Why don’t we start, Jai? Do you want to start? Each of you give you a little brief intro overview of your journey and entrepreneurship, and then we will launch into this very pressing – oh, yes, please, our cell phones need to be off.
We are taping so cell phones interfere with the transmission. So if you can please turn your phones off, that would be hugely helpful. So thank you. I have Nancy here to keep me honest.
Why don’t we start, Jai? Do you want to start? Each of you give you a little brief intro overview of your journey and entrepreneurship, and then we will launch into this very pressing – oh, yes, please, our cell phones need to be off.
We are taping so cell phones interfere with the transmission. So if you can please turn your phones off, that would be hugely helpful. So thank you. I have Nancy here to keep me honest.
Jai, you want to start? Sure. My name is Jai Prakash graduate from the GSB last year in June. And so my journey to entrepreneurship, I started – prior to the GSB, I spent a few years in consulting in sports and a couple years of private equity. And so I came to the GSB thinking I want to do something more entrepreneurial.
And I used my summer between my first and second year to work at – I started to call Bonobos which was started by some GSB of ’07. You guys have probably seen e- mails about it by now. I really enjoyed that, came back my second year deciding I wanted to do something that was very entrepreneurial and focusing on its products, spent a lot of company meeting with different companies that came with different ideas of my own, and ended up at a company called reBloom which right now, I am the COO, I was employee #2. The product launched in May, and we sell it two and half ounce natural sleep drink that’s an alternative to things like Ambien [inaudible] and so.
I started in July, and I have been there for nine months. So my name is Ilana Stern. I am the founder and CEO of WeddingtonWay which is an online boutique for bridesmaid dresses. It’s basically essential shopping for bridal parties.
I was a buyer for Bloomingdale’s prior to the GSB and came in sort of knowing that I was passionate about the fashion industry and fascinated by a lot of the inefficiencies in the industry but not sure yet what I wanted to do about it. Basically, I started working on the idea for WeddingtonWay in the summer between my first and second year. A lot of actually time spent with Jai, we shared an office at Bonobos for a couple of weeks during the summer. And I actually did it something different than Jai, which is spent part of the summer in consulting and part of the summer at Bonobos.
Half of my time at Bonobos was spent doing project for them and half of it was spent doing a project for myself. And basically, it just got going in the second year with WeddingtonWay, took advantage of the time at the GSB to do a massive amount of consumer research. It was really the most important thing for us to understand where the pain was coming from with brides in the process, and incorporated WeddingtonWay in May of my second year, got our first commitments from investors the week of graduation and started full time really the day after graduation. So my name is Alex Salazar.
I am a GSB-09 my company is called Katasoft, and we are making application security software. So we are trying to make application security easy. And our projects base on open source project that we also have called Apache Shiro. So we are very much in the enterprise software space.
My background prior to the GSB was enterprise sales for IBM, so I have always lived in enterprise software. While at the GSB, I was very busy. I ran the E-Club along with Daniel who is not here right now, and I also put together the E-Conference. And it was a great time. My summer interest was in venture capital, also folks in enterprise software.
And then I spent my second year flushing out of thesis around Cloud software, tried to start a company based off that. That company wasn’t not working out, and then a few months later, ended up finding this opportunity and started this company with a different partner, which took about nine months after graduating. The first prescribed question we have is about what you didn’t take advantage of the business school. But these three student alums I think were particularly good about taking advantage of many things at the business school.
So in addition to talking about what you wish you take an advantage of, how much you guys in particular just talk about what you didn’t take advantage of because they were really full-time residents in the CES. So one or the other way, Alex, maybe you talked about it a little bit. So I took advantage of everything I could get my hands on. The CES was ground zero.
I spent I think at least twice two days a week just at the CES with Lynda, with Nancy and just using that as kind of my headquarters for all the work I was doing. I also really leveraged the network that the school has. I mean when you are a student, you have access to everyone. Anyone and everyone will take your call; anyone and everyone will give you time; anyone and everyone will tell you information they shouldn’t give you. And so I took advantage of that fantastic network of people that have really, really helped and some of which have financed our company.
And I also participated in everything the Entrepreneurship Club had which also gave me a very strong network of fellow classmates and alums who were also entrepreneurs, which has been probably one of the most important things in the first year in just helping to stay same, is having people around and going the same — Is there anything that you think you missed? Yes. So the flipside to that equation was that I had no spare time while I was in school, and that actually from an entrepreneurship standpoint was difficult because I didn’t have a lot of free time to really evaluate ideas in the capacity that I should have been evaluating them when I was in school, and I didn’t have the opportunity to really just spend time working on concept and testing them while a student.
I had to actually wait until I graduated and then had spare time to go do that work. In hindsight, it would have [inaudible] with the working wife, yeah. So I think we are probably all going to echo each other to a certain perspective.
But essentially, for me, I think the most beneficial thing was really getting out there, talking to alums, talking to people connected with community, investors, other entrepreneurs and just getting a lot of feedback on the idea as it was evolving. And there was sort of nothing more beneficial from just a testing the idea perspective, from the building confidence perspective, learning how to talk to other entrepreneurs, learning how to talk to investors and really sort of getting hang of how everything works. Can you talk about how you either did or did not do that in the context of class as well?
Yeah. So okay, so that’s a good point. So I would say what I wish I had done more of actually is taking more entrepreneurial classes earlier. Our first year was a little bit less flexible in terms of extra classes we could take [inaudible]. But I did get a massive amount out of it.
So I took 356 in my second year, and we developed a lot of what WeddingtonWay is through the 356 class. That was huge, just getting other students involved in the idea, seeing like learning how to excite a team, how to pitch every other week. It was just incredibly valuable, formation of new ventures, MGE with Joel Peterson, another phenomenal class and just a lot of the classes where it’s just sort of throw away the cases and really dig into a real business idea, do role playing where you are really sort of stepping outside your comfort zone. I think a lot of entrepreneurship is doing things you don’t know how to do every single day. And you have – a lot of the entrepreneurial classes really helped me sort of step outside of my comfort zone and keep pushing myself to the next level, so that I really sort of became conditioned and got totally used to it.
So what did you miss or what you wish you had done? Yeah. So I mean just I think getting sort of – I think the biggest thing I didn’t do was there was so much benefit in reaching out to the ’09 network in my second year, the network around Stanford. And I wish I had done more pf that my first year.
So I guess this is a little bit more relevant for first years. Just started finding excuses to reach out to alums as early as you can and just start figuring out how to engage people in conversation. It’s really beneficial early on.
