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The Founder Formula
The Founder Formula

Episode · 1 year ago

Evan Macmillan, Co-founder Gridspace - Creating Voice Robots and Making Them Video Stars

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

When was the last time you or your company made a product video?

If you’re not using video to communicate your message, odds are that you’re missing a huge array of potential investors, consumers, and users. And before you make excuses about your company not being exciting, or your product not sexy enough for video, take a listen to this episode of The Founder Formula.

We’re talking this week to Evan Macmillan, CEO and Co-F ounder at Gridspace, an AI-driven, voice automation company. Evan has an incredibly rich background. He was born in Silicon Valley, and his dad worked at Sun Microsystems and rubbed shoulders with legends like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Evan went on to Stanford University at the same time as another famous alumni, Mark Zuckerberg. Evan even spent some time at Stanford's version of the Harvard Lampoon called the Stanford Chaparral

 

  • Our conversation on this episode centered all around:
  • What Silicon Valley USED to be like before it became the tech playground that it is today.
  • What he learned from Product Design
  • Seeing a problem that needed solving… Better voice based customer service
  • leveraging video as a MUST for your company and your product
  • What it looks like to scale, and the hardest part of scaling effectively
  • lessons learned from his previous successful start-up

 Listen to this and all of The Founder Formula episodes at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

Yeah, I mean we really strive to build an engineering paradise and I think companies that understand the kind of paradise they're trying to build our our more successful. The founder Formula Brings you in behind the curtains and inside the minds of today's brave executives at the most future leaning startups. Each interview will feature a transformative leader who's behind the wheel at a fast paced and innovative tech firm. They'll give you an insiders look at how companies are envisioned, created and scaled. We hope you're ready. Let's get into the show. Hey, everybody, welcome back to the show. Were thrilled to have you with us. Episode Twenty seven of the founder formula. With me today is chief technical officer of trace three, Tony Old Zach. Tony, how's it going? Man, going awesome. Just in here, sheltered from the cold and this polar vortex, or whatever they're calling it's coming through nice and to see in my my covid give it's a perfect area to co host a podcast. Tony, you notice anything different? I did notice that subtle sultriness in your voice seems a little enhanced this week. Yes, I have a new MIC. My mic matches your mic. Now, wow, I wonder if it does it sound as good as mine. We can have a viewer viewer, we can have a listener contest to decide. Think we're gonna have a lot of those viewer versus listener comparisons in this podcast. Inside joke for later. So what's to know with you thought nothing. I sent you a package, Tony. Yeah, I got it. That was a nice Christmas surprise. Yes, perhaps you'd like to share with the listeners what it is exactly? You got the mail. So I get a surprise package, not expecting anything from Todd, Galina and low and behold. Inside is our favorite beverage start up, liquid death. How amazing is this? This can is awesome, by the way, not that anyone can see it, but if you could see it, it is amazing. For those of you who might not know what we're talking about, in a previous episode a Tony and I reported on the funding of a company that pretty much makes water in a can. It's called liquid death. I got thirty three million dollars and you know, we were a bit skeptical. That was the point of why we were talking about it. But then, low and behold, it showed up where I live and now is exclusively sold at whole foods, which it's got to be a gift for him, right, it's got to be an amazing deal. And you know, I gotta Tell You, this has been sitting in my pantry for two months. This can look so good I I have to drink this like the anticipation has been killing me, and I do love sparkling water, so I'm really looking forward to this. Are we going to do an on air? Say Stuff? I'm down, okay, but you open first so we don't both open at the same time. All Right, I'm gonna see if you can hear this. I've got it ready. Yeah, well, people who are just tuning in or like, what ass is this? All Right, you ready? Yeah, let's do it pretty too. One Go. Wow, from the Austrian Alps. You know, I this the flavor of the sparkling water. I literally can feel like I'm hiking and tasting strude the same...

