Hey everybody. My name is Ryan Atkinson and you are on this cloud where we talk tech and entrepreneurship to give you the insights and stories from today's best founders for tomorrow's best founders. Great episode coming up here with Richard White, the CEO and founder of fathom, Richard has an extensive career in developing b2b SaaS products. And you can hear throughout the thought that he puts into it, and how he approaches problems about, oh, when should we start scaling? Or how do we know that people are actually using this to its full capabilities? And what functionality should we include? Should we not include? He talks about his early days at Kiko a little bit where he cold emailed Emmett shear and Justin Kahn, and they are currently the co founders of Twitch. At the time, they're just getting started out with the different products. We talked about that experience. We talked about user voice and other companies started to fathom. It's a great conversation, all things software, all things building. Super excited for this one. This is a really fun one to record and lots of takeaways. So let's dive into it. I'm excited for it. It's as Richard, thank you so much for being here. So, so
excited for you, of course. Thanks for having me, Ron.
So like I said, you do have an incredible background. One of the first things that really stood out to me was how you got your career started. And this was a Kiko is that my pronouncing that right? You got it. Perfect. And so how you got in here, I'll let you tell the story. But you got started your career by cold emailing Emmett shear and Justin Kahn, they are the cofounders of Twitch just so everyone knows, telling them how impressive their app was. But how poorly designed it was. First off, I want to say congratulations, that is incredible way to get into a company. And second, you just tell us that story?
Yeah, sure. Yeah, I was, you know, I think I had a day job. I was a programmer at its company. And I think I was very adamant to a co worker of mine, like, oh, I want to build this calendaring thing. And then one day my coworker came in, he's like, oh, shoot, sorry, you know, too bad. Someone already built it. They just built it, like, showed me the TechCrunch article about it. And I was I pretty dejected for basketball. Yeah, this is it. I played around with it. And as we're playing around and be like, wow, there's just some really like, technically impressive things here. But like, as you just said, like, yeah, I was like, Oh, this design is really bad. And I have aspirations to do a lot of product design. And so as like, I'm just finding these guys in email. I don't know why not. Right. Like, can't, can't hurt. And so, you know, so email on the blue, you know, Hey, your products really cool. I think they were getting a lot of emails like that. But then it was like, had the turn right, like, oh, but it's really designed like crap. Oh, and then it was like, Oh, I'll help you with that sort of thing. You know, and, you know, to their credit, I think a lot of be easy for a lot of folks. They were getting, you know, like a lot of I think they're getting a lot of positive comments, right? It's easy to dismiss that like one negative voice in the sea, but to their credit, they're okay. And, you know, started talking to them. One thing led to another, and we mentioned in working together full time, but it was kind of cool experience. Really, I was doing some startup stuff before that. But that was really when I got into the slipstream of other people doing really impressive stuff.
Yeah, that's really neat. And so they were actually part of the first Y Combinator, Were you part where did you do that with them or
I joined right after the official kind of programming. It ended. But we worked at the Y Combinator office in Cambridge. So it was kind of cool. It was just like us, you know, it was like the three of us for Kiko. And then, Stephen, Alexis, the founders of Reddit. So Reddit was started in the same room at same time, which was kind of cool, right? This was back in the days when, like, those guys were just going to talk to themselves. They'll have fake sock puppet accounts, and they just talk to themselves and pretend like there was a community chat sort of thing. It was pretty funny.
Yeah, that's what I that's what I wanted to ask like, so in that first Y Combinator, like cohort like you were in there, and then like, also, Reddit was in there. And then you guys were working in the same office. I mean, like, looking back on that, is that like, a crazy experience? Like think about like, we were in the same room as like Reddit, and like, is that just crazy? Think about it. If that was me, I'd be like, blown away.
Yeah, I mean, like, there was a lot of I think, they that would be crazy. If if it wasn't like, that was actually one of the least crazy things. I think after that, you know, just another crazy idea to sell the company on eBay. So Kiko on eBay, which is kind of a crazy story. And then everyone moved out to California. And then I remember, you know, everyone is kind of legendary apartment building in North Beach in San Francisco, where at some point there were like 15 or 20, like early Y Combinator startups, and it was like Xobni and Weebly and Dropbox. And Scribd and Justin TV, which turned into Twitch and no, like, if you add up the accurate amount of like, valuation in that in that building, it's like multi billions of dollars of companies were created. That building is kind of wild. Yeah, there's like a standing poker game. and like it was like, you know, all those people I just mentioned sort of thing. So but yeah, I think looking back on I feel very fortunate that I kind of fell into this slipstream of builders doing things that you know, some of the most like, seminal, seminal, like web properties of the last 1015 years.
