Episode 44 - Entrepreneur Experience: William Loopesko, Co-Founder of Aclymate

EPISODE 44

Entrepreneur Experience: William Loopesko, Co-Founder of Aclymate

In this episode, we are joined by William Loopesko, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of CleanTech company Aclymate, which is helping small businesses offset their footprint to be carbon neutral. William is no stranger to the entrepreneurial journey, and he walks us through the trials of a failure, the triumphs of a comeback, and the extreme difference a co-founder can make through all of it. Listen now!

In this episode, we are joined by veteran entrepreneur William Loopesko, who is now co-founder of Aclymate, his second venture, which is helping small businesses offset their footprint to be carbon neutral. From geology to pet tech to climate, William has a vast store of knowledge and experience to share as it relates to entrepreneurship in general, as well as the pitfalls and keys to success.

William talks about the realities of working for someone else after building a startup and being an entrepreneur and reveals how he got involved with Aclymate as a co-founder. He talks about how different the journey is with a co-founder for emotional support, and the impact that has on the business, versus going it along as a soloprenuer. He also shares some of the wisdom he gained from his experience with his first startup, the successes and failures, and when he knew it was time to shut it down. William also has very insightful perspective on who should be an entrepreneur (and who shouldn’t!) and what it takes to be successful as a startup founder.

Our conversation then flows into the value of a true prototype (a pre-totype!), the invaluable results of talking to potential customers, and what the day-to-day of a startup founder looks like once they have revenue and employees. William’s insights are immensely useful for getting a peek into the entrepreneurial mindset, the realities of a startup fail, and picking oneself back up to try again.

Check out William’s recommended resources:
Get involved! Your local startup community in the town or city you live in is the #1 best way to get your frame of mind set for being a startup founder. In Denver (and maybe near you!), some of these types of opportunities are:

1 Million Cups
Denver Boulder New Tech
Denver Founders
Denver Startup Week
“The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries
“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz
Work on Climate Slack Community
For the postmortem episode of Incubate This! on William’s first startup, PuppTech, listen here.
Find and follow William on Aclymate, LinkedIn, or through us at Precursa (startup@precursa.com).

Be sure to like, share, and subscribe to Precursa: The Startup Journey on your favorite podcasting platform and tune in for the next episode!

Email us with any questions or comments (startup@precursa.com). Check out our website (https://www.precursa.com) for more information on getting your startup rolling.

(00:04):
Straight to you from Denver, Colorado, this is Precursa: The Startup Journey. We share the ins and outs of building a tech startup from inception, to launch, to revenue and beyond. If you’ve ever wondered what building a startup from scratch really looks like, you’re in the right place. With full transparency and honesty, we reveal it all about Precursa on our ride from idea to exit: the wins, the lessons learned, and the unexpected twists and turns.

(00:37):
Hey everybody. And welcome back. This is Precursa the startup up journey, and I am exhausted this week in the spirit of all things re you know, real life and being an entrepreneur and how inconvenient being an entrepreneur is in real life. Uh, this week, my dog decided to have emergency surgery to remove nine yes, nine, two and a half inch river rock for on her stomach. And how on earth she got these down her throat? I have no idea, but all week I have been juggling her schedule, her medication. She can’t be outside like a normal dog now, like we have to come up with a whole new strategy. And so that means I’m having to take her on walks a few times a day, um, which I know if you live in harm and you’re like, whatever, that’s what we do all the time.

(01:24):
I get it. Uh, it’s just not the routine that we’ve ever had before. And so now we have this routine and, and it’s very inconvenient to be trying to be on meetings. And, oh my gosh, I gotta like take five minutes in between to go walk a dog, uh, not to mention the expense of, you know, saving your dog’s life and being like there’s, you know, four grand that won’t be going into my startup. So I, I say all this to say, first of all, I’m tired. So if, while we’re talking today, my brain doesn’t sound connected to my spine. It probably isn’t, but also because life is going to happen. And it’s really important that you recognize your priorities are going to shift. Most of the time, your top priority is probably going to be your startup. And that’s probably the way that it should be, because what you focus on is what is what you draw to you.

(02:13):
But there are going to be times where other priorities make themselves present, whether you like that or not, whether it’s good news or not. Sometimes it’s family stuff. Sometimes it’s something, you know, like a dog, uh, sometimes it’s who knows what that is. Okay. That is how it’s supposed to be. Give yourself the grace and freedom to say, I need to take a step back for a couple of days. It’s not gonna make that much difference in your startup. I can promise you. That’s true. And if you don’t believe me, we can ask today’s guest, cuz he has had these experiences. So today William Le Pesco is joining me. He’s the co-founder and CTO of acclimate, which is a software platform for businesses who want to address their carbon footprint and become climate leaders. Prior to acclimate. William was the founder and CEO of pub tech, where he brought a new IOT product to market in the consumer pet space, a consummate serial AR entrepreneur, William is tenacious and like a dog with a bone just can’t set down the desire to solve a problem. Welcome to the show William.