...time. It totally isn't a authensic Alps experience. Straight from the Alps to a canary in Los Angeles. I think that's a that it. I drink sparkling water. Else I'm just actually really good. Yeah, I could. I can mix this in for sure in the end. For those of you who don't know, the can design like total he said it's awesome, like from a design and branding perspective, liquid death might be on top liquid death. It just murdered my thirst. You proceed to just drink of the whole camp anything, just drinking, but awesome. Yeah, we're enjoying this beverage. I wanted to kind of give a quick update on a previous guest. Get your your thoughts on them. So Tim delisle is the founder of data loog and they were in the news just this last week because they did get acquired. In surprisingly, they were acquired by a pretty wellknown consumer brand, Nike. Yeah, now those big news. Yeah, so when somebody kind of enters this business, there you know they're in the data information space and you know they're selling to, you know, enterprise businesses. Sometimes you see maybe a larger competitor pick them up, but I think for me, at least from my perspective, this is the first time I've ever seen someone purchased outright by potentially what could be just like a super large customer of theirs. Yeah, it's really interesting. You know, we're actually seeing a trend where a lot of very large organizations are reserving money for their even their own venture funds, or just this purpose, which is if every company's future is a digital one and you're a digital company, first then acquiring interesting startups who can help you move the needle creates not just advantage for you, but advantage for you and in your market, because now you've eliminated the ability for competitors get into space as well. And I don't think this is like an outlier. I think we're going to see a little bit more of this to come. Yeah, that's interesting. And they, you know, basically they separate themselves from their competition. That I can't imagine. Nike, he's got to be far and away a leader in their space. But yeah, that's they're going to have a huge competitive advantage. Yeah, I mean when you just think about what data loog does, and for those of you who haven't listened to that, that last podcast, I mean to put it simply, they basically allow you to keep data in place. You know, many organizations have data all over the place, many different platforms, systems. That's collecting different kinds of data, but they allow you to combine all that data in real time and stream it into realtime insights and you know, have machine learning algorithms that look for privacy compliance. You know protective measures that you need to take and as the world becomes a much more regulated around how we treat consumer data, those who can do this the best are going to have a significant advantage. So, you know, Kudos to Nike for the move. I think it was a smart acquisition. Congrats to the data loog guys for the new the new win and the new scenario and what are going to be working on next. But I think it's exciting for Nike for sure, and definitely don't see this as the end of that kind of activity and be exciting to see how that kind of stuff continues unfold. Yeah, with maybe some of the other folks that we have on the show, and it's you know, when you talk about traditional you know, targets to acquire companies that are where we're speaking with them, you know, at their level of their journey, this kind of adds a new potential dance partner that maybe they hadn't thought up in the past. Yeah, you know, you, you do see a lot of startups store in earlier stages get picked up by someone. I mean that's when you'll see consolidation happen. Platforms beginning to assemble or like your classic technology bigs,...

...you know, pick up somebody to take their IP and turn it into the next big thing for themselves. Corporations picking off these companies a certainly isn't unheard of, but as they continue to build more venture funds themselves and back early stage companies, think what we're seeing to is that the opportunity for this is going to open up a little bit, because last year we saw more money raised than ever before and that money is considerably being funneled towards late stage companies that the vcs are making big bets on. And so as that funding goes to those more mature companies that they have, they feel have really great shots at healthy exits and, you know, capturing market share into whatever comes next, you know, whether it's, you know, healthcare or you know, things that are really trending right now due to the current state of the world's you're going to have a lot of early stage companies who, you know, find themselves in this weird spot to where you know, maybe it's you know, the market's just not ready for what to try to do, or maybe you know the bets just aren't the same for where they are and they're in their life cycle versus where the world is at and what they're ready to consume, and might find yourself in a situation where, you know, corporate type of acquisition makes the most sense. I mean think everybody has a different path. That's why we ask the question on the show. But exit strategy sometimes. But yeah, Kudos those guys and good lucks of them in the future. Good move on Nike's part, for sure. Absolutely, absolutely okay. So is that you're intend to have this can finished by the end of our interview today? Already done? The question becomes like, what do I do with this can now? I mean I almost want to collect it. I mean it certainly can be recycled, but it literally says recycle or die on the back. So whether we get that's that's that's what I'm going to do. You just answered your own question. I answer that question, all right, man. Let's get to our guests. You're ready, let's do it. Okay, okay, joining us. Today's an entrepreneur and two time co founder. His first company was Zapati, which was a payment technology company that was eventually acquired by group on. His current company is grid space, which is an AI driven voice automation company located out of San Francisco. Please, welcome to the show, Evan McMillan. Evan, welcome to the show. Man. Hi, Hey, how's it going get to be here? Yeah, Hey, Evan, real quick before we get started, did you know that your your name, is featured in a video game? No, I hope it's a good video game. When we were doing a little we do a little bit of research all the time when we, you know, guess are coming up. Want to make sure we're prepared, and Ice Happen to stumble across your name and I'm like, I don't think that's the same guy. Long Story Short, you happen to be featured in your name happen to be featured, and in they be horrory. Google this where you're like one of the twenty villains that you have to fight in that game. Didn't know if you're aware. Okay, well, as long as I'm on the boss level, I'm okay with it. Yeah, you're one of the bosses. So at least that's a good compliment. Oh Wow, yeah, that is that's quite the doppelganger. Okay, so on that note, guys. Well, you know what even funny, or is that what we just learned about Evan, is that he's never googled himself. It's literally the first thing, which is my next question is, is this really Evan or is this a robot? Right now, we just need a double check. No, it's not a robot, it's really me, and we're just reinforcing this google result now with this podcast. It's totally welcome. Well, now that we have that out of the way, heaven, thank you so much for joining us today. Really excited to have you, super stoked about your company, what you guys are doing, and also having you on the show and get getting some of your insights it kick this thing off. We would love you could tell us a little bit more about good space and just why you started it. Yeah, absolutely. So good space has been a fashion project that's...

