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Sponsored by the Shift Group - Shift Group is turning athletes into sales professionals. Is your company looking to hire driven, competitive former athletes? Shift Group not only offers a large pool of diverse sales candidates from entry level to leadership – they help early stage companies in developing their hiring strategy, interview process and build strong sales cultures that attract the best talent for early stage companies.


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Tim is CEO of Redmond Growth Initiatives (RGI), an organization designed to help you grow your profits, grow your business and grow your life through Tim’s innovative coaching process. He’s proven himself in starting, running, and growing businesses and is sharing that knowledge through his coaching and mentorship.

It really was an honour to share time with Tim on the show.

Check out Redmond Growth Consulting here: https://redmondgrowth.com/

Sponsored by our friends at Veeam Software! Make sure to click here and get the latest and greatest data protection platform for everything from containers to your cloud!


Sponsored by the Shift Group - Shift Group is turning athletes into sales professionals. Is your company looking to hire driven, competitive former athletes? Shift Group not only offers a large pool of diverse sales candidates from entry level to leadership – they help early stage companies in developing their hiring strategy, interview process and build strong sales cultures that attract the best talent for early stage companies.


Sponsored by the 4-Step Guide to Delivering Extraordinary Software Demos that Win Deals - Click here and because we had such good response we have opened it up to make the eBook and Audiobook more accessible by offering it all for only 5$


Sponsored by Diabolical Coffee. Devilishly good coffee and diabolically awesome clothing


Does your startup need strategic technical content? The team at GTM Delta delivers SEO-optimized, compelling content that connects your company with technical users to help grow your credibility, and your pipeline.


Rick Taylor is an internationally known software architect with over 25 years experience in developing next-generation networking products. Rick is an active member of several standards organisations, including the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) where he co-chairs two Working Groups.

Check out Ori Industries here: https://ori.co/

Sponsored by our friends at Veeam Software! Make sure to click here and get the latest and greatest data protection platform for everything from containers to your cloud!


Sponsored by the Shift Group - Shift Group is turning athletes into sales professionals. Is your company looking to hire driven, competitive former athletes? Shift Group not only offers a large pool of diverse sales candidates from entry level to leadership – they help early stage companies in developing their hiring strategy, interview process and build strong sales cultures that attract the best talent for early stage companies.


Sponsored by the 4-Step Guide to Delivering Extraordinary Software Demos that Win Deals - Click here and because we had such good response we have opened it up to make the eBook and Audiobook more accessible by offering it all for only 5$


Sponsored by Diabolical Coffee. Devilishly good coffee and diabolically awesome clothing


Does your startup need strategic technical content? The team at GTM Delta delivers SEO-optimized, compelling content that connects your company with technical users to help grow your credibility, and your pipeline.


Matt Munson is a CEO and Executive coach with Sanity Labs, a boutique leadership coaching firm he founded in 2019 that provides coaching to dozens of venture backed and bootstrapped companies.

Matt draws on his own experience as a venture-backed CEO, as well as a variety of coaching disciplines, to help others navigate the perilous journey of leadership and organization building.

Check out Sanity Labs here: https://www.sanitylabs.co/ You can get in touch with Matt here: https://www.mattmunson.me/

Sponsored by our friends at Veeam Software! Make sure to click here and get the latest and greatest data protection platform for everything from containers to your cloud!


Sponsored by the Shift Group - Shift Group is turning athletes into sales professionals. Is your company looking to hire driven, competitive former athletes? Shift Group not only offers a large pool of diverse sales candidates from entry level to leadership – they help early stage companies in developing their hiring strategy, interview process and build strong sales cultures that attract the best talent for early stage companies.


Sponsored by the 4-Step Guide to Delivering Extraordinary Software Demos that Win Deals - Click here and because we had such good response we have opened it up to make the eBook and Audiobook more accessible by offering it all for only 5$


Sponsored by Diabolical Coffee. Devilishly good coffee and diabolically awesome clothing


Does your startup need strategic technical content? The team at GTM Delta delivers SEO-optimized, compelling content that connects your company with technical users to help grow your credibility, and your pipeline.


Elliot Shmukler is Co-founder and CEO of Anomalo. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Elliot’s been leading a small but growing team since Anomalo being founded in 2018. He’s had previous roles as a Product and Growth leader at tech companies like Instacart, LinkedIn, and Wealthfront. This is a great chat packed with lessons on startup growth, finding quality in your data, and much more.

Thank you Elliot for a great discussion!

Check out Anomalo at https://anomalo.com

Connect with Elliot here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eshmu/

Transcript powered by Happy Scribe

Welcome back. This is Eric Wright, the host of the DiscoPosse podcast. And you are listening to another fantastic conversation with the one and only Elliot Shmukler. Elliot is the CEO and co-founder of Anomalo, and they’re doing really fantastic stuff around understanding data cleanliness and data issues. This is the data quality platform. Super cool stuff. Elliot’s got a really fantastic background in what he did in early days with LinkedIn and then much more around the rest of his career. But I really dig his approach, which reminds me to go back and listen again to a couple of spots because there’s stuff that stand out lessons here in how you can help to build teams. Think about product market fit. This is like another classic example of super startup lessons. All right, speaking of other startup lessons, learn some lessons without learning on the hard way by making sure you go to the amazing partners that make this podcast happen. Of course, like the fine folks over at Veeam Software, everything you need for your data protection needs, wherever you got it, whether it’s on premises, in the cloud, cloud native, even SaaS stuff like Office 365 Team SharePoint.

Yeah, you can hit delete button. Bad things happen. So, yeah, hit the go to Veeam button, vee.am/discoposse. Let them know old disco sent you. And on top of that, this is a fantastic platform. So go check it out. All right. Now next up, of course, this episode is brought to you by the folks at the Shift Group who are turning athletes into sales professionals. So if you’re looking to hire super cool, driven, competitive former athletes, or maybe you just want to build your own go to market strategy efficiently and effectively. The Shift Group team has an incredible diverse pool of candidates, whether it’s from entry-level all the way up to leadership. Plus, JR and the team are helping early stage groups just build that strategy. Start with culture, start with success. Take the drive of an athlete, bring that into your organization. Fantastic, folks. Go back and check out JR’s episode used recently on the podcast. So head on over to shiftgroup.io or just drop an email right to JR. He’s JR@ShiftGroup.io. Yeah, he’s really cool. Oh, by the way, if you like coffee, go to Diabolicalcoffee.com. Did I ask you that too fast? Go to diabolicalcoffee.com There you go. That’s better. All right, let’s get to the show. Here we go.

I am Elliot Shmukler, co-founder and CEO of an Anomalo. And you are listening to the DiscoPosse podcast.

All right. I feel like that’s always my moment where I tell people that’s like the on air light just like turns on like. All right, we are live. Although we’re not live, it’s live to live to tape or live to right. Live to MP4. I’m an older fellow, so I still say live to save. Elliot, thank you very much for joining today. I was really excited when I saw you come up as a guest, first because you’re doing exciting stuff with the team at Anomalo. And secondly because you’re a friend of Amber Rowland. And if I take great problems, complex problems being solved with platforms and then seeing somebody who’s standing by the story, it is a great pairing. So I’m excited to chat. So if you don’t mind, Elliot, for folks that are new to you, if you want to give a quick background and bio on yourself and we’ll get into the Anomalo’s story.

Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me, Eric. Really a pleasure to be here. In terms of myself, I’m a long time Silicon Valley executive. I’ve worked at some companies that hopefully your listeners know about – LinkedIn, WealthFront – recently in the news and Instacart, also recently in the news with the pandemic. So have been a product and growth leader. I had a bunch of companies like that for a while before founding Anomalo.

It’s amazing how many LinkedIn alumni I found recently. And it’s definitely it’s funny. Some have come from different phases in the company, and I always want to feel like, hey, do you know Patrick Baines? He uses LinkedIn, too, but that’s like saying, oh, you’re from Canada, you must know Pete. He’s from Halifax. There’s a lot of people that work there. But you definitely have a storied history, proven history at that in the industry. And then it comes to today, which we’re going to talk about Anomalo. You’ve got some really great stuff. Obviously, announcements are live and you’ve had some work that’s happening. So let’s talk about the problem that you’re solving and then the how, which is actually super exciting.

Yeah, absolutely, Eric. And I’m glad you’re running into a lot of LinkedIn folks because it was a pretty special time when I was there. And it really actually began a lot of my journey toward Anomalo, where LinkedIn was one of the first places in my career where I got exposure to having a lot of data and trying to use that data to make decisions and in my case, to make the LinkedIn product better, to make it grow faster and ran into a lot of the issues back in the day. This is ten plus years ago now. So even more issues than there are today. But ran into a lot of issues with being data driven and trying to use data. And over the subsequent years, a lot of those issues got solved. For example, LinkedIn at one point had 150 people managing our data warehouse.

Wow.

Right. And today, you just don’t have to do that. Right. Today you can spin up a great Snowflake data warehouse or in a few minutes or data bricks in a few minutes and off you go. You have a world class place to store your data, query your data, analyze your data. But the issue that I’ve seen, despite these amazing improvements in the data stack is that the more powerful your tool, the more powerful your data warehouse, the more data you’re pulling in, the more use cases you’re building on top of data, the more cost you bear if your data is wrong one day or incomplete or missing or inconsistent with what you expected it to be. Right. And so that’s the problem that a lot of them solving is how do we give teams that are working with data, they’re trying to make use of their corporate data, their enterprise data, trying to make decisions, trying to get inside. How do we give them something that helps to make sure that their data is actually right, that they don’t have issues with their data, or if they do that, they can detect them and resolve them quickly before it impacts decisions or other work?

Yeah, it’s amazing. We get so wrapped into the buzzwordy lifestyle of talking about being data driven, and everybody’s got data Lakes and data warehouses and data puddles and data, whatever you want to call them. There’s all these different things about data is the new oil in the same way that data is the new oil? Say data is the new crude oil. And in fact, there’s a lot that needs to be done to make that data really enriched information and gather signal from the noise because data in and of itself is not valuable. It’s the cleanliness of the data and the sort of trueness to the signal you need to find in order to then gather insights and info. All these folks are focusing on the automation side. But if you do not trust the data that’s going into the machine GIGO. Right. Garbage in, garbage out.