(03:14):
Hi Cynthia. It’s great to be here.

(03:15):
Yeah, it’s great to have you here. And you know, our audience doesn’t really know this cuz you’re new to them. Uh, but we have a very long history together and um, a joyous one in my view. Me too. Uh, but why don’t, why don’t you just start by telling everybody a little bit about yourself, how you became an entrepreneur and a little bit about acclimate and what you’re working on now.

(03:36):
Yeah, sure. So, so I’ll start with acclimate acclimate. We are building a software platform to help businesses become carbon neutral. So we have a free tool that makes it really, really easy for businesses to figure out what their carbon footprint is based on the data that they already have. We can convert financial data directly into emissions data. Then when they know what their carbon footprint is, they shop through a catalog of over 50 offset projects, fit, pick the one that’s perfect for them and uh, become climate leaders. At that point, we give them a little widget that goes on their website and their custom branded webpage that they can use to show off how they became carbon neutral and what projects they’re supporting. Um, that’s awesome. So that’s what I’m doing now, but it’s been a long journey to get there. I did not start off either in business or in technology. I actually started off as a geologist and a civil environmental engineer.

(04:31):
Hold on. I gotta, I gotta make the joke. I always make, whenever you say that geology rocks,

(04:36):
Geology does rock.

(04:37):
You know what, maybe I can show you the, the, of the two and a half pounds of rocks and you could tell me what kind they are.

(04:44):
I can, I can probably do that. Yes. Um, yeah, that was my previous wife and, and geology does rock it. It is really cool, but it definitely was not the career that I wanted to have. And it took me only about three years of being a in you’re working for someone else to figure that out. So I sort of stumbled my way into entrepreneurship. Uh, I had this great idea that I was really excited about and I did not like my job and was looking to do something else. And one day I decided I should just start with working on this idea and see where it would take me. And, um, I could never have imagined that I would’ve ended up here, uh, talking to you today about acclimate. So,

(05:31):
So what do you think you have a very, a, a great entrepreneurial journey. You know, you built pub tech, um, due to the pandemic and a bunch of other things sort of convert urging all at once. You know, that company was shut down and I remember you and I having a conversation where you were like, I, I can’t go back to working for someone again, like I, I don’t know what to do. And you know, you, you learned during, during building pub tech, you learned how to write code, which was super impressive, by the way, I know very few founders who are like, yeah, let me jump in and build my own code. They’re all like looking for a way to hire somebody else to do it for them. Right. So huge props, because that is super, super awesome. Like really, really cool.

(06:16):
Thank

(06:16):
You. But when you, when you got through the pub tech journey, you were kinda like, okay, now I have, now I have these coding skills. And did you ever entertain, like I’m gonna put in quotes, real job offers before jumping back into acclimate? Like what, what was that like sort of, you know, coming out of pub tech with that whole experience and then, and then being like, what’s next, cuz there’s a lot of people who might be on their first journey and they’re kind of like, huh, what does that look like if it’s not like some huge exit? Like what comes next after that?

(06:47):
Yeah. So even before that, I just wanna talk about the coding thing. I learned how to code, because I realized very quickly that I was gonna wanna do other startups and that if I was gonna do that the best way to do it was to learn how to code so that I didn’t have to like waste all that time, trying to find money, to get people to code for me. So coding is really, you know, was what I saw as the best way to be able to sustain my entrepreneurial ambitions. And it, it worked out right. So after pep tech failed or right when pub tech failed, uh, I went like much of the world in the quarantine for about three months And I’m very fortunate. My family,

(07:26):
I don’t know what you’re talking about.

(07:28):
No, yeah, no, there was a pandemic. Maybe you heard about it.

(07:31):
What? No.

(07:33):
Yeah, no.

(07:33):
Well you lie.

(07:35):
Yeah, it was, it was a big deal. We, my family has ranch in Texas and we all went there for about three months and we were, we’re very fortunate, you know, cuz we didn’t have the whole being cooped up in an apartment in the city having to wear masks everywhere. We were out on this ranch far from everyone and able to have a pretty normal life. So I, I really spent those three months decompressing from all of the intensity of pub tech and trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Again, I had been very poor and living with my parents for about four years at that time. And so a big part of me was like, well, you know, like in my thirties I should make money that is, come mentor it with my age and experience. And I know that I can go out and get these jobs that would pay me six figures if I wanted to.