Yeah, that's incredible. And then like, what came out of that really was user voice, which I think is your baby. Have you? Of course, Fathom now, but is your baby? Can you talk talk to us a little bit more how like user voice came up to be? And how that idea really started just out of frustration, essentially?
Yeah, I think I've been fortunate in that most of the startups or products I've worked on are like things to solve a problem that I've had myself. And it's also unfortunate that like, if sometimes you solve a problem for yourself, and turns out, no one else has that problem. And I've been very lucky that all I have very common problems, it seems. And with Kiko is interesting, because there's an online calendar. And I think it's gonna let us like, we were a bunch of 20 something year olds building this thing. I remember at one point asking like, have any of us built use a calendar before? And we've actually none of us have used the calendar, negra technology and calendar for college necessarily. And so I think because of that we were very attuned to customer feedback. We're constantly trying to solicit user feedback. And but I was quickly awash in feedback. And I was like spending many hours a day trying to figure out what are the top things people are saying, I remember one time having this big debate with him about like, here's the, here's talking and hearing when I fix this. And he's like, we started debating different ways to fix things and wants you to ask the people have this problem that he wants solution a or solution B. And I was like, That is a genius idea. But I don't have a spreadsheet, though. Who wants what time for that. And so that's kind of you know, that's where the idea for users came from, like, let's find a way to like, get feedback at scale, but let users self organize it. So it's easy to respond back to them and communicate to them as like a constituency, right? Here's all the people that want this feature. Great. What's What do they think about this, this and this. And so it was kind of a Reddit for customer feedback. It's really what it was. So we kind of stole a bunch of ideas from watching Indians rooms, Reddit.
Yeah, I can't really peel that back a little bit. Because you said something that I think is really interesting, that I don't think enough people do. Maybe they do just from my mind's eye, like they don't is actually solving a problem that they had themselves. I feel like there's just so many problems like day to day repeal, just like overlooked. It's like, that's potential like this, this idea, just thinking about that. And it sounds like you actually took action on that, which I think is very admirable.
I mean, this is also a Fathom came, came to be to I was at the tail end of my user voice tenure. As CEO, I was doing a lot of research into other, like doing user research, talking to customers about other products we can build. And it's actually trying to think about building a different product, and just found like, oh, my gosh, it did like a couple 100 Zoom calls and realize other real pain point, here's taking notes on this thing, because it's a painful process. It's like very stressful. And then I look at it two weeks later, I don't understand what these notes mean. And like, the whole point of doing these calls is to convey wordings to my team. And when I show them what your bullet points of notes, they don't know what that means, either. And so yeah, I think I think, you know, the one thing I think I've tried to get better at throughout my career is doing more betting of, okay, I clearly have this problem. How many other people have this problem? And what are they? Who are they gonna get lucky with that early in my career, and now I try to do more diligent, like market sizing before building but yeah, it's a real superpower. Because you don't have to have high empathy. You just have to make sure this is solve the problem? Well, for me, and if so NMI just emblematic of most people's problem. And if so then like, right, you've got a great check and balance.
Yeah. And it's actually funny because yesterday, so one of my friends who works at cameo I don't know if I can say this, but they did research like within their own company, within their own employees, about like, how many tabs you have open at one time. And the average came out to be 30 to 32 tabs open at a time and I'm sitting here, only five I can only have like, five at a time, but 32 tabs, it's like, well, is that a business idea? Like that was my first I was like, can you make a business out of that? And I was like, Okay, everyone has it, but is it a big enough problem where people are going to sell it? I don't know. What's your thoughts on that? Maybe I'm just gonna pitch your business right here.
