Ep. #1063 - What Is A Universal Link?
Heads up, Hustlers! Our last founder for the Top Kansas City Startups series is in the studio.
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey is slated to talk to Toby Rush. The latter, the CEO and co-founder of Redeem, shares his knowledge about Universal Links. The tech-savvy founders also have a roundtable discussion on global systems that can propel the future of everything digital.
Have you checked out the complete list of our Top Kansas City Startups 2023? You can quickly discover them here.
Covered In This Episode
Heard of Toby Rush before in the podcast? That’s because he is highly respected and knowledgeable here in the Midwest startup ecosystem. He also discussed Early Stage Startup Lessons in 2020 with us here on Startup Hustle. And now, he returns as a guest to dive into Universal Links.
Both he and Matt tell us what computer vision is and how it works. And they also dip into how different it is to transition from hard tickets to digital ones.
Don’t miss this tech-driven episode. Listen to this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Toby reminisces about his journey (03:11)
- What is computer vision? (06:49)
- Building iOS apps since iPhone 5 release (10:25)
- On having the feature but not the platform (13:09)
- The pain point in the new and digital world (16:09)
- Wallet addresses are very complicated (19:31)
- A global numbering system we all opted into (20:29)
- Use cases with digital currencies (22:47)
- Hard tickets to digital tickets transition, and its differences (25:18)
- How to overcome resistance to change in the tech industry (28:39)
- Bringing back the use of QR code (30:49)
- Easy onboarding into Web3 (33:32)
- All about future users (36:09)
- The importance of having a passionate team (41:55)
- On being coachable (45:27)
What good innovators, inventors, and startup founders do is you see something, and you realize, man, this is going to be a solution someone needs later. But these solutions don’t happen overnight.– Matt DeCoursey
I think, fundamentally, that’s what I get excited about. This ability to say, how do we own something purely digital, use it in a purely digital world, but in a way, I get to own my own things. And I’m not dictated by Apple, Google, and Facebook’s and other big tech companies’ rules because they don’t have to live inside their four walls.– Toby Rush
What I’ve learned over time, if I execute someone else’s conviction, it is too hard, like the emotional roller coaster. The journey, the number of nodes, the number of pivots and turns, you’ve got to be able to navigate. Like if you’re simply executing someone else’s conviction, you’re in trouble.– Toby Rush
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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 helps your business grow. So you go to the store. You try to buy something. And you get offered yet another reward. Fill out this form, do this card, and put this little key fob on your keychain. Next thing you know, you look like the janitor at your elementary school, except you’re loaded up with reward cards. There’s a way to fix that. We’re gonna get into that today during today’s episode of Startup Hustle, which is brought to you and powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult, and Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. With me today, I’ve got Toby Rush. And Toby is the CEO and co-founder of Redeem. You can learn more about Redeem. Just scroll down to that link in the show notes and click it, which I recommend, so you can learn more about Toby and what his business does, and why we’re talking, or you can just type in Redeem.xyz. Toby has been on the show with us before, and I’m proud to announce that Redeem is on Startup Hustle 2023’s list of top Kansas City startups. That’s my hometown. That’s Toby’s hometown. And that will make me just want to say, Toby, welcome back.
Toby Rush 01:18
Matt, happy to be here. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to hang out today.
Matt DeCoursey 01:21
It’s been a little bit, you know. I think you know this because I think I told you at one point. But we’ve recorded an episode about startup success, or it was a long time ago. But that was the most popular episode on Startup Hustle for like a year and a half or something.
Toby Rush 01:35
That was a lot of fun. I enjoy just sitting back and letting the words flood.
Matt DeCoursey 01:43
That was a virtual recording during the pandemic. That was shortly after we had to figure out how to do it on the internet.
Toby Rush 01:51
How many have you done now, by the way?
Matt DeCoursey 01:52
We had our 1,000th episode on December 7. Yeah, it was not planned. We had our fifth birthday, four millionth download, or a 1,000th episode—all occurred in the same week. I don’t think you could probably try to plan that. And I don’t think we cut up, but it’s just the way it happens. So thanks for being a part of that. It’s always fun to chat and talk with you.
Toby Rush 02:16
Wow. Congratulations. That’s awesome. Nice. You’ve got a new thing. And anything, I’m a glutton for punishment. Yeah, that’s it again.
Matt DeCoursey 02:19
But with that, let’s take just a minute and talk about some of the other things because you have an interesting backstory. And I’d like to learn. I think everyone would like to learn more about it. I’m already familiar with it.
