Pull Up 3 Other People
The Inventive Journey
Podcast for Entrepreneurs
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Pull Up 3 Other People
"For every step that you take up that ladder, through a network or through a connection from somebody that pulls you up, pull up 3 other people behind you. That's my advice."
"Think about the pyramid effect, the positive pyramid effect, if we all did that. It'll pay back so many times if you do that. If you don't just look out for yourself, but look out for your community."
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
uh so i would say for every step you take up that letter through a network or through a connection through somebody that pulls you up pull up three other people behind you um that's my advice because think about the pyramid effect we could have the positive pyramid effect if we all did that and it'll it'll pay back uh so many times too if you do that if you don't just look out for yourself to look out for your community [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the uh serial entrepreneur that's uh start and founded uh several companies that have grown to be seven and eight figure companies as well as uh ceo and founder of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks um on today's episode we have another great guest uh ann and i'm going to slaughter your last name so i'll try and say coke you cute i don't know it's coke sorry you're good i did i made my best attempt i've never been good at uh pronouncing la our names is general so then it gets even worse when it gets to be harder but ann coquette and uh she will tell a little bit more about her journey she's uh right now she's building the uh the guild academy and been doing that and uh and a few other things for the past while prior to that she has studied in germany as well as traveled around austria worked everything from detailing cars to catering events to helping out on her husband's kickstarter campaign for an iphone case and is now uh doing some uh things to create a uh a safe space in a conference area that's done virtually to help women out in various industries and so with that much of an introduction welcome on to the podcast dan thank you so much devon thank you for having me it's a it's a great pleasure oh fun to have you on so i went over a brief amount of your journey but maybe if you want to start from the beginning and we can talk through a little bit about all the various things you've done and what's led you up to where you're at today yeah totally so today i'm actually the founder and ceo of the guild which is a global community of female entrepreneurs and investors and innovators all over the world so we have people from azerbaijan as well as el salvador which is super exciting and inspiring and what we do is we connect people we connect them one-on-one we connect them through events and we also connect them to amazing resources all over the world in the innovation hubs and specifically in silicon valley which is where i've landed eight years ago so you might ask well you have some accent and yeah it's a german accent and so how did you end up in silicon valley right so it's been a long journey so i'm going to take you on that journey um but we'll make it short right um and i'll also paper in a few things you know what i learned during that journey because i think we're all here to learn we're entrepreneurs every day is a new learning right um and so so how did that all start and maybe i go back to to stuttgart and germany and the area where i grew up and you gotta picture that area as as an area where every sidewalk is very very clean and everybody has this little sign that if you are in a in a house with multiple units you actually move the sign from unit to unit and it means that for this week you're supposed to clean the sidewalk and if you don't there's gonna be drama okay and so that's the culture and the people and the area that i grew up in and what it means is that it's a beautiful area because and i have a brother-in-law that's in the air force and he's actually with his family was in the air in the u.s air force but worked in germany and that was one of the things that they commented at when we talked to them at one point was how clean the streets and the sidewalks and everything was so that's the second confirmation that it's not just a it's a not just a myth or anything but they actually really you actually really do take pride in making sure that everything is very spotless and clean yeah and there's a process involved you know and i'm telling you this little story because it it shows you you know the cultural differences between the area where i came from in the area where i'm now which is the united states and silicon valley where you know people break stuff and there's mess and there's everything is messy and and you you try things and you you don't go by process you build your own new process right and you challenge the norms and so what i realized i didn't realize i belong in silicon valley but what i realized was i don't belong in germany and so that's kind of why i set out on this crazy journey uh actually first to australia where i did the car detailing and and all those things and what i learned which is so important i think for any entrepreneur on that journey is you know you've got to really open your mind to other people's points of view how they feel what's their background do they also have a sign that tells them to clean the sidewalk or is it different right and when you travel no matter where you go i think you really learn that you really learn to listen you learn to understand that you're not right all the time you understand that you know there are other points of views and people may have problems you haven't even realized they have so they're worth solving and i think for entrepreneurs especially with the prototyping mindset and and user testing mindset that's so important to learn and to learn all early on and which then really kind of let me later on into that whole user discovery uh process where when i now solve problems i really ask first you know who's my user and what are their problems and i'm am i making a ton of assumptions that um maybe wrong like maybe i ask a few more people before i jump and go into the solution mode and that's exactly what i