Ep. #1171 - The Power of the Pivot
This episode of Startup Hustle is part of an all-week series showcasing various powers you can channel into your company. Matt DeCoursey and AJ Asgari, CEO & Founder of drugstore2door, discuss the power of the pivot in supporting startup survival. They define what it means to pivot and why it is healthy for businesses. They also share the importance of knowing when to pivot and when not to do one. Additionally, they talk about what founders and CEOs do when pivoting the business.
Covered In This Episode
Many more startups fail than succeed, which can be discouraging. AJ Asgari and drugstore2door illustrate the power of the pivot for businesses.
Listen to Matt and AJ discuss what a pivot is and examples of successful and failed ones. They exchange their experiences with their own pivots and the importance of keeping your staff in the loop. The discussion segues into who to listen to and why, empowering the right people, the Pareto Principle, and more. Overall, they agree that a timely and well-planned pivot is healthy for a business.
So what are you waiting for? Join the conversation in this Startup Hustle episode now.
- AJ’s backstory (1:33)
- What it means to pivot (2:39)
- Examples of companies that made great pivots (3:44)
- Matt’s and AJ’s experience in doing a pivot (5:32)
- Pivots are healthy (11:18)
- Examples of failure to pivot (14:24)
- Who do you listen to, and why are you listening to them? (17:05)
- Empowering the right people (22:16)
- Why it is important to explain the pivot to your staff (24:50)
- We’ve all pivoted once in our life (27:38)
- When you shouldn’t pivot (29:49)
- Don’t make a pivot based on assumptions (32:52)
- The Pareto Principle (37:45)
- What we can learn from Elon Musk (40:20)
- The tool might be actually more worth more than the business you’re running (43:46)
- Be committed to your pivot (44:43)
I think it’s important as you’re listening for the pivot and the opportunity to pivot is to take yourself out of the what would I do role unless you are the target customer, right? So, like, me selling to other pharmacy owners, I’m the target customer, basically. I know exactly what we need, why we need it, what the challenges are, how hard it is to run a pharmacy, what, and all of it.– AJ Asgari
One of the things it’s tough is sometimes explaining to your staff the pivot. And as the CEO and founder, that can be a challenge because they’re, like, man, we were all going one way. And now you want to go another way? Well, it’s my job to make sure that boat doesn’t hit those rocks, right? So you know, depending on who your team is and whatever. And the hard part with that is that it often means that you have to throw away some people’s hard work. Or you have to change roles.– Matt DeCoursey
There’s good pivots, there’s bad pivots. I think what echoed with me is to get informed. You know, before the pivot, during the pivot, after the pivot, get informed. In any way shape or form, get informed, stay informed.– AJ Asgari
If you see a better opportunity or a more straightforward path to getting to where you need to be, do it. Remember, though, if you do shift and you do pivot, you need to be committed to doing whatever it is you said you do. So if you don’t think you’re gonna be happy doing it in six months, a year, five years, ten years, then don’t. You’re gonna have to stick with that too. Otherwise, you’re probably just going to kind of be stuck wondering where you pivot to next.– Matt DeCoursey
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt DeCoursey 00:00
And we’re back back for another episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation. I’m hoping help. I’m hoping helps your business grow. See, I had to pivot right there. In the beginning of the episode and you know, we have said on this podcast, our favorite move is the pivot, we’re going to talk about the power of the pivot. Now with that, all week, Startup Hustle is talking about various powers you can channel into and for your company. We’ve already talked about the power of AI the power of vulnerable vulnerability, and today we’re going to talk about the power of the pivot. If you don’t know how to pivot, you’re probably going to get caught traveling, which turns into a turnover, which also reminds me that I did let today’s guests know that Kansas Jayhawks basketball is better than OU Sooners. I’m placing this in a spot where he can’t reply. So I will now remind you that today’s episode startup hustles, powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult and Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has a platform to help you manage that team. Go to FullScale.io to learn more. There’s a link in the show notes for that. With me today is AJ Asgari and he is the CEO and founder of Drugstore2Door. I’m not even going to get into how you spell it. There’s a link for that in the show notes too. For Drugstore2Door. Why am I making comments about Kansas and Oklahoma. They have a rivalry and today’s guest is straight out of Oklahoma University’s hometown Norman, Oklahoma. AJ, Welcome to Startup Hustle.
AJ Asgari 01:33
Hey, thanks for having me. And you already know me too well, the trash talk would have started. So as a good thing you play where you did?
Matt DeCoursey 01:41
Yeah, I got a squeezed and then every now and then I don’t get a lot of rivalry stuff on the show. So well, usually it’s Kansas versus Kansas State stuff with local plays. Anyway, back to what we’re here to do, which is talking about the power of the pivot. Before we get into that. How about a little bit about your backstory?
AJ Asgari 01:58
Yeah, you bet. So I grew up actually in Norman, spent most of my life here moved around a little bit for some business opportunity. But background wise, as far as education, I’m a licensed pharmacist, I’m a doctor of pharmacy degree, I actually own independent pharmacies as well, that’s going to lead to why I’m in the stuff that I’m in and why I chose the market I chose. And then also in, I don’t know, I’ve got the entrepreneurial sickness. So I’m in a bunch of everything, real estate and banking and consulting and all these other pieces as well. But my main focus today, obviously, is in the Drugstore2Door round. So really working to build that network.