Exactly right, Eric. Exactly right. And it’s actually much worse today than it’s been. Think about using machine learning. Right. That’s another buzzword. Everyone talks. Everyone’s trying to deploy their machine learning model, do great things, use those technologies in a way that a Google or an Amazon or Netflix might to improve their product. Guess what happens if you’ve trained a machine learning model on a particular set of data, particular characteristics, and suddenly today the input data that it receives is wildly different, right. That model doesn’t produce great results for you. You’re essentially getting a random out of that model because you’re exposing it to data that it wasn’t trained on. It doesn’t know what to do with it. It has no constraints on what outputs it gives you. So it’s even worse when you have machine learning deployed and you’re expecting to feed us the data that’s coming in and expecting to have great results.

One of the things that stood out when I look at your platform story, I don’t mean to pick on one phrase right now. We go into the entirety of how the platform works, but automated root cause analysis.

Right.

And this is one of the things that near and dear to me. I’ve been doing this as a business for a decade, and it’s one of the most difficult problems to solve because the speed at which the data is moving, the ability to do real time and automated root cause analysis is almost an intractable problem because by the time especially when it gets into anything that’s around system design, the old class thing is by the time you figure out what the real root cause of the problem was, you could have just rebooted the system. Right. But when it comes to data, there’s no reboot the system option. It means you have to understand the forbidden fruit from which the data was gathered, and then now to be able to go back and there’s data reconciliation. So there’s a fantastic problem in the bigness of what it is that you are able to solve. So when I saw that, I was like, okay, we’re going to dig in hard on this one, but let’s actually just talk about the platform in general and how it was put together to solve the problem of data.

Absolutely, Eric. And automated root cause analysis is something we’re very proud of and something is very unique to what we do in our approach. But to step back and give you a sense of how it works fundamentally, what you do with Anomalies, you connect it to your data warehouse. We’re taking advantage of the fact that companies these days are putting up these big data warehouses in the cloud and are stuffing them full of all the data that they care about, centralizing all their data in one place so they can connect it together, analyze it together, and use it for all the various use cases that they have. So Anomalo just connects to your data warehouse, and then within your data warehouse, you select the tables of data that you want us to monitor, and Anomalo goes to work. So one interesting part about what we built with the product is that we’re a machine learning first solution. When you tell us, I want you to monitor this table that has my sales information. We don’t ask you to tell us about the data in that table. We don’t ask you to configure rules for that data or to give us parameters for what that data should be.

We, to the extent possible, learn all those automatically how we connect to that data set. We query your data warehouse, grab some samples of that data, we look at it historically over time, and we actually train one or more machine learning models for each data set that you have us monitor that really seeks to understand the structure and pattern of that data set. That way, when new data comes in, machine learning model can say, hey, this new data that came in, is it somehow different from the structure that I learned from the data set history? And if it is, well, now that may be an issue in the data that we should tell someone about this.

Is the point where if it wasn’t for the fact that I have to stay in camera frame and my microphone arm is not too long, I would stand on the chair and say, oh, Captain, my captain. The idea and this is the core of next generation systems architecture and design is ultimately the system needs to be responsible for its own outcome. And by letting the data drive its own like the understanding of the data itself versus what we believe is the creators of the table that is actually in there is such a fundamental shift, and it’s taking all those assumptions and turning them upside down, which is amazing, because time and time again, we hire a sea of DBAs. And I’ve worked in massive insurance companies, worldwide companies, investment firms, explosive companies, all sorts of exciting stuff. And there’s just we’ve got clients, we’ve got DBAs, we’ve got all these people. And they’re coming in trying to make the data fit into a thing that they believe it should fit into. And every time you’re five years into that project, the diagram is like monstrous, UML, diagram that’s on someone’s wall that they printed on, like five pitch font.

And it’s the size of the entire room. Well, it’s dead because the moment you went live with the system, everything changed. The day in the life moved. And from that point on, the best thing you can do is hope to keep up.

Yeah.

So you’re basically saying you can shed that wherever you are today is, in fact, the beginning of forever because you are now adaptively understanding the data.

That’s exactly right, Eric. And in fact, I would argue those old school approaches which you’re describing, they worked up to a point. Right. We have customers where they spent 2030 years with that approach. They made it work, and they have 100 people doing this work and all this kind of stuff. But at the scale that folks are ingesting data today and with the different types of data that are coming in and the number of applications that they’re trying to run on top of the data, there’s just no way that you can continue that approach. I mean, we have a customer right now Anomalous, that has a table where they’re adding 24 billion records a day. Right. There’s just no way that they’re going to come up with any sort of manual process or rules based process or schema based process to fully make sure that all those rows are conforming to something. Right. They can take some cuts at it, but there’s no way they need something that’s adaptable. And more importantly, they need a machine. Right. Our machine within an envelope has no problem going through 24 billion rows or a sample of those rows if it needs to.

And looking for patterns. That’s going to be pretty challenging using any kind of manual or human driven approach.

Now, I guess this is where the thing will come in, where, as he said, there are purposes and requirements to sort of define the standard by which data is stored. And ultimately, because there’s front end applications that need to understand the schema, there are sort of bound things to the behavior of the data within the structure. But as you said, we’ve got much more that’s coming in. Whether we call it IoT, whether we call it whatever kinds of many sensors, and those sensors could be anything could be 15 different application signals that are coming through that each has their own sort of structural form that’s different. The fact that you could then it gives you the freedom to be able to co locate disparate data, and then ultimately that data, you can find me observability as a practice. We talked about it six, seven years ago. Observability wasn’t even a word outside of physics and chemistry. And then so shout out to charity Majors, who I still will always say she is the creator of the word of observability as a practice. But observability is about bringing unstructured data together and then looking for patterns and signals within it.

And the problem is a high cardinality. Data is incredibly difficult to be able to pull together and then make decisions on and systematically even refine it, let alone get to the point where the data can ultimately create its own structure through having your platform look at it. I don’t mean to wow over this because the computer science folks are just like, there’s no way this is real. It’s a seemingly intractable problem. And I say that because it was intractable up until now. The technology and the capabilities are there where it’s more accessible to do this. But it’s a very unique challenge that you’re solving.

Yeah, absolutely, Eric. And we see ourselves as very much an extension, kind of the observability movement. Right. And they’re great Serbia tools for other dimensions of operations. Right. Data observability is actually even more challenging problem, say operational observable. Is my server up. Right. Those kinds of things. Because data, by necessity is chaotic. Chaotic. To a large extent, what my users do with my product on Fridays might be dramatically different. But what they do with my product on Sundays and even more so different if Sunday is part of a long weekend or Friday is a holiday or we just launched the new product on Monday. And so there’s a lot of dimensions of variability, a lot of chaos in actual data that’s coming in. User data, third party data, those kinds of things. There’s a lot of chaos there above and beyond, sort of the classic conservative data. What is my machine doing? Is it up? Is it down? Is it processing transactions? So definitely a challenging problem. But, yeah, the technology has also improved traumatic. Modern machine learning techniques can do a lot. And modern data warehouses are also incredibly powerful. You can ask them to summarize a lot of what’s going on with the data quickly.

You can analyze it.

Yeah. I think the biggest battleground that we are seeing in the industry is this idea of putting data into a place. And then because right now we know that the technology is arriving, if not has already arrived to do really amazing things with our data. And the one thing that think of the early application design, it was like, this is the data that we’re going to need in order to make decisions around future architectures. So they basically throw away everything but this. It is purely wheat versus chaff, except that they threw away the chaff. And then at some point, especially when you get into retail and you get into all the industrial, there’s so many use cases where they say, like, we got to keep the chaff, hang on to it, because we don’t know, there may actually be a different seed hiding in the chaff. And the economics of storing data have gotten significantly better. And then again, what’s happening now is really people are sort of holding onto it and saying that this may be useful one day and I can’t risk that I throw it away and find out that it would have been useful.

It really is a ripe opportunity for what you and the team are doing.

Yeah, exactly right. It’s really a sea change. And I saw this first template years ago when I was at LinkedIn, coming back to the beginning of the podcast. We were collecting everything, every bit of data that we could, and we were maybe using 5% of it. But it was a cultural thing that the team had picked up from other companies like PayPal early in the Internet history that we got to collect everything because it might be helpful in the future and we would regularly discover new ways to use that data that we weren’t using. We regularly found ways to take that data that maybe in the old days you would have discarded and actually innovate with it and build new product features based on it. That’s exactly right. And that’s been a cultural transformation throughout the enterprise world where now when we talk to customers, they’re almost always storing all the data. Right. They’re not throwing data away anymore like they used to. They may not be using all of it. Maybe they’re on their way to trying to use more and more of it, but they’re definitely storing it and they’re centralizing it and they’re making it accessible.

Yeah. I say as a guy who gets hard to see an out of focus view, there’s about 35 decks of cards over there. I’m not going to use all of them, but you never know. I buy three of each packet again. I’m a bit of a collector in that way. And really in the data world now, this truly is what we’re seeing. More and more companies are realizing. It is a combination of many things. But I’d love to talk about this idea that many people believe today is the beginning of a lot of this, when in fact, this has been a well formed idea for quite some time. It’s just that it was maybe not broadly accessible or broadly understood outside of like a core group of, obviously, people in financial services. We’ve got insurance stuff like there are organizations that have long held that their data needs to be used later. So let’s just keep holding onto it. You never know. But it’s always a funny thing, just like when any band suddenly becomes very popular. I saw them ten years ago in College. I don’t know who you think is brand new, but these folks have been around for a while.

This concept, I think, is probably more widely understood in some circles. Where has this been prevalent before?

Yeah, well, I kind of trace it, at least in my experience of it is really a Silicon Valley phenomenon, at least to the extreme extent that we see. Obviously, financial services companies have been storing data using fraud models and that kind of thing for a long time. But this idea that all of your data needs to be in one place. Right. And even if you’re not using it, eventually I may want that connection for something. It’s, I think, a very Silicon Valley phenomenon. Silicon Valley companies that I’ve been at always kind of strive to have the central one place with everything. So we’re using a third party tool. That’s not okay. We got to import the data from that third party tool into our one place. Literally, engineers would come to me and be like, Elliot, you can’t put up this tool. We’re going to lose that data that goes into the tool. We need an API to get it out. And that would be a hard requirement to using a third party tool for something. And so I think that was the core of it. And that enabled companies like the Google, Amazon and Netflix to do very powerful things.

