Not Everyone Will Believe In You

Not Everyone Will Believe In You

Jonathan Stern

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs


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Not Everyone Will Believe In You

"I think this is probably true of almost every founder, but certainly first-time founders. For every person that truly believes in you, there's gonna be 100 that either doesn't believe in you, or don't care. That could be investors, that could be potential customers, it can be potential team members. "


"From the people who believe in you (those are gold), draw your inspiration from those people."


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

i think this is probably true of almost every founder certainly every first time founder which is for every person that you know truly believes in you they're going to be 100 who either don't believe in you or don't care that could be investors it can be potential customers it can be potential team members and so what i what i believe is from from the people who believe in you those are gold draw your inspiration from those people [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i am your host devin miller the uh serial entrepreneur that's grown uh some several businesses to seven and eight figure companies as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and today we have a great guest on the uh on the podcast to tell another good journey um jonathan stern and jonathan was a consultant for 25 years and then he realized that uh consultant products um were were going to be unsustainable and wanted to switch it and uh then he left uh bane after being a partner for a while and then launched uh snap strat about four years ago and so he'll tell you a little bit more about all of his journey and what they're doing now with staff snaps if i can say it right snap strap and uh welcome on to the podcast john hey thanks thanks evan appreciate it and i appreciate the opportunity to tell uh to tell my story so i gave just a very short intro but maybe if you want to walk through and we can get into a little bit deep more detail um kind of a little bit about your journey and what led you up to snap strap if i can i'm gonna end up getting tug tight the whole time snap strap yeah i will say that you know we we the name i i'll deviate a little the name snap strat because obviously there's a there's a snap chat uh thing that comes out of it but uh we wanted a name that evoked uh both strategy uh the ability to adhere to something and speed so that's the origin of snapchat he actually only stayed a few times here so so i am yeah as i mentioned i i spent you know 25 years in in strategy consulting and it's a i love the problem solving aspects i love engaging with teams on really hard problems but it's a client service business and what i found is that you know we were turning over at the end of a strategy engagement a spreadsheet or a powerpoint deck that tried to provide a roadmap to a company on the set of strategic decisions it would need to make over the next you know usually two to three years and as i as you know i went through my career and this cycles began to get faster and faster and customer needs were changing faster and faster and competitors were evolving quicker and quicker uh the half-life of that powerpoint or that spreadsheet was getting shorter and shorter and and what what my clients wanted more than anything else was not just advice but an asset that helped them to change help make the decisions that turned into execution and i started to look around i i was as as my clients were asking me for tools instead of the spreadsheet you know something that was sustainable i started to look around this this thing exists was there someone who was doing this and i realized there wasn't uh the space was wide open for a variety of reasons technology was evolving to a place where you could uh you could build a platform that would do some of the things that not all the things but other things strategy consultants do in a way that was sustainable for for for its customers and so uh after researching the market on that one so you say unsustainable and i know you touched on this a little bit but what were the things that made it unsustainable or saying hey this is what i need to fix or what we need to do different sure yeah when you make a decision uh so if you so strategy sets a long-term direction like here's the set of customers i want to go after or here's a set of geographies that's sort of a strategy the value you realize that strategy happens through a series of decisions that are made when you need that strategy execution so i'm going to move let's take a geographic strategy it's an easy one to think about you know the strategy might be you're going to move into 10 countries in the next every six months you gotta figure out what country i'm gonna move into where how much money i'm gonna spend what kind of marketing what kind of products i'm gonna put in that country those are the decisions that turn the strategy actually into getting value and what was happening when you talk about sustainability was in the old days 25 years ago when i started this three years was not a very long time in the evolution of business so the business world if you made a decision year one year three that decision was going to be pretty much still okay um you know fast forward today's world you make the decision three months it's not okay and so sustainability the last but you make a decision a week ago and it's not the same yeah yeah so this world has become this really agile moving thing right and and the way that management teams operate for those of you who lived in corporate you know the corporate world is still stuck in in this really old paradigm of meetings and spreadsheets and we're just moving that into in into what technology allows which is a just an agile digital capability that um and the companies can use to kind of have