Friday, May 24, 2024
81.9 F

    S6E5 – Ryan Frederick, AWH


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                [00:55]       614Startups Nation, welcome to another episode of the 614Startups podcast. It is my privilege to be your host. My name is Elio Harmon and I have a very special guest. This guy stalks the periphery. In fact, sometimes he takes the spotlight and it’s hard to get the spotlight off of him. My guest today is Ryan Frederick, the author of The Founder’s Manual. Ryan, welcome.

    Ryan:   [01:21]      Elio. Thank you for having me. Thank you for the kind words and introduction. I appreciate you.

    Elio:     [01:26]      You’re a legend, man. Even though we’ve never actually sat down, had coffee, I know of you. I know you’re a community builder, newly minted author, and you run a very, very successful company, AWH. But before we get into the thick of things of what’s going on today, let’s go back into your past wherever you’d like to start for folks who don’t know you, share a bit of that history with us.

    Ryan:   [01:51]      Yeah. I’m from New York originally, upstate New York. So I’m a kid from a pretty typical rural country kid background and knew that, although there were some really good parts of that and some things I enjoyed, I learned to appreciate nature and being outside and I’m still an outdoor activity junkie to this day so all of that’s good, but I also knew that I needed to sort of break out of that and moving to Columbus to go to school was kind of the manifestation of moving to the big city. Because I was from a pretty small town so Columbus seemed like a thriving metropolis. And then had a desire to do some entrepreneurial things and got fortunate to join some startups that we didn’t even know to call them startups at that time. And what is important to me now as anything, one of the things that I’ve benefited from is once you have access to people who are more experienced and knowledgeable than you are around, whatever it is, tech, venture, being a CEO and running a company that that access is critical. And I think if we do anything over the next generation, we have to create more opportunities for access and awareness because I would not have been part of the things I’ve been a part of, I certainly wouldn’t be a principal at AWH now and having the opportunity to write books if I hadn’t had met some of the right people and had access that then came from meeting those people and then fostering those relationships.

    Elio:                          [And where did you go to school?  03:31].

    Ryan:   [03:32]      I went to DeVry.

    Elio:     [03:34]      Okay.

    Ryan:   [03:35]      Yeah, I did not come to Columbus to go to The Ohio State University. I was a terrible student in high school, tested reasonably well, but I was always bored, and frankly, I wasn’t that motivated because I didn’t really want to be in school anymore. So I made it a year and a half through DeVry and dropped out of DeVry – I would also not recommend that as a path to success – and was able to make it work. So have made also my share of mistakes along the way, and have had as many failures, if not more failures than successes, but, I think that’s the case for anybody that tries to take stuff on and to do some interesting things and to live an interesting life personally and professionally. So I did go back to Franklin mid sort of career and life and get a business degree because it felt like that was sort of unfinished business and I didn’t really have to, but it was just something that meant something to me. So [I] did that, and then really, I think from the point that I dropped out of DeVry, for me it was about learning how to run a business. So being fortunate to be able to join some early-stage companies.

                [04:44]       And I think the thing that gets missed often by people is when you join an early-stage company, whether you’re the founder or you’ve joined the team and you’re part of an early-stage company, you get an MBA – if you’re paying attention – in business, about the realities of business. Not the theoretical stuff, not the case study stuff, you live it and you have to figure out “How do we market? How do we acquire customers? How do we make payroll? Oh, we’re 10K short of making payroll. What can we do to get 10K in the next three days into the business so we can make payroll?” You learn the ins and outs of operating a business that it’s pretty hard to teach and it’s pretty hard to learn in a classroom setting or through reading case studies. Living it, experiencing it is really where it’s at. And I think that that ended up being really the bulk of my formal education, was learning how businesses ran and seeing the different levers that you can pull as part of operating a business. And to also experience pulling all of the wrong levers at the wrong time and having it go completely sideways. So on-the-job company running training, I guess you will.

    Elio:     [06:03]      So now did you consciously make a decision to go into the startup world with the intention of learning these things? Or were you consciously aware that you were actually going through this process of learning or is this all hindsight, Ryan, what are we doing here? What are you telling us? Is this something you realized after the fact?