Toby Rush 02:31
Sure. No, you know, my background, I’d say I just love building stuff. I love building products and building teams. I love building companies in my spare time, which isn’t a whole lot of spare time. These days. I love building woodworking and wood projects and epoxy. And I just love that kind of creative artistic side of what’s possible. But then, the engineering side of how do you fit it all together? Right. So early days groups, a farm kid in northeast Kansas really didn’t know what the word entrepreneurship was. But I always had my own little side hustle. I was always finding a way to make money allowance wasn’t a word. And my family really understood that if you’re gonna have any money, you better go figure out how to make it yourself. You know, always, you know, captain of the football or basketball team, no math, and science was always easy for me. So getting to K State, you know, I’d come from a very, very small school. But coming to K State, my eyes were just open like so many people and so many ideas and things that you could do. That really just flourished and had a blast at K State. I still didn’t think entrepreneurship was a thing. At the time, I went to Accenture and started working there. Enjoying that with a smaller consulting company and wanted to see what a pure software company would look like. So the idea of putting your blood, sweat, and tears into something and then being able to reap the rewards of that right and consulting you. Even if you do a great job, well, you move on to the next project. Whereas even if you do a phenomenal job, you’re not getting the benefit of all of that hard work, and hey, I want to be able to, you’ll experience what it’s like to put in really good work and then be able to benefit from that. And so joining a startup took kind of a product management role. About nine months after I got there, they fired the VP of Engineering and said Toby, will you run product and engineering and QA until we find a new engineer? And I’m like, Sure, why not? And no idea what I was doing, jumped in kind of fly by the seat of your pants, and they never found anyone else. Right? So when the problem goes away, like, Oh, well, that guy is solving it now. So at the ripe age of 26 or 27 years old, I was managing 2530 people. I just loved it. That’s really what got bit by the startup bug and this entrepreneurship thing. Came back to Kansas City, really to be close to some friends and family, and in the long term where my wife and I wanted to be the first company called rest tracking systems. We put technology on forklifts, kind of the AHA. Humans are great at driving. They’re terrible at data collection. So think forklifts and forklift drivers in warehouses that pick up a pallet scan the bay scan the pallet scan the door. Technology is really good at data collection. It’s really hard to automate dynamic unconstrained environments like Driving. So we put a camera on top of a forklift and 2d barcodes in the ceiling. Like our own indoor GPS system, we put a camera and an RFID reader on the front of the truck. And we’re able to do all of the pickups and put-downs of all the inventory. So we let drivers drive, which they’re really good at, and we let technology date data collection, which is really good. And it just worked. So for your private equity, we’ve raised a little bit of money, some angels, and some strategies. This is way back to the man as Oh 3209 to the early days in the Kansas City ecosystem. With the private equity, they wanted to just roll up to about a couple of other companies in that space. So, guys, it’s a great M&A experience, kind of working with private equity, built off of that. Love computer vision. I’m still fascinated by computer vision, like everybody right now is super into chat and GPT and all the cool things, and that’s all cool. I think computer vision, we’re still scratching the surface like when we compute when because we have so many cameras when computers can understand the world and interpret it from videos and pictures like we’re gonna see a massive step change, and we’re getting there. But oftentimes, in machine learning in AI, it feels like an exponential curve. So you look backward, and it’s a flat line. You look forwards, and it’s a straight wall. Right, I guess the curve that we’re on when it comes to computer vision as well, we should stop for just a second and explain that computer vision is an open-source platform that does literally give computers a neural network of vision.
Matt DeCoursey 06:09
Because what Toby is talking about is that a two-dimensional view of things is really how computers see things. So in order to have depth, shading, all of that, and it’s remarkably complex, it’s been around for a long time. And it is still kind of scratching the surface. We were talking about our Tesla driving you around. There are elements of computer vision. Yeah, tons of other things. So sorry, I don’t like too many things to go into fine. Seriously as I proceed.
Toby Rush 06:41
No, that’s great. Well, even in double click into computer vision a little bit, like one of the things for me that is really fascinating, the human brain, you think about how much our eyes see like we see everything, our brain lets very little actually through to our brain because the rest of it just feels like noise It is noise, right. But if it’s a computer, the computer can see everything and record everything in perfect fidelity, but it can’t understand it. As computers can begin to understand the things that our camera sees, like we’re in for a world of innovation and really, really some cool things anyway. So low computer vision, fascinated by both technologies and what they can unlock. I came across Professor UMKC, here in town, looking, and he was using computer vision to look at the blood vessels and the whites of your eyes and use that as a biometric. And, like, That’s kind of creepy, kind of cool. And said, hey, that’s interesting. They thought the university thought immigration airports and the military were where we should go to use the technology. I’m like, why don’t we go do passwords on smartphones? That seems like a bigger use case for bigger unlocks. But this was 2011. There was no biometrics on smartphones. Not a single one. The biggest pushback I got, like, why would anyone do biometrics on smartphones? And if it’s such a good idea, why aren’t Apple and Google doing anything? I don’t know. But it just feels so obvious. We have to be where things go. So we’re fortunate we launched I verify in 2012, q1 of 2012. Apple came out with Touch ID in 2013 and emailed Apple Pay in 2014. And just kind of the doors flew open. So we had Wells Fargo and Citigroup and RSA computing as customers. We had 60 banks up and running in production, no small feat. We ended up with Samsung as an investor. We were working with LG and a whole bunch of other kinds of Chinese manufacturing firms. And we started calling on Alipay. Over in China, they loved it. Eventually, Alibaba and the ant group ended up acquiring us, which was an awesome, fascinating fun ride. Draw. I had engineering teams in Beijing, Singapore, San Francisco, and Kansas City, by far the hardest leadership job I’ve ever had, managing that many people that have many cultures that have many time zones but ran biometrics and identity for a couple of years for them. So I had, you know, a major biometrics platform in China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, and I lived on a plane for a while. They asked me to join their investment team, right? So I could do corporate venture capital work. And it’s funny, Jack Maa’s calling card can open any door you can possibly imagine, I would imagine. So it’s fun. So it was blockchain. So 90% of my focus is on understanding the kind of core and fundamental use cases of blockchain and how it can impact the larger Alibaba ecosystem. We’ve had a good time in San Francisco in Israel. And looking at that left Alibaba kind of towards the end of 2019. Did a couple projects where some private equities about a year ago came back and looked again at blockchain web three, and I’m like, Whoa, there’s a lot more here than there used to be. There are a lot more people building a lot of nonsense. But that’s kind of really where we tripped over the idea of Redeem.
Matt DeCoursey 09:45
So a couple things to unpack there. I like to compare yours to the iPhone model that we’re at because it gives you some perspective. So in 2011, that was an iPhone four. Yes, it wasn’t until 2013 that the iPhone five came out because then it would take a couple years sometimes. But you look back at some of that. And I’ll even compare developers at Full Scale. I’m like, This guy’s got 10 years of experience to give you a little bit of perspective. He was building iOS apps when it was iPhone five. Yeah. And you’re like, Oh, wow. You know, but the only security metric on any iPhone was, was this little four-digit passkey. Right.
Toby Rush 10:24
Yep. For Japan and your patent? Yeah. On to get into the phone, if you use it at all right. But then, when you got in, there was no way to log in with anything other than a password? Yeah. And you’re typing in every single time because nobody trusted the mobile device, right? Terrible user experience.