their strategy always relevant okay no i think that that makes good sense as far as really trying you know taking what people were used to for a long period of time and wait may have worked in the day when the you know everything was less connected you know and i would put it as you know a plethora of things one internet didn't use to connect everybody so much everybody wasn't connected with the phone everybody wasn't connected with an email what happened in europe didn't impact your us as quickly as didn't you know or what happened in greece or somewhere else and you know everything that's just become a lot more interconnected a lot faster pace and everything has more you know a lot more interrelated impacts on each other than it might have might have been so i certainly get the you know the unsustainable nature of looking back and trying to say the way we did a while ago before everything was interconnected doesn't work now so you did the strategy consulting for a while and if i remember you know or remind me part of that was with bain or you went to your partner at maine or was that at the same time or is that afterwards or how did that play in no i so i started my career i was a software developer actually out of college and uh jumped from that into mckinsey back in the late 80s when they were first beginning to worry about technology like technology mattered to companies it was starting to be more than just a mis system that you know ran accounting uh it was a competitive differentiator and so that was always my role i went from mckinsey i went to uh booz allen i went to accenture became a partner at accenture and then and then spent 12 years as a partner partner at bain so it was a so i'm kind of back to my roots in the sense that now i'm back to software again so i think that partly answered my question but i couldn't remember bain is that part of the consulting that wasn't part of the consulting right that is consulting yeah bain is too baine has a bain uh actually split off many many years ago bain capital which sort of the what consulting firm so i was part of bank consulting not part of it okay got here so you did bank and you did that for quite a long time 25 years plus and during that period of time i'm sure he did a lot of consulting a lot of work and so how was it and was there anything so you left bain after being a partner there for quite a long time doing consulting and went back to kind of your software roots how was that transition right so it seems like you know a lot of times when you get into you know doing i don't know corporate america and that always has such a bad connotation bigger business or something with a lot of resources or you know with a lot of reach and a lot of those type of things and you know how did how is it to make that transition from that to more of a startup or your own business uh you you i don't think i could have ever imagined how hard it would be um it because it wasn't you know part of it is the support system the security uh but you know a partner consulting firm is a good job uh you you're comfortable everyone listens to you you're kind of high status right i mean and so the the way the world perceives you and and the ways of the business comes to you is actually it's not easy but it's not it's you know most people believe in you just by the fact that i'm a partner oh i i respect you um and you've got these teams around brilliant people and and you know the the businesses is relationships have been forged over many years jump you know fast forward into a startup first of all the domain knowledge required to run a startup is you know everything from trying to figure out where are we going to sit to our hr policy to finance to you know every aspect of running a company and you just that that's an eye-opener because you don't realize how much work that stuff really is to get right and how important it is and then you know the world doesn't notice you anymore don't they'll notice you the first couple of months you've been through this right but suddenly you're like this invisible blot in this company that's that's no percentage of anyone's mindshare when you when you say hey i'm from snapstrat you know there's snapchat you know or they can't yeah it's it's and so you you become this from this sort of high status high profile individual to running a company that no one's ever heard of and boy you know you have to really believe right i mean you you have to you have to really persist and that you know yeah it's a very hard transition and you you know i did it because i wanted to go i that's quite a dumb career because traditional background consulting consulting at some point i felt like i proved it and i'm just motivated by by you know being able to have this this hill to climb and so it's at the same time very motivating but also you know it's it's really hard it continues to be every day because you know the world is not is not going to flock to you and and i will say one thing it's a popular press around around startups as you know you get the glamour stories of the you know one in a hundred thousand who you know become a unicorn in a year that and so there's this perception but the reality of most of the success stories is really really hard work and it's a lot a lot of persistence and so so you have to kind of just learn to internalize it and i i wouldn't trade it for the world but to say that it was like oh this easy simple thing i'll just step into it and i will be good nah not even close no i agree i mean there is certainly you know almost a prestige or some you know when you when you work with a bigger company or name recognition and especially been there a long time and get a higher position in the company it carries that weight right and then you make the transition and you know people that would previously not that they won't maybe take your call but they're not going to take the you you go down a few levels on importance as far