The Startup Journey - powered by Precursa

EPISODE 4

Founders Session: Getting Together

This episode brings together all three Precursa founders to talk about who we are, how everyone got on board, what our vision is, and how we work together. We also wax soporific on “unicorns” and women in tech and entrepreneurship.

In today’s episode, she welcomes co-founders Paige Goss and Sarah Jolly to chat about Precursa’s founding, how they got together, and how co-founders can launch a company into new levels. 

Cynthia kicks off the conversation with a brief background on Paige, founder and CEO of Point Solutions Group, along with a brief background on Sarah, COO of Point Solutions Group. From here, they recall Precursa’s founding and Cynthia’s journey from being a solopreneur to a co-founder when she brought on Paige and Sarah. Since these two joined in the last six months, the speed at which things have moved has simply overflowed! 

The conversation turns toward offering advice for the listeners in starting a company and what it is like bringing on a partner. What should you consider and when is this something to consider? These professionals enjoy having someone else to celebrate the wins and commiserate the losses with, and talk about the different strengths with each person. While giving away control can be scary, they share that to build something bigger than you, the company identity has to be bigger than you. 

What got them all on board with Precursa’s vision and how do you make someone else’s vision your own? They discuss the importance of passion and being upfront about planning everyone’s roles. Precursa’s emphasis on anonymizing founders works to help women and people of color by normalizing that anyone can be an entrepreneur and build a successful company. Learn more about an abundance vs. scarcity mentality, and how this platform works to give everyone an opportunity to win, without necessitating someone else losing. Precursa answers the question “now what?”  With increased technology accessibility, the startup process can be confusing; Precursa shows you what actionable steps apply to your situation.

Find out what key ingredients bring success for an entrepreneur: grit, grind, and growth. Learn more about the unicorn trend, the importance of sharing mid-market success stories, the social dilemma, and the desire to gamify everything. Is data king? Will the possibility vs. predictability balance swing back? Listen in for answers to these questions and more! 

The conversation draws to a close with the best advice for people who have an idea. Take a risk and be vulnerable with others. Check your ego at the door and have confidence in yourself. Surround yourself with people better than you at what you are trying to do collectively. Failure is part of the process; Precursa helps you fail early, to learn, and set yourself up for success. Learn hard lessons early, often, and with less money and time wasted. 

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

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

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.

Cynthia: Hello everybody. And welcome back. This is Precursa: The Startup Journey, and today I’m very excited because it’s our very first founders podcast. Woo-hoo!

Sarah: Woo-hoo!

Paige: Yes, so excited!

Cynthia: So today we have not only yours truly, who’s dulcet tones you’ve been hearing for weeks, but we also have Ms. Paige Goss and Ms. Sarah Jolly, who are my co-founders in Precursa. Yay.

Sarah: Yay.

Cynthia: So glad you guys are here.

Paige: We’re so glad to be here. So fun.

Cynthia: Cool, cool. Cool. So let’s start with giving everybody a little bit of background. So Paige, why don’t you tell everybody who you are, what you do and how you got involved with Precursa and then we’ll throw it over to Sarah.

Paige: Yeah, absolutely. So Paige Goss, I’m the founder and CEO of another technology organization called Point Solutions Group headquartered here in Denver. We’re primarily on the professional services side and I’ve been just dying to find an amazing product application, SaaS application to sink my teeth into, and Sarah as well. We’ve been working together and have known each other for a while. And this sort of just came to this amazing point where the three of us together make an amazing team. And we decided that it made sense to move forward with the three of us. And I could not be more excited to be a part of something like this and to support just an amazing entrepreneur in Cynthia and also an amazing entrepreneur in Sarah.

Cynthia: Awesome. Thank you. And she doesn’t brag enough. So this is actually her second cybersecurity company, professional services company. She’s a bad-ass and has in what four years turned it into just an amazing, enormous operation. So she’s got no fear and having her on this project is a huge win for Precursa. So we’re very lucky to have her and we’re happy you’re here today.

Paige: Thank you. Yeah. No, doing this work with other amazing women is what it’s all about at the end of the day.

Cynthia: Yeah, agreed. All right, Ms. Sarah Jolly.

Sarah: Hello. I’m Sarah Jolly. I am the COO of Point Solutions Group. So I sit every day in an office with Paige and we do all the crazy things we do. But yeah, I mean, similar to Paige, I love Cynthia. I’ve known her for a while. She’s had this brilliant idea in her head and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with her to bring it to life. I’m excited to see the SaaS platform grow and explode. And what I love best is just kind of helping growing companies. I like to wear all the hats and do all the things and kind of approach things with an eye for scaling and growing and make sure that when the explosion inevitably happens, we are ready for it.

Cynthia: Awesome. And Sarah also never brags on herself. She is like one of those people who can take your craziest ideas and be like, Oh yeah, we can totally execute on that. And then like makes it happen.

