Ep. #1081 - Grit or Quit
In this Startup Hustle episode, Matt Watson and Seth Radman, Co-Founder and CTO of Infinite Giving, talk about how often founders are faced with the decision to grit or quit their startups. Join their discussion about why entrepreneurs need to grit through the tough times and why sometimes they need to call it quits.
Covered In This Episode
Entrepreneurship requires both grit and the ability to know when to quit. Successful entrepreneurs know it’s essential to be determined to overcome challenges and stay committed to your goals. At the same time, they also recognize when it’s time to change direction and try something new.
Matt and Seth share what it takes to be a founder. This includes having the right balance of optimism, confidence, and leadership. Together they highlight that knowing “why” will help entrepreneurs grit through tough times. Equally important, though, is for founders to know when to quit before it’s too late.
Gain insights into the grit or quit dilemma by tuning in to this Startup Hustle episode.
- Seth and Matt’s LinkedIn adventure (0:32)
- Seth’s journey (3:50)
- Solving a problem, you understand firsthand (6:16)
- Why do you need co-founders? (9:10)
- The delicate balance of being optimistic and confident with your leadership style (12:14)
- Infinite Giving (14:48)
- The responsibilities of a CTO (18:14)
- Why the “why” is very important? (22:06)
- The challenges of creating Infinite Giving (25:04)
- Advice is different depending on your type of business (28:24)
- The importance of having a diverse team (30:53)
- Gritting or quitting (32:05)
- Reasons to quit (37:31)
- Why you need to hear your customer’s success stories (38:40)
- The future of Infinite Giving (42:50)
- Don’t quit too early (43:37)
I definitely built the product that I personally wanted to have or that my younger self wanted to have. And that’s what I’ve done for all my companies so far. I’ve simply built products that solve my problems, but also talk with enough customers to realize that it solves their problems too.Seth Radman
And those are a couple of great examples of businesses that you started that you had expertise in, solved the problem, and figured out that you could solve the problem solved it in a unique way. And you know, figured out there was a market for it and create a business, which is, the absolute best way to create businesses is creating something that you have experience in an industry that you have experience with and that you understand the problems.Matt Watson
And I think the “why” is important for many reasons, it helps align your team with your mission and what you’re doing, right? But we talked about this whole grid or quit thing earlier. That’s what keeps you going.Seth Radman
It highlights that grit, right, like we talked about earlier. That’s what keeps you motivated. You got to be passionate about the problem you’re trying to solve. And as entrepreneurs, we all wake up once a week or every couple of weeks, and we’re like, why the hell am I doing this? This is insane. And it’s really hard. And it’s that passion for the problem. You’re trying to solve the “why” that keeps that grit and keeps you focused on it.Matt Watson
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt Watson 0:01
And we’re back for another episode of the Startup Hustle. Excited to be joined today by Seth Radman. Today, he’s done a few different things in his past we’ll talk about and he’s got a new company called Infinite Giving. Before we get started, I do wanna remind everybody that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult, Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. Seth, welcome to the show, man.
Seth Radman 0:29
Hey, thanks so much for having me, Matt.
Matt Watson 0:32
So we, we recently had some fun times on LinkedIn, you want to tell our little LinkedIn story?
Seth Radman 0:39
Yeah, we did. So if you don’t know me, I’m a pretty consistent LinkedIn poster. Every morning, I try to post some new tip or piece of advice that helps founders and entrepreneurs build products. I’ve built a lot of products mentored a lot of founders, and I tried to help other founders learn from the mistakes I’ve made and lessons I’ve learned. And one of the things that I’m kind of obsessed with is physically making my LinkedIn posts look pretty, like physically, visually pretty, it’s easier to scan. And it just feels nicer. So yeah, I built this app that essentially sorts the lines in your LinkedIn posts from you know, ascending or descending order so that it’s easy to skim and look through, which, you know, I built a little iPhone app took me a couple hours put on the App Store, just so people could try it out. And launched it, it was my little MVP did one thing, and that was it. And then six hours later, I get a message from Matt saying, Hey, I’m about to tag you. And I thought, Oh, this is gonna be good. And you use GPT. Three, or maybe it’s 3.5, the latest one, to essentially asked GPT to recreate what I had just built manually using AI.
Matt Watson 1:48
Yeah. And I thought that it was it was fun. And you gave me a little inspiration. I’m like, Man, I wonder if opening, I will just do this. And it was actually a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. Because trying to get it to account for the width of the fonts and stuff. And then I that’s the problem with AI is like things that seem really trivial or maybe kind of trivial. But as soon as things get complicated, it’s like, you know, code programming is telling the computer what to do, right? So AI is a much different, you have to tell the AI, what to do with obscene detail to get it to do certain things. So people think it’s some magical tool for changing software development. But I think it’s just as hard as programming in some degree.
Seth Radman 2:34
It is, and especially with Chad CPT, I think what we’re seeing is, it really is requiring a new skill set, which is prompt design and training, right? That used to be you had to be like an expert in machine learning or AI to know how to train an algorithm or fine tune it. But now you can train chat CBT because every time you go to a new chat, it’s like a baby, it’s completely blank knows nothing. And you have to train it, you know through some prompts that you put in first, to help it do what you’re trying to do. So it is interesting that it’s this generalised expert that you have to you have to give it some guidance. But definitely, I hear all the time, oh, AI is going to take over our jobs. And yeah, I’m sure it’s going to automate some stuff. But hopefully it automates more of the tedious, annoying stuff that enables us to think more creatively to do things that AI can’t do. Because I think we can all agree there’s still a huge world of things that AI can’t do may not able to be able to do for a while or may not ever be able to do so it is it is fun to see what’s out there.
