Bet On Yourself

Bet On Yourself

Rachel Haley

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs

6/17/2020

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Bet On Yourself

"I think that every single person, whether you realize it or not, has had a million-dollar idea. The problem is that people feel apprehensive about quitting what's comfortable and their day-to-day to actually focus 100% on their idea."



The Inventive Journey

Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.

ai generated transcription

bet on yourself I think that every single person whether you realize it or not has had a million-dollar idea or a fantastic idea the problem is that people feel apprehensive about quitting what's comfortable and their day-to-day to actually focus a hundred percent on this idea everybody this is Devon Miller here now we have another great episode today at the inventive journey for you those of you that are new to the podcast I'm Devon Miller I'm the host of the inventive journey I am a patent trademark attorney and founded Miller IP law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks to help protect and grow their business also a serial entrepreneur so loved working with and talking with other startups so today we on the on the epic on the podcast we have a great guest which is Rachel and she'll tell you a little bit about herself as far as starting her business now and she was lives in Silicon Valley but never sought thought of herself as doing his startup or getting in that realm so we'll have a great episode and welcome Rachel thank you so much for having me I'm really excited to be here oh we're excited to have you on so why don't go ahead and just we'll jump in and wanting to tell the the listenership and the viewership a little bit about yourself and your journey and how you started out sure yeah so like you mentioned I never really imagined right in college or right after college being an entrepreneur or owning my own business I didn't even know that that was really an option in my realm of reality I thought well there are only a few things you can do like doctor lawyer business teacher engineer and I was gonna go into business so I studied economics and math went into finance sort of like everyone else was we got a job we had I know we just barely got started oh yeah so Silicon Valley is always known for the startup and this girl was the Hubble so to speak and then he would have you know and I don't watch it much but I don't have a whole bunch of friends so you have the Silicon Valley TV show it's about you know startups and you know that's where you had an apple if you had all the so how did you with all of that going on just never even dot idea to do a start-up I just oh it probably it seems like you should have had at least that exposure to it yeah that's a good question I think into maybe maybe it was just living in a bubble going in Santa Clara University and they had like really specific economic adem ik tracks for you but I think it was more long lines you know in in 2006 when I started college I don't think uh like starting your own company wasn't like the hot buzz right when people were going to college I think they they would work for these big tech companies like Apple or Google or you know um Facebook a little bit at the time but I you know they would work as an employee there I don't think there was this buzz and overall excitement around starting your own company and startups at that time weren't really hiring people right out of college I mean I think now it's a lot more common but back in I mean that was almost like 14 years ago which is crazy 2020 um you know it was a lot more common for people to graduate and then work at a larger institution ER you know go into Investment Banking or the big floor for accounting and if you were gonna work for a tech company it was an engineer or you're working in the finance department so I think it was like these are just big powerhouses but it never really dawned on me to like start my own venture but you know that could just be my own naivety and like quickly that I kind of operated at that point was a little bit more sheltered so I can't really give you a good explanation but that's a really good question I just thought it was interesting because that's whatever anybody thinks of like the startup hub of the hopefully is you Todd you know we got we got you know ask most people and where do all the startups go and it's always the California at least on the technology side so buzzes so didn't want to derail it too much but thought that was an interesting in there interesting point so so you went into asset management so we kind of keep going along your journey and tell us a little bit about that sure yeah so I started out at a firm a small boutique firm in the city as one of those were you you know you're working 100 plus hours but you're learning a ton so that was great um and I you know during that time I realized that the huge value that was being generated for all of these clients in their portfolio was really from the you know least entrepreneurs and operators geniuses that were starting companies growing them to something meaningful and then having some type of high value exit whether it was an IPO or an acquisition or something it really dawned on me when I was looking at a transaction with Instagram so there was a firm that invest in Instagram just days before they were acquired from Facebook and I thought wow this is incredible all these people are realizing a ton of value but it's really the founders of Instagram that built this fantastic platform and now it's so widely used in terms of the world of social media so I figured wow that that's where I want to be is like that's the end goal for me this is where like all the value you know kind of starts and and you can really be disruptive in that way so um you know traditionally in the finance path what you do is you go on to private equity venture capitalism or equities and trading and so I was going to interview for private equity and VC firms as an associate and so when I would go in there I actually sort of you know a little bit manipulated the situation I would go in there and I would interview I would do the interview for the associate role but then midway through I