Want Money Got Money with Sam Kamani

17: What differentiates Silicon Valley founders from the rest of the world - Jeff Wallace

September 12, 2020 Jeff Wallace, Sam Kamani
Want Money Got Money with Sam Kamani
17: What differentiates Silicon Valley founders from the rest of the world - Jeff Wallace
Chapters
Want Money Got Money with Sam Kamani
17: What differentiates Silicon Valley founders from the rest of the world - Jeff Wallace
Sep 12, 2020
Jeff Wallace, Sam Kamani

My guest today is another 🇺🇸 Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur. He is also the founder of Silicon Valley in Your Pocket accelerator. 

https://siliconvalleyinyourpocket.com/sam-kamani/ 

I love meeting and spending time with people like Jeff who help founders globally. 

Key topics discussed in this episode.

  • What sorts of investments do they avoid like a plague
  • Difference between silicon valley founders and founders outside the silicon valley ecosystem
  • Best practices for an overseas founder
  • How to have a defensible model for your business
  • How to differentiate your idea

👉 It is a must listen for anyone who wants to access Silicon Valley networks from outside the US.

Accelerate your startup by learning from Silicon Valley in your Pocket Accelerator :- 

Book recommendation:-

Aspire - Kevin Hall https://www.amazon.com/Aspire-Discovering-Purpose-Through-Power/dp/0061964549 

Man’s search for meaning - Victor Frankl

https://www.amazon.com/Mans-Search-Meaning-Viktor-Frankl/dp/0807014273/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=mans+search+for+meaning&qid=1599778459&s=books&sr=1-1 

Lean Analytics - https://www.amazon.com/Lean-Analytics-Better-Startup-Faster/dp/1449335675/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=lean+analytics&qid=1599778747&s=books&sr=1-1 

Learn more from Jeff through his Accelerator

https://siliconvalleyinyourpocket.com/sam-kamani/ 

If you enjoyed this episode then please subscribe, I will be interviewing other successful founders and investors to provide you a shortcut to success.

Follow us on instagram

Show Notes Transcript

My guest today is another 🇺🇸 Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur. He is also the founder of Silicon Valley in Your Pocket accelerator. 

https://siliconvalleyinyourpocket.com/sam-kamani/ 

I love meeting and spending time with people like Jeff who help founders globally. 

Key topics discussed in this episode.

  • What sorts of investments do they avoid like a plague
  • Difference between silicon valley founders and founders outside the silicon valley ecosystem
  • Best practices for an overseas founder
  • How to have a defensible model for your business
  • How to differentiate your idea

👉 It is a must listen for anyone who wants to access Silicon Valley networks from outside the US.

Accelerate your startup by learning from Silicon Valley in your Pocket Accelerator :- 

Book recommendation:-

Aspire - Kevin Hall https://www.amazon.com/Aspire-Discovering-Purpose-Through-Power/dp/0061964549 

Man’s search for meaning - Victor Frankl

https://www.amazon.com/Mans-Search-Meaning-Viktor-Frankl/dp/0807014273/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=mans+search+for+meaning&qid=1599778459&s=books&sr=1-1 

Lean Analytics - https://www.amazon.com/Lean-Analytics-Better-Startup-Faster/dp/1449335675/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=lean+analytics&qid=1599778747&s=books&sr=1-1 

Learn more from Jeff through his Accelerator

https://siliconvalleyinyourpocket.com/sam-kamani/ 

If you enjoyed this episode then please subscribe, I will be interviewing other successful founders and investors to provide you a shortcut to success.

Follow us on instagram

Jeff Wallace: [00:00:00] So telling the story of your business more so than telling me about features and functions of your solution. A lot of founders focus on features and functions, and they should be focusing on use cases and stories. I often use the expression. People have a hard time where you call it in concepts and statistics, but they have a very easy time recalling stories and people.

[00:00:22] So tell the story of your business and the problem you're solving and the solution you're bringing to market as a story that has people involved. So make up a persona and tell me about that person who's experiencing the problem you're solving and the solution you're bringing to them that will help them overcome that problem.

[00:00:42] That will resonate much better than telling me about all the features and, giving me a bullet list of features and functions of your solution.

[00:00:51]Sam Kamani: [00:00:51] Hello, dreamers and action. Welcome to another episode of want money got money. I'm your host, Sam Kamani.

[00:00:59]My today's guest is Jeff Wallace. He is an investor and entrepreneur and founder of two different accelerators.  and one of those accelerators is really interesting because it is completely remote. As if it was made for 2020. 

[00:01:18]And Jeff has kindly offered 40% off his accelerator for any of the listeners of one money got money podcast. So what I've done is I have put the link down in the description where you can click and get that offer. 

[00:01:37] And also before we get into it.  I have another announcement. I have just started an Instagram where I would be putting all these notes and putting more info on all the guests and how you can connect with the guests on my podcast and how you can connect with me. So just go to Instagram and search one money, got money . And you would find it,  having said all that without any further ado, let's get into it.  

[00:02:04] so Jeff, welcome to the show. It's great to have you here. And I know you have so many insights and so many stories from all the startups you have either worked with or worked on over the 

[00:02:16] Jeff Wallace: [00:02:16] last, 

[00:02:17] Sam Kamani: [00:02:17] at least I would guess two decades that.

