The Startup Hustle Podcast, For Entrepreneurs and Founders

The Startup Hustle Podcast, For Entrepreneurs and Founders

Matt Watson and Matt DeCoursey are more than your typical entrepreneurs. One is a best-selling author and the other has a Midas touch; but together, they make a charming duo hosting a widely-heard podcast, the Startup Hustle.

On the first episode of Startup Hustle, listeners get to meet the founders of a fast-growing company and the reason behind the creation of the Startup Hustle Podcasts. The Matts shared their road to building their businesses and imparted some tips and advice in creating a startup.

Matt DeCoursey and Matt Watson are from Kansas. The two met when Matt DeCoursey was writing his book, Million-Dollar Bedroom, with Matt Watson as one of his featured entrepreneurs.

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Matt Watson has been an entrepreneur for about 17 years. At the early age of thirteen, he started writing codes and by 22, he already started his own business, VIN Solutions. He sold his company for $150 million dollars, making his first millions before he turned thirty. Incredible, right? Matt DeCoursey, too, is not falling behind the success ladder. With an extra bedroom and an $8000 limit credit card, he was able to create multiple companies.

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Being entrepreneurs, the Matts share their thoughts on what a startup is and what startup entrepreneurs will encounter in their startup hustle.

On Entrepreneurship

Years of experience have honed the Matts to be knowledgeable in entrepreneurship. Here are a few highlights that they discussed in the podcast:

  • Entrepreneurs should solve problems
  • A person can only understand entrepreneurship when they experience it firsthand. Above else, experience has always been the best teacher
  • You can’t learn everything by yourself. Reflect and think over to understand and recognize when you need help.
  • Learn and discover your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest with yourself when you need help. Once you’ve discovered what you lack, you can hire people who possess the skills and knowledge of the field of your weakness.
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Common Problems Entrepreneurs Have

Entrepreneurs, may it be beginners or seasoned, encounter a lot of problems along the way. The best remedy for these challenges is to educate yourself with all possible challenges at the onset of the startup phase.

  • Focusing on the development of the product more and leaving behind marketing and sales.
  • Forgetting to delegate. The Matts emphasize the downside of solely working on your own. Instead of micromanaging every aspect of your startup, why not delegate tasks to others so you focus more of your time growing your business.

Building a Startup

Building a startup is not easy. So, the Matts share their tips and advice on how to work smarter with building a startup:

  • A great startup knows its target market and uses exceptional marketing strategies to reach them.
  • In planning your startup, you need to formulate a foolproof plan with goals and contingency strategies.
  • Determine your niche industry or identify the problem you want to solve
  • Share your ideas. Talk to people about your great idea for a startup. In this way, you will find your prospective customers, partners, or Co-Founders. However, be wary of sharing every detail of your plan.
  • Once you’ve talked to people, ask for their opinion and constructive criticism. Don’t be discouraged by negative comments. Ask for multiple opinions and assess which ones are worth considering.
  • You need to be versatile.

Listen to Episode 1 of the Startup Hustle Podcast – Welcome to the Hustle!

Here is the transcript from Episode 1 of the Startup Hustle Podcast – Welcome to the Hustle!