Matt Watson 3:34
So that was that was our fun little link LinkedIn story from last week. But so tell us more about your background. And obviously, you have a background in software development stuff. And so tell us a little more about your background.
Seth Radman 3:50
Yeah, so I actually studied mechanical engineering in college, I went to Georgia Tech and work on an aircraft company for a bit. And I was plotting stress strain curves for almost all my day, these would be millions of data points, it would take 10 minutes for the state of the load, and Excel would just lock up and I’d have to sit there and wait. And one day I thought alright, there’s got to be a better way to do this. I’m just clicking a button waiting 10 minutes clicking a button, wait 10 minutes. And so I stumbled upon Visual Basic in Excel, right, where I can actually code stuff to happen in Excel. And I started with simple things like just retrieving the value of a cell and then doing some math. And eventually, I had actually automated my entire job, the aircraft company. And that kind of got me into the software space. I’m a accidental software engineer, if you will, that I’m completely self taught. And have essentially just picked up coding to solve problems that I experienced. So I’ve, I’ve built about 40 iPhone apps. It’s a very large number. Most of them were just ideas, I had to solve problems I experienced, and a couple of them ended up being the problems that a lot of other people experienced too that I went on to do specific startups for but for me, I just like building products. I think it’s real be fun to find problems that are really annoying in life, and write code that will automate solving those problems for you. So you can focus on more enjoyable things in life. So I’ve, in college, I built 40, iPhone apps. And then I’ve done two music tech startups. One of them was crescendo, it was an interactive music trainer, like Guitar Hero. But for real instruments, we grew that to over a million users. And we were acquired by ultimate guitar. And then during the pandemic, I created another product that was kind of like zoom for musicians. So you can play in real time, because if you’ve been on Zoom singing, happy birthday, you know, there’s latency. And that doesn’t work. If you’re playing music. We grew to a couple 100,000 users in a few months, and then got acquired by a Paris based company. And now I’m working on something in a completely different area, which is FinTech for nonprofits, helping nonprofits, create dominance, and accept crypto and stock donations, at infinite giving. So I’ve kind of got the full spectrum of, frankly, just building a lot of stuff, having some stick, getting lucky with some things getting on like other things, but still showing up every day and try to do the best I can.
Matt Watson 6:05
Well, so the music, the music stuff that you mentioned, I’m gonna guess comes from your passion of music, right? Like, it’s not like you’re like, I don’t know anything about music, but I’m gonna go create software for the musicians.
Seth Radman 6:16
Yeah, I’m a saxophone player. I started playing saxophone in fourth grade, and have, that’s a huge part of my life. I start on saxophone, and I did marching band at Georgia Tech, I did drum corps, I played trumpet and jazz band, I play in a funk blues rock band called The vinyl suns, we have a good time here in Atlanta. So yeah, I’ve probably almost as equally as my identity is like a product builder, and entrepreneur and software engineer, I’m also a musician. So I definitely built the product that I personally wanted to have or that my younger self wanted to have. And that’s what I’ve done for all my companies. So far. I’ve simply built products that solve my problems, but also talk with enough customers to realise that it solves their problems too.
Matt Watson 6:58
Well, and I think that’s the key lesson here is other entrepreneurs that are listening is solving a problem that you understand firsthand. And for you that journey started by being becoming a software developer to solve, you know, the problems you described earlier with, with spreadsheets and stuff, right. And it’s just scratching your own itch. It’s like I understand this problem, and I can solve it. And those are a couple of great examples of businesses that you started that you had expertise in, solve the problem, figured out that you could solve the problem solved it in a unique way and you know, figured out there was a market for it and create a business, which is, the absolute best way to create businesses is creating something that you have experience in an industry that you have experience and that you understand the problems.
Seth Radman 7:41
It is and it’s great for a couple reasons, I think the biggest one is you just have a massive advantage of understanding the problem to a depth and degree that other people you know, it’ll take you a lot a lot of customer interviews and learnings to finally get to that same mental state. Because when I say understand the problem, I don’t mean, oh, it’s boring to have to wait on Excel to plot this data. For me. It’s man, the emotional impact of am I getting fulfilment from this job? And is this something where I’m engaged? Right, so a problem, you know, I’m talking about emotional problems that are manifested in physical ways, but we’re solving emotional needs here. But the second, the second big advantage, at least for me, as a technical founder is, there’s really pretty, you know, pretty low bar expectation for what’s going to happen with the business or some of these that to me, I view them a lot as just like fun hobbies where I’ll build products that helped me the worst case scenario is one, I’ve learned something new and had fun building with a new technology. And two, I get my problem solved. So a lot of the products that I built, even if some people might call them failures, most of them have helped me solve my own problems, and have been quite successful for me. So it’s, it’s definitely a very fulfilling route when you can build stuff that helps you and helps a lot of other people too.
Matt Watson 8:57
So the couple of music apps that you build the success with, did you end up having some other co founders? And and what did that look like as far as helping to do the go to market strategy and selling the product and all that kind of stuff?
