Episode 33 // BrightGuest Founder Ryan Quinn on Getting Started in Phoenix

Sep 17, 2019

AZ Brandcast Chris and Mike interview BrightGuest Founder Ryan Quinn on getting started in Phoenix.

Contact: Mike mike@resoundcreative.com or Chris chris@resoundcreative.com

Discuss at https://www.facebook.com/azbrandcast/

AZ Brandcast is graciously sponsored by Conscious Capitalism Arizona – the global movement inspiring businesses to do good…because it’s just good business. Find out more about Conscious Capitalism and the many companies transforming our world for the better on their website: consciouscapitalismaz.com

And our show is produced by Phoenix Business RadioX and recorded at the enviable MAC6 coworking space in ever-sunny Tempe, Arizona (the 48th – and best state of them all).

Show Transcript

Narrator 1: 00:01 We’re broadcasting live from the Phoenix Business Radio X Studios in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s time for Phoenix business radio, spotlighting the city’s best citizens and the people who lead them.

Speaker 2: 00:12 Mike. Mike. Yeah. Chris, what’s up? I’m just, I’m sorry, I’m just inspired. I want to do that re that that, that interest doing in grunge sometimes. Ah, okay. This is our new intro now. This and I really found how to rewrite the intro song. So welcome to easy brand cast everybody where we talked to all sorts of awesome people about the power of brand and how to build great brands in our remarkable state of Arizona. I’m Mike Jones and my cohost Chris Stadler. What’s up? Hey Chris. So glad that we’re doing this again. I know. It’s awesome. It’s, it’s every month and yet it’s sometimes feels like ages between them. So is so much happens, but it’s always a pleasure. Never a chore. No. Always. Yes, I dunno. One of those things anyway, always. Never yet. I’m super excited to have Ryan Quinn on from Brightguest. Ryan and I have known each other for a couple of years now through mostly through Phoenix startup week and different avenues and areas of work that we’ve each done in that.

Speaker 2: 01:10 But I’m really excited to actually do this about Brightguest. I’m super excited to be here, so thank you so much for coming on Ryan. For those that don’t know, break us is a personalized micro-sites and text messaging helping organizations grow engagement and giving. And primarily you guys are focused on nonprofits, correct? We use realtime insights that personalized messaging and content to the individual making it easy for nonprofits to create dynamic mobile pages and deliver it to their audiences through frictionless channels. Yup. I love all those words. Those are great words. Those are good words are important. Words are very important words. I’m excited to dig into some of those in a little bit. And you in particular, Ryan, Ryan Quinn is founder and CEO of Brightguest. You focus on the business development, product innovation within your company. You’re a data guy.

Speaker 2: 01:59 That’s your background. And in business intelligence and analytics you’re in startup a z collective. That’s awesome. I think I knew that and I had already forgotten it that you’re doing the cohort this year. So I was the second two years cohort. Okay. Leave there into their fourth or fifth year now. Okay. Yeah, that’s awesome. And been involved in the Phoenix startup community helping plan Phoenix startup week the past few years and I’ve seen how much work you’ve put into that and it’s been fun being in the trenches on that together. And then you are just super passionate about helping nonprofits, giving back to your community and growing the local startup community or ecosystem here in the valley. Which I love that. That’s one of your passions. You enjoy living in Gilbert, which is good. I’m glad you enjoy living there. You saw it. Yeah. You sign and spending time with your family. So let’s talk about how founders can find success getting started in Phoenix. But first, before we

Speaker 3: 03:00 Do that, we have to mention conscious capitalism. Chris, do you want to give a little shout out to conscious capitalism? Arizona? No, actually I love these guys. Yeah. Conscious capitalism, Arizona. So a, the, there, there are sponsors a, it’s a, it’s a local association. Bent on world dominate now is on a mission to share with the whole world how doing good in your business is good business. Right? The local chapter of conscious capitalism incorporated hosts tons of local events and provides resources for business leaders to instill a higher purpose in their company and engage all their stakeholders. So if you’re wondering am the business, and I’m trying to figure out how do I, you know, we all have our idea of conscious, but how do you want a, do you want to introduce a system into your business that will help you lead it into being a conscious business across the board?

Speaker 3: 03:52 You want to be around other people who are doing the same check out, check into conscious capitalism. You can find out more at conscious capitalism, easy.com. And Mike, you’re a, you’re, you’re involved in that as well. Yeah, they’re very, yeah, they can, I don’t know if they suckered me in, but they asked me to join the leadership team recently, so I’m, I’m helping out with that. That’s a win for them and a win for you. So it should be a win win, right. Which is what conscious capitalism is all about. Helping people and all their stakeholders when you get through business, which I think is one of the reasons I really like, like the movement and I love the group. There’s some great events coming up very soon. I know we’ve got one actually tomorrow morning, which is already sold out up in Scottsdale at Kaiser Co. But then we’ve got another event coming in September and I know there’s more coming this fall, so I highly recommend everybody to check out conscious capitalism, e z.com.

Speaker 3: 04:43 Get on the newsletter list. That’s probably the best, easiest way for people to find out what’s coming up and what’s going on with the chapter. So, cool. Can I do the icebreaker on my course? Sweets? All right, so where you were, so this is nonprofit, right? So, so Brightguest, nonprofit rang Quinn. So the, the question is related to nonprofits. So if you had time, what would you start? A nonprofit to fight? Well, what’s your pet peeve? Right. And I can give you an example with, with mine. What’s yours? See now how when you’re like pulling out and someone’s going to turn and then I use a turn signal. [inaudible] Mm. It’s like right up there with mothers against drunk drivers. Right. It would just be like, it’d be something like, like turn, like the responsible turn signal users against irresponsible turns. Cause I mean you want to pull out, right? And you’re like, I can pull out, but the aisle looks like they’re, they’re going straight turning. They’re like, what the heck? I missed my window cause you didn’t put any tracing [inaudible] you know, so, so what a pet peeve. Would you start a nonprofit for what should there be out there? This just like there ought to be a law, you know, or

Speaker 2: 05:58 Something like that, you know, like service announcement, campaign, public service campaign to stop whatever. Yeah, annoys noise. You. Well, I have an idea, but I want to hear if Ryan’s got one first. Okay.

