From Engineer to Entrepreneur

From Engineer to Entrepreneur

In this episode of Startup Hustle, Matt Watson and Peter Solimine, Founder & CEO of Beulr talk about what it’s like transitioning from engineer to entrepreneur. Learn all about how it started and how Beulr became a productivity app used by business professionals and students.

Covered In This Episode

Changing a career path is both exhilarating and frightening. But changing courses from employment to entrepreneurship is, for most, an entirely new way of life. Enjoy hearing about this new founder’s journey!

Learn from the Experts, listen to Startup Hustle, the top business podcast on Apple Podcast

Highlights

  • From engineer to entrepreneur (2:20)
  • The potential of creating a product that sells (5:40)
  • How Beulr came to existence (12:18)
  • Offshoring software development teams (18:51)
  • The journey to Shark Tank (21:27)

Key Quotes

And nurturing those relationships too, because it’s so high leverage to have people that have done what you want to do. And it kind of comes back to that idea also of just surrounding yourself with the right people…You are a product of who you surround yourself with.

The kind of conversations you have on a daily basis are what shapes you and if you can have those conversations with people who are doing the same thing as you that’s fantastic.

It’s a lot about just learning to embrace the fact that you don’t know anything that’s going on, you just got to just try things.

Kick back and tune in to this “From Engineer to Entrepreneur” episode on Startup Hustle.

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Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode.

00:00.00
Matt Watson
And we’re back for another episode of the Startup Hustle. This is Matt Watson, your host today, and I am excited to be joined today by Peter Solimine, talking to him, the founder of Beulr, about his company and his journey from going from an engineer to founder, an entrepreneur. So ah, similar to my journey. Excited to hear all about his journey and learn all about it. First reminder, everybody, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is sponsored by Canva, where you go to collaborate and create an amazing graphic design for free, whether it is a presentation to share an idea, a video to launch your business, or a social post to start a conversation. With Canva, you can design anything and discover the magic and visual communication and how Canva helps you create a lasting impact day visit http://canva.com to learn more. So Peter, welcome to the show, man. How are you doing?

00:50.82
Peter Solimine
Great to be here. Yeah, doing pretty well.

00:54.30
Matt Watson
So you know I’m a software developer myself, been a software developer for over twenty years, and turned entrepreneur, and you know, love to hear your journey. Um, and how you made that journey.

01:03.57
Peter Solimine
Yeah, um, man. So I guess I sort of got into software pretty early on, but I actually went to a school when I was really young where no technology was allowed even in the home for any of the. Families that sent their students there, so it was very off-the-grid kind of earthy, crunchy. It was a Waldorf school familiar. Yeah, it’s a very, very interesting concept like the classic.

01:21.97
Matt Watson
What. A school where no technology is allowed.

01:31.18
Peter Solimine
No, take and not even in the home. So like we didn’t have a TV until we moved when I was 12 to New York and then you know, I’d watch TV at my Grandma’s house and stuff. But it’s that in Maine, if yeah.

01:37.76
Matt Watson
Where were, so where were you living, and there were no electronics in the house either.

01:48.85
Peter Solimine
No, No electronics in the house. It was the classes that we took throughout the day were dancing, knitting, woodworking Unicycling. It was just, you know, skiing and then we had one class where we did math and science and history. So. It’s very I think the idea the general premise, and I love it. You know I hope to be able to send my kids to a Waldorf school someday. But the general premise is to teach students to enjoy learning rather than know crunch information and facts and memorization into people’s Heads. So It’s a great concept.

02:15.75
Matt Watson
It makes sense my kids spend too much time watching TV and iPad and Youtube, so I get it all right? Keep yeah yeah, so sorry to interrupt you yeah, go ahead.

02:20.78
Peter Solimine
Yeah, I feel like it’s easy to say yeah, he keeps him off, but you know, no, no, not at all. Um, also, I don’t mean to start my life story from day one, but ah, I guess that’s somewhat important to mention because then when I moved to New York, ah, you know, getting into technology was just this incredibly new and exciting thing and so when we had a professor a high school teacher come down to the middle school one day and talk about the computer science elective and his name is Mr. Jadav from a marinic high school. Great guy. Um, he really got me into it, and then all through high school is, you know, working on different products and projects and ideas. Um, but I guess the way I really started was, you know, March 16, the day that classes went online at Tulane, and initially I was like, “oh, this is great.” You know, because I’d been working so on some other projects at the time. But, soon as that happened, I was like, you know I don’t have to go to this 7 am class anymore. I can just write an, ah, script on my computer that’ll show up to class for me, and then I’ll sleep through it. I know worried about sleep too. You know, I’ve been reading, um, the Why We Sleep book by Dr. Matthew Walker, and, you know, there are some really, really interesting effects that lack of sleep has on education, and obviously they’re not positive. Um, so I was all worried about that, and so I wrote this script and started, you know.

03:38.77
Matt Watson
M.

03:50.10
Peter Solimine
Sleeping through my early class, and then I would just go watch the recording later in the day, and then my roommates, you know, of course, I was telling them about it, and they all started asking for a copy of it. So I put it on a little. It was an executable I put on a flash drive, and I was just installing it for people, and I started charging twenty bucks a pop. I was going around campus doing it for people and then.

04:04.61
Matt Watson
Wow.

04:07.46
Peter Solimine
And I’ve got to a point. Yeah, it was awesome. Got to a point where I was like, you know, I think there’s actually, ah, maybe a scalable business opportunity here. I was making some money selling it at Tulane. But you know, all my friends from high school at all their different colleges were also on Zoom, and you know college students, this was 2020.

04:22.24
Matt Watson
How long ago was this? Okay, okay.

04:27.14
Peter Solimine
Like so, mchit you know, as soon as classes went online and I think Stanford was the first school to do it. Um, and I had been talking with my professor, Walter Isaacson is a professor at Tulane. Absolutely incredible professor. And we had a lot of really interesting conversations about what the world would look like, um, if everything moves online, and that was starting to plant the seeds of ideas in my brain, and then when it actually happened, I was like it was that day that March 16

04:52.81
Matt Watson
So so so how did you create the software that recorded this? I mean, was it, ah, pretty rudimentary or pretty sophisticated thing at that point like when you were, you know, kind of hacking this together for your own use?

