Our guest today: Freddie Laker
Freddie Laker is a British-American entrepreneur and the founder of the tech startup Guide, and most recently Chameleon Collective and Code Orange. Prior to these companies, he launched the Internet service provider Laker.net and the digital agency iChameleon Group. He worked at SapientNitro (now known as SapientRazorfish) where we met in 2009, as the company’s Vice President of Global Marketing Strategy.
He is also the son of Sir Freddie Laker, the founder of British airline Laker Airways.
In this episode, you will hear firsthand, never-heard-before stories from Freddie Laker Jr., a serial entrepreneur who’s daring in trying new things (especially related to computers and new forms of technologies). His origin stories growing up as a British-American, living in both countries. One important lesson he had to learn from his father, Sir Freddie Laker, when he was a teenager. The success and struggle of running multiple startups and what Freddie would have done the same or differently.
It’s not your traditional MBA education, but lessons Freddie learned in real life since the age of 18.
Breaking the law
Freddie’s early interest in technology sounds like every kid these days, but it was rather unusual 20 years ago. In 1994, Freddie not only started building computers on his own, but he also dropped out of college and became a DJ for a Miami based private radio station called Womb. After being shut down by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the radio station used the Internet to transfer the signal between two antennas, making it the world’s first 24-hour Internet radio station. Freddie will fill you in on the details.
Freddie Laker – Origin Story
There is no way not to delve into Freddie’s origin story as the son of a very successful entrepreneur. Following the launch of Skytrain in 1977, his father Sir Freddie Laker was knighted the following year in recognition of his services to the airline industry.
Richard Branson, the Founder of Virgin Group once said in a story he posted, “Having received help from a business mentor during his struggle to get Virgin Atlantic off the ground, Richard Branson knows all about the importance of having someone to look up to.” That very person was Sir Freddie Laker.
What did Freddie learn from his father? What was the important lesson Freddie learned the hard way? (But thankful for his father later on). What was one conversation like between the two while Freddie Jr. struggled in his personal and professional life?
This conversation was a lot of things from business to family and moments, place in between.
This episode is dedicated to Sir. Freddie Laker and his family. He changed the world by enabling ordinary people to fly and the public loved him and will always remember him for it.
“Over the last 12 years since he passed away I’ve digitized almost 10,000 photos, news paper clippings, and letters that he left for me. In an effort to preserve and share them I’ve donated them to a non-profit historical society that maintains the website SirFreddieLaker.com where all of the documents can be found. It’s been a true labor of love. With both a book and a documentary coming out in 2019 I thought the timing might be right to see this project truly come to life from all the people that were part of the journey.” — Freddie Laker
Freddie Laker – Show Notes
- [07:00] Share with us something about your origin story. How and where did you grow up?
- [11:00] What was most exciting for you about computers where you were a teenager?
- [23:00] What kind of music and content did you stream 24/7 at the Whomb?
- [24:00] How did being a pioneer in radio streaming impact your future projects? How did it feel to be living that ‘dream’?
- [26:00] What was your role in your startup ‘Guide’?
- [29:00] How much time and effort did you spend on ‘Guide’ and what was the connection with Sapient?
- [32:00] When did you know it was the right time for changing phases in your companies? How did it work for you?
- [35:00] How do you keep yourself updated, what kind of news do you read and what kind of resources do you use?
- [40:00] Let’s talk about Chameleon Collective and Code Orange. What are these companies and how do they relate to each other?
- [45:00] Freddie commenting on freelancing and the lifestyle of a freelancer compared to the corporate life.
- [47:00] How do you go about recruiting? How could people be part of your team?
- [49:00] How long how you been freelancing and running your own companies?
- [51:00] What are some of the values that you inherited from your family? (father, mother, sister, etc)
- [56:00] Freddie sharing the story behind Sr Freddie Laker and Laker Airways/Skytrain.
[27:00] I love innovation and product development, and I really enjoy creating things. That being said, my superpower is that I’m a sales and marketing CEO. Where I’m really gonna excel is when something starts to takeoff, I’m good at being the gasoline on the fire and taking it from this to this.
