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Serial Entrepreneur: Secrets Revealed EP95



You’re listening to Startup Club. We are actually almost a million members, and if you’re not a member of Startup Club, you really should consider joining. Uh, go to the Clubhouse app. Download the app if you’re not a member, if you’re not on Clubhouse and join Startup Club. It’s really a collection of dozens and dozens of speakers who come on every week and, and run shows all about the startup universe.

We, uh, have a fun here and we, we have some incredible speakers who’ve come on this show. Uh, we have some other speakers who are coming on that in the next couple of months that are just absolutely outta this world. Incredible. Hello, Mimi. Doing, make you a moderator there, Mimi, and if you could, um, bring people on [00:01:00] stage, that would be great.

Today we’re doing an open mic. and it’s all about what makes a startup successful. So if you’re in the audience and you have a reason or, or a, a theory of what makes a startup successful, we want to hear from you. And I was just saying Mimi a minute ago that, uh, almost a million members strong, uh, startup Club, and I know this is also a podcast and it’s syndicated in, um, in, uh, in, in your favorite podcast channel.

The name is, uh, serial Launcher Secrets Revealed. We have our co-host, Jeffrey Sass, and Mimi and myself Campbell. And the show is called Serial Entrepreneur Secrets Revealed. So today we’re gonna try to uncover some of those secrets of what makes a startup successful. Now, if you think this is an important topic, please click on the button below, write it down on the bottom of the screen, right second from the left, there’s a button that you can share on Clubhouse.

And if we click that, if everybody [00:02:00] here in the audience, you’re on stage. Uh, or if you’re following the speakers, if you click that you can share on Clubhouse. And I just did that myself right now. Again, we are this open mic today. It’s an open mic Friday. We’re trying to crack the code. We’re trying to figure out what it is that serial entrepreneurs do over and over and over again.

Is it dumb luck, hard work, or is it formulaic? The fact is, actually there are studies out there that show that serial entrepreneurs have almost doubled the success rate over first time entrepreneurs. Which means then it is, it, uh, it is something you can learn. It is so a trade. It is, uh, entrepreneurship, startups.

If you want to increase your success, let’s figure out what it is these serial entrepreneurs do to start scale, exit, repeat. And this is a question that I have pondered for years. And it’s this, the premise of this show is based on [00:03:00] this question, but it’s also, um, that, uh, we, at the incubator, we were actually run an incubator, Jeff and I here in Fort Lauderdale.

And, uh, hey Jacob, nice to see you on stage. Our first, our first brave war welcome, welcome to the stage. But we run an incubator here. And so we actually run companies, uh, a number of them and in fact, uh, we just sold two of them last and a company called US sds, a platform company for safety data sheets.

And we, we try to figure out what it is that we can do to start scale, exit, and repeat, and, uh, and, and actually apply that to every startup that we launch. Jeff, any, any first thoughts about what you, why you think startups? are successful, like what makes a startup successful? Yeah. Thanks Colin. You know, the first thing that [00:04:00] came to mind when I read the, uh, topic for today’s show was really one word, and that’s, uh, an F word, right?

But it’s not the F word. Those of you with dirty minds are thinking it’s, uh, focus. Right. Um, I really think, especially when I look back to our experience with Doc Club, um, I think a large part of the success of that venture was our ability to focus, you know, staying focused on one thing. And I think focus is also one of the challenging things for a startup, because especially in the early days when you still maybe haven’t quite figured out exactly what your product is or what your so-called product market fit is, it’s easy to get distracted and to move in directions at once, but really, Having that ability to focus, um, and stay focused on what’s the most important thing, what are the things that are really gonna move the business forward and not get [00:05:00] distracted by every new shiny idea, I think is really important.

And I think most startups that have found success, if you peak beneath the sheets, um, you’ll find that they had very good focus. So I’m gonna say focus, Colin. Oh, I love that. You know, I think it’s, it’s, um, you know, you often see, uh, these entrepreneur businesses and they’re, they’re, they’re obsessed with it being 18 hours a day or more even.

Right. And, you know, focus is a, a good way, a good clarity. It’s a, it’s a good way of describing it. We’re gonna jump down to you Jacob. Uh, what do you think makes a startup successful?

Jacob there on, uh, Lower right hand sides for the mute mic. Uh, if you wanna turn it off or we’ll jump over to you. Brian, I know you’re Brian, you’re new to, uh, clubhouse. I can see your party hat there. Uh, welcome to [00:06:00] Clubhouse and welcome to Startup Club. Uh, do you wanna share with us, oh, here we go. Jacob’s got Jacob’s online.

You got, you got it. Jacob, you got the floor?

I, I don’t know Jacob. We keep coming in out here. I think he said in the chat he’s having trouble unmuting. Okay, so, right Brian, so I know you’re a newbie on Clubhouse and welcome again, uh, this is just, it’s such an interesting topic. I, I do a cohort, uh, Brian every, um, month or two at the universities here in South Florida.

And I always started with this question, you know, what makes a a, a startup successful? So what are your thoughts on this, Brian? and if Brian, you’re having problems as well, maybe we’ll jump to Coin coin. Yeah, there he is. All right. Hi, I gotcha. Yeah. Hi guys. Uh, my name is Jen and I am one of the co-founders at Coin Bazaar.

So what I believe that, [00:07:00] uh, you know, the core team members actually is, uh, really a necessity when you are, uh, building a startup. Because if you get the right kind of, you, if you manage to get the right kind of people in the team, then probably you can, you know, focus as, as Jeffrey mentioned, that focus.

But one can only focus probably in one stream because, you know, when we talk of startup, we talk off finances, we talk off, you know, time management, we talk off tech or, or something else. But if we get, uh, if we, we crack to get the right kind of people in the team, Then probably it’s pretty easy for the, for the startup to get to a certain, uh, level because, uh, in that ways one can, you know, focus on, on, on its expertise, you know, and, and likewise, others will go ahead and do the same.