05:06.87
Peter Solimine
Yeah, v zero. Absolutely it was like a weekend project. Um, it was just a selenium script. Basically, that would open the browser and then type in, you know, whatever the Zoom link was, you could tell it what time to join and then. I was trying to think about ways to wake up the computer in the middle of the night so that you didn’t have to leave it running all night, um, but then when it really got interesting, was like, okay, well, if we want to make this a scalable business I, I’m not going to be able to ship flash drives around I’m the best way to go. So.

05:35.41
Matt Watson
Um, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

05:40.77
Peter Solimine
That’s when this started to go. You know we had to we have to move the SaaS model. So I teamed up with a buddy of mine who I had met at a hackathon in China, actually, which was a crazy story, but ah, he was at Georgia Tech, and so I called him, and I was like, “Dude, we got to build this website.” There’s, you know, everyone’s online, so many people love this product. I’m making a, you know, decent chunk of change just selling it as like a non-scalable executable. All that’s buggy, and you know people still get value out of it, so we teamed up, and then you get into the whole like.

06:03.24
Matt Watson
Yeah.

06:12.31
Peter Solimine
Now we have to have Cloud servers, or you know well; obviously, we weren’t going to host our yeah shit got faster is.

06:12.82
Matt Watson
Um, shit’s getting real. So So, let me ask you this. I mean, this started out. Were you still in college, right? When this started, and you were. Would you say you were a very experienced or skilled software developer at that point or were you still like early on your journey? Like, did you feel like you knew what you were doing, like trying to write some code and figure this out like were you able to write the code yourself and figure this out, or did you have to hire some other people or kind of how did you go through the journey of like?

06:45.43
Peter Solimine
That’s a great question. That’s a great question. I would say at that point, when we first got started, I was fully capable of building V zero. But then when it came to you know.

06:46.16
Matt Watson
Being an engineer at that point too.

06:58.78
Peter Solimine
Well, we want to design this microservice architecture and move it into Kubernetes, or you know, find a way to really scale it up. I know nothing about DevOps still to this day. I’m not a great dev infrastructure is not my domain.

07:06.75
Matt Watson
Um, yeah, sure. Yeah.

07:14.12
Peter Solimine
Um, I started to move more to the backend, and we keep most of our backend, and in node, we have a server in Django as well. But um, at the time I, you know, I wasn’t really sure, but I knew that jinsaw who, um, I teamed up with, he was fantastic engineer, he’s like you know, had job offers from Google when he was 16 living in Korea and then, you know, they got revoked when they found out he was 16. But um, so I was like yes, yeah yeah, um, for ah, a period of time. Yeah, and um.

07:38.87
Matt Watson
So is the 2 of, so is it 2 of you became the founders of the company then, okay.

07:51.41
Peter Solimine
So it was that’s a really you know I want to rumin in that question for a minute because it’s at the time you know over the last two years I would say my confidence in my ability as an engineer has tenfold, right? But time, it’s like, um, I didn’t really know what the best approach was.

08:02.11
Matt Watson
Yeah, absolutely well. Well, and that’s the hard part when you’re in college, right? Like you sort of do these dumb exercises of you know whatever. Lab assignments. They give you like, everybody comes in, and they make some stupid UI with a button, and it does this thing, and it’s a calculator, a to-do list, or whatever. Is it like something stupid, right? But now it’s like, you’ve got a mission like, I need to build something to do x, y, and Z, and it has a real purpose, and I got to go figure it out, and you know that’s the hard part about.

08:26.57
Peter Solimine
And yeah.

08:33.82
Matt Watson
Software development or any kind of engineering task like building a house like I have tools to build a house, but I don’t know what kind of house to build. Well, now you know what to build? You’re like, I know I know what I’m trying to accomplish, So it’s like now we know what we’re working towards the right and you got a goal and so it’s yeah.

08:38.15
Peter Solimine
And yeah.

08:43.53
Peter Solimine
Yeah, that’s a very good thing.

08:49.30
Matt Watson
Where you know, otherwise you’re in school. You’re kind of doing these dumb kind of simulated stuff like weird little projects and whatever, and it’s like no, we’re doing some real shit. This is cool; like you know, that’s a great experience for you, man.

08:51.66
Peter Solimine
Code projects. Yeah, and you don’t need to do any sort of binary searching to build a react app. So it’s a kind of, you know, it’s too separate. There’s like what you learn in academia.

09:03.26
Matt Watson
Now.

09:09.58
Peter Solimine
Or even as an undergrad in computer science. That’s completely you know up? Well, but absolutely you know the mindset and the way you think about solving problems are absolutely the same. But in the industry, you don’t get that experience of like reading documentation and implementing Apis; that’s just not something that you do in class.

09:11.31
Matt Watson
Yeah.

09:26.54
Matt Watson
Well, and you highlight a big problem, right? Therewith the education system, right? So I did not study computer science. I went to ah, a place called thery which is like, a, you get a bachelor’s degree, but it’s more of a tech school, and it’s a four-year college degree and you know we were. We didn’t study.

09:28.41
Peter Solimine
Which makes sense.

09:36.00
Peter Solimine
Or next.

09:45.35
Matt Watson
Binary sorting algorithms and like how to create an operating system and like hardware engineering and you know a lot of the kind of more low-level stuff that I think they teach you in computer science, right? Like you’re kind of talking about in the real world today as a computer programmer. It’s more like, hey, here’s some. Like, if you know how to write javascript and stuff like just go write some code like you don’t need to know and understand like what pointers are, and the lower level like system design and you know assembler and all this kind of crazy shit that maybe they teach you in computer science. It’s great for all the theory and understanding like how computers work and if you were going to create an operating system you know or do some really low-level programming. It makes sense, but for like 98% of software developers these days, that are writing web applications, server-based applications, web apps, mobile apps, all stuff.

10:36.33
Peter Solimine
Um, yeah, it’s useful if you want to go work for Google ad serving or stripe or Palantir and do some crazy, you know, technical, really deep tech, but that’s.

10:39.31
Matt Watson
You don’t need any of that shit, none of it right.