And now everyone’s kind of realizing that that was a really big advantage. We work actually with a lot of financial services customers. They’ve always had this idea of using data. And they have some amazingly expert teams, frog modeling, and all this kind of stuff. They’re still in silo mode. They have data all over the place. Right. They never really bought in until very recently into this idea of centralization into putting all of it in one place.

And I would posit that still today, the most widely used tool for data analysis is Excel. It’s just bizarre. It’s 2022. And if Microsoft should have divested Excel, it would be worth more than Amazon right now.

Absolutely. And if you think about it, Excel is the most decentralized type of data you can have. I literally have my own copy of the data in my sheet. Right. And there’s ways to sync it now. And all this kind of stuff, but it really is a very different world from the one, I think, where we’re heading to them.

I’ve seen this for having supported big financials for a long time in my own career in the tech side. And I remember getting these calls first and you’re like, oh, I need to restore this Excel documents. What, did you delete it? No, it just got corrupted. Like, how did it get corrupted? Well, I don’t know. And you look at it and it’s 2GB Excel file. You’ve stretched the limits of this platform. This is not meant to do this. And that was pre understanding of what the data warehouse opportunity was many years ago. Then. Now even today, they’ll put the data centrally. But then a lot of the offloading of the processing is done very client side, and then more and more, but at least the centralization of data has become data goes here first. It’s funny you mentioned this thing about Silicon Valley. Many Silicon Valley folks have always understood that the data has intrinsic value and so we should always keep our data close. Conversely, a lot of organizations are being told by those very same Silicon Valley companies, you should offload everything as a service. So it’s an interesting sort of dichotomy in the approach.

But I see more people are saying we’re going to use the service, but we want the data to stay centralized or at least keep a copy of it centrally. And that’s a fairly recent shift in some of the customers that I’ve talked to.

Yeah. And we see that as a very common pattern. For example, if you’re running transactions through Stripe, big Silicon Valley company, right, where you’re outsourced your payment processing, well, very often we see it in our customer data set. You’re going to pull out that data from Stripe, you’re going to get the full log of everything that’s happened, put it in your data warehouse, how you can connect any transactional events on your product, on your ecommerce website to that Stripe payment. And now you can also analyze that Stripe data. What percentage of my payments fail? What is my credit card distribution? Right. How many folks got the special discount? So we see that pattern quite a bit. And in fact, when we started on Outlook, we were counting on the fact that this is going to become the norm, that more and more companies were going to use these hosted managed services, but we’re going to pull the data back into their data warehouse so that many companies would end up with a copy of Stripe data sitting in their data warehouse. And that would allow us to do a better job because our models would see many instances of Stripes data sitting in many warehouses that we could learn and generalize from.

So we were counting a little bit on that. And in fact, we were seeing that play out.

So let’s talk about Anomalo Pulse, and this is exciting stuff. Let’s dig in a bit on the product side, on what we have there.

Yeah, absolutely, Eric. So Anomalo Pulse is a new kind of visualization dashboard product that we launched as part of Anomalous. And it’s in response to a question that we’ve been getting to a lot from a lot of our customers. They deploy normal. They start monitoring some of their tables. They have issues that come up that they resolve very often. We talk to the VP of data, the chief data officer, and their question is, Elliot, how do I know how well my organization is doing monitoring my data in terms of my data quality? What can I look at that says you’re improving based on all the stuff you’re doing, or you’re not improving based on all the stuff you’re doing. You need to do more. You need to focus on this area. And sometimes it’s even a team based and accountability type question, which is how do I know which of my teams are doing well in terms of the quality of their data and which teams are not really managing the data quality? So we need more help or need more focus in that area? And so we built an envelope post, really to answer that question.

And so you can log in and you can see an organizational view of how you’re doing that on data quality. So how many data tables do you have? What percentage of those are actually actively being monitored for data issues? Right. If that’s a small percentage? Well, there’s probably a lot of issues that you’re not catching. If it’s a big percentage, you’re doing well of the tables that are being monitored, how often do they have an issue, which ones have issues all the time versus every once in a while that can give you a sense of, well, where are the trouble spots in your data and where our successes in your data, which things are sort of clean, in which things regularly have issues? And then, of course, you can break that down by team or schema in your data warehouse and all those kinds of things. So that’s Pulse, for the first time, you can start to develop a sense of how are we doing overall in terms of managing, monitoring the quality of our data.

Now dive into the tech a bit, because I know a lot of folks would ask things like what’s the sort of impact and capability mix where you talk about sampling, taking first samples, then ultimately training, and then throwing it at the entirety of the data set. There are different phases in which you would see adoption, but then also what sort of the processing impact? Where do I fit this in my life cycle of data when it comes to because all these applications get this weird thing where the data part of the organization quite often is a very standalone group or a bunch of standalone groups, and then the application groups are functionally separated, and then you’ve got the CIO, who sort of has responsibility for it. There’s a lot of intermingling, and that’s why where does it fit in? Who would own Anomalous?

Right. Great question, Eric. So what we often see and again, this varies by organization because this is also kind of a new area. Right. How you become more data driven and transform yourself. There’s still a lot of thinking and evolution in terms of how these various teams and roles are structured. But what we see emerging at our most sophisticated customers is a kind of data platform team inside the organization. And so the data platform team is kind of responsible for what are the tools we have in our data stack. And the data platform team, in turn, has internal customers, which could be the business teams, the application teams that want to use data. But they go to the data platform team to sort of get the tools for accessing and using data. Very often the data platform team is the one that owns the data warehouse. Right. They made the selection of which data warehouse it is. They kind of own its access and organization. They may not be the team that feeds the data warehouse with data that might be distributed or that might be a data engineering team, but they kind of own the data warehouse and how it exists and how it works.

And then they might also own things like Bi tools. How do we build dashboards on top of this data warehouse data. So Anomalous fits into that most easily, which is the data platform team that’s responsible for what are the tools that we have as an organization to manage and work with data.

The thing that I like that I believe the industry has finally gotten around to is that there is no such thing as a single pane of glass. We’ve learned that it was a sales pitch for a lot of organizations, that you’ve got 47 tools. I’m going to say the tool that will get rid of the other 47. And in the end, you now have 48 tools is what you’ve got. And it’s true, because even if you get it right, even you say, okay, good, we’ve got three disparate data warehouses. We’re going to merge them together, put them in one fantastically, huge, single, beautiful spot, and then you’re all good. No one does that. But even if you do, let’s just hypothetically say the magic occurred. And then they announced that you’ve just acquired another company. Well, guess what? They have seven data warehouses. They’ve got some on Prem. They’ve got some in the cloud. They’ve got three different clouds because they just acquired two companies. Like, there’s never a final resting place for data. Where does this make the Anomalous story important? Because it seems to me like this is where you can really shine, that you’re not saying you got to put all your data here so I can go get it.

Yeah. I mean, we are counting on it’s going to be in the cloud. Right. And so I think the migration to the cloud is a free train that’s not going to stop. And we are counting on that, Eric. But we do support multiple different places that it might be multiple different platforms that you might set up in your organization to query that data. And you can view all of them in one space in an online set of monitoring for all of them. So we have folks that have snowquake and they have a Google BigQuery. I don’t know why they have to. Maybe it was an acquisition, but it happens. That’s okay. You just connect the download. Right. And as far as you’re concerned, all of your data is now in one place. So absolutely. I do think there’s a pretty big push to centralize to get to one. And of course, that’s tough. And I don’t expect everyone to do it perfectly. This is actually one area where Silicon Valley companies start out having advantage because they’re building from scratch. Right. You start out seven data warehouses that you need to combine. You start out with the one you choose that you need to grow over time.

And so there’s a little bit of an advantage to newer firms. But I do think there’s strong pressure and kind of strong momentum to get unified and get centralized.

Yeah. And even if not for continuous real time, at least the centralization for offline and near real time processing has to be done that central location, because what UI? I often see this pattern.

Right.

Well, they’ll have an app stack that’s Google centric, and then I’ll have another app stack that’s AWS centric. And maybe there’s legal or other requirements, like business requirements that drive those decisions, like architecturally, no one would say it’s a great idea. But then now you’ve got the challenge of centralizing that data to a place for processing. And I think they’ve pretty much accepted. Like I said, the cost of doing storage of this data is not significant compared to the continuous precedent, even like a Snowflake. It’s funny you mentioned somebody I’ve got data inside BigQuery and then date inside Snowflake, which if I were to look underneath covers, probably runs on top of BigQuery or like there’s whatever it is they’re running on the same stack that you’re running on. It’s just that they’ve abstracted it to do additional things. So we will see still those patterns of multiple spots. But the central, like one pool of common data, I think, is where people are heading, whether it’s that real time online. Sorry. Like old school mainframe batch and online, we will see that stuff happen where you’ll have a lot of stuff that’s moving to that batch style, but it’s going to be held in a central spot.

Yeah. And in some cases, you can get there fast if you do a daily Lake type approach where your data is stored in the cloud. Right. But it’s just stored as files and cloud storage somewhere. And now multiple different warehouses can process that data. You can hook it up to Snowflakes, you can hook it up to BigQuery, you can hook it up to data Break. You choose which tool you want to use to process that data, but your data actually is in one place. And so we also see that as well, which is kind of a way to skirt around the unification to say, well, my data is in one place, but I might have multiple tools to query it.

Now let’s talk about the team, because I know we’ve talked about some of your background, and I’d love to dig into the rest of the founding team and what your collective view and approach drew you all together.

Yeah, absolutely. So my co-founder is Jeremy Stanley. We were together at Instacart. I was the chief growth officer trying to get Instacart to grow faster. And he was the VP of data science for Instacart and actually had been a data science leader for many, many years. He tells stories about predictive models for mining companies to predict the mine that was going to have an accident, those kinds of things. And together we’ve recruited a lot of our favorite technical folks for a majority technical team, and have also recruited some of our favorite data scientists, folks that we knew would need a tool like Anomalo that are actually now building that tool essentially for themselves. So Vicky, who was the lead engineer on the Pulse product that we just talked about, is a classic example of something like this. Someone Jeremy and I worked with and someone who in a different life would have been the user of and now is building the products she would have wanted to have years ago. So that’s how we approach building the.

