In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike talk about the 20 podcasts they listen to. They separate the podcasts into three categories, bootstrapping, startups/business, and off topic/entertainment.
Items mentioned in this episode:
- The Art of Product
- Build Your SaaS
- Bootstrapped Web
- Founder’s Journey
- Hooked on Product
- The Tropical MBA
- Indie Hackers
- This Week in Startups
- Stacking Benjamins
- Money For The Rest Of Us
- Planet Money
- Reply All
- Daily Tech Headlines
- Current Geek
- 99% Invisible
- System Mastery
Rob: In this episode of Startups For the Rest of Us, Mike and I talk about 20 podcasts we like. But first, I have a trivia question for you Mike. What color is Mace Windu’s lightsaber?
Mike: It’s purple isn’t it?
Rob: Nailed it. Nice. You are a Star Wars nerd, sir.
Mike: Thank you.
Rob: This is Startups For the Rest of Us episode 395. Welcome to Startups For the Rest of Us. The podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at building, launching, and growing software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.
Mike: And I’m Nerdy Mike.
Rob: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s the word this week, Nerdy Mike?
Mike: I almost got you laugh there. I almost got you to totally screw up.
Rob: You almost – to screw up the intro. The reason I ask that question is because A, I got it wrong when I came up on a trivia thing and both of my kids, my 11-year-old and 7-year-old, got it right. We’ve been watching the—I was going to say the Trilogy, but we’ve been watching Star Wars in machete order. So you go four five, two three, we’re about to hit six. I don’t know when we’re going to do Rogue One because it obviously fits between three and four, but you don’t want to watch it first because it’s not the early stuff.
Anyways, I’ve been immersed with Star Wars with the kids for the past couple of weeks. My 11-year-old is rewatching but the seven’s are basically seeing them for the first time. It’s been cool. It’s always fun to watch Star Wars with someone for the first time when they’re enjoying it. But aside from that, what’s going on with you?
Mike: Not much. I’ve got a couple of announcements to make. The first one is about Microcomp Europe. We’re going to be making some announcements in the next couple of weeks about when MicroConf Europe is going to be coming. If you want to hear more about that, make sure that you’re on the mailing list or you can go over to microconfeurope.com. Enter in your email address into the mailing list and if you’re not already added, you’ll be added into there. When you make the announcements in a couple of weeks, you’ll get the emails and start planning accordingly. We’re hoping to have the final location and dates nailed down hopefully in the next two weeks or so, but it’s just taking a little bit more time than we expected.
Rob: It always depends. It’s hard to find the right hotel in the right country on the right dates that don’t conflict with some major, major other event whether it’s another conference or a national holiday or something.
Mike: The other announcement is for MicroConf 2019, which will be in March of next year from the 24th to the 28th. The 24th, 25th, and 26th, that’s Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, that will be growth edition. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday is going to be starter editions, so the 26th, 27th, and 28th will be starter edition.
Rob: I’m deleting them all. I’m not even reading them. It’s irritating.
Rob: Hey, everybody, look at this. I’m not doing that.
Mike: It’s ridiculous.
Rob: Yes. Now that I’m seeing it, we’ve talked about that on the show a lot from the kind of company perspective, or the owner, the founder perspective. But now I’m seeing from the consumer perspective, and I hate it already. It’s annoying. People check in the box because they got to check the box.
Mike: Which is interesting because I also see emails from people who are talking about GDPR and it’s clear from the emails that they don’t completely understand what it is that they’re supposed to be doing. I’ve seen all these email coming through. There’s a general trend or thread that you can see, and someone is wrong. I’m not saying I’ve done the research to figure out exactly, and in certain situations whether the vast majority of people are right or the vast majority of the people are wrong, but there’s definitely variations between what some people are doing versus others. I don’t know. It’s totally screwed up and there’s no good answer for it.
Rob: Yes, for sure. On a lighter note, I had mentioned my brother was in town last week. When we were kids, we played obviously, the original Nintendo, the NAS. We played the SEGA Genesis System. He bought it when he was in college. This was the one with Sonic, Altered Beast, and some of those early SEGA classics. Once they got ahead of Nintendo if I recall, and this was the console that—they eventually lost the battle. There’s a good book about this. I wasn’t sure I figure out what the name of it is but it tells the inside story of all that.
When MicroConf Vegas is here, we gave away some of these classic consoles where you spend—it’s between $40-$100 and you can get an SNAS, or an NAS, or a SEGA Genesis System, and it comes with the games built in right on some hard drive. I noticed the SEGA Genesis was $40 on Amazon, so I just bought it while he’s in town, and I’m probably going to sell it on Amazon as a used console here in the next few weeks because I don’t really want to keep it. We had a blast, man.
We hung out a couple of the nights he was here. Just drank some whiskey and played Altered Beast and all the old games you remember from that era for hours and hours.
One thing I was disappointed with, the console’s fine. It’s pretty cheaply made. It’s not made by SEGA. It’s made by some third party and they threw on a bunch of games. They say it has 81 games but it’s really like 40 SEGA games and then 40 games that this company made in the past 10 years that are kind of garbage, so you don’t even play those. But what I did notice is that games like Altered Beast, and there’s couple of adventure games you used to be able to on the original SEGA continue forever and that’s how you would win it. You would just keep hitting start and you had infinite credits, but on this classic console, you don’t. You have two or three credits and once you’re done with it, you’re done.
It took all of the fun out of it because we couldn’t win any of the games. It’s pretty hard to do, but be we just aren’t in our peak chops for these games.
Mike: You’re losers.
Rob: I know. It’s funny though to realize that, “Oh, this isn’t,” I’m like tempted to go buy a real console. The old console you see them on eBay for $20 or $30, get the actual cartridge then you know that you’ll get the original experience. It’s just a bummer that they modified the original experience. I guess that’s how I feel. Why would they do that? Why would they change it from the way it was in the 90s.
Mike: I don’t know. It’s funny you’ve mentioned Altered Beast a couple of times, but I remember in college, there was a contest at the arcade at college where you could win the full version or the stand up version of the Altered Beast game, the arcade version. All you had to do is you had to get the highest score in a certain month. I went down there with a couple of dollars and a friend of mine, and ended up getting the high score and won it for—I spent less than $10 trying to win it.
Rob: That’s crazy for you. Few weeks ago, we had a question from a listener asking what podcasts we are listening to, and every so often, we do this. We probably do it once a year but we do it probably once every 18 months to 24 months because this change, I know it changes for me pretty frequently and it depends on the phase of the product I’m in, or the phase of the business. I know once we sold Drip, I just couldn’t listen to all the growth hacks anymore. It kind of killed me because I wasn’t in the midst of that anymore, so I had to just weed myself off of those.
Depending on what phase you’re at, it depends on what you don’t want to listen to. We picked our top 20 podcasts. We just grouped them into three different areas. We have the bootstrapping crew, we have the startups/business area, and we have off topic. We’re just going to run through these 20 and we’ll list them in the show notes as well. These are what I consider the highest quality and most relevant to our listeners.
There’s certainly some podcasts I listen to that are really infrequent and we exclude them from here. I also listen to a bunch of podcasts about tabletop gaming or role-playing games. Well, we could mention those. It’s probably not interesting to the majority of folks listening, so we won’t cover those. In no particular order, because we just went to our podcast feeds and send them in.
The first product is The Art of Product, and this obviously my Drip co-founder, Derrick, and Ben Orenstein who’s been a MicroConf speaker. They put together a really tight show where they just talk through the updates from the other person, what they’ve been doing in the last week and they’ve gone from—Derrick is working at Drip and Ben had a full time job. Ben went out on his own and did info products. Derrick left Drip and Ben got a full time job and they swapped. Then Ben left and he’s now doing a startup and Derrick’s doing his startup. Really interesting conversation from two smart people who are discussing topics that would be highly relevant to you as a listener of Startups For the Rest of Us.
Mike: The next one on the list is Bootstrapped Web from Brian Castle and Jordan Gal. Brian Castle runs Audience Ops. Jordan runs CartHook, and I think you’re an investor in CartHook as well, right?
Mike: Those two have some really interesting stuff that they talk about. For obvious reasons, they don’t talk about everything that’s going on in their businesses, but it is a fascinating look at the stuff that they are working on. I really like hearing them talk about the stuff that they’re doing and the challenges they’ve run into. There’s just some fascinating topics that come up. Sometimes it’s just not even directly relevant to their business, or about technology, or marketing itself. Sometimes it’s just people management. How do you deal with different situations that come up, or how do you negotiate, or how do you solve a particular problem that was not your own like if somebody got dumped on your lap from some other vendor or partner of yours. How do you move forward from that? How do you recover from a fiasco that is largely out of your control.
