[00:00:14] Mudassir: hey guys. Please welcome our guest for today, Ben Joskovitz. Hey Ben. How are you doing today?
[00:00:17] Ben Joskovitz: I’m doing well. Thank you. How are you?
[00:00:19] Mudassir: Amazing. You know, looking forward to this particular chat for, for quite some time now.
[00:00:23] Mudassir: So, thank you for just taking the time out in this busy economy, busy world.
[00:00:27] Ben Joskovitz: No problem. No problem at all.
[00:00:29] Mudassir: Awesome. So, you’re di dialing in from Toronto today, right? We had guests from the Middle East, from the us, from the uk. First time we’re, you know, talking to somebody in, in Canada. What’s Canada feel like? You know, just tell, tell us a little bit about that because all I get to know is its ice hockey.
[00:00:46] Mudassir: It’s ice hockey, it’s ice hockey. That’s all I get to know
[00:00:48] Ben Joskovitz: No, there’s more. There’s more, there’s more than ice hockey for sure. But hockey is certainly a big a big sport here, but there’s more to the country than that. You know, on the sports side [00:01:00] basketball I think is probably the fastest growing sport from a popularity perspective. It’s very cold for much of the year, but it’s also very warm for good chunks of the year.
[00:01:11] Ben: So overall, it’s a pretty nice place to live.
[00:01:14] Mudassir: Yeah, I’m, I’m sure that it is. Why don’t you just start us with your earliest, you know, memory that you have of your life, who you were and, and how you kind of become the entrepreneur and landed into the VC world. So, if you can, you know, take us from the earliest memory that you have and where you are today.
[00:01:32] Ben Joskovitz: Sure. Well, you know, I, I, I’ll go, I’ll go back as far as starting my first company, maybe which was 1996, so 26 is years, I guess. 20, yeah, 26. 26 years or so. So, it’s been a while. And I, at the time I was at McGill, which is in Montreal, going, I was at university doing a degree in psychology and met a couple of guys.
[00:01:59] Ben Joskovitz: So [00:02:00] this is an early web, right? So, Netscape is the browser. You know, there’s e-commerce doesn’t really exist yet, so you have to really sort of go back and, and appreciate what the internet looked like back then. But met a couple of guys that were, you know, very into building on the internet, websites, web applications and they were looking to start a company.
[00:02:21] Ben Joskovitz: And I thought, well, that sounds interesting, and I could probably help these guys. I’d always been interested in technology. So, we started the company. We knew nothing didn’t know what we were doing didn’t know how to sell, weren’t even sure what we were gonna build, but we managed to build a small business doing that.
[00:02:38] Ben: And that was how I fell into and fell in love with entrepreneurship,
[00:02:43] Mudassir: was like really, really while ago., and the internet that we know today, like, you know, the, the people that were connecting and all the things that used that, that’s like pretty much non-existent at that point, right?
[00:02:52] Ben: So, so I can tell you that building an e-commerce website in 1999 or [00:03:00] so cost hundreds of thousands of dollars Today you can launch a Shopify site that would be infinitely better for, I don’t know, $20 a month, $30 a month, whatever it is. So yeah, times have changed a lot. You know, we, I guess we had Internet Explorer, Netscape as browsers. Google didn’t exist yet. Alta Vista was the search engine,
[00:03:23] Ben: Very little existed. It was, it was crazy.
[00:03:26] Mudassir: Yeah. So, what was the first company, you know, what, what did you guys build? What were you selling?
[00:03:31] Ben: Yeah. So, we, we, we, we were, it was a services business, so we were, we at the time we were building websites for customers businesses, mostly small businesses. But then we, we realized very quickly that we could outsource our time basically to companies in the United States. And at the time, the exchange rate was, you know, a dollar us to a dollar 50 Canadian.
[00:03:56] Ben: the.com boom was coming and [00:04:00] there were simply, there were not enough developers in the US to build all the things that people wanted to build. So, they were outsourcing it to other markets. And the Canadian market, you know, we, we think of that as nearshoring, I guess, was very attractive. So, we started you know, selling our time, basically doing projects for companies in the us.
[00:04:19] Ben: And then very quickly we ended up being, I’m gonna describe it as Aqua hired. So, we were acquired by a bigger agency that was doing similar work to ours, but just more of it for bigger companies in the United States. And so, we were acquihire by them and we continued to grow that agency.
[00:04:38] Ben: And then and then we actually shifted the model quite quickly to building a SaaS product. So, we ended up building project management software. So, we were of course running projects because we had an agency and project management at the time was complicated. You had Microsoft Project as a, as a desktop application.
[00:04:57] Ben: And we thought, well, sure. Couldn’t we build a web-based [00:05:00] project management tool? So, so this is before Basecamp emerged. We launched a web-based project management software and started selling that in the market. And so, we shifted from being a service business to a product business. And then we, you know, changed the name of the company and ran that company from I guess 1998.
[00:05:22] Ben: Because I started in 96. So, what, 1998? 1999. For all, for about eight years or so, we, we ran that project management software company.
[00:05:32] Mudassir: Wow, how amazing. what happened to that? Just curious to know.
[00:05:36] Ben Joskovitz: Yeah, it, you know what, we could never, we could never scale this. And so, I mean, we grew it to a certain size, but its kind of plateaued. And we could never really figure out how to scale that business. And so, eventually I left to start another company. And then that business kept operating after that.
[00:05:55] Ben: So, so I don’t know if that business still exists anymore. But a couple of the [00:06:00] people that were running that company continued to run it. After I left, I, I chose to leave and do something else. Cause it had been quite a long time doing basically the same thing. And I, and I, I realized that was sort of a, a road to nowhere.