Team when it comes to this.

Right.

You’ve been through different organizations, and especially given that your role is chief in the growth side of things. So you’re like a very friendly, nicer version of Chimath Palpatia, but the human aspect merging with the systematic aspect of growth, you’ve seen it at the growth phases. So how does that influence the initial phase of seeding the company? But having an eye on growth gives you an interesting sort of split of how you have to look at things.

Yeah, I’ll be honest with you. They’re pretty different world. Right. And folks ask me for growth advice all the time, as I’m sure they do to Chamois. Or maybe he moved past that. And the truth is, the early days of a company finding product market fit. Getting those first few passionate users has nothing to do with what we used to do at LinkedIn and, wellfront, Instacart on growing. Once you’ve found your core set of users and thinking about, okay, how do we make this much larger, much faster? So those are very different worlds, and it hasn’t been a huge adjustment for me. But it’s a little bit of adjustment to realize that in the early days you’re not operating with a lot of data despite being a data company. Our own in the early days, our own set of data that we could use was really tiny. Right. As we were trying to get to those first initial users in a low product. So there’s an adjustment where you realize that you don’t have a ton of data. You don’t have a ton of things that you figured out that you could double down into.

Right. A lot of growth mechanics that growth leaders that larger companies use. They just figure out what already works and they find ways to do more. You don’t have that at the early stage. You don’t know what’s going to work. So that’s an adjustment. But the thing that’s universal is the idea of experimentation, whether it’s in the early days of a seed stage company or it’s in the growth context of a larger company, you should constantly be experimenting and learning, trying new things and seeing if they work right. And in a larger company, you can direct your experiments more. You know, the characteristics of things that have worked in the past, that you can be very selective in your experiments. In an earlier stage company, you’re kind of trying everything. You’ve got your gut a little bit more. But that idea of experimenting and learning is definitely still a universal thing.

Yeah. It is funny, though. Need you realize how lucky you are when you’ve got the pool to draw from? And it’s why you see building teams, founding teams, building teams, growing teams are often like the stages of a rocket where they truly just will say that the first stage of the rocket gets us to this altitude, and then we shed the stage. And I’ve seen that. So it’s now interesting that you coming in as a founder. You are going to have to survive different stages that were previously not experienced. It must be an exciting and interesting world to now really see this from zero to one phase of the company.

Yeah, for sure. Eric and I’m actually super cognizant of the phases you’ve talked about because I want to make sure I adjust. I have many experiences in past companies where I came in in the growth stage as a growth leader, and I have this portfolio of techniques and strategies. But the founders are still in the foundation stage. They haven’t made the leap. They haven’t realized yet that you have data. You have a base from which to build. You can double down into things that have already worked. You can be selective. Right. In those situations, I’ve had to convince folks that my approach is a good one, demonstrate results, prove that my approach is the right one for that stage. Of the company. And so I’m very cognizant of that and making sure that when that stage comes and I think we’re inching into that growth stage now in our company’s trajectory and all those trajectory, I want to be very cognizant that. I kind of make that switch in my head and say, okay, we can start to use some of those growth strategies now.

Yeah. Now that you have those levers available, you expose those levers to the business all of a sudden, but you have to build and discover those levers to begin with. And how did you find that very early phase in seeking product market fit? You talked about the customer centric hiring in that you’ve effectively built a team on people that would be consumers of the product. So that will very strongly influence the way you engage with those early prospects and customers. So what was that first phase of finding the development partner customers and such like?

Yeah, you know, to be honest, it was easier than I thought because precisely because of the team we built, we could go to our network and we could find customers from our network. So all of our initial customers, all of our initial design partners were folks that we kind of got connected to through our network, and we had a relationship with, and they agreed to help us out, and eventually they became paying customers a phenomena. And so that’s a pretty powerful way. If you have a network or if you can recruit a team that has a network into your customers and has access to your potential customers, that’s a pretty powerful way to get started. Even LinkedIn back in the day, Eric actually started like that. The first folks invited to LinkedIn were in Reid Hoffman’s network, invited all of his all the PayPal folks and his VC friends, and that formed the core of the original user base. And he could get them to accept because he had a relationship with them and he was Reid Hoffman. Without that network, it would have been a much harder road.

Yeah, it is very interesting. And as far as the product market, fit is often a challenge to find, depending on the friction in which you can consume the product. And that’s why I admire your approach in that, obviously, data has to be in the cloud. All right. It’s kind of a binary thing, but you’re not saying that you need to relocate your data in order for us to be able to make use of it. That is the big thing. There’s a much lower friction to bring Anomalo in which versus many other companies, they find this thing of like, yeah, we’re going to do strict Mason stuff with your data. We just need to move it all over into our data warehouse in order to do it in networking. I used to struggle with this all the time, especially on the consumer side. Every single product you’d buy that has fantastic network monitoring these different tools. Oh, yeah. All you need to do is make sure that we’re routing all your data through this endpoint like we do that seven times already. For all these other things, I can’t continue to reroute my data. And eventually they learned that thanks to software defined networking, you can put virtual taps all over the place, but it easily be physical like it.

That’s how Gigamon became a business, because the idea of aggregated span ports so that you could monitor data flow, that created an opportunity. And now if you told somebody, I need you to route your data through something, they’d be like, you’re nuts.

That’s right, Eric. Lowering friction is a big deal. I would argue lowering friction is one of the most innovative things we can do in many years. And you’re absolutely right. Anomal doesn’t require your data to go into our data warehouse. In fact, we will often to point out where we just sit in the same cloud environment as your data warehouse. Right. So your data never even has to leave your cloud. We just push our application to your data rather than your data having to stream to us or anything like that, or us having to query it and send some results back to our cloud. We just sit where the data is. And then the other element of friction that we reduced, Eric, is just the setup friction because you don’t have to set up rules or tell us what to look for when you set up an ammo. That’s another thing that our customers really resonate with. You can do a few clicks and you’re monitoring your data now, right. And you can fine tune it and customize it if you wish, if you want to go deeper, but you don’t have to get it up and running.

You don’t require a $180,000 professional services engagement to go through proof of concept, then, which is no, not at all, not at all. And I say it, I partially ingest, mostly tongue in cheek, I guess, because I know that’s out there. Right. Like the complexity of the problem that you’re solving usually would require a lot of human interaction and a lot of human development of understanding the business, understanding the policies, understanding the flow. God, I hate to say this word because it came to mind right away. It’s game changing in that it is fundamentally changing how easy it is to get started. And then at that point, now, platform, implementation wise, what’s the most common time frame that folks expect if they say like, hey, alright, I saw Elliot on LinkedIn doing something, I’m going to reach out. I want anomaly in my environment.

Yeah, pretty fast. Obviously there’s legal things where we have agreements and security stuff and all those kinds of things. But deploying an on low in your partner probably takes about an hour to get it up and running. And then maybe another hour to get some things configured and you’re up and running. Right. So we literally when we have a new customer, we book two 1 hour meetings, one to install the product and one to onboard you into the product. At the end of that onboarding, you already have it configured and monitoring critical data in your data warehouse. So that’s all it takes.

You’ve won the friction game. Absolutely. The most friction free implementation. And what I love about this is I can be way more excited about your product than you need to be because for folks that do listen to the podcast, they know no one comes on here because they say we need to talk about our products. In fact, usually I’m the one that’s pulling it out of people because I am excited about what you’re doing. Again, seeing my own experiences in this type of implementation and the complexity that we’ve usually faced, it’s pretty big. And really it goes to the core of the team and your approach, which means that future growth, future development will carry that model forward because that culture seems to be like ingrained in the ethos of the company, which is refreshing, right? That’s where it needs to be. Instead of having to take old methods and then gently refactor them like, no, we’re throwing about the old game plan and this is how it goes now. It’s kind of refreshing.

Thank you, Eric. I mean, we’re definitely trying still an early stage company, still small, so still a lot of things to build and a lot of work to do. But we’re definitely trying and we’re pretty excited about the momentum we’re seeing and how well the product is working for our customers.

I guess I should ask one important question. Really? Who is your ideal customer that will be able to quickly find that fit and value out of the Anomalous platform?

Yeah, absolutely. Anyone with a cloud data warehouse, that’s the first step, right? If you haven’t set up a data warehouse yet, then probably you’re a little too early in your kind of data maturity, data lifecycle. You have a data warehouse. That’s great. We also look for folks where they built out a data team. Right. So again, if you have if you don’t have much of a data team, probably you just aren’t powering enough things with data yet. Experience the paint, update issues and data quality. But even once you have a data team of five or so, well, now you’re probably feeling that pain and we can definitely help you.

Odds are once you throw the first person at it, there’s a reason it gets to five fast. They start feeling that pain pretty quickly. I remember back it used to be like ETL people, and that was the whole big thing. It was just like just getting data between places and they’d have teams doing ETL, then you got DBAs doing the back end. It’s like all of this thing we’ve moved the function and the roles a bit. But in the end, there still is a lot of that really understanding where business logic comes in. And this is why this agnostic, data driven and literally data powered approach that you’ve got makes the move to taking on the platform a lot easier because it’s time and time again, it’s like you come in, the first thing you have to do is set up 17 interviews with product people, and they’re even arguing in between about how it really should go. They sort of unpack this awful family history of where the data came from. You can just be like, okay, no problem. Just plug this in. We’ll be back in an hour, and then we’ll talk about what your data really says.

Yeah, exactly right, Eric. And what a lot of companies are doing is because of this issue, because of how difficult it is to kind of get to ground truth synthesize. They’ve actually just decentralized the management of data. Right. So product managers, well, you own this data set, right? You figure out what’s going on here, and it’s actually another reason to get a tool like an envelope. We are no code, low code tool. Right. You set us up and it goes and we’re going to root cause things and visualize things for you in a way that almost anyone can understand. We don’t require you to kind of understand obscure error messages or parse logs or even query the data yourself. Right. We’re going to do a lot of that work for you. So we’re actually accessible to anyone in the organization who cares about a particular data set. And so we’ve actually helped a lot of our customers kind of complete that decentralization or democratization to sort of be able to push the responsibility for that data set to the product manager or to the team that cares about that data set, rather than having to have folks and data engineering and other functions sort of synthesize all that information from all the various parties.