[00:02:20] I'd love to know, find out more about it, but first, what are you up to these days? 

[00:02:26] Jeff Wallace: [00:02:26] Yeah. 

[00:02:26] Thanks Sam, for having me today too. I love having conversations with people in the ecosystem of starting, helping startups to build their businesses. So it's always good to connect and I love the global nature.

[00:02:39] here we, you and I are halfway around the world from one another. And yet we get to have these lovely opportunities to support each other and help each other, et cetera. So thanks for having me here. So I'm you asked what I'm up to these days. for, me the last, I'd say five years since about 2015, my full time effort, for instance, in, supporting startups around the world.

[00:03:03] And I have been a founder or cofounder, I should say of two specific. Startup accelerators one that is entering our 11th cohort, so that one's going quite nicely. We've had over a, just short of 150 companies that have, graduated and that's going very nicely. And then the other one is more of a virtual.

[00:03:27] That one is more traditional. It's located here in the Bay area. And then the other one is more virtual, completely virtual called Silicon Valley in your pocket. And that's, been going really nicely as well. who knew, of course we were all going to be quarantined all around the world and kind of in lockdown mode.

[00:03:45] But, the benefit to us is that we built this platform to be entirely virtual. And so it's allowed us to continue to provide the great coaching and mentoring, if you will acceleration, to founders all over the world without having to lose a step at all, because we were built for the virtual kind of environment.

[00:04:04] It's turned out quite, nicely. We've had over a hundred companies now in the last year from over 23 countries. So it's a, it's been nice. We're almost at our second dozen companies, our countries, I should say, that we've, helped support founders across. So it's been really exciting to be able to have that kind of broad visibility to the startup ecosystem around the world.

[00:04:26]Sam Kamani: [00:04:26] so it is truly global in its nature. 

[00:04:29] I would say 

[00:04:31] Jeff Wallace: [00:04:31] indeed more of our members are non the US-based than those that are US-based. It's really quite a good, it's quite a good global program for that 

[00:04:43] Sam Kamani: [00:04:43] purpose. 

[00:04:44] Yep. and you have the physical, accelerator as well that you have done for the last little while.

[00:04:52] how, did you get started? How does one even get started in this whole ecosystem? What was your journey like? 

[00:04:59] Jeff Wallace: [00:04:59] Yeah. And I'm glad you asked the question that way. Cause I think everyone's journey is very, subjective or personal to them. I was a serial entrepreneur from the mid 1990s up until, 2011.

[00:05:13] I got recruited to join a large corporate, which also was very global in nature. It was a systems integrator, a very, large systems integrator. And I was brought into what I would call an intrepreneurial role, a very entrepreneurial type of role within those large corporation to start a new group within that company around mobile technology.

[00:05:34] And so I did that for just about two years. And as I like to say, that's when they reminded me that I really prefer working with startups and not large, corporates, not nothing wrong with large corporates. I just have an affinity for startups and startup founders and that kind of innovative culture and mindset.

[00:05:50] So in 2015, I left that world altogether and went full time. I became an investor and a cofounder of the local accelerator here in the Bay area. not really knowing how, how it would go or what I would be doing, but it just turned out. We recruited our first cohort. I got to meet a lot of really interesting founders.

[00:06:11] It was more traditional in the beginning where we had a coworking space and we had cohorts of about 15 companies each. And so we would have each of the cofounders also contributed time to coaching and mentoring the startups that came into our cohort. And so I really enjoyed that. Aspect of the business, working with a variety founders in their different businesses.

[00:06:35] I didn't work with all of them, but I worked with several of the companies in each case, or as do my partners. They work with several as well. And so we get to cover a nice broad four of the backgrounds and experiences that we bring to the companies. And then in 2018, late 2018, I had met, yet another at that time I had, many, but it was a foreign founder from South Africa who had found his way to the U S you had lived in, New York for a while.

[00:07:03] He had lived in the Bay area for a bit, and he had applied to our accelerator and. We decided that, he represents something very common, which is a foreign founder, trying to get themselves to Silicon Valley way to try to, get, have the dream. If you will raise capital, find it, investors grow their business, et cetera.

[00:07:23] And they spend a lot of resources. They really don't have, it's, hard to come by resources. And so he and I decided to jointly create a business, a virtual acceleration program to support founders just like himself. And then I brought in a business partner of mine from the local, accelerator and the three of us launched program in 2019.

[00:07:45] And we were really excited in the late 20, 19, just late last year. We partnered with UC Berkeley and UC Berkeley, offers a Spanish language version of Silicon Valley in your pocket. And we're really excited. Launched the first cohort, right at the beginning of COVID, that kind of April-ish timeframe.

[00:08:08] And it went from April through the end of June, maybe into July even. but they've completed a Spanish language version of our, programs. We're really excited by that partnership. And, it was great to see, the engagement from multiple countries across Latin America. and the founders that live within those countries and their enthusiasm for taking a program like ours.

[00:08:33] And, so that was really exciting. And of course we continue to run the English language, offering my partners and I, yeah. And so it's just been very exciting to do that. So my journey, it really, a little bit of. understanding opportunity when it presented itself to me more so than anything else, there was no plan to do these things.