Matt DeCoursey 10:37
If you think about it. Now I would be when I said before we hit record how lost I was, when I switch from one day to the next. I was like, I realized how bad my password management was, and had to like, take, like half a day, pretty much to fix it. Because I knew, you know, you know how it goes, you know, you’re like, I can just type it out. Or I can actually fix the problem. I mean, because I mean, when you have, you gotta have a gunshot wound. You should just wrap it with gauze. Right? Of course. Yeah. Yeah, that’s yeah, that’s maybe the startup founder mentality. Okay. So that’s an amazing story. I remember when I verified that was, you know, that was a big acquisition. That was big news. That was a while ago.
Toby Rush 11:17
It was amazing. I like 2016. Yeah. Right. So yeah, staggering.
Matt DeCoursey 11:22
How fast time flies? You talked about the amount of innovation. And you know, for those of you listening, I really encourage Toby to dive into the backstory, because think about the things that you just heard there, you have 2000 levels, how can Google and Apple not do that? I don’t know. Seems like a good idea, though. But that’s, that’s what good innovators, inventors and startup founders do is you see something and you realize, man, this, this is going to be a solution someone needs later. But these solutions don’t happen overnight. You know, Warren Buffett’s pretty well known for saying nine women don’t make a baby in a month. And in that case, and I want to add on to one thing you had talked about before about that acquisition, at some point, you realized that what I verified wasn’t necessarily a platform, but maybe more of a complementary feature. That would make sense. So can we talk about that for a second, I do want to get into Redeem but I think that you have so many valuable lessons about that. Because when you’ve told me that in the past, it was I mean, that was very insightful to understand where your business was at. And maybe like, there are limitations here, but it’s still kind of unlimited.
Toby Rush 12:29
No, it wasn’t me too early on, like, even whether I was talking to customers or fundraising, I always kind of get this pushback like where’s the end game? Like, where does this thing end up going? And if I’m really honest with myself, I think it’s basically eyes and fingers. Like what are the two things you do with your phone all day long, you touch and look at your phone. And I still believe that basically we will have both fingerprinting under glass and have eye and face based biometrics on the phone, we only did the eye, right we didn’t do the finger. And so it kind of this idea of a really, it’s about identity. It’s not about this feature, this specific thing. And so as I really challenged myself realizing I actually have a piece of the platform, I don’t have a platform and platforms are very valuable, I solve problems in a little bit more holistic way. And so when the Alibaba opportunity came up, actually, what I pitched to them was, hey, you have an amazing opportunity to create an identity platform and use the onboarding experience for your wallet. So remember, at the time ant group, which is part of Alibaba, we’re focusing on the unbanked and underbanked. In China, India, Indonesia, which by the way, those three countries are half the world’s population. And they’re just coming into this digital world. And as a wallet was one of the first and a secure applications, they would need to get through lots a lot of what’s called KYC. And a lot of kinds of validation of that user, including biometrics, and we use that onboarding experience, create an identity platform that would solve all of their password and identity needs, the rest of their lives. Whether it was eye or face, or voice or behavior, all these stimuli didn’t matter. And it’s one of the few things you can say everyone in the world will eventually need a digital identity. And once you need a digital identity, username and password, you’ll need it the rest of your life. That’s pretty crazy. Very few things you can say that about. And I remember the CEO and we’re having this conversation like, I like it, but you have to go run it like great. I love it. What’s my goal? 2 billion users.
Matt DeCoursey 14:21
Let’s start with a modest number.
Toby Rush 14:25
Sure, let’s give it a shot. Who was cool that Ali Baba like there were almost no constraints, like they had plenty of people plenty of money. But they all had a ton of ideas. Like one of these actually, one of the interesting a Ha’s I had when I was working there, again, talking to some of the executives, senior senior executives at Alibaba. And it was like, We have no constraints on money or people. We have constraints on people we can trust to use money and people wisely.
Matt DeCoursey 14:47
That’s a pretty wise outlook. Now with that everything you just described, has DNA and what you’re building it Redeem it.
Toby Rush 14:57
So I’d say a lot of the pieces I think about. So, let me describe a little bit of what I was talking about the problem at first because at the beginning I mentioned something like, hey, I’m going to buy something that’s another rewards program and let’s be honest, that’s annoying.
Matt DeCoursey 15:02
Here. Yeah, cuz I mean, my wife for years has like, literally had like a key fob does have things on it. And, I did actually ask her after we talked several months ago, when you were still in stealth mode. I was like, What did you ever do with any of those? Did you ever cache those entered or anything? She’s like, No, I just threw the whole key right now.
Toby Rush 15:29
Yeah, and really, you only have to give text a step further back, because really, the rewards are just kind of an example of the pain point that we have here of the new world that we’re entering, when one is purely digital. Right? And so when we started, 1520 years ago, about how we engage live work in king of the digital world, it was a wild wild west, you didn’t know who to trust, how to trust it. So what we ended up doing is like, we went to these really big tech companies that really these tech companies emerge to solve the problem. You know, Apple, and Facebook and Google in particular, say, Hey, we’re gonna have a walled garden, and inside our walled garden, you’re gonna be able to trust anything that we say. So for example, if I said, Matt, you own ABC 123, the number and because you own ABC, 123, here, all these other benefits that you’ve got, it’ll unlock levels, you might get access to different areas of the platform, you might have certain, you know, all sorts of other benefits, because you own ABC 123. Well, if you go out in the open, you go outside of Apple’s wall, how do you know who owns ABC 123, it’s infinitely copyable. Anybody can copy and paste ABC 123 As many times as you want. And so the only way that we could really trust and operate, and it really lives inside for the most part, other people’s walled gardens. Well, now we have this new technology called blockchain web three. And his idea of I can own purely digital things, I can use purely digital things in a way that continues to have that level of trust. But I no longer have the limitations of the walled garden. So how do I live and operate? We call open ecosystems that aren’t dictated by big tech or big government? Right? So I’m fascinated by bottom up solutions, ideas. And really, blockchain and web three I think, fundamentally, that’s what I get excited about this ability to say how do we own something purely digital, use it in a purely digital world, but in a way that I get to own my own things. And I’m not dictated by Apple and Google and Facebook’s and other big tech companies’ rules, because they don’t have to live inside their four walls.