    Ryan:   [06:21]      I wish it would have been more strategic at the time. So I think it’s kind of a hybrid between a little bit of awareness in the moment, and now looking back going, “I learned a lot in a very short period of time.” But I did not go into it necessarily even thinking that that was going to be an outcome or that that was going to happen. I just knew that I was not wired to be a big company person. I didn’t like just being a number. I didn’t like being a cog in a big machine. So I knew that because of some of those really fundamental attributes that I was meant to be in a small company. And we just didn’t know at that time to call them startups but that was home to me, that felt right. When there were five of us total in the company trying to make it work, that felt right to me, that felt home. So I think that’s one of the measures that I would use now if I was somebody else thinking about whether they wanted to do it, is, does that feel good to you or does that give you so much stress and anxiety to not know what your day’s going to be like tomorrow and to not know if you’re going to be able to make payroll in three days? Does that excite you and does that interest you and does that engage you or does that make you want to not get out of bed in the morning?

    Elio:      [07:42]     I think for me, it’s a little bit of both, right. It scares me, but it excites me at the same time. And it’s this delicate balancing act between being anxious, but also being complacent, right? You got to find the right balance being a startup founder between complacency, “Oh, well, you know, if we don’t make payroll in three days, oh, well”, or, “Oh my God, do I need to shut down the company? Do I need to go borrow money from my parents?” Kind of that anxiety, those two extremes is finding somewhere in the middle. Now I always love to talk about the history of the ecosystem whenever I have somebody who has more years in the game in Columbus than I have. So from your standpoint in your role with a Startup Grind here now, what was the ecosystem like when you first got started? And then at what point during your journey did you become part of the Startup Grind movement here in Columbus and what have you seen over that time – changes, developments, etc.?”

    Ryan:    [08:42]     Yeah. Thank you for that. It’s evolved significantly is the summary. There was a 15 year period where I was part of starting companies that were headquartered in other places. So I wasn’t in Columbus a lot, even though I moved here and I wasn’t doing business here that much. And then when that changed and then I was in Columbus more often and I joined AWH, then that’s also about a year after that is when I started to do Startup Grind and became aware of Startup Grind and then became a part of that organization and started to do it in Columbus. And one of my first thoughts, when I agreed to do Startup Grind, was, “Oh my goodness, am I going to find 12 valuable, interesting people to talk to you?” Because the Startup Grind events happen once a month about running a startup, investing in a startup, supporting a startup, etc. Because when I started doing Startup Grind, that was seven years ago and so I was a little on edge about whether I was going to be able to find interesting speakers and that lasted for a few months. And then it became pretty clear that there was enough happening in Columbus that that was not going to be a problem, and it’s proven never to have been a problem.

                 [09:54]      I had Nathan Heerdt on who’s co-founder and CEO of Healthy Roster for the Startup Grind event for June last night, and Nathan’s built three other companies. Healthy Roster has raised, I think $5 million. They’re doing pretty well. They’ve just rolled in a new product. And I’ve had Nathan on my list to do a Startup Grind with, for probably three years now, and that’s just an example of how much the ecosystem has grown and expanded and how Columbus is fulfilling its startup potential, I guess is the best way to look at it. And I know you’ve been part of that and you’ve seen some of that growth too since you’ve been doing the podcast and hanging out at some of the startup events and conferences when we used to have those.

    Elio:      [10:40]     Yeah. I know a whole three months ago, right? So do you think that we’re evolving organically or do you think there is some invisible hand at play here? What are some of the things that you feel like we’re doing right in order to achieve that growth? Or are we just stumbling in the dark but it’s happening to work? Are there some things that you’re picking up like, “Hey, this is what we’re doing that’s making this ecosystem grow.”