Matt DeCoursey:Hello and welcome to Startup Hustle, episode one. My name is Matt DeCoursey, and I’m here with my co-host.
Matt Watson:Matt Watson.
Matt DeCoursey:As we get started into our upcoming audio journey with you guys, Matt and I would like to take a couple minutes and give you a background about ourselves as well as what we hope to accomplish, not only today but wt upcoming episodes. So I’m going to go ahead and turn things over to Matt Watson.
Matt Watson:Well, first of all, it’s a lot of fun to do this. I think it’s a little bit of therapy for us, as entrepreneurs. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 15 years, and I’m currently on my second, I guess you could call it, startup. Been in a couple different technology-related companies, software companies. My background is in software development. Been a software developer for over 15 years professionally. Started writing code when I was, like, 13 or something, though. I was actually raised in a family that was very entrepreneurial. I used to go to flea markets every single weekend when I was a kid, and it was always in my blood. When I was 22, I started my first company, which was a company called VIN Solutions, which was for car dealers. It was sales and marketing related, like CRM and websites and inventory management and all these things. Basically, everything that the dealership and the sales people needed to kind of run the sales side of the business. Was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and have the right team and all those things. Survived a terrible economy and Ford going bankrupt and Chrysler going bankrupt. Persevered through all that. There was definitely a lot of hustling and problem-solving along the way to get to what ended up being a great, successful exit.
Matt DeCoursey:Matt, because you’re one of the humblest people I know, I know I’m going to have to ask this question on behalf of our listeners. How did that exit end for you?
Matt Watson:It went really good. We sold the company to, which is now part of Cox Automotive, but we sold it for about $150 million. It was a good deal, and it was bootstrap the whole way. We never had any outside VC money or any of that source stuff. We tried really hard to raise money, but when we were really growing in 2008, 2009, 2010, that was the wrong time to raise capital, due to the downturn of the economy. We persevered through it and made it work.
Matt DeCoursey:I know that you have quite a few interesting stories that you’re going to share with us along the way. Having known you for a year, a year and a half at this point, I’ll try to do the best I can to try to get some of those stories out of you, as well. Now, for those of you that aren’t familiar with me, once again, my name is Matt DeCoursey. Both Matt and I are located in Kansas City. While Matt wasn’t born here, this is his hometown. It’s my hometown. Just wanted to give you guys a little background about where we’re at, why we’re doing this. Matt and I got to be friends and started knowing each other because he was featured in a book that I published in June of 2017 titled Million-Dollar Bedroom. Million-Dollar Bedroom’s my own personal business narrative that outlines and details the story of how, starting in 2009, I used an extra bedroom in my home and a credit card with an $8,000 limit to build multiple companies, $30 million of revenue. Made a little bit of profit along the way and really learned a whole lot of stuff. Much like Matt’s story … You know, Matt, your business was started in your home at first, wasn’t it?
Matt Watson:It was started in my basement. My dad was our first employee. My best friend was our first software developer. Absolutely.
Matt DeCoursey:With that, our stories are very similar, minus the fact that I have not sold a company for 150 million bucks. I like to think that there’s still time for that. With that, let’s talk a little bit about what we hope to accomplish here. I know you mentioned the word therapy. I think that there’s a lot to be said about that. For me, I think I look back at my story and I think, if someone had just told me a few things, oh my god, I would probably have a giant sack of money somewhere that I would have saved for all of the failure, unsailed ships and other things that kind of revolved around it. Some of that is just the learning process that goes with starting a business.
Matt Watson:But wait a second, you wouldn’t have listened to any of those things.
Matt DeCoursey:I think you’re right.
Matt Watson:I have three kids, right? Any time somebody gives me parenting advice and they don’t have kids, I have no appreciation for their input, right? There are things about life that you don’t understand until you go through them. I don’t understand things about being a parent until I’ve been a parent. These people that aren’t a parent sure seem that they’ve got it all figured out. There’s just so many things in life that you don’t understand until you go through them is my point. That’s the same about being an entrepreneur. There are challenges and problems that you go through that, even if you read about them in a book, they’re still not going to relate to you until you have lived them yourself.
Matt DeCoursey:You think the difference between knowing that fire will burn you and actually being burned by the fire are different?
Matt Watson:It does.
Matt DeCoursey:I agree with you. I have an entrepreneurial stubbornness sometimes, too. I think that’s something we can address down the road, is sometimes when and who to take advice from. I think that as we’re talking about why we’re doing this, we don’t have all the right answers. It’s really going to be up to you to determine what you’re going to do with your future. I think that, for me personally, I just want to let people know certain stumbling blocks that appeared and things that either ended up in a huge waste of time, talent, or treasure. Would you agree?