...now company and we're super excited to be working with trace in in our growth stage. Really easiest way to understand the company. We make software that scans and automates, primarily voice calls for really large contact centers. I've been interested in this problem for a really long time. I always thought it was a little strange that we had software for all these facets of our life, but this conversation piece of it we could never get right. We could never sort of bring the through of detail and data from a human, human conversation with a business into the other workflows that we have to deal with in our in our our businesses. So it was a long time in the making, but it's a really exciting time for audio right now. I mean I think you can see it in every corner of every corner of the market, from of was happening and audio social networking to podcast like this to the enterprise. So it's just it's a really exciting time for audio. That's great. Yeah, from what we've seen it's pretty unbelievable of what the software can do and what your company can do. But before we get into more of that, I think our listeners would be super interested in hearing a little bit more about what it was like to grow up in the Silicon Valley. We have a lot of people on the show who eventually ended up there. From what I can understand, and from our previous conversations. Like in some places it's cool to make the varsity football team, but where you grew up it's even cooler to start a company out of your garage. Yeah, so I was born in Buffalo Park area in the mid s. It was a time when poor graduate students like my parents could rent a house and eventually buy a house. It was a time when some really cool companies were, you know, moving from, you know, an idea to a first product to handful of customers on the same street as you know, some cookie gift stores and cookie cookie food places. So it was it was not the Menlo and Palo Alto as we know it today. It was in the process of becoming that, but we didn't know it at the time. What were you hearing about some of these people that were, you know, launching huge successes out of your area? I mean, obviously you know Johnson, wise he could already happened. But yeah, my parents were were pretty wokey. My Dad worked, you know, they were graduate students, and then my dad worked in Ma for Sun Microsystems, which was a pretty cool company and you didn't really know much about it until I was a little bit older, but they were, you know, building the machines behind the Internet and they were the dot andcom and you know my dad, he wasn't the founder of son and I don't remember his employee number, but he was. He was a pretty amazing guy and he was meeting guys like gates and jobs and, you know, kind of at the intersection of a lot of these really cool deals that have kind of made the valley happen. And I didn't really learn about that until a little bit later, but that was in the water that was kind of going around in my house and I think these initial conditions and you know, putting you on certain paths. So you don't realize it until later, but I'm sure that had a lot to do with where I ended up later on in my life, which is which is Stamford, right. You spent some time there. Pretty hard people there as well. Yeah, so started in Menlo parents it...

