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MobileServe is a fast-growing mobile app company that helps organizations track and encourage participation in volunteer activities: tracking, managing, and reporting their social impact.  They’re a great example of how you can see a problem in your own workplace and then create your own solution that you and many others can use.  They’re also a great example of how a Louisville area company can help us participate in the Rise of the Rest of the entrepreneurial startups in the U.S.

In this podcast, I talk with Ben Reno-Weber.  Ben and his co-founder Chris Head, started MobileServe to solve a problem that Ben saw while he was working as the CEO of the Kentucky YMCA Youth Center.  He wanted a better way to track the activities and participation of volunteers.  These guys are great examples of how to pick an idea and get started, even while you’re still working your day job.

Well, they’re full time now and chugging along very well with successful capital raises and customer growth.

Learn how Ben got the entrepreneurial bug, how they got started, and Ben’s thoughts about our startup community.


Transcript (Machine transcribed, please excuse the typos!)

Alan:                                      00:00                     Hey Ben.

Ben:                                       00:00                     Hey Alan.

Alan:                                      00:07                     We’re recording now. So anyway, just to get us started, I’m going to talk about how we met each other. I think Ted Smith introduced us a while back, didn’t he?  Ican’t remember now. It’s been awhile.

Ben:                                       00:25                     I feel like I’ve known you for awhile.

Alan:                                      00:29                     I think maybe Ted did introduce us because I came down to your office in Shelby Park and we sat out on the balcony and it was a beautiful day and we were talking about all the amazing things that we knew that nobody else knew and if everybody else, everybody else just followed our lead. We’d be taking over the world here and we’d be blowing silicon valley or out of the water.

Ben:                                       00:57                     Definitely. Yeah, definitely trying to figure out how to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem and as many entrepreneurs in the pipeline as we can and as many investors interested in as we can.

Alan:                                      01:08                     Yeah, and you guys, I’m really impressed with what you guys are doing because you’re sort of checking all the boxes. I think there are so important these days which is starting a company that’s leverageable from what I know, I haven’t gone through exactly what you’re doing, but it seems to be a very leverage-able company that you know as you continue to improve and it’s just going to improve for all your customers and it’s something that’ll work for a million customers or 10 and if, if I understand what you’re doing it, we need more of that and it’s something that helps people so we can kind of get into a little bit more about that. But I just wanted to start by throwing you some praise. I think you’re, it’s good to see somebody building a company that I think is a more modern type company that is very leverage-able. So congratulations.

Ben:                                       02:04                     I’ll tell you, if I ever write a book about this experience, I’m going to title it Cliche. We’ve done all the things people said that we would do and experienced all the things that people said we would experience. So I don’t know that our experiences are particularly a special but certainly validated a lot of what it takes to get a company off the ground. So I’d say we’re off the ground.

Alan:                                      02:38                     I want to hear the cliches and here hear the ups and downs and I think that’s really good for people to hear a lot of people start a company and had no idea what they’re getting themselves into and how it kind of takes a special kind of crazy to be an entrepreneur. And once you get there, it’s, it’s like an addiction. It’s sort of, once you get into it, you realize that man, this is always a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, but at the same time wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. And I’m sort of in the same boat right now with my company. And sometimes I wake up and go, what the hell was I thinking? But then I got to think what else would I be doing and it and I would not want to be doing anything else.

Ben:                                       03:37                     Amen. Not really knowing how to swim. So you’re just struggling to get to the side and you’re splashing everywhere and you, you know, you’re just like, ah, if I ever get there, I am never going into deep end again.  And then if you make it to the side, uh, then you start thinking, wow, next time, have a better stroke next time I’ll get there faster. That’s what obsesses you.