10:50.96
Matt Watson
Probably doesn’t even then now you, you might need that shit if you’re controlling an electric motor in a tesla and you’re writing the microcontroller that controls the electric motor, right? Like that would be a whole different thing, right? But to create a web application, that.

10:54.97
Peter Solimine
Yeah, that’s a good point.

11:02.79
Peter Solimine
Um, yeah, yeah, yeah.

11:09.64
Matt Watson
Display some data in HTML like it doesn’t take extreme computer science knowledge. But anyway, I just think it’s funny like computer science to me is, like kind of overcomplicated for what most of us do.

11:11.72
Peter Solimine
Now Yeah, that.

11:19.76
Peter Solimine
Right? Right? It’s yeah, yeah, it kind of takes me to this idea too. I mean, building applications nowadays is easier than ever before, I think maybe two decades ago. Some of that.

11:32.65
Matt Watson
Um, absolutely.

11:38.27
Peter Solimine
Knowledge would have been absolutely necessary, right? You would have had to get really low level with how operating systems work to host a server out of your dorm room. Um, but now it’s as simple. It’s calling the Apis from Ado us s or any of these big Cloud players. So.

11:53.96
Matt Watson
It’s definitely more software assembly these days, right? Like most, and I would guess a lot of things that you guys do, right? Your, your, your software, so we talked more about it Beulr records meetings which talked about earlier.

11:55.40
Peter Solimine
When.

12:06.50
Matt Watson
But I would guess a lot of the stuff you’re doing now is built on top of other things that exist, right? Like how do we take the recording of audio and do transcription and stuff like that? I would guess you guys probably didn’t write that yourself. You’re using other things that already do the transcription right.

12:18.32
Peter Solimine
Yeah, we’re actually in the process of building our own models for transcription. We’re using a fast AI as a library; that’s really cool. Anybody’s looking to get into AI stuff. That’s a really, really cool place to go just got a little bit of python under your belt, and they teach you a lot of the neural network.

12:37.62
Matt Watson
Yeah.

12:38.21
Peter Solimine
Ropes, I guess you could say. But yeah, we’re in the process of building our own models, mostly for summarization. That’s kind of the path we want to get into, so right now, Beulr’s product and so it’s Bueler “be-e-u-l-r” dot com, by the way, I got that muler. Yeah, that’s what, like because it has to be beer.

12:47.64
Matt Watson
You learn. I feel like you have to say it like that; you have to say it like that.

12:58.00
Peter Solimine
But oh, that was my stroke of the genius moment. We were struggling with it for days and days and days, and then I think it was just at 1 point; it just kind of popped into mind. I honestly don’t even remember.

12:59.63
Matt Watson
How’d you, how did you come up with the name, by the way?

13:16.45
Peter Solimine
But to this day, I think that’s my favorite part about the whole project is just a right.

13:21.27
Matt Watson
It definitely makes it rememberable, right? and you know, but those don’t remember right like Bueller’s day off was a famous movie, and he didn’t go to school, and he went and partied instead right and crashed a Ferrari and all the things they did. But I mean, it’s kind of a funny name of like you know your assistant that records notes for you in a meeting. So.

13:36.29
Peter Solimine
Um, yeah.

13:38.17
Matt Watson
I think it’s funny and it is you highlighted naming things is really hard, really hard.

13:42.95
Peter Solimine
Yeah, yeah, it’s a struggle. It’s a struggle we’re thinking about where so we’re, I can’t release too much information about it. But we’re launching a B2B product in the next few weeks and trying to decide, is it going to be fueler for business, or are we going to come up with something more creative? But.

13:57.21
Matt Watson
Um, well, isn’t your product today isn’t geared towards businesses.

14:01.91
Peter Solimine
It is, actually, but we’re launching like a strictly B2B SaaS, so we’re selling to organizations with the new product. But with yeah, I feel like you know, I want to clarify a little bit like the current product because I mean most of.

14:10.89
Matt Watson
Okay.

14:20.25
Peter Solimine
Our users now, funny enough, we still have a lot of Zoom students that are using the product. But um, you know, obviously a lot of countries have started moving away from Zoom education or at least moving towards more, ah, of a hybrid model. But interestingly enough, I don’t think anyone could ever guess this. But our most um, growing and the second most popular user base is actually doctors right now for and it’s yeah, it’s, ah, it’s not for what you might think which is like transcribing meetings with patients.

14:43.62
Matt Watson
Okay, interesting. So why doctors.

14:57.55
Peter Solimine
It’s not. It’s not that which also you know that’s a difficult space to get into because you run all these. So it’s actually not for that. It’s that doctors and accountants they’re required to attend these webinars, or you know there’s all these. There are these long seminars, Webinars, multi-day long events. Um.

15:01.26
Matt Watson
That’s a whole HIPAA nightmare thing.

15:16.88
Peter Solimine
And there are two use cases for it there. One is to be able to sort of time shift. So if you can’t go to a webinar on April 20, then you can watch the recording on April 21, and you might not be guaranteed that the recording is going to be sent out. And the other is that there’s also a lot of concurrent speakers going on at those events, so there’s.

15:34.90
Matt Watson
Yeah.

15:35.51
Peter Solimine
Like three speakers at 11:00, three speakers at 11:30, and so you can send a bottle to each different one and kind of get a recording of those so you know we’re monitoring all the different ways that people use a product, but that’s that to me is 1 of the more interesting ones for sure.

15:46.30
Matt Watson
See, I swear, so the last company I was at, we had a, you know, lot of management meetings on a weekly basis, and honestly, it always was hilarious to me that our CEO was like the note taker of the meeting. So I thought that was silly. It’s like our CEO was the one taking notes. It would have been like; I guess we could have replaced our whole CEO if we had had Beulr. Um, but I would imagine, don’t you have a lot of corporate customers that use it for like management meetings and things like that on a weekly basis where it’s like oh we just want to have the like kind of meeting minutes of like what the meeting was.

16:05.79
Peter Solimine
That is.

16:17.65
Peter Solimine
Exactly yeah, and that’s where we’re getting into the transcript. Ah, the transcription summarization space as well. It’s like finding ways to because, from that, a lot of what our customers have been asking for is like integrations with existing workflows, whether that be a CRM or.