[00:06:13] Mudassir: a lot of the time. And then so I kind of, you know, get into this entrepreneurship world, early on, but not as early as you were. But I had like fair failures just to, you know, start a company. Nobody was willing to buy that, to build a product. Nobody wants to use that kind of a stuff that, you know,
[00:06:28] Mudassir: and I, I think not, not many people out there are like willing to admit, like, they build a product, they spend so much amount of money that nobody wants to use.
[00:06:35] Mudassir: So, we’re like a problem and then hoping somebody would use for it. So, but the scaling problem is like existing since, you know, since like way back. Why do you think it, like, you know, your, your SAS company did not scale.
[00:06:48] Ben: It’s a great question. I, you know, I think it was, it’s a com It’s always a combination of things. I think for us it was in part the stage [00:07:00] of technology at the time. So not a lot of stuff had moved to the cloud yet. We were pretty early, you know, now most companies have or have bought stuff that’s on the cloud or completely on the cloud, but it was early days for the cloud.
[00:07:13] Ben: So, I think that’s one, we found some very early adopters, but we couldn’t get to the later adopters. And then, Project management and software’s is a tricky space because we had customers that were very big companies and we had customers that were very little companies, and we didn’t pick a lane, so we didn’t specialize or verticalize into a market.
[00:07:33] Ben Joskovitz: So, it was a horizontal play. But the result of that is that you were always a little bit weak in something for some customer. And so, we could never figure out really who the ideal client was and then repeatedly sell to that client. So, we had clients, different verticals, different industries, different sizes, and your kind of selling to anybody.
[00:07:55] Ben: But then, you know, one client wants this, another client wants something else, and your kind of trying to [00:08:00] support and serve all of them. And so, as a result, you ended up sort of not really achieving the goal for anybody. And so, I don’t think we were opinionated enough about what we were building, and I don’t think we, we focused on vertical of vertical or a few verticals quickly.
[00:08:18] Mudassir: Do you think founders are making the same mistake today as well?
[00:08:21] Ben: Yeah, of course. Founders always, I mean, you know, as much, as much information as there is out there, you know, this is also a, a, an age, this is pre blogging, so blogging started in about 2005, 2006 or so. So, there’s not a lot of content online, best practices, how to learn these things. Lean startup didn’t exist yet as a methodology.
[00:08:43] Ben: Nobody had written about it. The book hadn’t come out. So, so a lot of mistakes to be made without a lot of reference material, but people of course, still make the same mistakes despite all the material that exists. You know, I think I’ve come to the realization that despite all the [00:09:00] information that’s out there, founders are gonna make the mistakes they’re gonna make, and the best chance we have is that they just learn quickly from them and then, and then get better after that.
[00:09:09] Mudassir: just because I, I have a follow up question to that. Like, how old were you when you uh, started the first company?
[00:09:16] Ben: I was 21.
[00:09:19] Mudassir: 21. the thing that I had in mind was uh, if, if you look today and, and especially if you look at Twitter or LinkedIn, because these are like two media that I think people are using mostly for business purposes to a good extent, this, like everybody is an expert in everything,
[00:09:36] Mudassir: It’s just like, uh, like the purpose of knowledge single thing is there, but there’s like somebody uh, maybe scale his business to like five figures early, five figure, like 10, 10 K a month or something like that. And then he is willing to give advice to companies who are doing like a several, several million in revenue every month, right?
[00:09:55] Mudassir: um, So, look at this particular spectrum, like back then nobody had written about [00:10:00] anything. And now it’s just like everybody’s like writing about every single thing. It’s like everybody an expert on every single thing.
[00:10:04] Mudassir: Um,
[00:10:05] Ben: Yes.
[00:10:06] Mudassir: then you look at the founders, because I’m gonna, I’m gonna ask you a lot of questions about Highline Beta and then you
[00:10:10] Mudassir: many founders these days, so, uh, and then they’re making the same mistake. So why do you think that, you know, even having that much knowledge out there is not helping people to avoid making the same mistakes, or
[00:10:23] Mudassir: imminently that’s gonna happen? Like
[00:10:27] Ben: I think it’s just the nature. I think it’s the nature of things. I, I mean, I do think it mitigates the mistakes. I think people do. Of course, people can read things, they can learn from things. They can try to avoid making the mistakes, but, but some of them are, I, I think that just inherent in how founders think about things.
[00:10:44] Ben: They, you know, often believe that they, you know, there’s a little bit of that hubris of, I’m, I’m, I’m certain I’m right. If I build it, they will come, you know, as a classic sort of you know, say so. So, I, I think it, it’s, it’s, and
[00:10:58] Ben: I think [00:11:00] generally most people you know, you learn from doing learning, from reading it.
[00:11:05] Ben: You can of course learn from reading stuff, but it’s only when you experience it and you see things in action where you say, oh yeah, I remember reading about, you know, how not to do X, Y, or, or Z. And then I did those things. And now I’m connecting those dots more effectively. So, you know, experience teaches a lot of a lot of things.
[00:11:26] Ben: So, things have gotten better. You know, if you just think about how people do early validation today, back then, we didn’t really think that much about, you know, a methodology for early validation. We just built something cuz we thought it would be interesting and put it out in the world, and other people thought it was interesting, so we just kept going.
[00:11:46] Ben: But that’s not, that’s not as systematic maybe as it could be. You know? Now there’s methodologies and approaches that, you know, provide founders with a bit more of a playbook. But, but the, but the flip side to that is that, you know, if you try to [00:12:00] follow a framework or a methodology religiously, you know, to the t you are probably also gonna fail from that because you’re just checking things off a list.
[00:12:09] Ben Joskovitz: And, and that’s also not a, a, a, a way of being successful.
[00:12:14] Mudassir: Yeah. Yeah. I think so. You, you mentioned reading and then I was like going through that YouTube who, like whatever, you know, there’s like, everybody’s talking about something and I came across a video of Alex or Mosey, and then he was talking about like, every people, especially who are not doing anything, they should stop reading today because they’re reading irrelevant book.