Jai. Yeah. So things I did that were good, I think so I am talking about classes, the three classes that I took that are probably the most valuable for me right now are MGE, well I think it goes back – I think when I took it, I thought it was like okay, when I am running a company 10 years from now, I will use these things. But the lessons you learn, they come up in everyday conversations with vendors, with hiring, with whatever. And so it’s been super valuable.
Touch-feely is an amazing class, so I think everyone should try and take it your first year here. You still have the chance to sign up. And then 356 I took which was just a startup class and so I didn’t have an idea that I had – I wanted brand new, I wanted the consumer products, and so I worked with another guy, I had a sneaker idea.
And just I was able to use that to leverage how I think about selling, how I think about customers, who I would reach out to in the GSB network. Outside of that, the only thing I really did was my second year, I started the speaker series through the CES which was called the Consumer Product Founders Series, and it was probably more selfish than anything because I knew I wanted to be in consumer products, and I just needed to reach out to as many people from the GSB [inaudible] brought them in. I think we had to bring in like 10 or 11 speakers in over a few months.
So that was a really useful thing for me. I am still in touch with a handful of them, and they have been advisors for me. I don’t have really any regrets from the GSB.
I think I did a lot of things I wanted to do. And it’s one of those unique times where you can kind of learn whatever you want to learn and [inaudible] time whenever you want to. I did two things differently.
One would be potentially just putting a stake [inaudible] earlier what I wanted to do. I kind of came back. I came first year at the GSB not [inaudible] the start up, go back to private equity, go back to sports, do whatever. But then second year, I started realizing I want to be in consumer products and so I started to open [inaudible]. And it was much easier to have conversations with alums, with fellow classmates, whatever in terms of saying this is where I want to go.
And the other thing which has nothing to do with startup or anything is like I wish I would have just played more tennis, played more basketball, hung out more because the second you get out, the second you think of a startup, there is so much to do and so little time for anything else. So take advantage of being there. I think Jai had a great point that I mean he said kind of jokingly, he started the consumer products speakers series selfishly but – and it doesn’t just hold to the GSB, it holds I think in general in the population. If you do something to kind of serve what your personal desires and needs are, you are going to serve a broader population as well.
And he gives you an excuse to reach out to people and build those deep relationships to become a great foundation for other things as well. And it doesn’t just hold here at the Business School, I think it holds in life in general. So what have been your biggest lessons achieved, learned up to this point?
Ilana, you are in the middle — I would say there are a lot of different ways I could answer that because I learned lessons every day. But some of the takeaways I have so far, #1, follow your guide. For me, in everything I do, there is a point at which you just can’t rationalize a decision anymore and you just have to sort of let your instinct guide you in terms of whether it’s forming your team or building relationships with like suppliers or partners, just stuff I do every day. It’s really important to follow my guide because ultimately we are moving pretty quickly, and I sort of have to just make sure I continue to push the business forward. And other thing that has been incredibly important is transparency, and this goes back to Jai’s point with touchy-feely.
A lot of what I learned in touchy-feely, I do use every day. Learning, just being really open and honest and communicative with everyone that I work with and just really laying it out on the table has been absolutely paramount to just sort of building a strong team and accomplishing what we need to accomplish. So I would say those are sort of the two things that drive me every day. I agree with that stuff.
I really thought about this and there are four things that I think a key lesson I learned. One is my situation is actually a little different than these two in the sense that there was a founder who had developed a product over a year and a half and then he was bringing me on as his first hire. But in the sense of you thinking about doing a startup with a cofounder or whatever, one thing I was told before going into entrepreneurship was that it’s like a marriage and I didn’t really believe that, but the reality is this that John, the founder of [inaudible], spends more time with me than his wife probably, and we get lunch every day together, we are in the office, get every day together.
And so one of the biggest lessons I learned is that underlying values are critical. Like as long as you guys – we see the same way in terms of how we want to do business, how we want to build the company, that’s really important. And we are in the process of recruiting. Right now, we would bring on a third employee today actually and hopefully a fourth one the next month.
And like as we have gone through the process of meeting a lot of people, it’s been very critical for us to decide whether that person fits our values and wants to grow the business in the way we do. And there is a lot of situations where your values are tested. So I think that’s the biggest lesson I have taken away.
Second is that startups are super volatile, so you better be ready for ups and downs every day. I mean the way I would like to say is it’s ups and downs but always moving forward. I mean there is a punch in the stomach every day for random reason.
You have just got to be able to handle it and move forward and realize that if you have a product you like or a company you believe in that you are going to move forward and pick out the right to get things done. Another thing is that if you are doing a startup, you should try and find a way to have balance in it. I mean you are taking a giant pay-cut and you are taking the ability to control your schedule. So realize that nothing is really that urgent, and you should be able to find a balance enjoying what you are doing feeling happy, like [inaudible] also having a balance with non-startup like things. And then it was already [inaudible] things just that the GSB network is incredible.
Actually, I came in through reBloom right when we were about to launch our fundraising process. And I will tell you that any GSB alumni e-mail whether they were at a C fund or institutional fund, individual, angel or whatever, every single one of them applied to [inaudible]. And even once [inaudible] want to take a meeting and nothing to do with consumer products were responsive and helpful. And if we look at the people that have eventually invested, I would say – I mean the large majority of them are GSB alums or type so GSB somehow.
So I think the network is amazing — So for me, the biggest lesson I have learned over the first year is that customer feedback or feedback from the outside world is tricky. It’s like dynamite. You can’t create a company without it, you can’t a product without it. But if you use it the wrong way, you will blow your hands off. So part of that lesson was being really clear on what feedback you actually want from the people you meet with because everyone will give you feedback.
And so an example of that is never ask someone what they think of your product, don’t ask them that question. The question that matters is will they buy it. And if they buy it, how will they use it, because if you ask them what they think about it, they may tell you all the things that are wrong with it, all the things that they think are awesome about it, and none of those may have any impact on whether or not they buy it.
And so somebody may tell you because you are trying to be helpful that oh, here are all the critics I have for your product, and they really are doing from a good place. And you come out of that meeting thinking your product sucks, they don’t want it. But then if you ask that same person, well would you but it based on what it currently is, they might say yes, and you need to know that. And so once we figured that out, we just stopped asking people what they thought of our product and just the cut the question to will you buy it. The other thing is you need to be careful who you ask for feedback from.
So the benefit of the GSB is you have an amazing network to talk to. That’s really tricky because you might go meet with someone who is extraordinarily powerful and you go meet with them, and you get their feedback on your product. And that person tells you that it doesn’t make any sense, they don’t think it’s going to have a good market, they don’t see how it’s going to go to market, it’s going to be too expensive, integration is going to be an issue. But when you actually start to think about it, they are not your customer, they have never been in your space, they have never done anything related to what you are starting, and so the feedback ended up being completely useless.