Seth Radman 9:10
It’s a great question. I’ve had a co founder for every startup I’ve done so far. Although they weren’t always there. Right? When I started sometimes they came in a couple of months later, after I realised that you know, my idea had some legs and wanted to roll with it. But yeah, I’ve I’ve definitely not the the smartest, all encompassing person, you could do every single task for a startup. And even if I could, there’s only so much time in the day. We’ve you’ve probably seen the stats, right? If you have a co founder, your chances of success are are much higher, not just because you have more skill sets on the team and more time, but I’ve also found just because of the emotional support, to be able to keep persisting and keep going when things get really hard, because on a on a daily basis. Well starters. I was gonna say on a daily basis as founders, you know, we, you know, it’s not like we’re doing super hard stuff every day. The hardest, the hardest part, I think is persisting and continuing when, when things get really hard, and that’s when solo founders tend to quit a little earlier than, you know, co founders who are working together on a team.
Matt Watson 10:12
Well, it takes a lot of grit, right. And that’s part of the reason we call it the Startup Hustle two is, you got to figure out how to do a lot of things, you got to put in a lot of effort doing things that you maybe don’t know anything about, which includes chasing around potential customers and trying to talk to them and figuring out marketing, figuring out sales for you know how to build the product, like you’re running around, trying to figure out a lot of shit that maybe you don’t know anything about at all, but it just takes a lot of hustle to figure him out. It just takes a lot of grit, and you got to put in the time. And as you said, it’s like, if you have a co founder, at least you can split up that mess. It’s like you figured out this part of it and all figured out this part of it. They’re both hard. We don’t know what we’re doing, but we’re gonna figure it out.
Seth Radman 10:51
Yeah, it definitely helps. And there’s also a part where gridding through all that is hits really hard when you wake up, you know, 20 or 30 days in a row constantly getting rejected by investors or customers not seeing the traction you want. But still believing in your idea and your product, and your vision and your business. Sometimes it’s tough to find the energy to keep going. And there’s definitely been some times for previous startups where if I were by myself, I probably would have quit. But the reason why I kept going is because I didn’t want to let my co founder down. And they told me I didn’t want to let you down. And we both found out after we got acquired, hey, we’re both ready to quit, because we were just over it. But we didn’t want to let the other person down. But we never said that. So we just kept ploughing through. And thank goodness we did. But yeah, there’s a some serious ups and downs. But the other thing is that not many people know what you’re going through as a founder, right? Even other founders, everyone experiences different kinds of struggles and problems. And I found that working with someone else who can completely empathise with what you’re going through, because they are going through it too. It’s It’s therapeutic, it definitely helps if you have that open path of communication to talk with your co founder and just figure out what you’re both feeling together and go through it as a team. So it’s, it’s the path I’ve chosen so far, I’ll probably continue to keep on that path. Because I just think it’s more fun interacting with people. You know, as humans, we’re social beings, we’re meant to interact with others. And that’s what I’ve enjoyed so far.
Matt Watson 12:14
Well, I think you’re absolutely right. And especially when you have other employees, too. I mean, you know, no matter how bad things could be, or frustrating things could be, you still have to go to your employees and tell them, hey, you’re doing a good job, keep doing this thing. Even though you might be an emotional wreck, because you’re struggling with how are we going to make payroll? Or I can’t find the investors? Or how are we going to sell more of this thing or whatever, then you’re going to your employee who does customer service or whatever, maybe none of that matters to any of them, they don’t care doesn’t affect their job. And you got to, you know, pump them up and tell them that they’re doing a good job, right? Well, at the same time, you’re battling all these other problems, like, I mean, that that’s part of the struggle of being an entrepreneur,
Seth Radman 12:52
is definitely delicate balance that, you know, on one side, you want to be optimistic, and confident with your leadership style, you know, so that everyone on the team is pumped. On the other side, you don’t want to be deceitful with how things really are. And I found that the best leaders and I’m trying to get there like my co founder, Karen, she’s the perfect embodiment of this. She’s optimistic and forward thinking and, you know, she’s the glass half full as you kind of have to you have to be naively optimistic, I think, to do a startup because statistically, you’re just going to fail statistically, right? But then on the other side, she tells it like, it is right? When things are bad. She’s like, hey, things aren’t great. Here’s some paths I see forward. Let’s talk about how we can do that. So it’s a definitely a fine balance of, of high optimism, bias, and momentum, but also this kind of radical transparency of here’s where we are, and here’s where we’re gonna go.
Matt Watson 13:43
Well, I think that’s important, you know, in startups with your employees, too, because they can’t help you if you don’t tell them about the problem, right? You know, exactly. Even if like you’re struggling with sales, or whatever, and you’ve got a customer support person that maybe that’s not really their job. But if you say, hey, look, we need help with sales. And maybe they can help maybe like, hey, well, I have an extra hour or two a day, I can do this thing or whatever, right? If you don’t tell them, they can’t help. And a lot of times, your team will help if you tell them that you just have to figure out how to frame up that story and tell them, you don’t want to scare them either. But they can’t help if you don’t tell them.
Seth Radman 14:16
It just comes down to communication. Right? And I don’t think you can ever over communicate too much. And the best leaders I know. You know, they tell you what they’re going to tell you, they tell you the thing, and then they tell you what they told you, right, just like sales. And so you really got to have frequent, honest, open communication to help that work across the team. And the best teams that I know communicate frequently and very clearly. And especially well, so many people are remote building software this day. It’s absolutely essential.
