that are adapting to a digitized world I think is the best way to really put it and so you know we want to find Founders that are a part of what I believe is you know the new the fourth Industrial Revolution which is going on right now and I think that Frontier Tech is the fourth Industrial Revolution and it’s going to change the way you know we look and build businesses and I think I said earlier you know business people and Planet are going to change the way you know we live and operate and we want to find companies and Founders who are who are transforming the way that we we live in this world in the way that businesses operate so we want to find you know rapid acceleration and growth and sustainability you know in this next decade of digitization and we think that companies in AI robotics automation um you know semiconductors and cyber security are going to really lead the way.
Jeffery: I love it and and to to the point of the areas of of interest um and to your point about business people are kind of going to lead the generation or lead this forward over the next decade um are you also from a Securities perspective are you also worried about like the worlds of the FTX and everything else where you know they were setting a standard they were creating this governance they’re creating this ability to move the businesses forward we’re entrusting in these people and the big money and the investors that dump their money into these companies that they’re doing the right things to ensure that Securities being managed or governance is there so do you think that it almost has to be a hybrid somehow of this business person that’s leading the way or is it a like a business techie that you can merge together and say this is really going to be the leader of the future because if we put all of our hands in in the business person and not into AI or something then we’re going to be stuck with uh bad Investments because there’s always these bad apples out there and it seems that they’re the ones taking over the world.
Ryan: Oh well I mean that is a really meaty question because you know there’s so much going on right now around all things FTX um so I won’t go too deep into it but I I will say this I mean we F FTX in particular has become one of the the largest financial schemes in history I mean it’s right up there with with Enron and you there are some there were a lot of red flags things that people should have picked up on and VC Venture Capital investors their first job behind the scenes when not talking to Founders is to be a fiduciary for the investor in their fund and diligence is necessary you have to dig deep and so I think during an era a decade if you will of easy money and really strong returns that Venture and the public equities markets have seen it became easier for companies to to just dump money into for for Venture funds to dump money into companies without doing deep diligence and to chase valuations to chase upside into Chase relatively quick and easy markups that they could report to their investors that would in turn allow them to raise more capital for a subsequent fund I think that that is coming to an end if it hasn’t already and this whole debacle at FTX you know it’s left a lot of people with a really sour taste in their mouth for all things around crypto and web3 and what Sam bankman freed and his team have done um is incredibly um disruptful for all things around crypto and crypto itself has always had it’s always had its Skeptics um but there should have been some red flags I mean for first starters I’ll just say you know FTX was originally founded as a company that is based in Barbados in the Bahamas right and Antigua and Barbara Barbuda so that’s a problem most VC funds never invest in anything unless it’s 15 miles from their office like driving distance and unless the company itself is uh uh you know a Delaware C and this was not so that that should have been a red flag for for many of them you can invest in companies that are based in Bahamas if it’s a hedge fund but it doesn’t make a lot of sense as a good fiduciary to invest in a company whose headquarters is based in an area that’s known to be you know a tax Haven that maybe that should have been a red flag I mean there’s so many other things that that are going on behind the scenes that you know and I don’t invest in crypto we’re not investing in web3 that’s not our Focus but yeah I think you just have to you have to build and adhere to points of diligence that become that are kind of like religion internally things that you just hold to and you don’t waver from so you have to say to yourself like what are the attributes of a company that we really want to focus on and how do we diligence them and you know for me when I look at a company and I I say what are those resilient attributes or diligence I want to make sure that the company is driven by a sincere purpose to tackle challenges that that will actually impact the world or we want the founder to have a high impact big Vision bold strategy you know and and some really truly transformational technology under the hood I I don’t know if you could argue that all things FTX and their their ftt token were truly transformational technology under the hood I mean they had they built a token they had you know Alameda research which was a you know a separate entity that they owned and they were you know building a crypto exchange they it wasn’t the first of its kind no it wasn’t groundbreaking the company was only founded in 2019 and you know it achieved from 2019 until November 8th of 2022. you know I think it achieved about a 32 billion dollar valuation there was you know about eight billion dollars in Venture Capital dollars invested in that company in a relatively short period of time so there was a lot of red flags going on as the money continued to pour in and the valuation continued to Skyrocket and uh it someone should have spoken up sooner uh and uh they didn’t and I’m sure there were people that had questions but I think you know before we got on this podcast you were talking to me about how sometimes it’s difficult for people to step forward you you alluded to the book uh was it whistleblower by Susan Fowler so um I think a lot of people ought to read that book as I will as well thanks to your suggestion Jeffrey um and just get a feel for for what to look for and what could be you know truly truly um disruptive to an organization’s ability to grow and will completely break all values around trust with your investors.