Or vise versa, they may tell you it’s completely awesome but all those things still hold so you get a false/negative or false/positive. So when you meet with people, you need to be really clear on what their feedback actually should matter to you. So if it’s someone who is really important, ask them a question that they know and have credibility in. So if they have been a VP of sales at some big company, ask them a question about how they are going to market. Don’t ask them about if your product is going to sell because they are not going to know.
If it’s Mark Zuckerberg, don’t ask him if he likes your product. Ask him how he would integrate to his sales platform or something like that. So those things were very great lessons. But now that we have learned them, our feedback sessions and our customer meetings have become a lot more productive. [Informal Talk] Is there anything that you thought was particularly important that ended up not being so? [Informal Talk] I don’t know, I mean I am trying to say because I think I am still learning every day. And for me, to tell you that some class I took was important, next week it might become super applicable.
So for right now, I mean it’s one of those things where I am moving forward eyes wide open, always learning. I mean I am finding that certain classes had become applicable for certain things like I mentioned MGE touchy-feely or sort of everyday things. But we have to deal with negotiations, we are taking negotiations, that’s helpful. And I have no doubt that some of the accounting stuff is — I mean what about even things in your business? I mean did you think raising money at a particular time was particularly important or getting a particular customer?
I mean raising money was important I think. For us, we have tried to stay pretty balanced with how we approach things and don’t let things affect us too much. So fundraising – we got done in December, we would like to get done in October/ November but it didn’t hold us back. As long as you have cash in the bank and you feel like you can move forward, nothing is really stopping us.
And so we have had delays and issues but I don’t think there is anything that’s surprised us too much. I think you guys put too much weight on — I think — I don’t know, I know sort of I would say through the GSB and through sort of training and everything like quant and finance, when you start a business, there can be a tendency to sort of want to model everything out to the last detail and make sure that you haven’t missed anything. Two things I would say is understand your market opportunity, sort of understand your business model or want to think it’s going to be. And you do want to make sure it’s viable but then move on because you could sort of spend all day in Excel or trying to make every assumption perfect, and the only way you can make an assumption perfect is to start running the business and have real data to plug into your model. It’s I would say sort of one thing that was, I don’t know, that I have seen I guess a lot people sort of get caught up on, I would say make sure not to.
For me, everything I learned in the first year strategy class. It’s just isn’t important in your first year strategy, like the best laid plans, you can think about competitive advantage, and better entry, and supplier power, and buyer power, and none of it matters because it’s all going to change dramatically when you are talking to customers, and it’s going to change every week until you actually hone in on what your business model really is going to be. And I think what we came to was you don’t define that. All that stuff that you learn in the strategy, you are evaluating these multibillion dollar companies, and you are analyzing their strategy. But you don’t get to pick that really, I mean there is only small parts you get to pick.
But a lot of is really reflection of the market you are in. It’s a reflection of the space you are and the technology you have built. What I would say was most important in terms of strategy is make sure you are in a big market and make sure you are in a market that’s growing. And if you are in those things, and you have a product people actually want to buy because you are solving a real problem, everything else doesn’t matter in the first year.
It will matter if you become really big. But in the first year, the only thing matters is you have big market, you have growing market and you have a product people want to buy. So what have been some big inflection points for you in your businesses? [Informal Talk] So I think the first one for me was in November of my second year. I pitched WeddingtonWay the first time in a September session class and just started propelling forward into sort of working on the idea. In November I cold-called the bunch of brands in New York and basically said I am the founder of this like amazing company, and I am going to be in New York, will they meet with me.
They somehow agreed. I got off the phone these seven brands like in one day and booked a ticket to New York, and the next week went to New York and met with all these brands, and got them to agree to sell to my non- existing company with a non-existing website. So that was really step one and that was really big because when our customer’s inflection point #2 came to me in April saying basically they have heard that I was working on something with bridesmaid dresses, can I help them, I was able to say yes because I actually had product to sell to them even though I didn’t have a website yet. I would say #3 was probably being who is over there WeddingtonWay’s director of merchandising agreeing to join this crazy venture turning one into two.
So I was able to tell my investors that our team size had doubled, which was really exciting. And then, we launched the beta of our website in November. And from there, it’s been moving at a million miles an hour, whether it’s testing our first Facebook ads and realizing they are awesome for us, which is really exciting, or launching our first contest which we did on Monday with the wedding planning site. It’s just sort of – I guess I would say that what is an inflection point that one of the pieces of advice have been given by a lot of different people, celebrate small victories at a startup because you have a lot of ups and down. So you can have inflection points every day.
I mean with reBloom, some of the stuff that would be more interesting would be prior to when I started. Right now, there are a couple of inflection points when John was developing the product and there are a million. A couple of [inaudible] raised with friends and family around.
So we had some money in the bank and ended up agonizing over the decision to buy the URL Rebloom.com and spent $5,000 [inaudible] because it just makes ton more sense to go into business. And another thing, we spent about a third of this entire friends and family around on hiring a world-class packaging design company for the bottle and getting that all set up. And that was one thing I know he spent a ton of time debating but one piece of feedback we got from investors and potential advisors on it for ourselves is that the packaging looks great, and if you want to – in consumer products specifically, if you want to sell a premium product, you need to [inaudible] like something that targets to mass appeal. Inflection points as I joined, I mean the product launch about a month before I joined, and I would say there has been a bunch of stages in terms of – since I have started, I mean the big thing for me when I came in this fundraising. So obviously, that was my major focus coming in.
And once we [inaudible] it’s a big inflection point because we were talking about well, we have x amount in the bank, what are we going to do, what are we going to do. Then all of a sudden, we had a lot more in the bank, and it was like okay, now we can actually think about building this company. The next inflection point we are sort of still in right now is that [inaudible] to build the foundation, we get a new order management system, we are recruiting, we are building new office space, all that sort of stuff, things to put infrastructure in place that you can actually support growth. And I think we are getting to the point where we are reaching to the end of that inflection point and the next one is coming up now which is the idea of sales milestones. And actually, we have revenue but now it’s like how do we take this business to the next level.
So I think I mean – and that’s over the course of nine months, we have been through a million different inflection points. There were three major ones that we have seen. So I mean one thing you will see with the startup is that the landscape shifts rapidly depending on how you are moving. We have had inflection points every day.