Alan:                                      04:09                     I don’t know if I talked about this on the podcast or not yet, but I’ve done some mountain climbing in my life in some pretty serious mountain climbing and with some friends that talked me into it somehow. And the first time I did a climb, it was something like 14 hours or so and coming down I remember thinking, I will never ever do this again. This was the stupidest thing I’ve ever been. Horrible. I’m so tired. I feel like I’m going to die and they might have to just carry me the rest of the way down.  Within a day I was going, all right, where are we going next? And then the next one, you know, two thirds of the way through. I’m thinking the same thing on the next mountain climb and uh, it’s just like building the company because there’s so many is so hard and then they’re so crazy ups and downs, but, but it’s awesome, you know, when, when the ups happen, it’s, it’s like totally addictive. Anyway, let’s kind of get into your life a little bit. I’m always curious how people got started being an entrepreneur. What led, you know, I had some experiences as a kid. I was always one of those kids that was one of the make money, getting the paper out and cutting grass and things like that. So I know you grew up in Louisville, went to saint x. What was your, your entrepreneurial bug? When was your earliest entrepreneurial bug?

Ben:                                       05:34                     I’m very different than a lot of entrepreneurs who have more similar experiences to you. I did not have an entrepreneurial bug, no one ever told me I could be an entrepreneur. I had no interest in starting a business. Uh, I came up through this. I was very involved with the Ymca as a nonprofit in there, particularly in their civic engagement programs that model, state government run program did that, that really inspired me to go be an international affairs major. And my first real experience with entrepreneurship was actually working for the World Bank, doing micro finance, small loans to micro entrepreneurs and people could be $17 to buy a chicken to sell the eggs or a couple thousand bucks to use for working capital to have a little store in a barrio in the Dominican Republic. Uh, so that’s Kinda. I got in contact with entrepreneurs there, but then no idea that that was something that I could do. I worked for large organizations as a consultant for, went to business school and then came back and ran a non-profit. And that was where I first got engaged in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. But really from the perspective of social entrepreneurship, I was really interested in how we could use business principles to solve community and civic problems. So that Kinda got me in the orbit of people who were starting things.

Alan:                                      07:05                     Do you think a lot of that came from the experience, I assume with the micro finance?

Ben:                                       07:12                     Yeah, some of it. Once I got interested in it, I recognize that there are a ton of entrepreneurs that I never realized were entrepreneurs in my family and in my, my circle of friends. So, you know, I have a couple of car dealers in the family and I knew they were entrepreneurs, but I didn’t think about the fact that you have a law practice, you’re an entrepreneurial, a medical practice, your entrepreneur. My mom was a therapist, she employed people and she was an entrepreneur. So I think I didn’t realize the wealth of, uh, exposure I’d had.

Alan:                                      07:50                     So your mom is your therapist? Was your dad any kind of an entrepreneur?

Ben:                                       07:56                     Well, he would be what you now there’s a word for it, uh, which is intrepreneur. So he was a college professor, but he started a scholarship program. And an awards program and he really created a whole series of structures within these university and had all the same growing pains that an entrepreneur would have when you try and create something out of nothing. I mean, I think the, you know, the, the great part of entrepreneurship is this idea that you can solve a problem for some segment of the population. Uh, and the terrible thing is that as you’re going through that, you just encounter inordinate amount of resistance. You know, you said you have to be a little bit crazy to be an entrepreneur and I think that’s really true. It’s a lot easier to not do that.

Alan:                                      08:45                     Yeah. And I’ve heard in universities, it’s horrible trying to get anything, anything to change. So yeah, that’s. Yeah, it’s interesting. It’s interesting that you say your was an educator because that’s something I’m my, my dad was a high school teacher for 36 years and I don’t know where my drive to be an entrepreneur came from, but just from an early age that I wanted to, to be. I mean, I wanted to make money, but I wanted to do it on my own terms and, you know, my dad wasn’t really like that and nobody else in my family is like that. My grandfather was a successful realtor and property manager and had a big company in Louisville. Um, so I don’t know, but I’ve noticed a lot of people I’ve talked to, their parents were an educator of some sort and they ended up in being an entrepreneur so that I’d love to see statistics.