Matt Watson:I agree. One of the things I think defines an entrepreneur is we’re usually very good problem-solvers. That’s how we get the idea to start a company. We’re trying to solve a problem that we think other people will pay for, right? That kind of defines starting a company and being an entrepreneur. I think the thing you quickly find is once you have a business and you start getting some traction, getting down the road, you spend a whole lot of time solving a huge array of new problems of just running a business, like learning about accounting and legal and marketing and go-to-market strategies and all these different things that you, before, didn’t know anything about. I’ve been in this for a long time, but I continue to learn new things every single week. There are a lot of things you don’t learn until you go through them, especially hard lessons and mistakes, but there are little tidbits of things that I learn all the time nonstop that I can use and help improve how I do things. It’s amazing the things that you can learn and the little tidbits of information. I think that’s part of what we can help people with.
Matt DeCoursey:With that, while it’s important to continue to learn lots of new stuff, you can’t do everything yourself, and you can’t learn everything yourself. How do you determine when you should be learning how to do something or when you should be, in a way, delegating or outsourcing or hiring someone else to do that?
Matt Watson:I think you have to know what you’re really good at. The first thing you’ve got to do is be honest with yourself and your co-founders or your team about what your strengths are and focusing on your strengths. For me, I’m not a detailed person. I don’t like taking notes. There’s a lot of little things I don’t like to do, but I’m very good at visionary kind of stuff and product design and different things like that. I’m a really good problem-solver. You just surround yourself with people that can do the things that you can’t. You’ve just got to be open and honest with yourself of when you need help and recruiting people to help you.
Matt DeCoursey:I think that’s a good example. People ask me all the time … So, to get back into what I do now, I’m the founder and CEO of GigaBook, which is an online appointment platform that turns your website into a booking engine for you. Now, with that, people ask me all the time if I’m a programmer. I always joke, I say, “Well, I don’t write code. I write checks.” You’re saying determining and understanding what you’re going to be good at. I would be a horrible programmer, and the reason is … You’re an excellent programmer, but you say you’re not detail-oriented.
Matt Watson:Oh, I’m not.
Matt DeCoursey:You’re not a good programmer, or you are? Or you’re just not detail-
Matt Watson:I might be the best programmer in the world at solving the first 80% of the problem.
Matt DeCoursey:Then, it’s the details that get after you?
Matt Watson:The rest of the developers that work on our team would probably agree.
Matt DeCoursey:See, that’s my issue. I tell people I had to kind of determine what I was going to be good at and what I wasn’t, and I just knew that programming never really interested me, because I knew I wasn’t detail-oriented, and I’m not very patient. The lack of patience works to my advantage and against me in a lot of situations. In regards to programming, I would probably just be furious and upset all the time. I tell people a lot, I’d have a whole stack of broken computers over in the corner, because I’m just not the guy that’s going to figure out where that missing semicolon is that broke a page. I think I just find myself steaming a lot. As far as I’m concerned, I found other people to do that stuff, and I focused a little more on kind of like what you said, visionary stuff, but more about creative ways to make money.
All right, so we’ve talked a little bit about why we might be doing this and what some of our backgrounds are. Stick with us in the future episodes. We didn’t want episode one to be all about our stories. I think we’d prefer to kind of mix those in and not have to make everybody sit through episode one just hearing a narrative about who we are. Let’s talk about what a startup is.
Matt Watson:I think that’s a great question. What is a startup?
Matt DeCoursey:That’s a really good question, I agree.
Matt Watson:I mean, if you’re a VC in the Valley, you’re not a startup unless you could be sold for a billion dollars, right?
Matt DeCoursey:I think if you’re a startup, in my opinion, you’re a business that has absolutely no protocol, no history. You’re not a franchise. You’re something that is … You can be a product. You can be software. I mean, technically, you can really even be services, as well.
Matt Watson:I know exactly what a startup is.
Matt DeCoursey:Tell me.
Matt Watson:It is a company that has not quite yet identified their go-to-market strategy and their market. They’re trying to figure it out.
Matt DeCoursey:Then, I know some companies that have been around for a while and are still startups. That’s a completely different problem, maybe.
Matt Watson:Yeah, that might be a completely different problem. You always talk about an idea is one thing, and the execution is another. It comes down to the execution. So much of that is the go-to-market strategy. It’s the execution of how to take something to market. One of the biggest problems we have an entrepreneurs, and this is probably a little more on the software side, is a lot of times, the founder is very focused on the product. They think they can just build the best product in the world, and that may be absolutely true. If you don’t figure out how to sell that thing and who wants to buy it and why they would pay for it and all those sort of things, you’re never going to go anywhere. That is a transition that I, frankly, have had to make. I spent all my time writing code and just being heads down and focused on that when if you want to run a business and be successful, you’ve got to figure out how to get people to buy this thing and take it to market. To me, that is actually way harder than building the product. Building the product can actually be pretty easy. It’s figuring out how do I find people that will pay for this thing that can be really hard.
