“Startup Ideas:” David Walks Episode 3 with Evy Wilkins, VP Marketing at UNYQ

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Evy Wilkins:How do you start something, and why … why is it so hard to start something? So few people do it.

David Smooke:Well it’s hard because it doesn’t exist before you start it.

Evy Wilkins:Well right.

David Smooke:Like it’s like nothing.

Evy Wilkins:There’s nothing there so it’s very few people start and then a vast majority of the people who start immediately assume that there is someone else who has the answer for them and they go out and try to find it even though they took this crazy step.

David Smooke:And at the same time you’ll have people saying they do have the answers, even when they don’t have the answers.

Evy Wilkins:Correct, correct. So …

David Smooke:You have to weed through a lot of bullshit.

Evy Wilkins:You do. You do. I just think that the process of coming up with ideas and finding clarity, you know very few endeavors are what they started as, so there’s a lot of growth that happens and a lot of change that happens and in order for that change to happen you have to talk to people. Your ideas have to evolve. You do have to get out there and ask people to have conversations about your idea and I think where we maybe fail is that we ask too much for what to do next, we ask for the next step or we ask for instructions.

I think people, myself included, we want to jump to conclusions we want to have a resolution and I think we’re … how do you, you know, personally how do you balance generally exploring ideas with your stuff? You need help, but how do you trust the answers. I don’t know. I think … yeah, I’ve been very interested in … even repeat entrepreneurs they have to redefine their play book.

David Smooke:Yeah.

Evy Wilkins:What worked the first round doesn’t work the second round. Why do people keep thinking that they have the answers for you, or they know the way?

David Smooke:It’s also hard when they haven’t done a similar thing before. It’s like you’ve never seen … some people have seen a company go 100 people to 10,000 people which is an amazing stage. Some people have seen it go from 0 to 10, 10 to 100 then back to 50. It’s like each different step of the company is, it’s a very different way to approach your business.

Evy Wilkins:Yeah, absolutely, and you need such different skills and you’re never going to find somebody who’s really been through exactly what you’re going through.

David Smooke:Yeah.

Evy Wilkins:It’s just not possible or probable perhaps. But, so how do we as entrepreneurs or future entrepreneurs find that balance of starting, following your gut? When you decide, what do you decide to measure? What do you decide are your indicators of …

David Smooke:I love …

Evy Wilkins:… going in the right direction.

David Smooke:I love when a young entrepreneur talks and, like, oh ‘We measure everything. We measure everything.’ Oh, okay what is this everything?

Evy Wilkins:Yeah, absolutely. I mean what matters? What matters changes of course at different phases. But when you’re first getting started what is, what should you be focused on? Because you can focus on everything. I mean there’s everything to focus on.

David Smooke:Have you had an experience where you thought you picked the right or the wrong stats to focus on at one of the early stage companies that you worked with?

Evy Wilkins:I think I always just tend to … I’m a very big fan of Bill Walsh. If I were to have one mentor …

David Smooke:Oh Evy, that’s a good choice.

Evy Wilkins:If I was to have one in the world, like somebody I’m going to idealize and I don’t idealize anybody.

David Smooke:Have you met him?

Evy Wilkins:No.

David Smooke:Or did you meet him?

Evy Wilkins:No, I never did. And I was introduced to him by Derek Skaletsky who is one of the cofounders of Knowtify.

David Smooke:And how could you be … how could you be introduced to him when you didn’t …

Evy Wilkins:Well, introduced to his concept in his book.

David Smooke:Oh, okay. Oh yeah.

Evy Wilkins:Which I was re-reading a part of yesterday.

David Smooke:You know one of the stats in there, it’s an amazing stat. Whenever they switched to the West Coast Offense the Niners went from … they moved up to the highest completion percentage. They moved the pass per attempt, so how far the ball was actually in the air, was the lowest in the league, and then the yards per catch was the highest. So the whole philosophy was to get people moving forward catching the ball in short passes.

Evy Wilkins:Got it.

David Smooke:And it was a really, the end result is their passes were for the most yards but the ball was in the air the least amount of time, so they kind of revamped how people were looking at how you should throw the ball to win the game.

Evy Wilkins:Interesting.

David Smooke:It was really clever, and it also made the quarterback, his arm didn’t have to be as strong. He just had to be more accurate.

