Startup Growth Stories

Don Muir

Hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders around how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join, and grew their business. Founders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes, founders get vulnerable—they talk about the impact of starting (and growing) the company on their mental (and physical health), their relationships and their families. read less

Fintech, Fundraising, and The Future - Simon Taylor of Sardine.ai
Mar 30 2023
Fintech, Fundraising, and The Future - Simon Taylor of Sardine.ai
About This Episode: Today I’m pleased to welcome self-professed ‘fintech nerd’ Simon Taylor to the podcast. Simon is the Co-Founder and Head of Strategy and Content for Sardine.ai. Sardine enables all companies, whether big or small, to improve risk management by having the world's best API for fraud detection and compliance. Simon has been immersed in the technology of financial services for as long as he’s been working and is consistently voted one of the most influential people in Banking, Insurance, and Fintech by banks, his peers, and a number of industry bodies. Simon is a co-host of both ‘Fintech Insider’ the #1 Business Podcast in Europe and ‘Blockchain Insider’ the fastest-growing business podcast, and author of the Fintech Brain Food newsletter.  In this episode, you’ll hear about Simon’s path to becoming a fintech wizard and industry leader, thoughts on the pandemic and its continuing effect on fundraising and VC, insights concerning the state of digital banking and its future, and advice for first-time fintech founders. Startup Growth Stories is hosted by Don Muir, CEO, and Co-Founder of Arc Technologies. In each weekly episode of this podcast, you'll hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders about how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join and grew their business. Founders and industry insiders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes of each episode, guests get vulnerable - they share very personal stories about the impact of their work on their well-being, their relationships, and their families. In this episode, you’ll hear: [1:26] Simon Taylor calls himself a “fintech nerd”  [03:18] Fintech and what’s happening in the economy [07:12] What we’ll see looking into 2023 - Reset your growth expectations [08:50] Fintech founders – start looking at specifics, not general advice. What works for YOU? Pricing, operating models, talent acquisition, etc. [11:35] The past Fed’s zero interest rates, venture capital investors, and founders - Hopefully, people learn the lessons from this. The market always wins [15:08] What Simon is seeing in private markets – he’s 60% sure the Fed will end up probably ‘breaking the bond markets’ [19:23] How should fintech startups who are credit-focused think about their next move and access to capital?---Start thinking about who those folks are, start building relationships with them, depending on what your sources of capital have been historically  [21:36] The BaaS ecosystem and the emergence of digitally native challenger banks on the consumer side – They provided access when nobody else would. Regulators are now looking at smaller banks not designed for millions of users [25:50] What is it that has unlocked this opportunity for these digital banks? Why has this product taken off? What's been the gap that they're serving in the market? (1) solving a consumer pain point, and (2) it was a revenue model baked in - Cash App, Venmo, Chime, etc. [30:38] Takeaways, and advice for first-time fintech founders -
S2 Episode 2: Speed, Security, and the Founding Story - Gautham Viswanathan of Workato
Feb 16 2023
S2 Episode 2: Speed, Security, and the Founding Story - Gautham Viswanathan of Workato
About This Episode: Today I’m joined by Gautham Viswanathan, Founder and CPO of Workato. With its industry-leading enterprise automation, Workato helps organizations work faster and smarter without compromising security and governance. As a serial entrepreneur, Gautham has founded and led multiple companies including Blink Interactive and iProfile. In this episode, you’ll hear the founding story of Workato, how Gautham and his co-founders met and built ‘fusion teams’ that were pivotal to creating a community of over 500,000 shared automations with their product-let approach, and some advice for first-time founders thinking of building a new venture. Startup Growth Stories is hosted by Don Muir, CEO and Co-Founder of Arc Technologies. In each weekly episode of this podcast, you'll hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders about how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join, and grew their business. Founders and industry insiders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes of each episode, guests get vulnerable - they share very personal stories about