Ben:                                       09:41                     Bill Burke, uh, who runs a local company called virtual peaker failure of his last company in which he said that good entrepreneurs have a reality distortion field around them. And he said that really the distinguishing characteristic of an entrepreneur is that they can sell a vision of that which is yet to be to the people around them. Uh, and I would say that that really entrepreneurship is the idea that you take responsibility for meeting a need or solving a problem and that once you’re choosing to do that, it almost doesn’t matter what sector you’re in. You know, there are entrepreneurs in government that are entrepreneurs and nonprofits. I mean, and this is a side tangent, but you know, whenever somebody says to me, Oh, you know, non-profit or government needed to be more like business. What that says to me is that you’ve never worked in business because you don’t understand how dysfunctional it really are. You know, there are high performing organizations in low performing organizations. Did any sector. So I would say you can be an entrepreneur serving any kind of market. It just happens that what we term traditionally entrepreneurs, we’re trying to start for profit businesses, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

Alan:                                      11:05                     I totally agree. I think that changing things is the important piece in the future because once you’ve done it a couple times, not that I’ve, you know, made FU money or anything, but it’s like once you’ve been an entrepreneur, it’s kind of like the, the importance of the money. You start to realize it’s not the money that drives you. It’s the, um, it’s the, the drive to do something different because it’s your idea and you want to see it happen and you, and it’s good to help people and if you’re in it just to try to make money, you’re really in the wrong place.

Alan:                                      11:49                     I just read the Jason Calanacis book Angel. He’s a big angel investor. And he mentioned exactly what you were talking about: the reality distortion field. I think people originally said that about Steve Jobs that he was a master at the reality distortion of creating an idea and convincing everybody and believing it and even if it’s completely insane until it actually becomes true, but it’s um, kind of what it takes. And it doesn’t matter if it’s, if it’s for money, it’s um, you know, it’s just something that you really have a lot of passion about. It’s going to help people. And I think in the future, I think more younger generations are not everybody, but the younger generations are a little bit less concerned about money and more concerned about experience. And I think that’s going to be good eventually for entrepreneurism.

Ben:                                       12:43                     I completely agree. I mean, I think if you’re in it for the money solely or even primarily, this is not the easiest or best way to do that right now. I mean, whether you’re, you know, like you can definitely achieve disproportionate returns as an angel investor, but you got to spread your bets over what’s the stat you use. Eleven or 12 companies understand that to be the right kind of companies. And if you’re, you know, an entrepreneur or potential entrepreneur, the chances are very good, you’re going to fail. And to be, to create a scalable company, you have to put a lot of risk, not just your time, uh, but also investors expect to see that you got skin in the game and get into the game for me is the mortgage on my house. It’s also turning down some points sometimes with real hesitation, you know, jobs that pay a lot more late nights.

Ben:                                       13:42                     And so there’s a lot of easier ways to make money than to do this. But I think the idea, so you have to be passionate about the thing that you’re creating. I mean, that’s how I got into this. I say I’m kind of an accidental entrepreneur. I was running this non-profit and I just got really fed up with the technology available to me as a non-profit CEO to meaningfully engage the volunteers that were essential to my organization’s success. And we just spent an inordinate amount of time and energy addressing that problem. And there had to be a technology solution for that. There had to be a. But we didn’t find anything that we liked. And so we started thinking that it would be small. We really thought my co-founder was one of our regular volunteers was our most valuable volunteer and you know, we, we thought basically this was going to be a lifestyle business for him and he’d get a couple of customers and we built at product and there’s a million versions of that story playing out all over the country.

Ben:                                       14:48                     But what we found with that, because we able to, uh, get some early traction, we have a lot of community support. We were able to leverage some investment early to build a substantially better tech platform. We then found that we had a scalable company and then once we started scaling, we found that that same tech stack could have lots of different applications. We initially envisioned it for k, 12, maybe some universities, but we found out that we could go into the corporate market. We’ve recently expanded into court ordered community service because we built verification systems that are really robust and you know, we recently landed a pretty large government contracts government, uh, trying to help people meet their government benefits eligibility requirements. So anyway, lots of things that kind of unexpectedly spitball out of your initial vision and you just have to be able to take advantage of those.