One thing I’ll ask and I hate to ask a question which I know can be a tough question is how do you deal with things like data separation for regulatory stuff, you’ve got role based access control, lots of different access control lists that are spread throughout these data sets. Where does that come into? How it interacts with an omelet?

Yeah, we’ve had to build all that, Eric. So we have a financial services customer right now, actually, two of them, where data is heavily restricted. If you’re in the mortgage group, you cannot see the data from the banking group and vice versa. And so we have to build that functionality. We have separate teams and organizations within anomalous Nomalo itself can see everything. But if you log in from the banking team, you only see the banking data. Right. And if you log in from the mortgage team, you only see the mortgage data and so we’ve had to build those access controls. And, of course, we integrate with things like Octa and other tools that the enterprise might have to sort of appropriately associate users with teams and with the access that they should have. Good.

That wasn’t so much of a curveball then. I was like, this is probably not the question. You just sneak in at the end of the podcast. The hardest possible question. Let’s talk to the CISO right now. So it’s good. Yes. And another thing that we definitely are seeing more and more of is this where the ethics of data usage and the ethics of data storage and the business rules that are wrapped around that and the legal and regulatory stuff, it creates a real challenge. The truth is, most of these teams, they do their best, but quite often, they don’t even realize how exposed some of those data are to each other. Because what we believe is this true data isolation. There’s many Internet connected systems, so there’s always a path to get from one place to another. But it is, I think, top of mind for CSO and Chief Data Officer. Right. I guess. Is that a role that’s really becoming a.com like CISO got it right. That came in with Sarbanes Oxley and other regulatory requirements. They’re like, you need an officer who is charged with this function, but the Chief Data Officer, it’s still kind of a fuzzy function.

Yeah. I mean, it’s not as well adopted, but it’s coming. We see it all the time. Right. That’s typically we typically interact with a chief Data Officer or someone who’s active at that officer. Maybe they have a VP of Data title or something along those lines. But, yeah, it’s coming. There’s enough complexity in the data the company is using in the system, powering that data in the data teams are large enough where you need an executive driving your data strategy. Data is critical enough. As you said, Data is the new crude oil well. You need an executive who’s going to mine that oil, if you will, and figure out how to process it. So we see it happening quite a bit. And even at older companies that have been around for a long time, or maybe Data was part of their It team, and the CIO used to be in charge of data. Now they’re either opening up or they have data Officer. The other aspect of this, Eric, is folks have realized that managing data systems and getting value from data is different than engineering. Right. It’s different than building other systems, different than building applications or setting up networking.

It’s a different skill set. And so that also kind of created an opportunity for the chief Data Officer to emerge because they can truly have that Data skill set. Rather than starting with an engineering skill set and learning about data, as folks used to do in the past, well.

They effectively become the F one driver to a fantastic F one car team.

Right?

The engineers that build that car will never be able to drive it and get it to perform. So they have to have a specialist that’s like, this is your singular function is get the most value for the least expense and least risk out of these assets and allows them to shape the strategy for it. It’s kind of funny. If you think like 20 years ago, especially you’d hand somebody a business card, it would say VP of Data to be like, no, seriously, this is a joke, right? What does that even mean? This is not a real thing. How many people do you have on your team? You’re like, oh, I’m in charge of the data. We’ve come a long way in a seemingly short time, as far as the dawn of Earth, at least.

Yeah, you’re definitely right, Eric. And I love the Formula One driver analogy. I’ve been even surprised that they’re now product managers of data. Right. I was in product manager for a long time, and normally product managers are for features. You can be the product manager of this page or this flow. Well, data is so important and so integral to product works that we see a lot of customers where they have a product manager. Right. It is kind of coordinates and orchestrates and strategizes a lot of the things that they do in the data work.

It’s where we’re going. And I say, it’s where we’re going. It’s where it’s already going. And I think this is even any organization at least should have a sense of what their strategy is, whether they’re tactically moving towards it as different things. It’s kind of like sustainability. Every time somebody says to me, yeah, we’ve got a sustainability initiative, that’s fantastic. What have you done in the last twelve months to enact things towards this strategy? Like, oh, we’ve got a steering committee. Okay, perfect. But data is a very real thing. Not that sustainability isn’t. I shouldn’t pick on that, but it’s like people say they’ve got a data strategy. What have you done about it? And this is a place where you can find a great fit. All right. I am so happy. Thank you. So again, Elliot, if you want to give up, what’s the best way? If people want to find out more about Anomalo, obviously have links to the website and such. If they want to reach out to you and maybe dig in a little bit more on the platform itself, what’s the best way to do that?

Absolutely. So just go to anomalous.com it’s A-N-O-M-A-L-O. It’s kind of like anomaly, except with an O at the end instead of a why? Check it out. There are demos there. There’s documentation, there’s all kinds of resources on what the product can do, and feel free to contact us there if you want to try it. And, Eric, thank you. So much for having me. It’s really been a pleasure.

I got to say one quick thing too. For people that are about data, you got bloody good designers like your website is just very captivating. I really enjoy the user experience of the way you do your so for people that are living in data you’ve got a bloody good design mind on you.

Well, we’re big believers that you can’t get insights out of data unless it’s visualized in a really compelling way, right? That’s been something we’ve learned over the years and so yeah, we have great folks that are not just great designers but great visualizers of data that contribute their expertise to the product. So absolutely thank you.

If visualization didn’t matter, people would drink sushi smoothies. We don’t it’s even disturbing for a moment to think about it, but yet when given the right visualization fundamentally different and this is it. Well, Congratulations on all of the recent successes and on future successes that you and the team are going to experience. Elliott thanks very much.

Thank you so much, Eric thanks for having me.

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Sponsored by the Shift Group - Shift Group is turning athletes into sales professionals. Is your company looking to hire driven, competitive former athletes? Shift Group not only offers a large pool of diverse sales candidates from entry level to leadership – they help early stage companies in developing their hiring strategy, interview process and build strong sales cultures that attract the best talent for early stage companies.


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JR Butler is the Founder and CEO of Shift Group. This is an episode filled with lessons on what it takes to commit to building yourself, your team, and your business. JR is an inspiration and I can’t wait to have him back on to dive into more of his story and the work he is doing with Shift Group.

Check out Shift Group at https://shiftgroup.io and big thanks to JR on the launch of our new partnership to help amplify what he and the Shift Group team are doing to help empower elite athletes with the tools to succeed in technology startups as growing sales leaders.

Make sure to check out our big announcement on the partnership with Shift Group too!

Transcript powered by Happy Scribe

Alright, everybody, welcome to the DiscoPosse podcast. My name is Eric Wright. I’m gonna be your host. And this is a particularly special episode because we get to welcome a brand new partner to the show. This is a brand new sponsorship and I’m so super proud and I wanted to make sure that I used the opportunity to share it within fact, the very guest who I’m hosting today was JR Butler, who is the CEO and founder of Shift Group. So without really leaking the whole story, it’s fantastic. No, seriously, it’s good. You’ve got to listen to this. JR is a really fantastic human. He and his team are doing really neat stuff around helping folks transition from elite sports into elite sales leadership, including setting them up with training and teaching them. It is amazing. So, hey, let’s just get right to the good stuff here because I want to say that this week’s episode of the DiscoPosse Podcast is brought to you by Shift Group. Shift Group is turning athletes into sales professionals. Is your company looking to hire driven, competitive former athletes or considering how to architect a go-to market that can scale efficiently and effectively?

Shift Group not only offers a large pool of diverse sales candidates from entry-level to leadership, but they help early-stage startup companies in developing their hiring strategy, interview process, and build strong sales cultures that attract the best talent for early-stage startups. Reach out to the Shift Group over at shiftgroup.io or drop an email right to JR. He’s JR@shiftgroup.io

They specialize in identifying the best talent in the market that works with you to create a culture of resiliency, focus, discipline, coachability, competitiveness, and work ethic. That’s cool. I’m a fan, definitely of what JR and the team are doing. And speaking of sponsors, of course, all of them, who would we be without supporting our amazing friends over at Veeam Software? If you want to check out everything you need for your data protection needs while you’re building your fantastic sales organization, make sure that you head on over to vee.am/discoposse. They’ve got a lot of amazing stuff coming up. They’ve got VeeamOn. They’ve got all sorts of live events that you’re going to be seeing the Veeam booth at. Do check it out. Go to vee.am/discoposse.

All right, now let’s get to the fun stuff. This is JR Butler of the Shift Group on the DiscoPosse podcast.

Hey, this is JR Butler. I’m the CEO and founder of Shift Group, and you’re listening to the DiscoPosse podcast.

I’m waiting for the day that we could put this together, JR. And life is happening fast in really interesting ways, but it’s like slow and fast. Thank you very much for jumping on because I’ve always thought there’s going to be a time when you and I could jump on mic together and really talk about the stuff that you’ve always done as like a practice and as methods that I’ve seen you put into play. And now to see that you went even further and now you’re building a business around it. So this is fantastic. So for folks that are new to you, JR, because I’ve been lucky enough to spend a bunch of time with you in my life. And if you want to give a quick bio and an intro, and then we’re going to jump in, we’re going to talk about the Shift group and what it’s all about.

Absolutely, Eric. I grew up in the Worcester, Massachusetts area. Grew up in athletics, played football, hockey, baseball, big hockey family. My father was a high school hockey coach for 30 years. So that was my destiny. I got to play in a hometown college, division one. Both my brothers played division one. And then I got right into tech right after school. Was lucky enough to grow up on the technology belt in Massachusetts. So I was surrounded by it and ended up at an EMC VMware cisco reseller right out of school. So most people start on the product side. I was lucky enough to start on the partner side and then spend about seven years there. And then like you, was lucky enough to come across a small little company in Boston called VM Turbo at the time.

It’s cool, I love it.

And I joined it as a sales rep for New England. And the rest is history. I was there for six years in change. Got to grow with the company. When I joined, it was less than 50 employees, I believe. We were in the Burlington office, and then I spent a lot of time running commercial teams. Then I was lucky enough to move into enterprise. And then my last role there, before I left, Eric, I was doing the strategy and operations gig, and then I got an opportunity to do even earlier stage company as a chief revenue officer for the last two years and change. So I got to partner with a technical founder and help him really shape his go-to-market, his messaging, his sales process, all the things that I really enjoy doing and helping them start to build a team. And then got inspiration to start Shift Group, which we can get into today. And that’s kind of where I’m at. We just officially launched the company last week. But we’ve been kind of doing some stuff in stealth. So we’ve got some really good success stories and testimonials. So we got to go to market with a lot of different wins.