Matt Watson 14:46
So are you so with your new company infinite giving, why don’t you tell us a little more about it and what it does. You mentioned earlier, it has to do with giving a lot of people to give donations to nonprofits, right?
Seth Radman 14:58
Yeah, so we’re My co founder, Karen, she used to be the vice president only in a Tech Village, which is the fourth largest tech hub here in Atlanta. Before that, she used to be the executive director of a nonprofit. And so, you know, she did the nonprofit. And then she got to help a lot of tech startups, build companies at the co-working space and tech that she worked out. And she, she saw a big gap, where nonprofits are still doing a lot of tech stuff, very old fashioned way. Right. Some of them are using big banks that are not meant for nonprofits are meant for for profit companies. And there’s not a lot of great financial tools out there to help nonprofits with certain things. And so we set out to essentially create the financial OS or the financial platform for nonprofits that help them do a few things and helps them manage endowments, right, that we think about endowments, we think like the Harvard daven, you have to have, you know, 10, expert investment advisors on a team managing all that, well, we’ve transformed that into an online platform, that’s a robo advisor, that enables anyone with very limited financial knowledge to to go through this confidently because we guide them. So we help you create an endowment in 10 minutes online, we help you receive stock and crypto donations online without having to deal with exchanges or know how wallets work, or understand, you know, tax harvesting or capital gains and losses and all that stuff. So essentially, we’ve just made made it very easy for the everyday person to go online, just like they would open up their checking account and manage all their assets that are essentially not cash that have to deal with their nonprofit.
Matt Watson 16:30
Okay, so how is that business going so far? And when it looks like you started it in 2021?
Seth Radman 16:36
Yeah, so we we started at a specific time for a very specific reason. During COVID, a lot of nonprofits either got more emergency relief funding than they’ve ever got before. Or unfortunately, they didn’t get any funding, and they had to close up shop and go out of business. So the result of that is that there are a few nonprofits existing, but the ones that do exist, a lot of them have excess cash, or at least they did at the time of COVID, more than they’ve ever had before. Couple that with, you know, crazy bull market for stocks and crypto. A lot of people knew that they should start getting into alternative assets and investing, but didn’t quite really know where to start. So that’s exactly why we started our product. We’ve, we raised a million dollar pre seed round from some great entrepreneurs and VC funds here in Atlanta, I try to keep things mostly local, and hired a few people. And yeah, we built the product. And within, oh, man, within probably three or six months, we already got a handful of paying customers, making revenue, growing the product, trying to balance you know, new features that we build and new product requests coming in along with compliance and regulation. Because we’re a registered investment advisor, we have to deal with the SEC and all that stuff. So obviously, the market right now is a little funky, right? And uncertain exactly where things are gonna go to can’t really predict it. But so far, we’ve had zero churn zero withdrawals from our platform. And almost everyone who uses it says, Oh, my gosh, I’ve needed this forever. How come I didn’t know this existed. So I am led to believe that we’re building the right product. And we’re going to continue to work on improving our go to market strategy and, and scalability to reach the people who we want to help.
Matt Watson 18:14
So you’re the chief technology officer of the company, and in charge of product, right? So have you had to deal with all of that compliance stuff? Is that like a huge part of your time?
Seth Radman 18:26
That’s a large portion of my time. It’s always funny people think, oh, man, you’re a co founder and chief technology officer for a fin tech startup. Man, that must be so fun. You must be like, writing code, you know, designing the product, building it, all this stuff, and I do those things. But yeah, probably 70% of my time is dealing with attorneys compliance regulation. Yeah, it’s a lot of in the weeds, stuff that, frankly, we do, and we’re experts at so that the everyday person doesn’t have to worry about it, right? Because financial literacy is not something that we’re taught very well in school at least. And it’s something that a lot of people struggle with. So it is a big part of my day. But there’s a there’s almost meaning through the suffering, if you will, that because I spend so much time getting in the weeds becoming a master of it an expert, I’m able to make it a lot easier through a much better customer experience for our users who go through the product, because I’m able to digest out and what might be a really complex thing. And so something that’s very simple to make it very, very easy for them. So, yeah, compliance regulation is definitely a headache. It’s obviously important in there for a reason. But the fact that most money laundering happens through nonprofits because they’re tax exempt, that definitely makes my life a lot more difficult in that I do a lot of stuff with identity theft, protection, anti money laundering. There’s there’s quite a lot that we do behind the scenes that you would never know about if you use our product.
Matt Watson 19:50
Well, I think that highlights an interesting point about chief technology officers to you know, our job is to not necessarily write code, it’s to translate the business for your requirements and understand how technology can help the business. And just as you described, it’s like your job isn’t as much about writing code. It’s about figuring out what code to write. Right, and understanding all the compliance and legal stuff and all that. And then being able to also translate that to the team. You know, you’re acting as you know, also the the product manager or product vision about what the product is supposed to do. It’s not about as much about writing code.