Matt DeCoursey 17:26
And that was the buzzword with web three. And we were talking about this before the show, because sometimes that gets intermingled with crypto, they’re very different, but use the same underlying technology. Right. But a lot of people are completely fascinated with the decentralized nature of that, which is essentially what you’re discussing. We didn’t mention the government, or maybe you did, yeah. Oh, yeah. Government’s the big one. And then, you know, for a lot of people the way that their perception of some of these others is comfortable, Apple is bigger than the government. They have a higher GDP of some sorts, then a lot of countries and have a lot of sway in a lot of polls. And then obviously, so you look at, well, look at marketplaces. And you know, the term Olga sloppily is when two companies on 97% or more The easiest example for most people to wrap their arms around his razor blades. Yeah. Gillette and check it out. I’ll get past that. And there’s basically nothing and we’re the Dollar Shave Club, they got bought by one of those two, like, and that it has a big influence on a lot of our things. So you talked about phone devices, computers, we’re both sitting here looking at our Apple laptops and, and stuff like that. And you know, it’s a great product. It’s great, thanks. But at the same time, there’s there, we’re stuck in there. Well, apples are in a lot of trouble right now. Well, maybe hot water about their app store practices, and some of that, and it’s just a walled garden.
Toby Rush 18:46
Well, it’s gonna do right as well, I think that’s where
Matt DeCoursey 18:51
like, what are you going to do not put your app in the Apple App Store? Because that’s half of it’s more than half of American phones yet, it would have a lesser impact, like in the Philippines, where I travel a lot. Apple’s not as common, it’s not just a lot more expensive. There’s a lot of stuff in there now with this solution that Redeem guess you talked about the things that never change, obviously, our fingerprint, or maybe our eyes, or phone number, it is one of the halls that we had early on, as I was thinking about Ruby, is like, how do you make this easier?
Toby Rush 19:14
Like it is wicked complicated. For anybody who’s played in the web three space, you have these really long hexadecimal numbers that are called wallet addresses. And, you know, people are trying to come with a whole brand new naming systems go, you know, to your ens, or, you know, handshake or unstoppable domains, all these trying to literally recreate this entire directory system, like wait a second, there’s no human that can remember their actual wallet IDs are crap.
Matt DeCoursey 19:38
Well, they’re, well, there’s, well, there’s probably like 12. Those are the same people that like to make pie. So like the 100th place to have to build a business on their top people.
Toby Rush 19:49
Yes. Right. And so this idea, we actually already have this global numbering system that we all opted into, right, we have our phone numbers, we remember our phone number off the top of our head, zero Ever, no matter how late or early in the day, I can recite my phone number with zero effort. Every one of my friends has my phone number, and I have theirs. It’s in my phone. We already have an app local that we use to communicate text back and forth, right? That is the primary way that WhatsApp or text or whatever the messaging app is, carriers have spent billions of dollars securing the network that these global identifiers run on. And this global identifier isn’t just a number, it’s a communication path, what’s in your pocket all the time, right, my laptop is talking all the time. So really cool things like you pull your device out right now there was one device in the entire world that can make a mobile data connection with that phone carriers pretty much guarantee that so like, we’ve got this really incredible numbering system that we can use in person, I can give someone my number, I can connect digitally have my phone, literally you kind of have one of the things we said in the it’s terrible is kind of the crypto bros if you have your wallet, your keys, so you don’t own your wall unless you have your keys. And we’re kind of flipping that a little bit like, Hey, if you have your phone, you have your keys and your wallet, because there’s no other phone in the world that can have your number active on it right now. And so how do we simplify and really kind of unlock the web three world, simply using your phone number that was kind of one of the cars. Right? And so then kind of building that’s necessary, though, because when we first talked about this, I think it was not too well.
Matt DeCoursey 21:13
It was a few months after the Super Bowl and Coinbase had the really famous QR code, which I thought was brilliant marketing, because in some ways they stuck their middle finger up because they’re like if you don’t even know what this says you’re not going to be our client, you’re not going to buy crypto. But I think the things that need to occur is that to bring web three and blockchain in general to the masses, our level of simplicity, it isn’t a wallet ID with 19 keyword phrases run over the Blue Moon and right back around the forest again. And you know, it’s like it’s just confusing. There was a do that I actually wish crypto didn’t have that didn’t have the word currency attached to it. Right. So it’s rather confusing because it’s not most I mean, almost all of it is not intended to be actual currency, let’s jump into some of those use cases.
Toby Rush 22:07
I think people get really kind of sidelined and sidetracked with cryptocurrency and think about oh, is it Bitcoin? Or is it ether? Is it all these different currencies? And is that a scam?
Matt DeCoursey 22:20
And by the way, yes, a lot of them are scams, it’s really coming down.