Both of them are super sharp guys. I really like listening to them and hearing about it, and then just reconnecting with them. I used to work at MicroConf and Brian also runs a big Snowtime in Conf, so I usually see him when I go to that and it’s a winner as well.
Rob: I’ve been a long time listener of their podcast. I’ve been on on a couple of times, two or three times talking about stuff. Really, can’t recommend it enough. Again, heavy overlap in terms of concepts, topics, and really goals of what you and I espouse on this podcast.
Another podcast, I just recently started listening to it actually, is called Build Your SaaS, and it’s Justin Jackson and his co-founder of Transistor.fm, which is a podcast hosting company. It’s cool. It’s early stage stuff. They’re talking about their pricing. They’re talking about funding versus not and just talking about the two sides of it. I think it’s a fun romp. It’s always fun to hear Justin’s energy on their podcast and they do a good job with it.
Mike: Next one the the list id Rogue Startups from Dave Rodenbaugh and Craig Hewitt. Both of these guys have been long time MicroConf attendees. Craig used to headspoke at MicroConf Europe. I believe it was last year. Dave Rodenbaugh has given an attendee talk at MicroConf in Vegas as well. Dave has transitioned over the years from running just a series of WordPress businesses over onto his SaaS called Recapture. Craig Hewitt has been running Podcast Motor for a long time and he’s starting to branch out into other types of products in the podcasting space.
It’s just interesting hearing the journey over time and the different perspectives that they both bring to the table, partly because Craig moved over to Europe. He lives in France at this point. He Brought his family and two young kids over there. Some of the conversations talk about what it’s like to bring them over, and the differences in the school systems, and the challenges associated with going back and forth as a family, and how to integrate into the local culture and essentially run the business as a location independent business.
Rob: I’ve been a long time listener of Rogue Startups as well and a fan. Dave has multiple WordPress plugins, as well as Recapture.io, which is a small SaaS up he acquired. Craig Hewitt is running a couple of things but really past those is what I know he really focuses a lot of his time on which is podcast hosting. It’s kind of fun to hear their trials, tribulations, victories, and defeats, much in line with the stuff we talk about here.
Next podcast that I’ve enjoyed is Founder’s Journey, and this is from Josh Pigford at Baremetrics. He basically reads his blog post which I enjoy because I don’t read many blogs anymore. Really, I don’t read any blogs. I actually like that I’m able to kind of keep up with his thoughts on entrepreneurship and renting a relatively small startup without having to read text. I can do it while I’m running or riding my bike. It’s cool. It doesn’t have a regular publishing schedule but it’s short. When it comes out, it’s like 10 minutes. Since it is packing a blog post into that 10 minutes, it’s very compact. It feels like a 30-minute episode packed into 10 minutes, which is something I enjoy about it.
Mike: Next one on our list is the Tropical MBA from Dan and Ian. This is probably the single podcast I’ve listened to the longest. I’ve started to listen to it very early on when it came out. I’ve been listening to it for seven or eight years at this point. They have actually more episodes than Startups For the Rest of Us.
Rob: That is unfair.
Mike: I know. I think the thing that strikes me as interesting is that it feels to me like they’ve been on a parallel path with us, or we’ve been on a parallel path with them. Only they were aimed mainly at location independent entrepreneurs versus we focus much more on software entrepreneurs. Their ethos, ideas, and approach towards business really feels like it very much aligns with us. I think that’s why I’ve felt like it resonated so much with me. Dan and Ian had spoken at MicroConf in Europe. It was either 2013 or 2014, I forgot. It was in Prague. It was great to have them up there.
It was the only time we’ve ever had two people give a talk at MicroConf and it was fantastic. They fed off of each other really well and it looked like they rehearsed the entire thing. I imagine that they probably didn’t just because they have that natural interaction between each other that works really, really well. I think that’s part of why I like the podcast so much.
Rob: I’m with you. I’ve started listening really early on. I describe Tropical MBA as our sister podcast. I say that all the time. I feel like we’re two siblings, you know, they say sister cities, that kind of feels the same but in different places. It’s very similar in terms of, like you said, the ethos because it’s about building a life that you want and building a business to help you do that.
Their early focus was on location independence. They were in Bali, the Philippines, and other areas of the world, and you and I are on a different situation. We already had wives and kids when we started this podcast, and so we didn’t talk about the travel aspect of it, but we’re all talking about building a business to help you build a better life. I agree. I really can’t recommend Tropical MBA highly enough and as you mentioned, it’s one of the very few podcasts that has more episodes than we do.
Mike: I think they’re also one of the few people who’s taken over the Startups For the Rest of Us podcast as well. Do you remember the episode—it was the April 1st episode. We let them take over Startups For the Rest of Us and we took over the Tropical MBA for that one day. I think the only other time was when we had our wives come on and do the episode instead.
Rob: That’s right. We need to do another one of those at some point.
Mike: Yes, definitely.
Rob: That was fun. Cool. Our next podcast is a newer one. I think they only have 10 or 11 episodes. It’s called Hooked on Products, and it’s from Phil Derksen and John Turner. Also folks we’ve met through MicroConf long time, actually long time Micro Academy FounderCafe members. They’re hustling, they’re WordPress plugins, they’ve both gone independent at this point after a few years of building and acquiring products. It’s fun to listen to their interviews. Their origin stories are pretty cool. They just released how each of them got to where they are, and that is always fun for me to hear folks talk about that, because the founder’s story, it kind of never gets old hearing how founders got to where they are today.
Mike: The last podcast in our bootstrapping category is Indie Hackers which is run by Courtland Allen who does all the speaking and interviews, and then his brother Channing Allen does all the backend stuff for Indie Hackers. I find this fascinating just because he talks to people that are very early stage all the way up to they’ve sold their business and maybe they made millions of dollars from it.
You get this broad spectrum of people who are building profitable businesses, and you hear about the trials, the tribulations, and the things that have gone really well. You also hear about the things that did not go so well and the mistakes made along the way. I just love hearing that. All the different stories and things that people have run into, because if you’re working on your own business, you have this one view of the world and of your own business, but you don’t necessarily get that perspective that other people might have.
Hearing all those different stories gives you that perspective and makes you think about things that you might not otherwise have thought about that relate to your own business. Did you notice, by the way, in our bootstrapping section, every single person on this list who has those podcasts, all of them have been to MicroConf?
Rob: I know. I know, as we were saying this, I was like, “That’s interesting.” I don’t know why that is. I don’t know if it’s because we know them, I’m more interested in listening to their podcast, or if just people who are going to start a podcast in the space are naturally going to gravitate towards our community because it is their people in essence.
Mike: I don’t know. I’d have to think about that a little bit more, but I just find it interesting and looking at the list afterwards like, “Huh, every single person here, I’ve met them at MicroConf.”
Rob: Yes, that’s cool. Our next category is the startups/business category and this is podcasts that are focused on bootstrapping but they are still relevant to folks who listen to Startups For the Rest of Us.
The first is, if you’re not tired of hearing me every week on Startups For the Rest of Us, you should check out ZenFounder. It’s the other podcast that I co-host. I co-host this one with my wife, Dr. Sherry Walling, who is a clinical psychologist, and I think we’ve been doing this I think three, three and a half years now. It’s crazy to hear that it’s that long because I think we’re on episode in the 150, 160 range. It’s some really good stuff. The Founder Origin Stories have been a big hit where we’ve interviewed founders. Sherry doesn’t jus interview them about how they got there in their business but in their life. Like growing up, all the adversity they faced, how they got to where they are, and there are some amazing stories about folks who were in jail, folks who were almost killed, folks who lost parents, and about how that impacted who they are as a founder. ZenFounder.com or ZenFounder on iTunes if you haven’t checked about it. There are some good stuff coming out of there.
Mike: I definitely recommend ZenFounder as well. It’s been three years. I think it came out in 2015 and I still listen to it all the time. It’s one of those other ones that’s kind of made it into the—I use the app called Cast and it’s in the category called My Top Podcasts, which basically those at the front of the list out of all the other ones that I subscribe to.
Rob: Well, that’s cool. Thanks for the endorsement, sir.
Mike: the next one on our list is This Week in Startups. I started listening to this a while ago. This is run by Jason Calcanis. If you’re not familiar with him, he does a lot of angel investing and talks about startups in the Silicon Valley area. I found that I didn’t necessarily resonate with a lot of the things that were said, but I felt like I needed to be at least aware of the things that were going on. It’s not like being in the Valley is something that I’m really particularly interested in. I don’t want to go out and raise millions of dollars, but I also feel that I shouldn’t be completely ignorant of the things that go on and the types of stories that come out of those.
Obviously, funding works for some people and it doesn’t work for others. I can’t say that I would take that swing for the friends’ approach right now just because of the situation that I’m in, but I can certainly appreciate the value of raising a lot of money and doing something where you wouldn’t be able to do that without that funding, but not everybody can take those chances.