Paige: Yeah. Thank God for people like Sarah, right, Cynthia? You and I can chase squirrel ideas all day long. And Sarah can be like, let’s get that into reality. Okay. This is what customers are going to buy you two Looney Tunes. I’ve often said, and obviously I’m fortunate to have someone like Sarah, not on one, not two but three, now, companies with me, and you cannot as a what we’ll consider myself a squirrel chaser, do it without just amazing people working with you to make it happen.

Cynthia: That’s exactly right. And Sarah, everybody needs a Sarah Jolly. If you’re a business owner and you don’t have one, you need one, you didn’t know that, but now you do.

Paige: Yes. And find them fast.

Cynthia: All right. So as we’ve talked about, this idea has been in process. You know, originally I thought we were going on about a year and a half, two years. It’s actually closer to three years, almost three and a half years, I figured out, because it was actually October of 2018. So it’s like two and a half years. Yeah. Originally, I was saying 18 months. And Sarah and page got involved in September of 2020. And the reason that I know it was September is because literally Sarah and I had breakfast on my birthday. My fiancé was having surgery and I was like, let’s keep Cynthia distracted so I don’t think about that right now. And she was like, well, tell me what’s going on. I was like, well, let me tell you about Precursa. And so we had this conversation, she was like, Oh my gosh, like, can we get involved? Like what can we do? Like, this is so amazing. And I had worked for so long as a solopreneur that it never even occurred to me that having other people in the project was like, not only possible, but the speed at which things could move. I said that Paige and Sarah are very ambitious, very driven, like very action-oriented people; that has overflowed into Precursa in the last six months. Because in the last, what, six, seven months since you guys have come on board, we’ve gone from, I’ve been working through the process and like doing my very best and sort of like bootstrapping to three times that, and now we have a launch date and we’re getting funding and all these things are happening, right. We’re starting up advertising in the next few weeks. So talk to people a little bit, you know, there may be some people who are like, I have this idea and I’m going to go do it on my own. And certainly we’ve all built companies on our own. Talk to people about what is it like bringing on a partner. And when do you make a choice to do that? And what could they look for? What could they consider about being a partner in a, in a venture like this?

Sarah: Yeah. I mean, I’ll jump in. I’m sure Paige has her own thoughts too, but like you said, Cynthia, we’ve all kind of done it alone. Right. And we can do it alone, but I think we’ve all come to the same conclusion that it kind of sucks. It’s lonely and you’re making hard choices and there’s not really someone there to celebrate the wins. And there’s not someone there to kind of commiserate when things aren’t going the way you want. And so for me, you know, when I joined Paige at Point Solutions Group, that was a huge factor was I don’t want to do it alone anymore. I know the skills I have. I know I can do lots of stuff in a business, but I also know where my sweet spot is. And I know I love being on a team and collaborating. And I think, I don’t know if it’s just for women or for me, but I think there’s something about having someone there to kind of hold your hand where you take that leap that makes you ready to go, right. You just feel a little more fearless. You have the confidence to jump and to go fast and to say, yeah, we’re going to get the funding that we need. And we’re going to ask for the full amount that we need. We’re not going to scale back and be cautious where we’re going to do it.

Cynthia: Yeah. Because we did that in the beginning. When we first started talking about getting funding, we were like, Oh yeah, let’s only get like 300. We can do this for 300, no problem. And having the three of us and the people that we talked to, everyone said, you’re not asking for enough money. And you know, if I was by myself, it would be like, well, that’s terrifying. Three-quarters of a million dollars. Are you kidding me? Like, that’s a lot of money. But for some reason, just having the backing of people who say, yeah, we believe in this, we’re, we’re putting our name on it. We’re putting our stamp on it. That does make a difference.

Sarah: A hundred percent. Like, it’d be easy to let personal insecurity kind of talk you into. No, no, I don’t want to put my, my name on the line for that, but I couldn’t have more faith in you and Paige. Right. So with the three of us are in it together, then yeah, we got it.

Cynthia: That’s so funny. Cause I always feel like why, if Paige and Sarah are on board, we’ve gotta be good. Right.

Paige: I think that’s what it is. If you think about it, right? You say if Paige and Sarah, Sarah says, if Paige and Cynthia, I say if Cynthia and Sarah, and really, I think at the end of the day, what it comes down to is being okay, knowing that you’re not great at everything or if you’ve tried it and you’ve done a pretty good job, but just imagine if, to Sarah’s point you’re in your sweet spot, how much better it could be. And so for me, as a, as an entrepreneur, right, starting up and growing initially myself and then bringing Sarah on and now working with Cynthia, I’ve just recognized the power and having people that are really good in different areas when they can come together. Now it brings its challenges, right? There’s things that you have to know going into that there’s fear as an entrepreneur of, you know, I remember talking to Sarah and Cynthia both, like what if you find out I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. You know, in Sarah’s case, what if she looks at the books and be like, what have you been doing? This is a disaster. Or she’s like, Hey, see, I thought that was a strategy. Let’s actually think that through again. You know? So I think as a, as an entrepreneur and as a founder, you need to realize that all of those fears are going to be there, right? The comments and thoughts are going to be there. The things that you say to yourself are going to be there. And, and I think it’s your ability to kind of move past that and recognize, no, this is actually helpful for me. This is going to make it better. We’re going to be able to grow. Right? You do get a bit of an extra fearlessness when you have somebody sitting next to you and, and then you go and do crazy things. But again, find a Sarah so that when you do something that it’s squirrel-esque, she can be like, no, no, let’s not do that. And let’s get back to what works.