So, yeah, it’s pretty, that is one thing, key thing that I would say. Yeah, putting that team together is absolutely critical. And what’s interesting in a startup, it [00:08:00] shouldn’t necessarily be just your friend from college. You know, you graduate and you start a business together. It should be someone who compliments cities and your, and your personality profile.

For instance, if you’re really good at, really good at operations, you wanna have, Hey Jacob, you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re waking up there. Yeah. I cracked the code. I got in for a sec. , you cracked the code. I like that. Hi. I like that. Uh, good morning. Yeah. I wanna, I wanna, uh, lead me in. Yeah. I like, just want to hear from you what you think, uh, makes a startup successful.

oh man. I have the, I’m the revolving door starter business of Infinity and more that everyone loves. That has not gotten off the off the tracks because

low motivation, low execution, the dream and the vision, and the vic, the adversity of it is so strong that those [00:09:00] other, uh, very important aspects of making something become a reality actual to be seen by like many people, um, has took in a backseat to imagination and. And that’s, that’s something that, uh, I’m having to work with and I have finally admitted to it, which is the first step, I guess.

And I’m, and from here on out, I’m just, I’m creating, I, the way that my world is going right now is so cool and I love it so much that I just want to give it to everybody and I have to give it to myself first. Cause I’m a greedy guy a little bit. I want to be, I want to change the world, man. Literally. And you’re hearing it right now from Jacob, Jacob Jola, this guy, this random guy who just.

Has looked so deep and dark into the everything, fabrics of life that he understands, but he does understand. He has to put the work in, [00:10:00] gain some knowledge. It’s not all about wisdom, my dude. Like, let’s get some facts and go, all right, thank you guys. Good morning. And, um, see if I was, I could, I could become media trained.

Mimi, Jeffrey, Colin . Awesome. Freaking a Brian Jacob. I remember when I had the hat and I was probably smarter than I am now, but did not have as many synapses firing. So, uh, awesome. I’m ending at that, at that later. Bye. All right, thanks Jacob. And I know you talk about hard work and hopefully, you know, that’s what this show’s all about, is to try to figure out that formula.

I know you’ve had, you’ve, you know, tenacity is one thing, you know, and, and often. Uh, I often say that you, our here will fail seven times and succeed three times. We just, when we’re succeeding, we wanna like really put the money down on the ones that are really taking off. And, and that’s okay. I mean, it’s, it’s quite to to, to not succeed at everything.

[00:11:00] Not everything’s gonna take off, but you gotta just keep trying it and you’re a symbol of that and really appreciate you joining the show here a as well. Hey, thank, thank you Colin. I’m gonna give you a little bit of feedback real quick cause I’m practicing. Um, and I thank you, uh, you dude, I learned from everybody cuz everybody is the cookies to my website or vice versa.

Like, there’s so much to learn and getting rid of my ego is, has been so tough to just keep it down. Um, that as I’m learning to do that better, as more of like accepting rather than pushing, um, I start to be able to free up time to just have, uh, like thoughts about whatever I wanna, like s like, eh, gimme a thought, please, uh, gimme.

And I get a thought, right? And I’m like, do I want to investigate this thought or do I not? And all [00:12:00] of a sudden I’m creating, and I never had that before. It’s insane to me. Um, yeah, I mean, obviously how cool life is, uh, but I do have to go Thank you. Common a lot. I love you everybody, but all appreciate it.

Appreciate that again, and, uh, you know, every business, you know, a lot of entrepreneurs are, are visionaries artists. I often say that entrepreneurs are more artists than operators. I know we often think of, you know, entrepreneurs as being leaders and managers, but they’re not, you know, they’re often artists and they, you need to compliment people around you.

Uh, to actually to really succeed at a business. So it’s not just about Mar Yes, go ahead Jacob. It goes, it goes back to monetary, right? Um, you know, a lot of people measure success on a monetary value. Like what makes you successful? You know, is it a hundred grand? You’re probably a pretty good copper, a blue collar worker, like, uh, whatever.

And or are you gonna just not let money dictate your life and you just [00:13:00] go and do and give and get back? And, uh, I’m just stuck on the line of, uh, you know, I could put a little bit of, of work in to get revenue back to like, keep me going, but I have enough to just like really delve in and figure out like what’s important, you know?

Again, appreciate that. Uh, I wanna get to get it outta the room. I mean, we could go on and on, but the reality is, uh, passion. I mean, you keep bringing up these different ideas and topics and you know, you have to have a passion, a purpose for every business. And often, more often than not, if you, uh, have a purpose that can drive you through those hard times, of course, you ultimately have to make money.

You have to convince investors that this is a, a good business concept and making, there’s nothing wrong with making money. Making money is actually a validation. All [00:14:00] right. Uh, any thoughts, Jeff, after that, uh, that before we jump over to Brian? Or, or coin? I guess coin. We already got you there. Well, I, I think, um, you know, he was pretty open about the fact that focus might be a little bit of an issue.

So, , all right, well, let’s, let’s move on. Let’s, let’s move on. So Brian, uh, we’re gonna come down to you next. Uh, I know you’re new to Clubhouse. Uh, are you available? Um, are you able to take off the mic there? It’s on the bottom right corner, Brian. Okay. Then we’re gonna jump over to Mohammed. Mohammed. Uh, is that Mo Mohamed?

Is that correct? The pronunciation. Mohammed, what makes a startup successful? Uh, we’re having real technical delphy guilty today, aren’t we? I have a quick one while we’re waiting. Go ahead. Um, I think a lot of it has to do with delegation. You can have your great idea and even have [00:15:00] a great team, but if you’re not telling, uh, your employees or team members what to do and how to help grow the business, it just can’t go anywhere.