would start to pitch them on my idea like oh wait so are you are you here for an at for the associate ruler are you trying to pitch us on your product I was like oh both you know I if either is an optional I'll take either one of those pads and um the feedback that I got from all of these places was really valuable and actually kind of changed my trajectory and they basically said to me you know we love the spirit oh we got it we got to stop there because you blew back I said at least is the first time I've heard of the idea let's go for a job interview but really the job interview is to see I got some ideas I'd like to pitch it so first of all that's a great way to get in front of which probably is a lot harder if you were just tried to do to try and pitch your idea because they're probably a little bit more a closed door so how did was it well-received did they like that do they say oh that's an innovative way to get in front of us or they say that you know almost a bait-and-switch type of a thing no no they they thought it was brilliant they I think that was like wit the interview was going down a particular path and then everyone was like well what do you want to do in five years what do you see for yourself and it's like actually you know Jim that I happen to have with me and they're like oh that's hilarious they thought it was really funny and inspiring and they actually loved the energy that I brought to that I guess I could tell and then I was super passionate about it right it's like the first questions are all kind of the same like walk me through a discounted cash flow explain to the you know to me and they're like pretty mechanical and then you usually have some kind of more technical test and then it's kind of a conversation so during the conversation and I kind of switch the conversation like hey look at my pitch deck they they loved it I think I'm just waiting for that what do you want to do with your life or where do you see in five years or you know what's your career ass but you're like great questions and then he just completely jump over to where I don't even know how I had the audacity to do that at that point in my life it just like sort of came to me I was like I'm gonna use this as an opportunity to pitch my idea because I thought what's the worst that can happen right they like they say no we can't and I've you're right I wouldn't have been able to um to get in front of them otherwise you know I was a single founder I had no tech skills I wasn't an engineer my idea was okay and I also had no business experience like I don't even think the like entry admin who's reviewing applications would have even looked at that you know at my resume for more than two seconds like so it it was a creative way creative in my mind at to get in front oh my goodness do it Oh what abuse that is a way for people again for an avenger VCS and angels less awesome yeah or we will jump into mortgage Ernie the last question I know it's a bit of a rebel so what was what was your favorite idea that you pitched in the middle of that interview sure yeah so the idea that I came to all the VCS with was a an application called webbley it's a what planning application and this was like before Zola right like this is before a lot of these current wedding planning and event planning applications really took off and I kind of had this platform I was like everyone can collaborate you can plan together and you'll also it'll be a platform to connect vendors with people um so it's kind of like thumbtack neat Zola meets a bunch of other likes indicated in one plus you know maybe medCom in a budget element and like there's a lot going on here and you don't know how to program so I love the idea in theory but this is probably not gonna work but that was my favorite idea apparently after style is a good idea because you've had the others that have come along since and done some of their similar things so so you got that feedback and that almost takes you to your next part of your journey right you got the feedback hey things are applying well think about it but and also thanks for pitching but then you got the feedback of you know I mean you need a bit more technical background they're taking to understanding your ability to to be able to manage some of that so then what did you do with that feedback yeah I thought okay well I'm going to do just that because if I come back here in five years I want to be able to say I did what you said and what you requested so um I went to work at Salesforce um which was like a really you know really great big tech company in Silicon Valley and and at the time was a little bit earlier on in their journey so now I think it's like 75,000 people at back then there's only you know five thousand people when I was working there I worked in their finance and strategy department it was a great opportunity I was able to work closely with two CFOs who were there at the time there and kind of saw how the company ran at a 50 thousand foot level right like help with setting guidance earnings reports you know what was working well operationally where were we inefficient what could we do differently how could be budget to really hit our financial goals and everything at a really top level view but I realized I still didn't have any technical experience so um you know working at salesforce.com and seeing how low customer churn is it kind of inspired me to learn how to build programs force calm application because it felt it's such a safety product so then I learned apex JavaScript Python and sequel because I wanted to learn how to hold data from the system and analyze it as well and then you know salesforce.com for their employees they offer admin and developer classes so you can take those for free um you know pending you can work out a time with your boss to actually take a take a break from working and go to the classes so I started doing that and really loved it I really liked programming and building custom applications and automating processes that was super interesting to me and then what happened was um you know I started to answer questions just within my network people would call me and say hey you work at Salesforce I started at this company now there's 20 of us super small we're trying to figure out how to