    Ryan:    [11:04]     I think success always begets success. And I think that with companies like – and Matt Scantland and the team at CoverMyMeds do deserve a lot of credit, Route deserves a lot of credit for how quickly they’ve grown and for the recognition that they’ve gotten nationally. But then there are lots of people like Nathan from Healthy Roster who have built multiple companies and who sort of fly under the radar and don’t get a lot of recognition, notoriety, but Nathan is a hell of a good entrepreneur and a hell of a good company operator, and we have dozens of Nathans. And Nathan has been here for a while and he’s started some companies and there have been some other people that have started multiple companies here. I think it’s a matter of the market wasn’t really necessarily ready for them and to sort of put a spotlight on them. I think the successes that we’ve had around some of the more noticeable ones helped shine a light on everybody as part of the ecosystem. So I think it truly is a rising tide thing and it’s happening in lots of places. It’s not just happening in Columbus.

                  [12:16]     I don’t like it when people make comparisons between different markets, because every place is different but there’s startup ecosystem community growth in lots of markets. Columbus doesn’t have, you know, we don’t corner the market on that. And I think to some degree, maybe entrepreneur-ism and startups have just found their groove going from, “If you can’t find a job, then go try to start a company” to “No, no, no, this is what you do if you really want to solve a problem that you care about in a deep way and you want to try to make an impact on society and on people’s lives and the way that work happens.” So I think entrepreneurship has changed and turned a corner a little bit from being something that people ran away from to now something that people run to. And I think as part of all the social justice stuff that’s happening now, I think entrepreneurship can play a big role in that because owning period is important, right? Owning your space, owning your freedom, owning your voice. And then if you think about it, professionally, being an owner is one of the ways to prosperity that you can’t necessarily get at the same level if you are employee number 5,673 at a big company. So I think entrepreneurship is going to play a big role as part of the societal changes that are also taking place and are going to continue to take place for a while as we continue to be able to figure that part out of the world.

    Elio:      [14:00]     Yeah. I completely agree with that. I bet big on the potential for entrepreneurship to really transform the world in a lot of different ways. I know we already see it in technology. We see it in communications with social media and we see it with independent media even, where as structures, as institutions lose trust, people go elsewhere to try to find information that they can use and rely on. So I think the 21st century is going to be a century of absolute transformation. The 20th century went fast, I think this is going to even go faster because it’s already 2020 and I feel like, what’s next, right? Three months into 2020 and the world has changed maybe two times already. Now and I agree with you that success begets success because off of CoverMyMeds acquisition is when I was inspired to start this podcast because I really felt like, Oh, the game has changed and somebody needs to be there covering it.

                 [14:59]      We’re going to take a quick break and be right back after this message from our sponsor.

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    Elio:     [15:48]      Now. AWH, you are the principal there. Tell us a bit about AWH and what you guys do.

    Ryan:   [15:54]      So I’ve got two partners. There are three of us that serve as stewards for the firm because we have a great team and the team deserves all the credit because we’re a software product and data consulting firm. We help clients build new software products and to solve data challenges. And when you’re a services firm like we are, our product is our team because we sell their expertise and we sell their time, plying their craft on behalf of clients. And I think one of the things that services firms need to acknowledge, I still think this is true for product companies too, but it’s all about the team. The team’s ability to deliver and to satisfy clients and to provide value is everything as part of running a services firm. And this is my first opportunity. I’ve been at the firm now for nine years, and this is my first opportunity to own and lead a services firm. And it’s been an interesting, sort of another re-education because I’ve been mostly part of product companies, building software products and taking those to market. Running a professional services firm is a different beast than running a product company. There are some similarities, but by and large, there are vast, significant differences between running a product company and running a services firm.

    Elio:     [17:16]      And I think that’s also an ode to our growing ecosystem that you can have a company like yours that can support technology companies that are just starting out. So who’s your target customer there and what’s the value proposition of working with you versus another firm? What’s the AWH difference?

    Ryan:    [17:33]     Yeah. So we work with across the spectrum of startup clients up to enterprise clients. When we get up to the enterprise clients, the work there tends to be more data-oriented because enterprises have big piles of data that they’re in some cases still trying to figure out what the right plumbing is around that data. For startups, we build hopefully net new, fairly innovative, fairly disruptive products because if you’re trying to build a company on top of a new product, that new product better solve a problem and in a way that’s different and unique than others have attempted to or are attempting to. So, we tend to get into some fairly complex, hairy stuff on the product side of machine learning stuff and artificial intelligence stuff and blockchain stuff, etc.