So I think like realizing that you as an entrepreneur don’t have. Infinite time and energy. So you have to delegate out. Only moves your business forward. That’s interesting. Yeah. This whole concept of delegating, again, it’s about trusting others with your idea and your concept and, and embrace the people around you so that they can take the idea that you have your vision.

To the next level, we’re gonna go to you, John. I know you seem pretty eager to, uh, jump on stage and, uh, share what, what you think a startup, what makes a startup successful? John? Hey everybody. John Kirk here, the SC on TV guy and online mentor from Vancouver, Canada. Very nice to join your club here. Your hub, you said you’re Canadian?

Yeah, yeah, I’m Canadian. So I’ve been in, I’ve been in the States for 20 years, [00:16:00] but um, I still have a place up in Halliburton, Canada. Oh, fantastic. Love Canada. Love the states too. But yeah, so I, I wanted to get on here and, and mention that I think that. if, if you actually have a clear vision at the very end set, you take the time to be very thoughtful and think about where you’re going, how you’re gonna get there, have your destination, your milestones, and your daily type of operation.

If you have all that in the inset and you write that down in a formal document, and once you have that, I think the Optus thing is to have let drive and commitment, right? So you’re burning the boats and you’re gonna win the war, or you’re gonna die crying. The birds of the boats have been burned. So once you, once you set out on that path, you want to really prove your model and make a lot of money, right?

So it, that’s your, that’s your sort of goal. Number one is to do that. And nobody has seen tremendous success [00:17:00] without a team. So once you’ve achieved your success yourself, step number two. Is to bring a team on board and empower them to achieve their dreams and their lifestyle by design. But that’s it.

Yeah, it’s interesting. You know, my, my daughter’s now, um, just graduating from college, uh, pretty soon, and she’s talking about startups, and quite frankly, there’s a bit of a confidence gap. Um, you know, people are nervous about making that first jump about actually launching the idea. She’s got great ideas.

She’s, uh, um, got AI background and, and whatnot, courses and AI and stuff like that. And just, just that initial c like just, it seems to be a key ingredient. Um, like, you know, the way you describe it a little there, John is, is, you know, I think. . I think with that, [00:18:00] you, you know, I think that more people don’t realize that they can just launch stuff and fail and it’s okay.

Like that the, the gentleman we had on earlier, it’s okay to fail, but, um, but if you don’t launch it, you’re never gonna succeed. Right? You gotta launch something and you gotta get it out there. And there’s a lot of naysayers around us. Especially, I remember when I first started my, my first business, how many people in my college were telling me, you’re such an idiot.

You should become a lawyer, you’re gonna make so much money, da da da. You’re trying to launch your own business. Why would you do that? crazy. John, any ass thoughts? And we’ll move to Joseph next, but yeah, my mother is still trying to tell me to get a real job, uh, after all these years. But, um, but yeah, so I think that the, the main.

Is, if they have the track of getting onto that business, they can start a side gig, right? You can keep your full-time job. You don’t have to quit your day job. Do it on the side a little less Netflix, and start your side gig. And [00:19:00] once you start to see some traction, get familiar with things, et cetera, et cetera, then you can actually move into a, a full-time, make that your full-time gig if, if it all starts to come together as your side gig.

That’s it. Yeah. I had that with my, um, my wife, wife’s parents when I first started. Um, I was running a business. Of course you’re penniless, like you’re got nothing to your name. Okay? You’re running this business. And they’re like, well, you know what? What’d you say? You said that, um, the phrase you used was, uh, get a real job.

And I remember that them, them saying like, you know, he doesn’t have a real job. And I’m like, wait a minute, wait a minute. This is a real job. This is really something. And, uh, Yeah. Yeah, that’s interesting. Get a real job. I love that. All right, we’re gonna move to Joseph Joseph’s up next on the Serial Entrepreneur Secrets Revealed.

This is actually a live show and podcast. So Joseph, what makes a startup successful? [00:20:00] Okay. Um, good day guys, and taking you, um, I think this is my first time here on this, on this, um, clubhouse space, right? And, um, I’ve been able to, you know, um, understand a whole lot of things about startup coming from my perspective, from my hair of discipline, right?

As a user experience designer. Um, I’ve been able to understand some key things that, um, help the success of, um, some startups due to my own experience so far in the field, right? And, um, it all boils them to the fact that there is a problem that is. every startup is trying to solve, right? And if there is a problem and the users are facing this problem, and definitely they need a solution for it.

And that is where the concepts of the startup solving their problem [00:21:00] comes into perspective. Right? And it’s, it’s from the situation of understanding the problem first. Because if there is no understanding, it’s, it’s, it’s more from just wasting money and resources and everything. Understand the problem, knowing what you’re targeted users or customers are, uh, what they really need.

And finding their appropriate solution for them, right? And trying to solve their problem automatically. The money will follow. The money will come. And, um, with my experience, I realized that so many startups, right, they neglects the area of research, right, in terms of most necessarily digital, digital products, startups that are, you know, focused on digital products, that they have, app applications and website.

They tend to skip the research of the user experience aspect of this. Their products, most especially, um, in terms of the design, right? And they just feel, okay, we can just bring one or two things and sell it out and push it out as the m mvp. The [00:22:00] people, they will, they’ll definitely buy, and it’s my work, but at the end of the day, it’s not a lasting solution.

And they realize that, oh, in a couple of years or months, it’s crumbled down and the startup is a losses. So it’s all from the situation of understanding the users, right? And knowing what’s their problem really release their motivation, their pain points, and finding a solution for it. And that is where the need, uh, and um, and, um, the rise and the demand for we.

Designers is as recent over the years, most especially when we have a lot of startups that are coming into play. So what makes a startup successful is, number one, understanding the problem you’re trying to solve, right? And finding suitable solutions. A good team, good personnel, like I mentioned, being a good UX designer, right?