as how quickly they'll take your car if they'll respond or if they'll out for some a because before they were trying to make you happy because you were working a big company they wanted to keep relations or they wanted to land that business or whatever the case may be when you're you know at a startup you know and you typically they're going to say well you're not worth you know not in a mean sense but you're not worth my time or you know i have much more higher important things to do and so it can make it more difficult to get their attention so nonetheless so you make that transition you jump out of you know big business or you jump out of bain go towards uh snap strat said it right that time um or i didn't stumble that type and so you do that you've been doing that for four years so how's that journey gone so you as you started to build it you had the idea we're going to move things into a you know more faster pace or be able to make it sustainable how have you been able to get how is that last four years gone for you um so you know one one really nice thing that's somewhat unusual uh for enterprise software startups not unheard of but the vision has been absolutely consistent with the day you know i had the concept to where we are today i mean the belief that we could take this category of decisions and turn that into a software platform that we could configure for a specific company with a specific decision has been always been consistent and the market the market need is very clear is the conversations we have and so that that that part of the journey of having that kind of diagnosis sort of been in the whole way has been it's been great but i didn't understand um in a lot of attorneys learning how to learn how um and there's so many pieces to the house how do you build a team what kind of skills do you need what does actually that technology platform look like we started when i started the company we didn't have a you know a cto we have a very skilled cto now um who knows how to build it but i didn't i didn't know i just knew that it was possible but i didn't know you know exactly how complex and difficult it was going to be to build and so we've we've learned that we've built that we've acquired you know a couple of of landmark customers sephora on frontier communications so top of a couple of you know fortune 1000 companies that are that are very high profile that's been you know that's been huge so that that part of seeing the product doing what it should do and seeing technology evolve has been has been great that the single thing that's just that i look back and always get wrong is how long everything takes like everything takes whether it's building technology whether it's finding customers whether it's finding you know the the right team whatever it is it's going to take two times as long as you think it should um because you're moving you're making mistakes constantly along the way yeah more than anything else a startup is you know it's a journey of mistakes in recovery not not a journey of doing everything right it's like it's a journey of doing 95 percent of things wrong but then it doesn't change the course and so that's that's how we work but but that makes things take longer no and i think that's a and i think as much many times as you always hear that if it takes you know double the amount of time and double the amount of money everybody also thinks they're always the exception right you're always saying yeah that's for everybody else and yeah it'll take double the amount of time to double them out there but i'm the exception i planned it out well and i've got this covered and we're gonna and i think it's right and i think everybody a lot of times you have to gone through that to just say okay you know it's right it does take double the amount of time it does take double amount of the effort and no matter how much you plan double that because even if you think you're the exception great but double it anyway because more likely than not you're going to be the per you're going to be like everybody else and it's going to take more time and effort and money than you thought it would so now as you've built that you've got you know fast forwarding open almost to where you're at today so you've built it you've you know gone through some of those longer time and money and effort than you thought it would landing some larger clients or you know landing some clients starting to get some traction so where do you think you know the the next six uh six to twelve months will take here where do you see that or that headed yeah i mean we're we're scaling the company which is a big i mean so you think about the stages one the first stage of the company is okay let me understand what product we're actually trying to tell and let's try the customer right and get enough of something in this case you're actually building out kind of using that customer relationship to build out you know the product make sure that there's a need in the market and that product needs that need and then we're at this stage now which okay that exists how do we take that and obviously it continues to evolve the product and the market fit but how do you take that and scale it so we're going from two customers to five customers to 10 customers to 100 customers and that's our journey right now and so that it changes our focus so as a ceo i've actually been spending the last couple of years a very high degree of my time on the product and you know the in and making sure that it meet the needs of the customers now i'm spending all of my time on both the market and and you know increasingly on on investors so that we can begin to you know grow the company from you know the two customers to the customers and this is very different again as a new mindset uh it's very much how we're facing is uh the you know finding the first customer was all about networking relationship the next set of customers is is is much more