                 [18:26]      And we have two guiding principles at the firm that I think, serve us well every day and that’s, we work in the best interest of our client, we work in the best interest of the product. So our team doesn’t make it about us, they make it about the client and they make it about the product. And that’s why we have some clients that we have worked with, like IncludeHealth. Who’s a startup in the digital health space. They’ve been a client of ours now for five going on six years and we’ve built out a massive platform with them, but nobody stays with you for five years in this industry or frankly, in any industry, if there isn’t immense respect and value as part of the engagement. So we really are intentional about working on top of those two principles. And then we have a super talented team, highly experienced, highly capable show up every day to apply their craft on behalf of clients. So actually I was talking to a prospective client a couple of months ago and he asked something like, “What makes AWH unique?” I said, “Well, I don’t know that we’re a unique snowflake. What we do is we have really awesome craftspeople that show up every day dedicated to our clients and dedicated to make their product successful. That sounds sort of routine and average, not terribly interesting, but that’s really what it’s about. It’s not about some fancy buzzwords and slogans and stuff like that.

    Elio:      [19:59]     Yeah. Now let me add to that brand pitch, that value proposition pitch, I would say the AWH difference is what’s in this book, right? You guys understand the founder’s mindset and I want to get into this book because that’s the main reason we really wanted to get on this and chat because I think we live in an ecosystem now where we don’t have multiple exit founders, multiple acquisition founders. A lot of people doing this are doing it for the very first time. And there isn’t, like the subtitle says, a guidebook for becoming a successful entrepreneur out there. So it’s great to have a book like this for somebody like me going about it the first time around. Now in the circle here, you have three areas that you address in the book. So the founder flow, the product flow and the startups flow, right? And so you start off the book in the founder flow section talking about three areas that really struck me: self-awareness, risk and discipline. Why did you choose to open your book that way?

    Ryan:    [21:01]     Yeah. I think being a founder is the hardest professional endeavor that anybody can take on. So I think if you’re not self-aware and if you don’t understand how you think and how you tick and your emotions, it’s going to be really hard to be a successful founder because being a successful founder is managing yourself first and then managing and dealing with everything else second. So I felt like talking about self-awareness as being a critical piece of the puzzle early was important. Discipline is something that I would say when I was younger, I was probably not all that disciplined. You know, if you drop out of technical school, you’re probably not that disciplined. So there were a lot of things that I probably should have been a lot more disciplined about, and I think I’ve grown my discipline muscle over time, and I’ve become a lot more disciplined to the point now that I’m very disciplined. And it’s another area where I see entrepreneurs struggle a lot. One of the things I talk about in the book and I rant about this to anybody who will listen is I don’t really like the hustle mantra and narrative because at least my view is that is contrary to discipline because hustle sort of implies, “Well, I’m just going to run around and then I’m just going to talk to a lot of people and I’m going to have a lot of coffee meetings and I’m going to be super busy and I’m going to be super high energy”, etc. And that often doesn’t get you anywhere. Where if you’re intentional and you’re disciplined, discipline is honored by the universe, right?

                 [22:36]      If you show up every day – and I like to use a reference of physical fitness. If you show up every day and work out relatively aggressively for 30 minutes a day, you are going to be fit and healthy, assuming that you’re also not smoking and over drinking and eating too much bad food, etc. But we sort of know what the fundamentals are, right? Yet, most people are not as healthy and fit as they want to be, and it only really takes 30 minutes a day. I know that if you are disciplined in the execution of your personal life, your health and fitness and your business, eventually that discipline pays off. Now it doesn’t pay off tomorrow sort of like the hustle mantra wants us to believe, right? That if we just hustle, like Gary Vee tells people to hustle, that in three days, you’re going to have a bunch more money in your bank account. Discipline, you earn over time, the right to have some level of success around that discipline. So I’m a huge fan of intention and discipline and I think that it’s almost impossible to be successful building a company if you’re not disciplined.