Alan:                                      15:49                     A real important and other real important checkbox for being an entrepreneur that I’m learning is a often a precursor for success has, is that it is something that you’re creating to solve your own problem. And I’m hoping, you know, my, my kind of day job with blue [inaudible] is sort of the same thing. I had been in that in an industry that needed something. And I, I decided to just create it. So how did you, how was the very start? How did you get rolling in the first place? You’ve, you’re, you’re the CEO of the, uh, what was the Ymca?

Ben:                                       16:30                     Yeah.

Alan:                                      16:32                     OK. So, and then you saw this as a need and then where do you go from there? You’re not a program, are you? Are you a programmer?

Ben:                                       16:42                     OK, incredible. Confluence of luck and circumstance, which was clearly paired with an enormous amount of, an enormous amount of effort and I think some, some solid insight, but I, you can’t underestimate the role walk and have really support and customers. So W, you know, we have this idea, I’m still ceo, we kind of rolled around, uh, and we end up in, uh, the velocity accelerator program, so we apply for it kind of last minute, you know, we ended up recording videos and my living room and 10:00 in the application due at midnight. And uh, once we got into the program, Chris had, who was my co founder, I really spent most of the time in the program. He was getting his Mba at the time and was there day to day for your customer discovery pieces and I just would swoop in with still having my day job and go for the pieces that we needed to be there. But then because I had the day job in this space, no, I was the customer, I had access, I had a network that could get us clients, uh, and we could just open a lot of doors. So it was a really fortuitous combinations in those early days. And then that velocity program really helped us to say, OK, this is our value proposition. This is what we need and can do. And that kind of spit balled from there.

Alan:                                      18:17                     I think there’s another good point that that needs to be happening around here. We’ve got so, so many strong industries. You hear people talk about in the grand plan for accelerating the logistics, accelerating healthcare startups and all the things that are strengths for this area. And you’ve got people working in those industries. I think that that it’s important for people to do exactly what you did with your company, where you’re building a solution for something that you know there’s a need for and using the the experience and contacts that you have and and the whatever advantages you have, which is, you know, if you’re the CEO of the company and you can implement the system and work out the bugs and do those get a product in place while you have those advantages and those connections to make it happen. I could see why people, ups people, Humana people that had been sitting on some cool idea that they something that they’ve been sitting there for four years going, man, this would be really nice to have. We need more entrepreneurs that are sitting in that chair to to get off their ass and start a company and even if it’s.

Ben:                                       19:41                     Those guys aren’t going to take a company to scale. You really need. You really need a set of leg, especially in those early days to go do that. That hard work and that’s under-recognized resources that we have is a set of phenomenal business school programs. And if you are that kind of mid level subject matter expert, but you like me, I mean I’ve got three kids, I can’t, I can’t quit my day job until we’ve got enough traction and some money in the bank that I can go incredibly credibly say, Hey, I think this is a thing. I can’t quit on the strength of an idea. I can’t go do an eight week accelerator where you get $15,000. Like that’s just not a realistic option. And I don’t think it is for most of the subject matter experts that we really need to create scalable businesses solving real world problems. So we have to create as a community better set of ways to connect those subject experts with the business people who can really take this and make it go. I mean, Chris had started three or four businesses before we started [inaudible] together. And that early stage, uh, experience that he had was absolutely invaluable.