(08:27):
So I did spend some time applying to those jobs cuz it seemed like what I should be doing at that age. And I interviewed for several of them. And then as I interviewed, I started, you know, I would ask questions like, what’s it like to work here? How do you, like, why do you guys come to work every day? And in listening to those answers, it made me realize that what I was signing up for was just what I had left and what I had left pub left pub like to do and told myself that I would never go back. So yeah,

(08:59):
I instead started casting around on my network. Um, on LinkedIn. I didn’t have any ideas. I didn’t wanna be a solo founder again, but I wanted to be invited to join a team. And uh, ultimately that’s exactly what happened. This guy that I had met five years earlier who had been doing his own startup and we had sort of loose, we stayed in touch when I posted on LinkedIn that I was looking for my next thing. He said, oh, you’re a developer. We’re thinking of doing a tech thing. You should come talk to us and boom, here we are. Mike is now my co-founder. I talk to him every single day and we’re building acclimate together.

(09:34):
That’s awesome. Talk a little bit about the difference between solo founder and co-founder in your experience.

(09:42):
Oh my gosh. Where to even begin it’s so, so different in an amazing way. And I think what really encapsulates it the best was our experience are going through Techstars. So Mike and I went through Techstars in fall of 2021 this past fall. We went together as a co-founding team, but half of the people in the program were so O founders and it was really, really clear what the difference was almost immediately like Mike and I have each other’s back. We we’re clearly in Techstars just to focus and work on our company. And yeah, obviously we were there to engage with our fellow co-founders and you know, to try to build a community, but that was absolutely secondary to what we were doing because we didn’t need the emotional support. We had each other, a lot of the solo found nurse. They really prioritized, uh, it seemed, you know, social interaction and trying to build deep, meaningful connections with the other people in the program because it seemed like they really needed that, you know, like on an emotional level.

(10:53):
I mean, startups are so hard and the gen Ernie when you’re, and, and they’re so different from what anyone else has ever experienced or will ever experience. Yeah. That if you don’t have someone there alongside you doing what you’re doing, it’s just, it’s so lonely. And like now I have Mike, Mike has me and it’s very comforting to know that Mike and I are both equally invested in this emotionally, physically it’s, it’s just, it’s what we’re doing, but we’re doing it together. Yeah. Mike and I have a really great relationship and it therefore has allowed us to do a lot more than like what I did at pep tech. I mean, pep got to do all the fundraising plus running all the business. Plus in the end, writing a lot of code with you taking care of all the marketing on the sale. I mean, it was a lot now I run the entire business and I run marketing, engineering, sales, and all of that. But what I don’t do is fundraising and Mike does all of that and I am very happy with that balance cuz fundraising is a full-time job and I want Mike doing just that. Yeah. I can do everything else. Mike trusts me to do everything else. I trust him to do the fundraising. And so it’s made both of our lives a lot easier.

(12:13):
Yeah. I love that. I love that. And I love how you, you put that you’re both emotionally invested. Right. And you know, I think the thing that, that we’re always trying to communicate is there’s, there’s all the logistics, right? There’s the execution there’s, you know, running the business, there’s getting the money, there’s all that stuff. But you are still a human going through that journey and you have all the fields about all the different stages of the journey and having someone who is going through that with you at any given time, that makes a difference. I mean, because when you’re a solo founder, you’re like, you know that no one else on the planet gets where you are. Right. Exactly. Now, now that doesn’t mean that we as other entrepreneurs in the world, don’t understand, but we’re not in it with you. And every situation is sort of unique. And so what you’re experiencing, what you’re feeling, you know, you have different experiences and feels than I do as a woman because our challenges are different in this realm. Right?

(13:12):
Absolutely. I,

(13:14):
So I, I totally get what you’re saying. And I, I love that, that, you know, having someone who as is, as emotionally invested as you are, is, is so critical to not feeling like you’re by yourself.

(13:28):
Inspiration has struck, you’ve stumbled upon a great idea that you just know will change the world. So now what at Precursa, we provide the best tools to help founders and entrepreneurs, just like you turn their great ideas into great companies that solve real problems for real people. We believe you are the change makers, the innovators and the force that moves technology for word, all you need is an experienced guide to keep you on track and help you navigate the turbulent waters of starting up Precursa is that guide. And with us, your roadmap to successful launch is more direct with far fewer pitfalls, Ready to change the world. Precursa has your back.

(14:18):
Yeah. And we have each other’s back, right? So like if Mike has this really crappy call with an investor that he’s feeling bummed out, he’ll call me and yeah, we’ll talk through it and I’ll cheer him up. And similarly, if I’ve had a bad day, cuz you know, we had a sales call or something sucked, something broke, et cetera. I like I’ll call Mike and Mike will cheer me up. And, and we just know that we have each other’s back and it’s, it’s very comforting and it allows us to spend a lot less time like worrying or you know, on the emotional stuff. And really we can just like work because we know that we have each other.