[00:12:35] Mudassir: Especially, you know, so somebody is like, reading, start with why. I mean, you, you, you’re looking at like, Microsoft, you’re probably not gonna find the answer. Why, why, why they’re doing whatever they’re doing.
[00:12:46] Mudassir: so yeah, it’s exactly the same thing. Like, you know, just reading alone is probably not, not the right solution to, to all your problems and
[00:12:54] Ben: No, no. I think, I think practice, you know, so, so you have the advantage now by all [00:13:00] means, don’t, don’t make the, you know, if you can avoid the obvious mistakes that hundreds, if not thou, well, definitely thousands of people have made before you. You should avoid them by, by learning the lessons of those that have shared before you.
[00:13:14] Ben: But, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to put these things into practice and figure out what makes sense for you. You can’t just you know, learn theory without applying the theory and, and figuring out how to use the theory in the way that’s gonna be successful for you.
[00:13:33] Mudassir: Okay, let’s just jump into a couple of things that you’re doing today.
[00:13:37] Mudassir: what are you doing today? And like, why are you doing today? Like whatever you’re doing today.
[00:13:41] Ben: Yeah. So, I mean, I started Highline Beta seven years ago, and Highline Beta is a venture studio and venture capital fund. So, in our model we have sort of two businesses, which I can speak to quickly. You know, one is an innovation consulting agency. [00:14:00] It’s a, it’s a business that works with large companies to help them identify areas of opportunity and growth and, and realize those opportunities through building new businesses, either internally or, or externally.
[00:14:13] Ben: And then we have a venture studio and venture capital fund that’s building startups and investing in startups from zero, from scratch. And we, the models are, are, you know, there’s sort of one business is a revenue generating business. One business is an equity generating business because we are an equity in the startups that we build and fund, but there, but they’re also connected.
[00:14:33] Ben: You know, we’re working with corporate partners to validate new opportunities for them. Some of those things lead to spinouts where we find an opportunity, we see the potential of creating a new company around that opportunity. Bring in a founder, spin the company out. And then sometimes we’re working with our corporate partners on opportunities and we’re, we find startups that are a good fit.
[00:14:56] Ben: To solve problems that that corporates have. So, living at this [00:15:00] intersection of big companies and little companies is what we do. And we started the company because we wanted to combine all the things that we enjoy doing. So, there’s no, there’s no sort of bigger reason than that. My co-founder Marcus and I love investing in early-stage companies, but we didn’t want to be only investors because we also like building things and we like getting our hands dirty.
[00:15:26] Ben: And so, the Venture Studio model was a great fit for we will invest in pre-seed startups, but we will also incubate them through our Venture Studio model. But we also, you know, through our, our past experience saw when there were inflection points in some of our portfolio companies, was often when they found their first big customer or first big partner.
[00:15:48] Ben: So, then we brought in. That corporate component to the model, and we’re trying to connect all of those dots to invest in pre-seed startups, help build [00:16:00] pre-seed startups, and then help them connect to corporate partners as well.
[00:16:04] Mudassir: Okay. Now that’s a very different, different model compared to most VCs out there because they, they tend to, you know, have a fund and then just, you know, stick to own the investment probably. So, but it’s good to have that builder identity there as well as like, you know, you guys, you guys want you to build something.
[00:16:21] Mudassir: So, so that is going on.
[00:16:23] Ben: Right,
[00:16:23] Mudassir: Do you think, you know, every venture capitalist that, you know, I usually talk to, I ask in this, this particular question, do you think you all kind of have the same idea?
[00:16:31] Mudassir: Like, you know, we’re competing with another VC firm, so suppose there’s a very hotshot tech start about that. and like, you know, 10 VCs would want to invest in them. Right. So that VC word is exactly like the same, like, you know, you guys are going after businesses or not.
[00:16:47] Ben: Yeah. So, in our model, less so because we’re creating the companies, you know, so in our, in our model, the startups that we’re investing in don’t exist. We’re [00:17:00] working with a founder or founders. We’re validating the opportunity, and then we’re incorporating the company and funding it. So, in, in, in that sense, we compete perhaps with people deciding they want to do it on their own.
[00:17:15] Ben: As opposed to doing it with the help of a venture studio. So, so, so a little bit different there. But, but yes, I mean, generally speaking, you know, VCs are, I suppose, competing with each other to get into certain deals, and that de that definitely does
[00:17:33] Ben: You know, the, the, the flip side to that is that there are so many startups and, and you know, so there is competition for deals and deal flow.
[00:17:43] Ben: But, but oftentimes there’s probably less competition than you might realize. You know, so cuz most VCs all VCs are, are saying no much more than they’re saying yes.
[00:17:58] Mudassir: Agreed.
[00:17:59] Ben: right. So [00:18:00] they’re, they’re investing in, you know, a percentage of the deals that they see. And so, you know, perhaps for that one percentage that they’re excited about, of course there will be other VCs.
[00:18:10] Ben: And, and often it, it can be competitive, but also its collaborative, right? So not all VCs are saying, oh, we won’t invest with others. In fact, most investors want to co-invest with other investors. And so, it’s, it’s not quite, you know, oh, competition for every hot deal. It, it’s a little bit different from that.
[00:18:29] Mudassir: What’s the, the criteria you guys have when you pick any startup? Because I’m sure you, you know, you must be like your inbox like everywhere, Twitter, LinkedIn, or like your email or whatever must be getting bombarded every day with like, hey, I have a cool startup idea.
[00:18:44] Mudassir: building something in the ai. So, invest in us. Invest in us. So, what’s the criteria that you guys are Yeah, yeah. I have so much to talk about AI later on but yeah, I just kind of holding that back.