Speaker 4: 06:09 So the only thing I could really think of is something would have to be technology-related because I think most of my frustrations, cause I’m in tech all day long, we’d be tech-related so probably just like bad UX or something.

Speaker 2: 06:23 Yeah, I like it. There’s an entire association against bad UX right? There you go. Look, you can get on board with like a media organization member poses x, Expos, A’s, UX. I wonder if there’s like a dark UX like dark pattern, like malicious UX association on the dark web, on the dark web. It’s the first rule as kid getting masks and like, we’d have to stop talking about it on the radio though. Yeah. It’s like the first rule of yeah, right. You can’t claim to be a member. Don’t talk about, oh my mine is in the driving category as well. Ah, Chris, I don’t know. That was the first thing when you said pet peeves, things that pop in my head usually have to do with driving. Okay. I have a pet peeve with people who it’s not that they tailgate, they just don’t follow enough to where they can then not have to break every time the person in front of them lets off the gas for even like the briefest moment. So I would start some kind of public service campaign around like let’s teach you how to actually use your right foot in the car and then we’ll figure that out. Right. I love that. Yeah.

Speaker 4: 07:35 One thing that’s always bothered me in traffic now that you bring traffic up is that accordion effect when the light turns green. Yup. It seems like nobody goes, and I know this is like a human thing that always happens, but it makes sense to me that you’d just be able to all accelerate at the same time.

Speaker 2: 07:48 You should. And I think I’ve seen studies with like computer modeling for driverless cars when they’re looking at like if you had computers all operating in those cars. Yup. Even if they weren’t like talking to each other, they should be able to sense it like, like, like infinitesimally smaller than what, like the shorter amount of time than what a human can process. And there’s basically no accordion effect. So like when the light turns green, like you have 50 cars all go at the exact same time. That’s the world we live in. Yeah. I think that assumes though that you know, driverless cars are all like, you know, not manually shifts. So cause that’s what I always notice is I’m like, I always know when I’m right behind somebody who’s got a manual shifter cause I’m like, oh okay, we’re going to slow down for a second here. All right. And now we’re speeding back. Oh we’re slowing down again. Okay. Yeah. I’m that guy. I have the manual air conditioner off so I could actually accelerate with everybody else. Siri’s getting in on the conversation here. I didn’t know we had series as a, as a guest, we’ll have to revamp our questions. Here she is. She’s onto something a little more serious. He’s a less

Speaker 3: 08:56 Great guest as much as I’m peeved by people’s driving. Okay. I don’t know if I’m going to spend the energy to build a nonprofit for that. All right, bummer. Oh well cool. So so let’s so ran talk at, we’ll talk a little bit about Brightguest. Tell us a little more what it is. Cause I heard you talk, I heard you talk about house of genius, which we haven’t mentioned yet. Shout out tasks with genius. Brian Stinson invited me to that. We heard you talk, but now I get to be at front row guest and ask whatever questions I want. But let’s start by having you just tell us a little bit about I guess,

Speaker 4: 09:30 Sure. Really it all stems from the idea that, you know, email as a tool to get people’s attention, compel action just isn’t as effective anymore as it used to be. And there are various reasons for that. But with nonprofits they are profoundly reliant on an engagement piece and email happens to still be their primary outreach channel. So we wanted to build a way for them to connect with their audiences, invite their supporters in to the story they’re telling and create a real personalized journey for them. Whatever that call to action is, whether it’s donations, whether it’s volunteerism, advocacy, that call to action is going to be much more likely if the experience is personalized. And the messaging around that is personal. So that’s kind of the whole story of why we made it

Speaker 3: 10:18 So, so it was [inaudible] so traditionally people use email for that. Right? Right. But that’s not where things are going. Is that what I’m hearing?

Speaker 4: 10:28 Yeah. You know, there’s several reasons why email isn’t as effective anymore. Everything from spam filters to just the history of purchasing lists over time. You know, people have created multiple email addresses, but if you look at things like text messaging or social chat, you know, people typically have one phone number and the regulations around protecting communication over text is much more closely regulated than with emails. And so that being the case, people have to opt into those communications. And you have to provide ways for them to opt out. And without compliance, there’s steep fines. So again, much more regulated and protected.

Speaker 3: 11:10 So in other words, a, when people do get, well, if you do have their permission, you’re going to have a lot more of their attention because they’re going to be getting fewer of those spam emails or spam spam over text rather than email.

Speaker 4: 11:23 Right? and the texts, you know, by itself isn’t enough. Right? It’s a way to really get in front of somebody’s eyeballs. But then our goal is to get them out of that message bubble as quickly as possible and start to interact with content. And that’s where the personalization piece comes in. As consumers, we’re all used to Netflix, Amazon, curating content and experiences based on our behavior. And as an organization, when you don’t employ those tactics, when you don’t have personalized ways of speaking to your audiences and segmenting, it feels spammy. And so for nonprofits, it’s really impactful for them to be able to create segments of their audiences and speak to those segments in a way that feels personal but at scale.

Speaker 3: 12:04 Yep. Totally. So now can you describe real quick like a, like let’s say I was signing up for something what would the, what would the email or the, sorry, what would the connection sequence maybe look like for someone like me? Is that, or do we need an example?

Speaker 4: 12:21 Sure. Our example, one very popular way of, you know, kicking off the campaigns on our platform is around events. It’s, it’s great for ongoing communication, but events are an effective way of growing that list. So for you attending an event or maybe some type of gala or fundraiser or activity would be for you to have some incentive to opt in, but you’re also probably passionate about that cause. So that’s a great incentive as well. And also if it just makes sense that that’s the way that you’re going to be disseminated information about the event, that’s how you a great way to start it. And then through personalization and touch points over time and staying top of mind that that conversation can continue outside of the context of a singular event.

Speaker 3: 13:06 Okay. So I might get a, I might like a, so the conscious capitalism annual conference we had, it might be something where, where you usher someone into an event and enter further engagement. Over time through that personalized experience, I might start out with a text, it might invite me to download an app or sign up for an email list or something like that. That would then kind of engage me further. Is that kind of the,

Speaker 4: 13:29 Yeah, so there’s anything that you can do on the mobile pages. So the, the power of the platform is the micro sites. So it’s a series of touch points that provide personalized content and messaging. The text is just how we get people to those landing pages. Okay. So anything that you can do with the mobile page, you can do through the platform and that includes images, videos, interactive forums. You can embed Instagram and Facebook posts click with click-throughs to download apps, whatever the whatever makes sense based on the use case use case. But the idea is because you’re outside the text message bubble, you’re able to create that content rich and personalized call to action.