Seth Radman 20:28
Yeah, you nailed it. I think there’s one sentence you said that I’ll mess it up a little bit. But you said something about, it’s not necessarily figuring out the right way to build something. But the right thing to build. Right? Yeah, it’s not building the right thing. It’s figuring out what the right thing is to build. And I mean, that’s, that’s absolutely essential, right? It’s, we’re a business first, and product second. And that’s definitely not a natural instinct for a lot of people who are technical, because it’s fun to write, write, and you don’t always think about people using the product. But at the end of the day, if you’ve spent a tonne of time writing code and building a product, and no one uses it, that’s called an expensive hobby. Not necessarily expensive, but that’s called a hobby. And it’s totally fine to have, there’s lots of side projects that I have are all just build something for fun, like the line sorting up, never going to make money from that is just something that. So you know, I spend two minutes doing every other morning when I write my LinkedIn posts that it was fun to build and solves that problem for me. So it was a win, I loved it. And it’ll help other people too. But if you’re not putting customers in the business first are really thinking about the holistic challenge of what are all the inputs that I need to achieve the outcome desired by my customer, not build the product or write code, but achieve the outcome desired by my customer. You’re, you know, that’s definitely getting into more junior developer thinking of just like, how do I go from A to B and build this. And if you if you’re an engineer, technical founder, put the business first in the product. Second, it’s one of the hardest things to do, because it feels very uncomfortable not writing code all day. But man, you know, you gotta think, do you wanna have a successful business? Or a successful product? Those are, those are two different things.
Matt Watson 22:06
All right? Well, if you need if you need help writing code, Full Scale can help, especially when you visit full scale.io, where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs and see what developers are available to join your team today. Visit full scale.io to learn more. So you, you touched on something that I think that’s really important. And it applies not just to software developers, but to business in general. And Simon Sinek was famous for this from his TED talk, you know, people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it. Yeah. And that that’s really the thing that is important for any entrepreneur, any kind of business, and translates all the way down to software development, like software developers have got to understand that it doesn’t matter how you write the code, what the code does, it’s all about why you do it. And as a developer, that’s kind of reverse thinking, because we’re thinking about writing the code, we’re not necessarily thinking about the why. But that’s, that’s really critical, as you described.
Seth Radman 23:03
And I think the why is is important for many reasons, it helps align your team with your mission and what you’re doing, right? But we talked about this whole grid or quit thing earlier. That’s what keeps you going. Right? When I was building my music, technology products, there were many days that I woke up and I just wanted to quit I was done. I just had been rejected for too many days in a row didn’t see progress. When you know, when you build something to pour your all your heart and energy into something you don’t see any progress for over a year. It’s really hard to keep going. But my why was just going back to my younger self, having a lot of stage fright when trying to learn how to play music, and I was not confident had a lot of anxiety. And, you know, I’m very lucky that I was privileged to be able to have access to a private instructor who helped me get better, but there’s so many people who don’t, or they’re just too nervous to play in front of others. And I knew that I had to help a lot of musicians who would have otherwise quit and to get to experience what I think is a really wonderful thing in life playing music. So having that why definitely aligns your engineers and your team on what you’re doing. But, man, it sure gives you a lot of personal reason to keep going and clarity on why you’re doing this and why you have to stick with it when things get tough. Yeah, I
Matt Watson 24:13
think yeah, it it highlights that that grit, right, like we talked about earlier of. That’s what keeps you motivated. You got to be passionate about the problem you’re trying to solve. And as entrepreneur, we all wake up once a week or every couple of weeks, we’re like, Why the hell am I doing this? This is insane. Like or sometimes you Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And it’s really hard. And it’s that passion for the problem. You’re trying to solve the why that keeps that that grit and keeps you keeps you focused on it. So So tell me more about infinite giving. And was there something about it from a product perspective or technical spec perspective? That was way harder to do than what you originally thought it would to do you know dealing with crypto or stocks or legal compliance Was there something there that was way harder than you thought it was gonna be?
Seth Radman 25:04
I think just the speed of releasing new features is something that’s constantly a pain. Right that I’m used to most of my experiences from the speed of development. Yeah, so most of my experiences come from the b2c world. And here’s your question, no, there’s not actually a single thing that was substantially harder than I expected. We’re essentially patching together a tonne of different API’s because the whole financial industry and financial tech landscape, in my mind is just a bunch of API’s abstraction, other API’s, abstraction, other API’s, which are distracted on like a green screen and mainframe that’s like handling all the financial transactions actually going on in our country. We’re just layering on modern tech to try to handle working with old tech. And then we abstract out to a better API to better API. So it’s just a tonne of API’s. But, you know, I most of my experience previously was in the consumer space, you know, building a lot of mobile apps, building apps for everyday people. And back in that world, it was, it was a much faster cycle for development, where on day one, I’d have an idea and I would design it, day two, I would code it. And day three, I’d ship it for, you know, not exaggerating for simpler features. It was literally that fast a couple of days, and it’s out because you could do that when your team is small. Come to, you know, this, it’s b2b work with nonprofits. And it’s FinTech, b2b, FinTech with nonprofits. That’s just a lot of stuff. Right. And so now it’s more like, month one, come out with the ideas sketched out, review the regulations, come up with the design, make sure we’re complying with stuff, want to have attorneys in compliance thing, review it, give you the proper disclosures, tweak your designs to make sure that you’re not going to get in trouble if you know, someone if you get audited, and that ends up being something that’s on the microscope. And then step three is actually build it, which is often working with some like pretty old school legacy API’s that can be kind of a pain, because there’s one thing that I don’t compromise, which is the user experience, that it’s going to be a great experience for customers. And, you know, we’re going to do all the heavy lifting behind the scenes, so that it literally just feels like magic, right? There’s some things we do that, oh, man, if you knew all this stuff we do behind the scenes, you would just be shocked. But that’s that’s what the best products do. Right? They feel like magic. They just work. And so the biggest challenge has been trying to be trying to maintain that impatience short term, like on a day to day basis, trying to get as much done as I can. But having more patients long term to realise, hey, we’re going to ship this feature, it’s going to be great. But realistically, it’s going to take a couple of months, because of just all the different parties involved, and how it’s touching FinTech and how it’s real money, like we handle millions of dollars on a daily basis for our customers. We can’t, we can’t afford to have a bug in our code, right? If you have a, you know, a music app. And it marks a note incorrect for a user. And it’s an error. It’s not very catastrophic. It’s annoying, but it’s not catastrophic. If you accidentally, you know, do a sell order of a million dollars for for an organisation and they didn’t want to do that. Or worse, actually transfer it to the wrong customer something Oh, man, that’s just the biggest the biggest nightmare in the world. So I think just all the different parties and regulations involved with what we have to do make it a challenge. And the fact that we’re dealing with millions of dollars live constantly, just requires us to have such a high level of quality assurance and QA review to get things right.