[00:18:55] Ben: Yeah, so again, for us, we are only investing [00:19:00] pre-seed, and right now we’re only investing through the Venture Studio model. So, for us what that means is we’re investing, you know, really at foundation of the company. So, most of the companies that reach out to us, and we do have of course you know, a lot of companies that re you know, startups that reach out to us, they’re already too late stage for us because we’re investing first check in the founder or founders before they’ve actually even incorporated the company.
[00:19:31] Ben: So, in our model, we’re helping them validate the opportunity, validate the problem, figure out what we think the solution could be, who the early adopter user or customer will be. So, we’re starting at, at the creation stage.
[00:19:48] Ben: If a company already incorporated, they already have a product in market and there, and there, you know, they’ve launched, they’re already too late stage for most of the investments that we make.
[00:19:58] Mudassir: Yeah. [00:20:00] Do you think that, you know, this particular model has like a lot more risk compared to the other one. Like if somebody has launched a product, they’re doing something is kind of validated, you know, viable solution out there,
[00:20:11] Ben: Yeah. The earlier, the earlier you go.
[00:20:14] Ben: Yeah. So, the earlier you go, the higher the risk the, you know, because if you’re investing in a Series D company, you have enormous amounts of data and history and everything else to look at. The, the counter to that is in our, in our model, when we incorporate a company with a founder and invest, we’re spending typically about nine months working with them on it.
[00:20:34] Ben: So now we are, we are in effect temporary co-founders. So, we’re gonna work with that founder, that the, the founders help them build the product, go to market, raise more capital, recruit a team, and, and sort of, support the process very actively from zero to one. And that helps de-risk the opportunity for us because we’re so close to it.
[00:20:59] Ben: But yes, the [00:21:00] day we incorporate a company and invest is, I guess, I suppose, about the highest risk point in time where you should be investing.
[00:21:08] Mudassir: Yeah. Yeah. How many you know, companies do you have on the portfolio today?
[00:21:13] Ben: 15, yeah, 15.
[00:21:16] Mudassir: Okay. And, and most of them, or like all of them are pretty much the same, right? You know, like you, you met the founders and you did the whole
[00:21:23] Ben: Yeah. Yeah. So, ha about half of them are follow that model and then about half of them are we did sort of pre-seed, or I’m gonna say seat stage investing. So, we, we did both and have done both.
[00:21:35] Ben: Yeah. We’re more so focused now on the venture studio type of deals, but we have done, you know, investments in existing company, existing product.
[00:21:45] Ben: So, you know, a little bit later stage call that pre-seed or, or seed stage. We’ve done, you know, a number of investments that fit that model.
[00:21:53] Mudassir: Okay. So, if some, know, because most of the, the listeners that we have, so we kind of fall into [00:22:00] two, three categories, is like early-stage founders, people who are interested in entrepreneurship, maybe somebody who wants to be a VC someday, or investor or something like that. if somebody needs to get in touch with Highline Beta, how, how should they do that? yeah. What, what sort of a mindset founder needs to have before they shoot out an email and not getting rejected
[00:22:21] Ben: So, so, I mean, I’m, I’m easy.
[00:22:24] Mudassir: the cheat sheet here.
[00:22:26] Ben: Yeah. I, I’m easy to find. So, and, and there, there are no other Ben Yoskovitz is on the planet, so if you can even remotely spell my last name, you’re gonna find me. And so, I’m easy to find on Twitter. I’m easy to find on LinkedIn. My email
[00:22:39] Ben: is pretty easy to guess. It’s, I’ll just tell you, it’s ben highline beta.com, so it’s, there you go.
[00:22:46] Ben: So, so easy to reach out to, I think for us. We’re always interested in meeting founders, even if they’re, you know, have a company later stage. In general, I, I like helping [00:23:00] founders as much as I can. Of course, I can’t help everybody that reaches out.
[00:23:04] Ben: So, like all VCs, we say no a lot. And we say no more than we say yes.
[00:23:10] Ben: But you know what? Anybody can reach out, connect. I’m always willing to try to help if I can point people to other investors point people to other resources that might help them. Cuz it’s just, it’s just the right thing to do.
[00:23:23] Mudassir: absolutely. so, I wanna take, you know, turn it a little bit upside down because we’re talking about the good things. So, we’re going through like, you know, financially through some, some tough times, like testing time all the time. You hear buzzwords like, you know, does the recession probably at the horizon. Inflation is through the roof. uncertainty obviously is one of those. So pretty much like everywhere you go, you, you ask us, is it like really, really that bad because like you are in, in instead of all this action, you know, so, is it like really that bad and the VC money is this like kind of drying up now?
[00:23:59] Ben: You [00:24:00] know, it’s not good, I would say, but here, here’s the way I think about it. It’s good deals still get done. Hard to define good deal, I suppose, but, you know, deals are still getting done. Less deals are getting done. Less money is being deployed. I still think valuations are gonna continue to drop a little bit which means you’re gonna probably have to either raise less money and, and, and go leaner or raise the same amount of money you wanted to, but give up more of your company.
[00:24:33] Ben: So, it’s, it’s, it’s not great, but, but I, I also think that, you know, when things are booming and capital is flowing like crazy and valuations are getting too high, that feels good, but it’s actually not great. There are many, many startups that have raised significant amounts of capital at very high valuations, and they have no chance of, of growing into those valuations. [00:25:00]
[00:25:00] Ben: And those companies are, are, are really in serious trouble. So, it’s not even the companies that are trying to raise now where you say, oh, VC is drying up or it’s slowing down. I think the worst problem is the companies that have raised. Need to raise more money and, and they’re not gonna get it at the valuations that they’re looking for.
[00:25:17] Mudassir: Yeah. so I was, was talking to another founder a couple of, couple of days ago. I think he was in the. Few, few podcasts away, and he was saying, in 2021, probably in 2022 as well. So, anybody who has an idea, like just an idea, and he can go to somebody and he’ll say, yeah, okay, you know, you take a million dollar, just go, just do something. And now it’s just like, you know, you, you have a great product. Is it profitable? Is it this, is that, so you, you get asked questions that normally seed a series a, you know, a startup get, get asked for. And then, you know, the valuation is like very, very low. You know, maybe
[00:25:54] Ben: Right.