And, you know, bringing her everything together that makes up the har of the soup, right? And definitely to sell out to the users. And there will be profit because it has been well tested [00:23:00] because it’s just like, um, some that is hungry, right? And I, I don’t know what I want to eat, right? It might be seafood.

And let’s say I asked, oh, okay, what do you want to eat as the users? And they are like, oh, I want seafood. And I go and get seafood. For them, it’s, it’s like one plus one. It definitely works. Most of the time it’s a winning, uh, it’s a winning approach. And, um, This. I think with my experience as a user designer, which is understanding, doing research and gathering your data together, speaking with the users, let them know that they, this product, this startup is whole because of you.

We are trying to solve a problem for you, and in return they are going to pay, uh, for the solution you’re trying to provide for them as a startup. So, um, interesting. I hope I’ve not taking too much of your time. No, it’s good. It’s great. That’s great stuff. I think that what you say about solving a problem is the number one thing that, uh, we talk about in the cohorts around [00:24:00] what makes a startup successful.

If you’re not solving a problem, then, then right outta the gate, it it’s gonna be a lot harder. It’s gonna be a lot harder. And Jeff, you’ve often talked about a persona like targeting a particular individual, and I don’t know if you can talk to that, like this idea of like, who we target, like identifying our buyer and.

Who they are is absolutely critical in the process as well that Joseph brought up. So Jeff, I’m curious if you could add a little bit to that as well. Well, you know, there’s a lot of different exercises you can do from a marketing perspective to kind of define and identify your customer persona or personas, because often it’s more than one customer, but really understanding who your target.

Is really important. And also it can change. There’s many examples of companies who started out thinking that their customer was the end user, the [00:25:00] end consumer, and then realized that actually what they built or created was more suited for the enterprise or for a small business, and they had to shift their focus, um, to serve that customer or vice versa.

So it’s important to start out by, you know, identifying your customer. This is a little bit harder when you haven’t launched your product yet because you have to then speculate and, and really think who your ideal customer is without actually having some data. So you want to have an open mind to make changes once you get started, because you might have thought your customer.

you know, Mary, and you define Mary as a, you know, a 32 year old unmarried woman with no kids and two dogs, you know, who lives in a big city. That might be who you think your customer is. Um, but then when you actually start launching your product and look at the data and talk to your actual customers, you realize that it’s not Mary at all.

But actually your ideal customer is Raphael and he’s, you know, [00:26:00] uh, uh, six two ex, uh, college football player who, uh, you know, likes home decor, , you know, or whatever it might be. So you wanna start out by defining who you think your customer is as you, as you develop your product, but you then also want to look at the facts and really identify who your customers really are.

And talking to your customers early on is really important. There was a great interview earlier this week in the, um, this week in Startups podcast with Jason Calis, and he talked with, uh, Joe Ga. Actually who he, who he admit, admitted his name is pronounced Jia. Even he thought it was Geia until they did some historical research on his family’s history.

But anyway, Joe Jia is one of the founders of Airbnb, uh, needless to say, an extremely successful company. And he told the story of how in the early days, um, you should listen to the podcast. I’ll paraphrase it briefly here, but he said in the early days, you know, he’s in San Francisco. [00:27:00] Their first market was New York City, um, for obvious reasons.

A lot of people, a lot of apartments, et cetera, et cetera. And he was talking to, um, it might have been Ron Conway or one of their investors. And the investors said to him, where’s your market now? They said, well, New York City, we’re only live in New York City. And they, he goes, well, what are you doing here in San F?

Go to New York City, talk to your customers, right? And they went to New York City and they just randomly picked one of the Airbnb hosts. One of the early hosts contacted and said, Hey, we’d like to help you get better pictures up on your, um, profile picture on Airbnb. Can we send a photographer to your home to do that?

And of course, the person said, yeah, we’d love that. And they went, the two founders of Airbnb rented a camera and they went to the person’s home and they took the pictures. They couldn’t afford to hire a photographer. But in the process when they were there, the person started telling them all sorts of things, all things that they thought were problems with the website.

It was too hard to do this. I couldn’t do that. And they [00:28:00] started making copious notes and they literally went back and that day changed things on the website, fixed it, went back to that customer, showed them the new website, and they realized that the best way for us to grow this business, Initially are doing these little things that are not scalable.

It’s not scalable to talk to every one of your customers, but in the early days it’s extremely valuable. So I think when you, when you develop your customer persona, that’s speculation. As soon as you actually have customers, you want to prove and, and learn the reality, you want to talk to those customers as soon as you can understand why they chose your product, understand what they do or don’t like about it, would they recommend it to a friend?

Do they have recommendations? Get to know your customer and then you can turn that persona into something that’s much more accurate. So, I know, Colin, that was a long winded, uh, answer your question. Sorry about that. No, it was great. Actually, you know, it’s funny cuz we run an Airbnb, uh, business here called Escape Club.[00:29:00] 

I know Kyle’s in, in, in this audience there, uh, he’s one of the people who runs it and we have about 20 properties and often. I keep saying, and I’m, my been is bugging Kyle today. I’m like, you gotta go visit. You gotta go, you gotta go stay there. Because when we go and we stay in the actual Airbnb, we learn about what issues there are.

Like cuz where are the first, before we go live with the new place. We often, we, we’ll, we’ll, we want to stay there ourselves and really figure out what is, what are the issues that people are gonna have. And unless you use your own product, unless you’re like sleeping in that bed and, and, and really figuring out w you know, what you’re offering there and, and whatnot, those little things could cause big problems and you could get a bad review.

And I, I’m very proud to say that we have almost, our average is over 4.9 on every single building we have. Uh, but a lot of that is, you know, three [00:30:00] to four weeks. and I, I bug people too. I’m like, Hey, can you go there or can you just visit this place and give me a, I don’t want you to be nice. I want you to be mean.