Sarah: Balance is good.

Paige: Definitely good, balance is good. And being able to look at things from a different lens. And I think Cynthia, maybe for, I don’t want to speak for you, but when we started talking about that, I think there’s an aspect of that. Right. And that Sarah and I look at things a bit different than you do, which has created this amazing sort of three 60 view of all of the decisions we’re trying to make and what we’re actually trying to put out into the market.

Cynthia: Yeah. Agreed. And I, it’s funny because like this week we got on a call and Sarah was like, why are you doing all of this? Like, you need to hand some of it over. And I’m like, but I’m a control freak. Don’t you know. Yeah, exactly. So, you know, if you’re a, want to be entrepreneur or you’ve been an entrepreneur before a solopreneur before, and the idea of giving away control scares, you understand that it’s very difficult to create any level of success. I had this business coach who used to tell me, you can’t have a business that’s bigger than your identity. And if your identity is, you’re the only one that can do all the things, your business can never be bigger than you. And I don’t know about and Sarah, but my vision is that Precursa becomes the catalyst for a massive change in how investing happens in the next 10 years, in how entrepreneurs enter the whole space of being an entrepreneur, in how innovation happens. That’s the game we’re playing. That game is way bigger than me. And so do I need gentle nudging from Sarah to hand stuff over? Yeah, of course I do, because I’ve been doing this a long time by myself. But the benefit of it is the benefit of building something that’s bigger than me. Because ultimately that’s what I want. I don’t, if helping, you know, 10, 15, 20, 30 entrepreneurs a year was enough, I would never have conceived of Precursa, but it’s all the people that I can’t help for whatever reason, because they don’t have the resources or because they’re just really stuck or they’re in their own way. Or they feel awkward asking for the help. It’s all those people that Precursa is for. And there’s thousands of them. Right. Talk to people about, you know, cause Precursa really started out as my vision, but talk to people about what was it that got you on board with the vision and how do you make someone else’s vision your own?

Sarah: Yeah. I mean, for me, it’s a lot of what you just said, Cynthia, right. I think we’ve talked about a lot, this idea of kind of leveling the playing field, right. And ideas are judged based on the idea’s merit, not on the founder’s gender or race or anything else stupid, you know? And so I, I love that idea. I love that from an investor perspective, you get this kind of objective view of a company and I think you’re right. There’s so much potential to change how things are done and who gets a chance to enter the market. And so that’s huge. And I think it’s definitely your vision. I think we all have a passion in this area, so it wasn’t a big leap. Right. But I think also we were super upfront and direct in our conversations before you even started about who was going to do what, right. So there’s not this tug of war about who’s the visionary and who’s making day-to-day decisions. We were all on the same page and we kind of laid it all out. And so I think it makes it easy for us to fall into our roles and be on the same page with vision and just do our part to make it happen.

Cynthia: Yeah. I love that.

Paige: Yes. Sarah, I agree. I think passion is a huge piece of it. Right? I think we each take out of the vision. What speaks to us? What areas are we most excited about? What areas do we see as the biggest opportunity? And then you kind of put it into your own words, into your own language, into your own. For me, it’s impact, right. And immediately Cynthia, when I, when we started talking about what you’ve been doing, right, as an entrepreneur myself, I’m like, Oh my God, I wish I had so much of this when I started. It’s really fricking lonely. And you’re like, there’s no way I can make all these decisions. But you know, as I kind of went through what you had envisioned and what your vision is, and now what Precursa’s impact will be just speaks to me and the impact that I ultimately want to make while I’m here physically on this earth and for my kids, to Sarah’s point that where, you know, you don’t just see a, you know, top female entrepreneur or top male entrepreneur, you see top entrepreneur regardless. And that’s the opportunity we have, and the impact that I think we want to make. So picking the pieces of the vision, bringing your passions and your desires to it, it’s really easy to get behind something that’s going to have this big of an impact on the market.

Cynthia: Yeah. I love that. And you bring up a good point because there’s a lot of bifurcation and I’m going to say segmentation or even segregation in our conversation right now, right. As a culture and in the, in the world, whether that’s by race or by gender. And it’s because we’re trying to reveal places where there is some underlying thing, whether it’s just because it’s not been part of the cultural norm that black people own businesses and that women own businesses and that we’re successful at the same level as white men, right? But to your point, what we’re trying to do is not normalize the segregation. What we’re trying to do is elevate everyone else so that we’re normalizing: anyone can be an entrepreneur. Anyone could build a successful company and live a really great life and make a difference in the world, right? And so as much as I feel like, you know, we’re even part of a group of primarily women who are interested in finding female business owners to fund and to back and to support. But even that effort is not just about elevating women. It’s about making sure that everyone has a shot at having their innovation, having their business dream and their business goal be within their grasp. Right?

