SAS #7: Steve Baker is the CEO of Brandfolder, Inc. Steve takes us on a deep dive into Brandfolder and why digital asset management is important and how he and his team has made it streamlined and simplified. Steve explores the roots of Brandfolder and takes us on the journey of how he came up with the concept, scaled it and built it to what it is today. Oh, and you’ll also learn where to find the BEST Burritos in Denver!
What you will learn:
- Where to find the best Burritos in Denver
- How to get funding for your company
- How to build an expert team for your company
- The benefit of managing your digital assets
- How to save time and money managing your digital assets
- How to monitor your brand on the internet
- The importance of SAAS for businesses
- Why Brand Analytics are Important
- The importance of customer experience for businesses
- Why UI/UX flow is important for customer acquisition
Yury: Hello, and welcome to the Soar Above Success Podcast, I’m here with Steve Baker the CEO of Brandfolder. Steve is a self-proclaimed startup junkie; Steve’s expertise is in selling technology. His previous role was with Denver startup NewsGator, where he expanded their enterprise business to the Australia and New Zealand markets. His focus at Brandfolder for the past two and a half years has been creating the Source of Truth for Brands all over the world.
Outside of work, Steve is a “closet gamer,” runner, a backpacker, and sports aficionado. He’ll tell you where to find the best burritos in Denver.
Now Steve, to get things going, first off welcome to the show. very happy to have you here.
Steve: My pleasure, thanks for having me.
Yury: My pleasure as well. Where can we find the best burritos in Denver? I am very curious about this one?
Steve: You’re going to ask for the secret sauce right off the bat. I don’t usually go public with this information because I am trying to keep it on the down low. But I’ll give you some helpful hints. There’s a few different kinds of burrito and I think that is the first place to start. There’s the hand held unit, which I feel like Chipotle and Qdoba made famous, you’re going to want to go to illegal Pete’s for that unit. A lot of people know that, I’m not giving away any secrets there.
For good authentic burritos with the authentic Denver green chili, you’re going to want to go to the original Chubby’ s. I know what you’re thinking, Chubby’ s, that does not sound like a very good Mexican place. Well, it’s been open for 60 years, it’s family owned. It’s on 38th and Lapan in Denver. I promise you, I’ll put my reputation on the line, this is the best burritos in the city.
Yury: Great, well, I’ve been to Illegal Pete’s, I’ve been to Chipotle numerous times, I have never heard of anyone mentioning Chubby’ s as a place for Burritos.
Steve: you’re lucky you found me when you did, because this will change your life.
Yury: Do they also have burrito bowls, or what type of unit are we talking about?
Steve: They have traditional Mexican Fare. Everything form a Trotta, to a Mexican hamburger, burrito bowl, they will get you set up.
Yury: Beautiful, I am looking forward to that. Maybe we can go out to lunch there one day and you can show me around.
Steve: it’s on me
Yury: Awesome, so now Steve I know you have been doing Brandfolder you mentioned earlier for about 4 years now and you have taken on multiple roles within the company. We will get to that at a later point during the show. I am really curious on how you got started? What was the whole ignition with startups? Where did you get involved with the whole startup scene? Why choose to take this path out of all the other career paths out there?
Steve: First of all, I am a Denver born and bred kind of dude. Denver we are kind of unique in that we have a very large technology base of cool young companies disproportionate compared to the size of our population. I was lucky to grow up in Denver and be around a lot of cool technology companies.
When I graduated from school the first thing I did was get into the internet service provider space. I have been selling technology since then. With Brandfolder I was lucky enough to get involved with some very successful Denver based people. People like Luke Beatty who was the president of AOL or media brands at AOL now Verizon. As well as Chris Bodet who runs the digital practice at Under Armor after his company was acquired. HIs Denver based company Light Fitness I am not sure if you are familiar.
These guys sat on our board and really came up with the original concept for Brandfolder. Which was to be this directory of customer logos, or company logos. Today you can go to Bing or Google, but you will return a bunch of old content. We want to be the source of truth, or the most recent logos.
We were lucky enough to go through the Techstars program, which is a Boulder based incubator in 2012. It’s a really good way to get a startup off the ground, they give you access to their entire network of people and software applications. They will invest in your company to raise some money, which is one of the hardest things for an early startup which is to get funds going.