Now, we have had two major inflection points. The first one was we bootstrapped for a long time because we wanted to be ready when we want to go, raise some money, and that was a bad idea, because the inflection point for us was when we actually raised money, there is something psychological about actually having a salary and having other people’s money to spend on the things you need to stand versus your own. And so the moment we had money in the bank, and there were enough zeros in the checking account, everybody — [Informal Talk] Everyone’s felt a lot more comfortable, and our productivity skyrocketed. And it was just psychological because nothing else really changed, our burn rate didn’t go up all that much.
But there was a perceptible, perceivable shift in the company’s mentality. So I would urge you to raise money. No matter what it is, raise some amount of money at the beginning so that you feel like you have a [inaudible].
The second inflection point for us was first customer contact. We had designed this great concept on paper. We hadn’t yet programmed anything but we had all the great PowerPoint slides that showed everything what we were going to do, and it was fantastic.
And then we started showing it to customers. And that was an amazing experience because you think you know everything, you know nothing until customers start telling you about the real pains. And that feedback will – you cannot create a great company without it. So our company just from a product perspective took off once they started taking customer meetings. And we started doing it on a very, very regular basis, probably about three meetings a week. (Audience) So it’s definitely I would say a ‘work in progress,’ and it’ s probably the first question I have to answer every time I meet with an investor.
So I guess I am probably used to talking about it. But it’s been word of mouth for us, and we are starting to pay for it as well. But early on, our first two customers that came in April, one was a GSB classmate, came up to me in the parking lot of outside little field, grabbed my hand and said, “We are getting married in August. I don’t know what to do about bridesmaid dresses. I heard you are doing something.
Do you have a solution for me?” And I was like actually. And since we launched the website, it’s been a combination of like word of mouth and now playing around with cost per click. And we are in a lucky position where with Facebook, for example, we can target women with status engaged. So there is a lot of interesting stuff we can play around with there. But we are definitely focusing mostly on online acquisition other than driving word of mouth.
So our models are little different because we are B2B. So doing the consumer oriented [inaudible] doesn’t really make any sense. So for us, what’s really worked for us is really just getting through the network or through relationships or kind of any way we can, we try and get introductions to the most senior executive we can at a company or in a target demo. And that person will generally give us 15-20 minutes because what we are doing makes sense to them and they need it, then that person will route us to the appropriate person in the organization.
And that’s how not only do we get feedback but we actually build relationships to get leads for sales. So just from a consumer product standpoint, if you are interested in consumer products or eCommerce, customer acquisitions are very tricky and it’s something you need to be ready to experiment and iterate on. I think the way we did it when it was launched in May is a lot of word of mouth, and through the course of May through probably January is word of mouth and PR.
So probably just from a consumer product stand point of view and sharing consumer products for eCommerce, customer acquisition is very tricky and it’s something you need to be ready to experiment and iterate on. I think the way we did it when it was launched in May it was a lot of word-of-mouth and through the course of, May through I would call it January it was word of mouth and PR, so we are in like DailyCandy and Oprah magazine and few other places where people saw us and they came to our site. Now right now we are direct to consumer and we are only available on our website.
And so it’s really at this point you know now that we have money we are turning on the faucet for marketing spend and customer acquisition is a big goal for 2011. But it’s one where you are not going to lock it day one, you just need to experiment and figure out, you know what messaging works for customers, what’s bringing through the site, what’s making them convert. And I mean there is a lot of experimentation so it’s you know I know companies like [inaudible] they have been around for two or three years they are doing great.
They are still trying to figure out. And so it’s one of those things we are yet to keep I mean it’s one thing we would start it generally you iterate and experiment all the time and everything and that’s a huge one especially in consumer products. [Audience] A PR firm, we did yeah so we ended up, we use the PR firm starting in like July probably June or July, negotiated rate and I wonder we can do, you will find at the start we can negotiate a lot of rates with vendors as a startup and so they gave us that path and ended up using and then they you know one thing [inaudible] how many of you have done a history, probably none of you but it used to be called real launched as ReBloom Beauty Sleep Drink and the idea there was to get initial we-chat customers with men and women who tend to have and more sleep issues tend to be more on to try new things. We switched recent in natural but the PR firm that we started working with was very good with Beauty and so we were able to get placed in things like Marie Claire, Oprah Magazine and things like that. And that was helpful but I would say if have been in eCommerce business, customer acquisition is much more useful when you get online PR, like newsletters and emails, so people can stick right to your site.
Yeah. [Audience] So my work experience is directly relevant to what I do everyday. Like you know I spent four years in Enterprise Sales. And understanding how large enterprises buy stuff is a very complex art.
And so having learned it you know we don’t waste time trying to figure that out and we have heard from other people in the similar space that they are throwing themselves against the wall trying to actually get an interaction inside of large organization. And we are not dealing with that because we know what we are doing in that space. That being said I think in hindsight if I could go back and talk to myself coming on undergrad, I probably would have tried to take the same job but at an Enterprise focus to Startup and trying to learn or at least at some point had taken a job working for a Startup because there were things that I worked at IBM for example there are things that I learned at IBM, or that I was used to at IBM that just don’t apply, when you are in your early stage Startup that you know we are now learning the art. I will give you two thoughts on that, one is just on my day- to-day and what I am able to do at ReBloom. I mean I think I did consulting product, I think that is really valuable training just in terms to thinking about business judgment, thinking about how to deal with different parties, how to build a team, how to build a culture so all this stuff is very valuable in that plus stuff in the GSB.
I will tell you when I was talking to consumer product companies and doing recruiting coming out of the GSB, no one cared about the fact that I was in, if there was a ban there was a place called Berkshire Partners and both decent places like everyone cared about Bonobos because that was much more applicable just because it’s a startup and that so in hindsight I don’t know what the right answer is for me in hindsight I mean I am very happy with the training I got but potentially having more, had I known earlier I want to do consumer products or Startups, having more of that in my resume would have been more helpful, but I mean I think it sort of depends on sure you are in terms of where you want to go. Yeah. [Audience] This is an initiative that’s very near and dear to my heart and so it is I can attest. I am – from Miami, Florida and when I was in school all I wanted to do is go back there and start my company there. Regardless of what city you are in, the one thing that I found was that different cities have a network effect. If you want to start account of your company and you don’t do it here, it’s going to be very, very difficult.
The talent is here, the money is here, half of the customers are leaving really talk to a Startup to work with, are here. If you are a consumer of tech you know the people who are most comfortable adopting a new technology are also here. And so you know it’s very difficult to start something outside of the city where it’s not their focus, I mean this thing goes for LA if you want to media, it probably should be down there. Want to do finance, New York is a good place. So those competitive advantages going into those individual cities, something that as I tried to move to Miami, I started to run into in a very, very real way and so I had to actually decide to stay here because of those advantages.