Evy Wilkins:Right.

David Smooke:You want to walk through here?

Evy Wilkins:Sure. You know his book is called The Score Will Take Care of Itself and that’s how I feel about early stage initiatives of any kind. That if you are, if you have a vision and you hold yourself to certain standards then you … focus on what you can control. Some of the numbers you can control and the rest … [engine noise] Gosh.

David Smooke:Wow.

Evy Wilkins:The rest will take care of itself.

David Smooke:It’s funny because the motorcycle’s not on the street. It’s in the garage.

Evy Wilkins:It’s in the garage. I think that in general focusing on optimizing a funnel, for example, in an early stage startup, is a bad move. Because you would just be getting in as many people in the door as possible. You should be spreading your net as wide as possible. Exposing as many people to your concept or your product, worry about filtering way down the line.

And know that if it’s a B2B sales process that you’re going to have to do triage. But hey, the more people you bring in the door the better chance you have. Save all optimization for later. All of it. Don’t worry about it.

David Smooke:I like it.

Evy Wilkins:That’s my take on it.

David Smooke:The danger. One of the dangers is your early customers are really going to form what the product is. Some people, and I’m on the fence about this, they’ll say it’s better to have 5 ideal, in quotes, customers that they’re from 100 to 200 employees with a 15 person sales team and this is the ideal person for what I’m building. People go in with that approach.

It’s like, well you don’t. Well number one, you don’t know if that’s the ideal organization that gets the most value for your product. An ideal can be the value they get and also the profit margin for you. Maybe your product is just for one gigantic sales organization or your product that the individual sales person that goes rogue and uses it. It’s …

Evy Wilkins:Right.

David Smooke:but the danger is these early customers will shape a lot of what you do with their feedback.

Evy Wilkins:Well I think that …

David Smooke:Or they should if you do it right.

Evy Wilkins:I think that’s fine. I guess maybe that’s a phase that comes before what I was just talking about. So if you have a vision you should go out and talk to the people that you think would most benefit, that fit your vision and if in the process of doing that you discover that that’s not the right fit or you find other groups that are perhaps a better fit you make that change. I think you’re always going to be making that change of how products develop in the product line and all that great stuff.

But I think obviously you learn from your customers but you’re doing this because you have a vision. You do have a larger vision.

David Smooke:Yeah.

Evy Wilkins:You want something to happen.

David Smooke:The larger vision is really the exciting part.

Evy Wilkins:I think so.

David Smooke:You know it’s kind of getting back to the beginning it’s like without this you don’t have the courage, the collateral, or even the purpose to take the start.

Evy Wilkins:Right.

David Smooke:Yeah, it’s really funny to just put it all out there and move on.

Evy Wilkins:I think yeah, you know, I think …

David Smooke:It’s a … you’ve got to admire those people.

Evy Wilkins:I think that you have to listen to yourself a lot. You have to decide what you want to do and go do it. I think that’s what starting is all about and I wish that … I guess I just, I tend to … I think I don’t ask for enough advice from people but I don’t think asking for advice is really what … some people tell you to get advice. Get advice from people.

I don’t know if necessarily asking for advice is what you should do but rather just have conversations with people, in general. Because you should be exploring ideas not saying what would you do, or how should I handle this situation. But, hey, let’s hypothetically talk about something or let’s just talk in general about the concept of starting for example, and see where it talks you. Less looking for answers and more just exploring as many concepts as possible – constantly – so that when you do have to make the decision, somewhere, subconsciously, that’s all [inaudible 00:10:01] got. Then, you know, maybe you’re better off.

David Smooke:Yeah, it’s a tough call. It’s a tough call. I think you learn a lot in the moments when you don’t ask for advice, for sure. Just going through … I always thought once you’re asking for … like, you’re literally asking for the advice as opposed to telling them a story and waiting for them to jump in. I think that area you end up learning more. Because when you ask for advice I feel like people get some of their canned responses in there.

Sometimes they’re pointing to the right thing and maybe I’m really just talking about a semantic here but I don’t know.

Evy Wilkins:Oh.

David Smooke:Got a homeless person. No. I guess he was just taking a nap.

Evy Wilkins:I think he was taking a nap.

David Smooke:Just taking a nap.