16:22.73
Matt Watson
Um.

16:34.86
Matt Watson
Um, well, you’re in your pricing is way way too low for corporate accounts, way too low like ten or twenty dollars a month, I mean.

16:36.90
Peter Solimine
You know zapier if they can just push it anywhere Slack, right. Um, yeah, yeah.

16:50.10
Matt Watson
As a corporate buyer, it could be $200 a month, and it’s the same as $20 a month to me, right? Like, and I think that’s something I mean that’s my feedback for you as your pricing is way way too low for business. Yeah, for the college student that doesn’t want to go to class. Yeah, they’re not going to pay $200 but for a corporate account. You can charge way more money.

16:54.15
Peter Solimine
Um.

17:08.90
Peter Solimine
I’m going to write that down.

17:09.38
Matt Watson
Yeah, for sure, I mean, you got to think it’s like to a corporate customer like it’s not. It’s not a lot of money. It’s nothing. You know I could fire our CEO for $200 a month. Hell yeah, let’s do it, and I’m just kidding.

17:15.31
Peter Solimine
Yeah, that’s a very good point, though. That’s definitely a very good point. I makes it? Yeah, no, go ahead.

17:27.25
Matt Watson
so ah, so ah, as a reminder, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is sponsored by Canva. With Canva, you can design your ideas with ease and get inspired with 500,000 free templates and rich content library that helps you and your team achieve your goals. Sign up and start designing for free at http://canva.com

17:46.28
Peter Solimine
I have; actually, I have, awesome. Yeah, there’s just about nothing that can make me good at design. But I’d say it’s about as close to yeah.

17:46.58
Matt Watson
Have you ever used Canva? Is it make you like a super awesome graphic designer?

17:58.42
Matt Watson
I always joke, ah, at Full Scale, our company, we do so you know we hope people build software development teams, and I always joke. Our CEO Matt that he’s like a world-class graphic designer because he uses Canva. He’s like the best designer. I know it’s amazing. These have the right tools, man.

18:04.83
Peter Solimine
B.

18:10.64
Peter Solimine
Hey, you go, so here’s a question for you. Um, you do, so you’re helping teams outsource right to 2 development teams, is that.

18:16.33
Matt Watson
Cool.

18:23.61
Matt Watson
At Full Scale. Yeah, I mean we work with so ah, software companies usually kind of growth-stage companies are just looking to scale up, hire developers because they’re hard to find.

18:33.88
Peter Solimine
Okay, and then correct me if I’m wrong. I feel like the thing that people mistake the most with that sort of engagement, like outsourcing engineers or whether it be in the US or abroad, is just miscommunication. And things falling through the cracks. Not really clear on requirements.

18:51.58
Matt Watson
Well, as you know, right? You own a software company. The most important thing in software development is communication, right? It’s understanding. What is the product supposed to do? How is it supposed to do it? The architecture. The UI design, the mock, you know UI mockups like all of those things, right? It’s like, building a house without having a blueprint, you know, like if the development team knows what to do. It makes them ten times more effective, right? And that’s an issue. No matter where your software developers are. Doesn’t matter if they’re sitting at the desk next to you or if they’re halfway around the world. You know they’re smart engineers all over the world and.

19:19.54
Peter Solimine
Um, me right.

19:28.11
Peter Solimine
Um, yeah.

19:28.71
Matt Watson
Literally every country, right? Um, and you know we, especially in software today, live in more of a global workforce because there’s not enough software developers. You know, in the US or anywhere, and like you mentioned earlier, you’re in San Francisco, like, I can’t imagine trying to hire software developers in San Francisco. You have a few that work for you at this point in the bay area.

19:52.10
Peter Solimine
It’s expensive; I’ll say, um, not in the bay area at the moment. We’ve got a team of about five, but everyone’s spread out all over the place, which is, you know, so we actually use Beulr internally for our meetings as well, and it’s kind of the same concept. It’s like you miss, you know, something happens and if you don’t have a recording of it and we agreed on.

19:57.38
Matt Watson
You.

20:07.25
Matt Watson
Um, yeah.

20:09.91
Peter Solimine
This thing is we agreed on solving problem x this way and problem y that way, and then you end the Zoom call and you go get a coffee or whatever, and all of a sudden. Everyone forgets what happened, so it’s like yeah, it’s top.

20:20.56
Matt Watson
Yeah, you know you mentioned earlier the big challenges. The summarization part of it in kind of capturing, like, what the action items are like, what decisions were made, right? Like trying to figure that out of automatic. You know AI and transcription stuff is probably a big challenge. But if you could figure out how to do it. It would be.

20:28.20
Peter Solimine
Yes.

20:40.49
Matt Watson
Worth more than $200 a month for sure.

20:41.20
Peter Solimine
Yeah, that’s ah, that’s the plan. That’s the plan. We have this sort of vision of one central hub for all of a company’s video, so it’s searchable, easily browsed, transcribed summarized, right? Just pick through.

20:52.70
Matt Watson
So ah, another market for you, if you can figure it out, is actually podcasts like summarizing podcasts. I would sign up for it if you can summarize this podcast with the top 10 highlights and no. You know what those were and exactly what minute and second those highlights were and we could turn that into a blog post, um, be really valuable, so there you go. There’s another market for you? Yeah, so so as you went from this idea and growing this idea along the way somehow or another.

21:12.38
Peter Solimine
Um, ah, all right, I’ll send you an email on that one that sounds great.

21:27.56
Matt Watson
I Heard that you made it to Shark Tank. I would love to hear more about that.

21:30.50
Peter Solimine
Yeah, sure, sure. So I guess the path leading to Shark Tank. It was a; it was a long road for sure after we launched in March Twenty Twenty launch initially went incredibly well; we got this website up. We sent the link around just to. Ah, a couple of different group chats, friends from home, friends from school. Whatever it was, and then two weeks later there were 11000 people that had signed up and um, written something different countries. It was absolutely nuts, and obviously, we tried to scale it as much as possible, but it was not built to scale to those levels of usage, so you know, fast forward about a year.

21:52.88
Matt Watson
Um, oh geez.