Matt DeCoursey 02:39
And we’re gonna get into the pivot. Now, if you don’t know what I’m talking about pivot as anytime you change your course or your trajectory. There are a lot of a lot of businesses in general, not just tech businesses or startups. So businesses in general, are forced to pivot. Sometimes it’s drastic, and sometimes it’s more of a change of a lane. AJ, when you think about a pivot in a business or a startup, what comes to mind?
AJ Asgari 03:07
Yeah, you’ve nailed it, I think about like a dial that you click, and sometimes you got to really turn that dial hard. And other times, it’s just tiny little moves that change everything. So you know, for instance, for us that those little bitty clicks occur quite often because we have not gotten married to this is the only way. It’s let’s put it out there, feel it, test it, smell it, and then do a tiny click, do a tiny click. I’ve been in other businesses where I’ve turned that dial 180 degrees and so everything in between.
Matt DeCoursey 03:43
I have a couple examples of well known pivots just in general that people might recognize so you look at like Netflix is a good example. Started as DVD in the mail, like, if you’re old like I am, you got those little envelopes and with the DVDs in them. They don’t even do that anymore. Continue that and kind of moved on. That’s a good example of a pivot. Instagram was initially a location based soaked social network called Burbn, b-u-r-b-n. There’s obviously not that. Slack was originally a gaming company called Tiny Speck. Twitter was a podcast directory called Odio. Yeah, never heard of the other things, right? Wrigley Chewing Gum originally started as a soap and baking powder manufacturer. It’s things that you chew on, soap is not recommended. So I mean, if you’re gonna pivot from literally from soap in your mouth to gum, that’s a 180. Nokia, Nokia was originally a pulp mill and later and manufacture of various products including rubber boots.
AJ Asgari 04:57
Matt DeCoursey 04:58
And tires. One more Pay Pal. Pay Pal was originally a company called Confinity, focused on developing security software for handheld devices.
AJ Asgari 05:10
Interesting. All right.
Matt DeCoursey 05:12
Please note, you never heard about the other. The other one you hear about the new one. But yeah, pivoting is everywhere. And I think it’s okay. I think that sometimes people don’t want to pivot and they get themselves into trouble.
AJ Asgari 05:24
Yeah, well, I mean, from a podcast perspective, has you had to pivot in the podcast world that seems like a rough or an interesting place to get into?
Matt DeCoursey 05:32
No, not really, because, you know, we came into this podcast, it’ll be six years in December of 2023. And our whole goal was to just tell the real story of entrepreneurship. And we’ve stayed pretty true with that. Haven’t had to necessarily pivot. But but I do. You know, I mentioned that today’s episodes are brought to us by FullScale.io, which is my business. We did not originally start, meaning me and Matt Watson, who’s also a founder, the show and a regular host, and we didn’t we, didn’t start with that we were working on GigaBook.com. And we’re gonna build us a software team for his company at the time Stackify. We just realized there was a huge problem that needed solving. We had the right people in the right place to do the right thing, made a pivot, easily the best move that I’ve made as an entrepreneur. 325 employees and five years later, that’s right. Yeah. What about you?
AJ Asgari 06:32
Say so I mean, I started in pharmacy, it’s an interesting place to be, you know, ownerships not bad. It’s it’s a really interesting industry. And we’re seeing stuff, right? Here you’re seeing Mark Cuban come into the industry. Now you’re seeing some of that you saw Amazon come in, and they’re trying to play the game in the industry. It’s a jacked up industry because of how many people kind of hold the market, if you will, like, where you get paid and how you buy drugs and all this stuff. But the thing that popped up or our pivot, you know, which was, hey, let’s step out of the day to day internal stuff first and jump external was same thing. We started with our own stores and said, guy, man, we suck online. Like there’s nothing if you’re an independent pharmacy owner, so let me remind you, there’s about 20,000. Independents across the United States. So collectively, there’s a heck of a lot more independent pharmacies than there are any major chain in particular CVS or Walgreens or any of these, so, but when you look at them collectively, it’s exactly what you expect, like this poor pitiful me’s small business story. They don’t present well online. We didn’t either. I mean, we suck. I’m a young guy and ownership. And I’m like, man, I can’t someone can’t spend $1 with me today, like, what am I doing? Right? So then we got in and started trying to figure out okay, putting pharmacy online is very difficult. There’s a lot of regulatory stuff and all this other crap you gotta go through. What did we do here? And we got in and started to solve the problem for ourself, we realize it’s gonna be outrageous, let’s just build it for scale, and then figure out what can we do if we go tap the whole industry? And so we started with E-com. I mean, we said, hey, let’s independent pharmacies can get product incredibly fast. Let’s just get it online and get them to be able to sell to their customers. And guess what, when you plug a phenomenal e-commerce experience onto a really crappy website, you get zero traction. So there’s first pivot, right? Who’s out there actually creating something that makes real sense. And that’s when we knew like we need to go into the full scale thing we need to make whatever happens in an independent pharmacy, retail location, we need to make that sucker happen online, all of it. And so that changed the whole landscape of how we’re developing all the tools, we need to bring in all of it. So.