...kind of airlifted us to Colorado. My grandmother lived in Colorado. So most of my Grad school was in Colorado and that was a really good thing because there were backyards and people not talking about technology all the time and Colorado was like the headquarters of Red Robin so it wasn't. It was not. It was not Silicon Valley Day in and day out, which was kind of cool. So I had a little exposure to that and then, you know, in Colorado some of that exposure went away and then, yeah, eventually came back to Sanford and study computer science. ENDED UP studying product design, which was pretty cool, and the product design program has spawned some interesting companies. We like. Some some pretty addictive companies, you could say, like jewel and Snapchat, but some really great ones. Other addictive was clover. I don't know if you ever had a clover coffee at starbucks. That was a standform. No. So got to work with a really talented group of engineers and product designers and a couple of them became a co founders of good space a few years after school. So it is it was a good place to be cool butt, least for from that for a second. So, you know, with that kind of DNA and your own family with experiences out of the valley, did that make it easier when you when it came time to put your own start at your start up and the whole process of trying to pitch to the VC's and then to get it off the ground. Yes and no. I mean I think I think it was really, really important to know that that was possible at an early age. So knowing that, you know you could have an idea and make a prototype and share it with a friend and that friend may like get involved and then share with another friend and they may give you some money to make a better prototype. Knowing that that was possible was really important. I don't know if it made it completely easy. I mean, I think you graduate from school and a lot of kids have a really rude awakening. I had kind of a rude awakening and you realize that you haven't really done anything for anybody. I've been proven that you can do anything, and that was what the world cares about. It's like, what have you accomplished? What is your track record? And you graduate from school and your track record is, you know, graduating from school or whatever you get alongside the school congratulation you you graduate, you don't really have a network of people that know that you can do something. So you have to kind of build that from from scratch and you know it took a little while and you're still building that record. Every day. Is You're still showing that you can do something interesting with the team and with the money, that folks can trust in your project. So it's you're always kind of proving yourself, I think, and that's true everywhere, but it's especially turning the valley. So when you think about the people that you met in school, I think, and I think you mentioned this a little bit earlier, did your founding team and maybe at your first startup versus, you know, the grips based piece, how many of those people came out of your experience from school and you know like how important is that to go to a school that has the kinds of people that you might want to go into business with later? I think it was interesting. I think I was part of this last group of kids that went to school because they were really excited about making products or computer science or, you know, some of these applied engineering disciplines. And you know, around the time I was graduating, folks like, you know, Mark Zuckerberg got really famous and people started going to you know, these kinds of schools because not because they're like really interesting computer science or product designed,...

...because they wanted to be these tycoons. So I think something changed a little bit at towards the end of my career. But a lot of folks I went to school if they they went to school because they like, really like computers. Are they really like, you know, designing things, or they really like political science? You know, they didn't necessarily want to be the president, they just really liked it. Is I think there was this thicker band of really high conviction engineers and product designers and scientists before everybody knew what everybody else was doing. So that's the thing that changed. And now, you know, you see the numbers, the enrollment numbers and computer science and there's just there. Surreal. I mean it's the biggest major at all these schools and I think there's still a band of really high conviction computer scientists that you truly like building things on the weekend. But there's also a lot of folks that are going into this field because they want to. They saw the movie this. They want to be mark, I guess. Yeah, it's a little different than it used to be. Everybody's kind of up in everyone's business now. Yeah, shifting gears just for a seconds, back to a good space for a second. We saw video you guys produced at our company kickoff a couple weeks back and you've got a really interesting video on your website right now which kind of depicts the technology from the perspective of someone actually consuming it and using it. And you know, todd and I, you know, meet with founders all time and one of the things that we see and kind of new tech pitches all time is that people spend so much time talking about the technology versus actually just showing how you might use the technology. We'll love to hear a little bit more around the background of your guys thought process on the video, Cos and and if that, you know, rolls into the ways you guys think about how to market the product and just like really where that came from. Yeah, for sure. So they like set up the video that you're not going to see on this podcast. Promise it's just let us up, guys, because you're not going to see it. Well, I can't even rewind a little bit more. So we're in LA and La is it's just this incredible city and the amount of talent, entertainment talent in La is surreal. So quick story. We have our holiday party every year and you know, before for covid decides you're going to have a magician come to our holiday party and we had probably fifty applications from incredible magicians to be the magician at our party and a magician we selected was Jason Alexander's favorite magician and he was extremely affordable and incredibly talented. And that's just La, you know. It's just the amount of entertainment talent is. It's surreal. So the quality of our videos benefit from being shot in La with La Talent. But I think the thing that was so cool about we we had to sort of really cinematic videos for our two products, but it's based, if concerns based grace. Grace was our first video that we did. It's about conversational virtual agent that takes phone calls for a bank and just walks you through an entire transaction experience completely autonomously. And the cool thing about putting that video together and then again with our grid spaceist video, was that it really forces you to describe what it is you're doing frame by frame. So you can't get away with a buzz word, you can't get away with, you know, this unrealistic scenario, because it just won't translate to a few minute long video. So it really forces you to put that capability into visual storytelling,...