[00:08:54] It just was opportunistic and it's transpired this way, but I've been really, happy with, how it's been going. Oh, that's great. 

[00:09:02] Sam Kamani: [00:09:02] I have few questions about, Silicon Valley in your pocket. And how do you choose founders or, what is the criteria? 

[00:09:13] Jeff Wallace: [00:09:13] Yeah. So generally speaking, we are what I would call pre series a so seed or pre-seed stage.

[00:09:20] So we're more stage oriented than industry. We're not industry focused. In fact, we say we are industry agnostic. we are stage focused. In addition, we are the type of companies. So for example, there are a few types of companies that we would discourage from joining. Only because our focus is on those companies that can be attractive to third party investors.

[00:09:45] And so there are certain types of businesses. For example, a lifestyle business, nothing wrong with a lifestyle business. It just might not really be as attracted to a third party investor. As an example of a lifestyle business. I'll just use, say a taco truck. A lunch truck that serves tacos could be a great business, could be very fun, and it could, be very fruitful in terms of, returns, et cetera.

[00:10:08] However, likely that a third party like a venture capital type investor or an angel investor in the traditional sense is going to look at that as the type of investment they're enthusiastic about. So lifestyle businesses, we tend to shy away from similarly services, businesses that tend not to have the multiples on valuation 

[00:10:31] Sam Kamani: [00:10:31] like agents and 

[00:10:33] Jeff Wallace: [00:10:33] agencies, or even, coding shops like development, software development shops, basically people that are selling labor at an hourly rate and those types of whatever business consulting, coding.

[00:10:46] agency business, those types of businesses, again, they don't have in general terms, they don't provide the same kinds of returns or valuations as other 

[00:10:55] Sam Kamani: [00:10:55] scalability. 

[00:10:57] Jeff Wallace: [00:10:57] Scalability is challenging. Absolutely. Cause it's, people-based, it's not technology. That's right. It's easier to scale a cloud based software offering one or two people or 10 people in the company than it is to scale a consulting by the hour kind of business, those young.

[00:11:13] Wait, those are labor businesses. so we look for those kinds of tech enabled businesses. And I emphasize enabled because it doesn't have to be a tech company. I have companies that operate in every industry and they leverage technology, but they're not necessarily pure tech companies. So those are the kinds of companies we mostly focus on.

[00:11:34] Sam Kamani: [00:11:34] Excellent. That gives a very clear view of what you do guys choose and pick and all that. So that's great. you have worked that founders in Silicon Valley who are based in Silicon Valley or grew up in that sort of culture and you have Vogue, but so many international founders from all around the world.

[00:11:56] What is the key difference? Do you see between the ones based there as well as the based overseas? 

[00:12:03] Jeff Wallace: [00:12:03] Yeah, that's a great question. And that, comes up, fairly common, question for me to address, because I do work in so many different environments in different countries. So there's, there's a couple of things that I think make Silicon Valley with respect to the startup ecosystem, just I'm going to only address it from that perspective.

[00:12:23] But one of the things is the, I often say it this way. Failure is not just that accepted it's expected. Now that may sound easy to say, but I'll tell you, try taking that approach in maybe more of an Asian culture failure in businesses, not as accepted. No, it's not just in life. It's not. 

[00:12:47] Sam Kamani: [00:12:47] Yeah. Or grade school or, 

[00:12:50] Jeff Wallace: [00:12:50] yeah.

[00:12:51] Yeah. It's difficult to come by that attitude of, Oh, that's okay. and, I really emphasize the expected part of my statement because it's not just the failures accepted failure is expected because I think people here have the mindset, which I agree with completely that you learn more in failure than you do in success.

[00:13:10] if you do something and you have an expected outcome and that expected outcome occurs, you just keep going. You don't think about it again. It's when you do something with an expected outcome and that expected outcome does not occur. That's when you take the time and the moment to pause and look back and reflect why didn't the outcome we expected to happen.

[00:13:31] And that's where the learning is going to occur. You're going to be able to. do a postmortem of some sorts and understand why, Oh, I didn't, that happened the way we had expected and planned for it to happen. So I believe the openness to failure, the expectation of failure and acceptance of it is a big difference.

[00:13:49] I also think here in Silicon Valley, there's much more of an openness. And what I mean by that is if I, ask a company and say, Eastern Europe, If I'm talking to a founder in Eastern Europe, and this is a general statement, it's not every founder for sure. There are exceptions to everything, but if I ask you, an Eastern European founder, potentially again from maybe it's from the Asian markets.

[00:14:13] If I say, Hey, share your intellectual property, let me understand that. And I'm in Silicon Valley. There's not a big orientation towards signing NDAs anymore. People don't like signing on disclosure agreements. I'll come back to that in a moment. 

[00:14:26] Sam Kamani: [00:14:26] I have my thought as well on that I will, but anyway, continue, 

[00:14:30] Jeff Wallace: [00:14:30] I will share why that is.

[00:14:31] But when you, know, normally the first question we'll get out of those kinds of foreign founders, not the local. Even foreign to Silicon Valley, meaning it could still be in the U S it could just be in the East coast. Yeah, the middle East, the mid East. 