Toby Rush 22:23
So when we started reviewing, like, we don’t have a token, we don’t have our own cryptocurrency, we were using the core technology to unlock some new use cases. So let’s go to one that people can really grasp onto, and it’s actually ticketing, right? So if I want to go to a chiefs game, and I say, let’s use music concerts, even better, I’m gonna go to Taylor Swift concert tickets, or it’s coming to town, I want to go to her concert, and I bought a ticket, or that ticket can be issued as an NFT. Right? So it’s just a number, right? Doesn’t really matter, everybody, I wouldn’t know what the number is, say I bought it. But you know what Matt’s great friend, I’m gonna actually gonna send it to Matt. And I can literally text Matt, kind of out of my wallet and send it to Matt. And now when he clicks on that link, he’s on his phone, I can transfer those tickets, or now Matt has this ticket that is owned by him. So now it’s two to three days before the event. Other brands want to say, hey, we want to actually give Matt some, hey, we see you’re going to take this trip concert, you must like here’s $20 off my website, or here’s $15 to come here, by the way in your her latest song, or related or yet, or the early release, so you can only listen to her latest release. It’s not on the radio, yet. It’s not on Spotify. But if you have this NFT you can unlock a song, right, they even give you a parking pass. So now you have a parking pass in your wallet. And as you’re driving up to the gate to scan a QR code, when you scan that QR code at the gate, it’s going to launch the browser on your phone, which knows the number which has the wallet, which has the NFT ticket. So literally, you scan the QR code and you’ve got this super crazy. It’s called token gated access control. Because I’m a token I can access control. When I go into the stadium, the same thing happens when I get into the stadium. Now I want to be able to get into a certain VIP room and I can have my ticket, I can have two plus ones. Like again, I can text you this token that can give you access to this area within the venue. Right, which is awesome. But now I leave the venue and say a bar is kind of partnered and sponsored the event and say, Hey, have you come to our bar and bring at least three people who will give you everybody’s free beer. Right? And so you can do all this post event engagement where people can say, hey, thanks for coming. You’re Taylor Swift now has a way to engage with you. That isn’t just a ticket master. Right is really amazing. Again, again, ticketmasters another firewall. But if you want to buy tickets in this country, get Ticketmaster brands on the planet by the way, I was a ticket broker for a while so I’m familiar with it.
Matt DeCoursey 24:38
But David, by the way, I went through the transit when I was a ticket broker, I went through the transition from hard tickets as we would call them as actual ticket stuff to just PDFs. Yeah, man, you want to talk about pulling teeth like people would call us just so pissed off, that we had transferred by email Have that like, basically transfer them digitally a ticket, they’re like, I want the ticket stuff, like, and that’s a weird thing that that the music industry had to basically put their foot down or like, hey, this isn’t the right way to do it. This isn’t how we’re going to do it. And the problem is, is that you what you’re talking about, and that might sound like a lot to someone listening. But, you know, when Full Scale had tickets at the local arena, we would do stuff. And if I wanted to, we had a suite there. And if we wanted to let like if I wanted to let my wife be able to go down to the Main Concourse, and then just even come back up, because you had to have a barcode to get and I literally have to go through an arduous transfer process, right? And then also, do not try to engage in why the venue’s fault, because the entire cell network is jammed up, right? Yes. So I’m sitting there, like, like, Okay, I’m just just, you know, if we forgot to do that ahead of time, I’m like, take us take a screenshot, take a picture of the ticket, right on your phone, and let’s hope that the barcode works when you do that, right. And then Ticketmaster now has a thing where like, every 60 seconds that barcodes change it’s a security method. So you’re not going to do that because they’re actually trying to prevent what we were doing. And it’s just like, next thing you know, I’m spending noticeable time rather than attending the event. Watch. Yeah, cuz I also had 12 guests there that are knocking on the door or texting me they’re gone. I’m in the stairwell.
Toby Rush 26:28
Yeah, helped me out. How do I get it? So yeah, so again, when you have to live inside ticketmasters, four walls is their walled garden. There anybody’s four walls, right? So Apple or Ticketmaster. And so the ability to get outside these four walls, but yet still have security that you can trust guy phone, you got access, right. So we love that. So now you can also extend that to rewards and loyalty. So if a brand is wanting to engage with you today, Apple, Google, Facebook in particular, are making it harder and harder to advertise or to connect with consumers that cookies are all changing, which are great in many, many ways, but as making it very, very difficult for these brands to connect with their users. And so they’re seeing web three as a way to have a direct one to one connection. Right? So if I can give you an NF T, that’s a badge, it’s a membership. We call the rewards and loyalty piece specifically dots, right? We’re we’re specifically not calling them NF T’s because people get Wait Is that like a picture of a board I hate that word monkeys that was at that one of the Bitcoin things, I cannot buy that like none of these are next generation coupons and promo codes, we call them dots grab it that you pick up a dime, and brands want to engage with you, it’s you can scan a QR code, and you can grab the dots or if I’m at an event, I’m at a stadium and a pop up, I can scan that QR code goes in my wallet, I can now use my phone number instead of the promo code on the e commerce website. Or I can get my phone number to the clerk at the point of sale. And you can pull all those through this phone number, just an amazing link. And we’ve already got it, we already know it. So where’s that guy? Okay, how do we kind of use the phone number to unlock the power of web three for the masses. That’s what I’m really excited about reading.
Matt DeCoursey 27:59
So that’s a daunting task, though, cuz you’re talking about a roll, like roll out that’s got a global go to a lot of places and then you know, there’s much like there’s always a resistance to change and it’s easy for people. And you have to overcome it. Okay, so you got to overcome, you got to build trust factors. And people didn’t trust the fingerprint idea that interested the face ID or you and a global database of facial recognition because of that, maybe, but you’re probably finished anyway. Did you go get a driver’s license photo, right? Because they have your face. It’s not like it’s not like it’s not on record, like you’re in second grade, you did a fingerprint to help you if you were to abduct a child, they got that it’s out there man, like quit fighting. And it’s really not. There’s nothing invasive that isn’t already out there.