Sarah: Absolutely. And I think all of the conversation and kind of the attention on female founders and founders of color and you know, all of this stuff, I think the intent is to normalize it right. To make it so that it’s not this weird thing that people don’t really understand, but you’re right. It kind of creates this separation and where it’s like, we’re playing two different games and we still can’t quite be part of this, this playing field over here. And I, I mean, we have all seen it, right. We’ve all been asked stupid questions and just said, someone asked me the other day, Hey, you’re running like three companies and you have kids and a husband. And how do you do it all? And I’m like, ugh.

Cynthia: Oh my gosh, I know, like, the number of people who’ve said to me, Cynthia, you’re just trying to do too much. And I’m like, David’s doing six times as many things as I am and you’re listing all of them. So what is up with that?

Sarah: I agree with Paige. I think about my kids a lot and my son and my daughters. I want them to live in a world where just people who are wired to do this, do it. And that’s what it is. So, I mean, I think we do need attention to it now, unfortunately, because the pendulum has been too far the other way for so, so long, but I hope we can reach a happy medium in our lifetimes.

Cynthia: Yeah. Agreed.

Paige: Yeah. Cynthia, you brought up a great point and I think we’ve all talked about this. This is, I think Precursa has an opportunity for people to see things from an abundance mentality versus a scarcity mentality. And this platform, the pieces that we’re putting together, give everyone an opportunity to win. And that doesn’t mean that someone else has to lose, which is really amazing. And I think that, you know, the more we have this abundance versus scarcity, right? Love versus fear. The more that all of us are going to make an impact on everyone in our community and everyone around us. And that’s what for me, Precursa signifies as a platform is just this amazing abundance versus scarcity mentality, and opportunity for people to do what they want to do and what speaks to them. Right. We don’t know what’s going to come through the platform. I actually don’t even think we care. I can’t wait actually to see some of the, some of the ideas. Cause I’m probably going to be like, wow, I wish I had thought of that. As we go through, it’ll just be amazing and give so many people an opportunity to do it the way that they’ve wanted to do it and to be set up for success from the very beginning.

Cynthia: Yeah. I love that. And you’re absolutely right. We don’t know what will come through and it doesn’t matter to us. What matters is that we are helping more people have access to the tools to know how to start and start successfully, right. Hit that point where you have a reasonable expectation of viability before you go spend a bunch of time and money building something that may not ever have a place in the market. Right.

Paige: Or give up right. Give up. Cause it didn’t work the first time or the second time, right. Maybe we just need to do a small tweak and that, Hey, let’s not give up. Let’s just tweak this let’s change it, let’s make a couple of different modifications. And then it takes off. Right? That’s the amount of people I’m assuming that actually would be amazing entrepreneurs that were just gave up, because it didn’t work the first time. That’s what we’re really trying to support as well.

Sarah: And, and that dimension, we’ve all talked about doing it on our own and it being lonely and hard. And we probably all learned the same lessons by making the same mistakes, but we weren’t connected to learn from each other. Right. So if we can help people find the path and it’s more smooth and more straightforward and faster then awesome. Right? Yeah. Not only is your idea vetted, but we’ll just tell you, we have the warning signs posted, like, don’t do that. Just go this way. That’s huge. Right?

Paige: Yeah. I was going to say Sarah, I think I’ve said multiple times, like, whoa, whoa landmine straight ahead. Don’t step on that one. Let me prepare you for that. Let me tell you which ones I stepped on that were not so fun. And let’s avoid as many people as we can from stepping on those.

Cynthia: Yeah. And what’s interesting is, you know, because I’ve had people say to me, well, I can find all that stuff on the internet for free. And it’s like, yeah, there’s tons of information on the internet, all of these warning signs and all of it’s all out there. The problem is how do you, as a person who doesn’t know what you don’t know, go search for the right things to keep you on the right path. Precursa is really the answer to the question now what, right. Okay. I have this idea now what, and if you go start searching on the internet, what you’re going to come up with is a bunch of advertisements for software development companies, app development companies. Right. And because of the accessibility of technology, it seems like, Oh, well that must be the next thing to do because I can just go hire guys to build it right. Where if you were building a restaurant or if you were building a bank or if you were building or retail store of some kind, a salon, a spa, whatever, and you went to a bank and you said, Hey, I have this great idea. I’m going to build a salon. I need some money. They’d be like, Whoa, let’s put the brakes on, they’re not writing you a check. Right. And you’re not going to buy a building and start to do the setup without somebody else’s money. Like people just don’t do that. So why is it that it feels so accessible? And I think that’s part of the problem is it feels so accessible. And so we think, Oh, I have this great idea for an app. I’ll get my cousin’s son’s brother-in-law who’s, you know, in the basement, coding, whatever he’s doing and he’ll build it and I’ll throw it up in the app store and I’ll be a millionaire overnight, you know? And I think I’ve said it before. I’ve definitely said it on other podcasts that we’ve done. But the overnight success typically is seven to 12 years in the making. 