(14:51):
Yeah. I love that. So what would you say in your long and varied career as an entrepreneur, what’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

(15:03):
Oh man. That is a, um, could be so many, uh, I think, I think two of ’em and they’re related, one of ’em is you can’t just have a dream or an idea. You actually like to start a business to get invested, to get invested. Uh, investors never invest in dreams or ideas, at least in my experience. And I tried really, really, really hard for, or that to happen with pub tech. Yeah. Because that seems to be one of the common myths is like I have this great idea and it’s so brilliant that investors are just gonna want to throw money at me. Yep. Right. That’s what happened to mark Zuckerberg. He’s a billionaire. I could do that too, but that’s not reality at all. Uh, and it’s not even true for mark Zuckerberg. Like he, you know, Facebook already had thousands of users and he already had a product.

(15:55):
And so you have to have something. And I wasted a lot of time wasted it, a strong word cuz I learned a lot. But I spent a lot of time at pub tech that first year just trying to get people sold on a dream and an idea cause we didn’t have any money to, to build it. And that’s what, um, ultimately in inspired me to start coding was like, well this is never gonna happen. If I don’t make this product happen, nobody’s gonna pay to make this product happen. So I have to just do it myself. And I think that’s the second thing is I think being a successful entrepreneur is not about being the smartest person or the hardest working or any of those things. Those all help. It helps to be reasonably smart and it helps to be fairly hard work, reasonably hard

(16:44):
Working.

(16:44):
Yeah. And you know, like reasonably optimistic and all of that. But really I think it’s, it’s about grit and perseverance and never quitting and like taking the obstacles that are in front of you and figuring out how to gate around them. Like I realized that I was never gonna be able to get pop tech, pop tech off the ground if I didn’t learn how to code. So I taught myself how to code and then I met you and then you, for whatever reason were impressed enough with what we were doing, maybe cuz I had already started writing the code that you jumped on and you started writing co two and then we went out and got fun. Right? Like it took years for us to get there, but a much more reasonable person would’ve probably quit way before we got there.

(17:32):
But you’re right. Because that perseverance, that grit that sticktuitiveness, you know, I, I always say that a startup isn’t dead until the founder says it is

(17:42):
That’s exactly right.

(17:44):
And maybe, maybe that’s good. Maybe it’s bad. I don’t know. We could have a debate about it, but, but you’re right. When you say that those are really, really important traits and because nobody’s gonna believe in it as much as you are, but you can get other people to believe in it a lot if you, if you have that and if you keep going.

(18:02):
Yeah. And, and what happened at the end of pub tech was I was burned out and we’ve talked about this a lot and I was ready to call peptic dead. And in fact I did call pub tech dead many times.

(18:14):
Yeah.

(18:15):
But my team was not, cuz I had spent so much time pushing and pushing and inspiring my team to keep going, that they were like, well, like you might think it’s dead, but we don’t. So let us keep working.

(18:27):
Yeah. Which is a G if in some ways, I mean, you know, there’s a, I think there’s a difference and maybe you can talk a little bit about this. I think there’s a difference between slogging and knowing that it’s just part of the journey and like still having that be like this kind of part of you that you just can’t set down versus absolute burnout where you go this isn’t turning into anything in a way that makes me feel like there’s something here. That’s worth all this emotional investment in my time and my energy. Right. And I, I would say you probably got to that second place in pep tech and I think you got there quite a bit sooner than you actually called it done, but you know what a gift to have a team that, that was so into the vision that if it had been that first kind where it was like, no, we just gotta get through this. They would’ve sustained you for a little while. That’s that’s that’s a gift.

(19:20):
Yeah. I think it’s, you know, it you’re right. It’s interesting to think about the difference between just like plotting meaninglessly and sort of persevering with goal in mind. And, and for me with pub tech in the early days, a lot of people, my parents, my mom included and friends and family and like, this is like, you should quit. Like nothing is moving. Yeah. Why are you doing this? And what they didn’t realize is like, things were moving, there were tiny little victories along the way that I could hang my hat on and say, see like, that is why I’m doing this. And then when things would go south and I would have a bad meeting or something would break or, you know, I could still look back on those and think about how am I gonna get my next small victories. But that was something that like anyone would never be able to see. So to them it just felt like I was plotting meaninglessly.

(20:18):
Yeah. So what do you think, I know you said perseverance and grit, but is there any particular personality, trait or characteristic that someone should have in order to be a successful entrepreneur?