automatically route leads do you know how to do that and I'd say oh yeah we I learned that yesterday in class I was like I literally just learned how to do this but let me just try for free to help you out and see what we can automate um and I started doing that just sort of in my spare time like 90 minutes right and at the same time my colleague and co-founder Craig Dahle was working at a company called add roll and he was building out the business intelligence group so he was working with their database you know analyzing large sets of data and figuring out really how to strategically invest in different parts of the business based on data and so he would be answering the same questions for his network like hey you know we I you know we just got a new round of funding and my CEO wants to know how much we're gonna need for sales versus marketing and why I don't know how to do that like can you help us and so he was doing the same thing and then we kind of came together like we should probably charge for this and you know it took us a while to really quit our full-time jobs which i think was a mistake I think we should have done it sooner but we eventually did and that's how we founded klaris designs which is a sales and marketing consulting company which is what I currently do today so we started out there we we grew our client base pretty big we were doing kind of like a range of projects building custom applications for them data and analysis and then I went to work full-time for a company called snowflake so they had a great opportunity to work you know in-house and really get exposure to a fast growing company what I realized about klaris is that it was fantastic but I really wanted to see how these solutions that we were giving to companies would actually evolve and mature over time because as a consultant you kind of be parachute in and then you hop right out you don't really get to see how they evolve so yeah I had a great opportunity with someone in my network said listen there's this great company it has a great product ah but you know at this point in time we don't have that many people thinking about how to build the business from an operational perspective like it's the perfect fit for you and if you really want to see high growth in a tech company I promise you like this thing is about to take off so in you know no October 2017 I I started there started in sales ops with one other analyst and the VP at the time we grew the reasoning of 30 about 30 account executives and young people in sales ops and then we grew the team to over 40 people in sales ops at one point 22 or 23 people reported to me and then we went from 30 80s to you know four hundred 80s and a really short amount of time like about two years so um and then I recently gonna before you go jump on the next part I'm gonna dive in just a little bit deeper so on that so you had started klaris design and then jump back over to the startup and what meant what was the decision what made you yeah I you know maybe share a bit at the time but you know you have what you decided just to jump out start on your own do your consulting and then you have this startup that you're you know the year or somebody else's startup and what made you decide to go and join their startup as a posed to keep pushing things or were you trying to juggle both at the same time or how did that work as far as you know you guys one thing that you wanted to start you also want to be involved with other startups and see for how they implement things so tell a little bit more about that now is good question so I think for for me I hadn't really worked at a fast growing startup from like you know zero to 100 before I had worked at Salesforce which was already you know billion dollar-plus and revenue company and saw how something that's established in public works but I didn't actually have the experience myself on okay we are at you know ten million in revenue we want to get to a hundred million or you know five to twenty or I hadn't actually lived that experience myself and I was consulting companies on how to do that for them and I realize like gosh I'm missing something in my own background in my own skillset that will really help take klaris eventually to the next level so for me I figured you know klaris is only going to reach a certain threshold given the experience that Gregg and I have and I think this was an opportunity for me to add more tools to myself so to speak and get really good experience that I knew in the long run for klaris would be much more beneficial for the business so it's more of like a long-term play um I figured you know reg and then other people that we hired we're going to be able to run the business while I wasn't there on it we'd set it up so it was like pretty efficient and I knew that these were skills that like I mentioned in the long run would be the best for the business and then for like my personal development and overall career trajectory so hard to hit almost a common theme it's kind of as you progressed so when you went originally went to the BCA said you need a more of a tech background they need to understand the tech better so then you went and got the tech and then you started your startup and said okay now I need this skill set they don't have a be able to see how they grow and how they do operations how they do the full implementation go from five million to 100 million or whatever that would be so you went out and got that kind of that that skill set as well so it's kind of as you go along figuring out what you don't know or the skill set so you're gonna need and then figuring out how to acquire those skills yes that's exactly right I think that that has been my mo for the past you know like 10 years that I've been working in this field so that yeah that was that's really what guides me and I think like as I continue to and expand it's like how do you continue to get these skills efficiently or you know higher for your gaps and your weaknesses and really bring on people who can help you know support you from from a personal perspective but yeah that's it correct summary ivan i i'd say this i and i've done some of the same thing with my career and though i always joke has said you know attorneys me give great legal advice of the