22:08.27
Peter Solimine
Um, we got a feature in the wall street journal that totally changed the direction of the company and ended up getting me fired from my internship before I even started. I was supposed to do that at Goldman Sachs, and they saw that article in the wall street journal and contacted her. It was a whole mess. That’s a different story for another time. But.

22:14.93
Matt Watson
Oh well.

22:27.20
Peter Solimine
Um, then I completely ran out of cash max set all my credit cards and had to move with my parents, and then got a job out in San Francisco, so I drove out there was working as a software engineer at another startup, and while this was all going on, I had applied to Shark Tank, like maybe five months previously it’s a really slow-moving process from that perspective. They obviously get a ton of applications, and so the process of sifting through them and figuring out who to, you know, invite to the next round of interviews. Whatever is definitely not super speedy, which is understandable. So I’m working with this other startup and then um. One day I got an email from someone with the ABC email, and they were like, hey, we liked your application. We were hoping you could send us a demo video and like introduce yourself and introduce the product. So I went out, and I bought all this equipment, and I dressed up with reviewer, and I did the whole Ferris viewer monologue of like you know. How to the key to figuring out the teacher. You know the whole thing is great. The shower scene and everything are awesome. I’ll send it to you. It’s unlisted on Youtube, but I’ll say so yeah, so I figured you know, even from when I got that emails like if they like the because the initial application on their website is.

23:26.48
Matt Watson
Oh my God, I’ve got to see this video.

23:44.82
Peter Solimine
Submit a 2-sentence about your company, and that’s it, and I was like if they like the 2-sentence on Beulr, then they’re probably going to like everything else, so I had a good feeling about it and then just you know couple application rounds later got an email, and they said hey, um, here’s your flight and here’s a hotel and someone will pick you up from the airport. And it actually we filmed on my birthday, which was super fun and I forgot to mention it, which was tough too. Um, but yeah, incredible experience. Um, just you know? Yeah, yeah, yeah, so we aired, so we filmed in July, July 26 that was my birthday, and then it aired in November.

24:11.88
Matt Watson
And then they aired it on Tv too.

24:21.72
Matt Watson
Okay.

24:23.20
Peter Solimine
Um, November 5, so that was just, yeah, it was that whole process. So we didn’t raise money on the show, and still, at that time, I knew nothing about the fundraising landscape, and I think it was what was in Nathan from founder suite that you had on the podcast a while back who was talking about Vc.

24:28.32
Matt Watson
Okay.

24:41.64
Matt Watson
Here.

24:42.40
Peter Solimine
Fundraising processes and how, like, 90% of the VCF-funded companies are running the same process. Essentially it looks identical. Um, but 1 of these things I had realized up until that point, so is Shark Tank was like this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it still absolutely is. It’s an incredible, incredible opportunity, but something I learned from that is, you know it’s not getting a deal on the show is by no means the end of the company, right? It’s a moment.

25:03.56
Matt Watson
Well, I would guess your guys’ website blew up, and you know, the next week after it aired.

25:08.55
Peter Solimine
Yeah, yeah, we definitely got a massive traffic spike, but actually, here’s some foodo for thought, too. Though we actually went viral on Tiktok in April of 2020, and we saw a massive traffic spike um. And then the shark tank traffic spike in November of 2021 was completely identical to this ticktock where we paid someone $75 to get a video made, and it got like two and a half million views; I think the landscape of how these things work is changing very rapidly. Um, but it was very good for the business generally just going on the show, and we got all this feedback all these ideas from so many people that watched were you know messaging me on Facebook or Instagram or email, and it was an overwhelming couple month for sure just right after that. But awesome.

25:44.36
Matt Watson
M.

25:57.76
Matt Watson
So at that time where you were still working full-time somewhere else, and Beulr was sort of like your side hustle like you weren’t working at Beulr full time.

26:02.65
Peter Solimine
Yeah, yeah, so I was full-time on Beulr from March 2020, and then I dropped out of college. I did a year of just working on Beulr, and trying to still my with my college friends is not a great idea, but I did that year and then.

26:13.45
Matt Watson
Okay.

26:21.40
Peter Solimine
Um, I ended up getting that job, and then I was, yeah, I was fully full-time at another company. It was an awesome startup. I mean, still is um I did end up leaving after because soon after we filmed, um I sort of got into this you know VC funding the right way or you know going about all this kind of.

26:35.43
Matt Watson
M.

26:40.18
Peter Solimine
Being on top of things and so, I think it was about a month after we filmed the Shark Tank episode that I left that job and just went back full time, but it was also like, you know, we were about to get this huge traffic spike and in this whole national exposure and it would definitely be good for the product to be as ah. Prepared for that as possible. So it made sense.

26:59.53
Matt Watson
Well, I’m gonna guess they prepared you and told you that, right? You’re like, hey, even if you don’t get a deal. You’re gonna get a lot of exposure from this, and it’s like it was all great. Free exposure for you, right? Like I mean, I mean, what better ad could you have of just free exposure. So.

27:13.97
Peter Solimine
Yeah, yes, definitely. But one thing I’ll say to is they don’t tell you you’re going to air until three weeks to the day, so we filmed in July, and then they’re like, all right, you might air. You might not, and we tell you three weeks in advance. So that whole time in between then, I mean obviously no until.

27:29.61
Matt Watson
Wow! So what percentage error versus the don’t.

27:33.58
Peter Solimine
Um, I’ve heard, and this you know I’m not. I’m not positive I’ve heard. It’s like 50% air and then half of the half of, so it’s film, don’t air.

27:40.62
Matt Watson
So so, the reason I asked earlier is I know somebody who filmed for it and didn’t air, and that’s why I asked, and they actually deemed that his company potentially was competition to like ABC and Disney.

27:57.10
Peter Solimine
Wow.

27:58.72
Matt Watson
Um, and so they didn’t. They didn’t have airing, and I think they saw it as a potential conflict of like if this company was ever wildly successful. It would be competitive or something I don’t know exactly, but it was like a weird, weird ordeal, you know? Yeah.

28:07.59
Peter Solimine
Um, um, oh man, I would have been so disappointed that happened. Ah.

28:19.50
Matt Watson
That’s interesting to know that there’s that high percentage that don’t actually air. So so when you went to film was, there like 20 other companies there that day, and there you’re all sitting around the green room waiting to go out there and get eaten by the sharks.