(20:31):
Yes. Most people should not be entrepreneurs. Um,

(20:36):
I think,

(20:40):
And because I think in order to be an entrepreneur, you really need two things. Maybe three, one, you need to be optimistic to the point bordering on delusion to where like, especially early on with pep tech. So many people are like, this is dumb. Why are you doing this? This is a stupid idea. And you are stupid for trying it. And I had to have the optimism to be like, uh, no, like I, I believe in this and this is what I was gonna be. And then the second thing coupled with that optimism is confidence. You need to have confidence to the point bordering, but never getting to arrogance, uh, confidence to be able to say like, well, you think this is dumb, but I think you’re wrong and I’m gonna prove you wrong. Yeah. And I know that you’re wrong because I have this dream and I am confident that I can achieve it. So I think you have to have those two things. And I think you also have to have an extraordinarily high abnormal high, uh, tolerance for risk, probably like dangerous. We high, um, You know, to where it’s like probably not super healthy to have the risk tolerance that I think most entrepreneurs have to have because you’re exposing yourself to all sorts of issues possibly. But

(22:08):
What kind of risk? Like what does that, what does that mean to you? And what does that, what does that look like?

(22:13):
I think a lot of people, people that aren’t entrepreneurs, they really like the certainty of having a job. Right. There’s not a lot of risk. Yeah. You could get laid off, but people, you know, like when I’m talking to my friends who have regular jobs, they’re making plans for like next fall. Yeah. Because they know that next fall they’re gonna be in the same job that they’ve been in for the last 10 years. They know exactly how much money they’re gonna be making. They know what days they’re gonna be working. They like, it’s very certain, I have no idea what I’m gonna be doing next fall. I have no idea what I’m gonna be doing like a month from now. Right? Yeah. By next fall, acclimate could either be funded and we’ve hired a ton of people and we’re on our way or it could have apocalyptic, we cratered and I’m onto my next thing. Um, and so that’s the kind of risk I’m talking about. Right? Like every day a is a new adventure filled with uncertainty. And I think most people would really hate that. In fact, I know that most people I talk to when I describe that to them, they’re like, yeah, I would hate that. Um, but, but that’s what I love about it.

(23:29):
Yeah. Then if you could give other entrepreneurs, you know, we talked a little bit about the makeup of the show, 40% of people who are like, maybe I wanna do that, but they never have 60% of people who are either in their, in their first journey or a subsequent journey or in between things. But they’ve done it before. What piece of advice?

(23:48):
I mean, I think the one piece of advice that I would give to early stage entrepreneurs or to people who are even just thinking about it and, and it sounds really cliche, but it’s not as like believe in yourself because if you don’t, nobody will and you know, early on you really, it’s just you. Yeah. And if you don’t a hundred thousand percent believe in what you’re doing, nobody else is going to like, I, I am convinced that the only way that pep tech ever got off the ground was because I just believed so deeply in what I was doing, that I was able to get other people like you, my dad, Jim, like all the, you know, the team that we ended up building on board. And like, there was never any doubt that what I was doing was going to work. And so it, it sounds cliche to say, but yeah, if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, no is going to believe in what you’re doing. And if you aren’t fully, fully convinced that what you’re doing is the right thing for you to be doing. Probably not gonna work out.

(24:56):
Mm. I love that. Like you said, like optimistic almost to the point of delusional, right? Like not quite crossing the barrier, but right up against it where optimism and delusion are very, very difficult to tell apart from each other.

(25:10):
Yeah. Very difficult to tell apart from each other, like why should I believe that I, as a 28 year old water engineer who knows nothing about business or technology can go out and do this? Well, I don’t know, but I just do, and therefore I’m gonna do it.

(25:28):
I love that. All right. So I’m gonna give you a statistic and I want you to tell me what you think about it. Okay.

(25:34):
Okay.

(25:36):
All right. 42% of startups ultimately fail because no one wants what they’re building.

(25:43):
True. Absolutely. I, I, I fact, I, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was higher than that.

(25:50):
Yeah. That, you know, that’s funny, that’s, that’s actually one of the responses we get a lot, which is, I would’ve thought it would be higher.

(25:59):
Yeah. I mean, I think a lot of the people who get in startups are, you know, under like product people, tech people, people that like to build things and have a great idea. And there’s a lot of problems or there’s a lot of solutions chasing after problems. Uh, I think in the start up world of like, I built this really cool blockchain enabled AI thing that can process any data and spit out some trend about it. I’m like, well, like who’s gonna need that. That’s really cool.

(26:27):
But like, who wants that? And maybe it’s cuz I didn’t start as a product tech person who knew how to build anything cuz I knew nothing. But like the first thing that we did for pub tech was we went out and we talked to our customers, the company didn’t have a name. We had no, we did have a name. Uh, and we had a drawing of a concept of what we wanted to do and that was it. And we went and got a booth at the Denver doc show and talked to 50 people at our booth, showed them this concept, drawing and said, what do you think? And a lot of ’em are like, this seems great. And then that gave me the confidence to be like, all right, people are into this. Like let’s move on to the next step. But I think a lot of times, a lot of people and I’ve met many of ’em and they just like building things. And so they’ll go out and they’ll be like, I wanna build this really cool thing. And then they’ll spend a long time building it without thinking about who actually is going to buy it or what problem is actually solving.