...the frame visual and visual way that people can understand. So in our first race video there's this guy and he is in the backseat of a Tesla and he's, you know, taking care of this credit card, a situation he had. He had a had a big night out and lost his credit card, and grace walks them through the entire transaction and you see split screen all of the actions being taken on his account by this virtual agent. Is Pretty Cool. And then in our next video we create this this energy company that has an outage and is using our software to resolve the problem with their solar panel product in real time with our software. And it was it was really through these video outs, these were towards like the end of our product development process, that we got the story, sort of the story right for our first customers. So it's a highly recommend videos to entrepreneurs as ways to clarify their own thinking and clarify their own messages to their audiences. That's there's nothing like it. It's it was really really powerful and you know, we we're frequently, from our research team's perspective, you know, meeting with founders, lots of new startups every single week and doing some kind of evaluation of, you know, wherever they are in the process. And I got to say I feel like if they went through that same process that you guys did, it would force them to be able to communicate the idea in ways that maybe they're just not prepared to do because it's in their head and you kind of get you you're so in it that you don't really realize how a consumer might, you know, need to see it. Yeah, and it was spectacular. I mean, Kudos you guys for a job really well done. Yeah, thanks. And I think the other thing it does, guys, is if you have to make a video about what you're doing, I think it pushes you to do something a little bit bigger and a little bit cooler like here. If you're making, you know, the end, and there's nothing wrong with some of these like really niche products, but if you know, if it's like a canting software for dog walkers, like you know, you might want to do you might want to go bigger than that, you know, if you have to actually put it into a video form at some point. So I think it pushes you to bigger and more ambitious product ends when you have to visualize it and it's limitless. You can really do anything. I mean creativity budget absolutely play a big party to it. But you know, humans like to consume videos. That's how we like to learn things right now. And, like Tony said, it was it was really great. Did you say that it was the production company that guided you in force you to ask questions that maybe you wouldn't have asked, or was there somebody between you and the production company? Yeah, so when you're I mean it's a collaborative effort, right, so you have this entire conversation that has to take place for, you know, a technical product to be visualized and not in in that kind of format. And it's a collaborative effort. There's no way around it. I mean I think a companies sometimes have tried to hire studios to come in and explain what it is they do, and the results kind of speed for themselves that it tells the wrong story or it feels off. And I think ours turned out so well because, you know, it was really this deep collaboration between our engineering team that would building the yeah, building the software that that powers the video, and these incredibly talented, you know, Hollywood types. It's great. You know, it's funny this, this whole story started somehow with the magician. That was Jason Alex Sanders Favorite Magician, and Tony. I was wondering how much Harry Seinfeld's favorite magician would have cost. Probably would have been way more, probably more than our twenty, but was a two thousand and nineteen magician budget. I thought you were...