Matt Watson 28:24
Well, you bring up a great point that, that we hear a lot on LinkedIn and stuff, people give advice about, oh, you need to do this kind of testing, or this kind of thing, or whatever. And you really highlighted there, how it’s dramatically different, depending on your type of business and your use case, right? It’s like, you know, for your, for your music app stuff. You know, the amount of testing you do, the amount of QA that you do could be very different from what you’re doing today. Because like now, it’s like, hey, we screw up, we maybe we just lost somebody millions of dollars or whatever. And my example is always like, you know, if I was creating software to control an aeroplane, like the level of testing will be totally different. Because we don’t want the plane to fall out of the sky, right? Versus the music notes like a the music note was wrong, it was a C instead of a D, or whatever. And that’s where you have to take advice from people this so so different depending on your use case, because you don’t want to overcomplicate things that don’t need the, you know, the complexity and the compliance. So you can move faster, right? Where if you’re in a business where it’s like getting aeroplane could fall out of the sky, you need that level of compliance complexity. I think that’s where you listen to other people give me advice, you always have to figure out how it applies to what you do, because it could be very different. Do you know what I mean?
Seth Radman 29:38
You’re absolutely right. When people give advice, and I’m just as guilty of this as everyone else. We give advice based on what’s worked for us, right based on what has worked for us in the past. And, yeah, on the level of like, aeroplane, if it falls, I die to financial product. If there’s an error, I lose money to a music training app. If there’s a bug it tells me I play the wrong note, which is upsetting. There’s a very different levels of catastrophic failures, right? One is substantially more catastrophic than all the others. So yeah, I find it really helpful when when I, when someone posts something, or shares advice that I my immediate gut actions, if my immediate gut reaction is disagreement with what they share, I usually ask them to tell me a bit about their background. And then I’m like, Ah, I see you worked here, or you’re in this industry. That explains why you have that perspective. Yeah, either that, or they have just something really incredible to teach me that I didn’t know and a different mindset that I that I can have, but But yeah, whenever when anyone shares your feedback, take with a grain of salt, but also evaluate why that’s their perspective. I found that asking why do you why do you think that? Or why is that your opinion, is much more powerful than simply saying I disagree with his perspective, because you’re probably both right, just in different ways.
Matt Watson 30:53
Well, you were pointing out here the value of diversity too, right? It’s the value of people who’ve worked on different kinds of projects have different points of perspective, and that diversity, when building products and technology is super valuable, right? Knowing like, I’ve done this kind of stuff before work in these kinds of environments before. And the diversity of that background can be super valuable when you’re building software and products, right? Like, it’d be great for you to have somebody come into your team now that’s worked on this kind of compliance and regulation. But it almost might be valuable. Somebody’s worked on the other side that they can point out to have like, hey, there are easier ways to do some of these things. You know, you know that diversity can help a lot.
Seth Radman 31:37
Oh, no doubt 100% with you on that. There are multiple studies that show this, right, more diverse teams, raise background and gender skill of all that stuff. It makes for an incredibly better team, or else, you’re just all thinking the same way doing the same thing. There’s one thing I’ve learned if you’ve 10 people in a room, and they all agree, man, you’re probably already very quickly done a bad direction. Because there should be difference in opinions and perspectives. And if you don’t have that, you need to look at who you’re hiring.
Matt Watson 32:05
So you mentioned earlier in one of your previous startups, there was a time that you thought about quitting. And I’m curious if you could tell us more about about that. Like, what what had you thinking about quitting? Was there a certain certain certain piece to it?