[29:00] There is a BIG difference between being able to do a lot of things, and SHOULD I be doing all those things.
[30:00] Having all that money created a false sense of security for me. It made not do things as lean and as mean as I would have done in the past.
[31:00] Raising money is a horrible process that I do NOT enjoy, and at some point it was representing 50% of the job. It is kind of like dealing with a mortgage every day. And if you are a creative person, it is NOT fun. If you could figure out a way to slow it down a little bit, and validate your idea, you could save yourself a lot of heartache.
[46:00] We actually operate on a completely flat management structure. I work with people that maybe I wouldn’t have worked for and they wouldn’t have worked for me, but this way we’ve been able to get all these alpha personalities working together. It’s mind-blowing.
[52:00] You can be confident, don’t get arrogant and remember that you could make any mistake on earth no matter how successful you’ve been and you can repeat them again. That can cause you to have a healthy dose of humility. People who don’t have humility are not able to collaborate in my opinion, because they are not able to accept that great ideas come from anywhere.
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Fei Wu 0:00
Welcome to the Feisworld podcast, engaging conversations that crossed the boundaries between business, art, and the digital world.
Freddie Laker 0:26
The only proof of our dedication to a job is the outputs of what we do.
We confident, don’t get arrogant. And remember that, you know, you can make any mistake on Earth no matter how successful you’ve been, you know, people that don’t have humility, I don’t think you’re capable of being collaborative. Because you’re not willing to accept that great ideas come from anywhere you can say that. You can say it out loud, like you mean it, but you’re not really listening. If you don’t really think that you know, you can have that kind of humility
I’m maybe very technical, and I made love innovation and I love product development. And I really, really geek out on that stuff. I genuinely enjoy creating things, my superpower or whatever you want to call it, and I think everyone has a superpower for the record. So my superpower I believe, is I’m a sales and marketing CEO. You know, where I add the most value is when something starts to take off. I’m good at being the gasoline on the fire and taking it from this and into this you know, raising money is a solace and horrible process that I do not enjoy at all. And that was definitely the worst part of the job. It’s kind of like going through a mortgage every day. And if you’re creative person, or product person or a tech person that just you feel like you’re doing that little time and it’s it’s not not fun. I think if you can figure out a way to slow it down a little bit, you can save yourself a lot of heartache.
Fei Wu 2:24
Hello, face world podcast listeners. Welcome to another episode of the stories from song and unsung heroes. There are lots of exciting news for us in 2017. In addition to our main hosting service, which is Lipson face world is also available on iTunes, of course, SoundCloud, Stitcher player FM, Google Play, and most recently, YouTube. We are prioritizing top 10 episodes first, with new episodes rolling in one by one, my producer has done a phenomenal job just turning audio into on video and making sound more interactive and engaging. So what does that mean? Hop over to youtube.com forward slash face world to see for yourself. Today I am joined by Freddie Laker who is a British American entrepreneur and the founder of the tech startup guide, and most recently, chameleon collective and code orange. Prior to these companies, he launched the internet service provider laker.net and the digital agency I chameleon group and worked at Sabian nitrile, now known as sapien Razorfish where we met in 2009, and he was with a company as a Vice President of Global marketing strategy. He is the son of Sir Freddie Laker the founder of British airline Laker airways. So what will you learn from this episode, hearing firsthand from a serial entrepreneur who’s daring and trying new things, especially related to computers and new forms of technologies since he was just a teenager. Sounds like every kid these days, but it was rather unusual 20 years ago. The nostalgic part of the story for me was to look back to when I first had my computer and 94 though I didn’t really do much with it other than using the paint program. And meanwhile, Freddy not only started building computers on his own, he also decided to drop out of college and became a DJ for a Miami based private radio station called whoom. After being shut down by the Federal Communications Commission, also known as the FCC, their radio station use the internet to transfer the signal between two antennas, making it the world’s first 24 hour internet radio station. There is no way not to delve into Freddie’s origin story as the son of a very successful entrepreneur following the launch of SkyTrain in 1977 his Other serve Freddie Laker was knighted the following year in recognition of his services to the airline industry. In fact, Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, one said in a story he posted having received help from a business mentor during his struggle to get Virgin Atlantic off the ground. Richard Branson knows all about the importance of having someone to look up to that very person was Sir Freddie Laker. What did Freddie learn from his father? What was the important lesson Freddie learned the hard way, but thankful for his father later on? What was the one conversation like between the two while Freddy Jr. was struggling in his personal and professional life? This conversation was a lot of things from business to family, and the moments and places in between. If you enjoy this episode, please share it with others. Better yet, leave a comment and let us know your thoughts on our blog or via social media. I want to thank Freddie Laker for his time, honesty and sharing his stories above and beyond what I had expected. This episode is dedicated to serve Freddie Laker and his family. He changed the world by enabling ordinary people to fly and the public loved him and will always remember him for it.