Give me a laundry list of issues that we have with this Airbnb. Well, if you’re in the audience, we are doing open mic Friday. This is all about just sharing ideas of what makes a startup successful. Please raise your hand and, and come join us on stage. I’m certain you’ve got a lot to share with us, and I, I will, uh, with those who’ve come on stage, I always follow every person who comes on stage who, who offers some, some wise advice.

So we’d, we’d be happy to have you come on stage. Okay. May I? Yeah, go ahead. I’m calling you right now. Coin. Yeah. Hi, I’m, uh, my name is Ade. Do so, uh, what Jeffrey said is absolutely right and, you know, uh, I would say that. Uh, one of the key factors that we have to look when we are starting this, you know, any, any, any sort of, [00:31:00] you know, company, uh, the word is called the differentiator.

So what Jeffrey just mentioned that when this said he was just quoting the example of B Airbnb, this is the differentiator that B Airbnb came up with previously. Also, there were companies who, who were, you know, asking for them to taking, taking the pictures and all that stuff was there. But this is the differentiator that Airbnb came up with, that, you know, they’re taking a very high quality pictures of, of the stuff mentioned everything of the property, and that’s what actually leveraged it and that’s how they stand out from the market from all the regular, you know, uh, uh, rental out property, uh, you know, systems that were there.

and it, it, it s their, their sales. That that is the thing, the, the differentiator should be there in your product when you’re building a product, anything of the sort. [00:32:00] Then you need to see that, how it can make a difference from the other existing, you know, which are there in the market. Yeah, no, I, you know, it’s interesting you say about different, and it just made me think, Jeff, about the work we’ve done with, we have a, a company called in our incubator here, fairly large company, it’s been on the ink 5,000, three years in a row for fastest growing, you know, one of the fastest growing companies in the US and we’ve often, you know, we launched products, probably launched about 20 products a year.

And the products that we launched that are different, that are not available in the market at all, that are original, seem to do rather well. And then when we get into copycat products, we, we seem to blow it. . So this whole idea about being different when you launch a product, it’s interesting or service or like you say with Airbnb, like it’s, it’s being different.

Jeff, any thoughts on that [00:33:00] whole process we go through around launching products and being different and, and what you think, uh, why you think that is, is, is doing well, but we op we’ve had a lot of failures too. Yeah. And I think, I think there’s no one hard and fast rule across all industries in all businesses.

It depends on what your product is. There. There are many companies that have found success by not being different, but by being better. You know, or other companies have found success by being less expensive, you know? Um, and not necessarily different, you know? Uh, so there’s a lot of ways to, to approach that, and a lot of it has to.

Is determined by the category you’re in. So I think in your example, Colin, with with, you know, when you’re in a very crowded space like pet products where they already exist, a lot of sort of me too items that look a lot, look a lot [00:34:00] alike then in that industry being different really was a great way to stand out.

Um, because just making a difference or even a better. Pet bed that looked just like every other pet bed wasn’t gonna be enough. You had to sort of redefine the category as did with its pup rug, and create something that was totally new and, and put a different spin on what people expected, uh, a pet bed to be.

So in that context, you’re absolutely right. It was a very powerful thing and it led to a lot of success for the company. But in another industry, in another product category, maybe you don’t need to be different. Maybe you need to be better, or maybe you’d need to be more competitive on your price. Or maybe you need to have better customer service.

Right. You know, Zappos made a name for itself, selling shoes. Not based on the quality of their shoes or even the pricing. The pricing was fairly standard. Um, you could buy the same shoes elsewhere for the same price, but they built their reputation on great customer service. [00:35:00] So I could buy the same shoes from someone else, but I wouldn’t have as good an experience.

And if I needed to return them, it’d be complicated. Or if they didn’t fit or I didn’t like them, it’d be complicated. Whereas at Zappos, you know, all that stuff was handled very easily. So you really have to look at the market you’re in, the audience are trying to serve and, and, and see what is going to differentiate you in that industry.

It doesn’t mean your product has to be different, but you do have to find something to differentiate you, whether that’s the price, the quality, the service, the selection, et cetera.

Wow, that’s really good. Yeah. I, I, I’m, I, I, I love that, Jeff. Again, if you’re in the audience, you wanna come on stage. Please raise your hand and join us. We’re just, we’re having a fun afternoon. It’s Friday afternoon and it’s open mic day. Now let me talk a little bit about what I’ve learned over the last 25 years as a serial entrepreneur.

You know, one of the things I noticed in all of my companies [00:36:00] was first, that how scalable a company is often led to its success. Don’t get me wrong, there can be great companies. My wife and I own a school here and a school’s not very scalable. But, you know, we do it for certain reasons. We wanna give back to the community and and whatnot.

But it’s very difficult to scale a school. You know, you’ve got your, you know, some multimillion dollar real estate, and then if you want to expand beyond a certain number of people, you gotta go invest another $2 million in another piece of land to expand it. So it’s not very scalable. But I did notice that with a number of our companies over the years, the ones that were scalable were often.

The more successful. And when we pick an idea for a startup, it starts with that. Or if we have an idea already for a startup, how do we make it more scalable? Do we franchise it? Do we figure out a way to actually scale it, uh, over time? And, and it’s interesting to note that a [00:37:00] scalable company is actually easier to run than a small business.

Now. Now let me, let me, let me explain this a bit. When you’re running a small business, you are dealing with all the headaches of every different area. When you begin to scale a company, you actually have people who can help you, uh, scale that company and deal with a lot of the issues. So you don’t have to.

So you can focus more on strategy, and you can focus more on, on a, creating a vision or developing the next product or, or testing your products and making them better, better, and whatnot. . So I, I often say that it takes more energy to run a small business than it does a large one. And I, and I truly believe that I’ve run 600 person companies and I’ve run two person companies and I’m telling you, like the 600 person companies, so much easier.

you have, I know, yeah, you have a lot of headaches, of course lots of things flow in, but you got a lot of people around you to help run that [00:38:00] company. The second thing that I noticed with these startups is that if you can build a mote, that defensibility, whether it’s a patent, I know product com is a number of patents for its products.