...going to say you had David blanchhow up and he made the real grid space drest pure out of thin air. Yeah, yeah, he has he doing these days. He's in a box about La and a clear box, just sitting there. I think it's getting that was one of his weird, weird tricks that he did. That's the only one I can remember, but I see put my see billboards of him all the time when we go to Vegas and I'm I've never been. You've never been to Las Vegas or you know the perfectly Dave Point, showy and I are always the Vegas help girls. It's right. So you start this company in your off and running. We've got some great marketing assets. We just talked about them, and now you have to start thinking about scaling. Do you want to stare with their audience. Maybe the hardest part about scaling. It's the hardest part about scaling. I mean when you have a really talented technical team, I think you know, you get that right with the team. You know you have a great team and you build a product in the right way. And the scaling piece, there's a process, but I don't think that's hard. I think scaling your culture and, you know, getting that message to the you know, the folks that are not necessarily on the other line with a founder. That's that's the hardest kind of scaling, especially in in our noisy world. But the technical scaling piece, at least for our company that has that, has come fairly easily. So we're very lucky. They're our found your he interviewed every candidate that he brought on board and at some point you just couldn't do it anymore. Is there anything similar with you? Did you did one point? Did you stop interviewing candidates? We're really good at delegation. So we have our lanes and in my last company, you know was responsible for, you know, product and engineering, and CEO left. Let me do that. So that was that was really helpful and you know, I let him deal with some of the CEO things and we have a really good division of the vision of responsibilities grid space, and you know that means that certain people have more votes on candidates than others when those folks are touching on their sort of areas of work. I think it's really, really important to it's like, after you hire someone, you're on their team, so you want to make them a successful as possible. It's not. Yes, the selection piece is really important, but the next part is in some ways even more important, because a really, really great person isn't going to to click with the team unless the team kind of clicks into that person really fast. So we've worked a lot on that recently and it's been more challenging during during this kind of remote worktime, but we're finding ways around it. Yeah, and it's interesting. On that note, we know we've we've done the same thing where it's we've I think it's the first time we've hired people that we've literally never met in person before. I mean at no point in the process, because even then, like you might still fly people out and when a California is completely shut down and there's no reply to them, you just don't do it. You mentioned something there on the culture side about, you know, scaling culture and then how you guys try to get new employees to you know groups to kind of adopt them and be interested in their success. This being your second start up, are there things that you've learned along the way and through the years that you've been doing gros grid space of how you look at culture now versus then in any valuable lessons that you think would be valuable pass on? Yeah, I mean we really strive to build an engineering paradise and I...

...think companies that understand the kind of paradise they're trying to build our our more successful. So we really we want to be a center of speech and language understanding excellence, like we want to be. We want to be the absolute number one destination for every engineer in the world that wants to work on the hardest, most interesting speech and language understanding problems with the coolest customers at the biggest scale, and that focus from the the founding team makes it really easy to get a lot of things right. You know, it means that the next person we bring on has to make everyone else feel like they're still part of this. This senator of excellence and it helps us get rid of a lot of the things that those really excellent people don't want to waste time on. So we don't do everybody's laundry there. Other companies do that, but we put a lot of systems in place that make things kind of invisible that other companies, you know other companies, don't address. So, you know, we really want your time with us to go to doing excellent work and you know, we want to be the I don't want to say like the four seasons, but we want to be a nicer version of the four seasons for it really excellent engineers and product designers and sales professionals. But we started by figuring out what that is for engineers and you know, we've learned how to be that for product designers and I think we're still kind of learning how to do that with, you know, other kinds of professionals. I don't think we're totally there yet. It's the W hotel. I'm going to throw it out there. Well, yeah, okay. Well, if you're starting, maybe you know build an engineering paradise. I agree, it's not the four seasons. It's got to be something a little bit cooler what is that right now? It's probably not a hotel anymore. So, yeah, to the coolest guy of the three of us. Maybe Tony can tell us where you vacation. Tony, when I used to live in California, you kind of you're in paradise every time you walk out your front door, right, so you kind of have to up the bar and differ kinds of things. Now that I'm trapped in the middle of winter in even year old hood, I'm up in Colorado. Now I'm actually getting that bug where I'd be willing to vacation just back in California. So they get always is perspective of whatever you're feeling in a daily basis. Comes to the montage. The montage is pretty nice. Montage is pretty nice. Okay. Also, the show became a hotel commercial. I don't know why. Evan, one of the things we love to ask is we ask founders about gratifying customer experiences. Right, you spend your whole time, you build this amazing company. It's got a lot of buzz. Have you had an interaction with the customer that made you kind of stop and think like wow, yeah, that's that's why I got into this gosh, there's been a lot of those. I think there's a point in a customer relationship where it doesn't it's like your friends and you're on the same team and you've been through some ups and downs together. And I mean there's been so many like cool memories, like going terrible pizza places with our customers like loud children and talking about, you know, how we're going to get this like next model and production and where it's just like, you know that this is not a customer relationship, this is like somebody that's part of your team. So we have we have relationships with the number of our customers like that, and I think that's what's really cool about engineers to is...