Matt DeCoursey:Right. That’s actually … I have a lot of people, as do you, that approach me and want either advice or input or maybe investment in whatever it is that they’re doing. I think one of the first questions I ask any startup or new business is simple: what’s your path to new revenue? I think we can talk about that, but I think we should probably owe everybody the service of giving them an idea of what kind of expectations and the hustle that is going to be required to make your startup actually, like you said, find the path to revenue or sell something or put the money in the bank. I think another thing I ran into, as well, as we get into that, is a lot of people will say that they understand those expectations but aren’t willing to make the commitment that it takes to actually execute them. As a startup founder and someone who’s been in multiple businesses, especially in the beginning phases and the hustle part of things, how many hours a week were you working?
Matt Watson:With my first company, I had a full-time job, and then I would come home and work three, four, five hours every night afterwards and work most of the weekends. I did that for probably two years before ever receiving any kind of paycheck from what was my new company, my startup. I spent hours and hours and hours grinding away, trying to build a product that one day I would be able to sell. Eventually, we started selling it, but the revenue, then, just wasn’t still meaningful enough to actually pay myself.
Matt DeCoursey:I’m a little different, because I didn’t have another job when I had first started my own businesses, but I was working at least 100 hours a week.
Matt Watson:Software businesses are different. Depending on the type of business you’re doing, for software, you’ve got to build a product first, right?
Matt DeCoursey:Right.
Matt Watson:There’s a whole lot of time, if that’s weeks or months or whatever that is. So every startup is different. Some startups, they can get to revenue a lot quicker.
Matt DeCoursey:Especially a service-related startup.
Matt Watson:Now, they’re not as scalable, either. That’s one of the Holy Grails of software-related things, is they can be extremely scalable, but they take a lot longer to build, too.
Matt DeCoursey:Right. We just established that starting a new business is going to require a lot of time. Now, with that, I think it’s a pretty good idea to understand some of the sacrifices that you’re going to make along with that. When you work 100 hours a week or more, well, first off, at that point, you’re obsessed with what you’re doing, which I’m not going to say is right or wrong. In order to do one thing, you have to not be doing another thing, in most cases. I was in a situation, when I started my business, where I wasn’t married and I didn’t have any kids. I know that we both have kids now and wives and families, but I was single at the time. I was able to really be obsessed with that.
Matt Watson:Yup. It’s a lot easier to do this if you’re single, for sure.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. Now, with that, one of the things is if you have a family or you have other commitments … Like you said you had another job.
Matt Watson:Right.
Matt DeCoursey:So you’re sharing your obsession with working somewhere else. I think another thing that I like to let people know is success isn’t going to happen between nine and five in a scripted way every day Monday through Friday. For me, if people ask me, they say, “Well, what do you think has helped you become successful?” I have a very patient wife who understands that … I know that you do, too.
Matt Watson:Yup.
Matt DeCoursey:She understands, sometimes I just say to her, “I feel like I need to get something out of my system right now,” and she gets it. I can go work, work, work, work, work. Sometimes I come out of a room looking like Tom Hanks that just escaped from the island in Castaway, but some of that is also, I think, understanding what kind of supporting cast you have around you, as well.
Matt Watson:I think the support side of that is really important. My story was very similar. I actually got married in 2003 and two months later, started my first company, so it was immediate. Now, my wife and I have been together 14 years. That’s all we’ve ever known. I’ve been an entrepreneur for these last 14 years doing this. I guess that working relationship has been there. She kind of knows what I do and how I do it and the effort I put in and all those things. I think you’ve definitely got to have that supporting cast around you. Some people, they have a crazy idea of whatever they want to do. There’s always risk involved, and you’ve got to figure out how to weigh the risk. It makes it a lot harder if everybody around you is telling you, “You shouldn’t do this. You shouldn’t do this.” You’ve definitely got to have some support. I think for a lot of people, especially when they’re first starting their first company, probably one of the best things they can do is have a co-founder. What do you think about that?
Matt DeCoursey:I think it’s important. You touched on something earlier. Having a co-founder that’s excellent at all the stuff that you’re excellent at is going to give you a lopsided approach.
Matt Watson:Yup. Not helpful.
Matt DeCoursey:I haven’t had any co-founders, true co-founders, at any of my businesses. I’ve had what I consider to be co-founders that I vested in later that just deserved to own a little bit of certain things. For me, I had to immediately … Also, not being a detail-oriented person, the very first employee I had back when the Million-Dollar Bedroom was forming was someone I knew that was highly detailed. I was very intentional. My intention with that was to complete myself and not be so terrible at that stuff. That stuff’s important, too. One thing I definitely noticed as we talk about those early obsessive times was sometimes two weeks would go by, and then I’d look at the stack of bills on my table, and I’d be like, “Oh, wow. I should pay these or do something.” With that, I just noticed that I was getting a lot done in certain things, but my sacrifice was I seemed to, in many ways, be completely ignoring the other things that needed to be kept up with. Once I had hired someone to help me with a lot of that stuff, I was then looking at wide-open road in front of me.
I didn’t have to worry about these little, finicky details that drive me nuts, and I was able to do what I feel like I do best, which is find ways to make money.
Matt Watson:When you started your last business, GigaBook, don’t you have a co-founder for it?