Thanks for joining me Friday, I’m so glad we can make this happen. There are a lot of reasons why I wanted to chat with you because of your legacy. And because how we met at sapien in 2009. And literally over a couple of meetings. But one of the things I always remember is people said that Freddie is such as such a nice guy. He’s very kind. And then since then, there are a lot of things I need to catch up on including Guide, which I know that literally won a number of major awards and something you’re very passionate about for a long time. And most recently, you started chameleon collective and August 2015, and code orange and march 2016. So there’s a lot of stuff I want to cover on this podcast. But I would love to learn something firsthand, too, is a little bit about your origin story. So it’s like how you grew up where you grew up, you know, you have an American accent.
Freddie Laker 7:23
Sure, I’ll give you a little bit of my background. So my father’s English, my mother is actually from Oklahoma. So I’m half heck and have bred. My parents were married eight times between them four times each. So I have this very diverse and unique family. I have a 78 year old sister who’s the same age as my mother is from my father’s first marriage. I have a half brother from my mom’s first marriage, she was a actually, world recognize, like Hall of Fame wrestler. And I have a half brother called Beth, you cannot make this kind of stuff up is too crazy. You know, and then you’ve got mirrors this one kind of connection between the two different sides of my family. I grew up in between basically Miami and England. So I had a house thing until I was about 19. But I really when my parents got divorced, we moved to Miami. No other reason and frankly, it was one of the places that Laker airways flew to and I think my mom had started going there, you know, in the in the early 80s and really liked it and and just chose that to be the place to move to. And you know since then i Although I’ve kind of went to early school here and actually in her mainly in Miami in 1992. Hurricane Andrew wiped out Miami and I moved out to Palm Beach and high school up there. I spent a couple months a year in England. So mainly most Christmas breaks and most most of those summer and the I think they kind of kept that little bit of that English heritage alive for me and always made me want to kind of go back to England one day, which I did do for the record at one point for a couple of years and then realized the weather was rotten. And there was a reason why my family wanted to live in Miami. But yeah, that was that was a little bit of my childhood I went to went to school and in Palm Beach Gardens post for the Benjamin school. I think my claim to fame there was I was the the second lowest GPA only to my best friend who had the worst GPA. But I had the actually I think I had the third highest LSAT scores in the school. I used to drive my teachers nuts and they knew I was they knew I was smart. But they also knew that I was chose not to apply myself you know getting on personal and deep with you but I you know it’s funny I was I was always a pretty nerdy kid when I was when I was growing up. And when I went to high school we kind of chose to reinvent myself as a you know, I didn’t want to be the nerdy kid and I end up being kind of you know, becoming the class clown and actually ended up going from Being a kid who couldn’t catch a bowl in middle school in elementary school to buy time, I graduated high school as a captain of the soccer team, and played on the American football team and you know, a bunch of other things like that. But the reality was, I think I was still I was always that nerdy kid, I was there, you know, I would kind of go to school all day and do frown and crack jokes and play sports, but then I would go home, and I would stay up on my computer till three, I’ve always been a nocturnal person until they have three or four in the morning and then go to high school next day. And I don’t think anyone really understood that I was doing that mainly because I just probably didn’t want them to know. So I was always say, I was kind of a closet closet nerd, my, my high school years got very early, early adopter of new tech. And I could handle the computer from the age of probably eight or nine, which is not even that unusual now. But it was very, very unusual. If you started thinking about that being, you know, 1986 or so I think it was really those those skills, then that really kind of set the tone from from for my whole life and a lifelong obsession with technology. I mean, I think I got on the internet the first time and 9394. And, you know, just she just because I just wanted to play with it.