Some of the things that they talk about, I don’t necessarily agree with, but Jason’s definitely got a say something of an over the top attitude about—attitude probably is not the right word, but approach, I’ll say towards business. You should definitely do this. I think it’s just more of him being an extrovert than me being uncomfortable being an introvert.
Rob: Sure. Yes, he’s definitely opinionated. He’s a really smart guy and hard working as well. He kind of pulled himself up by his bootstraps from a very working class family. At first when I listened to it years ago, I was so irritated. I thought he was obnoxious and now, I realize he’s a smart dude who worked his ass off his whole life. I’ve come to respect his opinions. I find that I agree with him more often than not now. Not sure that I did the entire time that I listen to it, but when I disagree with him I can at least say, “Yeah, we just disagree and we see things differently,” kind of in my head. He has such a unique take on a lot of topics. That’s what I like to see. He kind of challenges some of my thinking and some of his guests do, as well.
There’s a really good episode, probably my top three episodes of this podcast are when he interviewed David Heinemeier Hansson, and they talked about funding and they go toe-to-toe, because DHH is very adamant one way and Calcanis really was just like, “Here are examples where that just wouldn’t have worked period.” I actually felt like Calcanis won the discussion. He had really good points about it.
The other one, I liked, Joel Spolsky, he’s been on there once or twice which was always fun because I’ve followed Joel for so long. And then, Chris Sacca did a two-part where he talked about all kinds of stuff. That’s what I like because I never would have followed or even been aware of Chris Sacca, but hearing Calcanis interview him made me think about things in a way that I have never done before. It kind of expanded my horizons.
That’s what I look for in This Week in Startups. I agree with you, a lot of the stuff on there. There’ll be interviews with someone doing some drones startup and I skipped those. I delete those because I just don’t have that much interest. But the news roundtable’s keeping me somewhat in touch with a world that, you’re right, is not our world because it’s more of the Silicon Valley startup, but it is tangentially related.
It’s certainly not a sister podcast, but maybe it’s like a second cousin. There’s something out there that I think is important for us to be abreast of given that we’re in technology.
Mike: It’s the long lost Uncle Joe who comes over and gets drunk and causes a raucous. If we’re talking family relationships, that’s probably it. I think your description of him of being opinionated is probably the one that is most in line with what I was thinking. I couldn’t come up with the right word, the right phrase, and also place the right amount of respect on him, it’s opinionated, it’s definitely it.
He does things and says stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily do myself but I can certainly appreciate the value of going through those steps towards building a business or putting your startup out there. I’m not going to say that it’s for me but that’s partly because, like I said, I’m an introvert and it’s just not for me. It’s not that it’s wrong, it’s just I wouldn’t probably approach it that way.
Rob: Right. And when we say opinionated, that’s not a negative thing. It just what it is. He has strong opinions and sometimes it can come off negative, but other times it’s like, “Wow, he’s really taking a stand here.” I appreciate that and respect that. Again. More often than not, I think he’s on the right track with what he’s thinking.
Our next podcast is really purely for entertainment so I debated whether to put it on here, but it’s kind of like you got to give a nod to Alex Blumberg. It’s StartUp and it is on Gimlet Media. It was Alex Blumberg’s podcast, but essentially, he left This American Life to do StartUp. The first season or two were phenomenal. The most recent seasons, two or three seasons have been less so. They’re interesting but they’re just following stories of stuff.
It’s like Planet Money for startups, but I struggle a little bit with the lack of reality. If you think This Week in Startups interviews a lot of people just raising $20 million, $30 million, at least that is actually happening. A lot of stuff Alex was looking at on the first couple of seasons at StartUp were such a beginner view of things which, I hate to say it that way, it sounds pejorative like I’m saying you should never be a beginner. But it sounds like it never examined the possibility of that bootstrapping or a small angel round is a totally viable option for most businesses. Maybe he wasn’t able to do that but it was never brought up.
It was kind of presented as, “Hey, if you want to start a company, you raise funds.” That really has been the message at the entire time. I don’t love that about it, and frankly I should probably write in or send something just to be like, “Hey, this is another take on it,” but all that to say, it’s entertaining and worth listening to, but I don’t think you can take any business lessons away from it.
Mike: I’m with you on that. I’ve felt the same way about it being and again, you used a phrase and you said, I don’t want to be pejorative about calling it very beginner focused or having that beginner view, because everybody’s got to start somewhere, but it felt like there was no research done to say what are the options here? It was just like, “Hey, go raise funding. This is what will make your business successful.” I don’t know. I listened to it for a while. I haven’t listened to the StartUp in quite some time actually, probably at least a year or so.
Rob: I don’t even remember what the prior season was. There’s one coming out right now that’s fine, but the one before it was okay. I don’t think you’re missing that much. Our last podcast for startups/business is Akimbo, it’s Seth Godin’s podcast. He had said for years he wasn’t doing a podcast because he just didn’t have the time. He has to be really choosy about his projects but he’s doing a podcast now. It comes out every week and he talks about a lot of stuff you’ve heard from him in his books and his talks and such, it’s solid. It’s not blowing my mind because I’ve heard a lot of this from him before because I’ve followed him for years.
I often find that he’s talking about a trend or an idea that I don’t know what to do with. All right, so you have a dip. So what? You know, there’s not enough detail or like, “Okay, culture changes and here’s how it is.” And it’s like, “Okay, so then what do I do with that?” That’s always been my struggle, but at the same time, Seth is a genius and Seth, he sees trends that others of us don’t see. He thinks and he talks about things in a way that most of us do not. I like it because it expands my mind and helps me think about things in a new way.
Mike: Bonus podcast here would also be Seth Godin’s Startup School. That’s a 15 episode podcast. He did it in the past. I think back in 2013 or so. It was an interesting look at the journey of entrepreneurship and all the different things that you could and should be thinking about when you’re trying to build a business. I think it was based off of—didn’t they have a group of people that went through, it was kind of a classroom or a little startup school as he put it, where they put people through this program and a lot of the things that come out of that, or clips from Q&A sessions with the people that were in there.
It’s fascinating to hear the types of questions that they come up with and then his off the cuff answers. Obviously, everything is edited, but still as you said, Seth’s a genius. He sees things that other people don’t and a lot of times, it’s stuff that is even just on the fly he sees it. It’s fascinating to kind of watch him work through something and bring you to a logical conclusion that is also correct and astounding that he came up with it on the spot.
Rob: And like you said, it was 15 episodes and it was done. It was back in 2013. It’s still on iTunes and you can listen to it. I should probably listen to it again because it’s been a few years, but I thought that was really well done.
So now we’re going to dive into our off topic podcast and we have a handful of them, seven or eight. These are things that we like to dig in to. The kind of nerdy pursuits or just edification. I listen to a number of personal finance investing podcasts because it’s always been a hobby. One all throughout there is called Stacking Benjamins, comes out three times a week. It’s got a big audience. They make it entertaining and kind of fun to think about. They look at the headlines. They interview somebody, and they have a discussion, and some trivia and stuff. If you’re into that kind of topic, if it’s a hobby, I think you should check it out and even if not, you can probably learn something about saving for retirement and some money tips and such.
Mike: The next one on the list is Planet Money. I got into this, I forgot how I ended up finding this one, but it’s an NPR podcast. They talk about all these different things related to money, whether it’s a class action lawsuits about civil rights cases, or they have one on called The Less Deadly Catch. The podcast traverses a lot of different business types, whether it’s the vodka industry, or Valentine’s Day, or Super Bowl, they look at money topics related to all different types of businesses, and they drill in specifically into particular problems.
Mostly episodes are pretty short. They’re anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes long. Some of them are a little bit longer than that. They talk about issues related to either having money available or how businesses make money, or things that you wouldn’t necessarily think are obvious. And because it’s an NPR podcast, they have the ability to do some investigative journalism and drill in to things that you would not normally learn about. They’ll send a reporter out to do interviews and find out information and they’ll interview people on the podcast.
Essentially, I find it just educational because there’s lots of business types that I’m not aware of. We’re in the SaaS industry or software industry, and you’ll hear about these things that, I think on the last episode they talked a little bit about Tree House Brewery near where I live and it’s a fascinating business model, but had I not been there, I would not have heard about it, but with Planet Money, you get to hear about those types of things.
Rob: Yes, and Planet Money is a spinoff of This American Life. They did that during a financial crisis. They did maybe a two-parter on what happened trying to unravel and explain, and it was so popular they decided to form an entire podcast and that’s when it started.
Mike: Got it. Yes, that must be where I heard it from.