Yeah, is it big enough? What is what is the problem right like it's funny because I close up my browser every couple hours and just start over my girlfriend i I'm horrified. Well, Claire computer she was like 800 times. I had this new question all the time, too, which is okay, if you have this problem, and is software uniquely qualified to solve the problem. Say Do you see a lot of things in there's a lot of projects I got an early in my career, which were more like, the software religion provides guardrails on our workflow for a human to do use are nice, but I find like Fathom what's nice is like, you can't record a call. You can't do the things. It's like a It's like, uniquely a thing that software is good at solving. Yeah. Because it required is humans can do it right. So I always ask questions like, Is there is this a problem? And this is a problem where I can solve it with software, like an order of magnitude better than I could just with diligence. Right. And so therefore, the tab one, I would say, I think I don't know is that you know, it's such a personal thing. You know, automatically closing your tabs. I think there's something there. I don't know. I would want to like question like, why do people keep that many tabs open? Right? To what and how to, like, I don't know enough about that, that, that the psyche of that user, it's not really something interesting to follow, because it seems unwieldy?
Yeah, it's not, I think, like, just organization like, that's how I organize my mind. I like I need everything very clean cut like this is keep this bucket. But yeah, a bunch of tabs out there. Just wanted to know that your way. But one thing that I think I took away from that was the can software solve this? And it's software, the best solution to solve this? I mean, do you take that, as you said, with like, Fathom software is obviously like the best way to solve this a physical product not going to, but is that like, I never thought about that is do a lot of entrepreneurs take that into account? Like, is software the best solution to solve this? Or like, would a physical product be better at this? Is that something that
anything about a physical product? I'm thinking about software versus versus me do like, you know, for me and myself, right, like, so? What's take the tap problem, right? I could, what, what's my solution? Well, I could set a timer every an hour go clear out 10 of them, right? What would the software, do the software probably automatically clear them out after X amount of time? Yeah, that's actually, that's actually okay. That's actually decent. But I guess, you know, I'm thinking more about, like, there's certain software where all it does is put you on rails and say like, okay, fill in these five fields in this order. And therefore I'll build build you a spreadsheet, or whatever. And that's nice, interesting, but I generally like things where it's like, oh, this software software is uniquely qualified to solve this problem, because it can be up any hour of the day doing the thing, it can do it faster than you can, like, add volume you can't possibly do, right, like, oh, I can't tell if I think 5000 things at once great software assets. So there's like certain problems, it's like you'd like software can be maybe helpful. Software is kind of, you know, really helpful software, it's absolutely necessary, right? And you will get a lot of the technical products have really succeeded, you know, big data type tilbyr tools and stuff like that. It's like, you have to use software, right? There's no, there was, there's no way to manually solve this problem. And those I think, are the best kind of things to look for.
I love that. And that's what you're doing with like, Fathom is like taking all that, and the software's gonna organize it for you. And you're able to look back like two weeks later, or can you tell us a little bit more about Fathom and the software?
Yeah, yeah. So basically Fathom is is an antidote to having to take notes while you're on a zoom call, right. And the whole idea is, rather than having like a pen and paper open, or a Google doc open or something, and trying to type out several talking to someone, which is problematic. Yeah, you basically, it's all at 1000. It's a free app, it joins your calls, the whole note taker joins all your zoom calls, it starts recording and transcribing your calls in real time. And they'll give you this whole like Control Panel, like you hear anything important, like an action item, or highlight, do you want to share with someone I'll just click a button and it like, basically, kind of makes a clip out of that part of the call, if you will. And so that's basically how it works. And, you know, I think you think about a lot of the mechanics in there, right? Like, I think you can record it, and you could edit it down. But it's a lot of work, right? So we do, you could go send it off to someone to get transcribed. But that's also a lot of work. So we do a lot of Fathom is more like an orchestration app, right, where we're taking a lot of other things that you could do manually, but it takes you a ton of time to do it and make it really fast. And we often ask ourselves, like, when we get feature requests on fathom, I asked myself, like, you know, again, it's software equally, so like, good at doing this. So for example, one of the features we added recently was, if you start monologuing for a while, which kind of I'm doing right now, rarely get software is really good at doing things like that, right? It can calculate how much I've been talking, it can automatically send money clips to Slack, we have a bunch of people that have asked us for like, Hey, can you give us some way where I can set up like a template? Like, you know, I want to set up an agenda template and fill it out as we go through? And I'm like, Well, I don't know how we can do that, that much better than your Google Doc. Right? Ladies coming to you get out what you put in on that kind of feature. And we might eventually add that, but I don't think it's as high value as doing the things where it's like, ah, you know, you can't do it without software. That makes sense.