    Elio:      [23:44]     Yeah. And, I was reading another book called Essentialism by Greg McKeown, and he talks about why relatively successful people never achieve greatness. And it’s this idea of the undisciplined pursuit of more. What his book recommends is the disciplined pursuit of less but better.

                 [24:03]      Thank you for listening. We’re going to take a quick break and be right back after this message from our sponsor.

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    Elio:      [24:40]     One of the things that you talk about is the idea of a niche or niche. I don’t know how you pronounce it in this book, but why for a startup is choosing a niche important?

    Ryan:    [24:55]     Yeah. And I’m a little bit biased here because some of the companies that I’ve been a part of were started in niches and so I do have some of my own perspective and bias injected in that. But Peter Thiel, he’s become a political hot potato, but in his book Zero to One, he also talks about focusing on a niche initially. And the reason that I believe that that works and that it’s true and that can be helpful is if you think about trying to initially build a product and start a company that’s very broad-based, that takes a Herculean effort. It takes a tremendous amount of money, a tremendous amount of time, and the chances of it succeeding are much lower than if you start out going after a niche inside of that broad market that you could then capitalize on once you’ve established a foothold and you’ve proven that you have a viable business inside of the niche. So I think that more founders and more companies should think about “What is a niche that we could understand the problem at an expert level? And then we could serve this niche that if it goes well, we then have an opportunity to expand it and to scale it” versus thinking about scaling and being big out of the gate when you haven’t validated and proven anything yet. I just think focusing on a niche gives you an opportunity to get some early wins, some early traction that you can then apply some heat to later on.

    Elio:      [26:27]     Yeah. But that would be listening to wisdom instead of listening to what the market is saying. The market is saying something completely different, Ryan, which is “We won’t even look at you unless you can present to us some road map to this massive billion-dollar company.” So for a lot of founders, I think what they find themselves doing is not necessarily focused on the problem or the target customer they know they can do a good job for, I don’t do that. I find myself vacillating between chasing this phantom, huge market versus maybe just covering Columbus really well, or covering Ohio really well, and then maybe if we do that well, we can expand. I find myself between these two areas because I’m listening to wisdom, wisdom in this book, but then I’m also hearing something completely different from the market. So how do you help founders reconcile those two messages?

    Ryan:    [27:19]     Yeah. I think that – and this is based upon experience – scale doesn’t matter until you have something that is scalable, right? And you don’t have anything that’s scalable until you have some validation around being able to satisfy customers and users in a way that they value it enough to pay for it. And I think, I give an example in the book of a founder that was starting a company and he was trying to go broad-based at the beginning and it wasn’t really working. And I said, “Well, are you having any success?” And he said, “Yeah, I’m having some success in this very small segment of the market.” And I said, “Well, why don’t you just focus on that?” And I said, “That’s actually a reasonably sized market.” And he said, “Well, that’s not the business that I wanted to build.” And I said, “You’ve gotten caught up in the scaling and you’ve gotten caught up in the bigness, right? And you have an opportunity here because that’s still could get realized, but that’s never going to get realized if you don’t dig in with a segment of this market and actually get some traction and begin to build a business and become a good operator around it.” And so I think the whole scaling thing just gets way overplayed and overblown.

                 [28:39]      Investors are a part of the problem because investors with content and their talks say, “Well, we don’t invest in anything that isn’t going to be at least a hundred million dollar company or a billion-dollar company. And how fast can you scale and how big can you get?” and all this sort of stuff. And that stuff matters at some point potentially, but if you don’t have a hundred customers yet of your product, talking about becoming a billion-dollar company is irrelevant, right? You’re so far away from realizing that potential. And if you look at like, Zuckerburg, there was no way when Facebook was hot or not in a Harvard dorm room that he ever imagined that Facebook would become what it is now. Impossible, right? So often I think the things that scale are not things at the beginning that the founding team and the team at the startup thought that they were that scalable. Airbnb is the same way.