Paige: At least. Right. And so very, very few of them that are ten-year overnight successes. And, you know, I think to your points of view that it’s accessible, but with so much data, so much information, how and where do you even know what applies to you and what you are trying to do within your specific target market? And that’s really what I think Precursa does an amazing job at is actionable steps that where it relates to you wherever you are on this journey, because there’s a lot of people and a lot of different stages along this entrepreneurial journey. And then you’ll meet people in that stage with you, right? So you’re talking with individuals that understand what this looks like and some of the challenges you’re running into and that it makes it applicable for you, not just a bunch of data out on the internet that you have absolutely no idea what may or may not apply to your situation and your product.

Sarah: And I think we would all agree that one of the more painful aspects of growing a business is talking to investors or bankers, right. It just, it sucks. And having them kinda, you know, rain on your parade, talking about your idea and shoot holes in your vision is, is painful

Cynthia: And reworking your pitch deck for every person you talk to because you know, that’s part of the dating process.

Sarah: Let me show you that…

Paige: I’m committed, I’ll rework it.

Sarah: And we’ve all done it enough to kind of know what’s expected, but someone coming in fresh, it’s just a lot of trial and error. Right. And so kind of ironing out that process. And, and to your point, Cynthia, instead of Googling, like how do I make a pitch deck? Just having it ready and in the steps are lined out and your information is filled in and you’ve thought it through and you’re ready to answer questions because you’ve walked this path in a linear fashion. That makes all the difference when you’re having those initial conversations.

Cynthia: Yeah. Agreed. So you’re both entrepreneurs. What are the key ingredients to a success for an entrepreneur? Like what does it actually take and how can people kind of look themselves in the mirror and ask the question: Do I have it?

Sarah: Said, that’s a big question, Cynthia. So I mean, a lot of it is just your grit, right? Because it will not go according to plan. And you know, like Paige mentioned earlier, a lot of people kind of hit that rough patch and they’re like, Oh, this sucks. I’m going back to corporate accounting, but do not recommend it. But I think that people who kind of push past that and who have the unwavering passion and belief in whatever it is they’re doing, like this thing will exist in the world, I find a way to make it happen. That’s what you have to kind of cling to when the path is not clear.

Paige: Sarah, I love, and it doesn’t surprise me that you said grit because for me, it’s the three GS it’s grit, grind and growth. You have to have the grit and the guts really to do it. Initially that first leap is so scary, but once it happens, you’re like, Whoa, that was it. Okay. I can do this. And then you, so you have to have the grit, the grind of the day-to-day it is, is challenging. And you’re going to be put in positions that you never thought you would be put in. You’re going to make decisions you never thought you would have to make, but if you have sort of this growth mentality and not even meaning necessarily financial growth or customer growth, but you as an individual continuing to grow, getting better every day, having sort of this, for me, it’s a 4%, right? If I’m 4% better at each of these individual things, then can you imagine the growth that we’re going to have. And so kind of that grit, grind growth in the back of your mind and knowing that that the times are going to come, where, where you do want to throw up your hands. I know I have, I’ve shared it with Sarah right before she joined me. I was done. I was spent, I think Cynthia probably felt a similar way at times. And you know, for some reason you just continue to grind and grow through it and then you end up on the other side. For me, I was like, wow, I’m so grateful that I didn’t give up because now look what we’ve been able to do, getting through some of that, what I would have considered awful and wanting to throw my hands up.

Cynthia: Yeah. It’s interesting because I feel like somebody described it once that being an entrepreneur is like standing at the lip of the Grand Canyon and stepping off to realize it’s actually just a street curb, but it can be really terrifying. Right. Owning it. And I think you’re both exactly right on that, that the mindset piece matters so much. Like I said, you can’t have a business that’s bigger than your identity. So how are you leveling up your identity and how are you growing, like you’re saying Paige, and how do you have that sticktuitiveness, you know, that’s really what it’s going to take. And so the vision has to be bigger than you. It’s kind of like, can you build a good lifestyle business with a cool app that does a neat thing or whatever. Sure. Maybe, but to build something that changes the world or that has a real impact, the vision’s gotta be bigger than you. And you kind of gotta stand in the awareness of the vision and go, I don’t know if I can do this, but it’s going to happen, like one way or another it’s got to happen. And if it came to me, then there’s a reason why, and I gotta put myself nose to the grindstone and go for it. Right. So there’s this trend right now. I’m kind of going to switch topics because this is hard hitting journalism here, folks.

Sarah: That’s what people want to hear.