Matt DeCoursey:I do, but it wasn’t co-founded in that sense of the word. That’s why I said it was a little different. See, I think when you were … Well, let’s talk about what a co-founder is. When you’re using what’s called sweat equity, which is earning your part or piece in the business based on your own efforts, that’s what I … I was funding things. I was still paying. With GigaBook, I had people with me that were there from the very first day.
Matt Watson:I think your situation is actually really important and something I tell people at times. I always say it’s like you have the Zuckerbergs and the Winklevosses of the world, right? It takes the two of them together. The Winklevosses may have this great idea, but they’ve got to have a technical person or somebody maybe to help do it. People always come to me, and they’re like, “Oh, I need to write some software. How do I do it?” I’m like, “Go find a co-founder. Go find somebody that will do the work for some sweat equity.” I think that’s what you did, right?
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah.
Matt Watson:You were willing to give up a little bit of equity.
Matt DeCoursey:Actually, what we did was we were using the excess capacity from an existing business. I’m going to define that as the times when people may have had nothing else to do. Here, we have GigaBooks started out of me wanting to take my dogs to the groomer, and no one was answering the phone. I drove 20 minutes to the groomer, hoping that someone was there, and I got there, and I walk in the door. I hear a voice in the back say, “Hey, I’m back here.” I go back, and there’s a lady that’s got this giant dog in a bathtub, and they’re both covered in bubbles, and I figured out why she couldn’t answer the phone. Now, with that, as I’m driving home after that, that really offended my sense of business, because if I wasn’t so committed to … It was my friend’s business. If I wasn’t so committed to taking my dogs there, I just would have called the next place or the next place or the next place until I found someone that answered the phone. I think that that’s a good segue into the whole idea of is my idea any good?
Matt Watson:Well, you were identifying a problem that you could relate to, right?
Matt DeCoursey:Right. Actually, let’s talk about your current company, Stackify, in that same regard. One of the things that I hear you say a lot in regards to software is the high importance of it solving a problem.
Matt Watson:Right. A lot of people do start companies, and they don’t necessarily solve a problem that people will pay for, something like Snapchat or something like that. It went on to be very successful, but a lot of consumer-based software like that, you don’t necessarily know who’s going to pay for it or if it’s ad supported and stuff like that. It’s very difficult. I myself am much more of a fan of B2B software that I know I can build something. I know who needs it. I know how to find them. I know how to sell it them. That is so much of an easier path than trying to sell to consumers. Now, you mentioned Stackify. When I was at VIN Solutions, when I was kind of on my way out, towards the end there, we had so many problems of a high-growth company that was just rapidly scaling. Had all kinds of bugs and new features. Went from a development team of 5 people to 40 people a couple years later. We had every problem in the world and just didn’t have the right tools to help monitor the software and the applications we were creating. We would do deployments and have all sorts of problems.
I really wanted to start Stackify to help solve some of those challenges, because the tools just did not exist for developers. If they did, they were just extremely affordable and only, like, the Fortune 500 could afford them, so that’s what we built.
Matt DeCoursey:GigaBook was like that, and of course, I’ve got an arm’s length of competitors now, and your list is growing, as well. When I look back at it, a lot of the stuff that was available was not affordable for the average bear, and that bugged me. I didn’t start the company to try to be a crusader for the pricing and affordability of Software as a Service. I did want to solve a problem. Honestly, I looked at it, and at the time, this was five years ago, some places you couldn’t even order a pizza online. I felt that this tidal wave of business was coming and that here in this present day and over the next five years, that any and all businesses are going to be using online reservation stuff. Certain industries kind of sent up a signal flare for that, but like you said, they weren’t affordable. So that solves a problem. With that, some of these problems you can solve for a business …
All right, so Stackify can help you save money by not having to wait six months to accidentally find out that a problem existed. It can help you retain business. It can lead to less troubleshooting from your developers. It makes a lot of sense for a business to pump in. The same way that something like GigaBook, you don’t want to miss that appointment that’s coming in.
Matt Watson:Yeah, like the lady you were talking about who was busy washing the dog or whatever. She can’t take new appointments while she’s busy doing the work.
Matt DeCoursey:That’s a problem when you’re small. There’s 25 million small businesses in the United States, and most of them, meaning more than half, are represented by one person. Especially in a service-related business … If you were getting a massage and the person that was doing it stopped every 12 minutes to answer the phone and take an appointment, you probably wouldn’t go back, or at least I wouldn’t.
Matt Watson:It would be a little frustrating, for sure.
Matt DeCoursey:Right. There’s some issues there. All right, so we talk about solving a problem. What about certain startups that might service a niche or a specific industry?