the impact of their work on their well-being, their relationships, and their families. In this episode, you’ll hear: [1:19] Gautham describes himself  [01:40] Biggest inspiration: filmmakers, sports figures, family, Workato colleagues [02:43] Workato = “work automation” [03:43] Founding story, where everyone met, TIBCO [07:35] The founders knew this was an enormous TAM (Total Addressable Market) [09:15] Workato’s approach to the market - fusion teams [11:25] Community- 500K shared automations [13:30] Customer feedback - magic, joyful, and game-changing [14:55] Workato, a product-led approach [16:40] Focusing on the end-to-end experience for Workato customers [17:35] Advice to first-time founders in today’s economic climate - pick something that moves you, that can make an impact. Co-founders are great to have, not going it alone. [19:45] Building a team - go with your gut [21:18] Gautham’s pivotal moments in his career - joining Technicron/TIBCO even though it was not a well-known brand  [22:40] Personal challenges - Family, exercise, and working from home all helped  [25:20] Would you do it all again? In a heartbeat, even just for the people, it’s been really fun About Workato: As the leader in enterprise automation, Workato helps organizations work faster and smarter without compromising security and governance. Built for Business and IT users, Workato is trusted by over 11,000 of the world's top brands like Broadcom, Intuit, Box, Autodesk, and HubSpot. Headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., Workato is backed by Altimeter Capital, Battery Ventures, Insight Venture Partners, Tiger Global, and Redpoint Ventures. For more information, visit www.workato.com or connect with us on social media. Links
S2 Episode 1: Perseverance and Passion: The Keys to Scaling with Godard Abel of G2
Jan 19 2023
S2 Episode 1: Perseverance and Passion: The Keys to Scaling with Godard Abel of G2
About This Episode: Today I’m joined by my guest Godard Abel, CEO and Co-Founder of G2 - the world's largest and most trusted software marketplace. More than 60 million people annually — including employees at all of the Fortune 500 companies — use G2 to make smarter software decisions based on authentic peer reviews. Godard is a serial entrepreneur. He led multiple companies through to exit including BigMachines, which was acquired by Oracle for around $400 million and SteelBrick, which was acquired by Salesforce for north of $300 million. In this episode, you’ll hear how Godard found inspiration and an entrepreneurial drive from his father and grandfather when he started BigMachines, some of the hard lessons he learned as he scaled up and financed his companies, and a little bit about his experience taking on a “conscious leadership” coach and how that has shaped his leadership methodology. Startup Growth Stories is hosted by Don Muir, CEO and Co-Founder of Arc Technologies. In each weekly episode of this podcast, you'll hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders around how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join, and grew their business. Founders and industry insiders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes of each episode, guests get vulnerable - they share very personal stories about the impact of their work on their well-being, their relationships, and their families. In this episode, you’ll hear: [0:55] Godard describes himself in three words or less: Conscious Entrepreneur [01:26] Godard’s biggest inspiration is Marc Benioff from Salesforce [02:33] The backstory of Godard’s father/grandfather and their business [04:00] Talking with his father about business, working in the plant [05:10] “Sleeping under a bridge in Paris” was always the fallback if his Dad’s business failed. He loved France! [05:40] John Sculley of Pepsi and David Sculley of Heinz Ketchup/in Silicon Valley, became angel investors. The internet boom, Dell, Amazon, and helping his dad with custom configurations selling pumps online [10:44] After selling BigMachines for millions - key learning was perseverance [13:35] Advice for today’s founders – wishes he cut staff sooner from 70 to 20. Get efficient faster. “Flee to the front.” Focus on customers and sales. Keep the positive energy and passion to keep selling, even when you're depressed. [17:20] Vulnerability - Godard was eating/drinking too much, had premature twins, life was overwhelming.  A coach and conscious leadership helped. [21:27] what’s the right time to get a coach? As soon as possible, join YPO and EO – peer forums can help you like therapy [23:00] Building your company rooted around the theme of trust –true caring and culture gives purpose to employees [26:00] How the source of capital impacts your structure and motivations - bootstrapping is easier to grow slowly, having investors starts the clock – want returns in 3,5,7 years [29:25] Reasons your second and third companies are easier – self-finance, people believe you with one successful exit under your belt, and there’s an aura of success [30:47] The “entrepreneurial family” that Godard prefers to keep working with, how he hires or helps fund them. All of them like to do their own thing in a startup environment