Cynthia: There’s this trend right now. And I see that, Oh my gosh, it’s driving me crazy, which is why I want to talk about it a little bit. So I get a lot of entrepreneur news, right? PitchBook. I get their thing every morning, Owler, which is a research company that actually we talk about as a resource for doing market research and validation and competitive analysis. I get their thing every morning. And we’re all hearing thanks to Robin Hood and GameStop and all that. You know, we’re all hearing more about SPACs and more about, you know, these companies that are going IPO or kind of sneaking into the public offering or whatever it is. Right. And the word unicorn is starting to make me crazy because there’s a lot of them apparently. And it used to be that unicorn was a rare creature and it was very rare. I mean like unicorns and Yetis, they’ve lived somewhere together. Right? Well, apparently we found the unicorn den because now everybody’s a unicorn. The problem is most of these unicorns are described as such, because in case you don’t know, a unicorn is a private company worth more than a billion dollars. A deca-corn is a privately held company worth more than $10 billion. So you can kind of see how, you know, whatever. The problem is that a lot of these companies, the majority of them, if not all of them that I have read about recently are valued, and I’m putting that in quotes, as billions of dollars based on the investment funds they’ve received, not based on their viability. I mean, let’s be honest, Uber technically was a unicorn. Now it’s a public company, but it’s never had a profitable ride ever in its history. Right. So my question is one, how do you feel about this trend and two, what do you say to entrepreneurs who are like, Oh, I want to be a unicorn who are watching this as the trend and thinking, Oh, that must be the thing. Like I just need to raise enough capital. And it doesn’t matter if my business ever makes a dime of, of money. What do you say to that?

Sarah: I mean, a couple of things I agree it’s bizarre and pretty misleading, right? Because as a layman, I hear unicorn and I think they must be crushing it. Right. They have done something amazing and they’re just sitting on their piles of money and success. Right. So I think that’s super misleading. I think also this kind of goes back to the problem we’re trying to address in the first place, which is just who has access to investment and funding. Because I think we do see that there are some people and some companies who can never have a profitable year, and still get round after round of funding, which is a little mind boggling. And then some of us who have to fight tooth and nail to prove that we’re capable of running a business, even with a successful track record and many profitable years. Right.

Cynthia: 20 million in revenue, but I’m not sure about you.

Sarah: Totally. Maybe can you submit a resume and a bio?

Paige: We don’t even go there. No, I’m not submitting a resume anymore.

Cynthia: Look at my P&L. That’s my resume.

Sarah: But I think, you know, for people who want that again, it’s bizarre thing and I’m not sure it’s really a good measure of, of anything of a successful company, but it’s certainly to your point earlier, Cynthia, doesn’t indicate actual overnight success. Like even for Uber, there was a lot of years and a lot of hard work and I guarantee a lot of questioning themselves and heartache on the journey there. Right? So it’s like seeing this tiny little slice of the giant pie that made up the work to get where they are.

Cynthia: Yeah.

Paige: Sarah, you make a great point. I think the other thing too, is that I think it sets people up to be disappointed, not only in what they’re trying to do, but also in themselves, which is not actual reality, right. When it comes down to what makes our economy and world run, it is the small- to mid-size organizations. It’s people like you, Cynthia. And like Sarah and I who are growing jobs in our local communities are giving back to the community. That’s at the end of the day. And for me, right. That’s success and that’s running a successful business. And you know, when you think about statistics and think about successful launches and all that, I mean, I think that these trends of unicorn and, you know, I’m going to be worth a billion dollars, right? The B word probably just should not be talked about in business for a while, I think it would help a lot of us. But, you know, I think it just sets people up one even potentially to not even try. Right. Cause they think I’m never going to do that. I can’t do that. They’re so far out of my league or that if they don’t do that, then somehow they’ve failed, which is not actually the case. And that’s hard and that’s a kind of an ego reality that you need to get to. And so for me, I think the more we can share the mid-market success stories, you know, that now we have, instead of 2% of, of companies that make it over a million dollars, we have 10% of companies. Can you imagine the impact going from 2 to 10% of women owned businesses that make it over a million dollars? That’s what I would consider, you know, Hey, now we’re becoming this mass influence and if you want to call them unicorns, okay, great. But now we’re talking about really at scale people that are running great businesses and are making an impact, not only on their families, but the families that are around them.

Cynthia: Yeah. I love that. What’s interesting is in all of the news that I read and maybe this is just because I build tech startups, right? Like I’m in the tech world. That’s what I know. It’s the water I swim in. I never see deals for beverage companies that are worth a billion dollars that never make money. I never see deals for shoe companies that are worth- You never see that. So what is it about technology? Is it really that data is king. And as long as you’re gathering the data, we don’t care if you’re making money. And we talked about this a couple of months ago, I watched the social dilemma on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, I don’t know if I recommend it or not. I have two minds about it. My one mind says, Whoa, that was incredibly enlightening. Even though I’ve been in this world for a long time, and I knew all that stuff. It’s like seeing it laid out that way, the pervasive impact of how much about yourself is just out there in the world forever and ever. Amen. And you can never get it back kind of thing. But then realizing the extent to which companies go to, to manipulate you with that data. Right? So it sounds great that all these tech companies, their value is in their data. But what that means is they’re figuring out a way to monetize you as a human and in ways that are very different from traditional advertising, where they’re trying to sell you something that they think you need. It’s manipulative, it’s echo chamber. It’s all the things that the best psychologists in the world are designing these tools and you have no defense. You know what I mean? I just wonder what, why is it that tech specifically, because in Precursa, we’re launching specifically targeting entrepreneurs who are trying to build something in tech, whether that’s SaaS or an app or a website or a piece of software or an IOT device or whatever that is, right. What is it about this world where we’ve kind of, we’re crazy. We’re giving up everything about ourselves in exchange for being able to turn on the lights without flipping a switch. I mean, and how do you be an entrepreneur? Because like I said, when I watched this thing, I called, I remember talking to Paige and I was like, Oh my God, I’m having this like crisis of conscience. Like I’ve been in this world for 25 years. Have I been supporting this whole thing and taking advantage of people and what part have I played and how do we have Precursa not become that. Right. I mean, at some point there is going to be a play for Precursa to be scooped up by a big company, partially because of the data. I don’t want to be party to that, to people being manipulated because of the types of companies and the types of dreams and visions and goals they have. That’s scary, right? But it just makes me wonder, like, what is it about tech that makes it so different from every other kind of industry that we see these kinds of trends in these kind of like, what is it?