(27:32):
Wait, wait. So you’re saying that’s important that people actually buy it?

(27:36):
Yes. Okay. Wanna make money somehow?

(27:38):
Yeah. I just wanna make sure I connect those two dots for folks.

(27:42):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And started at acclimated. I mean we did the same thing. Right. I told Mike, Hey, before we even do anything before I write a single line of code, like let’s spend a month just talking to customers and seeing what they think.

(27:54):
Yeah. I love that. Yeah.

(27:56):
I love that. And it, what a creative solution to be like, we’re gonna go buy, get a booth at a, at a show in our industry or where our target market it is gonna be. And I mean, you had a, you had a name or whatever, but the goal of it wasn’t about promoting anything or selling anything. It was about getting data and getting feedback. That’s super that’s, it’s so innovative and smart. I wish I could tell people to do that now, but we’re only just getting back to where trade shows and stuff are even happening.

(28:24):
Yeah. But there’s other ways to do it, right? Like there’s, there’s all these online communities. There’s SW communities, red, like all this there’s there’s ways to be able to reach your customers virtually, uh, for acclimate, we didn’t go to any booths, but we put together a survey and Mike and I both have fairly large LinkedIn followings at this point and we just blasted it out on LinkedIn and had 50 to a hundred people, uh, fill it out, something like that. And that gave us at least the preliminary data that we needed to know that we were onto something important.

(28:55):
I love that. I love that. So let’s just say, cuz you know, Precursa has a process obviously and, and we’re we stand behind our process. It, it we’re. What did you do after you talked to people? Like what was, what was the next thing

(29:12):
After we talked to people, we built a prototype, um, that took a few months,

(29:20):
You’re putting that in quotes. So why are you putting prototype in quotes?

(29:23):
Because prototype implies that it works and this was more her like, Like a concept drying, like a refined concept drying.

(29:34):
Okay. So I heard, I heard a new term that you’ll appreciate. So I work with Colorado school of mines, uh, their, their entrepreneur, kids, kids. I mean they’re in their twenties, which is weird, but everybody seems younger when you’re my age and they use the term predo type

(29:51):
Predo type. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a, I like that term. So we, we built a predo type and like customer discovery is sort of an endless iterative journey. So we talked to first customers, we took what they gave us. We spent a couple months building this very basic thing. Then we went out and talked to them again and said here, what do you think about this? And then they gave us some feedback we iterate and we every one to two months would be able to go back out to them. That’s one of the tips I would have is like very early on find people who believe in what you’re doing enough to want to give you one or two hours a week or a month giving you feedback on what you’re doing. Make sure that those people are,

(30:42):
These are customers

(30:43):
Or those customers are potential potential customers.

(30:47):
Okay.

(30:48):
Who are so excited about what you’re doing that they’re willing to be invested, not financially, but like emotionally in the, um, journey of building this product. Like we had for acclimate, he had three early adopters and I that’s in quotes because there was nothing yet for them to adopt. But people who would become early adopters for us. Yeah. Who just like they understood the problem that we were trying to solve and therefore they wanted to help us solve it. Uh, and that’s really, really important. We did the same thing for pub, uh, kind of by accident. We, at that first show ran into a handful of people who really loved what we were doing and we would go back to them on a very regular basis and say, what do you think about this? And then they would give us feedback. And then when we had something, they bought it. Yeah. And same with acclimate. Yeah. Um, that’s another tip. That’s really, really, really important.

(31:46):
I love that. I love that. So what’s acclimate up to now, how are y’all doing?

(31:52):
Uh, it’s great. Um, right. Everyone always says their startup is great. Um, no, it’s hard

(31:59):
Unless you listen to this show where we talk about all the ugly things,

(32:05):
It’s hard, but it does seem like everything is moving in the right direction. So we just hired a salesperson last week, which is fantastic. Cuz now I don’t have to do sales anymore. We have doubled our revenue every month since we came out of Techstars in December, we started in November.

(32:25):
That’s awesome. Congratulations.

(32:27):
Thank you. So, and we’re gonna, we’re on schedule to do it again this month. So with that we’re raising money. We’re trying to raise a seed round for all you investors out there listening to this two and a half million. Um, we’re in talks with several VCs. Of course the current geopolitical situation might have screwed some of that up a little bit. I am writing code, but not really anything new right now. We’re just iterating and polishing the existing product. We’re in a really good spot where our product actually worked and it actually doesn’t have too many bugs. That’s so great. And now we’re working on like improving conversions on all at like all stages of the product funnel. So we’re just making tweaks to all the different processes on the platform, warm and uh, seeing if we can start to improve conversions.