[00:14:46] Sam Kamani: [00:14:46] Yes. 

[00:14:46] Jeff Wallace: [00:14:46] Not middle East. Yeah. the, world, not, the countries, the States in the middle of the U S even those folks have a different attitude, but they'll ask us to sign an NDA.

[00:14:58] Now, the reason they're doing that is they fear that if they share anything with you, you're going to steal it and run with it. Now, I'm not saying there's no bad characters, there's bad characters and bad actors all over the place. that, are going to do you a bad. things just cause that's what their nature is, but in general, you're not going to have that problem in this market.

[00:15:19] And the more you share with people, particularly advisors and coaches and mentors, et cetera, the more they can 

[00:15:25] Sam Kamani: [00:15:25] absolutely 

[00:15:26] Jeff Wallace: [00:15:26] openness to doing that, I find in a Silicon Valley area that I do not find in founders from really anywhere else. And I even need it in other areas and regions of the U S or other regions of the world.

[00:15:38] I find them to be much more closed. And protective of their idea. They don't want to share much, because they're concerned that you'll steal their idea and run away with it. So those are a couple of big differences that I see in Silicon Valley founders versus others. 

[00:15:53] Sam Kamani: [00:15:53] the reason why I wanted to share is that.

[00:15:56] People want us to build products for them, for my main business, apart from the 

[00:16:00] Jeff Wallace: [00:16:00] podcast, 

[00:16:01] Sam Kamani: [00:16:01] what I do. And as soon as they ask me for an NDA, I immediately know that person is a completely new, fresh founder who has no extra. Obedience of working in a startup who has never done anything, build a startup because the whole proof of the pudding is in the execution.

[00:16:20] Not in the idea takes five minutes. You can go to Reddit or Cora and generate 10, like a thousand ideas in an hour ideas. I wasn't as by themselves. It's I agree with you. In India, as soon as they asked me for an NDA, I know where the founders 

[00:16:38] Jeff Wallace: [00:16:38] stands pretty much. 

[00:16:40] Sam Kamani: [00:16:40] And I love it 

[00:16:42] Jeff Wallace: [00:16:42] here. Investors here don't want to sign NDAs because Silicon Valley has no shortage of deal flow and startups seeking support, financial and other.

[00:16:52] And so what happens is if I have, literally I get. I personally get maybe dozens a month, but I have colleagues that get hundreds a month of plans coming to them or people saying, Hey, here's my executive summary. Please invest. there, are similarities. And the concern is if I signed an NDA with every company, everyone would Sue me because they'd think, Oh, you were working on that because of my stuff.

[00:17:20] And I may have forgotten long ago. I may never have even opened up their email. but I might've had two or three other companies that have something similar and I can't sign NDAs with every company would be sued by everybody. They'd all think I'm stealing their IP or their ideas and dealing with others on it.

[00:17:38] And yeah, that's never the case. I would never do that just as a professional. It wouldn't do that. It would burn my reputation if I ever did that. Even one time I'd be in touch. That'd be done. Yeah. As a business person in this profession. but that's the problem with signing NDAs and then you run into those founders that struggle with, how much do I, how do I share this then?

[00:17:57] And how much should I share? So I often say to people exactly, to your point, Sam, if you're gift sharing, your idea is enough for me to completely undermine the viability of your business. You don't actually have a business. Yeah. Because it's all in the execution. You have to have something unique and differentiated in your execution.

[00:18:18] And you have to be able to outmaneuver and out-compete and out execute competition. Don't expect no competition, but you better be able to beat the competition. And so that includes the idea and the execution of the idea. 

[00:18:33] Sam Kamani: [00:18:33] Oh, a hundred percent. Couldn't agree more. Yeah. It's yeah, yeah. I don't know.

[00:18:39] It's a, yeah, it's a thing that, all the, all these founders want and, NDA, and if it's a, as you said, if it is so replicatable. Your idea then, maybe you need to think of something else. And once your 

[00:18:55] Jeff Wallace: [00:18:55] idea is developed, 

[00:18:56] Sam Kamani: [00:18:56] once you have built an MVP, you have to advertise it to get users.

[00:19:01] And what are you going to get? Everyone show them a Facebook ad. And not tell them what it is and then get them to sign an NDA. No, in fact, you'd be how you'd have to go and shout from the rooftop that this is what your product is, and this is what it does and why it's unique and what is unique selling when and why you should use it.

[00:19:20] But yeah, 

[00:19:21] Jeff Wallace: [00:19:21] one of them, no, listen, you and I are violently in agreement here. One of the things that we share a lot in our, Silicon Valley in your pocket curriculum is an, we emphasize defensibility. And differentiation, what is differentiated and what is defensible about your business? And I'm emphasizing the word business versus idea.

[00:19:43] Cause I don't care if you have the exact same ideas, 10 other companies, do you have something in your business model and your go to market strategy, et cetera, your pricing model. That is differentiated and defensible. I'll give a very simple example here in the United States. I know you've lived here for awhile, so you're probably familiar with Southwest airlines, the low frills airline.