Episode 9: Unifying the World with a Single API: Shensi Ding of Merge
Oct 28 2022
Episode 9: Unifying the World with a Single API: Shensi Ding of Merge
About This Episode: Today I’m joined by Shensi Ding, Co-Founder of Merge, a unified API that allows companies to add hundreds of integrations to their apps. Merge is a single programming interface for product development that enables the syncing of data from multiple third-party platforms. Merge was founded and built so developers could integrate fast, and integrate once. They then handle the full integrations lifecycle - from an easy initial build to hand-held end-user onboarding, to fully managed maintenance of all of those integrations. Merge currently covers Human Resource Information System (HRIS), Payroll, Applicant Tracking System (ATS), accounting, ticketing, and CRM integrations. Shensi met her co-founder Gil as a freshman in college, but starting a business with him did not come up until many years later when they both worked at startups that were having issues with this kind of functionality. Join us for a discussion about how the idea for Merge came about, and how Shensi and Gil researched, fundraised, and hired their core team.  We’ll hear about how Merge curates its hires with extreme care, because as Shensi puts it, people don’t change, but we can choose who we bring into our company.  A company, by the way, that requires five days a week, in person, in their offices.  Shensi believes that this in itself weeds out a lot of applicants looking to ‘coast’ or who don’t really “care.”  Startup Growth Stories is hosted by Don Muir, CEO and Co-Founder of Arc Technologies. In each weekly episode of this podcast, you’ll hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders about how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join and grew their business. Founders and industry insiders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes of each episode, guests get vulnerable - they share very personal stories about the impact of their work on their well-being, their relationships, and their families. In this episode, you’ll hear: [00:50] Who is Shensi Ding?  [01:34] Gil and she knew each other since freshman year of college at Columbia - they both identified the same issues - could they create a solution for all companies to use? [03:19] Shensi thought she was going to be a computer engineer and did not consider becoming a founder until she identified this problem [03:55] Combining her finance background with computer science later paid off [05:32] There was no ‘a-ha’ moment for Merge, but a cumulation of data and pain points to be addressed [07:50] Doing your research and due diligence cuts your timeline for building your startup [08:38] Merge hears from it’s customers when it’s time to add new features, it’s a collaborative development  [09:19] Shensi’s day to day - very high level now, where previously it was all sales.  [11:05] Finding gaps in staff – constantly educate yourself and communicate with your team [11:52] Recruiting- The most important thing, the number one way to curate your culture, is being very careful, hiring only very kind good people who are also top performers [13:20] What to look for in new hires – they need to care [14:23] Weeding out candidates – a lot fall away naturally when you require 100% in person 5 days a week in SF and NYC. Out of a sea of
Episode 8: Funding Your Future: Mitchell and Sheridan from Lendtable
Oct 13 2022
Episode 8: Funding Your Future: Mitchell and Sheridan from Lendtable
About This Episode:   Every year, Americans miss out on more than $24 billion in benefits because they're not getting their full employer match in their 401(k).  My guests today are Sheridan Clayborne & Mitchell Jones, Co-Founders of Lendtable. Lendtable helps employees secure their financial future by supplying them with the funds they need to receive their full 401(k) match from their employer. Some of their more notable clients include the likes of FedEx, AT&T, Techcrunch, Starbucks, Deloitte, and more. In this episode, you’ll hear the founding story and how these two went from strangers to co-founders in under 6 months, their dream to help every person fund their own 401(k) with their full employer match for retirement, no matter their race, gender, or socioeconomic status, and some advice for other startups on fundraising, building teams, and most importantly the best ways to work together with your co-founders, partners, and investors. Startup Growth Stories is hosted by Don Muir, CEO, and Co-Founder of Arc