affordable business advice they get the in and outs of legal and yet they very seldom and i guess i called myself an exception but most the time attorneys have never run a business they've never been part of a start-up they've never seen how you make payroll or how you budget for IP or patents or trademarks or anything else and so you always get great legal advice they say why don't you go and spend ten or ten thousand dollars do all this IP work and they're saying because we're start-up and we only have twenty thousand dollars to get everything lodged and we can't put half of our budget night you know and so it's it's one of those and so i I kind of get that same idea that's why it's been interesting as I've done both that you know I do the legal side and help others but I've done my few my own startups founded them continue to run them and do that you get a much different perspective and it gives you ability to give people a lot better advice to give them a lot better or feedback and to make decisions rather than just having one silo thing say now I get where you're at I get where you guys are done it and so yeah I think that's a it's an interesting perspective and I one that I think too often we get so specialized and specialized is great but we miss out on skill says that would also help us to be better yeah I agree I think the lived experience of going through that hyper growth at snowflake is one that you can't just study right um academically and you have like living it and actually being there and having conversations with the current CRO and you know my VP at the time and and and the CEO and like okay we're gonna hire these people now where do we put them okay now this is our goal what do we do like it's just stuff I couldn't have even really imagined having to think through on the BIOS like the best learning experience for me like it was such a great pretty experience so yeah I'm really fortunate for that time okay so now I haven't covered all that we'll get to where you're actually at today so tell us just a little bit about what you're doing today and so you win work for snowflake and if I remember based on our conversation get out no longer with them you're now back to doing your own thing a little bit about what you're doing now sure yeah so I'm back to running Clara's full time as a couple months ago which is great so um after having that fantastic experience it snowflake you know I really felt confident like okay now I want to go back to running this business and I have and really growing it to a level that wouldn't have been possible before so um klaris designs we have two main product offerings we do sales and marketing operations and analytics consulting so how do you set up your processes to get the right data that you need and then how do you analyze that data to make the best decision for the business and then we also have an outsourcing division so we help offload a lot of the manual day-to-day entry day-to-day data entry that you know most people don't necessarily want to spend time doing to free them up to focus on other high-value activities or tasks and we hire and employ you know over 70 people in the Philippines that work on these tasks and it's a quite a large part of the business I never could have imagined not being such a large part of our business so that's really cool to see how how well we've grown there and then the third piece is we're developing our own technology so we're looking to build an application on the salesforce.com platform and automate a lot of the things that we do as consultants when we come in and assess startups you know current CRM system or environment on on their processes so that's what I'm doing now I think my biggest goal is to grow our outsourcing revenue to a certain threshold and then develop our products so we can you know launch at the end of this year that's our that's our goal that's how I'm spending my time I'm gonna ask one question that I was dying to hurt I was interested to know and I'm sure the audience will be finding this thing you're dying to know so you now have done your own you now in your own startup you've been doing it for a bit of time originally a way back when we touched a little bit earlier you pitched in front of VCS and angels and that did you ever go back to them and say now I've got my tech skills now actually done this and now invest in the new and the new startup or did you by that time you already passed it and you already had the ability to start without needing to go to angel an angel or inventor venture ya klaris is been a really lucky and fortunate situation we've never had to take outside funding we strapped a hundred percent it's more than nature of our business model with consulting you if you can find engagement in business you make money from the beginning yeah there were definitely weeks and months in the earlier where I didn't take a paycheck and I was eating ramen for every meal so that was a little bit challenging but um I think it's you know Greg and I were to ever build Weddell II like I was talking about the original idea that we had to I would probably go back to those same people and say hey listen you remember this idea I've tweaked it a little bit I still think it's viable um we need you know like we want to pitch you on investing so hopefully that's an option that I have my back pocket but yeah for sure so you've never had to take outside funding which is really fortunate cool well no that's that's great to know okay I always have my two last questions a lot question before my two last questions will you ever go back and actually do the the wedding or wedding gap or whether you start up is that you always there because I always look at and I have some companies I always saw be a great idea and I still think there and I always say someday I'll go back to him someday I still want to do that and it'll be great and other times I look back and say that was a really job ID I don't know why I spent so much time and effort on it you know what it never worked but now I know we know what I know today versus back then so kind of where did that where did that start-up end up or will you ever go to see yourself going back to it I think um potentially yes I think that maybe in a couple years and I think I'll probably