That makes sense. So how do you weigh that in your mind as like the CEO and founder like, how do you weigh that? Well, we should add that because this is a really high value or like, do we really need to
think a lot about like is so you know, once like, what is the value this this feature function delivers the then secondarily, it's like, is there a variance in the value based upon the diligence of the user? Like value. And so what you find is like, a lot of these times, you get these things where it's like, ah, if you diligently, you know, fill out in this example, right, if like you diligent use the feature where every for every call, you filled out your agenda, and every call, you put, like, if you put in a lot of work into it, you get a lot of value out. I hate this choose, right? Like, I don't want to put in work, right? I like the feature. It's like, oh, no, you put in zero work. And you get this value out, I'd rather a feature where it's like, I get, you know, let's call it one point of value back out with zero effort than a point thing where I get five points of value, but I have to put in five points of effort. Right, like, like, I just generally find, you know, unless you're in a very niche thing where you can, we're in like maybe controlled environments where you can force the user has to go through a workflow and put in some work and diligence. Outside of those environments, we should be doing some insane consumer, or prosumer app like us, you've got to optimize for like, requires zero effort from the user, because that's what most users want to give you.
So you one thing that was in there, you said this is like a consumer app, is this, how I interpret it was like, this is more like b2b like companies are using it. Okay. That's like the biggest adoption rate that you guys have seen, or people that are are using
it Fathom is interesting in that it's like consumer grade software for b2b use cases, if you, okay, I think this is a very kind of new trend, where I'm a b2b guy, I only got to build business products really like to build them with like a consumer level of polish and usability. And it's designed to be useful to a single person, right, so single person, that company will start using fathom, they don't have to go deploy it or get a manager evolve, it's free, they just start using it. And then we kind of roll up from there into, you know, your peers start using, and then we get the whole team up and we get all companies Yeah, that sort of thing.
That's awesome. What, like, what's the biggest factor that okay, let's say someone's starting a SaaS product. They have, like every other thing in mind, what's the one thing that you think they have to get right from the
start? Um, I think you generally have to. So my order of operations for fathom, which I think in general is like, I first want to build a small product, it can have crappy onboarding, I care about how I get users, I need to prove that if I put 100 users in, you know, at some point in like two months, I'm going to have half or a third of those users are still using it. So the first thing I want to prove out is I've got a thing that can retain the people I put into it. Yeah, I don't care yet about onboarding, I don't care about acquisition. I can do handhold. Everyone through the onboarding process, I should prove it once I get them in the system to understand what works, they stick with it. I just today as the end of this conference, Sastre here in the Bay Area, which is like one of the biggest SAS conferences. There's a good talk yesterday or Tuesday from this guy, Mark robear, who is the muse, the CMO at HubSpot, and he talks about this, he asked most people like if you're doing SAS product, would you invest in like retention, user acquisition or like monetization? And most people focus on monetization. And I think it's like, you go for retention first, then you figure out how to like get leads, right. And you should before you work on retention, you should buy some hypothesis about like, how you're going to scale up getting leads. Yeah. And then only after you built that engine, do you bother monetize it? And that's kind of what we've been doing with fathom, because there's no sense and monetizing a thing if you can't retain the people, or if you can't figure how to scale it. So it becomes big, right? You're just gonna have with a small business. So think retention is where I don't think people focus enough up. early on. It's everyone gets excited about signups? Oh, yes, people signing up. I think, really, we had a in fact that we had an eight month period, really never had more than 60 users. In our beta, and, and you know, but it was like, every month, we put in new people, and they like, you know, for the first four or five months, they would just kind of immediately turn out within a few weeks, right. And by about like, halfway through that we found like, ah, they stopped churning out. And now that group, we've got this consistent group of 50 users. Great. We've now nailed the retention piece, or at least, you know, nailed it enough with to keep investing in it. Now we started thinking about like, Okay, how are we going to get people in, and then we spent the next six months, we launched the next six months, improving onboarding, right, like just constant making onboarding better and better and better and better. And then think about monetization. Right? And so I think that's the order of operations I generally recommend,
oh, that's really interesting, because I had someone on recently, and they said retention was the biggest metric as well. And it just blew my mind. I never thought about that. But it makes sense once you really think about it, because it's like, well, if we have, like, only 20 people are staying and 80 people are leaving, we know this product, probably not where it should be. And we should invest in return, like retain, right?