Alan:                                      21:06                     Do you see any that you see that’s, that’s actually facilitating more of that? Because that’s a great point that if you have people who have the idea and they’re working in an industry and they have the inside connections in that industry, but they don’t have time, they’re not a programmer, they don’t, they don’t have the maybe even have the entrepreneurial drive. I know we’ve got first build and things like that that are, that are, you know, industry connections that are working on helping entrepreneurs. But that seems like that’d be a great thing for, you know, Inner Enterprise Corp or somebody to, to be able to figure out some way to tie people together that are looking for somebody who’s looking to start a company. Because I think most, you know, 22 year olds with are used to seeing facebook and snap and these companies that are more fun entertainment, social kind of stuff. They don’t know they’re there. They don’t know the need of the CEO of why MCA. You know,

Ben:                                       22:14                     I think there are one of the things that I really have to say that I think our entrepreneurial community is do we know a lot of really exciting things that well enough and publicized so people who are kind of new to the space or on the proof river, I was like, why don’t we do more of this like, well we are actually doing that. You just don’t know about it and that’s not, that’s no one’s fault. So I think Enterprise Corp has a phenomenal mentoring program. It got really cool stuff going with launch it and startup weekend, uh, and that’s not just enterprise corp, that’s a whole lot of other people. I think of the stuff that’s happening at [inaudible] in new Lou, really trying to create both space and programs for creating those interconnections. That’s really exciting. I think we’ve got a whole bunch of groups, you know, access ventures, trying to bring non-traditional entrepreneurs into the space or bring traditional entrepreneurs to attract attack problems.

Ben:                                       23:10                     There’s just a whole bunch of stuff happening to do this. Plus the work that the business schools are doing. My one, if I could ask for one thing, it would be how do we figure out how to better codify or clarify what those on ramps are so that we could really go to all those mid level people at kindred and at Humana and observe med and be like, hey, you got an idea. Here’s, here’s the, here’s what the checklist of steps are that can help you to get that idea off the ground or kill it early. Totally reasonable thing is like, oh, actually there’s already 45 people doing exactly the same thing in that space. You just don’t know about them. So by the time you get to ask the question, you know, is this scalable and who your competition you don’t know. You know, find out the answer to that really early, which is where I think at business school can action, can be really helpful because you’ll just do that business model canvas and you’ll have so much more information at the end of it than you did at the beginning

Alan:                                      24:16                     These days. It’s a matter of just getting involved and I’m sort of sporadic and my ability to attend a lot of stuff just because I’ve got so much going on and I think that’s a problem all of us entrepreneurs have is we have so much of our own stuff going on. It’s hard to show up at meetings and participate too much, but. But I agree. We’ve got a really good startup community. We’ve got a lot of activity. We’ve got a lot of people doing their best to to help and it’s for the whatever

Ben:                                       24:47                     When people whine about the entrepreneurial community in town. I say to them, when did you go to venture connectors last? If the answer to that question is 2 years ago, well I’m sorry, but that is where shit is happening and it’s not perfect and you know, listen, it’s a boring sometimes but that’s where the people who are doing interesting things meet venture connectors, go to open coffee. You’re not in those places. You’re not in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. There’s lots of other. You don’t have to be, but you can’t whine about the fact that you did that. You don’t know what’s going on or there’s not enough activity if you aren’t there.

Alan:                                      25:25                     Yeah, I guess, you know, just, just naturally just networking and you’re going to find the right people if they’re around, if, if you’re attending a networking, I guess just trying to figure it out. As that community continues to evolve, we’ll, I’ll just throw out there on the, on the podcast, and they just really said, just if we can figure out more ways to engage the big companies, that’s. I think that’ll be a plus for us. Being able to find those people that have the good ideas.

Ben:                                       25:58                     Mm MM. That we have for veterans and minority owned businesses and women owned businesses. We’ve got to have in that scoring rubric, you know, the Humana, Zirmed, the Kindreds have to say, listen, you know, I could buy volunteer match or I could buy mobile search and in my procurement process, if mobile can meet the minimum requirements, my preferences for that and we don’t do nearly enough of that, you know, I mean, I will give one of our earliest clients was the greater Louisville YMCA. Uh, you know, and they were like, oh, I’m not really sure this is gonna work, but there’s a national competitor to you that does mostly the same things, but we’re going to go with you. And it was a gamble for them. No question. It was a gamble for mercy academy to buy a product from us that, you know, at that point was barely off the ground, but they gave, they were like, oh, you’re a local business and it’ll be good for our students to see this and will help your product evolves. And you know, that has certainly been the case.