Fei Wu 11:16
Wow. So where do I begin, I want to first ask about the computer stories, as in, you went on the internet. And you were, let’s see that 96 You were a teenager, perhaps at the time, what excited you the most about computers, what were you looking for at the time, which was such a fraction of what we are exposed to today.
Freddie Laker 11:41
You know, I just, I just wanted to be on something new. And I just thought it was I think the concept of was so cool. What I love this year, kind of like maybe how I didn’t like school in the sense of I wanted to learn what I wanted to learn, as opposed to what they wanted to feed me at that time. And I think this concept that I could find what I wanted to find out there was was very interesting to me. I can tell you the big break for me though, and I think it’s one of my favorite favorite stories. I think you’re I was kind of using an example of how I got into the industry. So went to university for a couple months, and I dropped down wasn’t my thing. And I came back to the US. But my father sat me down and said, you know, son, I’m gonna do some interview today. He goes, you’re gonna you’re gonna hate me for it. He goes, but one day, you’re gonna affect me. And he was right. I did hate him for this. I did think of a couple years later, he completely cut me off, not emotionally or as a father or anything like that. Just financially, I had a very, very lucky childhood, okay, because this is my father. And he said, Well, I don’t think that’s totally fair. He said, I will give you a job working at Laker airways as a record store. And he’s like, I’ll pay you $18,000 a year. And you basically have the lowest ranking job in the entire business errors is I think attempt to teach me some humility. And you have to move out of the house. And you’ve got to kind of go look after yourself now and understand how money works. I’m sure plenty of people were cut off and didn’t even get a job. So but it was for me, it was a pretty big reality check. So I was working in airline. And for the record, by the way, within six or seven months, I already self appointed myself, the network administrator for them. And basically it was self running. Alrighty. And while this is happening, my other great love is always been music. And at that period of my life, I was really, really, really into house music. I’d learned about house music in about 1992 I remember exactly where it was the first time I heard it. And I was an aspiring DJ. I was a pretty terrible DJ when I was 18. But I was still an aspiring DJ. But I had a pretty good mouth on Main Street gotta haven’t lost that along with my hair. And I was able to be as my way basically in a DJing on a totally legal pirate radio station called the womb. And the womb was, you know, holed up on on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach with antenna hidden up in the top of a bell tower, basically a shopping plaza. And we had this little room kind of hidden up above all the stores. And I had a cramp slot of a to 2pm on I think it was on a Tuesday. And but I was on the radio and being 18 years old. That was pretty much the coolest thing that ever happened to me. And one day when I was in the station, the Federal Communication Commission raids the place while I’m just haven’t been while I’m there and being on this totally illegal station. So everything starts getting taken away from us. I realized that, you know, it’s the end of the station, frankly, I’m thinking I’m gonna get arrested. When I realized that not gonna get arrested. I start getting a little bit more confident and I want to try I’d help my friends out. And you know, and we ended up talking to the FCC folks are there and say, look, please don’t take our transmitters away from us. You’re never gonna hear from us. Again, we’re just a bunch of students, we don’t have any money, please, please, please, this, this will, you know, you’ll never you never see this stuff again. And I think we were being very sincere at the time being the keywords. So we ended up being able to keep the transmitter were off there shut down. And actually, I don’t even really think we realized how big you know, the station was until we got shut down because it’s front page in Miami here on the front page of the Sun Sentinel, and our third patient sunsetting, or whatever it was, you know that we are off there. Basically, a couple of weeks go by, and I’m pretty bummed about the station being gone. And this idea hits me like a lightning bolt. And I very few perfect memories, my life. But this is one of them. I remember I was in my car when the idea started to come together in my head. And I remember driving, I was driving off onto i 95 in Miami, and actually pulled the car over on the side of the road because I had a notepad next to me instead of kind of writing down some thoughts. And basically real player do you remember real player, so just come out. And cable modems had just hit miami beach for the first time I didn’t even think they were a full Megan’s feedback that I think it was like a 512k or something. And, and so basically, we started particularly got a real players server setup, where the station was put the internet connection there and started broadcasting on the internet. Then we got a hold of another transmitter, we put that hooked up to a computer at the south end of South Beach. And then we took the original one put that hooked up to another friend’s computer at an apartment building in the north end of South Beach. And we made this very simple computer program that randomize the signals. So we would send the radio signal to one antenna through the internet for two or three minutes. And then at five minutes later, go to this antenna and then one minute to that antenna and then lead minutes to this antenna. And we’re using the internet basically, to move the signal around so that basically the FCC couldn’t zoom in and find where we are broadcasting from anymore.