Yeah, yeah. And you know, and it's even free user retention, right. Like, I'm a big fan. And I think this is also so it's kind of news, like, I'm a big fan of give away for free, right? Like, there's just there's this premium prevailing theory that you should charge them from the get go for thing to prove that it has value to people and I kind of get that point. But I also think there's just so much competition for you Use time and attention to install things. I feel pretty confident if I can get you in a product and you're using it every day and like, for a real problem that I can eventually get you to pay for it. Right. And I'm willing to in the worst case, you know, when price model is being, I'm willing to forego, you know, maybe the first 1000 people that sign up, I never get any money from, that's fine. Because usually I'm going after something where, hopefully 10s of 1000s 100,000 people eventually use this. So the point first point oh, 1% of people don't pay me. It doesn't change the end outcome, right? So I would, I am worried more about the fact that you've got a crappy first version, and now you're forced to pay, you might dissuade someone from being a great early user giving you a great year of feedback and helping you prove out the retention piece. So, yeah, what
so how do you start making people pay, though? So how do you move away from this freemium model to making people actually pay and like scaling this thing up with like revenue?
I mean, that's very, this is very, that's very problem specific. Right. Yeah. So I'll keep mentioning talks to those great DeMarco. Bearish talk, but you also had like, Good, better best in terms of what plg pricing models, and I totally agree, which is like, you know, you can monetize the user. So there's like the, there's, again, if you're going product lead growth, right, which is basically like, you know, not talk to my sales team to get the product, but just people can sign up and use it, called Gog. If you're going plg, there's classically the freemium where it's like, you know, the user has a usage limit, right? Once you hit over that, you start paying, we're doing a model where it's like the user, we're always want the user to be free. And at some point, we get the manager to pay, and the manager pays for a slightly different product, which you would have is like being able to basically manage and, you know, like, be able to manage everyone else that's using it at their team, right? Yammer had this model really early on, and a few other folks. And I think she's got a ton of examples at it. But it's really nice, because it's as a separation, right? Like users don't think about it. And I think users are getting savvier. Right. I think like, everyone knows, now, I don't ever, when I see a pricing page, and I see the free tier, and there's like a usage woman is paid here, even in places where I'm like, I don't want to use to do this thing to be, I'm almost certain that they've probably figured out that like, there's no way I can fundamentally be on the free tier for forever actually get like, get value out of it. Right? Like, I know, they've thought about this more than I have. And it's a trap. Right? And so I don't, I think it's actually made free freemium less valuable than it used to be, because we're savvy to that. And you know, if I see something like free and then $25, well, I'm going to now evaluate that software assuming that you have to pay $25 for it, right? We started adding incremental tax, and really it hurts virality and virality is your your key thing. I know, when we started user voice, we were free for the first year or two. I didn't say model right free for the first year, that was all different free for the first year. And then we took that people and said, Okay, now you need to start paying slightly different model and fathom, but I remember the day we rolled out pricing plans, and we just put pricing on the website, we actually even have those plans yet. And we saw the free option. It cut our signups in half just having a page where you had saw that there was a premium version, and I think it's because but you're like, oh, I don't want to pay money for this problem. And I'm pretty confident that I don't have to. So now the counter that is like it cut out the like, if you look at the quality of those leads, it cut out the crap your weeds, right. So again, I think for user voice is the right thing to do. Because you know, we didn't want everyone use it. We want a specific group of people using it for Fathom it's much more horizontal like anyone on Zoom call. So you know, I think it makes more sense for us to maintain that kind of separation of church and state between users get it for free and manage your pass for the manage their users.