Matt DeCoursey 08:47
Yeah, well, so many good businesses and offering start with the creation of finding solutions for yourself. I mean, that happened at Full Scale. I mean, we had our own software teams. And then next thing, you know, people are just like, so like, well, how do I get some? And you know, you hear this echo enough, you realize there’s a problem worth solving. You, know, I’ve talked to a lot of, I personally think there’s no shame in pivot. Oh, yeah. And I think some people Okay, so let me let me draw a little word picture for you here. You’re on a boat, that boats heading towards a very, very rocky beach. You can sit there and ride the boat right into the fucking rocks, man, like blast away, or you can turn that’s a pivot. And too many entrepreneurs that I’ve talked to over the years long before this podcast even started, you know, used to work in the music industry and call on hundreds of retail stores, which I saw 60% of go out of business over two years because a big change in E-commerce and they just weren’t ready for it. There is definitely shame and riding the boat into the rocks when you see the rocks and have plenty of time to turn. So what would you do if you’re driving that boat because it’s your business. And if you’re sitting around waiting for things to go back to the way they used to be, you’re gonna have the rocks.
AJ Asgari 10:17
Of course, it’s amazing. You say that, because I see it a lot. I mean, we deal with every pharmacy we work with as an independent owner, right? These are small business owners, these are business people in the industry. And they’re from all different walks of life, right? So the thing that’s consistent though, the thing that we see, as a lot of these guys, especially early on, went to pharmacy school. So, their pharmacist first and then fell into ownership. And then the problem there is when the business actually gets tough, like you’re mentioning, and you see the rocks and you’re paddling, you’ve paddled that way, for 30 years, it made you great money for 30 years. But there’s no question you’re gonna hit those rocks. It’s amazing how many struggle to actually turn it or they’re, they’re looking to jump off the boat and put someone else in it before it hits those rocks, but not doing anything to correct course in the meantime. I mean, we see, it’s amazing. Constantly, constantly.
Matt DeCoursey 11:18
Yeah, I agree. I mean, that’s why I bring it up. Because I’ve just watched, I’ve talked to so many business owners over the last 10 to 15 years that and, you know, it’s like, and some of them will even tell you, they’ll be like, Oh, I had plenty of time. I could have done it. I waited too long. And that happens a lot with early-stage startups to that, that refuse to pivot or wait too long to raise capital. Right. And, you know, so the real question, I think you have to ask yourself, if you’re deciding whether to pivot or not, is, well, how soon do I need to do it? Is this is, you know, like, what’s different? What’s going to change my current course towards the rocks? If not, and if you don’t have like, a very definitive answer in that. I mean, remember that boats? So how did this all headed towards the shore? And so waiting too long to make a pivot? And I think that a lot of the reasons that people are, it feels like failure for some people. Yeah. It’s not it’s it’s evolution, its adaptation. And its intelligence and seeing that there are other opportunities in certain spots that might not have existed the way you saw him before. So
AJ Asgari 12:33
I think it’s important as you bring that up because there’s a lot of noise out there too, right? Sometimes you can’t see you’re so in the thick of it, you don’t see another option. Other than paddle your ass off or try to paddle backwards and not hit those rocks but you’re not actually changing anything. Right? You may even be speeding it up. But everyone’s got an opinion, too. That’s something I think, you know, as business owners, we have to be careful with you have a lot of people who haven’t done shit in their life, but they got a ton of advice to give, right?
Matt DeCoursey 13:05
I don’t listen to a major. Man, I piss people off when I say this, too. And like, all right, trigger warning, because you’ve you pulled it. I see a buck on the wall behind you. So are the things that that man. Yeah.
AJ Asgari 13:21
That’s not even if you saw up close, it’s an artsy fartsy piece. get credit for shooting the thing?
Matt DeCoursey 13:27
Yeah, well, I didn’t know. We’re not loud enough. We stand to neutral on that. Startup Hustle, but but the thing is, is like you talked about taking advice from the wrong people. And the reason I get in trouble is because I don’t know I’m kind of vocal about I don’t want to come to your panel discussion with a bunch of non-entrepreneurs giving me entrepreneur advice until you’ve sat in my seat. You don’t know what it’s like to wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if you’re going broke, if you’re going crazy, or for every decision you’ve made us wrong. Right. And and and there’s no textbook, AI, or anything that generates that. That’s that that’s that thing that comes in there. And, you know, a pivot is is a healthy thing, if done well. You can also do poor pivots. Maybe? Maybe I’ll give you a chance to reply. And I’ll ask ChatGPT examples of failed
AJ Asgari 14:25
Failed pivots. I imagine there’s probably more failed pivots than there are success pivots of our guessing man, but
Matt DeCoursey 14:32
Well in with that, though, I mean, there are certainly a lot of okay, so it’s a pivot failure. Not yet. Might be a better answer in some regards. Now, you know, so here’s the list. See what we have here. Okay. I mean, Kodak, yeah. Polaroid, examples of failure to pivot, like, Polariod might be a great as a great example.
AJ Asgari 15:03
Same with Blockbuster.