Speaker 3: 14:10 So yeah, so you’re a data person, Mike, Interrupt, I’m stealing. Oh No, this is great. I’m just soaking it in. So as a data person, you’re probably really interested in, okay, we’ll then what a fool in a personalize the page for them. Well, what data points can we bring in to make that more personal and still reliable and whether it’s like a low, low incidence of getting the wrong piece of information, but like how to, you know, so you’re probably interested in how do we make that more personal in an automated way?

Speaker 4: 14:36 Yeah. So analytics is huge. And not just to be able to use the analytics and the metrics of behavior to provide the service, but also to report on the effectiveness of that. It’s one thing to just do something useful. It’s another thing to show that it was useful and why. So that’s a big part of it. On our platform, everything that people do is an indicator of potential interest in a category of content. And so, you know, that’s one aspect of it. Integrations are another big priority for us. So integrating with other tools that can pass information through that might indicate, you know, that somebody is interested in a category of content. It’s all about understanding your audience in a way that you can speak directly to them. So that’s kind of what everybody is engaging with on our platform. And then through integrations you can tie that back into others like CRMs. So,

Speaker 3: 15:34 So you don’t care, you’re agnostic as far as like what kinds of tools, like a new tool could come along like a new version of text messaging or something, a new social medium where everybody’s use snapchat or whatever. Right? Yeah. you don’t care about that. Well, you care about is okay, we can use all those things they all lead to and from the landing page, right, that micro site, that customized micro-site that’s customized for each person. Okay.

Speaker 4: 15:59 That’s a great point because right now texting is the dominant form of communication, but social chat has 5 billion monthly active users like Facebook messenger or whatsapp or we chat. And so those are another relevant way of getting people’s attention and bringing them into browser. So the end result is the same. How you get them there might evolve over time.

Speaker 3: 16:20 So you guys are really about, you guys are probably really, I’m almost hearing you say your research company like you, like you’re like you have this, you have this platform. But what I’m hearing is that the, the real genius and value of this platform is really like what we can do with it next. Like what kind of information is coming in? How do we optimize, how do we build models to figure out, you know, how are people who do all these things like a fingerprint and saying everybody with this fingerprints to have this kind of, is that, I mean, just because you’re a data guy, I’m maybe I’m maybe inserting that in here, but you tell me, am I right or wrong?

Speaker 4: 16:56 I think it’s important for us and really every company to balance the whole data priority as well as to ensure that you’re giving as much value to the customer as possible. That doesn’t always mean it’s data. But you can use data to understand your customer. So not just being able to drive value, but giving your customers a channel to give you feedback on how it’s delivering that value and then using that to iterate or evolve over time. Again, that’s a data thing as well. So the, the real reason we’re here is to give value to the customer and to give them an opportunity to succeed or win that they wouldn’t otherwise might have the opportunity to do.

Speaker 3: 17:38 Nice. And there, I know you’re focusing on nonprofits. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. I of want to shift gears slightly. I want to hear a little bit about kind of how you got started with bright and that kind

Speaker 2: 17:49 Of story leading up to today. Okay. A little bit more of the startup story if you’re cool with that. Yeah. So the power of the pivot. Yes. Yeah. There’s the title of the show right there.

Speaker 4: 18:01 So the whole idea was always to free aids a way of engaging audiences or people where there might not have been an opportunity to do so. The original idea was quite different from what it evolved into. And I think it’s important you know, as founding teams of companies to kind of embrace that, that what they set out to do might not be what is the scaling to market with. So the original idea for us was engaging people while they were waiting for their table at restaurants, sort of like disrupt the coaster pager, give them a more inner engaged experience. And we were able to build proof of concept and once we were in market, we saw that the data we were getting from the engagement piece showed that there was something very interesting there that might make sense to break it off and create sort of a self service dashboard and see, okay, what markets can we really create an impact in? And so we cast a wide net and we saw various different use cases with various different levels of success. And once we found that nonprofits were able to really move the needle with some of their metrics, we really honed in on that and really developed for that use case. So technically it’s a market agnostic tool, but the market that we’re focused on with nonprofits are so reliance on the engagement piece that it really makes sense for us to pay attention and to add as much value to nonprofits as we can.

Speaker 2: 19:28 That’s awesome. And when did you guys start break gusts? When did you believe it was late? 2014. Okay, so you guys are about five years in now. Yeah. That’s awesome. How has that experience been like building a startup here in the valley and just the certain, you know, support system here and you know, how’s that, how’s that worked out for you guys? Yes, Phoenix is an amazing city to start a company. And I say that mainly because of the support networks that you can find here.

Speaker 4: 20:01 You know, that’s one of the, one of the things that I’ve learned as being a key contributor in your ability to sustain yourself and to grow is to create almost like a tribe of, you know, other people that are in the trenches that are doing it, that have done it. They’ve made the same mistakes you are going to make and can kind of guide you and also for you to have a channel to give back sort of synergistically. The opportunities that come out of that are immense. And at first it can seem like you’re actually distracting yourself cause you’re not like in it every single day. But those distractions actually can lead to solving problems that you wouldn’t have been able to solve on your own.

Speaker 2: 20:40 That’s awesome. Have there been like particular groups or individuals that have been like kind of more helpful, maybe how

Speaker 3: 20:48 There’s for you or,

Speaker 4: 20:49 Yeah, so startup Izzy collective has been a great community to be engaged with and it’s, and it’s often so it’s like, you know, there’s, there’s monthly activities. And it’s almost like therapy because you’re, you’re, you know, engaging with people that can relate to some of the problems that you might not be able to talk to employees about are family. Cause they wouldn’t, they’re not on the same plan. Phoenix startup week has been an amazing to be a part of as well. And to just see all the different aspects of that that kind of works synergistically together and all the community that comes together for that. Those kinds of events, those kinds of initiatives really give Phoenix a unique cultural DNA of its startup. Seeing that you don’t find in other places, every city is unique in its own way. And I think that, you know, what Phoenix is going to look like in the next decade from a start up, a company’s growth perspective is going to be, you know, very competitive with some of the larger areas and very different ways.