I was lucky enough to get in with these guys, like I said they were really an angel investor in the concept. Both Chris and Luke had pitched me. Really if they could have pitched me anything I would have been in, I really feel like it’s people you’re investing in, and there is no finer than those two.
I had mentioned Justin Anthony, who was also in our board. He owns the Match Box in Denver, and a field house right by the stadium. I feel like he is buying up Rhino one location at a time. A good base of people got us started.
We found a very unique niche and the timing was perfect for us. Our initial idea or vision was cool, but it was tough to monetize. About that time the concept of Digital Asset Management became a line item in the marketing budget of companies everywhere, of all sizes. The problem of managing large amounts of content, large amounts of brand assets.
It takes teams of people to do that. Some companies have terabytes of data, surrounded across multiple geographies, languages, and offices. To make sure that people were getting the right content at the right time was a major problem. The larger the company, the more syndicated the brand, the more relevant that problem was.
We stumbled across this acronym the DAM acronym. About late 2013, early 2014, and really decided to move in that direction. Most of the analysts will tell you that big companies are going to move all of their digital assets out of server closets and into the cloud, and this is happening right now.
Brand assets are the most valuable of those assets. A solution that Brandfolder allows is for you to organize those into one source of truth. It allows for an easy distribution model, when you are sharing with people inside and outside of your organization. As well as provide monitoring, and enforcement of that brand once those assets run wild.
Digital Asset Management solutions, and traditional cloud don’t address that specific need, so there is a huge market. That is where we followed that swell, we rode that wave into 2016. Today Digital Asset Management is as relevant as more common applications like email tools, CRM, automation tools, like Marketo and Bardo.
It’s cool to be a part of it, it’s cool to be in Denver, it’s cool to have gone through TechStar because now we have the network of very cool people and applications we can draw from.
Yury: Wow, so this was a dash of people that you knew, a great idea, a little bit of funding, and you had this concept that blossomed, and a little bit of timing of course. That is always the key, you have to be at the right place at the right time, know the right people, and of course have the budget to handle something like this.
That is quite a journey, it sounds very enlightening, I am sure people starting the whole start up path will immediately go through their phone, go through their network and say who can I reach out to? Who can help me on this?
Steve: The last piece of that pie is the guts, if I use the PC term. The guts to go leave your kush corporate job, that is full of benefits, and everything it comes with. Vacation time, you don’t need to worry about going paycheck to paycheck, and taking a big risk, that is a big piece of it. That is why everyone doesn’t do it. Everyone wants a ping pong table in their office, have fun, and wear cool socks. The risk to take that on, on your own.
Not everyone has the stomach for it. That is why when you see a startup come out of this market that they call a unicorn or gets a big funding, or goes through a cool exit, it’s really big. They sacrificed a lot to do it, it’s cool to watch it happen.
Yury: It takes a lot of gall and your right. You need a lot of courage to dive into this. I know a lot of people who are on the fence and they are working their corporate job, or have a great position somewhere. To give all that up, to chase something that may or may not work, that is a huge risk. You can end up in a great position, or you can end up on the streets graveling to get another job.
Steve: Usually you will learn
Yury: you will also take away lessons and that will make you grow as an individual even more. I definitely hear that, it is definitely a challenge for most people. Especially new companies out there. How do you manage your time effectively so you have the right cash flow, you’re managing that cash flow. Building a business beyond just the day to day. That’s a really big challenge.
You’re right it takes a lot of effort and you make a lot of sacrifices to get there. I definitely know how that is. You’re working all the time. Vacation, what’s vacation, there is no vacation. It’s a matter of how bad do you want it, and can you proceed forward.
That’s a great story. I am hearing that Brandfolder is definitely in the right position now, you guys are growing fast. This whole concept of digital asset management was not apparent until you actually started to run it. You were like people ask you for your logo and you send them an email with your logo, after 30 or 40 of these emails you get to a point where you’re like I wish there was a better solution.
How did you find that pain? What was that like for you? How did you discover this was a needed product in the marketplace?
Steve: You basically hit the nail on the head. When there is a request for an asset. An asset can be a logo, a product image, an executive bio, a font, a color, a slide in a deck. When there is a request for that, what typically would happen 5 years ago is somebody would go find that, wherever it lives.