did like every entrepreneur every good entrepreneur who failed a bunch of times when it was my time after my consulting career in in germany and in switzerland and in malaysia and england i was like okay i know it all because in consulting that's what you're supposed to do right you need to tell people what to do so i had the same mindset i knew it all even though i traveled and i had all this background and the first thing i did was i started an art business after my consulting career and i didn't ask a single person in that industry what's it like how do you sell products you know like nothing i just thought i knew it all there's a whole bunch of things in there and we won't be able to hit on all of them but jumping back just a little bit so you've studied in germany and graduated and then you went on a bit of a world tour and so if i remember when we talked a little bit before about her before the podcast there that includes detailing cars i think you mentioned catering event you're a park ranger so was it you were just a nomad wandering and kind of just whatever something fun that came along you just wanted to take an adventure or how did you kind of find these different eclectic jobs as you wandered through the various areas well there was certainly no strategy back then i just wanted to explore as much as i could and it was a beautiful way um what happened was australia did this work holiday visa and i think they still do that for people in their 20s so you can go and for one year you can't just work there so you don't need a visa or anything which means you can do anything you know you can detail cars or you can work at coventry fasteners to implement a new oracle system which is something i did too or you can work at the the sausage factory in uh in melbourne which which really was a sausage ham factory which was called um dawn small goods and i helped them uh create the the procurement system in sap and you know and ran that during uh someone's maternity leave and so it really opened up all these opportunities with this program and i think australia is doing a really good job of bringing people and innovation through those programs and also startups now actually to to help the country innovate it was super fun and i have to tell you i mean uh you know i learned so much and of course i failed a lot too but all these experiences from you know car detailing all the way to to oracle implementation was was so worthwhile and somehow taught me something that i later used in my in my startup career so the the last tadget that'll get back to your journey so out of all of the travels and eclectic different uh you know jobs that you did now which one was your favorite oh god that's a tough question my favorite um i definitely loved the park ranger role in kakadu national park because it was so out of anything i knew before and i was completely a fish out of water you know i had no idea about the bush i didn't understand aborigines i didn't understand their culture i didn't understand how they think and yet i was there and i had to create this little camp at twin falls with with another park ranger there um that the aborigines run the tourist boats there you know so uh yeah absolutely incredible experience and definitely something i could have never planned or prepared for all right so park ranger is the the favorite of the bunch all right so now we we take back go back to your journey just a little bit so you win you know you did your world tour all sorts of fun and interesting jobs and did that so how did how did then you transition to the us and what you're doing now and what brought you to kind of make or you know go from doing a whole bunch of different jobs to to try and build a community for for women and with the guild yeah so it was just one year where i jumped around like crazy and sort of lived lived out my teenage years and my 20s i guess so i then went back to switzerland four years of consulting which also made me travel a lot but obviously with a very different focus and then i went traveling again in south america for four months um i was looking for projects as well that we could support with a non-profit organization i had started on the side in switzerland and somebody called me when i was in brazil and i said you know we have this project here in england t-mobile and orange had merged and they needed a transition transformation project manager so i made the decision to go back to england and do that for one year and a lot of the people on that project had also worked in the u.s and i was always interested in the us and thought well maybe maybe i should go and check out the country and it was also my best friend's wedding and all that culminated on me um you know getting a ticket and landing in michigan buying my red convertible i always dreamt of as a german as we do and driving down route 66 and on that trip i met an old friend of mine who i met on that australia trip like many years before and um it took two months and we got married in san francisco so it's it's this crazy love story and it really catapulted me into silicon valley without even knowing uh what i was doing and some of my advice to people is also you know go with your gut just just follow follow what your gut tells you not everything can be planned and somehow life is very interesting ways how it leads you and you know of course you have to also listen to your brain and and make sure you have a plan of some sort but sometimes it works out when you go with your gut and especially when you start companies like you i want you to go with your passion don't do something that makes sense for the world but you're not passionate about but you know do something that you're really passionate about because this is going to be a long journey and it's going to be a lot of ups and downs so do something that you really love and so well i loved my husband and i loved san francisco you made a mistake go ahead yeah and and uh yeah we're still together so you know eight years in um so uh yeah we landed in san francisco we started a company together the consumer product company that my husband ran the kickstarter for and that was something to fill the gap between me being able to work and green card application and all that good stuff and it was it was cool because it immediately we found