[00:20:05] Southwest airlines is one of my favorite airlines for a couple of reasons. I travel a lot, ton and biz as you do as a business person, plans change just in life plans, change. And it interesting timing this week, a couple of the majors are trying to change these policies. But if you're on United airlines, if you're on American airlines, if you're on the larger carriers, Delta airlines there's change fees.

[00:20:28] There's you want to check a bag? There's baggage fees, there's fees for everything. Southwest airlines says no change fees, no baggage fees, no problem. They don't care. They understand. Now they can do that because their business model was set up to accommodate that. They're not focusing on all the revenue streams coming from those kinds of fees.

[00:20:50] Whereas the other airlines make so much money from those fees. It's very difficult for them to change that now again, this week, and I just saw emails this week from both United and American, that they're waving. Change fees. maybe forever, who knows? I never believe anything that says forever. We're trying to change.

[00:21:07] And that's a business model that has been one Southwest, a lot of loyalty because people say, Hey, I don't know if I can absolutely go with that day. At that time, I might have to change something. I had one fair on United yeah. Airlines. I was flying to LA from San Francisco, very short flight. I think the flight was $150 round trip.

[00:21:24] It was a very quick and easy. Yeah, deal takes about an hour. Each way. I had to make a change instead of leaving on the 8:00 AM flight to get there for my meeting, the person said, Oh, something's come up. Can we meet in the afternoon? So I said, sure, I'll switch my flight to the 12 noon flight I called United.

[00:21:39] I said, can I switch from the 8:00 AM flight to the 12 noon flight? They said, that'll be a $200 change fee and you'll have to pay the fare difference. I said the whole fair was $150. It's the mindset. So there's an example where. The idea that Southwest has to not charge fees. Isn't defensible. They can't protect that with a patent.

[00:21:58] Yeah. But they execute and they built a defensible business model that is not reliant on those kinds of fees for their business. Bottom line. That's what I mean. It doesn't have to be a unique idea. You just have to have something that's differentiated, indefensible. 

[00:22:13] Sam Kamani: [00:22:13] It's you remind me of your Southwest example reminded me of the earliest days of Netflix and blockbuster was making so much money from late fees and the Netflix, 

[00:22:25] Jeff Wallace: [00:22:25] disruptor.

[00:22:27] Sam Kamani: [00:22:27] Yeah, Before Netflix was a content creation studio that it is now back in those days when it was sending the, these bipolars to no late phase. So exactly the same thing that. That is excellent. thank you for sharing that case study. 

[00:22:44] Jeff Wallace: [00:22:44] Sure. I have a 

[00:22:45] Sam Kamani: [00:22:45] question about, you you have seen personally over so many years, so many founders succeed and so many not do that.

[00:22:55] what do you think was the differentiating factor 

[00:22:58] Jeff Wallace: [00:22:58] there? 

[00:23:00] it's interesting. I do think, how would I describe it? So first and foremost, I think. Having, a good idea is good. Having an emphasis on execution, I think is critical. I think a lot of people try to rest on the laurels of their idea and I think resting on the laurels.

[00:23:21] So that idea is a recipe for failure. You have to be focusing on the execution because if it's good idea, someone's going to come along and try and up or compete with you. So even if you can't name a competitor, today a direct competitor and that's often not the case, but even if you say I have no direct competition that doesn't impress me, what's going to impress me.

[00:23:43] Welcome you execute. And again, it goes back to differentiation and defensibility. How can you lock up your, opportunity at the expense of competition taking that opportunity from you? so those that are focused on execution, those that are focused on leverage, I'll give an example. I have one company I am working with now, both an investor and an advisor to this company.

[00:24:07] They have a software, the solution that could be a, B to C build the app and put it in the app store and sell it. It could be that model. There's no question. It would, it is an app that is available in the app stores, et cetera. The challenge is B to C is a very, difficult business.

[00:24:25] there is no middle position. Exactly, Customer acquisition is hard. There is no such thing as build it and they will come. You have to find a way to reach them. Now in general, apps can have very good margins. So our whole approach within that company is to leverage. And that's a key word for me is those companies that can use leverage to their advantage.

[00:24:45] So they're using B to B, and a B to C approach to market. And that is going to make them successful. I think, versus anyone who's doing something similar, trying a pure B to C strategy. Cause I think that customer acquisition is going to be the, destroyer of the business. If they were to just do a, B to C and the B to B meaning they're going to leverage it.

[00:25:09] Businesses who sell to other businesses whose clients are their end users, or they'll just sell to one other business whose end, whose clients are their end users. But that kind of those companies that understand that kind of approach to leverage, I think is really important. The other thing that I think makes the difference for at least fundraising purposes, I see this and I think carries through to other aspects of the business, those founders that understand how to tell the, how do I properly articulate the problem and the, make it relatable to the audience, whoever the audience is, investors or stakeholders, clients.

[00:25:48] So telling the story of your business more so than telling me about features and functions of your solution. A lot of founders focus on features and functions, and they should be focusing on use cases and stories. I often use the expression. People have a hard time where you call it in concepts and statistics, but they have a very easy time recalling stories and people.

[00:26:10] So tell the story of your business and the problem you're solving and the solution you're bringing to market as a story that has people involved. So make up a persona and tell me about that person who's experiencing the problem you're solving and the solution you're bringing to them that will help them overcome that problem.