Matt DeCoursey 15:04
Blockbuster who had an opportunity to actually buy Netflix and was, like, nah, nah. Yeah, and that’s I don’t know, Blackberry was one. Blockbuster saw on this list. Basically every bookstore in the world, yeah. Yeah, I mean, MySpace, you know a lot of them. But these are, you know, things that and I think Polaroid, that’s a great example because Polaroid was dominant for a while at one point. And there’s someone listened this like, what’s Polaroid? Picture with the white strip on the bottom and shake it a little bit, and it evolves into whatever you took a picture of. But yeah, refusal to pivot there. And then I think at one point, I think recently, I think Polaroid even tried, is either Polaroid or Kodak tried to get into the blockchain space. Really. Yeah. And for like a week there, that something ticked up and their stock price like shot up, and then it came crashing back down. But I think that’s a good segueway. Because a pivot still needs to make sense for the business you’re in like you’re in the pharmacy business, you switching into software development might not be a very good fit. It’s like me deciding to become a pharmacist, I am not trained on any of that. I can count on I think I’d be good at is counting to 30, 60, 90, maybe 120. And then it gets a little sketchy.
AJ Asgari 16:33
As long as you can count by fives are in man, I do a backup job.
Matt DeCoursey 16:38
Now see, I don’t even know I don’t even know the right way to do it. So, but yeah, so. So with that, you know, now, I mean, there are definitely some pivots, like is Instagram, so a location-based app? Certainly not. So the question is, is the frame of what you’ve built, able to if it’s not able to support the structure that you’ve currently got? Or it’s not growing into a complete structure? Is it even available to do that? Can it mix?
AJ Asgari 17:05
Well, when I think about this, and this is from personal experiences, sometimes it’s little micro terms, but it’s also you know, going back to who you’re listening to. If there’s anyone you should be listening to, it’s the customer you’re serving. Oh, yeah. And then sometimes, like for us, right, we’re B2B to C. So sometimes our B2B customers actually in the way of what the B2B to C, the ultimate consumer of that product wants from them, right? And I’ll hear this a lot. Well, I wouldn’t ever use something like this. Well, you’re 75. And you probably shouldn’t own your business anymore. So you’re not the target demographic we’re going after, right? And I’ll hear staff say it too. And I think it’s important as you’re listening for the pivot, and the opportunity to pivot it to take yourself out of the what would I do role, unless you are the target customer, right? So, like, me selling to other pharmacy owners, I’m the target customer basically. I know exactly what we need, why we need it, what the challenges are, how hard it is to run a pharmacy, what, all of it. But from a consumer perspective, I’m not the 65 year old on Medicare and Medicaid, you know, needing prescription drugs on seven different prescription drugs, managing it for their husband and themselves, etc. So for me to sit around here and think that I’m going to come up with the pivot, or I’m going to come up with the idea, or I’m going to solve that problem inherently, is a little ludicrous, right? It’s like, so I would I think a lot about, like, who do you listen to and why are you listening to him? And what are you hearing echo over and over and over and over again, as you work towards, okay, which way am I turning this dial to ultimately solve the problem?
Matt DeCoursey 18:52
Well, the echo example is one that I use a lot. And it was actually taught to me by my book editor. So I’ve written three books and the editor. So when editing a book, you try to remove echoey stuff, like if you say, we win, it’s one thing if you write a blog article, that’s 1200 words. It’s another thing if you’re, like, 120,000 words, because there are verbal things that you just say again, and again, it sounds like an echo. But I realized that the same thing occurred as an entrepreneur, it was like that, like so many people kept asking us, how do I get some software developers? I can’t find software developers? Can I get some people on your team? Enough people ask you like, hey, this, maybe we should give this a shot? Yeah, that doesn’t mean that we immediately transformed and changed the business. Now we are at the part of the show where I should remind everyone that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by FullScale.io. We help people build full time dedicated software teams, right, which makes a lot of sense for us and it makes a lot of sense for them. You also have to know what you’re going to do when you arrive at a pivot. So we already had people we had a business we had. So AJ all of our employees are in the Philippines. So we’re bridging this gap that people want to find, with getting high quality, finding high quality software developers that aren’t local. Now, the thing is, is that it’s difficult, we actually have to get 42 applicants to hire one person. So some of that, but we, but we have the expertise in hiring, we had the people there, we had everything. So we went into it in a gradual way, beta client one and one, it was one month beta client to the next month, beta client three, the fourth month, we realized that we really were like, Oh, wow, this is the direction that we shouldn’t be going. So you know, a couple things is if you realize that your business strategy, your product, your market approach isn’t working as expected, or that you may not have the resources to get to where you need to be things change that. I mean, here’s the thing, like, look back at the pandemic. I mean, I remember talking to VCs and private equity people that hated ed tech, and then the kid and then and then all of a sudden, an entire country of people are educating their kids online. And ad tech is way different. Now. Generative AI is a great example. Right now, people weren’t there is more investment going into AI related startups right now than all of the other ones put together. Yeah, so some of that is also recognizing where you might have certain things in place. Now, we had originally started with GigaBook.com, which is a booking platform, we had our team working on it. Now with that we put our attention into Full Scale, and then we, well, Gigabook still is a very valid booking platform and drives revenue. We also found that the components driving at work gave us a huge head start for building our platform, right? So you know, where do you where do your pieces fit? Certain things, you know, and now one thing I’m gonna call you out on is you mentioned earlier, you’re like, I’m in way too much stuff. That’s a that’s not always a good thing, either, because I put some of it down and move along. And what is your experience been without? If you had read?