Rob: My next podcast is another investing podcast. It’s called Money For The Rest of Us. Actually, when I stumbled upon it, I was emailed the guy, David Stein. I was like, “Hey, I run a podcast with a similar name.” He’s like, “I had no idea your podcast was out.” Because we were earlier, right? We’ve been since 2010 or 2011, and then I think his is maybe three years old. He’s like, “I’m so sorry. I hope you don’t feel like I took your thing.” He said he just came up with it out of his own head, so no hurt feelings.
If you go into iTunes and search for the rest of us, you’ll see buckets of podcasts with that name, so it’s not like something we own the trademark on it.
Mike: We don’t have a license to it. We did not trademark that.
Mike: That’s like a big mistake.
Rob: Exactly. But J, David Stein was an institutional money manager. He would advise these endowments and he would help them like colleges and universities. I think it was non-profits only and he would help just manage their money and keep the assets allocated. What I like about him is he’s super even keeled. He’s not sensationalist. He’s not saying, “Buy, buy, buy, sell, sell,” It’s all about asset allocation and big buckets. He’s very calculated and looks at a lot of indicators.
He says he invests at the leading edge of the present. He’s like, “I’m not guessing where the economy is going,” but he does move money in and out of these big asset classes based on, he sees that emerging markets are way overvalued and he’s probably going to eke a little money out of that. He’s pulled money out of that asset. He’s not trying to time the market per se, but like he said, he does at the leading edge of the present, so very smart guy.
The main podcast is good. It’s evergreen content. I don’t get a ton of value out of it. It’s just stuff to think about. His Money For The Rest of Us Plus which is the one you pay for, and it’s very inexpensive. I think it’s probably $20 a month or something like that, or $199 a year. It’s in that rance. In my opinion, is one of the most underpriced things that I pay for. I hope he’s not listening to this, but he could multiply the price by five and I would still pay for it because he gives his take on where the economy is. And it’s not just him making things up, he looks at PMI and all these data sources that he used as a professional money manager. It helps me think through, as I’m moving money in and out of things. I don’t necessarily do the exact thing that he’s doing but at least I have the context for it.
To me it’s more valuable than if I were to pay a money manager to actually be managing my money. He’s giving just tons of really solid information. In the financial investing space, he’s one of the people that I respect most.
Mike: You know what he should do is multiply his price by five and then grandfather people in. That should be your advice to him.
Rob: That should be as long as I get grandfathered, totally.
Mike: The next one on our list is The Daily Tech News. There’s also a spinoff of this to which I hadn’t actually been aware of that you had mentioned to me, which is called Daily Tech Headlines, which is a much shortened version of it. The Daily Tech Headlines is just the headlines themselves. The Daily Tech News Show, they go into the detail on each of the different headlines. I find that a lot of the discussions from The Daily Tech News Show very fascinating.
They have different people who come on and Tom Merritt kind of runs the show for the most part, and there’s different people that he brings on to have discussions about different topics on different days of the week. It comes out every single day. It is somewhat difficult to keep up with all the different discussions, but The Daily Tech Headlines is probably a better place if you just want to hear the headlines, and if you want to drill into those and hear a lot more detail about them, then you can go to The Daily Tech News Show.
Rob: The Daily Tech News Show is what, like 20-30 minutes?
Rob: And The Daily Tech Headlines is four or five, and that’s why I switched. It is five days a week. I couldn’t keep up with the full discussion and I just backed off to the headlines and I’ve really enjoyed doing that. I’m the biggest fan of Tom Merritt. I respect the heck out of him as someone who just, he has opinions but he’s willing to have conversations about them. He’s very well-informed. He doesn’t make rash comments or extremist things in either direction. He’s always pretty even keeled and that’s what I respect about him. He worked with Leo Laporte at TWiT and then left to do his own thing with Daily Tech News Show.
Mike: I always liked how he can see both sides of the argument whether it’s talking about self-driving cars, for example, and what are the moral implications of those things. Not just around the classical question of who do you kill if there’s a mother and a baby in front of you and some construction workers to the side. The car is going to have to choose somebody, who do you choose? He can talk to those things but he can also talk about the fact that these self-driving cars are going to be putting people out of work, truck drivers, for example. And what are the implications of that not just on the economy but the moral implications moving forward.
He’s got very broad view. Like you said, I just respect his opinions on it and him being able to listen to those things and talk about them without necessarily coming down very hand-fisted on a particular point of view.
Rob: One of Tom Merritt’s other podcast that I enjoy is called CurrentGeek. It’s a weekly podcast that they used to do every week. We’ll look at the current weekend geek news, movies, and the light tech stuff. They recently, I think it’s every other week they do that, and now they’re watching some movies, some classic movies and talking about them which is still interesting. When I first heard that they were doing that, I was like, “Oh, no.” Tom and his co-hosts are so entertaining to listen to that I listen to those episodes as well, and then we’re going back and watching pilot episodes of things. They did pilot episodes of Lost in Space. They did Lost. They did Breaking Bad, and Seinfeld. It’s funny to hear them talk through. They do research on it and then they talk about the changes, and what went down. They don’t just talk about the show itself but a lot of the behind the scenes which is fun.
Mike: Next one on our off topic list is 99% invisible. I like this one because it doesn’t tell me anything about startups, or business, or anything like that, but it gives you insight on just interesting stories that you would otherwise have no idea that those things existed, or that somebody had even thought of them. One episode that sticks out of my mind is one where they talked about how buildings are made specifically for high rise buildings, hotels, and things like that. Like if you go to the stairwells, for example, they tend to be just like a giant cinder block. It’s almost like a chimney and their stairs metal is very barren. Almost every hotel that you go into, when you fo to the stairway, there’s nothing there. It doesn’t look pretty in any way, shape, or form. The reason is because they use those as fire escapes because they learned year and years ago that when buildings start to burn down, people need to get out. If those areas of the building catch on fire, people can’t get out. There’s building codes in place that they talked about. They just talk specifically about why those buildings are designed that way and structured that way, and it’s to clue you in. It’s just to help those people get out. Those are the last things of the building that will burn up giving people the most time to get out.
And then, there’s other things. There’s stairs that go nowhere that they’ll talk about or statues in a particular city. Again. It’s the things that you would not otherwise have any idea that they existed except for this podcast, goes out and drills into those things and talks about them. It’s just interesting stories. I use it for more entertainment value than anything else. It’s definitely one to check out if you’ve got some time. The episodes are very well done and very well researched.
Rob: Yes, that’s the thing. It’s an NPR podcast and it’s really well done. The title comes from, like you said, it’s things that most of us don’t think about. They’re kind of invisible to us.
Last three podcasts, I’ll run through quickly, really to do with an honorable mention. The first one is another Gimlet Media podcast called Reply All. I just heard an episode after StartUp at one point, recommended it and I’ve been really impressed with the hosts and the production value of it. It’s a podcast about—I cannot compare it to something.
It’s at a production level of a Planet Money or This American Life, but it’s dealing with more Internet, online stuff, online trends, and memes, and that kind of stuff in a pretty cool and interesting way.
The next podcast is Clay Collins’ podcast about cryptocurrency. It’s called The Flippening. He interview big players. He knows a bunch of the people in the space. It’s interesting to hear him talk to people who are pushing that whole space forward. If you’re already hearing about it, then you may want to avoid this one, but I think that Clay really has his finger on the pulse of where crypto is headed and I do believe that it’s around for long term.
The last one I just added, we we’re talking because I realized, the funniest podcast I listen to is called System Mastery. It’s vulgar as all heck. These two guys are cracking jokes. They will, week to week, I think the main feed is them reviewing old and even new roleplaying game manuals. They read through them and they talk about how the roles are good here and how they’re dumb here, but then they have all these feeds that they’ve combined into one. I hear System Mastery, which is them reviewing these role-playing systems. They also talk about, they do Expounded Universe where they read Star Wars expanded universe novels and they make fun of them because a lot of them are poorly written. They watch movies, which I think is called Movie Mastery. What’s funny is, I would say they make fun of them but they do it—when the movie’s good, they don’t just make fun of it. They talk about how much they like it, but they still do it in a humorous way.
For some reason, I have all that in one feed and I don’t know if that’s because I support them via Patreon or not. It’s either going to be your speed or it’s not because they use a lot of foul language but it’s also really funny. It’s funny if you’re a nerd and you get all their references because they make some deep, deep references. I really like what they’re putting together. I think most of it is improve, which is pretty impressive.
Those are our 20 or 21 podcast that we are liking these days.
Mike: I think that about wraps us up for the day. If you have a question for us, you can call it into our voice mail number, 1-888-801-9690, or you can email it to us at email@example.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Out of Control by MoOt” used under Creative Commons. Subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for startups, and visit startupsfortherestofus.com for full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.