[00:26:31] That will resonate much better than telling me about all the features and, giving me a bullet list of features and functions of your solution. So there's a big difference in, founders to understand those concepts and execute, on doing those the right way. 

[00:26:46] Sam Kamani: [00:26:46] Yes. Excellent advice. I was about to ask you on what.

[00:26:51] Is the right thing to do for funding. And, you say that when you do go and pitch it storytelling and not just focus on the data and the technical side of things. So tell it as a story. 

[00:27:06] Jeff Wallace: [00:27:06] yeah, one thing I'll add there though, like in a pitch event kind of format, which is very, common in our world.

[00:27:14] if you're given three minutes, five minutes, seven minutes, you have to know this and founders who get it. You see it instantaneously founders who don't get it, they struggle. And here's what I mean by it. The, it that they have to get is they have to understand that the purpose of a pitch event is to intrigue the audience so that they want to know more.

[00:27:37] It is not to jam as much information into the allotted time as humanly possible. There's a big difference. And those founders that come to a six minute pitch event with 24 slides, they don't get it. Okay. Those founders that come there with three or four slides, and they're really, well articulated and they presented beautifully and they may even finish a few seconds early.

[00:28:02] They get it because they realize all I'm here to do is intrigued you enough to have you think. That's pretty interesting. I'd like to know more about that because you're in a pitch event, mostly in most cases with three, four, five, 10 others. And so you have to stand out and the only way to stand out is to really properly relate and articulate your business.

[00:28:25] Your problem, you're solving the solution. You're bringing to it in a way that somebody says that sounds like I need to learn a little more about that rather than overwhelming people with all the details. and just trying to either talk fast or use very small phones. 

[00:28:41] Sam Kamani: [00:28:41] Very, practical and great, advice.

[00:28:45]this is one question that I 

[00:28:47] Jeff Wallace: [00:28:47] ask 

[00:28:47] Sam Kamani: [00:28:47] everyone who comes on my podcast and that is, do you have an ask? . What are you looking 

[00:28:55] Jeff Wallace: [00:28:55] for?

[00:28:56] Yeah. no, that's a wonderful opportunity to share what I'm doing. our objective now I'm not a traditional startup in that sense.

[00:29:05] So I'm not looking for investors or anything of that sort. What I am looking for is ecosystems, meaning congregations, if you will, of startup founders that want to benefit from. Good access to good Silicon Valley oriented content and kind of the methodologies and best practices that are being used here in Silicon Valley to grow some wonderful companies, and want to take advantage of this, period of time, unfortunately, where the world's still was in, quite a bit of lockdown and quarantine, but to use that time very efficiently and virtually to enhance their business and take an acceleration program.

[00:29:50] because we have found that those that are, you could be depressed about the quarantine, or you can take it as an opportunity to stay focused and do some real things that you really have been having a hard time finding the time for it when life was normal. So to say, so we are looking for founders, not just indep individually, again, in that B to C mindset.

[00:30:10] We're not trying to find every founder individually. We're trying to find groups of founders that would benefit from. having access to that kind of content, those kinds of coaches and mentors, and, community, a community to support them. Being a founder is a very lonely business identity as a serial entrepreneur for a lot of years, even with co-founders there's I don't want to say I did it alone.

[00:30:32] I didn't do it alone. I had business founders and business partners in all of my startups. but it's still a very, challenging and sometimes a lonely journey. And so being part of a community that is very supportive and empathetic of what that journey you're on is like, is helpful. And so we've tried to create that within our acceleration program, so we can rally in your pocket within our community called viable.

[00:30:58] So I'm looking for people who want to participate in those kinds of efforts. Yes, 

[00:31:03] Sam Kamani: [00:31:03] I did see on your LinkedIn and other places, this is viable. I think this is viable.com. Can you tell us a bit more about that and how all that works and what it is used for? 

[00:31:17] Jeff Wallace: [00:31:17] Absolutely. It was a little bit of the spin out of sorts, actually from the acceleration program.

[00:31:22] What we realized was that the. cohorts and we don't have a traditional that starts at a particular time and ends at a time. We just have a rolling cohort. People join whenever they want. It's a very self paced program. So at any time we have a number of people at different stages of the core of our program, which is a three month program.

[00:31:40]and so we spun out the community and now called buyable. And it is at the website. You mentioned this as viable.com. the, story of a viable is really, if you think about some amazing people that we are all maybe familiar with. So I'll just use a few athletes as an example, think about tiger woods, probably one of the greatest golfers in the history of the game.

[00:32:02] Think about Serena Williams, one of the best tennis players in the female tennis. scene. Thank you. think about, Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, nominal basketball players, iconic basketball players, hall of Famers. If you will you think about these people and you say, what's common about them?

[00:32:23] one common thing is they're all at the top of their game. Another thing that's common about them and this extends to business people as well. So there's, you can think about any great CEO. they have the same exact commonality. that's at the top of their game. The other common thread that binds those groups of people is they all have a coach or a mentor.

[00:32:46] Bill Gates had a coach Warren Buffett's had a coach. Eric Schmidt from Google talks about one of the greatest pieces of advice he was ever given was to get a coach. You think about that and you say, maybe part of being one of the, and greatness, and these are all people we've come to admire in their respective fields.