Jeffery: No I love it well said and the only thing I’ll throw into there is that I guess that still puts us on the line of defining what that is going to look like in the future if there is a form of We Trust AI more than we trust humans because we want to find that middle line to governance and uh being able to build that trust line again that we don’t see and and what I’ll throw in there is that um with uh the other day it came out with quadriga uh Gerald cotton that apparently there was something like 1.9 million dollars that was transferred and this account hasn’t moved any money in five years since the death and they’re like wait a second no one else has the keys there’s only one person and this person was supposed to be um obviously claimed dead in India so now the the whole story is going to open up again so I’m not sure the truth of it I’m going to dive into this but again this uh the whole thing gets back to um how do we build better governance and better Founders and ensure that we’re getting investing in the right uh businesses the right people that like you said have Global World Vision but they’re also solving big Global problems and they’re doing it from the right standpoint.
Ryan: Yeah yeah I feel that way
Jeffery: Well to kind of move ourselves to the next phase we’re going to talk about it I’m going to dive into but I’d love to get your perspective on what it takes to be a Founder I know you’ve come in on both sides and you’ve worked both sides of the table maybe you have a story or a case that you can share of you know she or he that you know just never thought they were going to make it and they were able to change the world and make it happen any story that kind of comes to mind I’d love for you to share uh you know.
Ryan: There’s there’s a lot to come to mind I think what you just have to find is you know to be a really strong founder you have to have grit and you have to be willing to grind it out and and you know I refer to that as grind it out grit and you have to be willing to to dare to ask why and you should have a a Clear Vision as to how what you’re working on will unlock like the inherent power of Industry specific data Rich environments uh you know how are you going to solve a real problem or a bottleneck for customers to help them save spend plan and grow efficiently if you if you can do those things and you can get a team around you that believes in your vision of what you’re attempting to do you know you’ll your business will succeed if you can get past the the the fourth or fifth year of that business from inception the likelihood of you getting to the the 10th and 12th year is far greater than if you didn’t get there and finding companies that are and Founders and teams that are resilient and can push through um you know the ups and downs of growing a business is difficult to do but when you find them uh you you’ll often find that those individuals are able to make that a repeatable process and somewhere along the line they they may have failed and that’s actually a really good thing because those Founders who have failed along the way and have tried it more than once they have ex they have told you without telling you that they have the aptitude to reflect pivot and scale and finding people who can do that um is a a good thing you ought to look for when doing diligence um and you know sometimes a first-time founder doesn’t always make sense sometimes it’s better off to that you know with the founder who who was part of a founding team or an early employee at a at a company that’s scaled and did well over time and learned and grew with that team and now they’re able to to build and Define a new process and develop something completely unique in the art that will you know change change in Industry change a process and possibly become a really great investment for for a venture investor.
Jeffery: I love it well shared all right we’re going to jump into the rapid fire questions now we’ll start with the business side write a roll sure let’s do it all right pick one or the other obviously coming in from a venture investor choose which one works best for you founder or co-founder
Ryan: uh founder
Jeffery: unicorn or a four-year 10x exit
Jeffery: Tech cpg
Ryan: Did you say Tech or cpg Tech
Jeffery: Nft or web 3.0
Ryan: Uh web 3.0
Jeffery: AI or blockchain
Ryan: AI all the way
Jeffery: First time founder or second third time founder
Ryan: second third time founder
Jeffery: First money in or series A
Ryan: First money in
Jeffery: Angel or VC
Jeffery: Board seat Observer
Ryan: Observer board seats take up too much time
Jeffery: Save for convertible note
Ryan: I always prefer a safe over convertible note
Jeffery: Lead or follow
Jeffery: Equity or interest payment
Ryan: Uh equity
Jeffery: Favorite part of investing
Ryan: Um favorite part of investing getting to know people
Jeffery: Number of companies invested per year
Ryan: Uh it depends on Fun Size for for me it’s you know probably five
Jeffery: Perfect uh preferred term any preferred terms
Ryan: Um no not after my head
Jeffery: You you could you mentioned vertical as a focus maybe just uh reiterate
Ryan: Yeah sure so uh AI robotics Quantum I’ve got a great investment in a company called Cyclone Computing that has become a three and a half billion dollar unicorn I I like I like a lot of the hard tech I like um like Hardware as a service not afraid of it