Rob: Before we go, if you have a podcast you feel like should have made our list, please either email it in or post it to the comments of this episode, episode 395.
Mike: Rob, the interesting thing about recording this episode on the top 20 podcasts that we like is that, I actually stopped listening to podcasts about a month and a half ago.
Rob: Did you? You’re just cold turkey, just all of them.
Mike: It was mainly because what I realized was that as I would listen to podcasts when I was mowing the lawn, or when I was driving, or when I was going to the gym, what I realized was that it made me feel for the most part like I was still working. It just extended my workday especially with any of the podcasts that were about business, startups or anything like that. It just made me feel like I was working all the time.
Rob: Yes, because you’re thinking about work all the time. That makes a lot of sense. I’m glad I didn’t title the episode 20 podcasts we listen to. Podcast we like is accurate, right?
Mike: We, as in you.
Rob: Exactly. My guess is you’ll come back to them at some point, but I hear you. I don’t think that’s a bad thing to do for a season. I certainly have gone through spells where I have cut. I used to listen to 55 podcasts, not all of them get on every week, or whatever I called it way down. I was down to 10, and it was stuff like Daily Tech News Show that didn’t make me feel like I was working because it was more about entertainment and news. I had almost nothing in the startup space and then slowly, I kind of worked my way back into doing that. I think there’s a case to be made for both directions. I think you can swing too far with constantly shoving information in your head and not giving yourself space to feel like you can relax.
Mike: I think it’s also the ability to take a step back. I’ve noticed this in certain situations or certain times of the year where I will be heads down working and not really come up and look at the landscape from a broader perspective or a strategic view of things. If you’re always implementing things, you’re always working in the business, then you’re never necessarily doing the planning stages and looking at the big picture. The problem is I felt like I was getting too far into the weez with all the mechanics and the tactics, things like that, but never actually taking that step back to do any strategy and look at the bigger picture.
Rob: I agree. I think that you need quiet time to be able to do that. If you are busy, because you’re busy with your business, you’re helping with your wife’s business, watching the kids, doing all the stuff you have to do, if you don’t have time during the day to sit back and just think, I don’t disagree that dishwashing, mowing the lawn couldn’t be that time.
These days, I have time during my days now to do that. I’m sitting thinking during the day, so when I am doing dishes or mowing the lawn, I don’t want to keep thinking about stuff. I’m already doing some big picture thinking, so I think it’s kind of a phase you’re in.
The other thing too is a lot of podcasts, they aren’t that constructive. They aren’t necessarily pushing your thoughts or your business forward, whereas audiobooks could be. You can listen to fiction to make yourself feel like you’re really not working. Or some folks I know just go away from podcast and go audiobooks only because they an information dense resource.
Mike: That’s a big difference between something like an audiobook versus a podcast, whereas a podcast is much less directed and focused on a particular thing. You can get an idea of what a podcast is about from the title or from the description, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be helpful to you versus a book, where if you buy a book about a very particular topic like sales strategies, or how to use Facebook ads or something like that, it’s going to be very focused on that one thing that you intentionally and deliberately decided that you are going to learn more about versus a podcast, where you might pick up some things and you might not, but it’s probably not going to be terribly actionable versus something like a book or an instruction manual.
Rob: That totally makes sense.
Mike: The other thing is it kind of makes me think about the conversations we had on a podcast about the consumption versus production modes between people. Should we be making things or consuming, it’s hard to do both at the same time. Right now, I’m producing stuff so it’s hard for me to consume stuff at the same time. It just makes my brain go sideways a little bit I guess.
Rob: Big time. I put up a blog post at one point. It was producer versus consumer or something like that. If you Google that, you can find it. There’s a really good comment thread after I published it. It was a good conversation about this. What I proposed there, I don’t think I talked about phases. I said certain people produced a lot of stuff and certain people consume a lot of stuff, and what I’ve realized since then, it’s not people, it’s phases.
That’s what you’re talking about now. What I find is, when I’m done with a hurdle, let’s say I sold a business, or I’m done growing it, or whatever, then I want to consume a bunch of stuff because I’m trying to figure out what to do next and taking a lot of information helps. But as soon as you focus on the goal, because you know exactly what your goals are this year, right? You’re growing Bluetick and you’re doing it this way.
You don’t need a bunch of information. You just need that point in time learning. I’m going to do Facebook ads next week so I got to learn that—Boom, do it, launch it. You don’t want just a bunch of inputs about things that are going to distract you in essence.
Mike: I find that the podcasts in general are distracting because they’re making me think about things that are not nearly as relevant to me as I need them to be. It’s better if I just take that time to think about the business itself and what I’m going to do next versus what other people are doing in their own businesses. As entertaining as it is, it doesn’t actually help me.
Rob: That’s right. Cool, man. We should probably wrap this.
Mike: All right. Well, take it easy. Talk to you next time.
Rob: Peace out.
Episode 370 | Our Predictions for 2018
In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike revisit their predictions from 2017 and score how they did. They also make new predictions for 2018.
Items mentioned in this episode:
Mike: In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and I are gonna be talking about predictions for 2018. This is Startups For The Rest Of Us Episode 370.
Welcome to Startups For the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at building, launching, and growing software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.
Rob: And, I’m Rob.
Mike: We’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s going on this week, Rob?
Rob: I was reflecting on the past couple of months and I feel like I’m coming out of kind of a rough patch. If you go over and listen to Zen Founder which I believe came out last Friday, Sherrie and I talked through some personal stuff that is going on, you already know about this, I talked a little bit about it at MicroConf Europe.
I realized that kind of stuff like, you can become the frog in a pot of boiling water, where just slowly you descend into stress and chaos and, as I’ve come out of that, I was just looking back and thinking how thankful I am for so many things right now, and how, I guess, thankful I am that I am not where I was a month ago. Coming out of dark times, it was both personal stuff and even at work — I don’t know.
You hit a certain point, some months, some weeks are just hard and it’s hard to wanna show up everyday, and it’s hard to deal with whatever it is. The cues haven’t backed up for a while but there’s just stress building a software company, and running a big team, and hiring people. I don’t know. Other than that, that’s what’s been going on with me. I was just thinking about it today I’m like I really feel positive and excited and I’m like really happy right now and it’s such a contrast to what I was feeling even three or four short weeks ago, and part of that was getting away. Was going to Europe, even running MicroConf Europe wasn’t stressful. It was super. I had a great time there, I was there with my kids, and Sherrie joined us. When I came back, the reentry week was tough. But aside from that, I feel like things are on the upswing. Hopefully, heading into the end of the year and beginning the next, it can continue to feel that way.
Mike: I have to laugh at myself every time I hear that analogy of the frog and the pot of boiling water because I’ve used it myself but if you look into it, that’s actually not true. If you put a frog in a pot of hot water and you slowly turn up the temperature, it will jump out. It’s not that it doesn’t realize it, but it’s a great analogy because it makes sense to everybody.
I think that’s kind of, I’ll say, par for the course, like everybody goes through that on occasion. It sucks to be there. The contrast between where you hopefully end up eventually is quite striking I’ll say. It’s nice to be able to kind of move past that.
Rob: I think move past it and then be better equipped to recognize it early and deal with it as best you can because these are always going to happen. Whether it’s one week every couple of months, whether it’s one month every couple of quarters. You’re just gonna have these down times. If it’s high-stress time, like you’re negotiating the sale of your company, or you’re in a super high growth, or there’s a competitor that’s pissing you off and trolling you, this can be constant for months. It’s trying to figure out how do I go on this journey and deal with hard things and not let it poison the rest of my life, or negatively impact the rest of my relationships, and just go and have fun?
Mike: That can be hard, especially if your income is tied so much to your business and your business is the cause of your stress. There’s almost no getting away from it at that point. It’s not like its a 9:00 to 5:00 job where you can just go and clock in and at the end of the day you can just walk away and all the problems are not yours to deal with it. It intrudes on your life to some extent.
Rob: Absolutely. This relates back to the listener question we had last week, where he says, “My emotions are tied to my business. How do I get away from that?” And our answer was kinda like, “Well, you do the best you can but it’ll probably always will be.” That’s my short answer to that. How about you, what’s going on?
Mike: My oldest is playing basketball right now and they had to do a fundraiser. It was interesting because as part of the fundraiser, they’re basically just standing outside the store and asking people for donations. I took him aside at one point, after he kind of gotten the hang of it and basically asking people for money, and I was like, “Here, let me teach you the art of the upsell here.” Kind of worked with him for a couple of minutes and I was, unfortunately, not paying attention because I was working with one of the other kids at the time when he actually did it but he upsold some woman on a hug to get some extra money for a donation.
Rob: That’s cool. That’s awesome. Bravo!