some wholesalers for that product we also got our patents for the design and then we we sold it in like 15 countries or so and um it was first full time and then i started working at genentech as well in the marketing and later the innovation department and that really sort of kicked me into the thick of silicon valley and all the investors and the vcs and the funding and the and the startup pitches and all that good stuff and so i got to know the startup world and the small consumer product space but i also got to know the investor space and the accelerators and all those ecosystems that really help entrepreneurs get ahead and the combination of the two was really pivotal in my understanding of you know the entrepreneurial ecosystem which i didn't know before right because i was just a consultant um and and really understanding the the value of your network too because i got here and i had i knew nobody zero people right just my husband and a few friends and that was it i i didn't know like literally i i knew two people in san francisco when i arrived and now and now i i know a lot of people and it's because i really put the work into networking when i arrived and into going to all these networking events and uh and standing there with this glass of warm chardonnay in my hand and having a bad cheese cracker and i thought to myself you know like why am i listening to five guys on stage telling me something and you know where where is the nice sparkling wine and where's the fun in this and where is the diversity of thought and diversity of gender as well and all of that and that sort of got me into that that mindset of like okay you know what i think we need to do something here because it's it's awesome to be on an entrepreneurial journey but why don't we share it with people and you know that was me starting to really step into my entrepreneurship and saying okay we need to understand what's going on here we need to ask the users we need to build a community around that and i started that with a ladies club and then four years ago i transformed that into a tech startup that is now the guild so yeah this is how this all came about and in between i did some i tried some startups in the pet nutrition space and i advised a bunch of startups in the digital health world in the female health world as well and i'm a mentor and advisor to singularity university that brings a lot of really great thinkers to silicon valley and connects them to each other and also to the german american accelerator and you know a bunch of other universities like university of san francisco and california of the arts academy of the arts um where i connect with entrepreneurs who are budding entrepreneurs and really help them sort of go on their journey and connect with the right people in silicon valley and that's that's really what i what i love doing like connecting people and connecting the right thoughts to each other all right no i that's that's a very interesting and fun journey to hear so now is your to take where you're at today which is the guild right and and so and i think is a wet url is led skilled is that right yeah let's do guild.com and so you know one question i've had and i'll take it from the you know the the guy's perception the man's perspective because that's the only one i have but you know so what's you know when you're and i support diversity understanding that you know a diversity of opinion and thought and and backgrounds and i think everything from you know nationalities to gender to you know backgrounds to where you grew up all of those can play and provide different diversities but what is the things that you know if you're to look at the guild and as you know women-minded women run what are the things how do you help women or what is the focus or you know what do you do different than what would be some of the ones you mentioned was the man run or the other ones run how do you make that community that their support you know supports that that's that population yeah so we do it in two ways one way is with technology so i wrote a bunch of algorithms to take your networking profile and my networking profile and see if there is a match there and we do that for the entire community and no matter what your networking intention is we we promise you that we connect you with one person per month or per week that seems to be a good match and so it really keeps community fresh so it's a little bit different to a lot of networking groups and communities you can join online and um and i know of so many examples where people have found business mentors and board members co-founders invest investors as well and people to invest in right from the investor perspective that have really led to to ongoing deep authentic real connections and that's what what really the guild is all about these deep connections that we're building in the network so it's not just a shallow hay and a business card exchange at a networking event but it's much more purpose driven and deeper and at the same time we're also supporting the community with content that is educational content that we feel that we hear from a lot of women they want so now you could say well man would benefit as well absolutely but we also add things that come up a little bit more often in the female community than when i talk to my my male mentees for instance in startups so we talk about self-confidence and posture syndrome we help you really create that financial forecast and create a strong financial forecast we help you think big you know obviously a lot of ideas that that sort of stop at a certain ceiling so we we try to break that open and say what does scale really mean for you you know how can you get to those um 100 million people and and create a bigger impact and we also uh connect with people on this emotional level especially in the academy where we say look what kind of a business do you want to build not everybody needs to build a unicorn and that's what silicon valley is all about and the investment community you know they're hunting these unicorns that are 100x the value from when you invest and what that means you sacrifice a lot during that journey to to go and create that hyper growth so maybe you're somebody who wants to create a company that only grows 5x maybe you're somebody who puts the values