[00:25:55] Mudassir: was like at 10, 10 to 12 million.
[00:25:57] Mudassir: Now is this dropped like five, five-ish or something? [00:26:00] So yeah. And then I asked him like, did you guys raise any money? He was like, no. but they kind of regret not raising enough money and not that they have to kind of bootstrap it like all the way.
[00:26:09] Ben: There’s no, there’s no perfect answer to any of it. I would say the bar definitely has risen and it makes sense cause VCs aren’t necessarily seeing less deals than before. But now they’re being a little bit more you know, sensitive to the risk. And so, they’re just, they’re increasing the expectations they want and they can, and they can do that because they don’t have to write the checks.
[00:26:34] Ben: And, you know, back to the earlier points about competition, when the market cools, there’s less rushing into things and there’s less of that feeling of fomo. You know, that fear of missing out, that, that everybody, like all humans feel it and VCs are not immune to it. So, there’s less of that sort of crazy frothy behavior.
[00:26:57] Ben: So, they can set the bar a little bit higher, set the [00:27:00] expectations a little bit higher put less money in, ask for a bigger chunk of the company. And that’s just the reality. The power dynamic is always a little bit messed up between VCs and founders, and I think it’s shifted into the, into the founder’s hands quite favorably.
[00:27:17] Ben: Now it’s shifted back to the VCs.
[00:27:19] Mudassir: yeah. It’s exactly the same thing. And, and I think, you know, as soon as the, the economic situation kind of gets better and, you know, the deals are happening again at probably the same rate as before, so it’s probably gonna get back to the, the, the founder’s hand. Yeah.
[00:27:32] Ben: Yeah. We’ll, we’ll, we’ll see. We’ll see how that goes. But the other thing is that I think it’s important to recognize that, you know, venture capital is not for everybody uh, as.
[00:27:43] Ben: There are a lot of startups you know, bootstraps startups, or startups that, you know, have no intention of trying to scale very quickly and exit for a return.
[00:27:52] Ben: That can be amazing companies cash generating, you know, profitable businesses.
[00:27:58] Mudassir: Yeah.
[00:27:59] Ben: You know, I don’t think [00:28:00] we should, we should keep under the belief that, well, this is just simply not true. The, the only way to make money and be successful is not venture capital. And venture capital funded startups. That’s not the only way to be successful in life.
[00:28:16] Ben: So, I think founders can look at that and think about, you know, should I get to profitability and scrape by? Should I give myself more options than raising capital? Because the minute you raise capital, you’re on a bit of a hamster wheel. You sort of, it’s inevitable that you’re going to, you are gonna use the money to grow unprofitably.
[00:28:39] Ben: And that’s gonna result in you having to go raise more capital and more and more capital. And more capital. So, I’m not that, that model is just not a necessity for all companies,
[00:28:51] Mudassir: Yeah, exactly. It’s, it’s, it’s not for everybody. And I think more and more people start to raise voice about like, hey, you know, just [00:29:00] going after VC is not the only way to build a great company. I
[00:29:03] Mudassir: like so many examples of, of building the same big companies. I just wanna ask, you know, a question for like purely selfish reasons.
[00:29:10] Mudassir: the startup ecosystem looks like in Canada to the us?
[00:29:15] Ben: Yeah. So, so it, it’s, well, I mean, Canada is roughly a 10th of size of the United States, right? From a population perspective pretty much almost everything. It’s about 10%. So always
[00:29:27] Mudassir: Canadian. Don’t accept that, but, okay.
[00:29:29] Ben: no, but, but it is, right. So, I, I think we’re almost at. I think our population is growing faster because we we’re, we’re more immigrant friendly than the United States.
[00:29:39] Ben: So, I think we’re, we’re closing in on 40 million people, but, you know, generally speaking, I always think 350 million or so in the us, 35 million in Canada. So, it’s about 10.
[00:29:50] Ben: It’s about 10, like one 10th. So, I would say it’s not dissimilar when it comes to the startup ecosystem. It’s an it’s a, it’s a [00:30:00] good market because we’re close to tons of customers or users and capital in the US so we’re right next door.
[00:30:07] Ben: So that, that’s a benefit, but it’s still a relatively small market. You know, we have investors of course from the pre seed all the way up to, you know, private equity and big, but, but not tons of investors. We have lots of, you know, we have lots, we have quite a few big, big companies. But not necessarily a lot of big companies that acquire startups right there aren’t, you know, we have Shopify big tech company, but a lot of our big companies are more traditional businesses, banks or insurance companies.
[00:30:40] Ben: And so, you know, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a good market to build a company in. But, you know, a difficult market to raise capital in. Generally speaking, I would say from an investment perspective, I always think it’s never gonna be as frothy as the us but it’s, it’s, but it will [00:31:00] cool down faster, right?
[00:31:01] Ben: It’s sort of, it’s, it’s like that’s how it operates. It’s just the, it’s just more of that less risk averse mentality generally is, is how you would, I think, describe the Canadian environment.
[00:31:15] Mudassir: Okay. So yeah, Ben, I’m, I’m like big fan of analytics, big fan of books. So yeah, like what’s the methodology behind that?
[00:31:23] Mudassir: What did you write? What did you write in that?
[00:31:25] Ben: sure. Yeah. It’s, you know, it’s funny when we were speaking earlier and saying, oh, you, you know, you can’t learn everything from a book. So, then I, I just went ahead and,
[00:31:33] Ben: well, that’s the best plan. And so, you know what I, I wrote Lean Analytics with a good friend of mine, his name’s Alistair Kroll, 10 years ago, which is pretty incredible.