Technologies. In each weekly episode of this podcast, you'll hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders about how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join and grew their business. Founders and industry insiders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes of each episode, guests get vulnerable - they share very personal stories about the impact of their work on their well-being, their relationships, and their families. In this episode, you’ll hear: [01:15] Sheridan and Mitchell describe each other in three words [01:55] Lendtable gives people money to allow them to participate in their 401(k) [03:13] Who/what inspires the guys - Both have families/parents that struggled as entrepreneurs [07:33] Founding Story: inspired by parents and hundreds of customers who constantly had to sacrifice long-term financial security to make ends meet, pay off education and medical expenses, and provide their loved ones opportunities they themselves never had the chance to pursue  [10:26] Sheridan’s path to meeting Mitchell and forming Lendtable  [16:10] Going from brainstorming ideas to a fully formed company in six months  [20:15] Deciding to jump - solving challenges with a big idea that makes sense, believing in your partner [26:00] Fundraising - at first they disagreed on how much was needed, but having more capital helps to build a team and scale for the future [29:20] Choosing investors from multiple offers - Not one size fits all. Every investor is a teammate. #1 job as a founder - don’t let your company run out of money and die! [33:41] What keeps the guys up at night? It is now a large group to worry about. Investors, employees, partners - but these two don’t want to work somewhere with “no stress” - it helps them thrive   About Lendtable: Lendtable’s Mission is to democratize retirement planning and wealth-building, so everyone — regardless of race, gender, and socioeconomic status — can retire.   Links
Episode 7: Driving Revenue with Data: Alexa Grabell of Pocus
Oct 6 2022
Episode 7: Driving Revenue with Data: Alexa Grabell of Pocus
Today I’m joined by Alexa Grabell, Co-Founder and CEO of Pocus - the product-led sales platform that helps modern go-to-market teams turn product data into revenue.   Pocus’ mission is to build Product-Led Sales (PLS) technology that transforms how go-to-market teams use data to drive revenue. Customers don't buy software over a steak dinner anymore. No more aggressive selling, no more salespeople blocking their purchasing decisions. Customers want to see the value first-hand by using a product before making a purchase. They only want to engage with salespeople after they realize the value.  In our discussion today, you’ll hear about Alexa’s passion for opening up more opportunities for women in the tech space, how she helped build and shape the vernacular around PLG and PLS with a growing community of founders and leaders, and her dedication to building her team and hiring carefully and strategically.  Startup Growth Stories is hosted by Don Muir, CEO and Co-Founder of Arc Technologies. In each weekly episode of this podcast, you’ll hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders around how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join, and grew their business. Founders and industry insiders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes of each episode, guests get vulnerable - they share very personal stories about the impact of their work on their wellbeing, their relationships and their families. In this episode, you’ll hear: [00:47] Who is Alexa Grabel?  [02:16] Pocus is a product-led sales model that flips traditional sales on its head [03:08] Founding story: After DataMiner, Alexa went to Stanford and met Don and her co-founder Isaac [05:25] Alexa did not go to Stanford planning to start a business [07:18] Return to VC? Alexa says not likely  [07:55] The specifics of Product-led growth - Experiencing a product before purchasing [11:00] The new category of product-led sales – building a community from 20 leaders in a slack channel to over 2000 people in the founder community actively interested in adopting the methodology today [13:00] The future of the product-focused community - more meetups, ambassadors, new ways to connect leaders  [13:50] Pocus’ recent $20M Series A announcement – how it differed from the seed experience [15:20] Focusing on the business vs. spending time with investors [16:16] Extracting value from investors after they write the check - with over 100 investors (two big institutional and lots of angels) there are different relationships with all of them - 90% of investors you have to ask for help, no one is proactively offering advice. [17:46] Advice you’d give to founders who are looking to grow their business by raising institutional capital? Be clear on why you’re raising and your goals. Do what’s right for you, don’t listen to all the advice out there! [19:27] Alexa’s personal journey – time management and being very intentional&