Um, uh, and, and, and, and, and if you can build a patent or you’ve got a, a brand, like a strong brand like, that’s pretty cool too, cuz the brand itself can be a moat. And then also distribution channel, if you have the distribution channel for a particular product or offering or service or platform.

That itself can be emote cuz it’s very hard to dislodge. Um, embedded compe, you know, the competitors who are, who’ve already got that kind of distribution. So distribution in itself can be e mote. And the last thing I would look at for startups are the ones that we’ve done, at least in the last 20, 25 years.

We’ve, we’ve, we looked at the catching a wave, catching the next big thing that’s coming out. You know, back in the nineties we did dial up internet [00:39:00] and getting people on the internet. We became the largest provider in Canada. I noticed like another Canadian here, I think it was John, right? It’s Canadian.

But we did, we created the largest internet company in Canada in the nineties, um, before Bell. And, and Rogers began to do internet access. Uh, and then in the two thousands we created the, one of the largest hosting companies in the world called Hostopia Canadian Company as well. And it sold, uh, all of its technology to companies like at and t and.

Vodafone and, and Bell Canada, those kind of companies. And then in, and then, so that was really the shift there in 2000 was the cloud computing, was this idea of broadband. And then we saw social media takeoff. And then in 2 20 12, Jeff and I, which was based on a regulatory change. So we’re gonna lo, if you’re looking for ideas for your startup, you’re gonna wanna think about what is it is that’s changing in the world.

I mean, and we all, now we’re all talking about chat, G [00:40:00] p t, Dolly and the new shift of ai. And my, my daughter, it was so funny in the Chris and the holidays, Jeff, my daughter and I, we launched a company called Poem ai. And, uh, she, she did, she put it all together. She did everything. And it’s up and running right now.

And it’s, it’s actually, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s amazing what she, she put together. Uh, and of course you can go to cha g p t directly, but if you wanna save time, and, and she figured out all the questions to ask Cha g p t correctly, to generate the best kind of poem and, and like different tones and variations and all that kind of stuff.

AI will be the new, um, technology of the 2020s. And I think that the opportunity in AI will be absolutely huge. All right. We have another gentleman on stage. I, I’m gonna follow you there. I’m having a problem with your name. CJ Dara. Don’t, don’t worry about it. Yeah. I, you, you got, you got pretty close. It’s Deua.

So you, you’re all, I love that [00:41:00] Deua. De Yep. It’s Southern European. So, uh, kind of like an Italian flair, if you like. Would, would be the, the way it sounds like a sports car. That’s the funny, it’s funny you said that. I was just thinking in the back of my mind, I was like, sounds like a sports car. . Well, we on, on the island, uh, we don’t have much space for sports cars, but we have per capita probably more than most places apart from Montecarlo.

So , you’re not far off. Uh, but all things aside, I’ve really been enjoying the conversation and just wanted to lend in a bit my experience in a sense with the topic. But I’m not sure if you had a thought to finish or whether you were handing me the mic so I didn’t. No, no. I’m handing you the mic. I’m handing you mic.

What makes a startup successful? We have 19 more minutes to go. And, uh, great participation from [00:42:00] the audience today. Love it. And we want to hear from Mr. Sports Car . Well, I think first and foremost, determining ahead of time what type of business you’re building, right? Whether you are, there’s a lot of people out there that are just looking to build a decent business versus what we would kind of call a startup that’s massively scalable.

Uh, and very often they’re getting advice, uh, that is more concerned with kind of running before they’re ready to crawl. So I think in terms of building a small business versus a startup, and I, I think there’s a big difference. And that’s normally not always, Uh, to, to people. And I think it’s important to understand like from the outset, what kind of business are you looking to build?

Because if you want to succeed, you need to know what game you’re playing, right? So [00:43:00] if you’re going into more of a traditional business to kind of feed your family, grow that out, and then maybe have something to leave as a legacy. Um, my family, for example, catering and food industry, right? Started at small businesses, but continue to grow and grow and, and they’re very traditional in that sense, right?

So you’re going to use a traditional playbook to build your business there. Uh, whereas in the, you know, dot com kind of space and webre and all this, uh, you’re looking at a very different animal, you’re also going to need very different skills. And I think that’s really important. Like for me, in this next phase of my life.

I’m focusing a lot on skilling up in areas that I didn’t need in the first two, three businesses I did. Uh, which go, you know, into the areas of funding and building the right teams, [00:44:00] building leaders versus just building teammates. I think to your point, it’s very interesting when you can actually get the right people into your team that can help you build and maintain your business so that you’re working on it instead of in it.

I, I know it’s kind of bit of verbal diarrhea here, but going straight to my point, it’s knowing what business you’re building and understanding how that particular type of business needs to go through its start phase. and then it’s maintenance phase. I think those are critical to people, and they’re often overlooked.

Like not all advice matches what you need. Sometimes you’re building one type of business and you’re hearing advice about completely different type of business, and that actually slows you down. Cj, and I’ll stop there. [00:45:00] Hey, John, you you want to add something to that? I, I see you took your mic off there.

Yeah. Yeah. I, I wanted to chip in on something that you said, Colin, that if you have distributors, it’s much easier to scale your business. And I just wanted to give you a quick example. So I developed products and launch them in consumer shows, right? Your country fairs, your home show, your exhibition, whatever it is.

And that’s a real great foundation and amazing revenues. So living in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, we’d have to go over the Rocky Mountains and get to Alberta and the snow season, it was just a, it was a gong show. It was horrible, right? But we had to do it. So we actually decided to get distributors to empower some people in those particular areas to be successful.

And we literally tripled our business overnight. And I’m literally working from the comfort of my office in Vancouver, just, you know, training them over the phone, sending them help for material, and it was great. So with what you said, scaling with distributors is much easier than trying to grow that business on your own.