And he hates it here. I love it here. [Audience] No, I do, I live in Pacific, I live on the beach, it’s fantastic so I get a little site of Miami, it’s a little colder though, but it’s nice, I do apply over here. Yeah I probably have a slightly different perspective, I think waiting to me probably is been more flexible in terms of location, we can be in New York for example where the fashion industry is or there are different places we could be. I think the choice to be in San Francisco and I guess we decided that San Francisco really make sense for us. Part of it is I was here at the GSB for two years and the entire network I built around while I was building this business is in the valley.
Any question that I have is a coffee away, and that makes things a lot easier. And as we have inbound interest from investors I can grab a coffee here and every investors who are interested in Weddington Way and get to know them and build a relationship with them I am before raising my next round of finance. So that just makes sort of everything a lot more like natural and easier for us on that front. And then in terms of talent recruitment I do think it’s valuable being in a location where there are a lot of people who are interested in working at Startups and understand the tradeoffs between cash and equity and it’s a part of lifeblood here that isn’t necessarily the case in other places.
We have another 2010 grad, camp down to our office who are starting a company and he is very deliberately moving back to Pittsburgh but he is getting this company up and going and funded here and hoping to pull it back to Pittsburgh so hopefully we can do it but –. I will give you a completely different perspective. I chose my location and nothing to do with professional stuff.
It was more just like, prior to GSB I had taken the best opportunity and I was in Boston and New York for a while and I literally, I think that GSB was very good at getting me to think about what was going to make me happy and content and I am a very instinct driven person and my instinct was pointing me towards San Francisco, strong enough to the point where I turned down three offers in New York and signed a lease in San Francisco without a job the same week. And that was to except graduation so I mean for me it was just like I just felt like the right city. And I figured everything else fall into place. So I mean I think all the stuff that this guy said was true and it’s turned out to be great but it was much more this instinct driven, really.
Yeah. How do you guys prepare for those first cold calls for today? Are there with investors or with companies that you got may minor interest, did you talk to people, did you just kind of fill PowerPoint presentations like actual meeting with them? So I just did what I did for 4.5 years.
I don’t do cold calls. I deliberately try and get someone into somebody else because it changes everything you do it that way. But there were times when we had to do a cold call, in fact one of the customers that we work with on a regular basis, I cold emailed, the CIO of Fortune 100 Company and he responded and we had a meeting and he responded and we had a meeting. That was very tricky the first line was a GSB grad and that helps a lot, they will take a meeting. So that’s how I start the meetings, and that’s how I get the meetings if you will.
I try and work through someone and that’s the most effective way if we can do it. LinkedIn is a fantastic way to go about that. So you can see who knows that somebody else and then if it really comes down to a cold e-mail you really want to just make yourself seem credible in the first line, and be really clear with them exactly what you want and if you are trying to get feedback you should be very clear that you are just trying to get feedback and not trying to sell them a product. If you are trying to sell him a product, be clear in that because if you are kind of vague they don’t want to deal with that. In terms of the meeting I always have PowerPoint, all my meetins are on WebEx and you know I keep my PowerPoint as clean and as simple as humanly possible but at least for us what we are doing a sufficiently complex where I need a diagram to just convey the concepts fast enough we can get a lot of time.
In terms of time I limit everything to 20-minute meetings. Anything past that they start with Nancy they may not take the meeting, and I tell him upfront in e-mail and I tell him upfront in the actual meeting that it’s going to be 20 minutes so that everybody is kind of cool. And then I just have really clear idea of what I want out of the meetings, what are the questions, what are the three questions I need answered. If it’s feedback, what are the three feedback questions is if I am trying to sell them on being our partner or paying us for something you know.
There are key questions that I want to get answered in that direction and trying to get those answers and everything else is great in the meeting but that’s how I handle. That I mean two things I would say one is I don’t, getting started I don’t think you need to do cold calls. You should have a network from the GSB and your friends there, take always more meetings and more interest and with everyone you talk to they are going to realize they like the video whatever and they have people they get afraid to and then you have this nice path of going down just one more referrals. I think cold calls are pretty difficult in general.
Another thing is just echo some male — one thing someone told me in before fundraising which became very true was if you want money as per advice, if you want to advise that for money because they will be rather happy to give you feedback and if they are interested then they might follow up but the second you come to someone saying hey I am raising money, do you want to invest, people are just going to turn away. I guess from a slightly different perspective I get mentioned the whole thing, I actually initially had tried to use my network in a fashion industry to get to their brands that I wanted to meet with. You know it’s just taking too long because I wasn’t ready to wear and the wedding industry is a little bit different so ultimately I just decided to this is taking too long, I am just going to call them and it’s sort of knowing your audience so I definitely didn’t mention that I am a business student at Stanford and I am former buyer from Bloomingdale’s starting this awesome company. So it was really at the end of the day and then it’ s like when you are in that situation, like at least for that situation I mean you have to like act larger than life and you have to make them think that you know this is like the train that’s like passing them by and you got to jump on is sort of I guess my tactic which can be a bit personal.
So that’s a great point, so when I threw, I was growing in the GSB grad in the first line that was to get feedback, right because when you present yourself as you are new grad you are young you are trying your feedback people open up and they will tell you. And they will tell you and they will give you feedback they will give you advice in the world you can get a lot of data. When you are actually trying to get a business relationship off the ground and you really want meet with them to actually try and build something. Our first line is not that.
Our first line is actually talking about open source project and as successful point, so we are legitimate we know they we are credible we have community behind us we know we are talking about. I also want to ask you a question I think one of the most critical skills an entrepreneur can have is in sales and you obviously had some great training in an organization that has some of the sales training. What recommendations you have for people who don’t have four years of IBM, and don’t have that sales training how can they figure out I mean is it entrepreneur you are constantly so. Yeah so I will give you two things that I think are I will try and keep it quick. There are a few things.
The first is you need to understand how your customers buy, your customers go through a buying process and if you are not sensitive to their buying process, you are just trying to close a deal. Not only you are going to close a deal you are going to piss them off and they are not going to talk to you ever again. And so what that means is your customers go through a very simple buying process which is okay well what do I really need, right what am I trying to accomplish what are my initiatives etc. And if you get to talk to them at that point when they are trying to figure out what exactly it is that they are trying to buy or you can help build a vision around what they actually need, based on the features that you have built. The second step in the process is once they kind of know what they need, then it’s about okay well what are my options are, what are the different products I can buy or the solutions I can implement and that’s when you traditionally do the pitching.