AJ Asgari 22:15
Something I learned, I guess we could call this a pivot as well as how can I get my hands out of it? How can I empower the right people to do things so that something that may have taken me 20 hours a week, I can shove down to four or three or one hour or turn into a quarterly meeting. And that was huge for me, because I like this, like, I need like this tinge of anxiety all the time to feel normal, when things get too calm. I’m like, I need something to explode. I don’t know what it is like, I want everything to be calm, always. But I don’t function well, I’ll go pick up the next thing. So it’s good for me to have something that’s, you know, got my attention or got me driving towards it. But my life changed when I figured out how to empower people that had talents and skills to allow me to give them an opportunity, but also by some of my time back, so I could go inject it elsewhere. And man, I could go back if I went back six years ago to where I’m at today, I couldn’t be accomplishing what I’m accomplishing if I didn’t set those baselines up, right? And I can tell you without a question of a doubt, if my hand was in all that shit right now, and I didn’t have it set up appropriately, I’d be a hot mess across the board, like nothing would be working, right? Because you can’t dedicate enough energy to enough things and do it right. So being able to pick and point where you need to go, changes a lot of things for us. You know, like, same with this company. Like I brought salespeople in. I’m the target demographic target target. Nobody can close in this industry like I close because I just know it so incredibly well. So like working through empowering those people to come in and take things away. And how you line yourself up to be able to move into areas where you can help the trajectory big time in your businesses makes a huge difference. So I’m always watching for shiny object syndrome. Like I’ve got it bad, right? I have a 10 million ideas every single day. And I put people around me they’re like you need to calm down like let’s let’s shut these down. shut this down. shut this down. Let’s focus here. Or hey, you got
Matt DeCoursey 24:29
to managed at almost 50 I’m almost 50. God, it’s so weird to say, you know, at this point, and it’s mainly because I sound and look so youthful. And I can tell everyone.
AJ Asgari 24:40
I got more gray hair than you look at this.
Matt DeCoursey 24:42
Well, maybe mines. You have more hair than me. So let’s start there. I’ll trade you.
AJ Asgari 24:49
I’ll keep the gray.
Matt DeCoursey 24:50
There’s a couple things here because you know you mentioned empowering people which is okay look, all you can do is all you can do, and that’s that’s a simple thing as entrepreneurs we sometimes insert ourselves into into too much stuff. I, the problem is, is then you force yourself to be a conduit, then you got to go rewire everything later, which by the way is way too difficult. I have spent two years trying to unwind myself as the conduit, and you got to really, you know, explain that. And that speaking of explanation, it can be a challenge to explain to a team, a pivot that is about to occur. Now, a lot of pivots that occur aren’t noticeable, they aren’t things that ChatGPT is going to give you a record on. It’s a simple pivot of, hey, we tried this thing, and it’s not working. So we need to pivot, we need to go to plan B, C, or D, or maybe all of them or whatever. And that’s normal stuff. These are these are, those are more of the lane change things. But one of the things it’s tough is sometimes explaining to your staff the pivot, and as the CEO and founder that can be a challenge because they’re like moon, we were all going one way. And now you want to go another way? Well, it’s my job to make sure that boat doesn’t hit those rocks, right. So you know, depending on who your team is, and whatever. And the hard part with that is, that often means that you have to throw away some people’s hard work. Or you have to change roles. And I will tell you right now, the premise of my first book, Balance Me: Realist Guide to Successful Life, is that if you aren’t willing to change the world’s going to change without you. Oh, for sure. I’ll guarantee it’s changes constant. And people don’t like change. It’s difficult. It feels weird. And you know, they’re gonna have a lot of questions am I still needed? Yes, if you’re a valuable person, we’ll find something for you to do. But, you know, I think the moment that you realize that you need to pivot is the moment you need to be conditioning the staff and the people that help you run your place to understand it. Explain it as it was to, hey, look, it’s my job to change the trajectory when and where it needs to occur. And I’m seeing that what we’re doing right now, isn’t gonna get us to where we need to be. So we need to either switch to this, we got to find the course that works. Continuing to get closer to those rocks is more and more dangerous. This is a healthy thing. This is something we’re moving forward to. I feel very confident. And guess what, if it doesn’t work, we’re going to make another change. Right? It’s the way it goes, I think if you find people at your business saying, but that’s always that’s the way we’ve always done it. It’s like the enemy of innovation. You hear that phrase at the office? Like, I almost want to like slap a mouth. Yeah, it’s coming out with and I wouldn’t do that in real life. But I’d consider it.