about you know the numbers game being you know highly persistent continuing to to go after those uh to go after those customers very targeted messaging because these are people that haven't heard of you so there's a very sort of a nuance on on that you know that that part of the job and so for me it's just another one of many many transitions right i'm going from being kind of a product focused ceo to one that's her sales focus and you know it's like anything else another thing to stumble through yeah i think that's interesting i mean because i think that that speaks to a lot of you know what the transition that most companies have to go through and kind of reminds me you know take this or just hand you for a second you know so i always like to read books and i think i may have mentioned this on one or two episodes otherwise you know so i and generally you know i'm as at heart i'm a startup entrepreneur love the small business type of guy and so but if i ever have free time most of the time when people ask me what my hobby is i just use usually say startups but if um if you know if i do have time outside of that and i'm doing a hobby a lot of times i'll read books and i'll read books that are more on the um biography or telling the story of a business or an individual and so one of the reasons my wife always gives me a hard time that my whole life is startup so why would i go read books about other startups and how do i find that interesting but nonetheless i do so i was reading a book about or recently read a book and it's um that will never work and it's really about the story of mark randolph which is the founder of netflix and even though now you hear steve hastings a lot of times um it's really mark randolph that came up with the idea and built it and the i and you know the site the tangent is is you know steve hastings was a former business partner of his they worked together in a previous adventure and he was they drive to work together as they were commuting and he would you know they he pitched the idea of a whole bunch of ideas off of them which one of which was netflix steve hastings says that will never work and then obviously they went on to build it but what are the tangent that i was getting back to the point is that you know they went through a progression where steve you know they had a lot of generalists you have you almost start a company or startup with a lot of generals and i say you know have to wear multiple hats have to be able to do everything and do it well or do it well enough in order to get things accomplished and yet as a business evolves it's transitions from you know you have to do or be a generalist you have to be a specialist right you have to be able to now have people that can do something very well do it just to you know specialize in that and so you have to do that and so as netflix as they were transitioning um you know mark randolph basically had steve hastings to come down and said you've done a great job until now as ceo but for the next stage we have to find a new ceo and basically i'll be that person and they had to make that transition but i thought it was interesting that you know whether or not you're the guy or whether or not anybody's a person or whether or not you have to look at it and say okay i've grown it to a point i this is my specialty i'm the generalist i can build something take the idea stage some people can make that transition very well and others are saying nope this is it's grown to the past the point that i can do i'm out and i'll let somebody else take the message so i think that everybody goes through those growing pains as a startup whether or not you're you make the transition somebody else makes it for you or however that plays i think it's an interesting kind of common thread throughout a lot of businesses yeah now it's um you know the way i the way i view it is um we have a great team really really fortunate and if the cdo's drop in my in my view you know make reduced traffic give them the resources they need and be i view myself as more working for the team as them working for me and so you know my job is to fill in the spots where we need we need help the most and to stay out of the way where we don't um and and that's you know as long as as long as i can do that then then that's the right thing for me at the moment i can't i might my goal and the goal of our team and even our a spectacular very large company in a new category and if we're gonna we're gonna do that you know we're gonna do that collectively and whatever you know and the whole attitude is well whatever it takes right and so i think kind of self-awareness of those kinds of things is you know and is important and and you have to understand your skills are and where you don't have them right i mean knowing what you're not good at as a leader is probably more important than knowing what you're good at um no i i think that makes i mean that's very good good advice so well as we're reaching towards the end of the podcast and always plenty more things we could talk on but as we reach the end i always ask two questions at the end of each podcast so maybe we'll jump to those now so the first question i always ask is so what was your worst business decision you ever made so i you know coming coming from consulting i i the first thing you're consulting when you start a new project or something okay let's let's get the right team that's like the everything is around the team right and so to me when i started snapchat that was just another project right okay if i get the right team i'll be will be great let's get the right team and then get started but the reality of the first six months in a startup is you're just trying to figure out get people to talk to figure out what the product looks like and find someone who's willing to let you work with them and that doesn't really take a team and so we had a team wasn't uh it was great people but it wasn't the a wasn't the