And now we’re focused on what I’ve been focusing on my whole career, which is scaling the business. Now, the only difference now is it’s my business.

Congratulations. It’s earned and deserved the opportunity. And I also know that this is the start line of the marathon. People always say that when you hear funding announcements or people that are founding a company, people are like that’s awesome. Congratulations. And at the same time, I know, I know what it means. This is the hard yard start now. And in fact, they already started because the announcement is never the beginning of the work. It’s the beginning of the publicity that it’s on. And it’s impressive to watch the process that you build up. And it’s funny when I look at our own time that we shared together, you have a unique ability to deliver both on just, like, doing the thing, as well as building the process around doing the thing. And it’s rare. A lot of people are really like, they can go out, they can sell, they press flesh, they do their relationship sale. They can do a lot of those things. They know that experience, and they can do it every day. They grind it out, and they know that this quarter has got to be bigger than last quarter, and it’s a tough thing.

I got a massive respect for people that are in quota-carrying sales. But they often struggle with, like, you got to put the stuff in Salesforce. You got to build a team. You got to make sure you’re doing your look ahead. You got to make sure, like, all the stuff that you got to do, they almost like, that gets in the way of them doing what they’re doing sometimes. And you split that line. And then on the other side of it, too, you got the sales Ops and the process builders who are like, only the sales people would do what we asked them to do. We could get better visibility into future bookings. And you’re trying to build a business. So to split that line, it’s a real sort of unicorn type of rarity.

Yeah. I think a lot of people don’t realize that there is a difference between being in the business and being on the business. That’s kind of how I describe what you’re talking about. And I think it’s really critical to be able to do both, especially as a CEO, as a founder, like, especially when you’re small. Right. You are the face of the company in most cases, but you’re also the one that has to go and execute. So it’s something that I’ve always paid attention to, and I’m kind of building it in to my operational cadence, and I always have been able to do that where even as a sales rep, process was so critical for me and for me to be successful. And process is about your cadence, how you operate, your daily schedule. Maybe it comes from being an athlete my whole life, but the way that I’ve always kind of made sure to balance the two is by blocking off time for both. Right. You just have to make time to take a step back and think about strategy and think about process, but then you also have to make time to go out and execute it.

So that’s kind of how I’ve always done it in my head is by literally blocking time for both in my weekly, monthly, quarterly schedule. You know what I mean?

Well, now you get the interesting add on of being wholly and solely responsible for the outcome, in a sense. Right? The CEO is always the CRO at the beginning. And it’s an interesting mix. And I’ve worked like I’m an advisor to another startup and watching this thing where literally like, technical founder, two technical advisors, two developers, and going to market in really big, like B2B. But big B, like really big B sales. And it’s wild. It’s a very David versus Goliath. And this split of being a CEO, building strategy, building a product at the same time, being a technical founder and watching that, like, how do you go in and then pitch. But then build and then even just looking at raw sales, I learned from you – live the other side, get on the phone, figure out that I read Jeb Blunt and I followed these folks that are leaders. And I learned about golden hours and I learned about what it takes to make this machine work. And like you said, you just got to be fanatical. I don’t feel like working out today, but that ice is waiting. And if I don’t work out, then there’s no choice, right. It means that tomorrow is going to be a worse day. Today is a bad day, but tomorrow will be worse if I don’t do what I need to do today.

Absolutely. It can get hard because you want to be focused on the strategy and the vision. But the best way to build the strategy and the vision is like what you said, it’s going out and having those conversations, asking those questions. Not losing customers, but people telling you like, hey, this is interesting, but it’s not quite there yet. I’m not ready to invest with you as a customer. I think that’s where you learn the most. Even as a technical founder, I’ve always believed and I think we experienced it an amazing example at Turbo, where the best founders build companies to solve the problems that they faced. Right. Which is a great thing. But the challenge with that is sometimes that problem shows up in a different way to different people. So as a founder, when you’re building something to solve your own problem, you have to also be able to take a step back and figure out how other people view that problem. Right. And the best way to do that is conversations. And I think those founders that do that end up building amazing companies when they’re solving their own problem because they’re passionate about it, but also being self aware enough to understand, like, okay, how do other people think about this and how do they want to solve it and then building a product to kind of meet the market essentially, you know what I mean?

Yes, it’s a very interesting balance. The Innovator’s dilemma is one of those sort of off quoted things that this idea, they get sort of like locked into vision and forgetting to then take feedback. And that feedback loop of getting out, getting in conversations. And it’s a weird thing, too. You also have to create business. And I remember even someone you’ll know, of course, Schmuel Krieger, who’s the founder of one of the founding team at then VM Turbo and then Turbonomic. We’re at an event one time, and everybody from sales was coming back from it was like VM World or something. And they’re like, yeah, I just had a great conversation with this person. Yeah, we’re having really great conversations. Hey, how’s your day going? Yeah, we’re having really good conversation. He finally just goes, guys, time out, time out, time out. You don’t build a business on conversations. You build it on deals, stop having conversations. And it was this funny thing of like, the conversation isn’t the outcome, the business is the outcome. What did the conversation do to further your path towards that outcome? And sometimes we get lost. And now as a founder, you’ll be intimately aware of being able to put that into action.

And you got the skin in the game, which is a very important and respectful thing that you’re doing to make sure that you’re responsible for the outcome.

Yeah. A very smart guy once told me to build a great company. The vision has to be clear and the execution has to be obvious. Do you know who told me that, Eric? Hopefully you remember that conversation a few years ago. So, yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Conversations are critical, but what’s the outcome of that conversation and what is the next step? Right. That’s really what it comes down to in terms of getting to that kind of golden nugget of revenue is moving the ball forward in those conversations to the next step to an eventual, like, investment in your product. Right. And it happens in different ways at different companies. And I’m figuring that out at Shift Group. That’s what I’ve kind of done my whole career is figured out how do these conversations have to play out in order to get to the outcome that I want? And then you can start to shape the conversations, ask the right questions, and then position your solution to the problem the right way. And those conversations are important, but the next steps are the most important part of it, for sure.

Yeah. This is the interesting thing. We’ve sort of talked a bit about this idea of splitting the line between being in the business and being on the business. The idea of understanding the personality it takes to go out and be on the ice, out on the fields, wherever it is on the mountain, probably wearing my UBC shirt. My oldest daughter is at UBC, and she was eight in Canadian nationals for snowboard freestyle. So slope style rather. And watching that what it takes to make that happen and fitting it in when no one’s paying. You really just saying, like I care so much about this that I’m willing to throw myself on it. And so there’s this dedication that’s required in athletics. But then when you move over to sales, it’s like you start to see them align. And so let’s talk about Shift Group. What’s the founding premise and the vision that made you bring Shift Group to the market?

I’m sure a lot of founders say this, but I honestly believe, Eric, that this was my destiny to start this company. My entire first 23 years of my life was dedicated to athletics, mainly hockey, playing at the division one level. I wanted to play professional hockey. So everything I did in my entire life was about that, right? You’re right. You don’t get paid for it. I think any young hockey player, you’re not playing hockey to make millions of dollars. You just want to be on that big stage with the big names and the money comes with that, of course, but that’s really not what it’s about. But when it’s gone, when you dedicate and your daughter’s going to go through this experience someday, when your sport is over, when you don’t have that anymore, it’s not unlike losing a loved one. It’s something that you wake up thinking about every morning. You think about it before you go to bed, and then just one day it’s gone. So that transition for me was very hard. I remember it well. I struggled with it. I struggled in a really personal way. I went to some pretty dark places and honestly, I didn’t really come out of that dark place until I realized that just because I wasn’t a professional hockey player doesn’t mean I’m not a professional.

So it was probably honestly a few years into my career before I kind of had that epiphany that I wanted to be a professional salesperson. And when I made that decision, I got a lot of the things that I missed when I was a hockey player. Right. The dedication, the growth, the competition, getting better every single day at something and working on something that athletes need that in their life. So the first reason I started the company is because I wish somebody explained that to me when I was 23 years old. Right. Like that. So I want to just get in front of these athletes and I want them to know that, one, they’re super marketable because of what they’ve been through. And two, this transition doesn’t have to be a hard one. It can be smooth. The second reason is my experience, honestly at Turbo and then at Pillar trying to hire salespeople. Right. It’s really hard to interview somebody and know that they’re resilient and they can handle rejection. To know that competition motivates them, to know that they’re going to do the work and they have the work ethic to do the work, to know that they’re coachable. Right. Like, that’s so important. Early on in a career, you’ve got to be able to take constructive criticism and not take it personally. And then you’ve got to have a growth mindset. Like you can’t be a fixed person that doesn’t think you can get better at something, that doesn’t take feedback. And I kind of consider intellectual curiosity as part of growth mindset that doesn’t necessarily show up like that in sports. But I think in sports you’re working on weaknesses constantly. And I think that’s how intellectual curiosity will show up in sales because you’re going to have a lot of weaknesses at first, like everything is going to be a weakness. So when I thought about those days when we were really building a Turbo and hiring hundreds of BTRS a quarter, I think about that’s what I was looking for in our candidates. And I know as a former athlete, as a coach, as somebody who grew up in a house with a coach and two brothers that went on to play Division One and a brother that played in the NHL in the Olympics, athletes at that level, like your daughter’s level, they have all those things they have to you don’t get to that level without resiliency, competitiveness, coachability, work ethic and a growth mindset.

So the second reason I started the company is because I want to find folks like me seven years ago at Turbo, looking for those people that’s all I have in my candidate pool is those types of people. And honestly, Eric, and I think you’ll appreciate this the most is, I’m a first generation College graduate. Right. And when you grow up in a certain way, there are certain limiting beliefs on what’s available to you. Okay. So the third reason I started the company is because I just want kids like me when I was 23 to realize there’s this industry and technology where if you’re willing to work hard and you’re willing to be coachable, you can have incredible success and whatever that means to you, whether it’s financial, whether it’s leadership, whether not everybody’s going to get to be part of a company that exits for $2 billion. Right. But the reality is if you try and you go and build that, there’s going to be things in your life that you can accomplish that you never thought possible. So I want kids like me that were sociology majors with minors in art history and sign language.