Speaker 3: 21:53 What are, what are some of those ways that you maybe think that it’s gonna

Speaker 4: 21:57 Be more competitive? I think that there’s a lot of initiative, there’s a lot of importance being placed on how do we define Phoenix as its own unique accelerator or hot bed for companies to not only start, but also to attract from other places. So, you know, there’s a lot of economics around why having a business here makes sense. That might not be possible, especially from a startup standpoint in San Francisco or some other areas that are notorious for having you know, Unicorns. But I think with Phoenix because they’re placing this emphasis on how do we define our niche and how do we create that community, how do we make it attractive for Vcs to invest in companies here? Just the nature of us really trying to figure that out on our own is I’m going to give it that uniqueness that will play out over the next decade. That’s awesome. Yeah.

Speaker 3: 22:48 Chris did you have another question? Cause I had one and I lost it. Now I just, I love what you just said. It sounds like it sounds like, I mean it’s kind of like music to my ears when you talk about how Phoenix is, it sounds like we just said is creating its own philosophy of like how to attract like how to become this place. Like ask them the question. Cause obviously if you, if you’re just like, oh I just want to be like the bay area, Bay Bay area, right? Like all right, cool. So we’re a cheaper bay area and Mike and I don’t want to hear that. Like that’s not, that can’t be right. They can’t be, the only thing that’s good about Phoenix is we’re just a little cheaper. Right. Right. And so it sounds like what you’re saying is that, that the conversations are, are from those conversations are emerging, meaning this unique to the Phoenix area.

Speaker 4: 23:33 Yeah. Just naturally by the process of making it important. It’s gonna be a play a big role in making you unique.

Speaker 3: 23:40 Hmm. Have there been any distinctives? And I’m asking, I’ll ask, I’ll, I’m going to ask Mike to, I’m just you guys

Speaker 4: 23:46 Both being startup week guys. Are there any distinctives you guys have seen from that have come from these conversations that stand out that are just like, oh, this is not something maybe we’ve seen or you’d expect from San Francisco or Boston or wherever, you know, you know, I’m not 100% sure, but what I would say I’ve seen is that there’s a lot of recognition that just doing the same thing in a different way doesn’t necessarily move the needle. Like for instance with mentoring, you know, sitting down having a conversation, you can have an impact, but how do you measure that impact? And so really understanding that going into it like what does it mean? What does success look like coming out of this conversation and understanding and defining that before even going into it. I see a lot of emphasis on that here in Phoenix and that’s just a result of a lot of founders wanting to give back their time, you know, and meeting with people and giving perspective and it’s like, is this really making an impact? The things I’m telling this person and how can I measure that?

Speaker 2: 24:42 Okay. Sounds very practical. I like it. Yeah, I think I’d echo that. I think the other thing or the other piece that I’ve seen a lot in my interactions in the startup community here is we’re at, this kind of hearkens back to that episode that we had with Brandon Clark and his partner from cradle and just we have this nexus of cultures that I think is a little bit unique. I don’t know that, I don’t know if I’d stake my claim on exclusivity of that yet, but I think there is something really unique about like the difference, like the different kind of at a large scale, the different cultures that our city kind of encompasses, right? You have this kind of mix of Mexico meets us, you have the southwest, a lot of transplants here from the Midwest and even from East Coast and certainly from California.

Speaker 2: 25:31 And so like, I don’t know, there’s a certain kind of like to Harken back to a probably dated term, but like 10 of that kind of mixing bowl of creative ideas from different cultures all coming together in one place. And I think from an entrepreneurial standpoint, that means that there’s just a lot of different ways that people are thinking about starting a business, whether that’s like a business for scale, right? Whether that’s technology based or not technology-based. And I think that that’s something that’s unique in the particular cultural context that we find ourselves in, in this city and in this state. But I don’t, I don’t see being duplicated elsewhere. Right? Like kind of the bay area has its own cultural mix. Right. even like somewhere more up and coming, like Austin or Denver has its own kind of cultural mix, but they don’t have, I just, I don’t know if it’s, and I might be imposing my own bias being from here. But I don’t see them quite having that, that deep, like rich kind of cultural mix that we do here. Can I let you guys riff on just a little bit more? Right. And have you seen that kind of thing where he’s talking about,

Speaker 4: 26:37 I mean, the geographic proximity to Mexico and the programs that we share from, you know, different entrepreneur programs are obviously going to be more here than in some places that are farther away. But I just, there’s, there’s just such a play on, on diversity and inclusion and generosity that I just, I don’t hear a lot of other ecosystems putting such an emphasis on.

Speaker 3: 27:04 Yeah. Yeah. Well and, and I liked what you said about going back to what you said about measurement and I wrote down the word purpose cause it sounds like you’re talking about a more purposeful interaction almost like, hey, when there is when there are foundries giving back, they want to know that what they’re doing matters and that whole measurement that the practicality of measurement. Like when I, when I was in other, when I’ve been at other places, there’s a lot of dreaming and that’s one of, Mike knows us one of my frustrations seeing so much, so much dreaming and talking, which is awesome, right? It’s awesome vision casting and everything’s awesome. But then being able to bring that back down and say, okay, well very, very quickly after that conversation we don’t keep talking about the dream part. We also maybe talk about how, what’s going to happen then like what are we going to do now? Right. How do you execute on that? Yup.

Speaker 4: 27:51 That’s a huge part of it. I mean, I think if you look at the difference between, if you never try to do anything in life versus having all the potential and dreaming about it but never acting on it, it’s pretty much the exact same outcome. So like we always say like action is the only true form of currency.

Speaker 2: 28:13 Okay, he’s writing that down. But Penn came out and I heard the click, he’s like, dude, that’s gold because it is gold. That’s a great, great statement. And I wonder if there is something I, I’m, I’m riffing out loud here. So go, I don’t know that that’s intrinsic to like Phoenix, but I do feel like there is this like little bit more grit. Like pull your helps pull yourself up by your bootstraps or, and maybe there’s an element of like, there’s a little less funding here than you might find in the bay area. And so everyone’s kind of forced to be a little bit more practical and say, well, how are we gonna get this done for a little bit cheaper or a little bit less money or with a little less support than we might somewhere else. But we also don’t have to maybe play as many games either to go get that money.