And then once you go through that process then after they have seen everything and they have figured out if you are something that does make sense for what they need then you are going to closing mode. What everybody talks about is always be closing that I said don’t list that. I hate that because customers don’t react well to that. And then once you are in close mode we really clear with your customer that you are in close mode and try and close the deal. But I can probably go in for an hour on how you actually do that but it’s you know when you started something complicated you said hey listen can we close this.
When can you buy what you need to make the purchase and that’s enough early on. The next thing is be brutal with your customers or at least your customer management and that listen if your customer is too small or your customer doesn’ t have budget or your customer is planning on buying it in like 18 months stop talking of it. Just because it’s these great brands doesn’t mean you should waste all this time trying to get them to close with you if they don’t budget around, timeframe you are talking about, person they don’t really have a need.
You are too busy so once you realize that someone doesn’t have budget, authority, needs and time or timeframe move on to the next deal otherwise you are going to waste your time. Second to last thing, is start at the top, if you are selling to an organization start as high as you possibly can start in the organization. I think for rookies in sales it is too easy to convince yourself that oh I can get a meeting with this guy at a bottom so I am just going to do that, because the senior person won’t want to talk to me and you start talking to that person what happens in an organization is at that low level person might give you a lot of great feedback, but they will generally believe that the are the authority on the purchase and they generally aren’t. And once you build a relationship with them they might feel that they should be owning the relationship with you and if you try and get a meeting with someone in a different department or higher than them they might feel like you are going over the head and so you might have a political assurance on your head, which becomes a really big problem when your deal stalls. Now you can’t talk to anyone else in trying to save the deals.
And so deals can drag on in this case. The worst case scenario is you might lose a deal and you never you are going to know you lost it through talking to the wrong person. If you needed to talk that person can route you to the right person the moment he knows what you are selling. He is like oh, this is really interesting I want to learn more about it, Bob is the guy who is in-charge of this.
And you meet with Bob and you did in one meeting, and now because Bob is going to write it down to one of his guys, he might write it down one of his guys, you might end up at the bottom, but now because you build a relationship with everybody on the way down if the deal stalls you can work the way back up. And the last thing is the most important thing a sales person can do is not the social, it’s not be like fun person hanging out with, I am having a good pitch like all that stuff is pretty commodity everyone knows that, the most important thing is being able to answer a customer objection. When a customer says oh I don’t want product, it’s too expensive. And just go okay when customers tell you all the reasons they won’t buy a product, what they are really doing is they are testing their understanding of what you are selling and whether or not they need it.
So when they say oh it’s too expensive, oh it’s too big, oh it’s slow whatever, you want to flash that idea. You want to understand where they are coming from or why do say it’s too expensive. Well may be it’s because they don’t have budget, may be it’s because they are comparing two different products. May be it’s because they are comparing to some of the things completely irrelevant.
You want to understand that stuff so that then you can formulate a response. Like well I understand you think it’s too expensive, but if you consider this cost of building yourself which is what you are alternative really is this is actually price. And so you can bond to a lot of customer objections and if you do that your sales will go up. And by the way Harvard has a study that actually proved that that was the most effective thing for successful – So there is just sales class. [Inaudible] I can start we had a really big obstacle. We hit a bit of road block once about five months ago.
We were getting a lot of really high quality feedback, we are meeting with all our target customers and we were just getting really high quality feedback and based on that feedback, we realized that the product we were planning on building and taking the market had a business model flaw to it. And we agonize what we are going to do, right because we saw this is not going to work the way it’s currently architected and the way we are going to have to go to the market. So we had to pivot the product. In a business school classes they will talk about how companies pivot and they will say that you know all this feedback you should pivot if you realize that the market – it’s all hindsight on how you pivot and you thing the companies are pivoted and all worked out beautifully. When you are pivoting it is terrifying.
It is the most difficult you have gone through, we won’t even show how we survive with pivot because tax to that was when we raise money, we were optimistic when we raise money and so we raised money based on the fact that oh yes here is how things will play out. And when you are pivot you essentially you are taking three steps back and there were good steps had to be taken, but suddenly you know your financial doesn’ t really line up with the rule up anymore so now they are like well how do we actually finance ourselves through the process we now know we have to go through all over again with the new product. It was very, very difficult, so my only advice is don’t be scared to pivot, because you are going to have to if you actually have a problem with your business, with your business model and when you are raising your mutual set of, your initial brand of capital make sure you are raising enough to survive a pivot or two because chances are you will go through one. I mean there is a lot of obstacles we face I am trying to think of a specific one that might be helpful. The question the one thing is when we are fundraising we receive the term sheet from a well-known seat funding area that was pretty onerous in terms of just a lot of terms that we would never want to sign and so as an obstacle it was kind of well here is a term sheet it was fundraising but something we don’t feel good about versus well we have some cash that they want to keep fundraising and there is a risk of losing this big round.
And I think that’s where I go back to one of the things I think I found has been the most important is having your values in line and so like John and I talked about it extensively and you know we get to the point where we are like you know what we don’t want to sign something we feel uncomfortable with and so we would rather you know as long as the underlying confidence that we have a product that will work and we have a business that we can build. We don’t want to go forward with the term sheet that didn’t make sense for us. And so we have actually decided not to sign it which is a big obstacle and big decision and we are uncomfortable with going out with their own term sheet and raising last or whatever another term sheet happen to come in with that grade but I mean that was one where I just think it is any obstacles or testing your values and so as long as you know you and your cofounder your employee they were online and they are building a culture of people or sort of thinking along the same core values I think that’s really important. In terms of obstacles you know challenges we face everyday I think one of the biggest ones is just try to juggle a million things.
There is no end in terms of things to do and so one thing that I have found very helpful recently, it goes back to just be it, I will never take a class with Joe Patterson a classmate of my did and told me about this 2X2 that he uses in terms of trying to prioritize things where on one axis is not important is important and on the top part it’s not urgent, urgent. And so I have a white board over my expert, where now I have that and like urgent important I am going to take care of today, all the other stuff can wait and that’s helped us to get through one of the biggest challenges which is just the fact that two people try and do a million things. [Informal Talk] Yes, it’s a hard question to answer I guess because we are still in very early stage so I think there are lots of challenges I don’t know what the biggest one is you know one thing that we are going through right now is transitioning from super lean bootstrap mode to spending to grow. And just getting comfortable with growing our team, increasing our burden and that is just something you know a part of it is just that’s where having a team composed of people who have like faith in the business and really are passionate about the opportunity and what we are building, brining in contractors everyone we work with is really like passionate about the opportunity, I mean that’s a really important piece of you know I guess just to spending into growth for us I think. Because it’s you know you are constantly taking leaps of faith. And then, I mean we have lots of little challenges we went to New York at the end of January to, it was to meet with members of the media who had reached out to us, who were interested in covering Weddington Way to meet with suppliers and you know we had while we were there we had one of the meetings we were most excited about with someone really senior at the magazine like they canceled on us last minute.