I didn’t have a computer when I was in College. It’s a different time than now. And now I’ve been selling technology for 15 years, and I’m actually pretty good at it. I’m actually pretty technical because I’ve done the work and I’ve been intellectually curious. So I want people to know about this industry like non technical people. Right. Probably less folks in your audience who really get excited about it. But I believe that you can kind of come into it a little later in life in your 20’s and you can get excited about it. And the opportunity is amazing. Like, if you look at the numbers, the tech industry is two times larger in GDP than the financial services and insurance industry, right? When I tell people that they’re like, no way. I’m like, what do you think the financial services and insurance industry is running on? They’re running on technology and that’s only going to grow. You see this amazing. It’s a buzzword we talk about a lot, right? Digital transformation. But it’s true, right? Like software is truly eating the world. And the engineers, the developers, those people are critical. They’re critical for this to continue.

But just as critical are guys and girls like me that have the type of personalities and the type of resiliency and ability to handle rejection, to bring all these amazing technologies to market. So just honestly, it’s helping athletes transition, helping companies find great candidates, and making sure that people are aware of this industry and what it can afford you as a human being. That’s why I started the company.

It’s a beautiful proof in the execution in your own life. We see a lot of folks that have this opportunity. And I love your line, right? I don’t have to be a professional hockey player to be a professional. That’s the mindset built in a similar way too. There’s like coaches and often, excuse me, many really amazing coaches that were not really amazing athletes, but they had a skill that was understanding the business, understanding what’s required to build a team, to create a strategy on field, off field, and be able to do this and then be able to motivate people, be able to understand the human aspect. Really true. Like, they’re basically therapists and behavioral psychologists that are able to drive people. In athletics, I find it’s a very different thing. Like, the military is often used as the thing that we define as success in business is often related to military. We use military references all the time. And I’m on the other side. Like, I’m always using athletic references and cycling references because it’s much more meaningful to me, having never had exposure to the military personally. And I have a huge respect, obviously, and to all those that serve and give that as they dedicate their lives to that. It’s amazing.

But I was on the other side of it. I was much more like I wanted to have no format, no machine, and I wanted to be able to create something where it didn’t exist. And I’m not an athlete, which is hilarious because I ride a bike far more than most people would think is normal, but far less than anybody that I think of as a cyclist. So I have this interesting bar. So I’ll be really good. When I was in cycling on a team, when I was living way back in Vancouver, BC, and riding up mountains when people are riding down them. It was me. It was the challenge. It was the idea that the moment it points up on the Hill, people just say, this isn’t a ride I want to be on. And I’m like, all right, let’s do it. Get on my wheel. And it was less about me completing the task, but more about when I rode in a team. I never planned to finish a race. My whole goal was to ruin the day for most of that field. So that the guy behind me who’s on my team that I know is going to finish the race can sit in my wind and then take it.

Right? So I could do the best that I could do. I wasn’t going to be the guy on the podium. I never even wanted to be it. I wanted to make sure that my team got there, and that was my dedication. So in a way, like some of that military stuff came through and that I was willing to sacrifice myself for the greater good. And I enjoyed it. You don’t show up in the roles for great finishing times, but there’s an honor in doing that and the same thing. So in athletics, when you take that into business, it is really that you’re not the star. The customer is the star. That’s the story you’re exposing. That’s the thing you’re bringing out. And you’ve always really personified that ability to do that.

Yeah. One of the really fun things about this business, Eric, is I get to plant the seeds of how I view sales to kids that are really just starting to get into it. And I think mindset and the way you view selling is really critical for a foundation for your career. We have an LMS that these kids go through training with us. And when we talk about the role of a salesperson, we’re not talking about haunting people or being pushy or anything like that. We’re really about the thing that I explained to these guys is software exists to solve problems. That’s it. That’s why people don’t buy software, because it’s cool. They buy software because it solves a problem. And your job as a salesperson is to identify that problem in your customer. And sometimes you have to help them identify that problem. Right.

I think the best companies in the world solve problems that customers don’t realize they have. So being able to pull that problem out of a customer and be really smart about how you do that is critical. You can’t tell somebody that they have a problem. You have to help them get there themselves. So we teach that. We teach making sure that once you solve that problem, you then have to tie it to their business, to their role, and really understanding how does the problem show up for them. Right. And then as a salesperson, you should be spending most of your time. Once the person agrees with you that they have the problem and you’ve identified it in a way that they can understand it for their industry, their company, and their role. Your job is to help them with them, partner with them, capture the value of solving that problem. If you do those three things, you identify the problem, you make it relevant to them, and you help them document the value of solving it, then the sales will come, right? Then comes all the qualifications and negotiation and et cetera. But if you’re just coming in and forcing something on somebody because you believe it and they don’t really that’s why salespeople have a bad sometimes can get a bad rap.

Right? you’ve got to come from the customer’s perspective. And I love that I get to release these salespeople into the wild with that mindset. I hope that I’m building, like a small part of a generation of sellers that are really customer centric people. And I’m super excited to watch them in their career and grow and see how that foundation helps them in their success as salespeople.

The high-performance mindset translates to other things. It’s just like even fantastic sales teams and salespeople, the thing they sell can change what they’ve got is the mindset. So you throw whatever it is at it, right? So people always joke, Michael Jordan was a really bad baseball player. Now he was not an MLB level. Like he was MLB level, but he was a decent MLB player. He was not the best player. People kind of railed on MJ like, look at that, he’s a garbage baseball player. You realize he’s playing in the elite of the elite. The guy that finishes last at the Tour de France still better than any other rider that I’m ever going to ride with in my life. And he’s going to finish like 7 hours behind the guy in first place. The women’s Tour de France. I remember this thing when I was living in BC. I used to ride and I was lucky. There’s a lot of pro cyclists out there. Really an elite level cyclists that aren’t even pro, they’re neo pro. So they’ll be category two, category one, top level amateur athletes. So maybe getting a little bit of sponsorship or like a little bit of sort of basically a stipend for riding a bike.

And I rode with the giant women’s road team on a training ride. I just happened to be out on a ride and they’re really great because they kind of let those people jump on the train. Right? So you’re out there and there are ten of them. And there was me and one other guy that were just out random ride on a Sunday morning and we end up on this big. Like, they were doing interval loops. They were doing really, really wild stuff. And hearing their coach with them saying, like, if you don’t feel like you’re going to throw up, you’re not pushing hard enough. And it was like, oh, yeah, no problem. I got that feeling. Right. So I was riding with female athletes and could barely hang on. And people don’t get that. It’s like men, women, elite, top level athlete versus a really good amateur. Whatever it is, they’re at a level that is different and they’re willing to do stuff that gets them there and pushes them beyond it. And this idea of sort of like being better than yesterday, whatever, it’s going to be like that mindset. You’re going to be sick one day.

You’re going to train all year for an Iron Man, and then three days before you get the flu and it’s over. And to be able to still get out there and do it like finish 438th just because you got to know that you got through it and then knowing that next year I’m going to do it, I got to keep going. You get back on the bike, you get back out on the field, you do whatever it takes. I love that mindset. I wish I had it. I wish I had more of it. But you can spot it in people.

Yeah, well, I mean, Eric, no offense, but you do have it. It’s showing up in your tech career. Right. You’re constantly learning, you’re constantly growing, you’re constantly trying to understand things. I mean, the fact that you’ve read Jeff Blunt is all I need to know about your hunger for getting better and understanding the industry as a whole. Right. Seeing both sides of it as a technical person, really diving into that sales, that marketing side. You’ve definitely shown that. But I couldn’t agree more. And that’s why that’s one of the reasons I think this is going to be a special business is the same reason Turbo was. The same reason I think Pillar is going to be is because of the product. Right. The product that we bring to market are they’re elite human beings. It’s not easy to have a division one College decide to pay for your entire education. You had to be a special person. And yes, of course, there’s natural talent. Right. I think I have some natural talent and sales in terms of just talking to people, being an extrovert, all those types of things. But there’s a lot of work that goes into refining that.

And I think a lot of it for me, I grew up around it. Right. With a coach as a father, with a little brother who from day one, I asked my dad what he knew my brother was going to play in the NHL, and he said he knew when he was seven. But that said my brother was in the driveway with me every summer shooting pucks, running sprints in our street in front of our house. Yes, he was great, but he wanted to be better. And it showed up every day and I think that’s one of the reasons I think I’m excited about this company the same way I was excited about Turbo and Pillars because I know that our product is unique, our product just happens to be people this time, but these are really special people.

And if you think about now again, having gone through being in a growth startup, being on the outside, on the customer side of the world, like just watching the industry and learning how it works, and I worked in finance and insurance companies for a long time I worked for a chemical company, an explosive company, which is kind of cool, and the first thing I did was I learned the business because then the technology mattered more to me, like understanding what the reason I was doing what I was doing and that allowed me to map and understand and then when I got to Turbo, it was the same thing I’m like, I’m going to stay out of the sales side because I want to learn the customer story and then very quickly I realize we’re all in sales and that’s a weird thing that a lot of people struggle with, especially technologists, where you kind of get in this thing of like, no, no, you know, I’m not in sales, like, well, in a sense, we all are, we are always telling the story, we’re always carrying the vision with us and you may not be quoted carrying, but you’re ultimately responsible and in a weird way, like marketing teams are some of the unsung heroes Often I don’t say that just because I work in a marketing team, these folks will have the same paycheck if you do 40 million or 4 million, but their goal is to get the people that will get you to 40 million what they need to get to 40 million, right?

And as a quota carrying rep, there’s a massive responsibility because generally your base is base and your upside is self imposed. So there’s a very different responsibility, and then there’s understanding and respecting the reason why each of us has that responsibility and that upside. So as a marketing team, I know, like, hey, I don’t have to grind it out every day for 720 days to make a deal happen, right? But I also know there’s a thing that I’m doing where I will be compensated more if I head towards this thing and it’s like changing roles. So it’s a very interesting thing of crossing the boundary of what you do to understanding and empathizing with what others do, and I think that’s what makes it good at understanding the customer story too, is that you can say like, hey, I’m here to sell technology, but what’s your day look like? What’s the thing that bugs you every day and you get them, they’re like, oh, man, you wouldn’t believe I got this goofy thing that really just drives me nuts and you’re like, oh, yeah, tell me about it. I’m really curious. Like, how do you think you can fix that?