Mike: I was told by the coach, she’s like, “He did it flawlessly.” Perfect execution and everything. He listened. Followed all the advice and everything, and he only did it three times. It wasn’t like we were there for an hour and a half, and he didn’t do it all the time. He only did it three times but everytime it worked. It was really good.
Rob: Like father, like son. I’ve seen you.
Mike: I sold lots of hugs…
Rob: I know you did. “Buy this software product and I will give you a hug.” Cool.
For me, I also had this interesting experience in the past week, I often talk about we’re always hiring because the app is growing quickly so the team’s growing slowly which is good, that’s how we like to do it. We found a candidate who came highly recommended and we met with him and he was the right fit, good personality and everything. But as we move forward in the actual kind of hiring and negotiation process, it quickly became apparent that yellow flags started creeping out and there were little things. He’s asking for more money than he should get because he was transitioning careers, transitioning from this role to that role. He’s asking for the same salary that he had at this other thing that had five years of experience in and is basically coming entry-level junior for us.
Then, he wanted a title that was actually quite a bit above, that implied he had years of experience and he actually has three months or something. That’s a really interesting one. Then there were two more things but it just kept unfolding. He went from being this amazing candidate to being, I use the word I’m disenchanted as these things keep coming. To his credit, he has two other companies that are interested in him so he’s probably gonna wind up getting everything he asked for and that’s great. But it showed me, there was particularly the specific way he handled a few things showed me that he was, it wasn’t just a negotiation, there was a bit of high-maintenance, demanding or entitlement I think is probably the right word. It struck me that that alone is a deal breaker, even though he checked all the other boxes. He’s either a “hell yes” or he’s “no.” He quickly became not a “hell yes” as these things unfolded.
Mike: Yeah, that’s kind of disappointing. I guess I’d say the process isn’t complete yet or I don’t know fully whether you kind of went through and offered him the job or passed that point. It’s easier or better to find those things out in advance as opposed to after they’ve started working or even a week or two down the road. Sometimes, you don’t find out for six months but those problems can come up at any time.
I remember somebody who I had interviewed at Pedestal Software and there was another team that had actually interviewed him and they’re like, “We think he knows his stuff but we’re not sure. Can you come help us out?” I went in and basically grilled him on all this UNIX stuff because the other team didn’t have as much experience with it. I grilled him, I remember going back to the management team and I was just like he knows his stuff but he is kind of a jerk. you don’t want to hire him. That was the bottom line and they’re like, “Okay, let’s hire him.” I’m like, “Wait a second, he’s gonna be a pain the in ass to work with.” And he was, it sucked.
Rob: I’ve had that happen before. At high growth startups where they’re like, “Does he have technical chops?” “Yes, but I don’t want to work with him” “That’s okay, we can manage that.” They didn’t put me with him but the engineers who worked with him didn’t like it at all. I was like, “This is interesting.” This is 14 years ago. I remember being like, “I don’t think this whole funded thing is for me,” because if that’s what we’re doing, I’m not gonna like my job here.
Rob: In my opinion, you need to like the people who you work with because you spend too much of your life at your job so whether you’re hiring them yourself or they’re just people, if you work at a big company and other people are hiring, if you don’t like your coworkers, I think you need to get out of there.
What are we talking about today?
Mike: Today, we are gonna be going through our predictions for 2018. To kick us off, we probably should take a look back at our 2017 predictions and see how we did before we start making other wild ass guesses.
Rob: Indeed. And that’s just what these are, wild ass guesses. Every December, and we’ve done this for many years, I’d say five or six at this point, I went back and listened to a few of our old predictions and it’s pretty funny. Pretty funny how the world changes. Keep in mind that when we can, we make predictions in the startups space or in the tech space but these are not limited to just startups. We like to have fun with this episode. It’s more about entertainment than it is about these are areas to start a business in.
Next week or in the next couple weeks, we’re gonna be doing our goals episode where it is truly your and my goals that we set for 2017. We’ll review those and then we’ll look ahead at our goals for 2018. Those will be obviously, there’s some personal ones but there’s also startup business specific ones. But, for these, you know, again, there are some tech related and then others that are just kind of fun ones to think about, talk about.
Mike: With that in mind, let’s dive right in. My first prediction for 2017 was that health insurance rates are going to become a much bigger issue for self funded companies and I would say, what are we doing with our scale of like is it 1-100 or 0-1 or 50/50?
Rob: One to five?
Mike: One to five, I guess.
Rob: Yeah. Five is like “nailed it” and then one is “completely missed.”
Mike: Alright, one to five then. I would say on this one, I got a five.
Rob: In the US, specifically.
Rob: Because the US’ healthcare system is so messed-up, especially for small companies. Well, just for everybody, it’s messed up.
Mike: Yup. I’ve been hearing people over the past three or four months where at the beginning of the year it wasn’t so bad, I don’t think, and then as the year has kind of progressed, as people start to renew their insurance, I’m hearing people say that in some cases it’s double or triple what the rates were previously, the previous year. It’s kind of gotten out of control. I don’t know what people are doing about it. I’m glad that I renewed back in April, but at the same time, I’m going to have to renew next April and I’m kind of afraid of what is going to end up happening.
Rob: Yeah, I agree. I’m happy. It sounds weird to say I’m happy that I’m working for someone else, that I don’t have to deal with this. Essentially, Drip/Leadpages handles this for me now. I don’t have to administer it. They, like a typical employer with good funds, they cover most of the expense. I know it’s gotta be super expensive for them to maintain that. My first prediction for 2017 was there will be another high-profile acquisition in the bootstrapped space. My idea was that it wasn’t going to be someone that sold their app for 3-4X multiple of net profit but that it was gonna be another kind of Drip-esque acquisition where someone that we know in the MicroConf spaces that acquired by a big startup.
Mike: How did you do?
Rob: As far as I know, this is a one. I don’t know of an… Do you know of anybody in our space that got acquired?
Mike: I know of some but nothing at that level.
Rob: Yeah. Maybe a two or something. I was on the lower end of being right. I had the impression that, or I was thinking that there would be a kind of a bare acquisition in that but it really did not happen.
Mike: If I remember correctly, you did say on the episode last year that you didn’t have any inside knowledge, it’s just what you thought was going to happen.
Rob: Yep, that’s right.
Mike: My second prediction was that the SaaS bar is going to continue to be hard to reach which is obviously very generic but I kind of couched it by saying that startups are gonna start offering a service as a first base approach followed by implementing the SaaS once they figure out the process in order to be able to offer those services at scale.
Rob: It’s the product as consulting first and then turning into SaaS. I think when you said this prediction, I said, “Isn’t this already happening?” This was Brian Casel’s talk in October of 2106, was about productize service moving to SaaS.
Mike: Craig Hewitt went on this road with Castos as well. The idea there is to really make it easier for people to host their own podcast and they do a lot of this stuff internally with PodcastMotor where they do all the editing and everything else but they basically turned that productized service into more of a SaaS product and offer additional things which is more of a self serve model then the productized services which is done for you. I would say those two are the things that I would say come to mind, but I don’t see too many others. I probably have to give myself a two, possibly a three, but I wouldn’t say that this was as accurate as I thought it would have been.
Rob: I’m sure more people are doing it. I know Brain Casel has his productized course and I’m sure he knows other people doing it through that but you and I just haven’t necessarily heard about them or been around them.
My second prediction for 2017 was that start up crowdfunding will fizzle out. Lower end startups will use it but the best startups will continue to use their networks, AngelList, and that kind of stuff. I’m going to give myself a four on this because I don’t know if it fizzled out as much, it just has not really taken hold very well. It just hasn’t had the impact that I thought it would of people being able to buy small chunks of equity on accredited investor, non-accredited investors being able to buy small chunks of equity. I thought that it would have this big kick early on and then like I sad fizzle out. It kind of didn’t. I think that there have been several platforms that have launched to facilitate it. It’s kinda shoulder-shrug right now, like wait and see. Mostly if I removed the fizzle out, I was probably a five. “Crowdfunding won’t really do much,” if I had phrased it that way, it would be much more accurate. Was that your sense as well or you think I’m misreading it?
Mike: I feel like that there was an initial inclination that was going to happen, that people were going to do it a lot. Non-accredited investors were gonna be able to throw money in and start funding these companies. I don’t think that the types of businesses that were maybe brought before them were attractive enough for them to say, “Yes, I’m gonna throw my money in.”
Rob: Cool. That makes sense.
Mike: My third prediction was that more small scale entrepreneurial meetups are going to be starting around the world, and that the entrepreneurship for small-scale businesses is going to pick up steam. I probably don’t have a lot of data to back this up. I would say that I’d give myself a four out of five on this. I heard recently that FemtoConf over in Germany just recently sold out. Congratulations to those guys.
Rob: Wait, what?
Mike: Did you not hear that?