Toby Rush 28:48
Well, the thing I like the approach we’re taking with your team is you already have your phone number where I’m asking you to get an identifier. You already text message all the time. We’re not asking you for new behaviors. You know what, you know what a QR code is? Like when you see like, it’s really funny. I pressure tested this, my mom was like, Hey, can grandma use it? This is early days, like Hey, mom. She’s 75 us as an iPhone uses it. But that’s about it. I’m like, Mom, you know, we need 10 digit numbers. She’s like, No, like, why would anyone need 10 digit numbers? Like what do you know your phone numbers? Like? Of course, I know my phone number, Toby. Like do you know any others? She’s like, Well, no, but my phone number. My phone hasn’t I don’t need to memorize everyone else’s phone numbers. Then pulled up a QR code like Hey, Mom, you see this? What do you do? Like Well, I take my camera out and I point it out and something pops up and I click on it like with zero instruction. I didn’t have to teach my mom anything she knew what to do. So leverage those existing behaviors. But now make the link into web three. You’re gonna have this cool unlock of what happens when you can experiment and be creative and have this amazing creative potential outside the walled gardens of big tech. I’m just like in the next 10 years, I think we’re going to see an explosion of innovation when we’re not hemmed in by what the big tech and The government says we can’t or can’t do. And we can have 1000 ideas and 1000 projects. But for me, it’s just my phone number. All I have to do is understand my phone number and text messaging, and I’m good to go.
Matt DeCoursey 30:09
That awareness thing is real though, and you mentioned so first off, and 2022, the QR code might have been one of the comeback players of the year. Oh, for sure. So with that, it was five years ago, we have a client that has a large sneaker resale operation in Vegas. I worked with him for years long before we even had Full Scale, they were client zero and Full Scale, because they kind of came with me with that. But, you know, a problem they had was in a place that’s ultimately like sneaker resale, these are still brand new shoes. It’s not like he has shoes, he’s like, people want to wait in line for Jordans and stuff like that. And so you have all these shoes at the store. And the problem was you might end up with Air Jordan, whatever, size nine and there’s six different pairs of those in the size nine represented by six different sellers that all want a different price for him. We’re like how do we build a dynamic marketplace? Because this huge store is growing inventory, and you couldn’t, you couldn’t put a static price tag on those things? Because you’d have to change it. And you also don’t want a bad consumer experience. So they have to go like, did they get the one that’s $100 more or the wrong one, you know, so. So we were like this is when QR codes were first recognized by iPhones cameras, but no one seemed to know that. So we rolled out and we helped them roll out this QR code price system that would just open their app essentially show you what sizes were available, what the lowest price was. It’s a good thing. But we rolled this out. And oh my god. And then the next problem was that everybody at the store spent significant time trying to help everybody. Yeah, so we had to put signs up everywhere that were all over there like, did you point your phone, your phone’s camera at this? And it was definitely there and that’s what I’m saying is that anytime something new or innovative comes out, there’s oftentimes this adjustment period, he goes through it. I think that phone number things really.
Toby Rush 32:08
Yeah, well, again, it is so already so familiar and so comfortable, like even our onboarding experience, right. So the very first time we’re going to onboard you, you can either scan a QR code or click on a link. So say I want to pick up this $20 off or say I’m at a KC current game, it can have a women’s soccer team. So they have, you know, a coffee brand that sponsors them and hey, get a free cup of coffee. If you scan this QR code at the event, or as you scan this QR code, and what our system does is it pops up a text message on your phone prefilled. So basically the two are filled out. And then the message on the bottom is filled out saying I want to claim this unique code, they hit send. That’s all they do. That is the entire onboarding process. There’s no app to download. There’s no form to fill out. If you can scan a QR code and hit send. You’ve boarded. And now you get a free cup of coffee. Now you go to the coffee cafe and say here’s my phone number, which you typically do anyways, as you’re checking out is like oh, you have a free cup of coffee. Congratulations. Thanks for attending the KC current game or the simplicity of two click onboarding into web three. If we all those who’ve been in the web three world, the idea of onboarding into you know full blown web three with two clicks. And then your phone number is this beautiful link that can go in real life. It can go to ecommerce Shopify sites, it can go to decentralized, you know, traditional web three world, even the metaverse so now say again, I went to a KC current game. And so I have this ticket. And it’s in my phone based wallet. And I want to go to kind of a Metaverse and Metaverse don’t think Metaverse is kind of crazy, you know, meta Facebook meta world. But it’s Roblox, it’s Minecraft. It’s fortnight. That’s where all these brands are trying to go. And so you went to a KC current game. And now you go into Roblox and a new realm opens up. Because your wallet, your phone number that you connected to, now has this KC current. So now you can go to the KC current playground or you can go into this cool area. And so it’s kind of token gating even in the metaverse, right, this phone number is just it’s a really beautiful link that is already there. So we’re thinking how do we build plumbing, right? How do we make it kind of easy for other brands and other companies to kind of, you know, use your phone number as a digital wallet and put whatever digital thing they want.
Matt DeCoursey 34:10
Toby Rush 36:00
And I think so, man, this feels very similar to where I was at. And I verified like to me, like, this is so obvious, like, how come? You can just use our phone number everywhere?
Matt DeCoursey 36:09
I mean, when you sat down, you first told me about it. I was like, shit, right?
Toby Rush 36:13
Why can’t I do it for the first three or four months? I spent all my time asking people, Hey, who’s doing this? Who’s doing this? And no one was doing this, like, this is so obvious, what am I missing? And I kept digging and kept digging. And I couldn’t find anything missing. If anything, I might make a conviction group like this that can totally work. Right? So carriers have even opened up these API’s where you can kind of say, hey, is this Matt’s phone number right now on this phone? And we can leverage the same API’s they use to say, Does your Sim have a plan with this network to allow you to connect to them? Right? So you’ve got this? Again, they spent billions of dollars building this network. And we can now just call it as an API. There’s so many cool things that are built here. So yes, I think phone numbers are the easiest thing. The other interesting thing about phone numbers that I really like, and this was a criticism of biometrics, which, which I agree with, is that it’s really hard to change your biometrics, right? There are lots of things in general, that’s not a valid concern. But once you have a good valid biometric template, and somebody else wants to see you, it’s pretty tough to change the biometric. However, you can’t get rid of your phone number, you can walk away. Right. And so you know, there are ways to take care of changing phone numbers, and you can kind of link stuff back over and change the wallet to say you want to just completely so it makes people feel comfortable. I do have a record I can pull. But I don’t think anybody ever will. I mean very few people ever will. But it gives them the sense of it’s tied to me, but it is not me. Right. So yeah, I really like just the blend of it’s this great bridge between kind of the real world me and both web to digital, even web three digital and Metaverse, kind of as we go forward. That, yeah, I just can’t see a better solution. And so that’s why we’re doing Redeem and we’re going all in.