28:21.94
Peter Solimine
Yeah, yeah.

28:32.57
Peter Solimine
Yeah, so there’s; basically, I think maybe my experience was slightly different because of COVID, but we all had our own trailers, and then they set us up. We had to get up at 6 am from the hotel, which was, I mean, if you know anything about Beulr, you know I like to sleep in but had to get up at 6

28:39.31
Matt Watson
Mean okay.

28:50.16
Peter Solimine
And then we’re sitting in the trailer, and just you know, one by 1, they grab someone out of the trailer, and they go in, and sometimes you see people coming back crying, and it’s like, “oh god.” But sometimes you can tell a kind of got a deal just because they’re all amped up, but it was yeah.

28:56.91
Matt Watson
Ro is.

29:02.64
Matt Watson
Well, that’s got to be exhausting as the sharks that sit there all day and go through this crap.

29:07.29
Peter Solimine
For weeks too because it’s every day for weeks. It’s just absolutely nutty, and the year before, apparently, they did it in sort of like the NBA bubble style, so they weren’t allowed to leave the facility for like a month; they just flew in all the entrepreneurs that were going to be pitching. And then all the sharks had to stay in this bubble and get tested every day, which I can’t even imagine because that experience for me was a lot, you know, just being there for a week and going through all the different, you know here’s where you stand and this is dadda, and you know try to.

29:39.80
Matt Watson
Yeah, how much did they coach you on your presentation and like work with you to prepare? Yeah, usually there sort of seem like a little bit of a gimmicky to the presentation to make it kind of a show, right? Like, did they work with you on like how you would do your presentation and stuff to make it good for Tv?

29:54.86
Peter Solimine
Yeah, I would say leading into the actual trip to LA, yes, there was a lot of back and forth on how to do the initial like 1-minute, 2-minute presentation, but that’s really it, and then when you arrive, they kind of show you the facility so you can get comfortable with the space and the.

30:04.24
Matt Watson
M.

30:15.13
Peter Solimine
I’ll never forget that first experience of just walking in there because I used to, you know, I obviously watched that show when I was younger um, always wondered what it would be like to actually go on when I was a 15-year-old, 16, and then actually standing there. It was such a trip. I was looking at them like this is not real. This is so great.

30:29.40
Matt Watson
Did you have it all memorized?

30:33.67
Peter Solimine
I had um, I had the first About a minute of it memory like the initial presentation sort of where so I, we did this whole thing where I got out of the bed and was pretending to wake up and everything, but it was ah that I had memorized and everything else just off the cuff but it’s great.

30:38.86
Matt Watson
Nay.

30:47.72
Matt Watson
So is it you and your business partner went with you like there were 2 of you that present just you okay, okay.

30:52.82
Peter Solimine
It was just me. No yeah, and it was, ah, I mean, it’s crazy because I think I was in there for over an hour and a half just, you know, back and forth really great conversations there, I mean we got really technical with Mark Cuban at 1 point, and all sorts of. Interesting different avenues that this company could go and all the things that we’ve done in the past, and you know, and then that gets boiled down to a 7-minute clip, right? So it’s it’s.

31:20.80
Matt Watson
Well, that’s what I was going to ask you is how long were you there? Yeah, because I thought I’ve heard that before, like you could be there for a very long time and then when they edit it together sometimes you, they may edit it in weird ways that make you look one way or another like how they make it look good for Tv.

31:31.28
Peter Solimine
Um, oh yeah.

31:37.23
Peter Solimine
Yeah, that was a learning experience. I’ll put it that way learned a lot of work.

31:43.10
Matt Watson
Well, very, a very cool man so um you know so today you’re working full time at Beulr, and you have some other full-time employees.

31:53.82
Peter Solimine
Yeah, so we did about a week after the show. I decided to raise money after we’ve filmed so’s in August um, started talking to a couple of angel investors and that led to a few conversations, and this was just you know I. Being out in San Francisco, I think the first investor I met was playing basketball at the gym, and then he introduced me to someone else, and then I met a founder who introduced me to a couple of different investors. Um, and yeah, we raised a preseed round, but that then kind of. Just started piling on. I mean, you know, once the first check comes income in, it just turns into, ah, a feeding frenzy. So yeah, yeah, it’s, and it’s stressful too because you want to be able to, you know I’m a people pleaser for sure. But it’s tough too.

32:32.61
Matt Watson
You get some FOMO going on.

32:43.17
Peter Solimine
And it’s also very difficult to turn down 6-figure checks and just be like, no, we don’t need it, and it’s we got to wait till the next round, but it gets it. That’s an exciting place to be for sure, and um, I feel really fortunate for that experience.

32:52.75
Matt Watson
So how to so how so going back to your journey from being, you know, a college student that’s learning to write code, right? You’re learning computer science as you go to starting a company while in college, which is awesome. It’s like living the American dream basically right to your–to where you are today? Um, do you write much code today, or does the team does that, and like your you know your position is, you know, totally changed.

33:18.71
Peter Solimine
Yeah, no, I would say I spend the majority of the day writing code, not necessarily on the core product. Um, my focus is twofold. But one thing I’ll say is like, you know, my first decision as soon as we raise money was just hire senior engineers because it’s such high leverage to have someone who’s been doing this for ten years on your team so that that was kind of the first decision was bringing as senior of engineers as possible and so I basically from the engineering standpoint I report to them absolutely right? Like I’m not in a position to be telling senior engineers.

33:40.70
Matt Watson
Yeah.

33:52.24
Matt Watson
Yeah.

33:55.40
Peter Solimine
What to be working on, and you know what? What ways to solve certain problems, but from an engineering standpoint, I work on a lot of growth things specifically, so finding ways to get traffic to the website. Um. Using automation, and that’s a whole other story. But I think really the big thing there is um, it’s I mean product nowadays is so commoditized as compared to traffic. It’s so much easier if you want to sell t-shirts, right? You can put up a Shopify store in 10 minutes or if you want to. Even sell ah a SaaS product, you can white label a SaaS product to get people to actually use it. Your product is a totally different story. So I spend a lot of my engineering time trying to figure out how to really drive traffic and then also. And Transcript summarization is a big focus of mine right now as well.