of for the community you serve and your company first and therefore maybe you want to be a b corp a b certified corp or maybe you want to take money from other investors that don't expect you to grow 1000x and you do a revenue share model and we really ask those questions and we we help people identify that there's different paths in entrepreneurship and then help them select the right path for them and if they want to go you know a thousand x i will help them with all the connections in the investment world i have and i will help them with the growth models and the business models that go with that and um you know that starts from marketing all the way to how do you how do you serve that community that is already part of of your user base et cetera and so yeah that that's what what we're supporting and um you know i'm always asked why is it just women and i think at a point where we're still just getting sort of that two to five percent of venture funding that goes to to women-only teams and about 14 to mixed teams and like over eighty percent goes to male only teams i think there is still a place for female-only communities that are safe space where where we can discuss those questions and perhaps also the bias we encounter it doesn't mean that's the only solution but it's one piece of the puzzle and i hope that one point we can also bring in more male mentors into our network and create more of a of a diverse community um but i think we're not there yet and if anybody has ideas or questions about that i'm also always excited and interested one question i have that kind of dovetails into that because i know that you have a connection with one of our previous podcast guests that we've had on the show which is uh anita garden yes that was was that through the guild or was that or networking events or how did you guys connect yeah that was actually sort of the guilt because holly jackson from the microsoft incubator connected with me to discuss partnerships with that um institute and us and potentially at our conference that this was before covet 19 because we do a yearly conference and we usually do that in different locations in san francisco so she then said tonight somebody is speaking i think you should meet and that was anita and so i made my way over from from my co-working space in the ferry building in san francisco to the reactor and i met her and i thought she was the most amazing person i've met in a long time and i really enjoyed the discussion she had there at the microsoft reactor and i connected with her afterwards and we spoke for a long time and i said anita you need to be part of the guild and we need to do a spotlight on you because you're just so inspiring and that's what we do we highlight we catalyze people you know we want to tell your stories and and that's how we connect it and then ever since then we've promoted her events she has some pretty amazing webinars she's doing right now also during covet 19 times about care teams and and then you know she's connecting me to one of her investors chris here who already is an expert on the guild academy and so we're figuring out if he can do something together perhaps he comes to our serendipity conference the virtual summit that we run in september this year and so it's really a snowball effect and you know i don't even know how holly found me but holly joined the guild we met and then you know that led to anita and anita led to us and i think you never know how you're going to make those connections well i think it's interesting so first of all for anybody that hasn't i would strongly recommend anita is an awesome was an awesome guest and she's doing a lot of great things so certainly go back and check out that episode and listen to hers but i think it's interesting that you know the networks that we weave and the people we connect with and you know how how you make those connections is oftentimes you know can lead to you know always should be open to connections and making those because i think that it can lead to a lot of opportunities and if you're so focused on never you know what you're doing that you have your head down to the point that you could never make those connections you can miss out on a lot of opportunities well as we kind of start to wrap up the the podcast and there's always about 20 more things that i want to talk about than we ever have time to so where do you see you know see you do a lot of things and i think you still do a lot of a lot of things everything from entrepreneurship i think you'd still do some speaking although with covet it might be a little bit harder but at least virtually and do a bit of community community leadership as well as do the guild so where do you see kind of with all of that the next uh six months to a year yeah that's a great question i i think uh it's definitely on the educational part because we're all kind of you know in a new normal now where we work from home a lot and we don't have these connections every day serendipitously so i think targeted content is really important right now and building your brand and sending out that messaging even if it doesn't convert into um paying users right now i tell everybody this is a great time to build your brand this is a great time to tell the world what values are important to you because of copy type 19 because of black life matters because of so many other things that are happening right now in the world because our value systems are really a little bit shaken up by everything and so it's also a good time to go back to the why and my why is really i want to see more female entrepreneurs in the world and i want to see more solutions coming from female entrepreneurs perhaps for the female population see the world that's true for women's health that's been um traditionally uh not looked at as much and it's true for a lot of other areas as well and so i want to do my part to share my experience of the various different startups and the ecosystems that i've plugged in and i do that through the guild academy so we're definitely doubling down on the guild academy we're running a summer academy in july it's an eight-week program and it ends in the serendipity virtual summit and where you can meet investors in our founder thunder lounge and and that will be definitely one of our focuses and