Yeah, that's really crazy. So once you put the pricing page on there, cut it in half, but like you probably went way
up. Yeah, cut out the bottom half of quality, right? So. But it's a good reminder that every little step you put in front of someone every little like, thing that requires thought, right? Like it may just be that part of the reason we lost because now they had to think about it and went from being why it's a no brainer to think about it. And hesitation kills in onboarding, right. So
that's crazy. So we actually are running on time it's gone by really quick. I have a few more questions, because one thing that I really want to highlight is you are part of zooms first cohort to be a part of like their 100 million dollar investment fund. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Congratulations to you on that. That's like an incredible achievement. Can you tell us a little bit more?
Yeah, I think you were also very fortunate when we sort of found them we knew like for other reasons, we knew that. It was a why now building this product, and it really didn't have anything to do with the pandemic. It really had to do with the fact that like zoom and become so dominant in the Since in mid market space that, you know, if we try started this company five years ago, we'd have to integrate with five or six different video conferencing providers. Now, Zoom is such a dominant market share, we could just build on Zoom. So we started building on Zoom. And, and then they kind of announced that they're building this new zoom app marketplace, which was like kind of the plug in architecture, we always wanted to exist. And so it was kind of this really interesting takes remember worrying about this news. And kind of like the news about the someone put the calendar thing I want to build up, Oh, crap. There's all these platform, that's the platform we need to be part of, we're not a part of it. And I think it's like a mini existential crisis. And then I like went about just like, you know, turning over every rock, figure out how do I get into this program. And I actually cold emailed, the guy who eventually figured out who ran this program is even cold, emailed them and said, hey, you know, it's all you announced this thing I saw you announced all these big logos, Atlassian, and Asana, whatever, they're part of this, we have a company that's, you know, eight weeks old, a perfect fit for this for this platform. And, you know, again, it was a, you know, and here's why. And here's the thing, you didn't get the platform here. So it's what exactly the architecture we built before. And, you know, much to my surprise, like, Yeah, it sounds great. Let's get you involved with the program. So we were, I think, one of the only startups in this like, in the first cohort for the apps at launch a news app, Zoom app marketplace. And we just intentionally built a lot of great relationship with zoom through that process. And so when they basically got close to launching, they are building out this new maps fund. Again, I think they were they advocated for us being like, you know, we've worked closely with the Fathom, guys, you know, we're excited about their product, you know, Zoom wants to see us succeed. There's a good like, Win Win relationship there. One thing led to another, and that's how we kind of I think we were a few the first check out of that fund. Wow. Yeah. So yeah, yet again, cold email works kids, like, you know, as long as it's like, really detailed, it's very clear. Like, I think that's one of the best things about kind of like the tech scene and startup land in Silicon Valley is, people generally want to be helpful, because generally people like, you know, my career has been changed by a couple cold emails I did. So I'm very receptive to good cold emails. You know, if there's a true fit there, if it's a glazy, cold email, like, oh, I won't buy my thing. No, like, I'm not gonna respond to that. But if it's like a thoughtful one, and there actually is a win win, I think most people I know would take would at least respond and give you an honest answer one way or another.
I was going to ask that, like, he goes to your cold email template, like, that'd be linked to this, like, incredible.
Yeah, I think I was thinking about this research you could take up with these emails look like, they're pretty long, actually. Interesting. I think for the ones but the one that Kiko and the one to the head and CMS marketplace, they were both like three paragraphs, each paragraph had like two to three sentences in it. So as emails go to it goes relatively long. But again, I think it was very, yeah, like, very specific, highly personalized. I mean, I was on the receiving end of one, our lead investor, VC firm called character. Last December sent me this like, same it was like, it was really as he broke four or five paragraphs and demonstrate, like, I've used your product, I really liked your product. You know, we haven't seen anything like this. We've tried a bunch of things like this. This one seems like it was very heartfelt. It was very obviously, like not a blast email. And, you know, normally don't respond to one of those random and downs, but this one was like, Oh, this person's done their homework. And like, that's, you know, really put the work in. And so yeah, this is the kind of person I want to work with. Right?
Yeah, that's incredible. i This isn't as like a sales podcast. But I think this is like really good tips is really personalized emails, make sure it's length and make sure everything is like hyper personalized. When you are sending it. They do read it. And it's hyper personalized. They'll respond, hopefully. Yeah, yeah.