They would use something like share folder, boxed, or shared drive in some organizations, but the discovery of that asset itself can be a challenge. Then you attach it to an email, you fire it off to the requester. If it is a big file you have to zip it up, compress it, then attach it to an email. inevitably what happens is the person will come back, and let you know you sent the wrong size, you sent me the wrong format of asset- photo or logo. It creates a back and forth, that is a time suck.
Right now you have two creative teams at two different companies doing a back and forth around an asset. With a system like Brandfolder, that transaction, that interaction is seconds. The requestor gets a link, it’s a self-serve model. They can pull down and convert any file type that they need, any size. The person who sent that gets the analytics on it, on what happened once that asset goes out.
It changes the way marketing teams are managing the assets that they have. It’s important for salespeople to get access to the right assets at the right time. Co-marketing partners, agencies outside the organization. It’s big business, especially to companies where its core to their business model.
If you look at somebody like an Under Armor, they have to have the right product images, in front of the right online catalogs, at the right time, or they lose business. It’s literally core to what they do. So companies are seeing this as a big line item, spend item. That is the problem that we are addressing.
As the growth of the Digital Asset space gets bigger, the need for management tools will only get more complex. We try to take a very creative and customer centric UI approach to the problem. Which is different than the old version of creating feature stacks, a server in a closet. We try to take an intuitive approach that takes the situation that you just described and reduces it to something that is a pleasure. It takes 2 seconds, and adds value to the business. As opposed to subtract that time.
Yury: From pain to pleasure. You eliminated the email back and forth which I have already had enough of it. There is a transition that has to happen. We were on that email thing, where there are new companies like Slack that are slowing that down. Now you have Brandfolder to get people away from sending 50,000 emails about the same thing. I need this revision, this wasn’t the right one, etc., and just go access it yourself, here is the link.
I am curious on these analytics you get on the other side. What is that like? Why would I be interested in the analytics?
Steve: Really good question. I’m glad your brought up Slack, it points to the integration that we built with Slack. Right now we’re the only Digital Asset Management company that has this integration. Within Brandfolder we have a concept of an activity feed. It’s a very Facebook style look at everything happening with your brand.
If somebody is downloading, viewing, or forwarding, a specific asset. The admins within your organization are going to have visibility to everything that is happening there. That feed itself can run in a Slack room, which is cool. From right within Slack, if you want to receive a notification as a creative or marketing person, every time somebody outside your organization is downloading your brand asset.
You can receive that notification, similar to the ways you get other notifications though Slack. The key is being able to make decisions on the fly. If you know the way your brand is being used out there in the wild, you can make decisions on the type of assets you make available to people.
It also allows you to enforce the use of that brand. You want to know if you went through a recent redesign, someone like Urban Table, Instagram, who changed their look and feel recently. You want to know what companies out there are still using the old assets.
This kind of tool can provide reporting and analytics on who is using the brand correctly, who’s using it incorrectly. now you are bringing in a creative integrity use case. There are legal implications for people misusing your brand, all of that can be tracked through one solution. Getting tit outside of the shared servers, getting this content off of email makes the world a better place.
There is an ecosystem of cool applications that are changing the way that people are doing business today. This old model of having big bulky applications live in the server is literally going away. These big SAP and people software implications there are still use cases that exists around those packages. The implications of the types and kinds of tools are very different.
Going into the cloud, making implication so much easier. Applications like Salesforce are taking over the world. If you see the building they are putting in downtown San Francisco. It’s indicative to their place in the market. It’s going to be a 20,000,000,000 company in the next couple years.
We understand that there is an ecosystem with these cloud based applications that are well adopted within the enterprise, and mid-market. We know if we are a siloed application that doesn’t talk to any of those that we will die on the vine. It’s very important for us that our integration story is tight, all of the marketing information, CRM, and design tools that people have already adopted.
Slack is one of them. It’s one of the Apps that every time you use it you get that warm fuzzy feeling. I get the same thing when I use DocuSign. Instead of having to print something out, and sign it, scan it, fax it. All of that goes away with two clicks. You just get that fuzzy feeling. That’s what you get with Brandfolder.