...they don't get caught up in all of that other stuff as much. Not to say that they don't sometimes, but I think when you have a really talented engineering team inside a customer and they gritspeace team and they hang out with each other and they collaborate and, you know, they like get our software and production everything's running and then they build the next thing together and then we add an idea, they have an idea. That's you know that those moments have been the coolest moments for me, I mean being in the personal vehicles of your customers is a turning point for me. We're driving together in a car that's not like a tax a, like the relationship is such that, like we leave the company together and we drive to another location. You know, that's that's special. I mean one of the senior executives I work with a financial sporce because there we like wrote a train together for two hours to those in two hours, like an hour maybe, to her neighborhood in New York, and we're just like on this train, this commuter train, and sis moments like that are are pretty unforgettable because, you know, it's not a it's transcended the software customer relationship. That's great, that's awesome. Right now the train looking out the window. Yeah, we need it. I mean we made it. Yeah, yeah, we actually used to have hiring rules at trace three of like imagining that scenario. Would you sit with this person on a commuter train for an hour, you know, in order to hire them, because you'd better be somebody you can get along with and make sure that that's the case when you're hiring more talent. Yeah, totally so. Yeah, we look for people that can that we want to ride trains with and we click with customers that want to ride trains with us, and that's the best you can do, I think, be on a long train ride with someone. O Hey. When it comes to competition, and I'm not sure how much competition you guys actually have in the space you're currently and but yeah, how important is in your opinion to track who they are what they're doing? Is it a concern at all? I mean, how do you guys think about the competitive landscape? There's kind of to like schools of thought on competition in general. There's the, you know, oracle sort of school of thought, where you know you have like a party when a competitor like loses, or you know, it's like a celebration when you like you a competitor somehow, and then there's the more they Peter Teal School is thought, where you know competition is for losers, right, and that if you're in a situation where somebody is like seriously comparing you to the other vendor that looks like you, like you've already lost. And I think that it really depends what you're working on, you know, like certain projects. I think the Peter Model is the right model, and other projects I think the oracle models the right model. In Our world we are more in the Peter Model where, you know, we need to be doing something that has nobody else doing anything like it for us to matter. And we're doing, you know, our best every single day to make sure that you can't get what we're doing from anyone else around. And if somebody catches up the last thing we did, well, you know we better be ten steps ahead on that next thing. I know. What do you guys think? What do you guys think about competition? Do you like it is? Who A podcasts are we competing against this week? Is this podcast like it's on its own plane. We don't drive. We're describing video on this podcast. That is a whole new level. We roasted on our own show. It's like we're like mama...