Matt DeCoursey 37:51
Speaking of solutions. If you need to find expert software developers, that doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. You can use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs, and then see what available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team. Go to FullScale.io to learn more. I got wrapped up in the conversation, Ivan, I get to travel and you agree to that. So I was sent here. I was looking at Oh, wait, we’re gonna run out of time I get in trouble, man. I just want to know, well, I’ll give you 31.
Toby Rush 38:20
Now. So again, unprompted by Matt, we also use Full Scale, they’ve been great. They’re really a good extension to our team. You know, we have kind of a core architect and product managers on this end, but really, the ability to kind of extend the local teams with Full Scale has been great.
Matt DeCoursey 38:35
Thanks. And that was unsolicited. I don’t ever have anybody on the show. Because they’re a client and I, I think he may validate that I ignored it. I asked if he did not. Yeah, I had avoided that. I actually have a contract that says I don’t say that publicly unless I’m given permission to so I’d like to adhere to that. Alright, so challenging things require challenging levels of fill in the blank.
Toby Rush 39:02
Challenge to question is a challenging thing, challenging things, things that are tough to do are tough to do.
Matt DeCoursey 39:04
So if you have a challenging thing with reading, you get a lot of things that rollout that are going to require challenges that are associated with you guys. I think it comes to mind. Yeah, honestly, when you said that the first thing that came to mind is conviction.
Toby Rush 39:21
So I have to have conviction and believe in my heart and my gut, that this is the right approach. You know, even on the journey, we had a lot of folks say, oh, you should do this. And you should do that. And there are really smart people, even great investors of ours. But what I’ve learned over time, if I execute someone else’s conviction, it is too hard, like the emotional roller coaster, the journey, the number of nodes, the number of pivots and turns you’ve got to be able to navigate. Like if you’re simply executing someone else’s conviction, you’re in trouble, right. So I think really challenging things require a deep level of initial mind. own conviction, and which is also passion. It’s passion. Yeah. Which leads to passion I so I can, I can be really excited passionate about this idea because, you know, even again, kind of more altruistic, like even until you get to really, really kind of low socio economic where they can’t afford even to pay their pay for their bill on their phone. Everybody has a phone. Yeah, they have a digital identity, they have a place in the web three world simply because they have their phone. That’s a really cool thought of the number of benefits that we can bring to a very, very, very wide spectrum of people like isn’t just high in, you know, iPhone 15, you know, holders like anybody with the phone community. So I get really passionate about that. So then the next thing for me is I’ve got to find team members that are also passionate about music. I got a great co-founder, Kenny Conklin. Zucchini was a bass early. Yeah, it was battery days, and farm mobile and number of other startups, kind of co founders see oh, now building that engineering team building the conduct core, building an investor base, we’ve got great even local investors. So you know, flyover capital in case your eyes are both investors with us, as well as a number of others globally have some great investors. So again, it’s building building, the cohort of the willing to go kind of attack a vision of a web three is really powerful. But we got to make it super easy and convenient for the consumers. And thanks to phone numbers the best way.
Matt DeCoursey 41:15
You know, one of the things that’s, in my opinion, made Full Scale successful is, as you’ve witnessed, we take a lot of pride and try to match people up with our clients’ needs. But we try to find people that are passionate about that. Because if you’re passionate about what you do you wake up and it doesn’t feel like work. Yeah, it’s fine. Yeah, I mean, so you know, 15 years ago, I decided that making money was going to be my hobby, and I haven’t worked a single day. And I didn’t really like if you talk to a lot of people that know me, though, I, I really do believe that because I think life’s too short to do stuff that you’re like, I don’t know, Why wake up and do something you hate every day, then there’s, you know, and it can be as simple as, Hey, I like making money. So I can be passionate about that. And, you know, that doesn’t mean that that’s not a greedy statement or anything, because I also use some of the money that I earn to help other people get what they want. That’s either through investment, I know you’ve done some of that yourself, or donations or whatever. And I don’t know, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of things that you know, you can you can do with that. Now, when I think about that, fill in the blank, I think passion is one and then one of the things so I have a feeling you may struggle with us on Sundays to be patient.
Toby Rush 42:30
Because my team would agree with you. Yeah, well, so in mind, yeah.
Matt DeCoursey 42:32
So like, you know, it’s, there’s, there’s a challenge with that, and but the founders that you would recognize, and you think about that, we all have that same quality. You never have patience with yourself, there’s always something we can do better, faster, something like that. But then manufacturing or creating or learning how to have enough patience with the process. As we mentioned earlier, nine women don’t have a baby in a month. And that’s probably one of the most difficult things that I’ve had to resolve myself with when it comes to entrepreneurship, especially with technology. It’s a development process. It’s kind of like they say, with doctors, you practice medicine. You’re never really like, Hey, I do it, but you keep you keep learning. If you know, I think that that resource is another one, all you can do is all you can do. I think too many founders spend too much time trying to do everything themselves.