Sarah: I mean, I think part of it is just the potential, like the idea of the potential, right? So in a shoe company or a beverage company, your revenue will grow, but you have to produce more wine or shoes, right? Yeah, totally. So it’s just, there’s going to be kind of a, an inline growth in revenue and expenses together. But I think tech has the potential to scale exponentially without a lot of additional costs. And so I’m sure that’s where a lot of investors are coming from, right. If we got are the right people in place, we could make this huge or whatever. It is hard to walk that line because the world is changing and these things are going to happen. And I think there are a lot of people out there who are trying to use technology to change for good right. To address the problems that are pervasive. And they see, and I love that. And I think at Precursa we want to support that and help them get there. But I mean, to your point, Cynthia, we’ve all been pretty conscious of how we set up, even the interaction on the platform so that we don’t suck people’s lives away. So that it’s an additive thing, not a detriment to their relationships, but it’s, I don’t know. I think there’s just so much, we don’t know because it’s changing all the time.

Cynthia: Well, and this like hyper desire to gamify everything, like not everything should be gamified. Some things we just want to get done and move on with our lives so that we have time with the people we love, and we’re like in the real world. Right. I mean, but it sounds crazy to say that.

Paige: Yeah, I think there’s an aspect of this that’s going to swing back. Right? So to Sarah’s point, the possibility versus the predictability, I think we’re going to, as a society shift back to the predictability on levels on investments, you know, I think, you know, having nine failures and one success isn’t necessarily going to be celebrated as we continue. And so I think that’s going to create a shift in sort of how this is all looked at and, and you know, for where we’ve come over the short amount of time with tech, right, it’s still sexy. And I think a lot of people are still intrigued and they don’t quite understand. And I think anything that is intriguing and exciting and sexy gets attention. But then what sort of happens over time is that as people become more educated, they understand, and then we can shift the way in which it’s used for the good. Sarah, I completely agree. Right. That’s where I think the money, the value, the impact, again, my favorite word clearly is going to happen. And, and you can see things on cancer research and these things that where, you know, there’s been technology for a long time. It hasn’t been sexy necessarily, right? Like Bumble or Uber and all these other organizations that I think will start to rise.

Sarah: I think my TI-85 calculator is pretty sexy page. So…

Paige: We can talk about that after this recording. You should probably never say that again. I make fun of you for a lot of things, but that one probably is going to be up there.

Cynthia: So you bring up a good point Paige, which is investors are just as susceptible to, I’m going to call it the black box. Right. We, nobody understands what’s in it. And so it seems mystical and-

Sarah: We don’t want to be left behind.

Paige: Well, right. There’s a, there’s a chase. And those of us who are sort of wired that way, want to chase. And so I think tech different than wine in ways, different than shoes. Although I’m a big fan of shoes, it’s, you know, there’s a chase, there’s not necessarily a chase in shoes. Well kind of, if you think about it that way, but you know what I mean? I agree that the investors are intrigued by what could be, right. Not what might be or what will be for that matter.

Cynthia: Yeah. I love that. All right. So as we wrap up here, what would be your best piece of advice for any entrepreneur who’s listening to this and who’s thought, I have this idea, I don’t know. You know, I, I don’t know. I mean, maybe so we’ve talked about our user personas. Maybe they’re a Cody and they’re like, I’m doing this, I don’t care. But more likely they’re an Eva. And they’re like, I mean, this could be really good. It makes a lot of sense to me. I don’t know how to take the first step. I’m scared or I’m nervous, or I just don’t know what to do. Like, what’s your best advice to those people?

Sarah: I mean, I’m happy to speak to Eva because, you know, I get her more than Cody. I tell other females this a lot. Right. But the times in my life that I’ve had the hindsight to look back and see the biggest change has been when I’ve taken the risk. Right. So if you have that little inkling that won’t go away, bet on yourself and take the leap, just do it. You won’t regret trying it. You will regret missing the opportunity. And then secondarily, I think being vulnerable, right. Be willing to be open about what’s going on, where you need help when you need a sounding board. It makes all the difference in how you feel about the journey and how successful you can be.

Cynthia: That’s brilliant.