                 [29:43]      Airbnb was for air mattresses in apartments around political conventions to start with. They never thought that it was going to become what it became. So they focused on, “Well, how do we serve these customers? How do we add value for them?” And then they have the opportunity for it to become big because they served those customers so well and gave them so much value that eventually other customers came and said, “Well, this might make sense for me too.” So I just think that scale gets way overplayed and way overblown. And it’s a much easier path because if you focus on a niche and you can build a successful product and company serving that niche, and you’ve done it on your terms, investors invest in good business operations. So when you do that, you have the ability to then dictate investment terms and you get to drive that conversation versus running around, trying to sell a pitch of scale that is so hard to believe that unless you persuade an investor who digs what you’re working on to invest, your chances of getting investment are almost zero anyway. So go the niche route, build a business, and then you can dictate the terms moving forward.

    Elio:      [31:03]     All right. So perfect segue for somebody in their car driving, and the only thing standing in between themselves and a billion-dollar exit is this market that they’re trying to figure out, right? How do we get this product to serve more people? But in this same startup flow section, you talk about be investible. So maybe I had a misconception of what being investible meant, because like you said, investors perpetuate, “I need to be able to see how you get me to a hundred million dollars” versus what you’re talking about here about being investible. So how do you define an investible company according to this book?

    Ryan:    [31:42]     Investible to me, in a nutshell, means that if you had access to capital that was kind of unfettered and you could apply it to the kernel of opportunity that you’ve now got, how would you do that? And at what pace would you then get a return on that capital? So for me, that’s investible because one of the things that comes up as part of being investible all the time is the elusive traction, right? Where investors say to startups, “Well, you’ve got to have more traction. Come back when you have more traction.” Well, traction basically means do you have paying customers? Are you keeping those paying customers? And are you getting more of them, right? That’s traction and investors invest in companies that are showing that traction, but then that have the potential with an influx of capital to take that kernel of opportunity, apply heat to it and pop it. But what they’ve got to see, they’ve got to see that traction, which is customer acquisition, customer retention, the ability to go acquire more customers, the team’s capability to understand the problem, and then to build something of value for customers. And then the management team’s ability to be good operators, right? Is the business running in a manner that if an influx of capital came into the business, that the management team would be good stewards of that capital and capitalize on that kernel and apply that funding heat to that kernel of opportunity that they have?

    Elio:      [33:25]     Yeah. So the investor really is looking to see if you have a repeatable, scalable way of using this money to accelerate, right? Not really that you’re projecting something that’s not real. And if you project it well enough, that’s what they’re really buying is what you’re saying.

    Ryan:    [33:39]     Yeah, because every pitch deck that you see has a total addressable market of $3 billion, which is every investor knows of course, that that’s not true. So we’ve trained a lot of founders and a lot of startups to talk a lot about scale and a lot about TAM and some other terms, but what investors want to invest in are kernels of opportunity, right? Because as much as we talk about investors in venture capital about being risky capital, they’re in the risk mitigation business, because they’ve got LPs, they’ve got people putting money into their funds that they’re now managing and they’re distributing. And so what an investor really wants to see is, do you have something here that if you had an influx of capital, that you could capitalize on the larger potential because of what you’ve already proven out and what you’ve already established? I mean, there are the rare opportunities where, you know, I think Quibi is probably a good, recent example where they raised ridiculous amounts of money against sort of longterm theoretical potential. But those are pretty rare and those also, because there isn’t the kernel there initially, those things tend to deflate pretty quickly. Because if there isn’t something there that you’re applying heat to, to pop, then you’re just putting more funding against an already broken infrastructure that is going to break at some point. It’s just going to break when it’s bigger after you’ve put more capital into it.

    Elio:      [35:16]     Yeah. Now, if we talked about the whole book, it would be a three-hour podcast, right? There’s so much good stuff in here that people have to get the book and they have to read it. So one of the things for me is that I find out if I liked the author within like the first two or three pages, and I love this book.

    Ryan:    [35:35]     Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

    Elio:      [35:37]     It’s easy to read, I think your style is very relatable and I think particularly for young ecosystems it’s important that the guidebooks not play too much inside baseball. If you’ve never started a startup before, you can read this book and pretty much get it, or you could read this book as you go. Kind of like, “Oh, I need to go talk to some customers. Let me flip to the pages about the customers in preparation for a meeting.” What was your strategy when you were laying out this book? What did you hope that people who get this book, read this book take away from it?