Matt Watson:I think that’s the key. As I mentioned earlier, Snapchat and things like that, everybody thinks that if I’m going to start a new company, it’s got to be the next Snapchat or Facebook or Airbnb, whatever it is. At the end of the day, most successful entrepreneurs create a product that is in a niche somewhere that you’ve never heard of. There’s a local Kansas City company here that has software to schedule flight training at private airports. Nobody in a million years would ever think about creating a software for that, right? There’s thousands of other examples. What I always tell people is you’ve got to take the industry experience you have, in whatever industry it is, and see if you can apply that and solve a problem in that industry. That’s where you can really start and branch out and have industry knowledge and experience you can apply and solve a problem better than somebody else, and start a business based on it.
Matt DeCoursey:Now, to go back to what we were discussing before, this product or service should potentially help a business sell more or spend less, preferably both.
Matt Watson:Right.
Matt DeCoursey:That’s a good way to start to determine whether your idea is any good. There’s a lot of great ideas that can, in many ways, change the world, but not necessarily be monetizable. Probably four years ago, I had someone approach me about an idea on an iPhone that would allow the phone … It was a doctor, and he wanted to have a little health icon on the outside of a locked in phone, and he wanted to be able to … Apparently, people show up to the emergency room unconscious, but they have their phone in their pocket. They can’t tell who these people are, maybe if they have any medical problems or anything like that. It was a great idea. I mean, it would have literally saved lives, but I had to tell him, I said, “Well, what’s your path to revenue here?” He said, “Well, insurance companies could save tons of money on this.” The problem is you’ve got to get them interested. You’ve got to get them involved. The people that make that kind of decision at Blue Cross Blue Shield, I mean, you could spend two years just trying to get a five-minute meeting and then fail.
Matt Watson:It comes back to that go-to-market strategy problem, right?
Matt DeCoursey:Also, I mentioned, and this is what ended up happening, I said, “Are you positive that Apple or the other makers of phones aren’t already working on this?” They have some related feature to that right now that actually came out about a year and a half after the idea. It was a great idea, but at the same time, it would have been very difficult to monetize it because of who had to make the decisions on that and the way you were going to have to sell that. That’s a great example of something that could have literally saved lives but would have been a remarkably hard business to start.
Matt Watson:When you’re starting a new company and you’re not sure what the industry looks like and who you’re going to compete with and all those things, it can be very scary to see who your potential competitors are. It could be a giant company that’s the industry leader. Potentially, they’re focused on one part of the market. They could be focused on just large enterprises, for example. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful in a specific piece of that market, a specific niche. For example, at Stackify, we focus more on small and medium-sized businesses. Some of our competitors focus only on the super large companies, or companies in a specific industry, or companies using a specific set of technologies. There’s people that find their own way. Ultimately, you want to be able to service somebody that if they have these specific set of problems, you have the best product for them. It doesn’t necessarily matter exactly what that is, as long as you know why you’re better than everybody else for that specific group and you know who that group is, you know where they are, you know how to reach them, you know how to sell them your product.
Matt DeCoursey:I think one of the things to keep in mind, too, if you’re getting ready to launch something or start a business is to focus on the benefits of what your product brings. I think that for those that are inexperienced in sales or business, it’s very easy to get hung up on the features. The important thing to remember is the features create benefits, and the benefits are the reasons that people buy things, so why does my business or myself benefit from buying a specific product? There’s a lot of different reasons for that. It could be to make more money, to save money. Sometimes it’s just out to create convenience. That’s an example like with GigaBook, is a lot of our users just want their life back. I think that Stackify’s the same thing, that peace of mind.
Matt Watson:Increase in productivity, right?
Matt DeCoursey:Right.
Matt Watson:Using software developers as an example, there’s, frankly, a huge shortage of them. We don’t have enough of them, and their time is extremely valuable.
Matt DeCoursey:They’re getting more and more expensive, as well.
Matt Watson:Any kind of product that can make them more productive, save them time so they can spend time on things that are more strategic to the business and add value is worth a lot of money.
Matt DeCoursey:In addition to that, if your product doesn’t work, then it’s not producing benefits for the users, which is remarkably expensive when you start talking about things like how much it casts to get a user, a client, or even to sell a product. I think we’ll have to probably have a whole entire episode about that.
Matt Watson:I think you’re right.
Matt DeCoursey:That is a very deep and complex problem that all businesses are starting. All right, so we’ve defined a few of the things that might determine whether your idea’s any good or not. Matt, how good are you at creating a plan?
Matt Watson:I would not say I am the best person at creating a plan.
Matt DeCoursey:A written plan or a plan in general?
Matt Watson:My plan is there is no plan.
Matt DeCoursey:My plan is that we will figure it out after we jump and then build wings.
Matt Watson:That’s usually the way I do it. My wife is the kind that if we’re going to Disney World or something, she’s packed everything two weeks in advance and knows exactly where we’re going to be minute by minute by minute. I would have packed my bag, like, 10 minutes before, and I would have just showed up and been like, “Let’s figure it out.”