Fei Wu 17:08
Well, wait, is this related to womb? Or is this? Yeah, this is
Freddie Laker 17:13
still the womb, so basically, womb back on the air. And I think it’s really wrong, that all we cared about was the FM station. But you know, they’re the content of the internet side of it was nothing to ask. But we saw the internet as a way effectively beating the government from finding us what was illegal about
Fei Wu 17:32
it, by the way? Well, you
Freddie Laker 17:33
can’t just randomly pick an FM station and just start broadcasting on it. Oh,
Fei Wu 17:38
I wasn’t sure about that. So yeah, the register.
Freddie Laker 17:42
Yeah, we just like pick the channel, the nose broadcasting on broadcast group. What was it? 8.5, I think was, you know, so by doing what we had done with this, when they tried to come find us again. I mean, they were thinking like the movie Pump up the jam or something. I mean, they thought we had the antenna in the back of a truck. And we’re driving them to driving the Intel around, where they thought maybe we had in the back of a boat, and that we were moving in 10 around that way. And so I had this vision of these guys here. We were probably back on the air an hour before the phone rang, you know, they came down to the station. We said yeah, come on down. We said look, we don’t we’re just broadcasting on the internet, we don’t really know what happens with it once it leaves here. And and they you know, these guys just weren’t prepared for this. No one had ever done anything like this to them before. And so I have this vision of them in a truck with these things called triangulation units. And it’s how they would zoom in on the you know, they would basically do they can say look, we’re three miles away from the signal, we’re a mile away from the signal, we’re half mile away from the signal, and then the vision and then like in a van or something this is pure speculation just kind of driving up and down south beach government three miles away where mile away, we’re a half mile away. We’re six miles away What the hell just happened and drop it down south beach. But it took them about five months to figure out that if they stopped the car, they could wait and they could keep keep inching closer and closer to us. And they ended up shutting us down again. And at this point, we were not keen to domesticate them and it’s a wonder none of us frankly ended up with you know, some severe fine now the fun part of this story gets back connected back to the internet is we had been shut down. And when we shut down we decided to keep broadcasting on the Internet. In fact the you know never even really dawned on us that anyone would listen to the internet when we were doing this. And but when we when we got shut down we I think 100 or 200 people a day listening through the internet and we’re like that’s kind of cool. Well you know, maybe we should keep that going. Real player in giving us a preset in the software. In 1999 they were selling those for a million dollars a pop but back then there was so few internet radio stations there and if you remember this but in real player you can click up on the top and they just had a stations drop down and then you have like there’s maybe 30 stations they popped in there for under a couple of different categories and they were like you were the only stations in them. world, you know, we got shut down, where you start seeing the numbers blow up, especially once that happened, the numbers are skyrocketing now. And one day, we get you know, we’re getting interviewed by different newspapers about a pirate, when they Rolling Stone magazine reaches out. I wasn’t there this time. But this is how the story was repeated back to me. It was basically the phone rings. Rollingstone wants to talk to us. And they’re talking to my friend and says, Hey, why don’t you interview guys? And my friends? Like, oh, about the pirate radio station? And they’re like, what power station? You know, the pirate radio station? It’s like, no, no, no, we were interested, you know, you guys were one of the first internet radio stations full time, 24 hour a day in radio stations in the world. And we just kind of wanted to know why you did that. And it was literally like, you know, hand over the phone. Hey, currently, one of the first places in the world, we had no idea. And they wrote this, this article about us. There’s two tech, there’s four of us. There’s two kind of techie guys, of which it was my friend Duncan on the line, where the really guys do all the technical side. And then the other one is, and the article came out. And within a month, all sudden, my phone was ringing a lot. I was only about
Fei Wu 21:09
19 years old. What year was this? 97 or so
Freddie Laker 21:13