[00:31:44] Ben: I can’t, I sort of can’t believe it was 10, it was 10 years ago. But
[00:31:47] Ben: we had the opportunity to write the book with O’Reilly, the publisher for, for two reasons. One is Alistair had already written a book for them on web analytics, so they knew him as an [00:32:00] author, which helped. And then this is after a lead startup.
[00:32:04] Ben: The book Lead Startup came out by Eric Reese. And that, that methodology was sort of exploding and people were very engaged in, in, in that approach. And O’Reilly was looking to write a series of books on the lean methodology with different perspectives. And Alistair and I at the time with two other co-founders were running an accelerator called Year One Labs in Montreal.
[00:32:29] Ben: And Year One Labs was a very, very early stage, not dissimilar to Highline Beta actually, where we were incubating brand new companies from zero recruiting founders, sometimes putting founders together, throwing ideas in. And we invested in five startups. They all happened to be consumer companies, but we put them through the Lean startup methodology.
[00:32:50] Ben: So, we took sort of the learnings from Lean Startup, and then we had Al, I had also read Steve Blank’s book Four Steps to The Epiphany. And so, we were taking these [00:33:00] methodologies Yeah. And we were saying, okay, let’s apply, let’s run a one-year lean startup incubator or accelerator and build companies from scratch and see what comes out the other side.
[00:33:11] Ben: And what we learned was that Lean, lean startup can work as a methodology, of course, but it was still fairly theoretical at the time because not a lot of people had applied the methodology. And so,
[00:33:24] Ben: Alistair’s experience with data, my experience running companies and being in product running this, you know, five, basically running five companies through Lean Startup, we saw an opportunity to take lean methodology and make it more practical through data.
[00:33:41] Mudassir: All the, you can say the, the feedback, the, the reviews and every single thing that, that game changer for many, many entrepreneurs. Uh, do you think, you know, BEC because you wrote the book like 10 years ago, methodology or the principle that you explained in the book how do you think they have evolved today, you know, 10 years later? And do you [00:34:00] to be an updated edition of that somewhere
[00:34:03] Ben: Yeah, we, we, we, we talk, we, we talk for years and we still do. Alistair and I talk about it all the time. We should write the second edition. We should write the, you know, we, we never got around to doing it and I, I don’t know that we ever will Alistair’s writing a new book now called Just Evil Enough.
[00:34:21] Ben: So, we’ll just plug, we’ll plug Alistair’s book cause he’s an incredible writer. But but I think, so here’s what I think about the book 10 years later is that, the basic principles, in my opinion anyway, still hold true. The basic methodologies and frameworks and approach we were trying to get people to think about still very much hold true.
[00:34:45] Ben: Some of the stuff that’s outdated will be things like the, the, the benchmarks that we published, you know, so oh, your, your, your, you know, your churn should look like this at this stage, or, you know, a lot of that was based on [00:35:00] whatever data we could gather in 2013. Since then, a lot more information has been published by startups or founders or even VCs or other books have been written.
[00:35:13] Ben: So, I think the benchmarks in many cases will be outdated. I think some of the, the concepts we talked about in the book around business models, cuz ultimately the goal of the book was to help you figure out what data to track at what stage.
[00:35:28] Ben: And so, one of the things you have to figure out is, well, what business am I in?
[00:35:31] Ben: If I know what business I’m in and how my business operates and I know what stage I’m at, I can combine those and find, you know, the singular metric that I should be tracking or the small number of metrics that I should be focusing on at that point in time. So, our section on business models, the principles hold true, but business models are complicated and have evolved.
[00:35:54] Ben: So, I’ll give you a very simple example.
[00:35:56] Ben: time with year one Labs, we invested in a game [00:36:00] company, a mobile game company. So, this is 2011, we invest in a mobile game company, and one of the business models in the book is mobile apps, which isn’t really a business model, right? But it’s a, it’s a, but at the time it wasn’t as if there were billions of apps yet, or billions of mobile games, right?
[00:36:21] Ben: So again, you know, we presented this business model and talked about mobile. In the context mostly of mobile gaming. Well now, you know, now I mean, what does that even mean? Now, mobile is just a, it is like a delivery mechanism, right? It’s not a business model necessarily. So those are some of the things that, that you would have to redo and rethink.
[00:36:46] Ben: You know, there’s nothing in the book about AI as an example, right? Like, so there’s been like, you know, there’s nothing in the book about web three. There’s nothing in the book about crypto. So, you know, again, thinking about, well, if I run a crypto [00:37:00] business, what metrics should I be tracking? It’s like, well, shoot, we got to think about the implications of that and your business model.
[00:37:07] Ben: And so, so there’s things like that that don’t age that well. But the basic principles I, I genuinely believe have aged well.
[00:37:17] Mudassir: Speaking of, um, everybody’s favorite ai, I have a very, you know, um, different question than most people are asking these days. So um, in, in, in like my recent memories when I started working with, and they were in, socials and particularly for presidential campaigns and stuff like that, at that point in time was the first time that this whole crypto thing just like came out of like nowhere everybody was talking about crypto. Uh, I remember, you know, we, we had, uh, we had a team member on the team and he was like, you have subscriptions at crypto you know, people are asking this, you know, pay you a couple of dollars just to access the content or whatever.
[00:37:54] Mudassir: So, everybody was talking about crypto and uh, there was a fomo Exactly. [00:38:00] That So, uh, a lot of people, a lot of people get direct, a lot of people become millionaire. you know, there’s like both end of the spectrum. Uh, I think up until 2021, that was, we, we first tried to terms maybe 2020. the terms called NFTs were pretty cool. Everybody was talking about NFTs. Every influencer probably on the planet is talking about NFTs. And then Web 3.0, mirrors and boom comes from 23, and now everybody’s talking about ai. Seems like people have forgot about the whole there. from an investor point of view, or from somebody who’s been working with founders know, running incubators, these trends come and go, right? Uh, but how do you guys figure out like, okay, Because the technology’s gonna stay I mean, uh, even the, it’s, it’s like AI on the trend now.