If you’re sharing 500 product images, you used to have FedEx hard drive to do that. Now, you’re clicking two buttons and the warm fuzzy feeling is with you again.
Yury: That’s impressive, that warm fuzzy feeling on the web, I love it. Your changing the whole concept of making it a frustrating experience to go on the computer and do whatever it is you need to do on a daily basis. Especially if you’re a business owner, there are so many things you are managing. You made it super simple, it comes down to time value. How much do you value your time to outsource these certain responsibilities.
At the end of the day, almost every company that I know, every startup that I know, that works in any digital space uses a significant amount of products or apps that are based on a monthly continuity program, but they save an enormous amount of time. They streamline the business and transform the way you operate. You get your time back, that is the most important piece.
A question I have for you in regards to the analytics. There is an asset out there in the web, somebody is using it incorrectly, they have my old logo. We are no longer using that one, how do I know if it’s just an image? Is it an embedded image? Is it something that they download? How can I track that based on the technology behind it? How do we know it’s out there? How can we reprimand the situation?
Steve: That is a very good question, as well as one of the challenges. Once you send that vector file logo off, there is no way to know if somebody is going to take a screenshot of it, manipulate the screen shot, add colors to it, make slight variations to it that take it outside of the creative guidelines, great question.
The way we handle that is we use image recognition software across the web. We will actually crawl the web, once it’s out of our control, downloaded off Chrome, print, attached to an email and sent off. Eventually it will be used, and we will use our API to recognize those images in any size or format they pop up in the web.
That’s important, instead of just finding exact searches, like you would with a Google or Bing search. We will find variations, if somebody augmented the logo in some small way. Changed the color, stretched it out a little bit. Our brand monitor tool, which is what we call it, will actually find that.
Then we can report back on who is misusing, and where it’s being used. There are so many cool use cases, my favorite is the Bronco’s. They are obviously my favorite football team, they also happen to be the World Champions, and one of our favorite customers.
They have gone through a helmet change, every couple years for the last 50 years. There is a cool slide on the deck where we show the progression of what the Broncos have done. Even this year, they increased the side of the horse on the helmet ever so slightly.
There are thousands of co-marketing partners that use that horse logo. On their website, on their brochures, across print media, that is a major operation to reach out manually to every one of those people, and let them know there is a new logo design.
More importantly, after it has taken place and the season is on, they want to know that their co-working partners, or 9 News when there showing the highlights from the night are using the correct brand asset’s. We can give them a good distribution model to the thousands of people using their logos. As well as monitor, once they are on the wild, who is using them correctly and incorrectly.
For them it’s a revenue model, to use that logo it’s a $50,000-$100,000 investment. You have to pay them to use the logo. If there are people using it in an unauthorized way, we can show them a list of those people that they can go after at that point. A cease and desist, revenue, or whatever they want to do with it.
The short answer to your question is using image recognition as opposed to exact match searches like you would see in the traditional search engine.
Yury: Now, that works really well for something on the web, what if it’s a printed logo? Or using that asset that has already been published? Is it something you separate yourself from the brand at that point? You can’t really help them at that point?
Steve: Once it’s printed on a document were kind of out of the loop. We will work with different companies around different brand enforcement use cases. They break into two categories; a creative services use case. Where the person who created the art on the logo wants to make sure it’s used correctly and against guidelines. The other side is a legal use case. Where companies don’t want their trademarks used incorrectly. They want to know when it’s happening.
Beyond those things, were a web based SaaS application. Were really keen on usage on the web. You can do things like take a picture of an asset that you see in context, and use our brain monitor to see if that fits within brand guidelines. There are a few things you can do around that, but mostly brand asset’s that exist in some sort of web format.
Yury: Once it goes out to the wild, as long as it’s available on the web, your crawler will determine if it’s accurate and the most up to date image. That is key. I know a lot of companies who go into business not actually considering brand asset management until they get into this co-marketing space. Or they have people asking to use or represent their company in some capacity.
A lot of the points you made, I wouldn’t have thought that this is something you have to consider. If your message is unclear or you have a broken message out there it can really change things from the user experience perspective, from them seeing what kind of company you are. If someone is mismanaging it, and it can be a non-malicious thing, it’s not intentional. It’s just this is what they had so this is what they were using.