If I can tell someone's put in the effort, and they're authentic. And they're actually they're being honest about like, oh, yeah, there is good alignment here. Right? Yeah. If they make the pitch that like, oh, yeah, this is what I'd be good for you. And I couldn't really see that then. Great. Right. So that's that all three of those things. So
that's awesome. And so I also got to ask, I mean, like, I always hear the importance of it, the importance of relationships, just in business, like personal life, I got to ask, like, how important have relationships been in like your own life? I think you just touched on it, but like, relationships for like business life and personal life?
Um, yeah, I think I think it's, you know, been fortunate to meet a lot of people who have gone on to do amazing things, as I mentioned earlier, and so you know, it, it's kind of interesting, because it's something where in the beginning your career, you don't know who those people are gonna be like, honestly, if you don't back if I went back 15 years, and you told me to pick out people in the room with our most successful I would have been in like, 90% Incorrect. It's, it's really hard to tell. So I always just, like tend to take the long view on everything right, like, assume, like, the person that seems like an idiot. They don't know what they're doing today. They actually might be smarter than you think and eventually figure it out. Right, but like, yeah, so I think like, having a little humility and just like, you know, always being open to like, I also have this mentality of like, I'm always open to help someone, again, if it's like, you know, I'm not gonna kill myself or but like God can help someone, I'm gonna do it right. And I think you can that's like, the culture of Silicon Valley that I really love is this kind of like builders helping builders. And so I'd say like, don't be afraid and intimidated to reach out to folks. But also know the best folks to reach out to are not usually like the people that are three steps ahead of you. They're actually like, the people that are in the arena with you that are the same phase. I've learned as much from reaching out to experts, as I've learned from just other people that are in at the same phase in the startup as I am, right. But one of the people that I thought did the best, were people in their 20s that seem to have this kind of like, blind confidence in their own ability to solve problems from first principles, right? Like I often I think, in my younger my career to often work towards expertise. The problem with expertise is it's based upon legacy information, right? Like, someone's gonna give you experience on what works with sales. Well, they're gonna give you the experience based based on their last 1015 years. Problem is the last 1015 years are relevant to you, right, you're trying to build a product for the next 10 years. And so and so I think, you know, I look at a lot of even even things we're doing, the programs we've been doing sales and marketing wise, that have been most successful are the ones that aren't widely. There's no blog about how to do it. There's no book about how to do it. I just heard from some other founder they were doing I was like, that's a cool idea. Let's borrow that. Right. And so that's, I think that value Building Network is really just surround yourself with other smart people that are solving adjacent problems or sensor problems for different markets. And honestly, that's the most powerful force multiplier I've seen.
Yeah, that's a it's actually funny, because yesterday, I was listening to a talk by someone, they said that one of the best strategies they had for growing their own business was actually met with their direct competitors, because their direct competitors were in it with them, and they are building like the same thing. And apparently, like it helped his business out a ton. I was like, That is a very different way to think.
But it's pretty well, yeah, I would say I've never been I've never been very good at building. I noticed people that can do that. I'm a little more headstand than that. But yeah, I think it's surprising how I think, you know, it's surprising how kind of serendipitous competitions just like getting out of the office, quote, unquote, right, and just spending some time being curious about how other people are solving problems tend to have huge dividends.
Yeah, it is incredible. And how would you say, we are getting really close here? But I mean, being in Silicon Valley, I'm reading the book, The Devil's playbook right now. It's really good. It's about how jewel was founded, like the jewel like big tobacco and nicotine. And they started in Silicon Valley as well. And they're talking just about the ecosystem. In every book, you read about Silicon Valley, the ecosystem ecosystem, everyone's building, everyone's in it together. You would say that history about Silicon Valley, and maybe if you are, think about certain product, go to Silicon Valley?