Seth Radman 32:22
Honestly, Matt, I’ve probably, you know, the thought of quitting has gone through my head multiple times for almost every startup that I’ve worked on. Right. And I’d say, if that doesn’t happen to you, then something’s you know, it’s normal to think about that all the time. Because it’s, it’s very difficult to go multiple days, months, even years, without seeing a lot of progress and traction. I kind of equate it to any new skill that you learn, right? If you put in, you know, 30 minutes every day, or an hour every day, you’re not really going to see the results after a week or two weeks, necessarily, but man if you can be that consistent. And I one of my favourite kind of little mathematical, geeky formulas is just compounding interest. If you get 1% better every day, you get about 37 times better every year, right? 37 times better. But you know, you don’t feel it necessarily every day. It’s not until you look back and see the bigger time horizon that you can sometimes notice that change. So for me, I mean, I’ll give an example with crescendo that was my music training app. Man, we went, we went probably six to nine months before we actually had a product that felt good. And then we just completely missed time the sales cycle, the school year that for schools, they do almost all their purchasing, like July, August timeline for the year. And so if you didn’t get in during that period, you kind of had to wait a whole nother year before people buy it. There are a few people who will, but I would say 90% of purchasing happens in that timeframe. And so I remember very clearly waking up in the morning one day, I had nothing on the calendar, no, no boss, no manager, no one was going to tell me what to do. And I was just thinking like, well, what am I doing? Am I Am I really just going to keep going at this I was struggling with some team culture dynamic issues, because our team was starting to lose steam and momentum, which made a tonne of sense. I was definitely very jealous of a lot of other friends who had, you know, high paying salaries at big tech companies. And I was struggling with money because I was you know, right out of college didn’t really have a tonne of money. And, yeah, there’s many times that I thought about tossing in the towel. And I just thought to myself, like, hey, you know, when I’m looking back at my life, what I regret, not giving it you know, full shot and seeing it all the way through. And when I think about my customers, you know how they feel about giving up on them. And it’s it’s a really difficult decision because sometimes, no matter how hard you work, it’s just not going to work based on the market because the market always wins if you’re building something that the market doesn’t need. It doesn’t matter how thoughtful and creative and smart and intelligent you are. It’s not going to work because the market doesn’t need it. Right and so I mean, it’s it’s really difficult game of if you really go with your gut and look at the data and believe in something, you just can’t give up too early because almost everyone gives up too early, they give up when it gets a little hard. And almost always, a couple of days or weeks after I had my lowest points were some of my biggest highs. Right? That I remember one day I journaled that like, Man, I’m actually thinking about tossing in the towel. And quitting. I was literally the next day, I had a call from the school district and we closed a five figure account with them, which was crazy. I just did not expect that to happen. So it’s a it’s definitely a tough boundary, a tough line of do I stick with it? Or is this just not ever going to work however much I’m putting into it, and we either have to do like a pivot, or I need to quit and move on to what’s next? Well,
Matt Watson 35:45
as you described, right, you mentioned, no matter no matter how good of a product you build, if the market doesn’t want, it doesn’t need it, it doesn’t matter. Yeah. But then as you said, it’s like, it feels like sometimes it feels like the market doesn’t want it, the market doesn’t need it. And then you wait just long enough. And then all of a sudden, you know, the big school district calls you and you get a big deal. Right? There’s, there’s a huge grey area there between the market doesn’t want it and just you know, putting in the repetitions you keep making the phone calls, and everybody says no. And then after you get 100 knows, eventually you’re gonna Yes. Right. And there’s a huge grey area that’s there somewhere between between those answers.
Seth Radman 36:24
Yeah, man. The hardest thing is just like, what timeline Do you deem acceptable for that process? Right, obviously, if you take a month, and don’t see any traction, well, that’s everyone know, he’s very rare that you’ll see traction in a month. What about six months? What about a year? What about two years? What about five years, you got to really think about how much time are you gonna put in. So for me, I usually have not like, I haven’t said this in stone, but I usually have like a ballpark range for me that if I don’t see significant traction or progress within two years, then I’m gonna call it quits. Right? Then I give myself two years to see, you know, meaningful traction, early signs, or hopefully deeper signs of product market fit, and ability to grow into something, ideally, through product led growth, just because being a product guy, I like when I can be able to grow from word of mouth and have my marketing cost to acquire customers below. So I think it’s worth setting some parameters and guidelines for how you’re going to go about this. But, man, in the end, you will just never have enough data to make a fully educated decision as a founder, and you got to go based on the information you have at the table right now. And what your gut says about what you’re building and what the world needs.
Matt Watson 37:31
So we asked Chet GPT, before this, about deciding when to quit a business, and here’s the answers he gave, all right, lack of lack of traction was on the list, we’ve been talking about that insufficient funding was on the list. Competition, and a loss of key team members was another reason. Those are all really good reasons of why to quit a business. And competition is a good one. So my my last company stack of high, we didn’t quit. But competition became brutal for us, you know, competing, we were competing against New Relic and data, dog and AppDynamics. And these other companies, and we never quit, but it became brutally hard. It was one of the reasons that we sold is it was just difficult, difficult to sell the product. And, you know, when we started, those competitors didn’t really exist. And they just raised a tonne of money and, and became publicly traded, and they just came brutal to compete against them. So there’s a lot of good reasons to quit. I mean, maybe goods never, never the right term to use when talking about quitting. But there are reasons to quit.