AJ Asgari 27:38
Yeah, for sure. Hang it next to my dear over here. But no, it’s what’s funny about that. The way I explain it is my job’s to handle the macro. And I need a bunch of micro players who are all in fully immersed, right? So let’s get back in the boat. You got one guy rowing on the left the other gal rowing on the right, and you go macro and go, Oh, shit, we’re about to hit rocks, you’ve rode on the left for the last 10 days, you’re gonna roll on the right with Jim or whoever it is. That way the boat takes the correct term, right. And so I think in the society we live in today, for you to even think the words we’ve never done that before or changes, I don’t even know how your brain can fire and wire that way anymore with how fast things are changing and how much we’re seeing populate, and, and businesses that come and go in a flash. I mean, even our personal lives, and if you’re not a business person, to just think about your habits 10 years ago to today, and where your time is consumed and your attention and all this stuff. We’ve all pivoted, we’ve pivoted from big enough phone up off the wall and calling somebody to man you got to pull me apart to get me off a text to a phone call. It get better be damn important that you gotta call me and you can’t reduce it to writing to get your point across, right? Or I can’t consume mass amounts of material in short, short periods of time or go for a lightning bolt of explanation. I mean, everything I don’t even think you have to be in business to understand, like, how even our personal lives everything has been a pivot to new, faster, sexier, whatever it is technology that showed up and change the way in which we live, communicate and be I think we’re a big experiment. Now the whole thing’s an experiment. So I’d never done it that way. Or, you know, change is incredibly hard. It’s like shit, everybody change. You’re pushing a phone screen with no buttons on it. How many of you were fighting tooth and nail for buttons to go away? Like how are you going to dial a phone with no buttons? You know, like, it’s crazy, that we even let ourselves get into that mindset anymore, but people still say I mean, I still hear it.
Matt DeCoursey 29:49
You remember the home computer was just a fad. Do you know how much of everything I do every day I had no experience doing before I did it. All of it. All of it, dude, I dropped out of five colleges, I should put that in there. Right? I kept starting businesses, dude and I’m gone doing all this different stuff that I look back at it and I’m like, Man, I learned so much that’s back to that aren’t getting advice from entrepreneurs, is you know, you get out there and you start doing it. I learned from Google and YouTube. I just I recently bought a farm dude and I and I’m not growing crops anything. I just wanted some place to recreate go with my family in the evenings and weekends. And to give you an example to I don’t know shit about a tractor. Yeah. I have learned that I’ve had to fix my tractor three different times. Do you know I’m not a diesel mechanic? I don’t know any of that shit. You know, what does the What does know it the internet and YouTube. I have yet to encounter a problem that is fairly straightforward. Now we’re talking about like the complexity of blah, blah, blah. And like this universal, crazy thing. You’ll get opinions on it maybe not answered. There was a very definitive course of action for changing a fuel filter on a Kubota Tractor. The info is out there. I had never done it before. But guess what, if I ever do need to do it again, I can do it like any split. But you can’t be afraid to try new things. Now. Let’s talk for a second about when you shouldn’t pivot. Okay, because we talked about some of it and Okay, well, first off, don’t be uninformed with the pivot. Like, I like to compare a lot of parts of entrepreneurship and life to basketball in regards to, well, first off, if you’re shooting baskets in the dark, I wouldn’t expect a whole lot of them to go in. Right, right? So you know, that’s the main thing is a lot of people are out there shooting baskets in the dark with their business, they don’t see if anything, when and they can be hitting 100%. Probably not hitting it all, they don’t even know if they’re shooting towards a basket. So if you have a lack of thorough research and analysis about what you’re getting into, you might just be getting yourself into a bigger pile of shit.
AJ Asgari 31:59
Yeah, for sure. That I love that too. Because even the beginning, you get so blinded, and so your hearts in what you’re doing. I mean, you’re all in that sometimes you don’t take the time to, to step back and say, Okay, let me just do a quick competitor analysis, like, who else is in the market. What are they doing? How are they solving this problem? And how different Am I from those people? Right? Sometimes you just want to put the blinders on. You’re like, I’m just gonna go Go, go, go, go, go go, right? And I catch myself and I’m like, hey, it’s been a few months, I need to pull back. Really evaluate where these companies who might have been competition are on the way to competition live? And what are they doing? What’s their game plan? What path are they going down? So yeah, I mean, great advice there that once the lights are on, though, shots on goal, make all the difference in the world, right? Technique, all that stuff.
Matt DeCoursey 32:51
Run with that, you know, I mean, you can don’t don’t make your pivot based on assumptions. Yeah. And so dude, I unfortunately, have had too many conversations with people that, you know, well, okay. I like giving people advice or input about a business that they have, or one that they want to start with make myself pretty available for that. But with that I get I’ve had so many people come into these conversations, and they’re like, I’m like, Well, what kind of competition Do you have? And like, well, I don’t have any. Okay, first off, if you tell me that, that tells me you either have done no research, or you’re doing something that no one gives a shit about? Yeah, you’re in 2023. There’s something out there for about All right, exactly. That’s a red flag. So many times people have told me that they don’t have any competition and in like, in like, a minute, I can find tons of it. Yep. And so you know, don’t be blind about it. And as a business owner, it’s easy to do that. While I do believe in trusting your gut, it should have an informed Yeah, another time to not pivot is if you’re ignoring customer feedback, or your customers, clients, users, whatever you want, whatever you call them. You know, they’re the ones that drive the business. And if they’re asking for something, then you should listen. You know, and, you know, and with that, though, you still don’t want to necessarily lose sight of your core value proposition. Like, it’d be like you going from a pharmacy to a hardware store. Yep. No, I Yeah. So
AJ Asgari 34:22
Well, in the key to, you know, as I think about this, as there was a point where we were overselling the things that we were doing in a way that the pharmacy would get the delusion that not only are they going to get all the software and everything that we build for them, plugged in, ready to go turnkey, but somehow this whole magical marketing company is going to show up and go do all of this stuff to drive customers now to their new offering for, you know, pennies, and we had to sit back and go, okay, we’re not explicitly saying we’re going to do those things, but over over and over again, there’s an assumption made. So we’ve had to refine even how we deliver the product to the customer to to add the let me make this incredibly clear. We are offering you this, not this. You got to go pay for this.