Episode 6: Vouching for Your Future: Insuring your Startup with Travis Hedge
Sep 29 2022
Episode 6: Vouching for Your Future: Insuring your Startup with Travis Hedge
In today’s episode, I’m joined by Travis Hedge, Co-Founder, and CRO at Vouch Insurance. Vouch describes itself as a new kind of insurance platform for startups that offer fully digital, tailored coverage that takes minutes to activate. San Francisco-based Vouch has now raised a total of $160 million since its 2018 inception. Other investors include Allegis Group, Sound Ventures, and SiriusPoint.  Travis wanted to be a broker, just like his parents, but ultimately pursued a career in Venture Capital at Nationwide Insurance and SVB Capital. He invested in startups that were changing everything, but were held back by insurance that hadn't changed at all. Now, Vouch has become the preferred business insurance provider to the customers of Silicon Valley Bank, Brex, and WeWork. Y Combinator also refers Vouch to its portfolio companies.  In our discussion today, you’ll hear about Travis’ family connection to entrepreneurship, the importance of “people first” particularly the first ten hires in a startup, and why finding backers that offer more than just a check is so important to the long-term health and growth of your business.  Startup Growth Stories is hosted by Don Muir, CEO and Co-Founder of Arc Technologies. In each weekly episode of this podcast, you’ll hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders around how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join, and grew their business. Founders and industry insiders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes of each episode, guests get vulnerable - they share very personal stories about the impact of their work on their wellbeing, their relationships and their families. In this episode, you’ll hear: [00:47] Who is Travis Hedge?  [01:39] After Travis’ parents’ business got hacked, he realized small businesses take just as much risk as Fortune 500 companies but have no defense, and the idea for Vouch was born [03:54] Travis’ college attempt to form a bipartisan group on campus  [06:30] Sam and Travis met through Ribbit, and Sam had valuable experience as a second-time founder [08:11] Building the business rests on core values [13:45] Why it’s important to have “skin in the game” - if you start as solely a sales organization, it’s very difficult to switch back to being an underwriter [15:50] Vouch founders learned a lot from contributions from members of Ribbit, YC - check out risk.vouch.us [17:40] Getting into biz is a marriage of ten or fifteen years - having board members who contribute more than money is invaluable [20:00] Travis admits his sleep patterns, weight, mental health, and emotions have definitely gone up and down – but he reminds himself to take care of himself first to be his best [21:50] There have been hard times with relationships and family due to work [23:50] A founder’s job is to constantly ‘de-risk’ your business - Travis’ advice is you better be committed to being involved for 10-15 years About Vouch: Vouch's mission is to build the best business insurance for those building t
Episode 5: Successful Staffing-Startup Recruiting with Carolyn Betts
Sep 22 2022
Episode 5: Successful Staffing-Startup Recruiting with Carolyn Betts
About This Episode: On today’s episode, I’m joined by Carolyn Betts, founder, and CEO of Betts Recruiting. Betts is a nationwide recruiting agency that partners with the hottest venture-backed startup companies to scale for growth.  Since 2009, Betts has partnered with the biggest names across various sectors offering a customized approach to each search. Her knack for spotting top talent and pairing them with an ideal company has led to developing a trusted marketplace in the SaaS space, ensuring that every partner, both talent and client, who comes to Betts succeeds.  Prior to founding Betts, Carolyn was in sales at CareerBuilder.com and became a top-performing enterprise sales executive working with clients including Netflix, Symantec, McAfee, and many more. She is currently a board member at BUILD, an advisory council member at Beam Founders, and a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and Entrepreneur’s Organization. She received her BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is an alumna of Harvard Business School. Carolyn has provided her expertise for Austin Business Journal, Business Insider, CNBC, Fast Company, Forbes, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. In our discussion today, you’ll hear about Carolyn’s entrepreneurial family including parents and grandparents who had businesses in the Bay Area, why she prefers bootstrapping her company to the often “demoralizing” process of capital fundraising, and some advice for founders looking to staff their startups. Startup Growth Stories is hosted by Don Muir, CEO and Co-Founder of Arc Technologies. In each weekly episode of this podcast, you’ll hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders around how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join, and grew their business. Founders and industry insiders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes of each episode, guests get vulnerable - they share very personal stories about the impact of their work on their wellbeing, their relationships and their families. In this episode, you’ll hear: [00:46] Who is Carolyn Betts? [01:55] Carolyn gives insight into what “The Founders Pledge” involves - Founders commit to giving a percentage of their personal outcome to the team upon exiting the business [02:45] How did she build her own business? Seeing the spinning wheels of recruiting process, knew she could do better. Dad encourages her to strike out on her own, not join him in the centuries-old manufacturing family biz [04:29] Entrepreneurship in the DNA – Dad had a manufacturing company, and grandparents had the oldest art gallery in Bay Area [05:54] The initial tribe that supported her start included a boyfriend who worked at LinkedIn and previous bosses, trade show prospecting at DreamForce gained first clients [09:24] Betts is bootstrapped, and almost all clients are gross venture-backed. Carolyn found it “demoralizing” to raise capital  [12:48] Why demoralizing? She didn’t like the “no’s” and negative feedback about her business [13:47] Being bootstrapped means approaching growth more intentionally – not “growth at all costs” or too quickly [15:38] Even though the economy has been swinging from Covid to the Great Resignation to the Great Rehiring, startups con
Episode 4: The Big Business of Small Business: Prashant Fuloria of Fundbox
Sep 15 2022
Episode 4: The Big Business of Small Business: Prashant Fuloria of Fundbox
About This Episode: On today’s episode, I’m joined by Prashant Fuloria, CEO of Fundbox. Fundbox is the expert in SMB credit, providing working capital and payment solutions to small business owners across the US. From a start in Tel Aviv over 10 years ago, Fundbox has evolved into a Series D company with tens of thousands of customers.  Prashant started out thinking he wanted to join the world of academia but soon discovered it would be a lonely life and joined a Silicon Valley startup instead.  He then went to Google in 2003 when it had only 500 employees and grew with them. He became a product manager for Flurry and several later had three unconnected approaches to join Fundbox as COO.  A few years later, the founder asked him to step into the CEO role and Prashant has been leading Fundbox in that capacity since 2019. In our discussion today, you’ll hear what it was like to work among the titans of tech in Silicon Valley, how the COO and CEO roles can and should differ, and how Fundbox not only survived but thrived during and since the most severe periods of the pandemic. Startup Growth Stories is hosted by Don Muir, CEO, and Co-Founder of Arc Technologies. In each weekly episode of this podcast, you’ll hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders about how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join and grew their business. Founders and industry insiders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes of each episode, guests get vulnerable - they share very personal stories about the impact of their work on their well-being, their relationships, and their families.   In this episode, you’ll hear: [00:26] Who is Prashant Fuloria? [01:14] Fundbox – Fundbox offers working capital and spend management solutions to help small businesses optimize cash flow [02:23] Prashant’s early career, Stanford Business School, and joining a startup instead of going into academia [04:18] Working alongside Zuckerberg and Marissa Meyer – a once in a lifetime opportunity during a time of the company’s “hyper-growth” and learning every day [05:43] How Prashant transferred that learning to Fundbox, creating more value than you extract, and the “first principles standard” [07:43] After being approached from three different directions about the COO job at Fundbox, Prashant saw it as a sign from the universe, he fell in love with the Fundbox mission and product, and joined as COO in 2016 [10:56] How the COO and CEO roles were different for Prashant, and the slow, uneventful transition that went very smoothly [15:15] When and how a CEO or Founder should think about stepping back.  Take a hard look at what REALLY needs to be done, and are you the best person to do it? [19:28] Product Managers are often called “The CEO of the product” but that can be dangerous thinking when you actually transition to CEO, as the roles are very different, but being a PM does prepare you with expertise in interdepartmental communications and people skills. [22:40] When some others are pulling out of the SMB space due to economics, and SMBs can be tricky to service,