Speaker 4: 29:00 Very true. And maybe even end up with more equity because you’ve vetted yourself.

Speaker 3: 29:05 Yup.

Speaker 2: 29:06 And I do think that there is, I mean, sorry to you, you open up the historian Mike box. I mean some of that might just be our cultural roots too. You know, this kind of wild west state that is still trying to figure itself out and still has some of that like very strong independent like streak of independence. And we do our own thing and kind of like, this is my land, not your land. And yeah, I’ll do what I want with it. Yeah. With our conditioning or not. Well,

Speaker 3: 29:38 And so I’m, I’m curious if I might just ask, what do you guys, I mean,

Speaker 2: 29:42 So we talked about VC funding and I guess what I’m kind of curious about is what do you guys think would make more VC’s consider this a like, well, what’s the next thing? Like if we had this, we would immediately be more interesting to bcs,

Speaker 4: 29:58 Bigger exits. I think. You know, there’s, there’s certain tolerance for risk. It’s just, you can’t get away from, so companies, you know, starting here or moving here and growing and having economic impact and then having exits for Vcs would validate that it can be done here. And so that, that’s a big part, right? Cause that’s what attracts vcs. There’s the return. Yup.

Speaker 2: 30:25 Yeah. And I think I was just having this conversation with some people in the banking world here and just their perspectives of both from a private equity standpoint and from a debt debt standpoint that there’s just a, there’s not only a lack of exits, but there’s a lack of like big assets that have money being put back into those, like that startup culture. You know, like even some of the larger sets we’ve seen, the money has been just put back into real estate or into kind of like quote unquote safer bets in the community rather than back into like the risk takers and the people who are trying really trying to like get new ideas off the ground. So I think it’s like you’ve got to have both. You’ve got to have not only like big assets but you gotta have the right exits where the money is actually going to go somewhere that’s going to further that.

Speaker 2: 31:13 Right. cause I think we’ve seen that, not to pick on anyone too closely, but like go daddy. Right? Like as a pseudo exit for him. And yet most of that money hasn’t gone back into additional startups. It certainly didn’t go back into the employee base, which is where you see a lot of like when big exits happen, one of the best ways that you see that being reinvested in the community is when employees have equity stake in as part of that exit and are therefore like inspired like Oh I have some cash, maybe I’ll go start my own thing or I’ll partner up with some friends and get their thing going. And that’s just, that hasn’t happened here.

Speaker 4: 31:50 Yeah. And I think you bring up a good point. So there is a big responsibility of the actual companies themselves and the private sector to create that ecosystem and to make it attractive for vcs. But the state is also doing quite a bit like there is an, a commerce authority has the ers on innovation challenge, which is the largest challenge for a grant that this startup can apply for and go through the process of venture ready, which if you get, if you’re awarded the AIC grant venture ready is a year long program to give you opportunities to accomplish milestones and to learn different ways of managing your company that you might not otherwise have access to, workshops, educational conversations. And so the state’s doing all they can to create that unique, you know, startup that’s competitive. But on the other side, like you mentioned that to tie it back to the private sector, that companies definitely have to have some responsibility to do that.

Speaker 2: 32:48 Yeah. I mean, ultimately it’s the business that’s accident, so yeah. You know, but yeah, I mean I think that’s a great point about ACA and you know, there’s a lot of smaller groups. I think also trying to be a part of that and really kind of spur on the growth of startups here and providing whether it’s actual services or education. And, and certainly money too. Yeah, I think there’s, there’s a lot of good stuff going on, but that big exit does feel like missing. That’s kind of like that’s, that’s the goal. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I do feel like it, it probably is a, a downhill run at that point. You know, you get the big accident now all of a sudden like if there’s money in the community plus vcs I think are more willing to go, oh okay. So we’ve seen success in this community.

Speaker 2: 33:32 We’re willing to put more money back into it. Right. They’ve figured something out. Yep. That’s worth paying attention to. Yup. So it’s good. Chris is formulating. Oh I, oh I have, I’m trying to figure out like do we want to tackle this right now? My question is, well, is there, is there one next thing like is there, is there, is there something that the community here can do to affect that big exit? Cause I’m, I’m seeing when I hear a big exit, I’m thinking, okay, a lot of things have to come together at once. And you know, how do you unravel that to figure out, you know, okay, what’s the sequence of events? But maybe I’ll just ask, like, is there something that the local community could be better at that would be something that we could like actually a mat and objective that might be doable, right? That, that could move that needle a little bit.

Speaker 4: 34:19 I mean, the communities can educate, they can make it obvious that there’s opportunities in early stage resources for companies. But I also think that s the responsibility is on the, the individuals, the founders that are creating those, their own communities really to have some type of process to determine is this, what are practical outcomes that we can achieve? And how do we get there? So the resources are out there, whether it’s mentorship, whether it’s access to funding, whether it’s you know, going in front of a group of people in pitching and getting better at describing your value. All of those things are super important ways that you can create those outcomes. And I guess education does need to happen at every level so that people are aware of that. But I definitely think it’s important to have the injured individual feel responsible for making it happen and not just rely on those opportunities to find them. Hmm.

Speaker 2: 35:18 So it’s the individual founder kind of goes back to like, you just gotta work hard. You just got to do the stuff like show up. You want to be an entrepreneur, be an entrepreneur, right?

Speaker 4: 35:29 Yeah. It’s, it’s going to be based on your grades. I mean, so many different factors obviously have to come in together. Well, but the, I think the biggest thing is to build that core team that works together and balances each other out just to make this engine of growth. So, so

Speaker 3: 35:49 So when I flippantly say, you want to be an entrepreneur, be an entrepreneur. Really what you’re saying is, okay, cool. Do that. Here’s how you do it though. It depends a lot on who’s around you, who’s like you.

Speaker 4: 36:00 [Inaudible] In my experience, if that’s all it means, that’s like literally everything, especially when you’re a small early team, every single person you bring on has a huge impact on the dynamic and, and so everybody is much, they can contribute to the success or the fail much more early on than you can going into a large company. So recognizing that and building a team that can do that is, you know, half the battle.