Matt DeCoursey 35:16
We ran into that with GigaBook, you talking about scheduling and people like Yeah, well, how do I fill? How do I get people to schedule in the barber chair, or whatever. And that’s a completely different thing. That’s something I can’t deliver for $15 a month for a service provider there. And that’s a big thing. And I think that that’s a good point when it comes to pivot, like, are you? Are you capable of succeeding on the other side of it? Yeah. And stay within that now. I’ve really, you know, as we the time races through on these episodes, so one of the things you said that you talked about being able to emulate and understand the mind of the target user, I think that’s when that’s a good pivot. And that’s what made Full Scale, just go ape, when I mean, yeah, very quick. And, you know, with that, it’s because we understood ourselves, like other founders, entrepreneurs, like we’ve always build the company as being founder friendly. And and here’s the thing is, this is what a lot of stuff isn’t going to tell you as people like buying stuff from people that they feel are like them, like, you said, No one can close like me, let’s kiss you, you get it, you could see a pharmacy owner, you’re gonna be like, Hey, dude, like, there’s these three things that everyone else is focused on. But then there’s these three of them. Really, that’s it. And with that, is that peace of mind? Customer peace of mind can be the ultimate multiple, right multiplier, because what’s that worth in your life? So some of that is it’s, I think a lot of the problems that people are trying to solve, are trying to learn accounting. But if you can figure out how to give someone peace of mind, peace of mind.
AJ Asgari 37:00
You have to, I think, when I say nobody can close like me, it’s one understanding that target incredibly well. But it’s also believing, like, knowing what you do for that target. You would eat all day long, if you served it up on your plate, you would eat it. And you’re going to feel that in the conversation, I use a terrible analogy with people when I tell them, like, if I believed an elephant turd was great for you to eat, and you are going to live longer, and you are going to be healthier. By the end of our conversation, I’m going to convince you to eat elephant turds with me, like, because I believe it’s so firmly and I will have so many facts behind it. And I will understand where you’re at because of where I was at, and I would have done all the research will be an elephant turds together. And that’s a terrible analogy, but it’s the thing you’re, like, I would never do that.
Matt DeCoursey 37:44
But if you’re, if you’re me, and you’re or you’re doing something similar to me, and I look, the Pareto Principle known as the 8020 rule, you know, like applies to entrepreneurs, like the 20%. That’s out 80% Of what entrepreneurs and business owners and founders do as the same, the 20% are those acts or is it your you do pharmacies, I do offer teams or whatever. And, but the thing is, is understanding those core problems. Like I said, if you’re sitting there, if I’m looking at young guy, this guy’s pretty frickin successful. And he turns on, I get elephants. They exactly. Okay, I think that that’s, that’s what that should be around. And, you know, you talked about that pivot and getting that in, like, you know, you talk about 20,000 independent pharmacies, that is the example of fragmented, you know, in like, and with that, like so. So insurance companies are similar. There’s like, all these independent insurance agencies like everywhere. We had a out of I don’t know, what brought brought them to mind out of other people that have done this, but there’s like a company got the glove box app, which was a white label app that any insurance company could plug into and offer use to they’re interested in good things that, you know, I’m like, Oh, that’s a great idea. And here’s the thing, you’d be thinking at this point in 2023, someone would have done that. They haven’t. They’re the same thing with the pharmacy stuff.
AJ Asgari 39:12
Same thing because everyone’s focused in a lane that’s doesn’t empower the independent. It’s very self serving, right? We’re gonna go out here and create this big mail order pharmacy, leave it to Amazon. It’s kind of like, Hey, hello. How many big players have created mail order pharmacies? Why don’t they dominate the whole space, you think you’re going to change the consumers telling you, I don’t want my shit to come in a FedEx box. I want to go somewhere local to get it from somebody with a pulse that I can ask questions, right? And so and then you watch it fail. So it’s amazing, even the major companies as they’re playing around with where to go. So for us, it’s like, Hey, this is I know the service level you’re gonna get if I send you to a local independent, so how can I pair that with phenomenal technology so that that experience is cohesive? And then no matter where you are, you can utilize our technology to find the next one. And so you know, same thing. It’s the exact same thing. And I love it though, the harder it is, the more you know, the more complicated getting all the pieces to come together is that it just gets quieter and quieter. Less.
Matt DeCoursey 40:13
That’s where you that’s where it starts paying well.
AJ Asgari 40:17
Yeah, yeah, let people come in.