[00:38:51] Mudassir: Not the blockchain, not people about that, but Bitcoin is still gonna be prevalent. Like, you know, that’s gonna happen eventually. How do you guys find startups or [00:39:00] companies, regardless of the trends that you think is gonna do good? Like, what are the essence of, of such companies?
[00:39:05] Ben: Yeah, so, so I think I, I try, so for the most part, I tend to not be somebody that gets too enamored with trends. I’m more interested in use cases cuz I, I’m a product person at heart and, and products for them to work, they have to. Be useful and solve a problem, and you should be able to explain the use case to me.
[00:39:34] Ben: I’m not the smartest person out there, so you should be able to explain it to me like I’m a 10-year-old and if you can’t, I’m pretty skeptical. Again, if you peel away the hype and so that, that’s always my ch you know, things like blockchain, I, I understand the technology and I understand the argument people make for it.
[00:39:53] Ben: You know, we’re still sort of looking for that killer use case or use cases, you know, so that’s an example.
[00:39:59] Ben: Yeah. [00:40:00] Me Metaverse is a, is a, is maybe an even more obvious one. I mean, I remember the days
[00:40:05] Ben: of Second Life, which, you know, many of your listeners, depending on how old they are, will have to look up what second life is or was.
[00:40:13] Ben: It actually might still exist as far as I’m concerned. It was basically the metaverse, you had an avatar, you were wandering around these kinds of places. So, so now that somebody just, it, it got popular, but I, nobody was clear on what the use case was. But every company out there was, was rushing to figure out their metaverse strategy, but nobody could articulate a use case that actually mattered to humans.
[00:40:39] Ben: So,
[00:40:40] Ben: I think it’s use cases and, and problems. The interesting thing about, you know, solving problems that matter is that you could also get very narrowly focused on that problem and it’s a today problem, maybe not a tomorrow problem. And so, there’s a balance here that you have to achieve between [00:41:00] solving a real problem with an actual use case that a normal person can understand and a big vision.
[00:41:07] Ben: And if you can blend the two, then I think you have a shot because you still have to have a big vision of what the future might look like. And you need to be. Sort of navigating your way towards that big vision. But if you don’t solve a problem today that’s useful, you’ll never get traction. And the big vision just becomes nonsense.
[00:41:25] Ben: So, there’s a, there’s a, a story around both of those things. And then I think very much about incrementally solving problems and sort of marching is the wrong way of thinking about it, cuz it’s a, it’s a much wind, like windier road, but it’s like a maze that you’re working your way through to get to and achieve the ultimate vision that you have for your company.
[00:41:49] Ben: So big 20,000-foot view. And also, you know, two-foot view of like,
[00:41:55] Ben: well, what are you gonna do
[00:41:56] Mudassir: Yeah. that’s helpful. you mentioned something that, uh, [00:42:00] problems worth solving. I get to see that like most people, not, not most, like a lot of people actually are building products. or um, solutions, they’re actually solving something, they’re like, in many cases, they’re just nice to have, I mean, yeah. Okay. They’re like not solving a pain point. So, uh, what’s your opinion on, on such products or, or companies?
[00:42:20] Ben: Yeah, I, I think, I think most companies are solving problems that just don’t matter enough to enough people. I think that’s just generally true because there are lots of problems. But but people prioritize them in their own lives. And people, this is true in a consumer context or a business context, cuz a business is just a group of people anyway.
[00:42:49] Ben: So, you know, it’s like if you’re not solving one of the top 3, 4, 5 problems that somebody has, it’s a nice to have and you might get some traction cuz the, you know, there’s [00:43:00] enough people on the internet or enough people on the planet to find somebody that wants your thing. But it’s never really gonna scale unless you’re really creating significant value.
[00:43:11] Ben: So that, that’s how I sort of think about now. It, it’s, it’s sometimes hard to figure that out for a while cuz sometimes that problem looks like it matters enough, but it, it in fact doesn’t sometimes, you know, it doesn’t matter enough, but you can still navigate or pivot your way into something that does matter.
[00:43:27] Ben: So, it’s hard to really know if you’re solving a problem that matters until you actually get out there and start solving and see what happens.
[00:43:35] Ben: But, but that’s how I think about that. And then the other thing I’ll say on that front is, one of the questions I often ask founders that I’m talking to, whether they’re pitching me or I’m just, I’m just meeting them, is, you know, of all the things you could do in life, why are you doing this thing?
[00:43:52] Ben: And the answers, the answer to that question is usually not awesome. It’s like, [00:44:00] well, I don’t know. I wanna make some money, or I know it seems cool or, and I’m like, I, to me, so after, after wasting years of my life doing things that just didn’t really make a difference,
[00:44:13] Ben: really, really look at the opportunity cost of, of doing things.
[00:44:20] Ben: And so, and by the way, I’m not saying like everybody should be out there trying to cure cancer or save the planet, although we probably need more people do both of those things. It’s not that, it’s just of all the things you could do in life, why are you doing this thing? Because founders don’t have to start companies.
[00:44:38] Ben: Right? That’s, it’s not an obligation. So, you started that company and you made a, a choice to start a company that does x and I look at a lot of companies and I wonder, I don’t know why you’re doing x. Just like, who cares? Even if you win, even if you scaled that thing, what have you accomplished? [00:45:00]
[00:45:00] Ben: it’s not to say, oh, every company has to save the planet. That’s not what I’m saying. But if you can’t really tell me why winning matters, I just, it’s just hard to get excited
[00:45:13] Mudassir: If you were to ask the same question to yourself, to your earlier self, how would you answer that?