is on 97? Yeah, and, you know, my phone started ringing a lot. And I didn’t really know, you know, obviously, Qaeda, you know. But back then, like, now, if you want to do something, you have a great idea. And you’re some big shot in New York or whatever. And someone goes, oh, I need a great internet guy. Everyone’s got a dozen people they can put out there. For the most part, if you’re in the industry, you know, back then it was like, I want to do this. Do you know anyone that would say no, but I you’d be like I read about a guy when people were just hunting me down. A truly credit the womb for my entire career. I mean, I had no college education, I was incredibly passionate about what I did, I would argue that the reason I’m able to speak semi well and you know, can write very professionally and other things like that. I like to believe I’m decent at beyond a lot of personal experience this point. So I would say my father was my business college and I learned incredible amount about it from him from how to conduct yourself in business. But but my technical experience and my Indian experience really all goes back to the movement if it wasn’t for effectively my love of house music. making me want to get involved with the pirate radio station, which in turn inspired me to bring this thing on the internet. I mean, none of this stuff would have happened for me.
Fei Wu 23:02
What was some of the content that you produce or played? While you’re working at home? Like what what is the because 24/7
Freddie Laker 23:09
I was I was, you know, it was all electronic music. So I mean, it did back then it was electronic music. So I think quite mainstream now. But back then we were Yeah, people be playing drum and bass for two hours. I used to play it. I think in that year, I was still playing a lot of trance music. And I think badly might add. I mean, I could barely mix two, two records together back then, in fact, and there’s some people playing funky or so there’s just so many diversified styles fit. And we always had some people that wanted to play and you know, in South Beach had a very vibrant nightclub scene. And everyone was happy to get a get a couple hours on the wound.
Fei Wu 23:45
Wow. It’s so funny. They only read about wounds on your Wikipedia and it was barely a sentence and I’m so glad you’re able to elaborate. Yeah,
Freddie Laker 23:54
you know, it’s funny, I’m surprised there’s not more of a you know, kind of more backstory on it out there. Someone should should be able to construct it. God knows there’s enough articles out there written about it. But it was, you know, even before the the internet side of it. I mean, it was probably one of the earliest electronic only stations in the US, you know,
Fei Wu 24:14
being one of the first and you know, ran by a bunch of kids. This is like the story.
Freddie Laker 24:22
A lot of early adopter kind of trend in my career. For the record for better for worse, I would actually argue that I was so early on a lot of things that it didn’t work out in my favor. I was too early on the internet radio, I think to really do something great with it. i Well, I think in the late 90s I could have raised money on a paper napkin and probably you know, if I’d known what I know now, I would have raised $30 million for the womb. I think we still would have failed because I think the model wasn’t there yet, but it would have been easy to kind of had some midweek big wins like that early. You know, after that I went on to start one of the earliest Internet Service Provider I was in Florida, and ran that from Vegas, whatever it was the early 2000s. We were one of the first people in South Florida have 56 gain to that access, which seems really quaint and cute right now, but I thought was really, really cool back then. And I still think yeah, that was it was a good time for it. And when he gave me that was a good business. But I still also think it may have been may have been a bit bit early on that I think with IQ million, which was the digital agency we had in the mid 2000s, that we finally got the timing right on that. And that was the one that was brilliant ended up being brought into sapien in 2008. But I think the timing was good on that one. And then you know, I had another company called guide you mentioned earlier and you know guide was a reminder was the technology for effectively transforming text based online news into video, it originally actually started off as as a the original idea, before I pivoted, as many startups do was effectively a newsreader for smart TVs. I wanted to be able to take the stuff I like to read, you know, on this and make it something that I could consume, you know, non traditional news to do the TV. I was definitely too early on that one.
Fei Wu 26:13
I mean, how did you go about that? Who did you have on your team? What was your role versus their role? I think it’s interesting, because you know, you are not a one one trick pony. You know, you wear many hats. So tell me about that sort of setup process.