Episode 3: The Art of Selling Money: Jack Pierse of Wayflyer
Sep 7 2022
Episode 3: The Art of Selling Money: Jack Pierse of Wayflyer
About this episode: Jack Pierse is Co-Founder, and CFO of Wayflyer - the experts in eCommerce, that help businesses worldwide reach their growth potential by providing financing & analytics solutions to improve cash flow, drive sales & optimize supply chains. Jack’s background includes several years as a portfolio manager for Highway1 and Leeside Ltd, as well as nearly five years with PwC, where he was an assistant manager in assurance, advisory, and tax services.  In this episode, you’ll hear about how Jack got his first customer - offering funding to a stranger with an eyeglass company in Dublin, the differences between equity and debt financing, and the people that have supported him along the path to his current success. As he puts it, he doesn’t plan too far ahead and would do it all again given the chance. Startup Growth Stories is hosted by Don Muir, CEO and Co-Founder of Arc Technologies. In each weekly episode of this podcast, you’ll hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders around how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join, and grew their business. Founders and industry insiders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes of each episode, guests get vulnerable - they share very personal stories about the impact of their work on their wellbeing, their relationships and their families. In this episode you’ll hear: [01:09] Jack tells us about himself and his background[01:55] Wayflyer and how it serves eCommerce with financing[02:58] Jack’s entrepreneurial start: first selling Alibaba iPhone accessories to gas stations and later picking up Christmas trees to recycle[05:03] The traits of an entrepreneur have always been part of Jack’s makeup[05:55] Jack turns the tables asking Don how he got started[06:31] The story of how Wayflyer was founded - Jack’s experience negotiating credit with Chinese factories and realizing there was something to it[10:10] Jack’s a-ha moment after landing his first customer - a pop-up eyeglass store in Dublin[13:06] The tribe that supports Jack since the beginning includes his Dad and his co-founder Aidan [15:30] Jack laughingly says he can only plan about 6 months ahead, but he’ll write up a 3 year plan if someone really needs it[19:00] When you’re raising equity you’re selling a dream, in the debt/credit world they don’t care, they don’t want a story, just data, and historical performance. We’ll hear about the recent “speed-dating/Big Short” style conference in Vegas.[20:46] Two pieces of advice for first-time founders – start with some co-founders, it’s tough alone, and test your product idea before you build it, make sure people want it[22:56] Effects on his personal life: Jack knows he should take more holidays and breaks Single [25:23] Jack wouldn’t change anything about his journey and would do it again   About Wayflyer Wayflyer helps eCommerce
Episode 2: The Ripple Effect of Creating a Solid Leadership Team: Kyle Mack of Middesk
Sep 6 2022
Episode 2: The Ripple Effect of Creating a Solid Leadership Team: Kyle Mack of Middesk
About this episode: Kyle Mack is CEO and Co-Founder of Middesk, Inc. Middesk helps companies onboard their clients faster by streamlining middle office processes. Using this approach, their clients (including Plaid, Checkr, and Truework) are able to onboard more customers, faster, while reducing compliance and business risk. Their vision is to apply these principles to every meaningful detail of every business. Doing so will improve decision-making across compliance, fraud, and underwriting by providing more relevant and complete information in areas of financial stability, legal exposure, and corporate relationships, among others. In this way, Middesk not only aims to reduce risk but expand economic opportunity to businesses that lack traditional measures of obtaining credit or financial standing. In my conversation with Kyle, we’ll talk about his early days working in his father’s garbage business, breaking away from Checkr with his own business concept, and the many lessons he learned along the founding journey with Middesk that he hopes others can learn and benefit from. Startup Growth Stories is hosted by Don Muir, CEO and Co-Founder of Arc Technologies. In each weekly episode of this podcast, you’ll hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders around how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join, and grew their business. Founders and industry insiders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes of each episode, guests get vulnerable - they share very personal stories about the impact of their work on their wellbeing, their relationships and their families. In this episode you’ll hear: [00:57] Who is Kyle Mack?