34:44.77
Matt Watson
Well, and that’s the thing you learn as any kind of entrepreneur is if you build it, they will come is not necessarily a thing, right? Like you build this, but nobody knows it exists, and nobody gives a shit, and you’re really the secret sauce the most.

34:52.73
Peter Solimine
Yeah now. Yeah.

35:01.74
Matt Watson
Businesses aren’t the technology or the product like we all see lots of products we like who buys this shit and um, it’s really the Go-to-market Strategy A lot of times that is really the secret thought it’s It’s how you attract customers and getting them to see the value of it and retaining them. Like the product itself can almost be sort of really lackluster and not that great. But if it solves a problem and you nail The Go-to-market Strategy. That’s what matters the most, wouldn’t you say.

35:28.34
Peter Solimine
Yeah, yeah, oh absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t get even more. Yeah, yep.

35:33.23
Matt Watson
So you know you’re in like growth hacking mode, right? Like you’re trying to figure out, as you know, do we get on product hunt or whatever these things are right trying to get more eyeballs.

35:44.46
Peter Solimine
Yeah, so we had. I mean, there’s a code. It’s like a lot of web scraping. Um, a lot of yeah, so I mean we growth hacking for sure. Um, it’s it.

35:56.10
Matt Watson
Um, yeah, and that’s a thing we’re not making it up. That’s a thing.

36:01.67
Peter Solimine
Yeah, oh absolutely. Absolutely. There’s a whole dark underbelly of growth hacking groups and discords, and so that that stuff is so cool to me, just it’s like technical marketing almost um.

36:11.19
Matt Watson
So do you guys do some content marketing? You know, talk about the advantages of, you know, automatically taking notes and meetings, and you know different kinds of topics like that that you blog about and try and rank on Google and all that kind of stuff.

36:21.10
Peter Solimine
Yeah, we’re getting into that space more and more. One thing I’ve realized is these sort of 1 ne-off traffic spikes; whether that be a viral video or Shark tank, even itself is you get crazy. But yeah, it becomes vanity at a certain point.

36:32.88
Matt Watson
They don’t really matter. They don’t matter. Yep, it’s like everybody wants to be ah um, a few years ago was like I want to be on Techcrunch, I want to be on the front page of Techcrunch. It’s the same thing. Okay, yeah, you were on TechCrunch for want for a day, but like three weeks from now, you don’t exist anymore.

36:39.76
Peter Solimine
You meet it if.

36:50.48
Peter Solimine
Um, exactly.

36:52.20
Matt Watson
And if you don’t have a sustainable go-to Market Strategy, That’s going to sign up new customers every single day. It doesn’t matter. Yeah.

36:55.91
Peter Solimine
Yeah, you need a consistent flywheel of people coming in because otherwise, you can’t test things either. You know it’s so important to be able to split tests and figure out exactly what problem you are solving for people. What is the core of their problem? And you can’t if you just have one day where you get 120000 it is people right? they’re in and out you know they’re through the front door the back, and maybe some of them stick around, but you need it’s much better to have a much lower and consistent pace in my opinion right? and it. It seems like that’s.

37:14.63
Matt Watson
Yeah. Yeah.

37:27.31
Matt Watson
So as you’ve made this journey. You know that that we’ve been talking about have you had some good mentors along the way that have helped you you know to grow the business and you know how to be an entrepreneur and growth hacking and all these different things have you had some mentors help you along the way.

37:43.45
Peter Solimine
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Um, one of them—so the way I ended up getting that job in San Francisco was actually through someone I met on the clubhouse of all places months back when it was still kind of cool. Um, and he is. He’s stuck around through the company. He’s an advisor now. Um, and just really you know growth hacker through and through and building products and in sort of the Silicon Valley scene for many years, so he’s sort of the core of like my I would say advising network, but that such an important thing, too, is building a network of mentors and.

38:06.60
Matt Watson
Um, yeah.

38:22.86
Peter Solimine
And nurturing those relationships too because it’s such high leverage to have people that have done what you want to do and it kind of comes back to that idea also of just surrounding yourself with the right people. I mean, if there’s something to be said, Absolutely for you. You are a product of who you surround yourself with.

38:27.50
Matt Watson
No. And here.

38:42.58
Peter Solimine
And the kind of conversations you have on a daily basis is what shapes you, and if you can have those conversations with people who are doing the same thing as you, that’s fantastic. But even better is if you can have conversations with people who have done what you want to do and have been through that path that you want to go down.

38:43.10
Matt Watson
And.

38:55.86
Matt Watson
Um, absolutely.

39:00.82
Peter Solimine
I mean, that’s been a huge learning for me, and yeah, yeah, yeah.

39:02.49
Matt Watson
The problem is at your stage, like you don’t know what you don’t know, you don’t even know what you don’t know, and the more you can surround yourself with people that have done these things. Um, it’s a huge, huge benefit, right? And I mean, I think that the key thing for anybody who wants to go through this journey is surrounding yourself with people that have done it before absolutely and taking their advice, right? I mean, you have to take it all with a grain of salt because some people are gonna give you some terrible advice probably along the way. But um, you know.

39:26.73
Peter Solimine
Who.

39:33.38
Peter Solimine
Yes.

39:38.20
Matt Watson
You know, finding some good mentors and advisors and ah, you know I’ve seen before that’s like really your net worth is really you know based on the people you know and. I definitely somebody really believe that is true if I want to start a business today. I know a lot of people that might be able to help me. They could be customers. They could be advisors. They could be investors. They know things about Industries I don’t know, right? The more people you know, the network that you have is extremely valuable in business.

40:05.96
Peter Solimine
Yeah, I think it’s that’s so beautifully said. It’s the network that really really counts. Yeah, if everything goes to shit with what you’re working on. You know what? What do you do? What’s next What’s the plan, and if you are surrounded by people, that can. Help you make sure that doesn’t happen, or B, you know there are tons of opportunities around you where life is just a game of passing up opportunities. I think this is the way I look at it, so but.