Matt DeCoursey 40:20
I know not everyone loves Elon, I’m an Elon fan. But these are these guys. And you know, they say, Well, is it fair that you are a gazillionaire? I find that that usually comes along with the value or complexity or difficulty of the problem that you’re wanting to solve. Right. So I mentioned having a farm dude, I hooked up Starlink. Yep. It’s a better option. Thank you. You know, and like some of that is like you talked about going to Mars, like, Okay, that’s a big one. I mean, look, NASA quit launching rockets because, because SpaceX did it better.
AJ Asgari 40:59
And then now the charging stations. GM hooked up with Tesla. Ford soaked up with, like, he just shot the standard. Yeah, man. I’m a I’m a fan of what he’s if there was someone I wanted to have all that money to do crazy shit. He’s the one.
Matt DeCoursey 41:15
From the dude that doesn’t own a gazillion square foot and he actually doesn’t own anything. He doesn’t even own a house.
AJ Asgari 41:24
Yeah, there’s nothing. Just a bunch of kids with crazy names. I mean, that’s about all he’s got.
Matt DeCoursey 41:29
And with that, if you want to launch your dreams, we Full Scale can help you hire software engineers, testers and leaders go to FullScale.io type in two minutes worth of questions, and we’ll match you up with some people that they can hopefully help you solve your problems with that out of the way it’s time for the founders freestyle, man, we raced through a bunch of different stuff. I know we didn’t probably talk enough about, about your business. There’s a link in the show notes, Drugstore2Doors. That’s the number two, you’re violating one of the rules in my book Million Dollar Bedroom with one number two in there. Yeah, cuz you have to you have to you have to explain.
AJ Asgari 42:11
Yeah. Every you grab every version of two URL on the planet, and then you’re good to go. Right? Yeah, like a plug anything.
Matt DeCoursey 42:20
And it’s funny because I did that when I launched GigaBook. I bought GigaBook.com. And it was like pretty cheap. And then everyone kept going. I’m going to GigaBooks.com, and it’s not yours. And then I had to go buy that for five times more than I paid for GigaBooks. Yeah. Yeah, I wrote about that Million Dollar Bedroom, too. So, don’t down there. What stands out from today’s chat or anything you might have left out? Anybody you want to thank you any anything else on the web?
AJ Asgari 42:49
It’s perfect. I love the topic. The conversation is perfect. There’s good pivots, there’s bad pivots, I think what echoed with me is get informed. You know, before the pivot during the pivot after the pivot, get informed any way shape or form, get informed, stay informed. Like you mentioned, as far as finding my stuff, Drugstore2Door.com. We’re putting independent pharmacies together through technology so that consumers can find and get prescription goods anywhere across the country utilizing local independent pharmacies, which is a game changer. So if you thought pharmacy was a Walgreens or a CVS, you’ve been shortchanging yourself big time. Give us a visit. We’re doing a bunch of stuff in the cash realm as well. So cash membership programs, things like that are coming. So for people without insurance, underinsured, etc, very cheap, generic prescription drug options to help them manage their budgets.
Matt DeCoursey 43:46
Yeah, I like the solution for a couple of things here. You know, a lot of times, startups and businesses get started with these internal tools, and then you realize that the tool might be actually more worth more than the business you’re running. Just think about it, it might not be today but the big picture of it. And then a lot of times, so the problem that you’re looking at 20 and independent 20,000 independent operators. Collectively, they get a lot of horsepower puts together individually, not so much. And you know, if you have a problem as a business owner, it’s like and it’s likely that other people just like you have that same problem. If you’re finding innovative solutions, those people are your first clients, possibly your investors. Have you had any investment come from other independent pharmacies?
AJ Asgari 44:34
Yeah, a handful. They have, my I raised a little over a million bucks when I got started. I’d say they covered a quarter of it independent pharmacies.
Matt DeCoursey 44:43
Because they’re like, Hey, I get it, I believe it and you don’t have to sell that same way a lot of times. So, you know, look around and then you know, just ask and the thing is, is like as I mentioned with Full Scale, which is an Inc 5000 company at this point, you know, like we started doing something else. Like, if you see a better opportunity or a more straightforward path to getting to where you need to be, do it. You know, that what you don’t want to do is remember though, if you do shift and you do pivot, you need to be committed to doing whatever it is you said you do. So if you don’t think you’re gonna be happy doing it in six months, a year, five years, ten years, then don’t. You’re gonna have to stick with that too. Otherwise, you’re probably just going to kind of be stuck wondering where you pivot to next.
AJ Asgari 45:34
Yeah, you better be willing to eat it breathe it. I mean, it’s all consuming.
Matt DeCoursey 45:40
That’s my first advice. When I tell people they’re like, hey, I’m, I have a business idea. Okay? Are you ready to like do this all day? Every day? If you’re not passionate about it, you’re gonna quit?
AJ Asgari 45:50
Matt DeCoursey 45:51
If you’re not committed to it, you’re gonna quit. If you’re nervous about everything. You’re probably just going to die. Literally die. You know, don’t want to do that either. But, yeah, all right. Well, I’m going to check up with you down the road and see if you pivoted. Hopefully, Drugstore2Door well, well, will not require that. But remember, folks, there’s always a little pivot. No matter where you look. Don’t be afraid to explore it, at least talk about it. You know, figure it out. I’ll see you down the road AJ.
AJ Asgari 46:24
Hey, it’s good chatting with you.