Alan:                                      27:10                     How did, so how did you see the very start when you got going? How did you find the right people to do the technology? The technology side, and maybe you already talked about this.

Ben:                                       27:24                     No, the, the very first product that we put together, we walked around the velocity co-working space and said, hey, we got 1500 bucks. What can you build in a weekend?

Alan:                                      27:35                     Yeah,

Ben:                                       27:38                     Yeah. Greg Langdon walked us around. And what code or the light? Yeah, man, I’ll, I’ll build this very basic hours tracking website for you at that point. I think we did have some designs at that point. Um, and we had a tech partner,

Ben:                                       27:59                     help us after we had gotten just a little bit of traction, sort of frame what we wanted to do and architect the product.

Ben:                                       28:07                     and then we ended up outsourcing to a pax in Lexington. Most of the TAC, the initial techbuild I’m to do that. I mean, you know, like that first 1500 bucks we could do because

Ben:                                       28:25                     we got some money from velocity and Chris and I both put some cash in and then we got a, I mean this is more on the financing part, but this is the sequence and I think we got a kiva loan right after that and then we got a community ventures loan after that. But that’s what my house is against. Uh, and then we got a growth loan from access ventures.

Ben:                                       28:52                     And I think that’s what Chris’s house is on. Uh, and then at that point we were able to build enough of a product and get enough sales. That access ventures was our lead investor for our first round.

Alan:                                      29:12                     That’s a great example of scrambling to make it happen. And that’s another thing I got from that Jason Calanacis book I talked about, you know, it’s the entrepreneur who, who gets started somehow that you want to invest in. It’s not the guy who’s got a great idea and a great slideshow and a great sales pitch and nothing to show for it. You piece it together, you just do whatever you can. I mean $1,500 just to get something off the ground. That’s a great example of just doing what you gotta do.

Ben:                                       29:57                     One of the reasons that a lot of people don’t get into entrepreneurship, but they’re scared of the presentation, uh, and that they don’t want to go out and either smelt them for either of those things. It’s really, really hard. But I think you know, the getting part of the value of a getting connected to the business schools and the people who can help you do that early is that you can really hone your pitch. We had best compliment that we got from. I’m sure you might be saying this was from Mike Bowers, who’s an investor and an entrepreneur out of town. He’s been nominally successful in a number of arenas a, but we pitched the Lincoln Angel Group in town. We’re just among my favorite groups to pitch in. At the end of it, we got to our like traction fly it. He called me afterwards. He said, well, your pitches a lot better than your company.

Ben:                                     31:08                     Wait what

Ben:                                       31:12                     Your pitch. I love what you were doing. I think your copy, your concept was really neat. I think your project sounds really cool. I completely see where this is a scalable idea. I’m not investing until you have twice as many customers, maybe three times and a lot more revenue than you have right now. It has been one of my proudest moments as an entrepreneur that Mike powers is coming in and are around right now without being your company caught up to your pitch.

Alan:                                      31:46                     I just interviewed, I don’t know if you listened to the John Williamson podcasts, but we talked a lot about toastmasters because that’s where I met him initially years ago in toastmasters and we both kind of got into that for awhile and it’s. That’s one thing I would throw out there for that entrepreneur who’s thinking about it, that scared of the pitch. You can learn pretty quickly how to, how to get up in front of people and give a decent presentation if you’re. If you don’t like doing that, it’s a great place to learn. And John’s fantastic eats, you know, phenomenal speaker. I’m sure that’s why he’s rolling things along with his company right now.

Ben:                                       32:24                     Mm.

Speaker 3:                           32:27                     Oh yeah, that’s right.

Ben:                                       32:31                     She has her own kind of entrepreneur. I was doing exact building. Exactly those same skills. So I think that’s right. Toastmasters is a great resource.