40:25.66
Matt Watson
Yeah, yeah. You know I sold my last company last April, so it’s been about a year, and immediately I had three friends that are like hey matt, you need to come to help us, you know and it and it’s that network it’s who you know right? So it’s like onto the next opportunity to go work with some friends that I know and do some cool stuff.

40:38.31
Peter Solimine
Are.

40:45.90
Peter Solimine
Yeah, oh yes, that’s so true. That’s so true.

40:48.20
Matt Watson
All who you know? Well, once again, a big thank you to today’s sponsor Canva. With Canva, you can work together from wherever and get on the same page as your team with seamless real-time collaboration. What will you design today? Explore and start designing for free at http://canva.com. Well, I think there’s a great. Ah, hearing your journey. You know I um, I love the going from college to, you know, starting a startup story. It’s always a fun story, right? and you know, solving your own problem. You’re like, I don’t want to go to these college classes. I’m going to record them like I love this story. I think it’s, um, it’s an amazing story.

41:24.21
Peter Solimine
I Appreciate it. Thank you,? It’s ah it’s an interesting Journey. You know, it’s a lot about just learning to embrace the fact that you don’t know anything that’s going on; you just got to just try things. Um, but yeah, it’s. It’s been ah incredible. An incredible experience, and I’m so happy that we could have this conversation.

41:41.71
Matt Watson
Yeah, and I think I think the service that you offer. Um, I think, you know, it could be valuable for college students and all these other needs, but to me, I think there’s a huge need for it in businesses where they just have weekly meetings every day, weekly standup meetings. All this stuff like how do we record them.

42:01.47
Peter Solimine
Yeah, let me? Yeah.

42:01.67
Matt Watson
You know, um and it and it could be as simple as one on ones like, think about companies that have one on ones with their employees every week and it’s like oh we need to record those so we know like I told so and so they were shitty at their job forever. And yeah, we fired them, but I told them they were shitty like seventy weeks in a row, right? Like.

42:11.30
Peter Solimine
Um.

42:18.39
Matt Watson
Recording all that stuff could be super valuable; man, I think there’s a huge need for this on the business side.

42:19.84
Peter Solimine
Yeah, absolutely, and I’m in a shameless plug. I hope you don’t mind if anyone in you know a business sphere and looking for this kind of Software Peter at Http://beulr.com “Be-E-U-L-R” Dot Com sends me an email because we’re coming out with this. We’re going; we’re planning on totally disrupting the landscape of meetings right now. It’s a broken system, and we’ve got an exciting product come in. So.

42:40.83
Matt Watson
Do you have any competitors really for what you’re trying to do?

42:45.12
Peter Solimine
Ah, not necessarily There’s some I would say we’re kind of falling into a niche of um so companies like rewatch I think is a really cool company that we’re we’re looking at a lot and what they do is. It’s sort of a central video hub. Um, I think it’s more built towards ah HR teams that want to for onboarding like have people in 1 place where they can all their video in 1 place easily describable. Yeah, but I will say that’s kind of you know it. It affected some of our ideas in some way but what we’re building is.

43:10.39
Matt Watson
Like training-related.

43:21.23
Peter Solimine
Definitely going to be first of its kind.

43:21.49
Matt Watson
The key is finding your niche, right? and then finding your go-to-market strategy to reach those people one thing I would definitely recommend to you and recommend to anybody who’s listening is get, you know, figuring out your go-to-market strategy is the hardest thing and ah. Um, a big fan of this book. I believe it’s called channels. It’s about all the different traction channels. There are like 18 different traction channels, and figuring out which one works, and you know it could be content marketing could be digital marketing could be going to trade shows. It could be speaking at trade shows could be writing a book, could be a lot of different things. There are like 18 of them. And highly recommend that, and honestly, it was kind of a savior in my last company because we were really struggling to figure out the go-to-market strategy. We tried all sorts of things, and none of them worked, and we just went down the list of 18 and said you know what? These two right here are the ones that should work the most growth focus on those and forget the rest of them, and that that was big for us. You know, it’s just trying to figure out what is your go-to-market strategy and doubling down on the ones that work; you know, I definitely recommend anybody listening to check out that book or just Google-like traction channels. It’s it highly. Recommended. Yeah, cause you can’t, you can’t do everything, right? You can’t.

44:24.18
Peter Solimine
Um, yeah, that brilliant cutting out the fat is very important. It’s finding the height of things to work. Yeah.

44:33.17
Matt Watson
You can’t. You can’t try from a marketing perspective. You’re a small company, right? You can’t do everything; you got to figure out what works, and you got to double down on what works. So all right? Well, thank you so much for any parting words, for you know, other entrepreneurs are listening. Do you know any words of wisdom?

44:38.77
Peter Solimine
Absolutely absolutely.

44:47.82
Peter Solimine
Um, oh man, I Would, you know. I Guess one of my favorite quotes. I probably can’t get it to a T, but it’s by wolf tivy, and it takes time outside of the regular structure of life to really. Get into this entrepreneurship space, and you gotta just spend time struggling, failing, struggling, failing, and that feedback loop of learning is a lot faster if you surround yourself with other people who are doing the same thing. So just you know, take the leap if it’s something you want to do, and yeah, I also feel like. I haven’t made it too far myself. So I’m not really in a position to be advised. But that’s I think the only advice I can really give is just to keep trying, and that’s what I’m doing now; just keep trying stuff and keep learning, and it’s really fun. It’s really great.

45:25.29
Matt Watson
Um, right.

45:40.10
Matt Watson
I’m gonna give you my favorite quote, and it’s from Mike Tyson, and I think it applies perfectly to being an entrepreneur. Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face, and that pretty much thumbs up being an entrepreneur every day.

45:49.45
Peter Solimine
There you go? Yeah yeah, I’ve said well said.

45:56.64
Matt Watson
Yeah, all right? Well, thank you so much, Sir, and I’m sure there are a lot of people listening that enjoyed this and are trying to follow in your footsteps. Honestly, I think it’s a great journey, and just keep fighting the good fight, man. Um, you know, just ah, being an entrepreneur is a lifelong journey.

46:10.57
Peter Solimine
Falling.

46:14.11
Peter Solimine
Yeah, thanks, Matt. Take care.

46:14.32
Matt Watson
So just keep at it, take care.

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