Speaker 3: 36:27 And then and then kind of tied into that. I hear it sounds like you’re saying also that the, the community then comes comes at that other like vector. Like yeah, if you have people like working with you on your team closely every day, but then you have this community that you need to learn how to access, which sounds like maybe it’s a little bit of work and you’re going to have to go out there and like do some stuff and it’s like an automatically, you know,

Speaker 4: 36:51 I work, I really did meet somebody once that thought when he hit compile on the keyboard, somebody would knock at the door to buy the program. Legit. Like said that and I build it. They will come. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s, you have to build the community first. Yeah,

Speaker 3: 37:07 Yeah. Oh, that’s funny. I was talking to my ass out with somebody. I was talking to somebody and who will remain nameless and I’m worried about like using Google docs because it’s not secure because he has this awesome idea. I’m just like, alright, so we have a provisional patent. Cool. Right. So we’re doing stuff but it’s like really like you have to think about how hard it is. I think it’s Seth Godin talks about how hard it is to get someone to steal your idea. You know, it’s like, it’s not, it’s hard to get your id out there and actually get someone a little loan. Like the work it’s going to take to parcel and the drive and the grit it’s going to take to actually like get it to a point where it’s actually worth something. If it was that easy for people to steal your idea, it would also be that easy to market your idea. Yeah. But like you press compile, like you put it on Google doc and a secret link document and like your product selling, you know, it’s sold itself. Yeah.

Speaker 4: 38:01 Yeah. So I would say that IP is important, that customers are always going to be more important. And if you’re operating in stealth mode and you’re worried about somebody stealing your idea, customers aren’t gonna know about you either. Right?

Speaker 3: 38:16 Yeah. It’s hand in hand. You know, there’s my golden nugget. I’m gonna write that one down. What’s that? If you’re operating in stealth mode and no one knows about your product and your customers don’t either. That was good. That was really good. Of course, I’m the marketing guy, so of course I think that’s good. But you know, that’s the thing like a lot of engineering, like a love engineers, but a lot of times it’s like, my idea is brilliant. People are gonna look at it and just go crazy. It’s like, yeah, I’ve taken take to a few, you know, take it, present it to a few people and see if you get much money offered to you. The way we approach our own products is almost never how like the, the customers sees it. Cause we get in trance with like, oh this is how I built it and these are all the choices I made in that process and I’m peeking out over all these like little features and things and yeah, maybe like a really die hard customer has been using it for years, will have those, those same interactions, those same feelings.

Speaker 3: 39:11 But on day one they’re like, does it solve this one problem I have? Right. And that’s all they care about. I know for, for me, I’m just like, you know, if I just had, if I was selling a product, I think I would just based on my past failures, you know I think I would just say like, this is just going to be fun learning about how to sell this and just what people need and all the conversations you’re going to have this almost like that’s the attitude that I want to have just so I wouldn’t like get burned out. Give Up, you know, because you just can’t expect press compile.

Speaker 4: 39:41 Yeah. It takes grit. And you have to be passionate. It’s a, because the amount of work you have to put in is going to require you to be passionate. Gonna require more than just getting up and going to work. Yeah, that’s good.

Speaker 3: 39:55 You already asked that one. That was, yeah, that was a good one, Chris. Thanks Ryan. What’s one piece of advice or maybe a couple of pieces of advice? We don’t have to limit it to one that you’d give other founders just getting started building a company here in the Phoenix area. I mean it goes back to that tribe thing.

Speaker 4: 40:11 So you know, maybe starting a company and growing it is not necessarily your thing, but you want to find out if it is or maybe there’s an aspect to building a company that you’re good at and that you’re going to be happy doing, but at night might not be the entire like entire thing. Right. One aspect of it. So surrounding yourself with a community of people that each have those unique attributes and finding out what it’s like before you jump into it might be a good idea. You’re obviously never going to know for sure until you try it until you jump in, but the community component and having people that are there to invest in your success, right. They care that you are going to get to some point of success is going to be, I think the first important step and it’s not necessarily a first step everyone always takes, but I think it really starts to click once you get that.

Speaker 4: 41:10 Yup. That’s the biggest thing I always say is that that tribe or community of people, no. The other thing is being, the whole pivot aspect of you have to be flexible that the market might not need what you think it does, but being able to recognize that early on and placing emphasis on finding out if that’s the case, have mechanisms place. Some of those could be like if you have a software platform, how often are your customers logging in and using it? Having them give feedback on the value. Is it a painkiller or is it just a vitamin right? Is this something that I now cannot live without or is it just something cool that I don’t need that’s really important? So it’s not just enough to solve a problem but solve it in a way that now the market can’t live without it. I think that that’s, that’s something that a lot of people don’t pay attention to early on because they get caught up in how cool their product is. Like you said, it’s a reflection of how smart I am, but it doesn’t

Speaker 3: 42:12 Matter. Yeah. People don’t buy, it doesn’t matter. I’m not selling my, I’m not on the sell my ego here. Right. Yeah. Well tell us product without customers, it’s just a hobby, right? Yeah. Well, will it tell us how today, I mean, so you guys had to pivot. How hard was that? How long did it take once you, like, was it an emotional, like, like literally, like how was Kinda tied to the initial?

Speaker 4: 42:34 I’ve never really been that tied to the way that we go to market or the product itself. We recognize that there was a need. Right. and that the market said there was a need, but in our case it was like, okay, but which market? Right. So, so I guess it was a more data driven, methodical approach slash you know, falling into and pieces of information. But you know, it’s not, it wasn’t about vanity. It was really easy to pivot I think. And our you know, stakeholders were on board with it as well. And you know, it’s just, it’s important to recognized like how you can do that early enough on to where it’s not too late. Yeah. Like we’re good about to go through, I’m somewhat of a rebound brand right now and it’s important to do that early on. The reason that’s also important is because of our pivots. Like we need to make sure that our messaging and the way that we embody or the brand and the value that we give to the markets that that is something that resonates with them at all times.

Speaker 3: 43:40 Yeah, that’s a, that’s an interesting challenge to have to like not only pivot from a market standpoint, but now you’re kind of pivoting a bit of the identity

Speaker 4: 43:49 And I think that the best thing that we can do is to communicate the messaging, the why to make sure that Oh yeah. Okay. That makes sense. Yeah.

