Leveraging Global Resources and Talent
Transcript: Jonathan: We're good? Alright. Nick: Cool beans. Jonathan: Guys, guys, Nick's a little nervous over here. We played a little bit to music [crosstalk 00:00:09] Nick: Played a little music. Jonathan: Went a little hip hop. Things you should know about Nick is that many DJs in Avisa actually know you from dancing with them in their DJ booth. Nick: They do. They do. Jonathan: Pretty famous guy here. So, welcome back everybody to Founders Sessions. I know it's been a little bit since I've done this actually. So I may be a little rusty. I'm a little hyped up on caffeine. I trained in from Boston from, at six in the morning to join you all. So, let's dive in. Nick, why don't you just give us a little bit of background about yourself as a starting place. And you know the topic of conversation here is about, you know, BPO outsourcing, you know, leveraging international resources, distributed networks. All the fun, complicated human capital issues that you deal with, but I think it would be very beneficial for people who are, you know, considering this for their team or considering leveraging resources like you for both economic and access to talent and capital reasons. Nick: Right. Yeah, so, I guess I'll start with where I started my career. After I got out school, I went to work for a private equity shop for three years. It was actually based out of Sweden. And there I learned a lot about different businesses. We'd go and acquire businesses in every industry from aviation to textile to real estate portfolios. And one thing I learned across all of them is that these old industries operate with tremendous amounts of inefficiencies. Just because it's the way they've done business. They're still making money. But they just kind of power through. And so when I, when my contract was up, I decided to leave and go into adventure capital, I realized that there's a lot of ways from looking at all these different industries. They all suffer from the same problems. Which is, not utilizing their workforce to the best of their ability. Jonathan: So is that a, a issue of leveraging old technology? Is it an issue of leveraging no technology? Is it just archaic thinking? Nick: Yeah, I think it's a mixture of both. It's not incorporating new technologies that are out there. And also realizing that we live in a hyper connected world and there's so many technologies out there, like even just something as simple as Google Sheets. That makes working in the Philippines or Ireland and the United States simultaneously very, very easy. As well as there's top talent all around the world. I mean there is, you know, top universities in the Philippines and there's top universities in Dublin and there's top universities in Poland. That these emerging markets have much cheaper wages, but GAAP is GAAP. You know, math is math. Engineering is engineering. No matter where you go it. And so, getting people comfortable with these, you know, outsourcing your workflows is a challenge, but once they do it, there's a lot, there's tremendous amount of benefit from it. And that's what we did when we were, when I, in private equity shops, is these layers and layers of middle management that just weren't necessary. That were not efficiently managing the workforce below them. Jonathan: Yeah. And the work you do, consider, particularly internationally, there's still what's called middle management, but it's an efficient use of technology to more effectively manage people in a modern day. Nick: Right. For instance, some of the starts we do now, is you will have the Chief Marketing Officer for a company that is pretty similar to Air BnB, will contact me and the managers I have in the Philippines and they run the entire marketing and lead generation for the, you know, portfolio for this company. And this one person can effectively eliminate two managers and five employees by just, you know, communicating with Crystal Palmer and their team over in the Philippines. Jonathan: Got it. So it's also, it's access of talent that this company could never have, never find. Nick: Right. Jonathan: Highly educated individuals, who they themselves even after doing all the right things, going to university, graduating top of their class, you're talking [crosstalk 00:03:55]. Nick: Right. Jonathan: Top five, 10% of their graduating class at the top university. Nick: Absolutely. Jonathan: Struggle to find opportunities to work at global companies who don't have a path to naturally recruit there. Nick: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, there's a lot of traditional BPO shops, like JP Morgan and you know almost all the big banks, Freddy, Fanny May, they have other operations over there, but it's very difficult to get from the Philippines, if you graduate top of your class from the University of Philippines. Getting a visa, having someone sponsor your visa to a job in the United States is more or less impossible. You need to be very well connected to get it done. And so, that's one of the things that we're helping, is we're giving them opportunities to these firms. And we're giving the firms a price point to do it. Jonathan: Yeah. So let's talk, if you're a founder, there's benefits of this. One, cost is benefit. Nick: Right. Jonathan: It's not always as drastic as people think. Nick: No. Jonathan: Right? 'Cause it's not like I'm replacing a one to one, you're actually changing the structure of how the work is being executed and so, it's costs savings, but it's also the ability of how it's executed and how efficiently it's executed. There's other layers there right? Nick: Right. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: Yeah, no, we're very much so, I mean, you can, especially for a start up when you are doing this outsource model, right? You can, you don't generally have the money to pay your healthcare cost, the payroll taxes, the seat in the co-working space, or ever rent more space in the office you have now. And so, we allow you to save money at that as well, but you can also make your team exactly as you want it and train them. You know, it's, we help you from an audit standpoint. Jonathan: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Nick: Create this. We walk you through the process. Jonathan: When should somebody really think about this as a consideration? You know, I'll actually frame it two different ways. When should somebody think about BPO, just the leveraging it as a consideration for increasing workforce? What are the paying points that they should consider solving? And I think the second piece is, the distribute element, right? Nick: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Jonathan: How does that, you know, there's also the fact that you're just distributing talent in multiple places, when is it appropriate for somebody to think that way? Nick: I think, can you repeat that again? The first one? Jonathan: The first one's like leveraging BPO specifically. Right, solving like when's the appropriate time to think about it? Nick: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Jonathan: And the second one is actually, I call less just specifically business outsourcing to someone like yourself, but just there's an aspect of distributive workforce. Nick: Right. Jonathan: Like, what are paying points of each one that can be solved and why think about these things. They may be the same, to tell you the truth. Nick: Right, no, I think that there really is never a good or bad time to consider it. I mean, I think, a lot of companies when they first get started, you know, you want to maintain complete control over your aspect. Especially many founders, they have founder syndrome. I want to do the marketing. I want to do all of the accounting. I want to do the interviewing. And that's great, but you, and you can do it, of course. Especially if you're, you know, very successful entrepreneur, but you're wasting your time doing it, right? You shouldn't be managing your LinkedIn page, your Twitter page, your Facebook. You shouldn't be doing the simple accounting work, you know, book keeping and running the QuickBooks. So that's something that you can outsource. There's all these paying points with that. [crosstalk 00:06:57] Jonathan: Yeah, I know any firms that need help with like the QuickBooks or that stuff. Shameless plug, no mathemagical. Nick: But, yeah, so, you know, there's, the opportunity costs of doing it yourself, especially early on, when your seed or even series A is great. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: And then, you know, there's obvious the paying points as you said, you know there's 12-hour time difference between the Philippines and here. You can have someone work the night shift. They're generally more expensive. We charge about a 10% premium for that just because. Jonathan: Night shift being their night shift [crosstalk 00:07:27] Nick: Their night shift, our day shift, right. Jonathan: But if you need 24-hour coverage for client services. Nick: Right. Jonathan: Or feedback for whatever reason, it's actually, their day time is our night time, right? So you solve that piece. Nick: And also another benefit, which a lot of the companies we work for now see, is that Labor Day Weekend, right? You have, someone who is in the office because they don't, have labor days, but they don't have Labor Day there. So you diversify the risk of downtime as well, especially if you're a B to C company. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: Which is a major advantage a lot of our companies see. Jonathan: That's a great point and, I'll go back to that, the term I almost call hero syndrome, with trying to do everything yourself and you know, it really comes down to people valuing time. I always use this story with folks, which is, I was at Trader Joe's, very popular for folks all over the country, and everybody's like, I assume Trader Joe's is everywhere, but it's a very popular white label grocery store. And I once got in line. The line's an hour long and you're, if you're buying $100 worth of food, it's worth it. Nick: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Jonathan: But someone got in line in front of me and they had a watermelon. So they literally waited in line for an hour to save like $1. Nick: Right. Jonathan: And I'm thinking, you literally value your time at $1 an hour. Nick: Yeah. Jonathan: That's insane to me. And founders do that stuff all the time, right? They don't think about how can I effectively replace myself. What tasks should I be giving up? And not only give them up, but have them executed better than you do it yourself. Nick: Right. Jonathan: Right? And I get it's a challenge as a founder myself. Nick: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Jonathan: Yeah, I mean, you do as well. Nick: Absolutely. Yeah, I don't necessarily preach, practice what I preach. There's a lot of times where I'm like no, no, I'll do it. And it's hard to, you know, it's hard to delegate things. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: Because it's your company at the end of the day. It's your baby. Right? Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: And you want to see it succeed, but sometimes you have to let it go, you know? Jonathan: Yeah, so, let's talk, some of the innovative ways in which you guys are dealing with having a workforce that's not in the office with you. Nick: Yeah. You know, I think the most effective ways we utilize Google, the Google Suite, pretty effectively, so everyone can collaborate real time. QuickBooks Enterprise, you can, you know collaborate real time. As well as, we have a customized portal that we had made. So basically that allows for the teams, we actually think that, and this isn't just a marking plug, this is really how I feel about this business, is that opposed to being like an outsource and someone who is faceless, it's your team. Your accounting team. Your marketing team. Your sales lead team in Manila. Jonathan: Because they're full time and they only work for you. Nick: They only work for you. They, you can, everyone has, we have, we are in a co-working space, much like an alley where we work. And when you get big enough, if you have over five employees, you get your own office. And when you have your team huddle ups, it's, you're on the television there too. And everyone's included. And I think that's really great and we see friendships sort of start to build. You know, and you can, they have video calling with them. You can send them gifts, so that if you upgrade all of the laptops, you can upgrade the laptops for them as well. And it's seamless with just one click. This portal we have, really I think breaks down the barriers. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: And many people I've had, we have one big client that's very large text start up and they were saying, it's no different than the Houston office and the San Francisco office. Like we can't tell the difference, it's that seamless. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: Which I think is pretty great and it's just kinda how you're seeing the technology merging. Jonathan: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:10:41] So you leverage video. Streaming videos. Nick: Right. Jonathan: And live videos as a way to communicate with the team. Nick: Right. Jonathan: How about security? Nick: Yeah, so security, everything is locked down. Just like you would if you had to, if you were a law firm and you open up a satellite office. So we have a few security suite softwares that, you know, obviously the Flash Fit, the USB sticks don't work. The CD drives don't work. As well as VPN tunnels. So we VPN from Manila and we're looking to open an Irish office as well. And they'll VPN into your actual work, network. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: So it is, they are ostensibly working on your mainframe. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: With some of the bigger clients we have, they just, really their computer is just a screen to process the image that's coming from Atlanta, Illinois, wherever your DS server is. Jonathan: Yeah. So I think all pretty good advice to how founders can think about a distributed workforce and technology they could leverage. We'll talk a little bit more founder to founder right now. What is the least glamorous part of your job? Right? I mean, what's the grind? Let's talk about the grind that you go through as a founder. Nick: That is, hands down, it's just the training. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: You know, because every process is different. You know, we don't, I'm not, if we have an accounting role, accounting's different for everyone, right? So we have one client whose over in Amsterdam and they do IFRS versus GAAP. So training, you know, I took that when I was in college, I don't remember the differences. And so learning that and scaling that up is really probably like the, I guess I'd say the grind for me. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: Is because I take ownership over this and it's very easy because you're not paying the payroll taxes. You're not paying that, it's very easy to cut us loose. I want to make sure it's a very great experience. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: And that we're with you for years to come and the first two or three weeks, just like when you have a new hire, is very pivotal. And one of the greatest things people like about Bristol Palmer is that we handle the training for you. We don't charge for it and we don't make you do it. So just kinda of walking everyone through without being there, because as great as technology is, I'm not sitting there next to you. You know, I can hold your hand and walk you through the process, but I'm not there day to day, right? I'm gonna go to bed at one o'clock in the morning. Jonathan: But even at a high level, it speaks to the fact that, for a business to be successful, you have to recruit well. Nick: Right. Jonathan: And then on boarding's just as important. You're doing the onboarding. You're managing it for people. Nick: Right. Jonathan: And investing that process so that people know how to execute their jobs well. Nick: Right. Jonathan: And goal setting. That doesn't change. Nick: Exactly. Jonathan: Right? Even if somebody is sitting next to you, if you don't do that well, they're going to flounder in their role. Nick: Right. Jonathan: Unless they're just, they happen to be that rare perfect fit for whatever you're doing. They're gonna flounder and they're gonna struggle to find success 'cause they're not gonna know what success is. Nick: Right. Jonathan: And you're just owning that as a partner in this process. Nick: Exactly. Jonathan: Actually technically, it's your team. You're doing it so your team is successful. Nick: Right. Yeah, I think it's important to remember, everyone to remember their first day on the job and you just don't know what you don't know. Right? For me, working QuickBooks or working, you know, even LinkedIn is very, very simple and seamless. And you have to realize that not everyone comes from using this technology and they don't necessarily know how to use it how you want them to. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: So, you know, it's having patience and walking through it and that's, you know [crosstalk 00:13:41]. Jonathan: It's like you go out to the West Coast of the US, you live in LA, a lot of people there don't even have LinkedIn. Nick: Yeah. Jonathan: Right, so, you're, you know, you're gonna even find folks there who don't leverage the platform for I think the value that it could provide. Nick: Exactly. Jonathan: Shout out to LinkedIn. I gave some of your team members a lot of feedback last week and I hope we get some changes there. Power users right here. Heavy power users. Nick: For sure. For sure. Jonathan: What other founder advice would you give? I mean, having now gone through this, you've been doing this for a while. Nick: Yeah. Jonathan: You're living through the same process a lot of us go through. Nick: Yeah. I'd say the two biggest things, preparing for this interview I kind of, this was one of the questions I had to think the most about, and I think that one of the things that you have realize as a founder is obvious, right? There's a lot of tough choices, but I think it's important to realize you can't make everyone happy. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: You're gonna let someone down. You're gonna have to let someone go. You're gonna have to make a decision. You're not gonna have to promote one person. So you need to realize, like, you know, the road to hell and what it's paved with. Jonathan: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Nick: And just realize that, I think the fastest road to failure is trying to make everyone happy all the time. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: And I don't mean that to be cryptic, I just mean that's a fact of life. Jonathan: Yeah, it's called duality of life, right? For everybody who loves you, someone's gonna hate you. And if more people love you, that means probably the people that hate you, hate you a lot more than people love you, right? Nick: Right. Jonathan: Nom's laughing back here. By the way, shout out to Nom Lee running us behind the scenes here. Nick: Sure. Jonathan: But he's laughing because I talk about this all the time. Right? It's the Batman factor. Classic movie, right? Nick: Right. Jonathan: Batman has to take the fall for Two Face. He's the bad guy all of a sudden, right? Nick: Right. Jonathan: And it's that idea, that you're the hero and the villain all at the same time. Nick: Right. Jonathan: Right. And you have to expect that to come and as you grow, as the role gets bigger, as the company gets bigger, it's you, it's testing your ability as the CEO, as the founder. Nick: Right. Jonathan: Can you balance that? Nick: Yeah. Jonathan: Right. I know Mark, Mark Peter Davis always talks about founding part of InterPlay Adventures, co-founders for us. I know Mark always talks about this idea that when you start a business, right, the safety net is like, you're on the second floor and the safety net is on the second floor. I guess, it's a safe fall. Nick: Yeah. Jonathan: But as you get bigger, that net's not going anywhere. That fall becomes bigger. Nick: Yeah. Jonathan: Right? And the question is, are you willing to take that risk? Are you willing to have, to try to balance everything? And a lot of people realize they don't want to. Nick: Yeah. Jonathan: I think having that self awareness to know what you're getting in to and if you're, as you grow, if you don't want to do anymore, finding the person whose wanting to do it. Finding that corporate person. You know who is willing to make the tough decisions is important. Nick: Yeah. And certainly, yeah, it leads into my other point, which I saw. One of the most valid experiences I had was my work study in college was actually working for the football team. You know, I got there and they're like oh do you want work study? And I was like, they were like most people work in admissions. And I was like can I work for football team and they're like yeah sure. Jonathan: Just be clear, you were the water boy? Nick: No, actually it was recruitment. Jonathan: Oh, there go. Okay. Nick: I may have carried the water crates out from time to time. But, you know, and I think it's important to, what I saw with them, is that the entire team was family, but they were also a team. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: And I think it's important to lead like a coach and not a parent. Jonathan: Yes. Nick: Right? Because your parent never wants to see you fail. And a coach never wants to see you fail, but he's letting you know you can. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: And it's important, I think it's important for managing because you don't need to micromanage the corner backs. They know what they need to do. You train them. And they know what their position is even though it's completely different from the quarterback. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: And as long as everyone, you know, the corners and the safeties and the quarter, quarterback are all working together. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: Everyone knows the common goal. Jonathan: Yep Nick: And everyone know their role. And it's important I think to lead, like that was one thing, my own little philosophy, like lead like a coach not a parent. Jonathan: Yeah. And people know there's performance metrics and if they don't hit those, there's someone waiting behind them in line to take their spot. Nick: Right. Exactly. Jonathan: Right? And it probably means if they're not performing maybe they don't belong there. Nick: Right. Jonathan: Right? Maybe there's a position somewhere else on a different team. Nick: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Jonathan: Running a different strategy that's a better fit for them. Nick: Absolutely. Yeah. And when you do do your job, and everyone does their job, everyone shares in the spoils. Jonathan: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Any other kind of general advice you think useful? I covered the big ones. Nick: Yeah, no, just that. And it's just, you know, that everyone's like the most, you know, cliché thing to say, it's the ups and downs. And you just kinda gotta ride it out, which I always thought was awkward because everyone says start up is like a roller coaster, but the down parts the best part, right? It was like I don't make any sense of that, but yeah. Jonathan: Maybe you got to learn to ride the downs better, right? Nick: Yeah. Jonathan: Gotta see it for what it is, like, you know, this is exciting. I don't want to hit the ground though, right? Nick: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hopefully there's an upswing at the end of this. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: So, but, yeah, no, I think it's just believe in yourself. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: And, you know, when you have to make a decision, make it and stick with it. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: And just know that you always play to win. You always did your best. Jonathan: Were there any expectations you, into becoming a founder, that have already changed? That you've already kind of, you thought you knew what things were like or how they feel or what you'd expect and suddenly now that you're doing it, you're like, man I was wrong on that. Nick: You know, I don't know. I knew it would be hard. In terms of, you know, actually, especially with InterPlay, gotta another shameless plug, I thought it was gonna be a lot harder than it was. You know, it's just a great community and people are willing to help each other. You know, normally you'd think it's like oh we're at war. Like you could potentially take one of my clients. Like, I think, I don't know if this is supposed to be like sage advice, you know, but people are a lot more helpful than I thought they were gonna be. And I think that people, it's sort of like, you know how they say bartenders and waiters tip the best? Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: I think, if you're around other start up people and around other founders, they realize the struggle. Jonathan: Yeah. Nick: And are way more willing to help than, I don't know, generally the stuff I experienced and you know, the private equity worlds. Jonathan: Yeah. I think, you know, holistically what you're talking about is this idea of community. And that having people around you when things are going well, you get to celebrate with. And those are always fun times. But when things are not going well, they're the one who puts their hand on your shoulder and is like I understand. And they want to have that authentic relationship where you're discussing failure in a very real way. Nick: Right. Jonathan: Either small failures, even big ones. And, you know, having lived through it, we can always appreciate the founder who went for it all and it didn't work out. Nick: Right. Jonathan: Whereas a lot of people, particularly the media, even this tech space where it's, you know, they're pretty much tech rags in many ways. Nick: Yeah. Jonathan: Where they're waiting to beat people up and tear them down. You can sit back and go man that person, they had, they did very well on certain things, but luck is a really big factor in success. It's the biggest factor. Nick: Absolutely. Jonathan: You know, I think the start up genome project years ago had structure that could be, maybe the wrong spot, but they did a lot of metrics testing, figure out what defines it. And you have plenty of people that came too early. Plenty of people have come to late. Nick: Right. Jonathan: Industries shift. Right? Economics shift and suddenly what you thought was a great idea one year and the next year, they fail. Or their expectations got too big. Or they overcapitalize. And there's so many factors that, at least we can sit back and respect that you took on this challenge. Nick: Right. Jonathan: And you went for it. Nick: Exactly. Jonathan: And you risked it all, right? Some of the largest hedge funds in the world, you talk to the founders. They're like I was broke 25 years ago. I tried this before I made it big, Ben, and I was broke. I couldn't borrow $4,000 from anybody. Nick: Right. Jonathan: And you know, now there some of the richest people in the world. And I don't even think they measure that money as what the element of success is as much as the legacy they've built. And their willingness to build and organization, you know, that shows they've learned from their mistakes. Nick: Right. Jonathan: That it's collaborative learning and thought process and there's no single person makes every decision. I mean, there's a lot of power in that. Nick: Yeah. No, absolutely. I mean, you realize that failures aren't always one person's fault. And you, you know, you respect the hustle. Jonathan: Yeah. I read that. I love this quote, I was reading about DeShaun Watson for the Houston Texans. Nick: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Jonathan: For any football fans out there, he didn't start, he was drafted from Clemson, was not the starter at the beginning of the year. Took over halfway through game one and the quote was the fact that everybody is now trying to claim credit for, we've always knew how good he would be. Nick: Yeah. Jonathan: Right? Success has many fathers, you know, but failure is an orphan. Nick: Right. Jonathan: Is the quote. Nick: Yeah. Jonathan: And it's very apt. Nick: True. Jonathan: Very apt. Well with that, I know we've kind of, I think, you know, chatted here for about 20 minutes. You know, unless, I don't think we had any audience questions on Facebook, so, I think we'll wrap it up here. A lot of good lessons. Nick, thank you for joining us. Nick: Yeah, of course. Jonathan: And folks, if you ever have any follow up questions, you know to reach us. We're definitely responsive. And looking forward to doing the next founder sessions.