Evy Wilkins:He’s on his way now though.

David Smooke:Yeah.

Evy Wilkins:Little tense.

David Smooke:Yeah that was ah, he got up really fast.

Evy Wilkins:Maybe he’s like, what are the people who fall asleep randomly?

David Smooke:Nar- narcissistic.

Evy Wilkins:Narcissist. No.

David Smooke:No.

Evy Wilkins:Necro …

David Smooke:Necrophyliacs. I think that’s sleeping with trees.

Evy Wilkins:Necrophilia.

David Smooke:No is that, is that falling asleep?

Evy Wilkins:I don’t know. But it …

David Smooke:We’ll get our fact checker to look into that.

Evy Wilkins:Awesome.

What do you think holds people back from starting?

David Smooke:Money, confidence, ideas, and other people.

Evy Wilkins:Ohh, I have a question.

David Smooke:Yeah?

Evy Wilkins:Do you think that …

David Smooke:Not necessarily in that order.

Evy Wilkins:That makes sense.

Do you think that there are people who are really good at coming up with … well we know this. There are people who are really good at coming up with ideas. There are other people who are really good at executing them. Do you think that the world needs more exchange between these people so that people who might be held back by a lack of confidence or idea could be given an idea?

David Smooke:Oh yeah.

Evy Wilkins:And then …

David Smooke:I mean you’re really talking about how to build an initial team. You just can’t have 10 people all trying 10 new directions and then they wake up tomorrow and try 10 new direction again. It’s really important to have the person that just keeps you on the line. Because you know, whenever their line moves it means the idea’s really good. They’re almost like the kind of the calendar. Better connecting these people, it’s really hard to classify them. But that is …

Evy Wilkins:What if we could … what if you could profile people?

David Smooke:Yeah.

Evy Wilkins:Take a test, I don’t know, and it told you you’re an executor. There are tests like this that exist.

David Smooke:Do you think you’re an executor?

Evy Wilkins:I’m a builder.

David Smooke:Yeah. I’m a builder too.

Evy Wilkins:I think I’m a builder. Which means you execute, right? You get it done.

David Smooke:Uh-huh.

Evy Wilkins:But…

David Smooke:But could you be a builder and an idea person? I think so.

Evy Wilkins:I think so. I think so. I don’t think you always have to have all the ideas either. That’s something that I’ve learned. That you don’t …

David Smooke:Yeah, you’ve got to steal ideas.

Evy Wilkins:Well steal ideas but also bring people on board who have ideas as well. Even if you wanted to have ideas about everything you don’t have time necessarily.

David Smooke:Yeah. Whenever one of my colleagues, I call him the philosopher sometimes. He’ll just take a break from the day and try and … I don’t know he makes me sometimes think that he’s a philosopher.

Evy Wilkins:What does he do?

David Smooke:Sometimes it’s stock advice which sounds against philosophy, but other times it’s just how to do business I guess. I guess I’m not really describing it very well at this point.

Evy Wilkins:Because you’re being recorded?

David Smooke:Yeah maybe. Maybe. The microphone changes things.

Evy Wilkins:It does.

I would really like to have my own walking page.

David Smooke:Yeah. I would like to have people have their own walking pages that I can give them. Also [00:14:33] a lot of words.

Evy Wilkins:No I would. This is good. This is where you can explore ideas without …

David Smooke:Yeah, I think it’s really underestimated how much different you think while walking. I’d probably have to … I could say it in a lot of different ways but there’s a reason people do it. When you walk it gives you a certain level of freedom. It gives you … because your logistically have to keep going on a path of some kind so you’re functioning your motor skills that you wouldn’t be using when you’re sitting in a business meeting and at a table. But you’re also very focused on what you’re talking about as if you were just sitting at the table. I like the way it works my brain. I think most of the better ideas I’ve had I’ve come up with while walking.

I think I’m in a better mood if I walk for over an hour a day and I’m in a better mood in the time that I’m not walking.

Evy Wilkins:Right.

If you were to launch this for real I think that you should walk across the country and have a goal to speak to 1,000 people, or something like that, as you’re walking across the country.

David Smooke:How fun would that be.

Evy Wilkins:Then you would obviously walk and record it, document it. That would be a pretty amazing way to launch.

David Smooke:Yeah. I like that a lot.