[01:25] Middesk and the services it provides[02:00] Kyle’s biggest inspiration has been his family, learning work ethic from father and grandfather who owned small businesses[02:50] The Evernote on Kyle’s phone – he has ‘journaled’ all the ideas and questions and discoveries along the way in the journey of founding Middesk[03:55] Where the idea for Middesk came from, and meeting Kurt Ruppel, his CTO and Co-Founder[05:17] The problems Kyle knew could be solved with a company like Middesk[06:22] Kyle’s support network early on included pros from Instacart, Checkr, and more[07:44] With $75M in financing, 80 team members, and over 300 customers, what Kyle learned along the way with respect to fundraising[11:28] The most important part of building your business foundation is the network of people you build around you[13:30] Kyle’s advice for first-time founders, and what he would have told himself early on[15:26] Some specifics – the foundational operating principles at Middesk[17:30] How Kyle has stayed optimistic, not focusing on the negative emotions, leaning on your network of support, getting a coach[19:05] The impact of being a founder – mental and physical health[20:31] Lessons learned: Get a coach early on, realize the ripple effect your hiring of the first few people will have, keep your internal story tight and focus on your main deliverables[24:00] It has been the most difficult and challenging process of Kyle’s life, but would he do it again? Yes!   About Kyle Mack & Middesk CEO and Co-founder of Middesk, (YC W19) a Saas for business verif
Episode 1: Staffing Your Startup for Scale: Paige Robinson of Will Reed
Sep 6 2022
Episode 1: Staffing Your Startup for Scale: Paige Robinson of Will Reed
About this episode: Paige Robinson is the Founder, CEO, and Head of Search for Will Reed, a go-to-market executive search firm partnering with early-stage founders to help them build human-first cultures that positively influence the way we live and work. Will Reed has deep-rooted connections with VCs, it’s part of their differentiation strategy. We’ll be talking about the labor market and how it is changing quickly in today’s tumultuous times. Paige shares advice for founders looking for talent, and some of the new conversations candidates are having with potential employers in today’s job search process. Paige Robinson is a visionary and philosopher who loves all conversations around growth, culture, faith, and world affairs. She began her career as a consultant at Alvarez & Marsal, helping clients solve complex business problems around HR strategy and technology. However, raised by a serial entrepreneur, Paige had the itch to start her own company, which over time led to her founding, Will Reed. A proud graduate of Texas A&M, Paige and her husband Travis reside in Dallas, Texas, and are doing their best to raise three good humans: Teddy, Reese, and James. Startup Growth Stories is hosted by Don Muir, CEO and Co-Founder of Arc Technologies. In each weekly episode of this podcast, you’ll hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders around how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join, and grew their business. Founders and industry insiders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes of each episode, guests get vulnerable - they share very personal stories about the impact of their work on their wellbeing, their relationships and their families. In this episode you’ll hear: [00:41] Who is Paige Robinson, and what is Will Reed?[01:33] A day in the life at Will Reed – really listening to clients, enabling founders to become the best recruiters they can be to scale their teams effectively and efficiently[02:36] Paige’s journey and early background - founding an app in college that didn’t work out so well, leaving a big corporate job leading up to founding Will Reed[06:21] Will Reed sets itself apart by focusing on early-stage, startup recruiting[08:14] Understanding what creates a brand– helping founders with best practices[09:47] Will Reed’s brand-defining core values early on, functioning as a conduit for founders to make their entrepreneurial dreams come true[11:35] The labor market during and post-pandemic, the new questions candidates are asking earlier in the process[13:00] May 2022 saw a near full stop in recruitment - candidates were wary. [14:20] Management Teams are offering more transparency and getting ‘real’ earlier[16:22] Advice for founders – do your prep and homework before recruiting[19:12] Closing segment - how Paige’s mental health and life choices have affected her trajectory   Resources from this episode: Paige Robinson LinkedInWill Reed WebsiteStartup Growth Stories Website