Alan:                                      32:37                     That’s right. I forgot. I knew just through through toastmasters, so. So I got, and she’s a good speaker too. So the, so you got things started now w where are you now? You said you just, you’re just finishing up around or you’re just, um, you’re in the process of finishing a new round of capital raising

Ben:                                       33:05                     a million dollars in the last round. Mm. That kind of work to raise money, iterative process. We got our first quarter of a million from access and then went and I just shoe leather. I counted, we did 46 presentations the first, I think [inaudible] [inaudible] investors and we were incredibly lucky me. I look at other companies, uh, Hu, no, I have not been able to do that despite having people to good or maybe better business ideas. Um, there’s a list of people you can go to and you kinda got to build some momentum. And once we had lead investor the next thing and then once we had two people were like, uh, well they are interested in what these guys did. Some diligence. I’m fortunate again, I said I’ve got a lot of entrepreneurs in my family and so some of them put some money in so that made it look like we had momentum and we grew and we got that, you know, want, but it took us the first round, probably six months to raise that money, but then once we start, you know, but unfortunately once we started raising the money, we started hiring people and going out and really selling things so we could show continued traction as we raised, uh, the hard part. So we’re in the middle of, around right now. I’m just, knock on wood, cross the million dollar mark for this round. The thing that’s been harder about this around, I mean eat much easier because we have a lot more traction. We’ve got some crab, we’ve got some great credible investors in early in that process. The thing that’s harder is that you, that’s a full time job. So whereas I had been doing a lot of business development and really going out and selling, I haven’t been able to sell and since we started around September.

Alan:                                      35:12                     Yeah. So I’m trying to help that process is what metro startup launch was attempting to. It’s a, it’s a long slow process and learned a lot in a year and a half or two years have been working on metro startup launcher and I’m hoping that eventually we will have a large database of potential angel investors that that would make something like that a lot easier when you have a good concept and you could spread the risk out to a lot of smaller investors and have the mechanisms in place that put them on one in one slot on your cap table. We were working on a lot of things like that that I think eventually we’ll, we’ll, we’ll help be an investor or a start up in Louisville, raise their capital a lot easier. But man, it’s a, it’s a long, slow slog to get people to interview,

Ben:                                       36:15                     to get some experience and some exposure. I will say I’m deeply grateful to the show shark tank because I think it has exposed a lot of people to what it likes to do that kind of diligence. I mean, even at a very superficial level, uh, and people are interested in, we’ve got a number of first time investors in this around and you know, part of it is educating them. Part of that is letting them see other more experienced investors and I, you know, I think there’s a lot of capacity for us to be demonstrating what that looks like. It’s why I think the local angel groups are so important, you know, even if you don’t have a ton of money, if you can come along and see what it looks like and see what kind of questions the more seasoned and experienced investors, the allowance.

Ben:                                       37:10                     But Gill Holland, the, you know, phoebe woods, Elizabeth romps levels, what do they ask? And then that helps you to understand, well, maybe this is what questions can either, you know, what do I know from my experience that I can bring value to that process? So, I mean, I think some of the most valuable pitches that I’ve done have been to people who have done lots of lots of experience in business. Um, I think of Beth and Doug peabody who are, some of our investors don’t mind to say that, um, you know, they’re extraordinarily successful in their respective businesses. I think we’re their first angel investment, but they asked some of the hardest questions because they were not the more seasoned angel investors, so they wanted to see different things and that was actually really helpful for me in both, both in terms of framing our res, uh, and, and helping to evolve the business.

Alan:                                      38:09                     I’m pretty good friends. I’m going to in a CEO group with Beth and she was the one that, she’s the one that’s kept saying, oh, you need to talk to this guy, Ben. That’s right. Here we go. My memory’s coming back. Well, is there anything else you can think of that, that, uh, one question, I always talk a lot about companies that have been enticed to move out of town. What is it, a rubicon with capital. Has that been something that’s come up for you guys? Have any company said, yeah, we want you to be, we’ll put a bunch of money in your company, but we want you to move to Atlanta or something.