[00:33:06] Maybe one of the ingredients of being able to do the reach, that level of admiration of the world is to have a good coach is going to help you along the way. And I don't even mean singularly. I think there are multiple coaches and mentors through your life and your journey. I certainly have mine. That can be beneficial to you.

[00:33:23] So buyable was built with that concept. Then mind is how can we provide to startup founders? Because there are no different, they, will benefit no differently than others. Like I've mentioned, in their game, which is the startup of their, whatever their business is by having good coaches and mentors around them.

[00:33:42] So we built this community of amazing coaches. They come from some of the top companies, some of the ones I've mentioned now, Microsoft and Sony and Google and Netflix and HubSpot in the CRM space. Nowadays, I can go on and on. I can visa and it just goes on and on. But the number of companies we have coaches from and on a weekly basis, we provide classes masterclasses on yeah.

[00:34:07] How to do certain things. So we have the lead user experience designer for Netflix. Jen is one of our coaches. how, if you're in your business and you're trying to build your own user experience, how amazing would it be to have access to that person, to help coach and mentor you? And I don't just mean watching the class, you can interact with these people.

[00:34:28] so that's what we built viable for. It's a community, it's a marketplace. If you will, of founders on one side that wants to learn and be coached and mentored by the best. And it's the best coaches and mentors we've been able to amass as viable coaches. To provide that information. And again, on a weekly basis, we provide live master classes.

[00:34:50] We have pictures events. I did a pitch event last week. We didn't have any U S representation. It was all foreign founders, one in South America, two in Africa. I was the American representation of the event as to one of the judges and orchestrator, if you will, of the event, So it's truly a global community to provide that, coaching to hopefully help these startup founders lift their businesses to a place where maybe there'll be admired for having created an incredible business with the support and help a, of a, great community of other founders and a wonderful coaches.

[00:35:26] That's what Bible is. 

[00:35:28] Sam Kamani: [00:35:28] Excellent. I've but all the links to everything you are doing underneath and the description and YouTube and wherever this goes on, all the platforms. That's great. Before we go, I have three sort of quick fire questions. And first one is what is the book that you are reading right now?

[00:35:48] Jeff Wallace: [00:35:48] the book that I'm reading right now, actually the last one I read. It actually has nothing to do. I'm trying to think of the title, of sending my mind. It has nothing to do. It's from a gentleman who is an author of a book. That is a, very good friend. And his book is called aspire. His name is Kevin Hall.

[00:36:09] He's a wonderful friend. Kevin runs masterclasses on just being great people. And, he has shared a number of things. So his book would be one of the last ones I've read. I've read a couple others in between. But I would say Kevin's is one that I would definitely recommend. It's a wonderful book. but he's recommended, other books that I've been just picking up here and there and reading a little bit at a time.

[00:36:35] Excellent. 

[00:36:37] Sam Kamani: [00:36:37] yes. The reason why may I ask as the last book you read the book you're reading right now? It's because, after all of episodes, I got quite a few times the few same books, and I do want my listeners to, explore a whole range of things. They could be fiction, 

[00:36:56] Jeff Wallace: [00:36:56] it's fine. It's different in that regard.

[00:36:58] Cause Kevin's book aspire is a wonderful book, but the book he's referred it, I just recalled the title that he's referred it to me. And I've been I'm about halfway through it. It's called man's search for meaning. And it's 

[00:37:08] Sam Kamani: [00:37:08] nice search for meaning. I have heard of that book, but no one has so far recommended that 

[00:37:13] Jeff Wallace: [00:37:13] book.

[00:37:13] I would not be surprised that nobody else has recommended that up. I'm not reading a lot of business books and startup books. I, I'm not saying I know everything I need to know. I'm always happy to learn more, but I read a lot online. And I read a lot of articles, but books are something I sit, more when I have time on a plane or, longer periods of downtime, but man's search for meaning by Viktor Frankl.

[00:37:35] I think I'm about halfway through it and it's a very compelling book and it was referred to me by my other colleague, Kevin, who I mentioned with his book as spice. Excellent. 

[00:37:43] Sam Kamani: [00:37:43] Yeah, just writing all that down. any podcasts that you listen to on a regular basis? 

[00:37:53] Jeff Wallace: [00:37:53] I must admit I do not listen to podcasts very often.

[00:37:57] It's funny. I'm probably abnormal to your other guests. I don't do a ton of book reading and listen to a ton of podcasts. I read furiously online. I read a lot of articles. Okay. And I have a ton of sources that I go in. I scour reading and things of that sort, but books or podcasts are not something I do a lot.

[00:38:16] You know what it is. I find that those take more time. I like my information in shorter sprints. I'm a bit more of a headline news guy. Then a one hour news show guy. And so that's the challenge. I think for me, really, when it comes to books or podcasts, I need time and I'm not traveling when I traveled.

[00:38:33] I did a lot more of the things we're talking about, listen to things. Or so I lack of travel is taking down my reading books. 

[00:38:44] Sam Kamani: [00:38:44] I think for me, I don't read physical books as much because I'm not traveling. Yeah. 