Jeffery: Love it two qualities of startup needs in order to stand out to you
Ryan: uh they need a a strong and compelling uh pitch deck that gets the message across to me real quick because I see so many of them it needs to really jump off of the page don’t spend too much time and money building that deck but make sure that there’s a lot of meat in there we want to see unit economics
Jeffery: Perfect all right personal side book or movie
Ryan: Movie brother I’m in the movies
Jeffery: That’s right uh Superman or Batman
Ryan: Uh Superman there have been too many bad Batmans
Jeffery: Restaurant or picnic
Ryan: Uh I restaurant
Jeffery: Five minutes with Bezos or or Oprah
Ryan: um Oprah so I can cry
Jeffery: All right Mountain or Beach
Jeffery: Biker run
Jeffery: Big Mac or chicken McNuggets
Ryan: Big Mac
Jeffery: Trophy or money
Ryan: Uh money
Jeffery: Beer or wine
Jeffery: uh camera mobile phone
Jeffery: King or Rich
Ryan: Uh rich
Jeffery: Concert or amusement park
Jeffery: Fortune cookie or birthday cake
Ryan: Oh sweet um birthday cake
Jeffery: Ted talk or book reading
Ryan: I’d read a book
Jeffery: Tick Tock or Instagram
Ryan: Tick Tock my wife watches those things all the time they’re hilarious I know the Chinese are all over that mess but I get a kick out of watching hers I do not have a tick tock account
Jeffery: Facebook or LinkedIn
Ryan: Uh LinkedIn all day long I sold all my Facebook stock about three three years ago really glad I did
Jeffery: Nice most famous person that pops in your mind
Ryan: Uh Will Smith
Jeffery: Favorite movie and character you’d play
Ryan: Um favorite movie and character I’d play well I I think I I don’t I don’t necessarily have a favorite movie I’d say how about I say favorite movie I’ve worked I’ve worked on um I’ve my favorite movie I ever worked on was um Smoking Aces.
Jeffery: Oh that’s a great flick
Ryan: Yeah that’s a great one and the second favorite was Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith who came to mind
Jeffery: Ah that’s very cool both great favorite book
Ryan: Uh good to great that’s a good one
Jeffery: Agreed first brand that pops in your mind
Jeffery: Favorite sports team
Ryan: Um Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Jeffery: It’s a good good team Uh what is the meaning of success to you
Ryan: I think the meaning of success to me is um happiness
Jeffery: And last question what is your superpower
Ryan: My superpower is is connecting people
Jeffery: I love it well I’ll also add into your superpowers I also think you’re pretty good at explaining things and walking people through the stair the the scenarios and where you’re going so I think there’s a uh that probably is just a form of communication of course but I think you did a great job um so appreciative today today and your time Ryan brilliant uh lots of great things you shared and I think a lot of people are going to learn a lot of uh intrinsic things around how to Startup should function how they should tackle the market and how to build the sales team and be effective so I want to appreciate again all your time and thank you very much for joining us and the way we like to end our show is we like to give you the last word anything you want to share to investors or startups I turn it over to you but again thank you for all your time.
Ryan: yeah thank you for your time Jeffrey I I would say to any founder out there who’s interested in Roadster capital and our fund have a look at our website it’s rhodesfordcapital.com and if you have a pitch that you’d like to send over send it to fast pitch at Roadster capital total.com and I guarantee you we’ll take a look at it and we will get back to you in short order.
Jeffery: I love it I didn’t even need to ask but that was perfect brilliant love it thank you very much Ryan.
Ryan: You got it thanks for your time I really appreciate it
Jeffery: Okay that was some well again lots of great Insight from uh from Ryan you know I loved uh how he shared grind it out and grit what he’s looking for dare to ask why you know don’t sell to the biggest fish in the room sell to the smaller players bring them up have some meat on the bone before you go to these larger entities and try to sell them in you’ll sell them faster once you solve the problem down below and I think to to all of his points really focus on the pipeline figure out uh the problem that you’re solving and I think it all comes down to is if you’re saving people time effort and money or making people money then that problem is one to solve and you can get behind that and commercialize it you know you’re going to be Off to the Races so um I think with uh everything that Ryan shared certainly a lot of opportunities for early stage companies to to Really build in and hone in on that sales process and build up and really awesome conversation so Roadster Capital uh you know where to find them you provided that info and I want to thank everybody for joining us today if you have if you’ve enjoyed this conversation please feel free to share with your friends or subscribe to our YouTube channel follow us on Spotify podcast and our Stitcher feel free to share this share an audio or video clip around the show we may include it in one of our future podcasts find us at marketing openpeoplenetwork.com your support and comments truly are appreciated you can also check us out at supportersfun.com or for startup events visit openpopnetwork.com thank you and have a fantastic day.