Freddie Laker 26:26
Yeah, that is true. I was convinced that this was going to happen, because I thought the Apple TV was going to come out the an Apple TV that ran apps like the current one does. I misjudged that by about two years, I was convinced it was coming out any day. In fact, I tried to time the whole startup around an unreleased product. This is my advice to any entrepreneurs watching. Don’t do that. So I learned a lot of things with guide guide was the first company that you know, where I’ve had some companies that went through challenging periods, and so on, by really see guide is the first company ever had that really failed. And I learned a lot of things about it. One was the one thing I just mentioned to you a moment ago, another was about finding your right role as a founder, you know, I may be very technical, and I may love innovation, and I love product development. And I really, really geek out on that stuff, I genuinely enjoy creating things. That being said, My superpower or whatever you want to call it, and I think everyone has a superpower for the record. So my superpower I believe, is I’m a sales and marketing CEO, you know, where I really like where I really going to excel is, you know, I like being part of the creative process, but I should have other people do that. And you know, where I add the most value is when something starts to take off, I’m good at being the gasoline on the fire and taking it from this and into this, you know, I think I got that wrong with the guide. You know, they’re on the very early stage to building out this product from day one. I think that because it’s in my very nature to want to kind of sell and market things I was marketing and trying to grow it from the you know, from month three. And actually, in hindsight, when I shouldn’t have done is, you know, maybe kept up a kind of more traditional job, you built an MVP of that product much, much cheaper than I did in the background very quietly, in stealth mode, kind of helped flesh it out, work out some of the kinks I was never going to run into, but ran into a much more expensive fashion where I’d already quit my job and had hired a whole bunch of people. And I couldn’t she just slowed it down. And I think if I had slowed it down and had done that, you know, focused on my strengths, and let other people focus on their strengths. I think I’d be you know, would have been probably successful with that one. But it’s hard to do especially if you like you said you’re gonna wear many hats. There’s a big difference between being able to do a lot of things and should I be doing a lot
Fei Wu 29:00
It’s interesting you mentioned sapient I wonder what would be the value there it sounds like that you invested a lot of your own money and time certainly into guide
Freddie Laker 29:09
Yeah, I mean that’s actually a funny note into even saving and investing invested in guy I thought that was pretty cool that apparently I’m the only person that sapient who’s ever quit sapien and then had them invest in their next wow yeah my kind of running joke on that it’s always been you know the either really appreciated the work I did for them or they wanted to make sure that I never ever came back I was very kind to them and I’ll forever be indebted and thankful to sapient for that. But you know I did I did have a lot of money in it. I think you know also God was the only company I’ve ever raised money ever raise money for. I think raising money and this is seen as something that a lot of entrepreneurs always talk to me about you know, they talk to you about our great I’ve seen you raise money How can You helped me raise money, love to you, if I only had 250 grand and 500 grand or a million dollars or $2 million, whatever it is to start this business, I know it’d be a great success. I would argue that actually having all that money created a false sense of security for me, it made me not do things as lean and as mean, as I had done them in the past where I basically bootstrapped, you know, the prior businesses and even my new companies I bootstrapped. The other thing is aside from dealing with a couple of very friendly parties, like Zapier, and and some investor friends of mine, I’ve known for a long time. You know, raising money is a soulless and horrible process that I do not enjoy at all. And that was definitely the worst part of the job. And I think at some point, it felt like it was more than 50% of the job. It’s kind of like going for a mortgage every day. Yeah, I mean, it’s not fun. And if you’re creative person, or product person, or a tech person, that just you feel like you’re doing a little time, it’s it’s not, it’s not not fun, I think if you can figure out a way to slow it down a little bit, and, you know, be scrappy, and at least the earliest stages to just validate your idea, you can save yourself a lot of heartache. And if you’re a person like me, who gets very emotionally invested in almost everything he does, probably save yourself a couple of dollars to, I would have rationally cut myself off a little bit, cut myself off from putting so much my own money. And a little earlier than I would have in hindsight. But yeah, when they say with hindsight is always 2020.
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