then i'm i'm also building partnerships with other entrepreneurial ecosystems that want to support that really early stage entrepreneur and they may not have the content and the great modules and the experts that can speak about it so we want to build more partnerships and there's something coming up very soon i can't announce it yet but i'm very excited about it and it's going to be more in the digital health space as well which is blowing up right now right through through kobe 19. so i'm very excited about that and i think you know doubling down on education right now in this time is a good strategy for us well awesome well i i think that there was a good night and within all that a good nugget in there and i think there's a lot of truth in that you know to making those connections have to almost be more of an effort now where you have at least at least for the time or time being a people not having quite as many live events not getting out as much or not networking as much or just generally naturally making those connections i think there's certainly room for a platform to help to make those connections so you can still be involved with the communities still be getting that whether it's leadership guidance support and all of the above so well as we wrap up i always have two questions that i ask at the end of the podcast we'll jump to those now so the first question i always ask is what was the worst business decision he ever made oh well i think ver's business decision was working with the wrong people and we all lose our we all you know as entrepreneurs we probably had a job before and we leave these jobs because we couldn't really be who we wanted to be and we were also perhaps not surrounded by the people we wanted to be surrounded by and then it's even more important to make a decision and choose the people you want to work with in your businesses and whenever i had people in my business that i hired or um yeah hired that were not aligned with our values it was a disaster so make sure they're they're really you know the right people that you bring in all right well i think that's a good lesson to learn and i think it's one that you know it asks that question there's always a lot of interesting or interesting answers but i'd say the most common one is always to do with people and hiring and or who you bring on and who you don't bring on and who you have to let go and all you know all the surrounded that so i think that's always a lesson i'd always reinforce the people that there's there's a lot to do with the people you bring in the culture that you build so okay moving on to the second question i always ask is so if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into startup and maybe we'll we'll flavor it with if you're talking to a woman given that's a lot of we you guys focus on now but a woman that was wanting to just get into a startup or small business just getting going what would be the one piece of advice you'd give to her uh so i would say for every step you take up that letter through a network or through a connection through somebody that pulls you up pull up three other people behind you um that's my advice because think about the pyramid effect we could have the positive pyramid effect if we all did that and um it'll it'll pay back uh so many times too if you do that if you don't just look out for yourself to look out for your community no i think that you know one of the i think the mantras that i always like and it's throughout a lot of the business thing and i can't remember who's there's a lot of people that push it is the idea of you know the giving before you ask to get right in the sense a lot of times when you go out and sell to a community you give out you know whether it's give free information give free advice give free mentoring ship but a lot of times as you're giving that and building the community you get a return in many fold and it's not that you're going out giving that trying to get something in return but just naturally as you're helping out other people and as you're building and giving those things to others to build it then you have that national return so i think that that's certainly a a great uh feedback for anybody getting into startups and small businesses especially women non-women compare and either in either case so now as we wrap up so people want to get involved they want to go check out the the guild and get in or do this any of the events they want to get to reach out to you or have any questions or looking for advice or mentorship what's the best way to reach out and contact you go to letskill.com we have a free membership and we have a paid one too and there's all the information there you can also connect with me directly at an a n e let skill dot com send me a note ask any questions you may have and our events right now are all free of charge so check out one of our events and see if you like it and if that's the community you want to connect with and then you can join us on our platform as well and you can also make use of the one-on-one introductions and those on those awesome benefits we have there all right well i definitely and uh i definitely invite everybody to go check out what's guild and make sure that they can get involved with the community and uh to uh and to get and participate in that and i appreciate and you coming on it's been a fun time to talk to your journey and we'll have to have you on again to see how uh as you make the transition to virtual events and how that goes and how you're able to build and build that community but thank you again for coming on um for those of you that are interested in telling your journey on the inventive journey we're always looking for great guests and people that are having a good journey to tell and you can always go on to inventivejourneyguest.com and apply to be a guest on the show for listeners make sure to subscribe and uh so you can catch this episode and all the new episodes coming out and certainly for anybody that's needing help with any patents and trademarks certainly feel free to reach out to us at miller ip law thanks again ann for coming on it's been a pleasure and i wish you the best of the remainder of your journey thank you same to you devon have a good one bye you English (auto-generated) All Sales Recently uploaded