...birds feeding the food to someone else because I can't see the video. We got to spend all day describing it over audio. Yeah, exactly. It's like wearing this. It's like a scruffy ever here. There's this banking transaction that happens thirty seconds and see everybody wants to watch the video on it. Okay, good, add some sense background music and they're all done. Yeah, cool. We have no competition in the space of podcasts that describe videos. We own this. You know, you can get too caught up and, you know, pretending that you have no competition or you caught up in pretending that you have a lot of competition. I think it's really more interesting to think about the customer and the customer problem and how do you make, you know, the customer the hero and a lot of a lot of our work. So We build this engineering paradise, but our engineers are never the heroes of the story. Our customer is the hero of our stories and you know, in our world it's always about finding ways to make you know our customer, you know, save the day, you know, be the hero and their organization with some awesome tools and capabilities that that we engineer that, you know, most of the time, they can't get from any other company on Earth. And when we're doing our jobs, the customer is not necessarily problem free, but they're making faster, more furious progress through whatever organizational challenges they face because they're working with us and they're working with software that we built over the last, yeah, almost eight years so we try to think more about the customer as opposed to WHO's nipping at our heels or who's not nipping at our heels because we build something so special. Yeah, there's there's no right answer, but that's the closest one to the right answer. It's one. It's the one we hear most often. And just quickly, I just wanted to respond to your question as relates to us. If you're talking about trace three and Tony can add way more color to this, but the only time I think about them is is when a customer happens to mention them. You know what I mean? I don't think we spend a lot of time looking right and left, but but Tony, do you have some more color? I'm a yeah, I know we subscribe to the same model. You know, we our niche is innovation and emerging solutions and we feel like nobody does that better than we do for the space that we're in, and so we kind of subscribe to that same thing, which is by the time everyone else does that, we better be onto the you know, ten steps ahead and onto the next thing and everyone's constantly playing catch up. Then you're just focused on the client and solving interesting problems and we kind of create an engineering paradise and that same fashion of you know, where else can you go? It's a be able to just meet with clients and just believe that you can solve almost anything with technology as long as you've got the the right situations, the right backing and the right clients who actually believe in the same kind of thing. And spend a way less time thinking about what our competitors doing versus, you know, how we could be as special as possible to that client. So very aligned to the way you guys think about that too. Yeah, yeah, and and at the pace at which you have to do the you know, execute on that next act. It's just it's so fast. Yeah, if there's a there's a lot of folks that want to execute on that next act and you have to be there. So it's fun, fun thing to do. You know, get to hang your hat on anything anymore for too long, somebody will take the hat off the hat. Yeah, third life. Hey Havin, first of all, this is this has been awesome. Obviously you've answered a bunch of questions that Tony and I had and it's been a great conversation and but is there anything else you you'd like to share with the audience that maybe we haven't had a chance to ask you? Well, I mean, I'll tell you what's been on my mind recently. So and a and I'm working on putting this into words, not just podcasts,...

...chatterer, but I'll tell you what's on my mind, and the big idea is that we're going into a world where we're going to see a lot more spikiness and and I think in a world of spikiness, a lot of the systems that we had in place to deal with questions related to your brokerage account or your your doctor's appointment or, Gosh, the you know, the windows sighting you need for your house, a lot of those systems are going to break and when those systems break, a lot of folks are going to try to reach these businesses in the only way they know, which is via voice. They're going to say, Hey, this really weird thing happened that I can't I can't deal with through any of your other systems. Please help me. And I think what you've seen in the last few months is this realization, and at the highest level, from you know, our health are providers to the folks that run our banks, the folks that sell the window siding, that we need to really up our game when it comes to sort of understanding what people are requesting on these on these phone calls, and we need some some ways to address these spikes and capacity because, yeah, it was covid this, you know this, last year and you still going on now, but it's not going to be the last, you know, covid moment, it's not going to be the last time everybody calls their brokerage because, you know, game stock, stock is going wild. We're going to need some new systems in place to deal with the fact that we're just moving into a weirder and weirder world and, you know, not everything is going to be self you totally ready for self service. So we're going to need a combination of technologies that can selfserve, like grace, and we're going to need some technologies that, like, can listen to what the help people need help with, because going to be a weirder, more complicated set it needs, you know, going forward. So you know, we're really excited to be working on that problem with some of the largest healthcare companies in the world's and the largest financial institutions in the world and you know, if you're you're interested in working on those problems with us, please, please, come and join gird space. We'd love to have you with yeah, it's amazing. Thanks for that, Evan, and we see the same. You know, our every day I feel like we're running into situations where what you guys are working on is incredibly exciting. We think there's tremendous upside with where you're headed and where even where you guys are right now is pretty amazing and really excited to see what the future holds for both of us working together. And thank you so much again for being on show today. Yeah, thank you, guys, and having the rest of your day. Thanks, Evan. Trace three is hyper focused on helping it leaders deliver business outcomes by providing a wide variety of data center solutions and consulting services. If you're looking for emerging technology to solve tried and true business problems, trace three is here to help. We believe all possibilities live in technology. You can learn more at trace threecom podcast. That's trace, the number threecom podcast. You've been listening to the founder formula, the podcast for all things start up from Silicon Valley to innovators across the country. If you want to know what it takes to lead tomorrow's...

...tech companies, subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Until next time,.

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