Toby Rush 43:27
Having that to have in the team is critical. You said something or that made me smile. So a number of my previous companies. So today’s Thursday, as we’re recording this, and if something needs to be done on Tuesday, if two weeks this week and next week, right? And so I would always like it’d be in Toby weeks or Toby days, that I was always like, you got two months, come on, get this month next month, and it’s okay if today’s the end of the month. I know I was always pushing the team and learning patience and learning what not to do is really hard. It’s my third startup from scratch. I’ve been part of five companies kind of over the past 2025 years. And I think one of the things that I’ve really learned is like vanity chasing, what is kind of the chasing of the superfluous when that doesn’t really move the business or understanding what is core to the business, what really matters. And then make sure my time and my team’s time is really just focused on those things, regardless of what the media might say, or investors might say, or customers might say, he’s really got to have that conviction of here’s what it is you got to one of the hardest attributes I’ve found both as myself as an entrepreneur, and as I’ve invested in others, is entrepreneurs have to have strong conviction and incredible amounts of confidence and be coachable. Right. And that’s an odd mix of saying very, very confident this is it but you can still listen and take feedback. The best example I found out is actually professional athletes, really good athletes. They’ve got to be wicked good, but you’re gonna step up at the end of the game and take that three point shot to win the game. You have to have a lot of confidence. But if you can’t listen to the coach and be coached, you’re never gonna get very far into great entrepreneurs holding this tension of being incredibly confident, as well as incredibly coachable at the same time.
Matt DeCoursey 45:08
And I want to expand on the coachable thing, because I think that just starts with having, you know, open minded because I’m always open for input. Some of it I accept. I don’t know, being coachable doesn’t necessarily mean doing every single thing that every single person tells you that you execute on your conviction.
Toby Rush 45:25
Yeah, someone else’s. And you know, sometimes well, I learned when I worked for other people that sometimes the best way to get your idea of moving forward was to make it someone else’s good idea.
Matt DeCoursey 45:29
No. So I mean, there’s a lot of and that but that goes with leadership to you talking about the buy in. Alright, so here we are, at the end of the episode, thanks again for joining me. Go to Redeem dot XYZ to learn more about what Toby is doing. You know, Congratulations, again, I think that I think you’re going to build another monster planning on it. Yeah, it’s, and you know, that’s going to be exciting to watch, I want to keep up with that process. I like to end my episodes with founders with what I call the founders freestyle, or just give my guests a chance to do you get the mic, you get the mic. And I’ve had, you know, I’ve had people saying do poetry, like all kinds of rap, you don’t have to do any of those, you might not want to do any of those. But if you want to, you can, I will probably pass on those, you know, when I get the opportunity to kind of speak to different crowds and, and do things, whenever I get an open mic, I try to leave kind of two thoughts.
Toby Rush 46:21
You know, the first one is this identity, understand where you get your identity, because the world especially if you’re gonna be an entrepreneur is you’re going to try to put all sorts of labels on you, what’s good and what’s not, and what you shouldn’t be doing what you shouldn’t be doing. And like if you don’t understand where you get your identity from your significance of self worth, it’s going to be a really, really hard road, or the emotional roller coaster is very real. So understand what makes you you, right, the second point I always try to make is at the end of the day, when you ask any 7080 year old, what really matters what has value in your life, almost all of them will say people relationships, it’s not the job. It’s not the money. It’s not the sale of the company, it’s not the promotion of the house, it’s the people on the journey. And if we were to invest in relationships, as consistently and as deeply as we do, with our money, with our jobs, with our career, everything else, we would be the wealthiest people in the world with the treasure we actually care about as we get older. So kind of the two nuggets I tried to leave folks when I get an open mic, is really think about where you get your identity, what makes you, you and valuable. And then invest in people relationships, that is the treasure we’re going to care about. So prioritize them over everything else, and you’ll end up winning standing strong stuff, man.
Matt DeCoursey 47:44
That’s good. That’s, you know, it’s that right there. That’s why I do the show. Because there’s, I don’t know, I just enjoy everyone’s takes on how they do stuff. It’s fascinating. For my freestyle, I want to point out a couple things from today’s episode that I think is key. Toby is telling stories about being successful with things that, well, first off, when you launch them, people are saying, dude, what is? What is this? How does anyone need this? I want to point out my history, for it has always been tech, everything I’ve ever had that was good. I had a bunch of people telling me it was a shitty idea that it was going to fail or be like, how are you going to make any money to write, and then I made millions, like, I mean, because the reality of it. And some of that was that conviction, and being able to see through doubters and haters. And then also, I think that I want to kind of complement what you said by, you know, there is the one thing that will tether your genius, and it is guaranteed is negativity and self-doubt. And that’s like a fact, that’s not just my opinion, because as I mentioned before we recorded I’ve been, I have a fascination with the traits of genius people. And that’s defined in a lot of different ways. And I just had, but it is a known fact that you do not ascend to where you need or want to be in your own headspace. I’m talking about you, not your organization, like you as an innovator, a person, a founder, maybe even a parent, or any of that, if your negativity and self-doubt will tear you down. And one of those is internal and the other external. So you can either be negative, and that’s you acting negatively as a form of self-doubt. You’re just expressing it or if you don’t believe it, then you can’t really have conviction, if you doubt yourself, right. And if you doubt yourself, people will see it.
Toby Rush 49:56
There is a lack of authenticity about that message as you send it downstream to the people that you’re trying to motivate and spread your passion to yes and no. I mean, and the other thing I talked to kind of is that mission identity is like your company is not you. Yeah, your company might be a bad idea. It might not be the right idea. It might need to shift. It might need to pivot. But you as a person can be confident you can be whole, like your love, your unknown, your beautifully made and created. And the company may fail that time some on Sundays making sure I’m detached from some of it because I do watch different things.
Matt DeCoursey 50:17
Yeah. And what’s funny is when I meet people, I’m the Startup Hustle guy. That’s kind of my hobby of sorts. I do identify Startup Hustle as more of a hobby. If you mean, I’m actually the Full Scale guy. That’s the one that’s how we pay for all this. So maybe I should probably get back to doing that, man. I’m probably just going to end the show now and catch up with you down the road. I want to get an update on Redeem soon.
Toby Rush 50:47
So thank you for having me. It’s been a great conversation. Thanks for coming in.