That’s so key because I don’t normally think about those things. Most business owners probably don’t want to be thinking about those things, that’s why you developed an algorithm to make it think for you. Going back a couple years now, I am sure a lot of people have questions about funding. How did you get started with this? I know you mention TechStars earlier, but what was that process like? Before Brandfolder existed, how did this concept start developing?
Were you the person who developed the first alpha version of it? Walk us through the progression of Brandfolder, and how it came to be today.
Steve: That’s a really good question. I mentioned Chris and Luke earlier, and the idea came about on a fishing trip on a RV. These are the type of folks because they are high level executives in their companies, they are doing a lot of speaking engagements. When you do that, you have to share your bio, which is like before the podcast what we did. Here is my headshot, here is a brief description, here is where I appeared in the past.
All of the things that come with the bio. That is a pain, hey you sent me the wrong headshot size, you have the vector file, or the png version of that. Then you’re sending separate files for the actual bio. The original idea came when there has got to be a better way to do this.
Traditional email, traditional cloud storage does not solve this issue. For them they thought executives all over the earth have to be dealing with this problem. What they did was put a team together, and they got a group of super angels.
25 or so original angels to give investments ranging from $10,000- $50,000, to get the business started. About that time, we got accepted into the TechStars program, which kicked us off. We learned how to be a business, how to become a c-crop, how to account, and build a revenue model, how to build an ecommerce model on the site, and built the guts of the business.
Paul Arterburn was the technical co-founder that they brought in, he’s a full stack developer who basically wrote the first line of code for the product. He is still with the organization today, building code right now with his headphones on. He is constantly coming up with new concepts and code.
At that point we had to raise money. We came up with this concept, but we decided to move upstream, to the mid-market and be a legitimate Digital Asset Management platform for enterprise companies. To do that we had to scale a team out, and we knew that. So one of our original angels created a fund to double down on the business.
The board was really happy with what we were doing, we had a really good revenue model built. We knew with some money in we could scale it. So we did a series c round of $2,000,000 to start that team. January 2015, we had operated for a year to test the model and scale the company and we thought new money in at that point was low risk for our super angel turned fund manager.
We did the deal and have had wild card process. We built out a team of 20 people, sales people, the best development team on earth, as well as a very sharp marketing and content team which is really important for us, because we’re brand new people. Had to free up some creative marketing people. Our content, the way we look online, the way our application feels is all very important.
So we built out the team, and really attacked the space. There were only a small number of companies in the space at the time when we entered it, and we took a very different approach. We talked about how companies in the olden days, built these big appliances, that lived in a server cloud, that were a list of features. Even some of the new SaaS based applications out there are that.
They are trying to hit a feature checklist, and we see that all the time. We flipped that, and took this is a different direction. It’s from the user experience. Everything that we do from designing the application to our invoicing process, to the way we built out our office, goes through the lens of visual elegance and user simplicity.
We want to create a user experience from the first time the user uses our software, they require no training. That is very different than any other enterprise scale application that you’re used to running into. That allowed us, a young company with limited funds, to compete with the likes of the Adobe Experience Manager.
People can select Brandfolder with a straight face, over this big bulky dinosaur that lives in the market. We’ve been able to prove that out for the last two years, to the point that we are now a profitable software company. That is a metric we have been chasing very hard at, and were very proud of.
During this quarter, were crossing over into that world of actually making more money than we spend. Its fun given where we came from. Making people coming over from really cool opportunities with other companies, to make sacrifices to do this and to see it work out.
Now, I’m not saying were a Unicorn, and it’s over, and our exits happened. Given our position right now, were positioned over the next couple of years to really lead this space. The cloud based Digital Asset Management space. It’s a testament to the team that we built, and to the original founding team that came up with the concept.
Yury: That is quite a journey you have gone though. From the humble beginnings to where you are now. Congratulations!
Steve: Were still in humble beginnings
Yury: You guys have definitely crossed that line, and this is where it’s getting exciting, where you get to make those moves, and expand the operation. I really hope you’ll never become one of those great dinosaur’s in the room, and stay on that cutting edge.
The slight is so clean the experience is so friendly. That’s a testament on the amount of time you put into the UI UX flow. I know a lot of companies who really ignore that piece and says who cares about the customers really.