Yeah, well, it's funny. It's funny, as you say that I want to like disambiguate something, which is like, I actually don't mean the physical place that I think they technically consider, like down in Santa Clara, like, Yeah, down by San Jose. I think more of the like, the kind of like, ethereal Silicon Valley, right? There's almost just like this startup culture that started in Silicon Valley moved up to San Francisco, I would argue 10 years ago, and now is actually permeated, you know, where you are like, it's an Austin, it's in Seattle. And, and, you know, used to be its culture was geographic, but now everyone's remote. It's much more like a concept, right? And you see it in the blogosphere and stuff like that, and sort of sphere. So, but yeah, I think it's just like the the tech startup scene in general, is one that generally has been built on this kind of like, very communal aspects of like, you know, everyone, I think, I think it's because honestly, I think it's one of the things was like, it's easy to kind of funnel hate when you're in a gold rush, like, everyone's done so well that like, no one's feels like there is a zero sum game, everyone's fighting over the same little turf, right? It's not like other industries, where I feel like, you know, financial feels very, very zero sum like that. A business is almost exactly zero sum, right? in tech. It's like, everyone has these outside opportunities. So everyone is happy to help you with your opportunity, because they've already got their gold mine. They've already had their vein of gold that they're mining. Right. And so I think that's partly where it comes from. But yeah, I would say that, like, yeah, there's like this, again, like, it's not even GSP anymore. I do think if you're, you know, young and kind of a builder, I still think San Francisco is the best place to be. Because, you know, I remember going I lived here 15 years, you go the places and I'm surprised like, Wait, everyone, the coffee shop isn't talking about startups. So it was weird. I don't understand every conversation is happening in this room, right? And actually now it's a great time to come because I feel like it's getting back to where it was in 50 years ago was much more builder focused because in the last 510 years, what you had was a lot of growth stage companies. You had Uber Salesforce, you name it. it. And they had a lot of you know, they're 1000 person companies. And so you had to like late stage PMS and directors, whatnot, those folks have all moved, right? There's folks that they didn't need to be here anymore. They left. And so now you've got this, like SimCity a little bit cheaper, it's a lot quieter, and people that are left with people that are like trying to build companies. And so if you're interested in companies, I still argue it's like one best places to be.
That is an incredible, incredible point, actually, I never thought about it's like, people are like, like peons and stuff. That's an incredible thought, actually,
I think someone told me that a friend of mine told me like two professionals aged 25 to 34 25% of them left during the pandemic and are coming back, which is huge, which is huge, like the bars a little quieter here, frankly, but but like, again, it's kind of it's a bit of a like a wildfire, right, let's say old growth in the smokes. There's a lot of folks are like, hey, they're starting families. They don't want to hear it's expensive. It's an MCs, huge influx of folks in their 20s. They're, like all excited to move to San Cisco. And I'm like, Yeah, you shouldn't be because like four years ago, I don't think you could afford to move here. But so, yeah,
wait, and then two more questions. Early 20s. What's one book, you'd recommend that everyone or podcasts or video everyone should watch? Read listen to?
I don't think it matters. I think what matters is that you do listen to any of them. Right? Like, I like, I don't think I mean, I can think of some books that up. But frankly, I think it's just just exercising that muscle is more important than anything. And I think sometimes you get wrapped around the actual like choosing the right one. You know, back into it. I still love the founders at work, which is when the original books, the by Jessica Livingston was the co founders of Y Combinator. Okay, I love that because it it humanizes the beginnings of a lot of these companies. I think sometimes people you look at, you know, look at where Dropbox is today. And where Airbnb is today. And it feels daunting, it feels like this big monolith. But then if you read this book, you're like it, you know, so many things are total shit shows in the beginning, just like, you know, a, you know, string and a prayer sort of thing right here. Like, I think it kind of lowers the stakes in a healthy way where it's like, oh, wow, like these guys just started writing code or started shipping products. Right. And so I think yeah, again, I think most important, like, just really anything. But secondary, if he did, I think you know, might be a good Bootstrap. It's like gunners at work. And so you can understand, like, I think that was a big aha. For me. It's like, These people aren't tech smarter than anyone I've ever known. Right? They're like, maybe 10% tops. Right? They're doing it right. So get up and do it. Perfect. I
love that. And then last question, Where can people find you? Where can people contact you check out fathom, please plug all the websites, all the contacts you were phenomenal to have? And super thankful that how you on?
Oh, it's been really fun. Yeah, Fathom dot video, is the website. Again, completely free app. Get on there, install it. Let me know what you think. I'm on LinkedIn. So you can just message me on LinkedIn, the best way to reach me.
Perfect. Well, Richard, thank you so much for having a thank you so much for coming on. I should say My apologies. Thank you so much for coming on. This is a great episode. A lot of great thoughts in here. Thank you. Thank you. It was awesome.