[00:38:49] Jeff Wallace: [00:38:49] Yeah. I understand. Totally. 

[00:38:52] Sam Kamani: [00:38:52] Yeah. any recommendations on any, do you follow anyone on blogs on medium or, what do you read online?

[00:39:01] Any recommendations there? 

[00:39:03] Jeff Wallace: [00:39:03] I do read, a lot again of content. I tried to, we keep a repository of content around startup related concepts and articles that we think could be helpful or reports that might come out from different places around the world. So I, more read a lot of things like that and search for more around keywords than I do follow individuals.

[00:39:27] So I don't read, a lot of people would listen to Peter teal or, some other, very, wonderful people that we can learn a lot from. And I'm certainly not trying to be dismissive of what they can educate me on and others. but I just scour articles on keywords specifically around helping startups.

[00:39:44] So I focus more on the key words than I do on the authors. And I look for great content that can help with, for example, if people are often asking, what do I do about cap table? I keep hearing this term about my cap table. What do I do? So we scour articles from all the various groups, Carta, insert tent, all the big cap table management share works.

[00:40:05] These are the providers and I'll read a lot of their. I think on her ship, 

[00:40:10] Sam Kamani: [00:40:10] yes. 

[00:40:10] Jeff Wallace: [00:40:10] Look at their thought leadership and pull the articles that I feel will resonate with our audience the best. And we'll put that into our repository. We actually have a repository of hundreds of articles across about 40 different characteristics or keywords that we try to help our founders with.

[00:40:27] So I'm much more focused at that level than I am on the authors or the sources. I hope that makes sense. It does. 

[00:40:34] Sam Kamani: [00:40:34] It does. It is a excellent strategy. Do go for the keywords rather than the authors or the regular sources, because I'm like you, I also find that it becomes same old, the reason why I'm asking these questions is because I got.

[00:40:52] so many people recommend zero to one and the lean startup that I thought, okay, I need to rephrase my question so that I get some variety and something different for my audience. 

[00:41:04] Jeff Wallace: [00:41:04] We do recommend, I do recommend lean startup. It happens to being by Eric Reese. It's a great book. I recommend business model.

[00:41:11] Canvas has kind of things by blank and some stuff there. We use a lot of their methodologies. There's another book actually called lean analytics. Yeah, that's one we recommend in our program specifically because it really focuses on what I will call the metrics that matter. That is a big phrase. We use a lot with our founders is what are the actual metrics that matter?

[00:41:34] Two people. And so CAC, we talked about cost 

[00:41:38] Sam Kamani: [00:41:38] customer acquisition costs. 

[00:41:39] Jeff Wallace: [00:41:39] We talked about, CAC or 

[00:41:41] Sam Kamani: [00:41:41] LTV, CAC to LTV ratio. 

[00:41:44] Jeff Wallace: [00:41:44] So exactly these are the things where lean analytics is an excellent book and it talks about different businesses and what metrics are most important. So if you're an online marketplace, you might have very different nets instead of hearing an app.

[00:41:58] Know, like a downloadable app. So yeah, this is a book I would recommend for founders that are really trying to figure out what is going to be important to predominantly the investor community, but really they're important to the investor community because they're important to managing and growing your business.

[00:42:14] So they should be important to the founders themselves. But that are definitely things in a due diligence kind of environment you will be asked about. tell me about your cat to LTV ratio and you need to know what that all means. it often takes founders by surprise. So that book is, definitely one I would recommend to your audience and to yourself, perhaps.

[00:42:33] Excellent 

[00:42:34] Sam Kamani: [00:42:34] advice once again, final question for today, and that is if you had unlimited time resources and money, what would you work on or what would you build? 

[00:42:45] Jeff Wallace: [00:42:45] that's a very funny question for me, cause I don't do things for typical reasons. I don't do the things I do for financial upside.

[00:42:54] If there's financial upside, I'm not trying to shy away from it. I do what I do because I absolutely love what I'm doing. I love working with founders. So if I won the $10 million lottery, for example, I'd be doing exactly tomorrow. What I'm doing today, I'd be doing exactly next week. What I'm doing this week, what I might do is I'd have a higher bank balance.

[00:43:14] And if the world ever opens up again, I might take a vacation one day. Yeah. At my, a better car. I don't know. I'm not a car guy, but I really don't do things for those traditional financial reasons. I'm in a situation very fortunately where I, my bills are covered. I'm not living a very expensive lifestyle particularly now.

[00:43:34] Of course, nobody is. Yeah. and so I would be doing exactly what I'm doing and I do it out of the passion of it more than for the financial gain of it. That's again, not to say I'm not interested in financial gain, but my, primary purpose is to, wake up everyday looking to the day ahead of me with enthusiasm and excitement.

[00:43:53] And I'm fortunate that I can do that. 

[00:43:55]Sam Kamani: [00:43:55] Wonderful. It is great talking with you. It's been an absolute pleasure. I got to learn so much and I'm sure a lot of our audience would have, we'll get to learn all these things in the next few days. So thank you once again, and look forward to the success of this as viable platform and Silicon Valley in your pocket.

[00:44:16] Jeff Wallace: [00:44:16] Thank you for your time, how much this has been wonderful. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to more in the future with you. Thank you.