Seth Radman 38:40
Now, there’s definitely reasons and honestly, I think good is the right word that you got to be like, medium crazy to do a startup. There are many good reasons not to do a startup that clearly outweigh the risks, to do a startup, right. I mean, we can go on in terms of like, you know, pay and mental health and benefits and immediately have a team and there’s, there’s so many. But for the founders I know who have gone down this path, I don’t think they seek to be happy every day. It’s not the same kind of happiness you get in a lot of other jobs, where you have, you know, security and stability and you know that paychecks come in, and you’re with a team right off the bat. But it’s definitely a level of fulfilment that I personally haven’t found in many other areas of my life. Right and looking back, man, I’ll never forget when we finally got the acquisition paperwork signed for both of my companies, when I’ve gotten those emails from customers saying, Hey, I, you know, this has changed my life. I wanted to learn to play violin, couldn’t figure it out, download your app. And now I’m, you know, principal violin player in the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra, or meeting customers face to face and just hearing how stuff has impacted them when they didn’t know that I built it and they were just talking about a product that they use. Those are the moments that I those are the moments that stuck with me that helped me get through those tough times and have probably happened. But man, that the level of fulfilment of like having an idea, physically building it, and then people use it like in their lives like normal people, that’s still one of the things that I’m just completely addicted to and, and maybe on that train for quite some time.
Matt Watson 40:15
And, and so that is awesome. And that will keep that’s what keeps us going. But on the flip side, I posted about this on LinkedIn the other day, what actually happens is you only hear about all the negatives, right? Like, as a startup, we the only thing you ever hear about is the Hey, it was supposed to be a C note. But the software said it was a D note, you hear about that, like 100 times more often than you hear about the success stories, unless you go talk to your customers, because you’re just hearing the negative the negative issues that come from the customers, you know, more often than not, right. And so as an entrepreneur, it’s also important that we go talk to customers that are using the product, to also hear the success stories, because otherwise, all you’re gonna hear is the negative side of it. Because it’s those success stories that are really important as well to learn from how people are using the product. But also keep us motivated. Like you just said like that feels really good when you when you hear the success stories, but if you don’t go look for those success stories, you’re gonna more likely just hear the negative.
Seth Radman 41:12
Yeah, absolutely. Right. And obviously negative information impacts us more severely than positive, right? Yeah, like, if you hear one piece of positive news, one piece of negative news, they don’t cancel out the negative weighs a little heavier. So yeah, I mean, you know, right there talking to customers, the ones that are important, the one thing software engineers don’t want to do, we just want to interact with our computers and write code and work with the machine. But, man, if you’re gonna build something for people, you got to talk to people.
Matt Watson 41:41
Maybe that’s what we need to use AI for us to just tell them tell us how awesome we are already.
Seth Radman 41:47
I’d be okay with that. Like something that like, just gives me affirmations on a daily basis. I’ll take that.
Matt Watson 41:54
Alright, that’s, that’s your next weekend project. All right, there we go. We’ll see how that goes. Maybe I can use AI to create that one too. Honestly, after
Seth Radman 42:03
seeing your video, that might be my first step, start with their AI code and work from there.
Matt Watson 42:08
Well, if you need to hire software engineers, testers or leaders Full Scale can help we have the people and the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit Full Scale that IO, all you need to do is answer a few questions, let our platform match you up with our fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers. At Full Scale. We specialise in building long term teams that work only for you learn more when you visit full scale.io. Well, this has been awesome today. I always love doing episodes with other founders that also have a technical background. It’s always very interesting conversation for me. So as we wrap up the episode today, you know, can you tell us a little more about infinite giving and where you see the future of that going? Yeah,
Seth Radman 42:50
I mean, the future is really the same mission that we set out, which is this financial operating system for nonprofits. There are so many organisations that are doing so much good in the world, but struggle with fundraising, investing, managing their assets. And we want to make managing every financial aspect of your organisation as easy as just logging into your checking account and seeing your balance. So we’re, we’re going to continue to stay focused on making, you know, hard things like investing feel easy and hard things like stock donations, and crypto donations, feel easy, so that we can help amplify the impact of all the nonprofits we get to help.
Matt Watson 43:24
Absolutely. So do you have any last tips for other entrepreneurs that are out there?
Seth Radman 43:29
Oh, man, I always have tonnes of tips. But I,
Matt Watson 43:32
I know you have daily daily tips on LinkedIn. And maybe that’s the point where people should go follow you on LinkedIn.
Seth Radman 43:37
Yeah, if you’re if you’re on LinkedIn, feel free to give me a follow just Seth radmann. I also have this newsletter that I do probably about once or twice a month that I dive like super deep and get really nerdy and geeky on products and startup stuff. So you can find that on my website at Radman dot XYZ. And I think the the tip that I’ll leave you with today is just don’t quit too early. I coach a lot of founders, and it’s gonna get hard. But man if you if you really believe in what you’re doing, like be stubborn, be relentless, and don’t quit soon.
Matt Watson 44:13
Awesome. Thank you so much, man, for being on the show today. And you know, again, it’s Seth Radman. Check them out on LinkedIn, and infinite giving.com. You can also follow me on LinkedIn, Matt Watson, I post stuff daily every day. I guess whether or not you want to see it or not. It’s good stuff. I think you should see it. And you can also find me on Tik Tok and stuff. I’ve been having fun doing the video stuff. So, Seth, what are you going to do video content?
Seth Radman 44:39
We’ll see. I’ve never really been one for being on camera much. I’m a little camera shy. But hey, embracing my inner creator. I’m soon I’m sure it’ll happen eventually.
Matt Watson 44:48
Yeah, I have. I’m having fun with it. So. All right. Well, thank you so much for being on the show today. So
Seth Radman 44:53
yeah, thanks for having me. Matt. This was a great time.
Matt Watson 44:56
See you, guys.