It was just like you know that stuff that happens all the time and you have to deal with it and they ended up making introduction for us to and editor in LA who is actually the editor we should be talking to anyway, and so it was like trying to like you know put everything in perspective and realize what would the goal of that meeting have been and it would have been an introduction to that editor so may be we just saved ourselves an hour while in New York and we can do something else at that time and focus on the fact that we now have this other contact. So it’s just I mean there are always big and little things and it’s just a matter of like continuing to like push forward and just you have to really believe in what you are doing to whatever the obstacle is to keep pushing forward otherwise you won’t be able to get up in the morning. [Informal Talk] So equity is really important, it’s a really important thing I mean you know something like we have talked to lot about is you have to be smart with equity and who you give it to, but generous when you find the right people. Because you want the people joining you to be not employees but owners of the company with you, and so that’s been I would say number one and that’s you know other than that it’s you know figuring out I mean we have conversations that Jay was talking about like negotiating with PR firms in the process of hiring a PR firm right now, with contractors we have employed you know we sort of always talk to them it’s very important for us if the people who work for us makes it sure that they are being compensated appropriately and so just having it really open conversation with everyone we work with about what we can and cannot afford and making sure that we are partnering with people who are excited about what we are doing and sort of buying and really you know we come to understand as we don’t want people to be doing work for us where they feel like we are sort of just completely under compensating them because you are not going to get the best out of them, so really just having open communication with people you employ and making sure they are sort of on board with what you are doing. [Informal Talk] So, we have a law firm that we use in the valley called [inaudible] which does a lot of financing and so, when John was starting the company we use Event Corporation and all sort of documents that need to have upfront and basically the agreed to differ expenses until we raised around and I think that’s sort of the standard for those law firms that are pretty expensive and we tend to use them only when we need to because the hourly rates are pretty high but they are very useful firm incorporation for trademark stuff for financing and all that sort of stuff. Now that we have money and now that we are looking at milestones to kind of take to the next level of growth, we are also exploring legal options from consumer product standpoint, we sell adjustable there are certain issues that potentially come up in terms of conditions claims you may, all that sort of stuff and so we are in the early stages of that and I think the one thing we learned is having a good learning is very helpful especially getting a lot of documents then we had one letter from another company that was you know claim that we have taken a trademark which was wrong but we had a very strong lawyer that sent them a letter that basically shut them up and took a lot of work up our plate that we wouldn’t be able to do.
So I think there is lot of value there and I don’t know we would say going forward but it is like we are trying to leverage much advice as we can and I don’t think we will have anyone on retainer per se but just having good contacts would be helpful. [Informal Talk] I do not know, I did not use attorney at all. I mean that is very much like, I liked them a lot we got along he gave me an offer, I mean to a lot of point he gave me an offer I was excited to join the team and he was excited to have me and that was — lawyer. If I could just quick comment on that so, one of our advisers gave us great advice on seeking legal advice that we took to heart and I now see the wisdom in that advice.
Our first advice was wait as long as humanly possible before you engage a lawyer as an early stage start, until you actually have any kind of contract that you design, don’t engage with a lawyer because it’s an expense and it is a distraction as well like you will spend time with lawyer and you know even if it’s just three hours, those three hours you should be spending, making sure you are actually in a company because incorporating something that’s never going to sell anything is you are –. So we waited as long as possibly could until we were actually about certain new customer and I start doing some work for them that we actually started incorporate till we get the legal protection, that’s really what is there for. They will give you legal protection. The second thing is you know pick the best partner you can get at the law firm and that will also be by referral. If you just call up, well it’s not senior just call us then and if we can last and try and get you know somebody to help you, you might not get the best person, work your network to try and get the best partner you can because they are going to give you advice when you need it, specifically around fundraising because they see more deals in venture capital.
And if they ask for equity it’s a small amount of equity, it is a drop in the bucket you know compared to the much of investment business. So, I guess I mean I will just answer that quickly I guess I am sort of probably in line with what Alex said and may be slightly counter so the waiting is long as you can I guess may be I paid for like our first sort of orders on my personal credit card to our suppliers and that was the point at which I realized I should probably be incorporating. So that might have been waiting as long as possible but on the other hand I would say just on the flip side if you are looking to build something big you want to make sure you are doing it right. So for me like my lawyers know where I stand and I am not going to be talking to them on the phone two hours a week, but when it’s important I am going to involve them and if it costs a little extra fine you know just because I am trying to build something and don’t want to screw it up and it exist for a reason, so I think there is like a balancing act there, of making sure you are being smart about building something scalable. [Informal Talk] Yes, so in terms of fundraising. Yes.
So, we didn’t use them to actually meet investors and get to that point but once we have term sheet in place we used, we help them, we use them in terms of like our [inaudible] relatively you said to close but then the lead investor also had a lawyer too, so that kind of balanced that up. [Informal Talk] I took out a loan in May. I hadn’t borrowed against 100% of my tuition so I have been living off of a student alone at 3% which is pretty chip financing. I did the same thing, I mean I knew I was going to start a company at a school so I borrowed also unless I can get — money need them and kept all my cash, I didn’t pay for any school out of my savings, all 3% loans which is back for money, and also my wife works which is really, really good. One of my favorite quotes to Josh Greenberg, somebody asked him this question at one time he says when your students look around he says for me when a kid is growing I could possibly find when she had earning potential and married her. [Informal Talk] [Audience] That totally depends on the business. [Audience] I raised 300K so far. My commitment is the week of graduation we are 30K from classmates so I built the website with $12,000.
And bootstrap you need a bunch of different things, right you actually have money to do it but you don’t have to — one order rates of friends and family member but a lot of people are just trying to raise what they need right away just to get the foundation place. I know John raised a couple of hundred K in friends and family and was very cost conscious in terms of getting into a product launch and then we obviously raised more but it took him a long way. We didn’t pay ourselves for four months and then raised $200,000.
Okay guys we have 10 minutes left. Can you impart your wisdom on the students here, what advice you would have for them, may be even going from the good advice that you have got, what his resume did with you that [inaudible] you want to pass on to this next generation? I guess I sort of spoke to it a little bit. But I think the best advice I could give is use your time at the GSB to take as many risks as possible. Even I was thinking about when Alex was entering the sales question I mean if you don’t have sales like a lot of it, it is part of a strategy and a part of it is gusto.