Speaker 3: 43:58 So, so I’m interested because you said before you said you have to have that passion, right? But the passion, it doesn’t sound like in your case was tied to the market. It wasn’t necessarily tied to like eating your brand. You were like, I’m, you know, not passionate about, like I’m not holding tightly on to something that doesn’t really matter. I’m passionate about that. Which matter is which. How do you know that? How does a founder know that different so that you can know he or she can know, like where, like what areas you’re willing to pivot in and then what areas are fundamental?

Speaker 4: 44:29 It’s like a very deep philosophical question. Thanks. I think the, the best way I can put it is as long as your focus is on serving the customer and giving them as much value or making the way that they do their business better or more effective, as long as the focus is on the customer and not about like vanity or the brand that I built or the product, you know, because it’s cool to me, as long as the focus is on the customer, you can’t do, you can make mistakes, but you’re always going to be, your intention is always going to be, okay, the customer, does this help them or should I be doing something else?

Speaker 3: 45:07 So you focused on a, well, if I’m hearing you correctly, you’re focusing on a problem, not necessarily a particular client, right? Like he like, so you just said, you know, care about your audience or you’re your, your, you know, but you let the, the value determine that, like you said, okay, well to which audiences is most valuable to you. And so for you, so for for one founder, which is why it’s a deep philosophical conversation or question for one founder, that particular audience might be the most important. So they might pivot the product. So is that fair to say? Like I said, it’s okay as long as you’re focused on like passionate about like something in particular.

Speaker 4: 45:44 Yeah, that makes sense. So it doesn’t matter what you pivot or what you change as long as that change is focused on adding more value, whether that’s changing the market or the product or you know, your team, the way that you approach solving the problem, that can all be flexible, but as long as your focus is on adding value to the, I mean, the person that’s paying for it, the company that’s paying for it’s or the, the the market that’s going to be responsive to it. So the problem that we solve of, you know, the frustration of low engagement on traditional communication channels, that’s where we’re focused on solving the problem and we’re doing it for nonprofits because that’s who has the most to gain from solving that problem.

Speaker 3: 46:28 Yeah. So, so passionate, really, you needed to find your passion, well, you need to be passionate about, so you can carry that passion through in the momentum that comes with that, but then be willing to pivot on those other things. So, so knowing the difference.

Speaker 4: 46:41 Yeah, that’s a really good point. Yeah. How do you know the difference? And I think it’s a personal thing,

Speaker 3: 46:45 Right? Right. Yeah. I mean there’s always, for me, there’s always that, that, that question between like, okay, logic and then emotion and emotion as a real part of this. And so, you know, being able to identify that passion, knowing the truth about your product and yourself, you know?

Speaker 2: 46:59 Yeah. And I wonder if there’s even just like the case we made of like going into it with as much like open-mindedness about like where are we going to end up with this? Like I’m going to have a vision, but I’m also gonna like kind of hold that loosely, especially early on and really like test as much as I possibly can in that process. And really the, it’s almost like at that point the passion is about, yeah. Like whatever particular piece of that first got you in, right. Maybe it’s the audience, maybe it’s a part of the product development. Maybe it’s a part of, you know, a particular like aspect of the build or something and holding tightly to that, but letting everything else kind of kind of flow and, yeah. I mean, I, I’m biased. I’m always the guy that’s like every startup we’ve ever worked with, especially like super early stage like ideation. We’re working with Lynn right now and it’s like six months into it and they’ve already pivoted like three times on their product. And some of that is because we’re like, hey, what is the most like basic thing you can put in someone’s hands to even validate that this is something somebody wants. Right. Are you going to produce value for anybody? It doesn’t really matter how much you like your own product until someone else pays for it. You have no like real feedback. Yeah. That this is something that anyone wants.

Speaker 4: 48:16 That’s very true. And I think it’s important to keep that in mind. Get to the point where customers are using it as quickly as possible. But then there’s a flip side of that in that like nobody wants to make assumptions on when they do the product. Yeah. But there’s, there’s a tendency for you to want to say yes to everything the customer thinks they need. And so you, there’s a risk of building a product that solves the problems perfectly for that one customer, but not the rest. No one else. Yeah. Yes. So the artist’s saying no. And the ability to be build with your customer at the same time is a balance you have to walk. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 2: 48:58 It’s, it’s definitely, it’s a balancing act. Yeah. Yeah. Cause that’s a slippery slope saying yes to everything customers want. Right. Yeah. Just go talk to everybody that works at Adobe. They don’t everything they, they’ve added every feature anyone’s ever requested. I think they’ve gotten a little better in the past couple of years, but that was a PR PR software product that I’ve been very close to for a very long time. Yes. You have. And I remember, you know, just really almost like since day one, like people have complained about the bloat in their product and and it’s like, but when you ask people to identify which thing is the bloat that you would get like a million different answers. Right. And it’s because they’ve, you know, really packed every feature in that they can think of or that anyone’s asked for it sort of somebody but, but the whole point at some point.

Speaker 2: 49:50 But then when it was a big customer, cause we had, we had software at a previous place I worked where where we have software and it was for a lot of applications almost anybody could use it, but we did have one big, you know, client that you’d know for sure. Anyone in the United States would know him. All of the sudden they were, they were like making demands on the software functions and stuff. And we’re just like, which at what point are we going to have to say like, this isn’t just for you. You know, this is like this a any changes we have to make, have to go into a decision making, like you know, a decision matrix, you know, that Yup. That you know, lets us be objective about this. And so that we’re not just serving one customer then now, now we’re essentially an arm software arm.

Speaker 2: 50:37 Yeah. And I’ve found that I, this isn’t always the case, but it might be indicative of to wider reach with your customer. Like you haven’t segmented enough to really understand like a large enterprise. And I’ve seen this a lot with like B2B software. Small customers don’t have the demands that large customers have. And large customers expect a more tailored, customized solution from your software product no matter what their paying, no matter what their pain, but also they’re willing to pay more. And so if you’ve structured your business and I’ve seen this with a couple software companies that we’ve worked with, if you structure your business for small businesses, but then you’re also saying, oh, but we also support enterprise but we don’t have any of the services. We don’t have the type of agreements that match what they’re looking for. We don’t have the professional services support that they’re going to want and need, then I think you, in my opinion, again, I’m the brand guys, so I’m like, there’s a little bit of like a brand issue, right?