    Ryan:    [36:12]     Yeah, I guess, because I never intended to write a book, and as I talked about a little bit in the introduction, as I became more into concepts like flow and intentionalism and discipline, I started to think about, are there principles to starting companies and building products that I wish that I had known early on and starting out? So then as I thought about that and I started jotting down some notes and then I said, “Okay, maybe there’s something here” and then I was fortunate that the people at Paramount said, “Yeah, we’ll publish the book.” So for me, I think it’s if someone reads it and it helps them with one moment of clarity around how they should be sort of conducting themselves or how they should be thinking about an aspect of being a founder or creating a product or starting a company, then that’s a win. I think if somebody gets one insight out of it that helps them.

                 [37:09]      Because one of the things I say in the book too, that I was actually sort of on the fence about, was I say that most people shouldn’t be founders and most people shouldn’t be entrepreneurs because it’s such a challenging, professional and personal experience. It’s very difficult when you’re a founder to separate personal from professional. There is very little work-life balance. I talk a little bit about how you’ve got to be really intentional about that and make sure that you’re eating well and sleeping and you’re sort of okay through the process, but it’s hard. It’s really hard. And most people get into it, not understanding how hard it is and how lonely it can be and how personally challenged they’re going to be as part of it. So I just wanted to put some of that down on paper and hopefully, people get some benefit from it. And if they do decide to become a founder, that they go into it a little bit more knowledgeable and a little bit more eyes wide open, than going into it and then being surprised. They’re still probably going to be surprised when they get confronted by things, but then maybe they’ll say, “Oh, I did read in that one dude’s book that he said this was likely to happen and so now here it is.” So maybe they’ll be somewhat more prepared for the journey.

    Elio:      [36:25]     I love it, Ryan. Now, where can people find the book if they want to make a purchase?

    Ryan:    [38:29]     The easiest place to go because I don’t remember the Amazon link is Link to Amazon and a link to the publisher’s page off of that.

    Elio: [     38:38]     Wonderful. Now, I feel very special. Not everybody can get a signed copy, okay? I feel like I’m a VIP right now, but I’m going to put out an ask. You don’t have to shake your head. You don’t have to acknowledge it but just think about it. I’m going to plant the seed. Maybe when things returned to normal, you and I sit down, we invite some people, they buy some books, we talk about the concepts in here and while they’re there, you’ll sign it for them. Just think about it.

    Ryan:    [39:05]     I can unequivocally say yes, let’s do it.

    Elio:      [39:08]     Okay. All right. I love it. So praying for a return to normal sooner rather than later because I want to dig into so many more things in this book. Now I close every podcast with my one takeaway. And I’m going to go back to your experience with school then dropping out, but choosing to return because you felt like you had some unfinished business. I have a similar story. I dropped out of Wittenberg, came back home, but I always felt like I wanted to give my parents a gift of watching their kid walk across the stage. For my family, education is very important and I went back to Franklin, no better school to do it. And this is not an endorsement Franklin if you’re listening. But no better school to do it if you’re a working professional and you want to go back and continue your education, and this applies for entrepreneurs. Don’t let the jargon, the complexity stop you. If you feel like you have an idea, that’s really going to help people, you need to launch. But if you need assistance in launching, Ryan has given you the guidebook so you have no more excuses. Thank you so much for joining us on another episode. Peace.

    Elio:      [40:16]     That’s a wrap. You can find this and all our episodes on our website,, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, and all your favorite podcasting platforms. Don’t forget to subscribe and write a review. If you would like updates sent to your inbox, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter on the website. To engage in the 614Startups community, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at 614Startups to join the conversation. For sponsorship opportunities and collaborations, email us at

                 [40:53]      It takes a village to do a podcast and I would like to say a special thank you to my friends at Waveform Music Group. Andy and Carlin have been working with us to enhance the production of 614Startups and we’re so happy with the results. Outside of podcast production, Andy and Carlin are experts in sonic branding, songwriting, and music production for companies and creatives. To learn more about them go to their website, that is

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