I’m such a big advocate of that. Thank you. [00:46:00] Yeah, I think that it’s interesting you bring that up, uh, because often we think we have to just do it all ourselves and we don’t, you know, I look at back at, um, Hostopia, the company that we launched in 9 99, and, you know, we were, we were up against, you know, a hosting company and yet we somehow won the market.

But we didn’t win. We didn’t win it by beating GoDaddy or, or having a brand. We won it by, Um, at least I’m not talking about the entire industry. I’m talking about the, the wholesale private label side. We won that particular side of the industry by just being focused on building solutions for telecoms, and we use their customers.

So think about that. We use their customers to grow our business, and they paid us to do it. It’s up, you know, it’s fascinating to think, you know, distribution is, you know, at we’re talking about that now. [00:47:00] 95% of our sales right come from the website directly. We’re like, what? What? And it’s great.

It’s good, you know, we’re a good brand. We have some great products, but what if we could get into PetSmart and what if we can get on qvc and what if we can do, I, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be distributing our products through 10 different channels. And that’s a very, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s a way to succeed in a way to grow.

and not be so reliable in the advertising to have on Facebook. But I, I, I’m totally agreeing with you. I, I’m gonna, um, announce a last call for if you want to come on stage, please raise your hand now, what makes a startup successful? We’d love to hear from you. We got a few minutes left. This is sort of a last call.

Um, here we go. We’ve got a couple people coming on and, uh, it really is a formula and I don’t want you thinking it’s all about [00:48:00] luck. I don’t want you coming, you know, leaving this show. And I mean, of course Luck’s involved, of course hard work’s involved. But study that came at, I put this in the book that we’re publishing, it’s coming out in October, um, called Start Scale Exit Repeat, and published by Forbes.

And there is a study that came out that showed that Siri entrepreneurs have twice as likely to succeed. Versus first time entrepreneurs. So what is it, what is it that they’re doing to get them to succeed? Or or to, to, to what is it that they’re doing to, um, with these startups that, that increase their chances of success?

So, Chris, I know you just jumped on stage. I’m gonna, I’m gonna come down to you now. What do you think it is that makes a startup successful? Chris? Hey, this is Chris. I’m loving all this shares. You are sharing startups. You know, I go, I went into, [00:49:00] out, uh, last week I was into, uh, here where I live on the main street, and guy just opened up a coffee shop where it’s two franchises of coffee and a, uh, ice cream shop.

He bought two franchise on the, he put it under one roof and he built a brand new building and he came, I was sitting there reading my Wall Street Journal. He came over talking to me and he was telling me he had about 2.5 million. Tied up with everything and you know, he’s got coffee and ice cream, so, you know, I don’t know how he went about the loans and all that good stuff, but even if he put down 20, 25% or done the sba.

But what I see with a lot of entrepreneurs, they not, they think, and even the world, even outside, people think because someone’s got the money and the credit that they’re entrepreneurs, which is not true. Just because I got the credit and the money down payment does not make me an entrepreneur, that’s when the work starts.

Just, just, just like himself. He’s sitting there and they’re, they’re [00:50:00] waiting on people to come in the front door, unless you’re in the grocery business or the convenience store business, you know, it just don’t happen like that where people are coming in and outta your front door every 30 minutes. So it is just like a, I’m in a real estate space, just like a rental house, a rental property.

If you only got one door when it goes vacant, , it’s a hundred percent vacancy. There’s no money coming in. But if you got a hundred doors and five of vacant, you got 95% money coming in. But I think most entrepreneurs just sit back, even me in my real estate space here, if I sit back in the office every day from eight to five and just say, I’m just gonna wait on people to come in the front door to make money, I would be bankrupt.

I have to go out there and get the business. It could be through social media, it could be through community meetings. It could be getting on boards of companies. There’s four legs, you know, that have a stool stand up. And most people, I, I see that own, see these, uh, [00:51:00] small businesses, you know, your restaurants, your nail salons, and they might not be busy, and they all sitting there on the computer, on their phone playing.

And instead of us thinking about how can we create new business, how can we get people to come in this front door? Because if, if you don’t do that, and just talking to this guy for about, uh, 45 minutes to an hour, he already had an excuse why his business wasn’t making it. He blamed the weather. He opened it in November and it was the weather.

So he blamed the what? He blamed the what? The weather. The weather. The weather. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. He was saying he opened in November and that was a bad time, but it, but I already know that has nothing to do with it. And he’s in, he’s still in the red after four or five months with 2.5 million of debt. But if it was me, see, I would be out there hungry.

You got to go meet people, go to schools in hiss. I’ll be going to schools up and down the road trying to generate, uh, 10 a dollar off or something, something to get people to come in their front door to get momentum [00:52:00] going. And, and that’s what I see. Most people that open a business, they have the credit and the, um, scores and down payment, but they don’t have the true boldness and courageousness to make it happen.

And it’s the same in real estate. Just because you get a real estate license does not make you an entrepreneur. It means you sit still and pass the test. But entrepreneur is somebody who can generate something from nothing or, or having ideas and then when something don’t go well, they blame something.

The reason it didn’t go, but you have to be very courageous. I, I had Me and our guy had a buy owner business years ago before Uh, I mean right after the dotcom was cranking up and we made a lot of money, but we were hustling and we had a good service. It was a plus service and, and you had to keep reinvent yourself and you can’t sit still in any business [00:53:00] cause somebody across the street gonna kick your tail.

If you got business, you might be doing pretty good and you’re sitting still thinking it’s gonna be forever. It, it don’t happen. Like you gotta always be thinking like, how can you reinvent yourself or make this better? And we had a convenience store business. We had a small store with no gas, and it’s kinda like a grocery business.