Speaker 2: 51:36 It’s really like, Hey, we’ve, we’re not being truthful as to who we’re actually serving with our product. And it’s really literally just like, we have to make a decision. Do we serve this smaller business audience segment or are we going to do the hard work of building out an enterprise division to our software and to, this is really more about the support that you give. I’ve found sometimes it is the software and how it’s built, but and I think this goes back to that passion. You know, it’s like, what’s, what’s the core, you know, what’s our passion and how do we, given that our passionate is what fires us and fuels us, then, you know, how do we make decisions based on that passion? But the passion almost becomes kind of the goal, right? Yeah. The challenge is money. And that’s what I’ve seen typically is when you get distracted, it’s usually with a customer or client who has a lot of money on the table and it’s really hard to walk away from it. Yep, that’s true. Or even a even a market segment, right? You can like, oh, there’s a lot of potential there. And the reality might be like, well, we’re just not built for it. Or if we do want to build it, we need to really invest heavily before we get into a really get deeply into that segment.

Speaker 4: 52:46 Yeah. There’s a, there’s a dance I think between you know, wanting to add value to every opportunity and saying no to those opportunities because it doesn’t make sense based on your segmentation, based on your ability to understand the buyer persona. For instance. And you know, for us, w because it was sort of something that could have been market agnostic it wasn’t until we said, okay, we’re all in on this particular use case that things started to really click just came into focus. But the, the initial intuition before you do that is that you are possibly giving up on opportunities. Yes. That’s what it feels like. Aiding Yourself. Yeah. Yeah. [inaudible] It’s something you have to do though. Yup. Especially from a messaging standpoint. Until you focus, you’re not going to have the content, the messaging to resonate with the actual person that says this product is for me. Yep. Brand. We’ve been reading from the same handle. It’s awesome.

Speaker 3: 53:49 Well, one more question. We got, we have five minutes left. One more question. So what’s one piece of advice you’d give other founders who are just getting started building a company in Phoenix?

Speaker 4: 54:00 I keep coming back to the community aspect of it, but it’s really about having people that want you to succeed and giving you opportunities to sort of navigate that landscape early on. And really, I think it’s important to determine like, what do you want to actually do with that company? Cause there’s lots of different things. There’s avenues you can take. Do you want to like create a high growth? Like, we’re gonna think big and scale this Unicorn to exit in five years and it’s going to be $1 billion company. We’re going to go IPO. Are you interested in just, you know, creating a lifestyle that you’re proud of and that you’ll consider? Okay, that’s, that’s a win. That’s a success. I understand what you’re trying to accomplish early on because that’s going to be key in determining the path that ties back into the community aspect of it. And I, and I mean people that have walked those different paths before and can advise you. So mentorship is huge.

Speaker 3: 54:56 I love that. Because it’s very practical. It’s like knowing because you, that’s going to determine what kind of funding, what kind of conversations you have with people, the kind of people you talk to. Like I don’t want to waste someone’s time. And if I can meet with them and just say immediately like, this is where I’m going, this is the goal. They can just be like, I’m not your guy, but I might be able to tell you some other guys. And now you’ve both saved like a ton of time on a heartache. Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s awesome. What are three? And I’ll let you can, you can use a lifeline to Mike if he need to. The three ways entrepreneurs can, can interface with people like this. So you’re talking about the communities, right? So there are probably events or groups that people can be in. Where do I start looking? What are three places I can look online and find out, hey, how do I get involved in a meeting or something like that to get started. Obviously Phoenix started week

Speaker 4: 55:52 Is a huge one. It’s a week long events with several different aspects to meet and get involved with others that are like minded or trying to do the same thing. What’s one thing I should do if I go to Phoenix startup week, I would say pick topics that you’re probably going to be aligned with, you know so that the people that you meet and rub shoulders with are probably going to be more relevant conversations. And so you could find all that on the website, right, Mike? Yeah. Startup week.com. You know, there is a yes PHX startup weekend. There’s another activity, there’s all types of really good chats. Like startup grind has a bunch of great chats that you can go to fireside chats, you know, keynote speaking engagements where you can meet a lot of people that are really interested in the local entrepreneurship scene.

Speaker 2: 56:44 I mean we already talked a little bit about how said genius, but if you’ve got a, a product or an idea concept that you’re working on and maybe are getting, starting to develop and get it out there, like that’s a great opportunity to get in front of like some very like a very tight specific group of people and get a lot of like kind of diverse ideas about how you can improve or if you have a specific challenge you’re trying to solve. Yeah. In a very quick setting.

Speaker 4: 57:10 Yeah, I think they do a really good job of having the people in the room as relevant to you and your use case, your idea and your ask as possible. Okay.

Speaker 2: 57:24 Ryan, thank you so much for coming on today. It’s been awesome. So much for having me. Yeah. Awesome. Is there anything that you want to plug for Brightguest? Maybe an event or project or new release or anything you want to get out there with?

Speaker 4: 57:38 I would say if you want to learn more about how our platform can help you can text the word engaged to two seven zero zero zero. Check it out for yourself. That was the engage engage at, or what am I texting it to? Is texting the word engage to the phone number, the shortened number 22072007000 zero. I love it. That’s easy. Cool. Very easy. It’s frictionless.

Speaker 2: 58:02 Yeah, it is frictionless. Well this is it Chris for another episode of AC broadcast. I know. It’s amazing. Thank you. I’m always amazed. Thanks to everybody for sticking with us and listening today. And if you’re listening to us on the podcast from one of your favorite podcast apps, we thank you. And if you haven’t already, a great thing you can do is check out our website at AC brand, cast.com. Get all the information about our episodes, but first, give us a whole bunch of stars on whatever. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Give us some stars like all do on iTunes. Go on stitcher, go on Google play. Give us some stars. Our podcast is on there, so get subscribed and give us a review. And just the huge thanks to the people like conscious capitalism, Arizona who makes sure that this this podcast can happen every single month. Thank you to Karen Wiki and her team at radio business, radio x, y goodness. We love caring. We do love caring. We love our team. They do a great job producing this episode every single month, and thanks to our friends at Mac six for hosting us here in their beautiful workspace. So thanks everybody. Hope you all have a great Wednesday. I know. We’ll talk to you guys next.

Speaker 1: 59:19 [Inaudible].

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