Rob: Oh, sold out. That was interesting. I took sold out as not selling all their tickets but selling the conference to someone else. I was like, “What?!”
Mike: Oh, no. No.
Rob: Did you hear that shock in my voice? Okay, sorry. Keep going.
Mike: No. Sold out as in sold all of their tickets. I feel like that’s going to become not really the model but more prevalent over time as people, like start these really small meetups and then grow it. I think last year’s FemtoConf was only about 10 or 15 people and then they went from 10 or 15 to I think around 30 this year. I just think that there’s gonna be a trend in that where you get these really small meetups that start out tiny and then they start to grow just because of the audience that they build and they’re growing off their success as opposed to trying to build something where they get like 100, 200, or 500 people to it the very first year that they start. It’s really just stair stepping their way up.
Rob: Congrats to you guys. My third prediction for 2017 was that there would be a 20% or more correction in the US stock market. On a scale of one to five, I give myself a zero. Have you heard this expression, “I’ve predicted five of the last two bear markets.” That’s essentially what I’ve done here. I think like all of us, things seem overvalued, but everyone’s been saying this. I know someone who pulled all their money out of the stock market in 2013 or 2014 and they have missed tremendous amounts of gains. Timing the market is so, so hard. We all think we can and it’s always a little bit later, you can’t quite outlast the market in terms of the irrationality of it going up or going down. I would probably say this will happen in 2018 but I’m not going to cheat and use that prediction again. I was dead wrong.
Mike: I thought you were going to say the 20% market correction was going to be upwards instead of downwards. I thought you were gonna…
Rob: I should have. It corrected from it’s low. It corrected upwards. My fourth and final prediction for 2017 was that the first consumer purchase package would be legally delivered with a man drone somewhere in the world and I believe, if I recall, that I made this prediction it was late November, early December, and it was within a couple of weeks that this happened. It was even before 2017. Is that your memory?
Mike: I think that’s correct. I think that happened before the year started. I think we were debating about whether or not you got credit for it because it was not in 2017.
Rob: I would give myself a five on this one even though maybe technically it should have happened two weeks later for it to be in 2017. We should call this our predictions from between right now and the end of the following year.
Mike: You’re just trying to get credit for that one.
Rob: Alright, let’s dive into our predictions between now and the end of 2018.
Mike: What’s your first prediction, Rob?
Rob: Hey, wait! I didn’t even type this one. Let me read this one. Rob will buy a bunker in the Swiss Alps, establish a micronation with his 11-year old son as the benevolent dictator. How did this show up in our outline, Mike?
Mike: I don’t know, I have no idea.
Rob: I think that’s a really good prediction.
Mike: Must have been the elves.
Rob: Messing with my predictions. That was a joke prediction. Please don’t hold me to it. What’s your first one?
Mike: Mine is there’s going to be an economic downturn. I think that it’s probably going to be, I don’t wanna say that it’s gonna be major. But I think that it’s gonna be substantial enough that people will notice. It’s not gonna be like 2008 where the entire economy crashed but I do think that there is going to be that, you kind of called it for last year, the 20% stock market correction, I feel like that’s gonna be this year. I think that it’s going to be driven kind of by a lot of the factors around healthcare, at least in the United States, and various policies that are kind of going into effect. I don’t see like a sustained economy is going to be moving forward this coming year. There is bad stuff on the horizon.
Rob: I want to get more specific with this because when I think of the phrase “economic downturn,” I think of the economy as multiple factors. You could say is that a stock market correction, is that a recession which implies a lack of growth of businesses which don’t necessarily, it often causes a stock market correction, but the two can be non-correlated. That typically also leads to unemployment. And then there’s the housing market which I see as a separate thing.
There’s three or four different things; unemployment, GEP growth, stock market, and housing. In 2008-2009, they all plummeted, but in 2000, the housing market took a little hit but it wasn’t that bad. What do you mean when you say economic downturn? Let’s define it and then let’s update, so we know next year, whether you are accurate. If it’s any one of those four, it’s a pretty broad prediction. But if you’re saying its like three out of four or something…
Mike: I think it’s going to be a couple of them. One, I think there’s going to be a lot of small services businesses that end up going out of business partly because of regulation but partly because they’re just not going to be able to make ends meet. They’ve got other things to adhere to in terms of tax laws, health insurance, and things like that. I think that’s going to have a pretty big impact on them, along with all the legislation tied to the healthcare industry. I think that’s going to have a pretty bad impact on them as well, just in general, you will see a lot of small-services companies end up going out of business.
Then that’s going to lead to unemployment which impacts a lot of other things. I don’t think that the housing market is really gonna go down very much. It probably will stay relatively the same. It’s certainly is not going to be a big growth area. Then what was the last one that you said? Oh, the stock market. I think that it will level off a little bit but I don’t think that it’s going to go down.
Rob: I’ve updated your prediction with a few bullets that kind of captures that so when we come back next year, we can measure it correctly.
Mike: What’s your next prediction?
Rob: My first prediction, the Swiss Alps bunker one, is not going to come true. I think 2018 will be the year of non-institutional startup funding. I think this has already begun. We’ve seen more and more angel investments coming out. The more I get involved with this, the more I realize the power of money that comes from angels, rather than going the traditional institutional route. Jason Calacanis’ book, Angel which came out a few months ago, it was really good. I think some people will probably dive into it from there.
Crowdfunding, this is maybe my opposite of my prediction for 2017, but I do think that crowdfunding will continue to build some steam. The ICOs are a bit dubious as to whether they’ll stick around. But I know that’s a big push right now, people are trying to fund startups using ICOs. Through those three avenues, I think it’s gonna be easier, and even more prevalent, and become a more common thing for people to invest in early stage startups. I think it will become easier as a startup to raise non-institutional funding. This is kind of tied to fund strapping a little bit. It will be easier to fund strap because of that. Fund strapping being raising a small round of funding without the intention of the implied series A, of having to then go to institutional money in 18 months but to actually become profitable with that initial round.
Mike: My next prediction kind of revolves around in app purchases. One thing that I’ve heard talk off is about legislating that. Mainly because when Star Wars Battlefront 2 came out, there was complains about how much the game costs, and then the fact that inside the game, you could go in and you could purchase basically, a loot crate and you had a chance to get certain items but you are not guaranteed to get something specific. The rationale people were putting forward is well, that’s actually gambling because you’re buying a chance to get something that may or may not be valuable and it is being presented in such a way that that fits the definition of gambling.
I don’t think that we’re going to see legislation around this. I think that there’s a lot of talk about it. The companies that are behind these types of games are smart enough to be able to avoid that kind of stuff because they’ve got the legal teams to both defend them and point them in the right direction and say, “You should or shouldn’t be doing this. Here’s what we can get you out of and here’s what we can’t.” I don’t think that there’s going to be any actual legislation around it but I do think that you’re going to see gaming companies come to better definitions and I would say be a little bit more careful about how they’re putting those offerings together for those in app purchases.
Rob: My second prediction for the year is that artificial intelligence/machine learning will continue to be marketed as the next big thing in terms of enterprise SaaS and even small and medium size SaaS and software, but once again, it will not deliver in 2018. By not deliver, what I mean is it’s being touted before it can really provide value for most people and most businesses.
One of the big issues is especially with machine learning, you need such large datasets to actually train the algorithms. I see these SMB tools saying, “We’ll use our machine learning to help you do…” That’s over promising and I think it’s gonna burn people out on it. I’ve already had conversations with a guy who used to run a big ecommerce store and he’s like, “We’ve been sold artificial intelligence for 15 years and it’s still not as smart as me sitting down and whatever, building out a funnel or a campaign.”
I think there’s danger of it becoming a complete marketing fad. I do think that eventually, this stuff’s gonna work and it’s gonna be genius. There’s examples of it. We use what I call artificial intelligence to detect spammers when they come into Drip based on behaviors. We have all these signals we look at and we auto-flag and our accuracy is really high. We’ve developed that algorithm over the last several years and I know that there are other startups that do this internally. This stuff can work. There’s just certain approaches that you need to take to it. We have stuff that we’re already thinking about inside Drip like, “How could we automate this? How could we make this smarter?” People have been saying it for many years, it’s not there yet, and some people will actually do some intelligent things this year. Hopefully, we will release something, but it’s not going to be the promise of everything’s done for you, and you just sit back and press one button and all your marketing is essentially automated, which is what so many of people in the mar-tech space are claiming.
Mike: I think that’s a difference in the bounds of the problem too. For example, detecting that somebody is coming in and going to be sending spam, or is a fake account that signed up, and their intent is to do that. There are certain patterns that you can recognize very easily because there’s only so many things that you can do or that can be done in the app. You can do time-ins around when one request happens versus when another. It makes it easier to scour that and kind of detect whether or not somebody’s doing that. Versus in an ecommerce, how do you predict whether somebody’s gonna come back and buy something else, or how do you predict the best thing to upsell them to. That’s a lot more of an open-ended problem with no real bounds versus, “Is this person going to be a spammer? Yes or No?” Does that make sense?