Paige: Yeah, really brilliant. I mean, check your ego at the door. It’s humbling and grounding pretty quickly. Yeah. I would agree to, you know, confidence in yourself is I think the starting point, regardless of if you’re Cody, I am Cody, my fellow co-founders here have shared this with me multiple times that I’m Cody in female form. So, you know, I, I think it’s trust in yourself. I think it’s checking your ego at the door. And you know, my, I think what’s what we’ve tried to share here today is that it’s surrounding yourself with people that are better than you at the things that you’re trying to do collectively. And knowing that having people that are better than you at certain things, it doesn’t mean that you’re not capable. And it doesn’t mean that you’re not amazing. And it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to make a difference. You are actually getting to make a bigger difference when you recognize that people around you are what makes you a better.

Cynthia: Yeah. I love that. So there you go, Eva and Cody, my advice is first sign up for Precursa. Cause we can help you answer these questions, but it’s along the same lines, right? Like you can never, if you never try, you can never fail. Right. And part of learning is failure at some points and what you’ll learn as you go through the Precursa process, we help you fail early, if you’re going to fail, and to fail in ways that make it really easy to pivot or to change your mind or to discover a new direction or to decide I’m abandoning this one altogether, but I do really want to do this. So let me go on an exploratory journey of what else could I create, right? Failure is part of the process, but you can never have anything unless you try in the beginning and don’t be so afraid of risk that you never take a risk. Right.

Paige: Yeah, Cynthia you say that I look at failure as learning? That’s it, it’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a really good thing. And so many people, I think, look at failure as this, like, Oh my, I can’t do it. I’m never going to get out of it. It’s just going to keep happening. And really the failure at the end of the day sets you up for success because you’ve learned, and we want you to learn early and often along this journey so that you’re prepared, you’re educated. And then, you know, you know what’s coming. And that for me, starting the company, had I been prepared a little bit more had I had a little bit more education on this and had some points where I was like, Whoa, that didn’t work. Thank God I didn’t spend, you know, half a million dollars trying to do that. It would have been so powerful. And that’s what I think Precursa is set up to do is to teach people lessons early and often.

Sarah: And to your point in a much less expensive way. Maybe it’s a $500 mistake instead of a $500,000 mistake.

Paige: And in the $500,000 mistakes happened fast in this space, right? It’s expensive to do tech. It’s expensive to get things going. So absolutely, take that risk early and often.

Cynthia: Yeah. It’s not unusual. In fact, it’s fairly average to find that in the first 36 months, people generally spend about $600,000 and for, for zero revenue. And that’s the story we’re trying to prevent, because it’s preventable. I mean, you know, we talk about this statistic all the time, but it still just blows me away. You know, you ask the average person, why do you think the majority of entrepreneurs fail or what’s the biggest reason people fail? And they’ll all say, Oh, well, they don’t get money, it’s so hard to get money. Especially if you talk to entrepreneurs, right though, it’s so hard to get money. No, 42% of the startups that failed in 2018 did so because nobody wanted what they were building. Most of these companies were very well-funded. They had great teams. They were like doing really cool stuff, but nobody wanted or needed it. Only 33% of the startups at your failed because of a money issue.

Sarah: And what is shamed to find out. There’s no market after you’ve gotten the funding and the team spent months.

Cynthia: Yeah. It’s super cheap and preventable. Exactly. So, all right. Any last words, any last thoughts? Anything else you guys want to say to our listening audience?

Sarah: I’m just so excited about this product and this journey. And I can’t wait to see who we can impact to use Paige’s favorite word.

Paige: Yeah. And Cynthia, you know, hats off to you to, it takes guts to bring on partners and especially other what I would consider serial entrepreneurs. So it takes guts and it’s a vulnerability I think is just amazing where they’re excited. I’m excited. And I think the opportunity for us is tremendous.

Cynthia: Excellent. Well, I’m very happy to have you guys and you know, like I said, at the beginning, it’s being a former solopreneur and then taking a leap, there are challenges to it for sure. And you have to kind of reconcile the challenges with the benefits for yourself and making that decision. But for me, just the meteoric leaps and strides that we’ve taken in seven months for me is like proof positive that this is absolutely the way the journey is supposed to go. So thank you for being my partners. And thank you for coming on the show today, to talk to all of our lovely people, we will make sure probably about once a month, we’ll do a founders podcast. And you know, as always, we’re very transparent. We’re very open about the journey and the reality of building this thing, because it is a tech startup. And if, and we want to be clear with everyone that we eat our own dog food, you know, we are not telling you this is for you, but we’re going to do it differently. This is exactly the process that we’ve used so that you can watch this is what happens when you do it the right way. So yeah. So thanks ladies.

Sarah: Thank you. So fun. Can’t wait to come back again.

Cynthia: All right, folks. So remember to subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform, if you’re on a platform and for some reason you can’t find this there, please reach out to us at startup@precursa.com. Let me know, and I’ll make sure that we get that included in our podcast. Push. We will see you guys 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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  • Denver, Colorado

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Copyright © 2021 Precursa  |  All Rights Reserved  |  Site Created by Natalie Jark

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