Ben:                                       38:49                     Yeah, absolutely. That had that had been put on the table and said, we’ll give you money. You know, people in my network like dude, just moved to San Francisco and you can raise money and heartbeat and I, you know, I think, but I will say that I think our community has gotten much more sensitive to that and good at creating resources for companies that are stage enterprise corp has held our hands from minute one made introductions, helped us figure out our scale process and given us mentors and the city economic development department said, you know, here’s these tax breaks and here’s these things you’ve been apply for and who else do you need to talk to? Give a lot of credit to that. I also think it’ll be interesting as more companies get into the non traditional spaces, more b Corp, social enterprise, stuff like that network will be super powerful and self-reinforcing. Call it the Mary Horn are doing great work on that.

Alan:                                      39:54                     Well, I’m glad you guys are sticking around here and it’s set at the beginning. It’s so good to see a company that is building something that’s leverageable, that that’s doing good, that helps people, you know, I guess in the grand scheme of things, it’s helping people be more productive at helping people. So it’s.

Ben:                                       40:16                     I think the thing that’s great about Louisville is that our entrepreneurial ecosystem, small and shallow as it is, although it is continually deepening, but it is so incredibly welcoming and supportive. People who have been there and done that and you know, this is their third company and they’re or they’re out, they will absolutely take your calls, meet you for lunch. Their time is valuable and they’re aware of that, but they also recognize that if they don’t pay it forward that we’re not going to have the kind of community that we want to have. That goes from the endeavor entrepreneurs, but also just the interpersonal, you know, me calling up 10 diet superfan of being like, hey dude, you know, tell me about your sales process. And you know, he will absolutely give me that 15 minutes. And I’m always grateful for it, sort of funny thing for me is I was at a holiday party and I was hitting up Steve for some advice about something and 20 minutes later another entrepreneur came up to me, was hitting me up for advice.

Ben:                           41:35                     Guess I do know something about that.

Alan:                                      41:38                     Yeah, you’re. You’re a lot farther along than a lot of people get. So you’re, you’re an expert in compared to hell of a lot of people’s. There you go.

Ben:                                       41:48                     Terrifying. Terrifying.

Alan:                                      41:50                     Well, hopefully now you’re right. Your phone will ring off the hook after we put this out of people wanting to take up all your time to, for advice on how to raise 2,000,000 bucks.

Ben:                                       42:00                     I have had the thought that it would be fun too. Hmm. Gathering at night at 5:00 once a month where aspiring entrepreneurs who don’t feel like they could, they’re ready to make the plunge or even commit to going to the venture connectors, but just kind of want to poke around at the edges. I could sit and talk to people. We’ll try and put that together.

Alan:                                      42:30                     I can help you put that together if you like, because it’s something that we, we did a little bit of some of the early metro startup launch

Ben:                                       42:40                     metro.

Alan:                                      42:41                     Yeah. I ended up making the decision that my place in the ecosystem needed to be figuring out how to accelerate capital raising using crowdfunding. I just think that somebody needs to sort of take that ball and the more than that’s too much to bite off. So that’s kind of where I’m focusing. But we did have luck getting people to show up and people are very interested in that. We just sort of didn’t know where to go from there. We had a couple meetings and then kind of thought, well, what are we, what are we giving people here if we had these meetings? But I do think people just want to get around and talk and we’re like, you know, ask you how you got things started,

Alan:                                      43:22                     how you got your wife to let you, uh, be uh, an entrepreneur and not making any money for awhile, you know, things like that.

Ben:                                       43:26                     Yeah.

Alan:                                      43:34                     All right. Well, anything else you want to throw out to the community? Well, while we’re out here, anytime. All right, great talking to you and I’ll talk. I’ll see you soon.

Ben:                                       43:47                     Bye.

 

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