Matt DeCoursey:I would have bought what I needed when I got there. Just to maybe make you feel a little better, on our last family trip, I considered hiring a Sherpa to carry all of the bags that my wife brought. Maybe on episode one, I’ll post a picture of that, because I have a picture from the Vegas airport that shows my wife surrounded by about 2,000 bags, all of which were ours.
Matt Watson:I think there’s something actually really important here, right? Part of the trouble of creating a startup in a business is pretty much whatever plan you have is going to go way out the window.
Matt DeCoursey:I agree.
Matt Watson:Actually, I think that’s really important. If you’re the kind of person that can’t handle change, you’re probably not meant for startups. Whatever plan you have, you’re thinking, oh, we’re going to build this product, and these people are going to love it. You’re going to find out it’s not going to work that way. Or you think, we’re going to grow this much, and you’re not going to grow that much. Whatever it is, you’re going to have to continue to adapt and overcome, and you’ve got to be flexible. You’ve got to be like the Marines. You’re in there, and you’re figuring it out. That’s what the hustles all about, right?
Matt DeCoursey:It is. I also want to go back, because I don’t want to be in the business of giving people horrible advice. It’s likely that you really do need a plan. It’s actually one of the things that I’m always talking to hopefuls about. Your plan has to have a sunny day and a rainy day contingency. At the same time, I’m not a huge believer in future projections equals wrong every time.
Matt Watson:They’re a waste of time.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah.
Matt Watson:It’s like predicting when your wife is going to have a baby. It’s not going to be that day.
Matt DeCoursey:Sure. Maybe another episode. Actually, it was very precise for us. Different subject there. Now, with that plan, the things that we’ve already been talking about like determining your path to revenue, what kind of niche industry or problem are you going to solve are all important. Another thing to really have your arms wrapped around is the amount of resource that you’re going to need to build what most in the software or other type industries will call an MVP, or a minimally viable product. How do you feel about that?
Matt Watson:I think we could spend a whole episode talking about that.
Matt DeCoursey:I think that we will, but with that, the resources that … I think one of the things that I am very vehement about when it comes to planning is, actually, I’m a very positive person, but when it comes to assumptions or planning for a new business, I am remarkably cynical. I’d rather be wrong in the other direction and not go broke halfway into a 12-month plan.
Matt Watson:Don’t get me wrong, I think plans are very important. At least on the software side, you make a lot of plans. They’re more so your guiding light to me. This is where we’re trained to go. That’s the direction we’re trying to get to. We may meander a little bit around, and we’re going to have some hurdles along the way. Ultimately, you want to know where you’re trying to get. I think the point for me is that you have to be good at handling those hurdles that come along the way. You’re going to make some tweaks. The original idea that I actually started Stackify for we don’t even do anymore. It’s gone.
Matt DeCoursey:That doesn’t surprise me.
Matt Watson:That was like, oh, I’m going to start it, and I was excited. We’re going to do this, this, and this. Everybody’s going to love it. Nope. Didn’t work. I’m just saying, like you … But we’re still successful. We went on and we changed gears a little bit. Still have the same focus, but just a little different way of solving the same problem. I think that’s my point, is whatever you decide, whatever the plan is, it’s going to change a little bit. You still have the same direction and goal, but you have to be ready for that change. Spending months and years making some detailed business plan is pretty much going to be wrong, whatever it is. It’s good, but it doesn’t need to be that detailed. You’ve just got to know the direction.
Matt DeCoursey:Let’s talk about something else, though, because-
Matt Watson:Maybe software businesses are different.
Matt DeCoursey:I think that we’re also giving a perspective here of two people that have already found a successful path and then were able to seed our own businesses with resources. Now, if you are seeking other people’s money for your idea, then you probably should have a pretty detailed plan.
Matt Watson:I think you should. I think that’s something we should touch on here in this first episode, right? When it comes to starting your own company, you definitely should have a little bit of a plan. You should talk to people and-
Matt DeCoursey:But everybody’s going to steal my good idea, Matt.
Matt Watson:Oh, crap.
Matt DeCoursey:Not true.
Matt Watson:What do you do about that? I hear people tell me that all the time.
Matt DeCoursey:Me, too.
Matt Watson:Some guy was telling me at it was like a networking event for local IT stuff, and the guy just tells me about this plan for some software that had something to do with music festivals or whatever. He’s like, “I don’t even know why I’m telling you this. You just look like you have an honest face.” I’m like, “Dude, I have no passion for what you’re talking about. I literally don’t care. I’m not going to think about this five minutes after I see you ever again. I don’t have the passion for it. It’s not a problem I care about.”
Matt DeCoursey:Except for when we broadcast it in a podcast.
Matt Watson:Whoops. Sorry about that. The point is not everybody has the passion and the vision for whatever your thing is, right? I don’t have a passion and a vision for online appointment scheduling. You do, right?
Matt DeCoursey:On some days.
Matt Watson:Some days. I think that’s my point. You need to talk to everybody you can to continue to validate the idea and network with people that might be able to help you find your first customers, or partners, or founders, or co-founders, all these different things. Honestly, I think the best thing you can do is talk to as many people as you can. Now, it doesn’t mean reveal your super trade secret or something, but I think it’s good to talk to people.