right team and there wasn't that much for that team to do and so we kind of spun around and and it felt really awkward i mean it was just it was this really and so then and then we you know then and then we landed uh sephora our launch customer and then shortly after that we reconfigured the team because we had downgrade skills to build the technology product which we hadn't have and and so you know once we had the customer you could figure out what team you needed and so i you know i think i wasted sort of a lot of time and energy and and and you know people's you know and people's energy on who who are along the ride with me at first just by going to the team too early instead of thinking about what do i really need to do and what's really my role at this stage of the company so if i started again it would just be me for a while until i really had enough for a team to do and then and then i kind of got people out of i had a need instead of deciding i needed a team to start so it's almost uh the start or the starting point the right team was you and then it needed to grow to a bigger team but exactly yeah do it as you need it not as uh not not because you think you need a team yeah and so i think that's different for every startup sometimes you do need you know three or four programmers or you need one programmer or you need a sales guy because it's really a service company but i think that defining what that team is and making sure that that that team may be different on different points in time as something certain to learn from so okay so we jump to my second question um which is if you're talking with somebody that's just getting into a startup or small business what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them so you know in every i think this is probably true of almost every founder certainly every first time founder which is for every person that you know truly believes in you they're going to be 100 who either don't believe in you or don't care that could be investors it can be potential customers it can be potential team members and so what i what i believe is from from the people who believe in you those are gold draw your inspiration from those people right they they are and you'll recognize them because they're going out of their way they're putting their reputation on the line they're often putting their money on the line they may be putting their careers on the line because they believe in in you as a as an individual in what the concept you have was and so you can draw a ton of inspiration from those people but for the 99 who don't believe in you for all the investor conversations you're gonna have where someone says they don't like your ideas for all the customer conversations but they don't return a call because your number is 78 you know just not important enough draw your motivation from those people you got to be like to me because you persistence is everything in this business you've got to persist persist persist persist persist through all of these you know for every one positive thing that happens 30 bad things are going to happen so how do you get through this motivation so whenever i when an investor still knocked the best i visualized them five years from now going wow i really wish i had invested in snapstroke you know for every team member who decided not to join i visualize wow if i could have gone back and done it then i would you know and and i dragged my motivation it's not those people are bad it's not that they're even this is you know just i know we're going to succeed i i i have this view of its inevitable and so i you know it's that's how i draw draw that motivation that's how i sustain that through the fact that all of these uh you know there's there's so many people who are gonna be negative about what you're doing doesn't matter yeah great it is it's because it's a new people don't recognize it and they don't see it the same way that you do yeah no i think that's a that's a good or good advice as well is to draw from the positivity of those that are your cheerleaders there are your support and take it with certainly take it with a grain of salt those that are negative or that you know they don't don't see the vision and figure out how you know as you hit those harder times how do you draw on that that positivity so well as we wrap up as we get or finish um how if people want to either be your customer invest in you they want to you know be your cheerleader they want to be those supportive people or anything else what's the best way to reach out to you connect with you uh jonathan at or or linkedin neither one i'm always happy to talk about what we're doing i'm happy to uh you know doesn't connect with people anyway um i certainly have had the advantage of having any advisors and mentors along the way so i'm happy to provide that or you know love to find customers and investors as well so just just uh reach out either by email or or on linkedin all right i certainly invite everybody to connect and to make the or make those connections and to be a customer an investor or just a cheerleader and reach out reach out for anything else that they may need well jonathan thank you for coming on it's been a pleasure to have you on fun to talk through your journey and hear what you're doing and wish you the next leg of your journey all the success um and for those of you that would like to be a tell come on and tell your journey on the podcast feel free to go on to to apply um if you are a listener make sure to subscribe so you can hear this episode and all the new episodes as they release and uh if you ever need any help with the patents and trademarks certainly feel free to reach out to us at miller ip law jonathan thank you again for coming on it was a pleasure good luck with the rest of your journey and have a good one thank you devon [Music] English (auto-generated) All Recently uploaded

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