(33:22):
So you have a product, you have revenue, um, you may, you, you know, you may be spending more money than you’re bringing in at this point. That would be

(33:30):
A lot more,

(33:31):
Yeah. A lot more, uh, which is, which is very, very normal in an early stage company, right. To, to not have hit that, you know, sort of break even or profitability, profit line. What does your day to day look like at this stage in a company? You know, it’s probably different than what your day to day look like through most of your P tech journey, because we never really hit any kind of like revenue, consistency. Um, so what, what does a day to day look like? You know, you’ve got a salesperson, but you still have a burn rate. You are fundraising, but you also have this thing, thing to kind of keep up and running cuz you have people paying for it. So what does your day to day look like?

(34:07):
Yeah, absolutely. So for the first year, my day to day was only code. I spent like a whole year just writing code and building product and I like that. Uh,

(34:15):
Yeah, that sounds so fun to me.

(34:17):
Yeah. And that was another thing that having a co-founder afforded of me was the ability to just, he ran everything else and I just wrote code. That’s not at all what we’re doing now. So Mike now is out fundraising. So his day to day, every day is fundraising taking investor meetings. He has five meetings every day, something like that and yeah, diligence, all that stuff and I am running everything else. So I, every Monday we have our team OKRs meeting where we talk about our OKRs and we do two week cycles where every Monday we review the OKRs from two weeks ago that we just finished. We review the ones that are from last week that are in progress. And we talk, can think about the ones for the next two weeks and then,

(35:04):
And what, what are OKRs?

(35:06):
Oh, OKRs are objectives and key results. So basically awesome. We are always trying to learn thing. We have a culture of learning. And so they’re like experiments that we run every two weeks to try to learn something about our business or about our customers. And they have to have a measurable result tied to them. So you can evaluate how well you learned what you were trying, how well you achieved, what you were trying to achieve and what you can learn from that, whether or not you achieved it and by how large of a gap. So we do that every Monday. And then the rest of the week, I spend a lot of time sort of managing all of the different process, managing and developing the different processes that we’re using, keeping track on those OKRs, making sure that people are doing all the things they say they’re gonna be doing all the things that need to happen to be able to hit those OKRs. And then I’ve been filling in a lot of gaps, obviously on coding as well. So I probably right now I’m spending like 30, 40% of my time coding and then 60 to 70% of my time doing everything else. I spend a lot of time mentoring people too, uh, like trying to bring ’em up to speed. Um, you know, either to

(36:15):
Team members and things like that.

(36:16):
Yep. Developers trying to explain to them how some part of our code base works. Others trying to explain how some new tool or process that we’re developing works. And then probably right now, 20% of my time is on business development, trying to big like high value clients or partners, distributors, et cetera in. So

(36:35):
That’s awesome.

(36:36):
Yeah.

(36:37):
Do you like it? I mean, are you happy? Is this, is this like everything you imagined it would be?

(36:43):
Yeah, I love it. I mean, you’re right. It’s, it’s only been two years, but we’ve already in a way made it a lot farther than we ever did with pub tech because we now actually have a product that can generate revenue. And so now we can just focus all of our attentions on growth and instead of having to constantly be trying to do product development and fundraising around product development

(37:04):
Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. That’s awesome, man. I’m so I’m so excited for you. You know, we, I met William, you know, I’ll, I’ll put a link in the show notes to the postmortem episode that we did on, uh, was that on incubate? This, I think it was, uh, which is another podcast that we’ve produced in the past through one of my other companies. And you know, we talk a lot about the P tech journey and, and kind of like complete all of it. Right. Like necessary ending style. Right. But I have to say that, you know, William and I have known each other for gosh, seven years now, is it seven years? It’s

(37:38):
Five. I think it was 2017.

(37:40):
Was it 2017? It feels like it was a lot, maybe that’s right. That might be right. Um, but I’m so proud of you, man. Like there was, there were a lot of people that I’ve worked with who, who, after, you know, going through what you went through with pub tech and like really having to come to that place where you’re like, what am I doing? And what is this doing? And, and making the decision that you made would have to your point been like, let’s just go with low risk. Let’s float for a while. And you never were there. I mean, even when you were looking for jobs, I was like, he’s not getting a job. I don’t know who he thinks. He’s kidding.

(38:14):
Yeah. You were right. I’m I’m not getting a job.

(38:17):
Um, you know, because you just, you have that thing and, and I’ve watched you no matter what’s coming at you from, from wherever and what sides I’ve just watched you be like, no, this is inside of me and this, this is gonna happen. And whether it’s this thing or something else, like I am an entrepreneur and this is, this is what I’m supposed to be doing. And it’s just really cool. It’s just super cool. And I, and so I just, I applaud, I applaud your journey. I applaud all the work that you’ve done. Like I think it’s awesome.