I don’t know. Now all of a sudden you’re like Ricky Romo. You’re like, no, I’m not going to show you this. I’m not going to show you this real estate. Like, it’s not really for you. And next thing you know, you’re putting their hand on a pen and that pen is going on to a contract.

Yeah, absolutely. Not to overdo the sports analogies, but it is a lot like sports and that everybody has a role. Right. And I think athletes understand that inherently. Like, just because you’re not the one throwing the touchdown or scoring the goal, the part that you play, even if it’s not a great hockey player. Right. In college, my role was a locker room guy. Like, I was there to keep it light in the locker room, make sure everybody was still having fun, making sure the boys were all getting together. Those types of. But that’s a critical role in a team. And marketing plays a huge role in finance and the partner team. And you look at we used to have this diagram at Turbo that I would use with my team, where the customer was the center, the account executive was kind of around the customer. And then outside of that was this whole organization. And how are you going to use the executives? How are you going to use the marketing team? How are you going to use sales operations? If you don’t bring everybody into a deal to help that customer and the customer doesn’t end up moving forward, that’s on you. Like, you didn’t do your job of getting the whole team involved. We talked about get everybody on the boat so that nobody’s on shore. If the boat sinks, you don’t want someone onshore pointing at you and blaming you. Get them on the boat. So if the boat sinks, you know, you did everything. And I think marketing is critical to that. And everybody really is, honestly and everybody’s selling really honest to God. Yeah. I think you’re right on.

Like, this is your go to market is what you’re doing today. Right. Obviously, you’re bringing elite people into organizations because of their capabilities. And then you’re giving them the tools they need to map it to the business and deliver what that business needs. You’re giving them a framework, you’re giving them what they need. That’s their playbook. And they literally will know a playbook. Right. We talked about that. There’s a reason we call it a playbook because it is learning. Just like a great MMA person isn’t about the first punch they throw. It’s about the 7th punch they know they’re going to get in when that guy throws the first one, because I’m going to come around the left and then I’m going to go under and then I’m going to pull them back and I’m going to get him on his heels. And we’re going to get close to the fence. They are looking at the 7th hit, not the first one, not the second, not the third. Like, they know the playbook and they’ve run it through and they Spar and they practice. Because when you know that that’s the thing. That’s the deal closing that, you know, is the 7th hit.

But there’s a lot of stuff that’s going to happen in between and it may not go right. The third punch may lead to you falling on your ass. And that means you’re like, all right, what’s the next play? Like immediately thinking, okay, what do I do? What do I learn from what just happened? Adjust, pivot, get ready, re approach, assess. And that mentality comes through. So you get those elite players that can come in. But then beyond this, I’ve been lucky enough to work with you on bulletproof sales. Right. Taking that and making it a framework that maybe can be shared beyond just the direct people you’re affecting. There’s a reason why I got books like Legacy by James Care, you know, talking about the All Blacks and their mentality and why the winners sweep the sheds and while the team goes to celebrate and learning about that coaching mentality that you coach. Like, I coached little kids when my older kids were younger and I was like, my little kids, I’m coaching them all the time. Right. I got four kids. You have to learn a lot about listening and coaching and going through this.

But even teaching other parents, you don’t coach from the sideline, you coach from the practice pitch. The sideline is where you just remind them to do the play they already know how to do. So you can create that framework, and then it goes far beyond just the athletes you can directly affect, which is kind of cool.

Yeah, it’s very cool. And to steal from my friend John Kaplan at Force Management. Right. It’s about you practice to the point where you’re audible ready. That’s really what you’re describing. Right. Because you want to get to that 7th punch, but you might not. So if you don’t, you just got to be ready for it. And the only way to be ready for it is practice. That’s it. That’s all you can do is just work on it. Work on it, work on it. And then when the game gets there, just go play. Just go execute. And you’ll be ready. If you did the work, you’ll be ready. Right. And we see that all the time with great sales people all the time.

Now, the challenge in the early stage startups, especially hiring early, bringing somebody in that’s got that elite mindset, but is then willing to grind it out. And I think that’s really where the perfect pairing comes with the folks that you have in your roster, is that they’re going to be willing to do some uncomfortable shit for a long time before there’s a payoff versus like, I’ve seen it at business after business. We experienced it directly. When you and I worked at Turbo, you bring in people they’re like, yeah, they work for, like, a $5 billion company. So obviously they know how to run a $5 billion sales team. And you’re like, that’s all they know how to run. They don’t know how to run a $40 million sales team and get them to 5 billion. They’re way later. They’re great, fantastic people, but they can’t build the machine. They just get on the machine and they make sure it stays on. And they do work. That’s impressive, but they’re not going to be able to get in early because they come in the first thing they think is, all right, Where’s my $2 million budget? Where’s my event team? Where’s my swag supply? They know how to do good stuff, but you walk in, you’re like, I used to always tell people, okay, so imagine your greatest vision for what you want to execute. And now imagine you have no money and no people to do it. Now, how do we get this done?

Yes, it definitely takes a different mindset, a different personality. Listen, as big as Turbo got while I was there, I think we crossed the 600 Mark. That’s the biggest company I’ve ever worked for, right? So I don’t even know what it’s like to work at a big company. Right? I don’t know that I would fit. And listen, there’s something to be said about that skill set. Like you said, that’s still a special skill set to be able to take something that’s large and keep the machine running the way it is. And there’s something to be said about what I think I have, which is being able to work with some constraints and help build something into that. So it’s two very different things. And you’re absolutely right. I think our candidates have amazing mindsets when it comes to building and growth. We talk about being gritty all the time. I call it having jam. You either have jam or you don’t. And if you got jam, you can get into those situations where it’s going to be a long path to the outcome that you want, but you’ve got to enjoy the process. And I think our candidates enjoy that process of building more so than probably most people.

And again, I think that’s why it seems obvious now in looking at you putting it together. But it took the vision and having the belief that this can happen, and it needs to happen much more than it can happen, because everything is like, oh, yeah, I got a whole lot of ideas, and I got 55 domain names in AWS just in case. But there you go, no further than me buying a domain name and sitting on that second for $12 a year. The difference is that you took this and you said, we’re ready and we’re going to do this. And I love this idea. Like, I use rocketry references all the time. It’s like stage one, stage two Rockets, they’re going to get dropped off. And that is the building phase. That is like, what gets you to orbit is this incredible, like, thrust. Knowing that at the moment they hit that altitude, they’re like, that’s it it’s gone. And that stage one has did its job. And you know what you’re going to do? You’re going to strap that bad boy onto the next rocket and you’re going to do it again. And that’s why those purpose built players that will get uncomfortable once they hit that altitude, they’re like, you know, it was weird at first when I saw it happen, but I was enthralled by watching it occur where you see people are like, it’s getting a bit big here. Like, there’s 22 sales people. This is not big. Like, for me, man, I’m like, zero to 5 million. Once you hit a revenue number, they’re like, I got to go.

That’s such a good analogy, man. I’m stealing that. I’ll give you credit twice, but then it’s mine. That’s an awesome analogy.

That’s one of my favorite things, by the way. I’ve stolen that and I give you credit twice. Every time. That’s my favorite. I’m stealing that line. I’m going to give you credit twice, but then it’s mine. That’s such a JR ism. I always love that.

Now, making the jump and finding the team to build shift group. Let’s talk about the people behind it.

Yeah. So I have two full time guys already, and they’re both athletes, former athletes, one’s a hockey guy. I think the reason he’s good is because I found him at a time, like, when I originally talked to him, he was looking to make the jump into Tech. And then I started telling him what I’m building. And he’s like, man, I would really like to do that. I want to help guys like me. Right. And he’s phenomenal because he’s going through or has gone through that same transition very recently after playing professional hockey. My other guy is awesome. He was a College football coach for over a decade, and he was at a very big program at Michigan State as the recruiting coordinator. So he’s been helping kids go into that transition from high school to College. And the difference between high school football and a division one level, like Michigan State, is that’s like going from amateur to pro big time. Right? So I think as I build up my team, those types of experiences that these guys have had are going to be really critical because I do believe you have to have some passion about helping somebody in order to make this work, because obviously, I’m not a five and one C three. Right? But at the end of the day, my only goal is to help somebody find something they love, help a company, find a candidate they love and help them in that way. The money will come when you help people, right. So I need to find guys and girls that are really passionate about helping people. And I think with the two that I’ve started with, I have that and they’re my models now. Right. That’s what I want to build off of. And so that’s kind of how I think we’re going to grow the business is, continuing to bring in people like that. That’s going to be critical.

And I guess that’s the ideal thing, J. I could do this all day and we’re going to come back. You and I will take a bit more about sort of the background because I didn’t want to crunch it in and just make it 10 minutes of the story. I want to really like bring Shift Group to the front, but your own story and a lot of the stuff that makes this obvious is cool. And that’s a really neat back story that deserves more time. But what do people do if they want to get in touch and become part of the Shift Group?

Absolutely. For sure. Our big focus right now is finding some more companies. We’ve done a good job before launching the company, building partnerships with athletic departments, players associations, teams. Now we’re looking to grow where we can put these elite athletes.  So if anybody’s looking for great people, they can find us at shiftgroup.io is the website, and they can reach out directly to me JR@shiftgroup.io

I think they should know when reaching out to me that I’ve been in their seat. I know exactly where they’re at. I’ve seen companies from pre-series A to series A, and then obviously with turbo from A to exit. So I’ve been through it all, and I know what they need. And I just want to help them. So yeah, JR@shifgroup.io is a perfect way to contact me, Eric.

There you go. If you’re in a venture, this is the team you want building you team. So get on it. JR, thank you very much. This has been amazing and I wish you all the best, and I know that’s nothing more than me yelling from the sideline because I know you already got the playbook. So I’m just making sure that the playbook works. I’m glad to be on the sideline and watch it occur. 

Eric, so good to catch up, man. Great to see you. Thank you so much for having me. This was an awesome conversation. I appreciate you. 

There you go folks, JR Butler! Get in touch.