It’s on the other end, the customers are really what’s driving the business. You don’t have a good experience for the customer, there just going to leave.
Steve: It’s easy to build features. There’s developers everywhere that can build features quote on quote. If we’re getting user experiences, that’s a different skill set, and it requires a different resource of person to build that out. That’s why we always say “were built for creatives, by creatives.” That’s different than every other software company that I’ve ever seen.
Yury: That’s a great approach to have. Your relating to the end user on a very personal level. That’s where you get that fuzzy feeling, you’re strumming those emotional strings, and you get that person to think wow, this makes my day, it’s a pleasure to do this.
You mention speakers, you mention companies, these are all segments of your market I presume?
Steve: I like to say, anybody who cares about how they’re perceived on the web, needs a Brandfolder. It really is a broad list of vertical markets. We’ve seen really good traction; I’ve mentioned professional sports. We have about 30 professional teams across the major leagues that will tell you were the source of truth for their brand.
We have done very good in consumer packaged goods, in the retail space, in food and beverage. The use cases are similar across those brands. At Pepsi the marketing team is giving the same requests for logo’s that somebody at Under Armor is.
They are different kinds of companies, they sell different things, they are different models. The fact that their brand is their most valuable asset is the same across every vertical market. We are seeing good traction in big technology companies.
Companies like SalesForce.com use Brandfolder. Companies like Under Armor, which I already mentioned, the Denver Broncos, if you look in the retail space/ retail brand space, companies like L’Oréal, and DKNY, will tell you we are the source of truth for their assets.
It’s a different use case, but every vertical experiences this. We thought it was crazy when we went through our initial research with the company that there was no standard for what we considered to be the most valuable asset of a company, and that’s their brand. There is no standard for managing and protecting it. So we set out to do that.
Yury: You’ve changed the concept that a lot of companies will say of oh you need to niche down and go after one market, once you conquer one market you go onto the next market. It doesn’t sound like you actually did that.
You took a different approach where you found a universal issue across all verticals. Regardless if they are in retail, or a software company, whether they are a professional sports team, you recognized that this is a problem that all these people are dealing with. There you are, you have this gigantic market at your fingertips.
Steve: That is a good point, it’s very driven on that pain point, which is very consistent across every kind of industry. Of course there are nuances across industries, and different things that different industries find important. I hate the term shotgun approach, a lot of companies will say yeah, we’re everything to everyone. That’s definitely not that case.
We’re really focused on that specific use case. The problem of managing large numbers of digital assets. The larger more syndicated the brand, the bigger the problem.
Yury: You’re right, it’s a shotgun approach in terms of vertices, but the consistent pain point is everywhere. It’s not just one company that experiences this. You’re attaching a lot of different vertices, or serving all those different markets. At the same time, the issue is the same.
They’re all dealing with the same problem, and you’re here with this amazing solution called Brandfolder. It’s remarkable to hear something completely different than what you usually hear with startups. You hear we specifically work with jewelry store owners, and our SaaS application focuses on that.
You get that sliver of the market, but here you’ve been able to broaden that out and go across multiple verticals. There’s your profitability, you have virtually an untapped market to go after. In the United States, and internationally.
Now, I don’t know if this is sort of breaching the internal realm, but are there plans to go international? Have you done so already?
Steve: Yeah, we have done so already. 20% of our revenue comes from sources outside of the US. Were out on the web, so people can find us, however they find us. It’s software and can be deployed in any kind of environment.
We can do some white labeling things, to accommodate localization. We have customers in Kuwait, customers in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and now I’m just name dropping countries.
I know that does not mean anything, but it’s cool to have customers in places outside of Denver. When you’re a startup and have this kind of cult following in the front range. From Boulder to Colorado Springs, we have a number, every Brewery in town, the Broncos, That’s cool.
Expanding outside that market is great domestically, and adoption internationally is validation for what we’re doing. Very little effort from a marketing effort has gone in that direction, yet they are coming to us. Requesting a quote, talking to our sales team. Were happy to do demo’s at 3:00am, to accommodate time frames.