(38:47):
Yeah. Thank you. It’s it’s uh, it’s been a great journey. Like I said, it, it’s not a journey for everyone. In fact, I, I wouldn’t recommend it the most people, but I feel very lucky to have been able to do it. Uh, and I’m really excited to see what comes next.

(39:00):
That’s awesome. All right. So is there, is there a question you wish I had asked you or something you wish we had talked about?

(39:06):
Yeah. I, I think, you know, again, the, if somebody wants to, is really thinking about jumping into a startup, they should really think about how firm of a conviction they have, that what they’re doing is the right thing to do. And if there’s any level of doubt, I probably wouldn’t do it. Cuz that doubt will just resurface later on at a time when the consequences are much worse.

(39:32):
Yeah. Uh, makes

(39:33):
Sense. Parting advice.

(39:35):
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. So are there, are there other podcasts or books or resources that you’d recommend to the audience who’s either interested in an entrepreneurial journey or, or on one now?

(39:49):
Yeah. So the first thing I did when I started pep tech was, and this is a little tougher post COVID, but I think we’re getting back to where it can happen was to get involved in the community as much as possible. So if you’re in any major size city, there are gonna be a lot of people who are really excited about startups and you need to go engage with them. Uh, so in Denver there was groups like 1 million cups and Denver border, new tech and Denver founders and startup Denver, and just all of these groups. And I was going to events 3, 4, 5 days a week, every week for a year when I first started just to get in there, a lot of those events have moved online, which sucks, but they’re still there and those communities are still there. So that’s, those are in my mind, the best resource is, yeah, you can read books about entrepreneurship and there’s a whole bunch of, ’em the lean startup, the hard thing about hard things.

(40:45):
And, but, uh, entrepreneurship is really participatory and you need to actually go out there and do it. It’s like trying to teach yourself how to code by reading a book. You just need to go out and do it. And so for people that want to work specifically on climate, and obviously I’m a big fan of people working on climate, there is a wonderful SW community called work on climate that anyone can join. And I would imagine that there are similar SW communities out there for other people who are just interested in startups or who are interested in other specific verticals, but that’s one that I’m a part of and that I really enjoy. So that’s, these

(41:24):
Are

(41:24):
The resources that I would have.

(41:26):
I love that. I love that. William, thank you so very much for joining me today. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being someone who is willing to do the hard things and then pave a path for other people to follow and to, to watch the journey because you do it brilliantly, my friend, like really, really brilliantly. So thank you so much for being here and for sharing all of that and for being that in the world.

(41:55):
Well, and you know, Cynthia, thank you for all of that and thank you for all the work you do. And for having believed in me, cuz you were the first person who took that step with me, who was not a member of my family. Uh, and I can honestly say that I don’t think any of this would exist today. Acclimate, et cetera. If you hadn’t come on and joined our team back in 2017, it was like our first outside person. So thank you so much for that.

(42:20):
Happy to do it. My friend you’re, you’re gonna do amazing things. And I just, I just saw it sooner than a lot of other people did. So. All right. So if listeners have questions they wanna get in touch with you, maybe they wanna learn more about acclimate, what is way for them to do that?

(42:35):
Yeah. So first of all, shout out to acclimate. If anyone has a small business that they wanna have B carbon neutral, uh, acclimate.com, that’s definitely the best way to learn about what we’re doing. Um, that’s a C L Y M a T e.com. Uh, for me personally, LinkedIn is probably the best way to get a hold of me sort of cold. Uh, although I do get a lot of cold outreaches on LinkedIn. If you make it sound not like you’re trying to sell me something, you’re gonna be much more successful. Um, and otherwise Cynthia, you know that I’m always happy to take introductions from you or other people in my network. So perfect. Yeah. And I love, love sitting down and talk to people about entrepreneurship. So

(43:16):
Perfect. Yeah. So if you are an entrepreneur and you’d love to have a, have another conversation with William and you’d like me to make that introduction, you can email us@startprecursor.com and you, and I will have a conversation before I introduce you to William to make sure that you’re good people cuz he deserves good people. All right. Thank you so much at and my friend and uh, I’ll make sure to include all of that in the show notes for the episode. So thank you so much for joining us for this episode as always happy entrepreneuring and I will see all next time.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Precursa: The Startup Journey. If you have an idea for a startup and you want to explore the proven process of turning your idea into a viable business, check us out at precursa.com. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode. Until next time…

 

Cynthia Del'Aria

Cynthia Del'Aria is a serial entrepreneur and tech startup ninja, specializing in product-market fit and idea validation and helping new entrepreneurs reserve their time and money for the idea with the best shot at success. With two successful exits before 30, an active high-profit-margin SaaS in the commercial airline space, and two additional startups in the works, she knows what it takes to traverse the entrepreneur journey, the highs, and the challenges of turning a vision into a successful, viable business.

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