People would come in there yes, and buy cigarettes and beer. But the business I’m in now, the real estate space, nobody walks in this door hared and say, Hey, I wanna buy a commercial building, or I wanna buy a $400,000 home. So I, I think just the boldness and courageous to create the business if they got that.

And then the runway too, a lot of ’em don’t have a runway, you know, if they don’t make business in five or 10 months, you need a good runway. Just like a, a rental property. You need a runway for emergencies. And most people are underfunded in small businesses in the bank, and these other people are giving the money because they got down payment and credit and they’re [00:54:00] really underfunded.

And also the product of service can be off. , they can have a bad product or a bad service and they, they think it’s the best idea in the world. But I think it’s a lot of ingredients. It’s not one thing that make a cake good. It’s a number of things that’s in that cake that make it bad. You just gotta figure it out what’s in that cake and why I’m not making it.

Cause people in your business probably are killing it, but why am I not killing it? And once I figure that out and get to work on it, that’s when the sun comes out. Thank you. Well, that’s awesome. I often say you cannot outsource the entrepreneur that, that you have to be the entrepreneur and this, this drive and the hustle and this idea that, you know, you talked about this, this case where it’s a cafe in an ice cream shop and they’re just not getting the business.

And you’d be out there with, you know, doing whatever it takes, do whatever it takes. , do whatever it takes. That’s [00:55:00] exactly what, you know, every entrepreneur out there who’s done this startup thing has done, you stick your neck out there, you take the risk, and you do what it takes and you make a hustle. All right, we’re gonna do popcorn style.

Anyone on stage have some, some last comments before we close out the session here? Uh, we did cl turn off the, uh, uh, the audience. Uh, so if we’re just gonna go popcorn style, any last thoughts on this particular topic? What makes the startup successful?

All right, well, I’ll, I’ll say that one. One thing that makes a startup successful is doing what we did this afternoon, listening and learning, right? Listening and learning from others and other startups. So, you know, participating in a room like this, listening to these kinds of conversations, um, reaching out to learn more about the experiences of other founders and other startups, um, is a great way [00:56:00] to, uh, ensure your success.

Yeah, it’s, it is interesting because, you know, this whole process of putting together a book, I spent over 10 years working on this book. We interviewed hundreds of authors, experts, and others to, uh, get this book to market, um, titled Start Scale Exit Repeat. And it comes out on, on, uh, October 3rd of this year.

And we pub, we’re publishing it through Forbes, and it’s really all about the question we had today. You know, what are those formulas? What are the things that these serial entrepreneurs do over and over again to start scale, exit, repeat. And believe it or not, it can be learned. There is a method, there is a system out there.

And we can learn from it. And it doesn’t cost us anything to learn from it. It’s, you know, I, I, I’m gonna say over the, what’s it, the pot calling the Kettle black. I can’t remember what the expression is, but you know, we [00:57:00] have a number of companies in an incubator here. You would think that we’re doing everything according to the book, you know, according to our experiences.

But we don’t, uh, and we’ve made so many mistakes and it’s cost us millions of dollars. I’ll be quite frank, these mistakes have cost us millions of dollars. Um, I’m particularly thinking right now about PAW and some of the mistakes we made last year around not testing products. Um, and yet had we just sort of like stopped and thought and listened to our own experiences or learned those experiences, we could have saved that money.

So I often say to people like, the cheapest way to really, if you want to become an entrepreneur, you want to be successful. , listen, join Startup Club. That’s one thing it costs you. Nothing. Got people like Chris coming on here and CJ and sharing great ideas and concepts cost you absolutely nothing to listen.

And we can learn from others and learn from experiences and often we, we will share, um, we do share the failures as [00:58:00] well because we can learn a lot from failures. But today was all about what makes a startup successful. I think next time we should run a show called, you know, what Makes a, a Startup Fail.

But, uh, thank you everybody for the show. It was a great show. Again, you could see the power of the community, the Clubhouse, community and Startup Club. Uh, really enjoyed it. Any last thoughts before we close the room, John? Success begets success. So whatever it is that you’re doing, whether it’s a dog walking business, you’re starting up a new bakery, whatever it is, make sure that you see success in that business.

Make a ton of money, right? Because when it’s read, that’s when duplication sets in. That’s when you can really see success. So document what it is that you’re doing, right when you’re, when you’re seeing success. And then if you’ve got a Crispy Kreme donuts or a Subway franchise, right? It went like wildfire because it was a cash cow.

Everybody wants to participate in something that is trending and making dough. So [00:59:00] be successful, focus on success, and then duplication. Thank you. Nothing motivates more than success, and then you’ll attract a lot of investors, employees, and others. That’s a great way to end the show. Thank you very much.

Appreciate that and, uh, we’ll see y’all next week at Friday at two o’clock Eastern. We do the show every Friday, two o’clock Eastern. Uh, we have some really, and we’ve had some really big speakers on this show. As you know, we’ve had the founder of Reebok. We’ve had, um, um, experts, bestselling authors like Fern Harnish and Jack Daly and Jeffrey Moore who wrote inside the Tornado Crossing the Chasm.

Well, we have a real, uh, two-part series that’s gonna come about in March and we’re gonna announce it, um, over the next few days. Uh, you’re not gonna know about it though, unless you’re on the email list. So go to and sign up to the email us. We only use the email list to announce speakers and [01:00:00] shows and we do it, but generally once or twice, uh, a.

To announce the shows. We have a two-part series coming up. This gentleman was funded, uh, founded a multi-billion dollar real estate fund and went undercover for the US government doing a number of missions, uh, 147 or so. And they, they have a mo, uh, Hollywood movie coming out the summer about him, and he’s coming on the show the first two weeks of March.

Uh, he’s traveling overseas right now. He’s coming back and I had an initial conversation with him and I was just, I mean, I couldn’t even believe it what he did. So if you want to hear about the show, do you wanna hear about these speakers? You gotta go to and sign up to that email list.

Thank you all. Great show. We’ll see you next week.


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