And just use the time, I did in my second year I did, I gave a talk as part of top 10 for our class and so it’s not just in business but we are taking personal risk like push yourself outside your comfort zone, get comfortable with that whether you end up doing a start up or working at a large enterprise like the sort of being comfortable, sort of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone and taking risks, it’s something you have the luxury of tiers at school to doing all sorts of different ways. I mean I have a bunch of things I could say that were helpful to me. I have probably said a few of them.
I mean one, find some with underlined values to work within as super critical. Two from the GSB’s first year especially for anybody regardless we on go and say take MGE and take that you feel in for people who wanted to start ups to 356. And another thing that from an academic standpoint, I will take a lining start ups with the markets with Racliff and Barnet and four steps to the epiphany from the books they had us read and that’s one of the best books I have ever read on entrepreneurship and building a business in the right way using customer development. We have heard these questions around obstacles and inflexion points and I think we have to realize it’s not like a business school case we look back and there is obvious obstacles, and obvious inflextion points.
I mean every single day you [inaudible] every single day, there are some new challenges, there are new inflexion points and obstacle and just like realize that if you believe in your product, you believe in your company you know you will get over those barriers, roadblocks and you just got to keep moving forward. And then two peace of advice that were extremely helpful for me when I was making decision one thing is that all great entrepreneurs wanted to do is they mitigate risk whether it’ s business decisions they make or whatever. And I think if you think about this in terms of your career, one great way to mitigate risk is got the GSB and so like I think everyone here is in a good position to start a company because you already know if it doesn’t work so what you have the GSB and whatever else you do before it fall back on. For me, that was a huge deal.
I actually don’t feel that much stress even though we have so a long way to go to make it happen. And then the final thing is the idea of just doing it and it’s so clich? that the reality is like one thing I found is that you are so much more ready for this than you think you are and I had enough excuses, I was thinking about raising a search fund, nice things with the start up stuff talking people from my private equity firm, talking another people like well, why don’t I try and do this for a couple of years. One of the offers I turned in New York was a big company that was ready to go Pit Salt it’s just actually got some dams on shortly after I can go but I mean I think my idea there was I go there, I get more credibility and then I spent off and start something but the reality was ready to do it now, why not just do it. I think that’s — Yeah, if you are a first year student and you think you will at some point want to start a remotely tech oriented company you have to take the Andy Ratcliffe go by the class. If you don’t, you are throwing away your in the end. [Informal Talk] Yeah, you have to round zero that one.
So that is the best class and the most applicable class I took related to tech and if you can’t get into it or use decide to not take my advice, make sure you get the reading list and read all the books Four Steps to Epiphany is the first book they read. There is another one called Crossing the Chasm. There is another one called Innovator’s Solution which is also as a local Innovator’s Dilemma, both are good reads. So if you can’t take a class, read the books. If you do take the class and if you do not go to lunch with Andy Ratcliffe twice a week, like he offers, you are also wasting your money as the GSB.
So strong words, I also echo Touchy-feely. Touchy-feely is a thing we use every single day because it is hard sort of company and those skills are used every single day when my partner and I are having problems. For those of you who are alums that is available now through our Lifelong Learning as well. Yeah.
So fantastic class, also I will, I will say if you do have a tech bent, I love you but I would not take your 56. I do not recommend it. It is the process you go through does not lend itself properly to the process you will have to go through for a new tech concept. It’s too rigid and too linear process and that’s just not how tech companies are started. [Informal Talk] I think if it’s — twice so I really don’t recommend it. And if you are in second year or you will eventually be second year or you are just not a GSB student, one advice I was giving immediate I did appreciate when I was a student and now I appreciate it.
You don’t have to start a company the moment you graduate. There is this pressure when you are here at Stanford especially here at Stanford that you have to start a company. Of course, because there is Facebook down the street and your friend just launched a social networking company that’s being valued at like $9 billion over like two weeks. So you have to do the same thing. You don’t and if you give yourself the pressure that you have to start a company, you will make bad decisions and you will take a concept that may be isn’t good market, maybe it’s not, maybe it’s super competitive so you don’t give yourself that pressure.
And now, if you do have a concept that you do want to start at a school you will never be more ready than you are today. The concept of let me go work for a start up and you just put because I want to learn this that I need to know. Trust me, you will learn enough on the job and if it really is something that you need to know and you don’t know, you can hire someone. So there is no need to wait if you do have thing that’s really compelling. And the last thing is your idea, your idea sucks.
Right, accept it, it’s not a secret, if you go talk to people, they are not going to steal your idea and go public tomorrow. It’s not going to happen. So don’t keep it a secret because I promise you whatever you have right now is wrong.
It is completely and you are not going to know it until you actually start sharing it with people. So this was steal concept. Absolutely great. Only because there is two minutes left and I have a chance to kind of line up a couple of pieces of advice and I totally echo a lot of what these guys say.
But I mean if you are a student, you have a great opportunity to become an expert in something and these guys eluded to it. I mean Alex is right people what tell you things that shouldn’ t be telling you when you are a student I mean absolutely positively leverage the hell out of that and be calling people and becoming an expert in something and Jay eluded putting a stake in the ground in terms of what our interests are people do a much better job responding to a specific request than to I am really trying to find a pool company to work with or sort that if you start with something you are going to iterate your way to where it is you want to be. So even if it’s in artificial constraint and you can probably do two artificial constraints simultaneously but there is a lot of value and really having something specific for folks to respond to. And Alex come in and you don’t need to start a business right out of school anecdotally the larger number of our alums who have started businesses have done so two to three years out frequently and particularly if you are coming from a Consulting Investment Banking background, you haven’t been in the industry, you haven’t seen where there is a really big need, to find that big market, that growing market that Alex talks about. So if you get down and you will find that bigger market so there is certainly an argument for waiting a couple of years and there is a good argument for doing it earlier rather than later.
I wonder I think I will just lob out to court force and the other room I was kind of bumped as this is the same time as mine. But he has launched this really cool program called the Runway Project part of innovation and diverse and I think he is going to come back spring quarter but if those of you who are thinking about wanting to do something of the prior but aren’t too sure what. I encourage you to look another Runway Project, they are trying to use this project shed model of putting smart people in a room to find that big market, to find that big idea and then develop the idea and launch it. So I mean it’s an answer I get so I would have so many students in my office saying I want to start something but I don’t know what. [Audience] It’s called the Runway Project where innovation and diverse which is funded by Eric Smith and of course, that they are not taping his workshop but if you take a look at his website, he just launched the first class in February, he is going to launch another one in August but applications are due I think by April. But hopefully he will be coming back spring quarter to talk.
Well, thank you. Thank you for chatting with my friends. [Applause]