Yury: And then you get more vacation spots too! It’s a lot of fun to have that international presence as well. There is still a lot of opportunity everywhere. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people in the world who have not even seen the internet yet. Who have not started to run any enterprise business at any capacity.
As the world progresses though this, especially mobile applications get more developed, this is going to become more and more prevalent and more needed in the market. So you’re in a perfect position, wow, what a story!
Steve, I have one last question for you, I’m sure this is a question on other’s minds as well. When you mention your building that expert team, we will wrap things up with this. What is one take away you can give us when your building that expert team? How do you find these people? Where are they located? How do you vet them? What does that process look like for Brandfolder?
Steve: Good question, and that is the most important thing. From talking to other start up people, that is the key indicator of your success. Is the team you’re able to build. You have to change when you’re a startup, you raise money, you change your hats immediately from fundraiser to recruiter
You learn to build out a team quickly changes everything. You’ve heard this term, “hire slow, fire fast” where you want to make sure that not only are they a skillset fit, for what you’re trying to do with your organization, but also a culture fit. That’s equal parts importance in this pie of recruiting.
People that will fit within your team, but also the startup culture in general. It’s very different than what they will be used to if they’re not coming from another startup company. Putting a lot of importance on that culture piece.
We’ve gone so far as to create a non-management culture committee. They plan the fun stuff in the office, plans everything culture related, all of our philanthropic stuff. It’s important, we look very closely at culture as an indicator to see people succeed long term with the company.
You also have to look at your cash flow situation. You have to build a team that is willing to make sacrifices in the early stage to build something great. You might not be able to pay as much as some of the brick and mortar companies in town.
You have to have people that align with your vision, and try to understand what you’re doing long term and are on board with that. It’s not just employees that you’re looking for, typically with startups you’re giving away equity and options.
You want people who act like owners, and not just clock hunters. Which is the worst thing in the startup world, we are building something together. You have ownership in the company, so do I. Whatever that exit event is, we all have a stake in this game, all 20 of us.
Finding the right people is crucial, and admitting when you didn’t find the right person. No one wants to fire anyone, it’s the worst thing on earth. It’s the worst part of your week guaranteed, but identifying that and admitting when you made a bad decision on the hiring side is crucial, because that is your biggest expense.
Your people expense above all else, above technology, rent, and all of that. Your people expense is huge. Making the right decisions and knowing when you made a mistake, and doing that quickly is crucial.
Yury: If you find that wrong person who comes from a corporate background, or has a heavy rigid experience in their work life. Getting them in a startup is a shocker. They will be surprised with beer on tap- they will wonder what to do with that. You flip it on its head. It’s an odd situation to be in. But hey, startup culture is awesome in that regard. You have that freedom; you have that flexibility.
Not only are you taking the concept of brand asset management and flipping it on its head. You’re also taking the whole work life balance, the culture aspect and your flipping that on its head. It’s no longer you come into work and drudge being there, you cannot wait to go home and unwind.
When you’re in a startup mode there is no real unwinding. You’re always in that fun creative environment where you are embracing that full mental capacity of everybody and acknowledging them for it.
They also have stake in the company, which is the best part. Their success is your success, and vice versa. Wow, what a journey you have taken us on Steve.
We’re getting close to time here. I want to thank you again for sharing this expertise with us. There are so many take away’ s, my head is absolutely spinning right now, with ideas and different concepts your kind of injected into my brain.
I just want to thank you for sharing your expertise and sharing your vision and your journey. This has been a heck of a journey for you guys and you’re going to crush it. It sounds like you are going to the moon and beyond, and this is just the beginning.
Steve: I appreciate the time, I appreciate your kind words, I appreciate you having me on your podcast. You guys are doing amazing things as well. I also look forward to getting you guys into your own Brandfolder here in the near future.
Yury: I look forward to seeing it. I’ve seen some examples and they look really cool, stunning, and easy to use. I’m sure with my technical background it will be a breeze. I can’t wait!
We will put the link for Brandfolder at the bottom of the podcast, you will be able to see it on the YouTube channel, as well as on the podcast page itself.
Again Steve thank you so much for sharing your expertise and knowledge with us. I look forward to possibly having you back on the show sometime when you dominate the market and become this guru. It’s going to be an exciting time. Keep at it, I appreciate it and have a wonderful day, and great rest of your week!