tweak the idea it won't be the exact same one but I would after we build our product with Cyrus I think I'll have a lot more understanding like the skills that were talking about on what that actually entails going from zero to something and developing it with an engineering team working with product working with clients getting customer feedback like that whole experience and journey I'm not as well-versed in yeah I think once we launch the product depending on how does it'll be successful or a huge flop but you'll learn either way I think I'll have much more of a foundation to then go back to that idea and build something so I want to say there's like an 80% chance I do it but yeah I don't know for sure but my yeah my hope is that yes we do we do something similar to it all right yeah well that was a fun fun to walk through your journey and as we kind of wind down the the podcast for this episode I always have the two questions I ask at the end and so I'll ask you as well so the first question is is what was the worst business decision you ever made right okay worse gosh so I failed a lot I think that's the best way for me to learn is to just continuously make mistakes and then bounce back from them but I think the the worst decision business decision I ever made was um around hiring I would say that for a business your number one asset or is your personnel are the employees that you bring on board especially in the early phases of a business they become basically like your family because you're working with these people around the clock I mean starting a business isn't easy it requires a lot of late nights and I think there were times when we were desperate to get work done and we hadn't put effort and thought into recruiting and building a pipeline of candidates and building a training program so that when people were brought on they had in an effective environment to learn and grow within so kind of just like brought on people that we thought could still a gap and it didn't work out very well so I think like really making sure that you are putting a lot of time into building a pipeline of people in interviewing those people making sure that it's a good fit for you just as it is for them it's a two-way street and then really investing in those people when they're there and making sure that they grow and develop into the person that you know that they can be taking like such a serious approach and investing in that just like you would growing your revenue or hitting your targets is something that I didn't do in the beginning that was horrible and now it's completely change I'm gonna agree and that's one I think I think no matter how great you think you're gonna be a hiring it's always a hard one I mean this is a startup or you know if you're an entrepreneur you're in the startup and that you always think that everybody's gonna work as hard as you will they'll do is do is create a job and it it's not you know and it's a much different thing when you're actually ready that the business and that to say well no not everybody is give this and they'll work twenty hours you know a 20-hour day and get these done of that because they're in it you know while they'll do a good job or they may do a good job they you know they got a wife they got a family they got kids and they're in it for the job and the Paycheck and they want to do a good job but it's a much different perspective and it's always kind of interesting to learn on that particularly on hiring as to how you find those people that are you know that will do the good job and then also learning a bit yourself as to what is a realistic expectation okay second question is if you're getting someone that wanted to get into startups maybe do a small business and get things going and what advice would you give them what would be a number one piece of advice right so that's a good question I would say bet on yourself I think that every single person whether you realize it or not has had a million-dollar idea or a fantastic idea the problem is that people feel apprehensive about quitting what's comfortable and their day-to-day to actually focus a hundred percent on this idea um for me personally with klaris I would say that things were sort of petering along while I was trying to balance both at Salesforce and at klaris and then they just skyrocketed once I could focus all of my attention on that one thing and it's scary um but you know try to try to take that risk and really bet on yourself because I promise you no matter what happens it will be a fantastic learning experience either you're going to do really well in which case that's the best case you know that's a a wonderful case scenario or you're gonna fail but you're gonna learn so much so really bet on yourself believe in yourself and take that risk because that's really where I think you know great personal growth and business ideas really evolved alright I think those are both learn or learn how to hire and avoid that mistake and also betting on yourself and making that leap and having confidence because I agree a lot of people have great ideas and it's usually the difference between execution actually doing the idea versus always thinking oh I should have done that so great pieces of advice thank you again for coming on as we wrap up how do people if they want to either get your use your services or reach out or hear more about you or make your make connections any of the above what's the best way for them to connect up with you Oh wonderful yeah so if you go to our website which is www.weather.gov/bmx you just go to inventive journey and apply to be on the the podcast and for those of you that may need help along your journey with along your journey with patents and trademarks feel free to reach out to us we're always here to help and to make sure that we can be there along your journey to make sure it's a successful one so thank you again Rachel for coming on it's been a pleasure I always want to talk more and have more things to hit on than we ever have time but it's been fun to hear your journey and it will be hopefully we can have you on again sometime thank you so much thank you for having me really appreciate it thank you [Music] English (auto-generated)

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