Matt DeCoursey:I think when you do that, it’s really important to be objective. Don’t ever get mad at someone because they don’t like your idea.
Matt Watson:Just take it under advisement. Now, if 10 people in a row tell you, then maybe there’s something there.
Matt DeCoursey:If 10 people in a row tell you, then there might be something there. Listen to when people are telling you what they think. Don’t be afraid to ask them, “So what do you think is wrong with this plan?”
Matt Watson:Absolutely.
Matt DeCoursey:You’re going to learn a lot more from that than you are … Another thing to be careful of, as well, here is I personally don’t seek this kind of advice from people that I know are going to have a hard time telling me no. I want people like … Well, you’re like me. I’m brutally honest.
Matt Watson:Actually, you touch on something that is kind of a big problem in a lot of startup communities. Maybe it’s more of a …
Matt DeCoursey:Yes men?
Matt Watson:… Midwest thing, where just people are too nice. They’re too polite. You’re like, “Oh, yeah, that sounds pretty cool,” instead of saying, “Nope, terrible idea, and this is why.” Honestly, that’s what people need to hear sometimes. They need the constructive criticism is what they need.
Matt DeCoursey:I’ve accidentally made a couple people cry, and I did feel bad after that. It wasn’t my intention.
Matt Watson:Tamper it down a little bit?
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. Well, it’s hard when you feel like you’re really busy sometimes, too, because a lot of the people that want to get my ear, they’re like, “Can I please just have 20 minutes of your time, and you can tell me if you think the idea is good or not.” So you give it to them. They talk to you for 15 minutes. You give them five minutes of feedback. You can tell, you feel like you’ve crushed someone’s hopes and dreams. From my perspective, I feel like I’ve probably pumped up your hopes and dreams, because I might have saved you a hell of a lot of money.
Matt Watson:As a friend of mine always says, you’ve freed up their future.
Matt DeCoursey:I like that. I have not heard-
Matt Watson:You freed up their future.
Matt DeCoursey:I think that that’s good.
Matt Watson:That’s what she says to people when she fires them. She’s like, “I’ve freed up your future. You can find out what your future is, what you’re good at, but it’s not this.”
Matt DeCoursey:Sometimes that’s true. Now, once again, just because someone says they don’t like your idea doesn’t mean that it’s a bad idea, so ask more than one person. Be objective to the feedback. Another thing, too, I think is really important is if you can manage it, try to find as many successful people as you can to ask, people that they might not have already gone down the exact path that you’re seeking. I think that’s probably where people ask me for advice the most, is they just want to say, “Hey, I see you’ve done all right with a few things. Can I get some input?”
Matt Watson:I think there’s a couple things there, right? There’s one thing to ask another entrepreneur about the challenges they have of just being a startup. A lot of times, that is therapy in itself, and it’s good to cry and drink beer and do that kind of stuff. Then, it’s another thing to do industry research, right? The IT world is my industry. I need to meet all the time, continually, with people in my industry, getting feedback from them. Even at our point now, we have a product. We’ve been in business for five years. I still need to talk to the industry. I still need to learn about trends in the industry. If you’re starting up, that’s what you should be doing. Find people on LinkedIn that could be helpful for you. Send them a message and ask to buy them a cup of coffee and get 10 minutes of their time or whatever. Learn everything you can about that industry. Ask them the questions you need to know like who does this? Are they good at it? Are they bad at it? What do I need to know? You’ve got to get out there and talk to people, and the more people you talk to, the better.
Matt DeCoursey:If we’re going to talk about the resources needed to start a new business, and once again, this is going to be a whole nother topic for a whole nother episode, but it’s obviously always a lot about money. One of the things that I think is important for you to understand if you have aspirations of your own startup is you shouldn’t expect to have a whole lot of money for a while. It’s a very, very rough road, especially in the beginning.
Matt Watson:I read something the other day that said the average entrepreneur makes I think it was 70% less than they normally would have made if they had a job. They made 30% of their wage. It’s significantly less. I mentioned earlier, the first couple years that I was doing my last company, I didn’t have any income from my startup. My current startup I have today, I haven’t had any income from it for five years. Now, I’m in a different place. That’s not really something that’s key to me at this point, but it’s a reality. Going into this, you’ve got to be able to do that. It’s not a job. It’s a startup. You don’t make money until the company makes money. That’s the way it works.
Matt DeCoursey:I think that that’s pretty good advice. I think this is probably a good spot for us to wrap up episode one. I think that in episode two, we can get into how you take action after you’ve turned your idea into a plan and how you’re going to be able to possibly take that to market and what to expect when it comes to approaching new business, how to do that objectively, what a good time frame for doing some of that is.
Matt Watson:It sounds very similar to starting a podcast.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. Mainly the part where you go into it without a plan and then see what happens?
Matt Watson:Is this like our MVP?
Matt DeCoursey:I would say so.
Matt Watson:Yeah? All right.
Matt DeCoursey:Thanks for your time, everybody. Stick around. We look forward to chatting with you again here.
Matt Watson:Thanks, everybody.
Speaker 1:Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Startup Hustle with Matt DeCoursey and Matt Watson. For more great content and to stay up-to-date, visit If you enjoyed today’s episode, please rate and subscribe, and we’ll catch you next time on Startup Hustle.