Rob: Yup, totally does.
Mike: I think that the two things are very different. I totally agree that enterprise companies are being sold to this type of stuff and it just doesn’t work.
Rob: Yep. How about you? What is your last prediction?
Mike: My last prediction is actually about Uber and it is that Uber is not going to regain the ground that they have lost. Lyft is a lot smaller than they are, but I think that because of all of the, I’ll say, political fallout and loss of goodwill towards them – not that they probably had a ton of it to begin with, but I think that they have really lost a lot of the leverage points that they probably had. They’re going to have to work harder to do the same things that they were able to do last year, and the year before. Just because of the fall out from the allegations of misconduct and all of the internal stories that have come out of how badly they’re treating people. I just don’t think that they’re going to recover as well as they probably think that they are. Like I said, the big problem is it’s going to take them a lot more effort to do the same things that they were able to do last year with substantially less effort.
Rob: When you say not regain the ground they’ve lost, do you mean in the valuation? Because, as of this writing or as of this recording, their valuation is like 30% lower based on a round that they have to raise from SoftBank. I think Uber’s burning $1 billion a month. It’s a lot of money. Is that much money?
Mike: I don’t know.
Rob: It’s a lot of money. Yeah. They’re in a place of having to raise capital and with this kind of tarnish on them, and they’ve lost their CEO, SoftBank offered them 30% less than the previous round. Are you thinking that in terms of evaluation or you’re thinking in terms of market share? I know we don’t know their market share for sure but there are estimates and such and they have taken a big time hit with people deleting their app altogether.
Mike: Yeah, that’s more what I’m thinking. Market share, because we don’t have the actual numbers, it’s gonna be a little bit difficult to, I’ll say, measure that in a year. When I say that they’re not going to regain the ground they’ve lost, as in the people who have deleted their app will probably not reinstall it unless they have no other option. I don’t think that they’re going to win those people back even if the company changes its tune and goes out of its way, I’ll say, to overhaul their culture. I don’t think that they’re going to win those people back which will have an impact on their market share and their ability to grow as a company.
Rob: Sounds good. My third prediction is that there will be an enormous crash in Bitcoin’s valuation. Right now it’s on a huge rise, but long term I am still bullish.
Mike: Wait, didn’t it crash three days ago?
Rob: It crashes every few days but it comes back. I’m saying more of, I don’t wanna say sustained crash, but if you look back over its history a couple years ago, it built up into the 400, 500, 600 range and it crashed and it was down for a year, just fumbling around. Maybe even more, it might have been 18, 24 months. It’s kind of bumping around and around a few hundred and then there’s this more recent rise. I’m a person, I’m long Bitcoin. I own several Cryptocurrencies and not in small quantity either. It’s not like I bought one. I’m kind of keeping my eye on it and it’s tough, this is similar to my prediction of the stock market correction.
I think the way Bitcoin is going up right now is like no mania that we’ve ever seen, the volatility is just crazy. I do think that the next 12 months, that is likely to end. I of all people would be ecstatic if it didn’t, if it kept going up, doubling, tripling. Bitcoin has had a 2100% return in the last year. That’s kind of tough not only to sustain but even sustain the current valuation. With that said, long term, even as I sell some of the Bitcoin as it gets really high and my assets get way out of allocation, or out of the percentages that I like. I’m certainly not exiting those positions at all because I think I’m long Bitcoin and I’m long cryptocurrencies in general.
As you look out 5 and 10 years, it’s kind of like being here at the advent of the personal computer, the advent of the internet, the advent of smartphones. Bitcoin and crypto in general is this movement and long-term is going to stick around even after a crash. If we think about the 2000 Dotcom crash, there was all this hype around it from ‘94 from the IPO of Netscape, ‘94-’95, all the way to 2000, and then everything crashed, and people said, “Boy, Dotcom, those internet sites, they’ll never amount to anything.” Now, here we are. The biggest companies in the world essentially either came out of that or have something to do with that. If you had just been long the whole time, you’d have to wait through that decade-long trough, essentially, when it all bottom-dropped out of it. I guess I see there could be a similar frenzy around Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, where there will be a big crash, but long term it will be a viable store value or a way to move money around.
Mike: I think the volatility of it is kind of a big turn off to me. I saw a tweet earlier today from somebody who said, “I bought a USB cable from Newegg with some Bitcoin ones. Feel free to ask me sometime and I’ll show you a $3500 USB cable.”
Rob: So funny. That’s the thing, I don’t think Bitcoin is a currency. I think cryptocurrency is a misnomer and I view it much more as a store value in a way to get money out of a situation… I view it more as gold. I wouldn’t go buy bread with gold. I wouldn’t go buy USB cable with gold and I won’t do it with Bitcoin either. I do believe it’s a great way if your currency is going crazy and this happens every several months to just get money out of my currency because the government won’t allow me to exchange it for US dollars, that’s much more stable, and I don’t want to see this hyperinflation. People are dumping their money into Bitcoin or into other cryptos. It’s a great way to, I shouldn’t say great, but it is a way people are using to not lose all the value of their money during this currency crisis.
And then you look at when Brexit happened and there was this uncertainty. When there is economic uncertainty, obviously, there’s a lot of volatility in Bitcoin. It’s been lucky enough to keep going up. It’s a way that if you had a hundred thousand dollars in the bank, or I should say a hundred thousand Argentinian pesos or whatever, hyperinflation hits and it’s 100% a weak inflation, you can’t go buy $100,000 worth of gold because everybody goes and buys it and they’re trying to get stable assets. But you can go buy $100,000, in theory, of Bitcoin quickly. That’s been one of the ways that people have seen these big rises.
Mike: Do you think that long term digital currencies will replace gold as the asset to go put your money in for stability?
Rob: No. I think they will both co-exist because gold has just been around too long, it does have a small amount of value in manufacturing, some amount of value in jewelry, but more than that, it’s just that we’ve all agreed that it’s worth something. I don’t think any time soon everyone’s gonna agree that it’s not and agree that crypto is. I don’t think that it’s realistic but I do see that it’s just another asset to hold. That’s how I did asset allocation or I do asset allocation. That’s how I have money in all of these things, all amounts divided between them, although my cryptocurrency is no longer a small amount. I kind of laugh because it’s a good problem to have when it goes up, but it also completely jacks your plans when you’re like, “Oh, I don’t actually want to own. I don’t want that much of my networth to be tied up in something that’s this volatile.”
With that, my fourth and final prediction is that cryptocurrencies will be regulated by several large governments. There’s already been statements from the US government about what Bitcoin is but there is no SEC oversight of Bitcoin exchanges. There’s a bunch of regulation that could be in place. I don’t know that it will happen in the US government, I know it’s happening in smaller governments. I think that this will be the year where government really starts stepping up and putting legislation or more regulation in place to get involved with cryptocurrency and get out ahead of it to make sure that for whatever reason, they pass regulation, they’ll be doing that. They probably would have done it this year but large governments move slowly and I think they’re all waiting to see what happens. I don’t think that it’s going away anytime soon, this will be the year that things will really ramp up.
Mike: I wonder if any of that legislation is gonna be based around security standards. Banks have security standards that they have to comply to. There’s been no shortage of stories of these cryptocurrency sites that have gotten hacked and they lose millions or tens of millions of dollars. I can totally see some government agency coming out and saying, “Hey, in order to be able to trade in whatever the digital currency is, you have to follow certain security standards in order to be able to do it.” I think it’s gonna take them a few years in order to be able to nail down exactly what those are. They’ll sit in their committee for like a year or two at least before they get to any sort of concrete implementation guidelines.
Rob: When they’re first announced, it might be a big negative hit to Bitcoin and the crypto valuations, “Oh no, government’s gonna get involved.” Then long term, it could feasibly make it more stable or it could make it less likely to get stolen from marketplaces. It’s hard to predict what it will do. I think there will be mixed reaction to it.
Mike: Yeah. It depends on whether they legislate it or decide to back it as they do bank transactions. Because with banks, it’s federally insured versus Bitcoin it’s not. If it’s a digital currency and it all gets stolen, it’s the government going to step in and say, “We will back this up to $250,000,” or whatever, but my suspicion is no, they’re not going to go down that path.
Rob: That wraps us up for today. If you have a question for us, call our voicemail number at 888-801-9690 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our theme music is an excerpt from We’re Outta Control by MoOt used under Creative Commons. Subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for Startups and visit startupsfortherestofus.com for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening, we’ll see you next time.