[00:45:17] Ben: So, I think, I think the, I think when the first company I started was Why not? It was interesting. It was different. And I knew that school, I didn’t know what the path looked like for me at school. So, I’m like, what the heck? Let me do this thing. By the way, I finished my degree anyway. And even years, even years after I finished that degree, my parents were still suggesting I get an MBA.
[00:45:39] Ben: Because they weren’t sure that the entrepreneurship thing would stick. So that was like, just a, that was, that was practically a whim, you know? I would say that the first time that I got more intentional about it was year one labs, you know, which was 2010, 2011 timeframe. And, and that’s the first-time sort of got really intentional about it because I [00:46:00] had spent years before, you know, building project management software.
[00:46:03] Ben: And I just didn’t care. Like, it was like, you know, I’m glad we helped people manage projects better, but like there was no purpose to it. And so, Year One Labs was very much about helping founders build companies. And, and I think that stayed consistent through, you know, year one labs and the angel investing that I ended up doing.
[00:46:25] Ben: And then highlight Beta, I would say is also, you know, part of the purpose and the value I get out of it is, is helping people build their, the companies that they’re dreaming of building. So, so I, I’ve gotten more intentional with age around doing things because there is a literal opportunity cost to the, the time, by the way, as you age gets more expensive.
[00:46:47] Ben: Because you know, like the older you get, the less years you have and so you’re like, well, I should probably do something that matters. So, so, so I, I, I really, to me that’s. Now [00:47:00] if you care about something deeply and I don’t care about it, that’s totally fine. Right? It’s not that we have to agree on the things that matter necessarily, but you better have an answer other than, I want to get rich, or, I think it’s cool to start a company, or, I’m bored.
[00:47:14] Ben: Or like, there’s got to, there’s got to be something. Or, you know, or you care deeply about the customer that you’re helping. You know, I’m passionate about helping small businesses with their taxes. Okay? Like, I’m not passionate about that. But if you are, I can see the value at scale of helping small businesses with their tax.
[00:47:33] Ben: That’s boring. But it matters to people. So,
[00:47:37] Ben: you know that, that’s what I mean. It’s like, just have
[00:47:40] Ben: some purpose
[00:47:41] Ben: to what you’re
[00:47:41] Ben: doing and, and it’s going to make your life better.
[00:47:45] Mudassir: Yeah. What’s the worst response that you ever got to this
[00:47:48] Mudassir: particular love this. The moment you were asking the same question, I was thinking, okay. If you were to ask me the same question, what would I say? I’m, I’m not gonna tell you that, but okay.
[00:47:57] Ben: I’m not gonna ask you, I’m not gonna ask you cuz [00:48:00] it’s, you know, it’s, we’re recording. So no, I think, I think the answer I get, you know, is often the worst answer is not, I don’t know. Or nobody would ever say, well, I, I, building startups is cool and I want to get rich and I want to, you know, sell my company to Google.
[00:48:15] Ben: No, nobody says that, really? But usually, it’s some sort of long-winded answer. You know, whenever anybody answers a question and it, the answer is very long. It’s because they don’t really know the answer. So, they’re just trying to make things up.
[00:48:31] Ben: Yeah. And that, that I think is what you, what you’ll sometimes get like, well, I’m sort of inter, you know, I, I think the market is ripe for disruption.
[00:48:42] Ben: I’m like, okay, I mean, why you then, why are you the right person to disrupt the market? Well, I saw an opportunity in the space and, and I’m like, oh, you know, so it’s usually this sort of like generic ish long answer where, where I don’t really believe that founder [00:49:00] when things get hard and they always get difficult, that that founder is gonna fight through that with the, with the necessary grit and tenacity to fight through the crap.
[00:49:12] Ben: And that’s where you sort of
[00:49:13] Mudassir: Yeah, So I think,
[00:49:14] Ben: in,
[00:49:14] Ben: in that person’s ability to deliver.
[00:49:17] Mudassir: previous company, we were like raising shaking 1.5 at that point in time. and, and then, the VCs who ended up investing in them, they, they asked a very good question. They, they powerful. They’re like, you know, most of the times in Pre Seed you’re investing in founders.
[00:49:32] Mudassir: I mean, you don’t care about the product, you don’t care about the early traction. I mean, you could be making 10 K, 20 k, like whatever. Nobody cares about that. It’s, it’s, it’s much of a bet on, on the founders. So, you’re saying exactly the same thing, like it’s much of the best, better than founders. But uh, speaking of founders, what are the must-have your opinion a founder needs to have, like regardless of the industry they are, regardless of the product they’re building, that they just need to have that.
[00:49:58] Mudassir: Otherwise, there’s like no point in [00:50:00] doing anything.
[00:50:00] Ben: Yeah, I think it’s, it’s all the same, you know, it’s, it’s the stuff that you would imagine, and I think the, the, the grit and tenacity part of it is important. You know, founders are anybody can start a company, I, I suppose, but, but the ones that win, you know, have this element of belief in themselves not, not beyond the point of reason.
[00:50:26] Ben: You know, there’s this combination of, I, I believe in myself, but I’m also. I have the humility to know that I, I, I know very little and I need lots of help at the same time. So, there is an ego component to it, there’s a grit and a perseverance component to it. I think, you know, ultimately good founders and CEOs have to, you, you might not know this early on, but they do have to become great leaders because they’re, they’re, they’re gonna, the only way to, to grow a company is, is hiring great people.
[00:50:59] Ben: [00:51:00] So you need, you know, who’s a leader that people will, will join or follow into the trenches. So, I think those are all, you know, that, that, that’s important. And I think it is a balance. It’s hard to really understand, but this balance between conviction and ego, but also humility and, and, and humbleness and, and so, because if you’re, if you’re one or the other extreme, you know, on the, the humility sort of.
[00:51:30] Ben: I don’t know what I’m doing side, you’re gonna, you’re gonna overly rely on mentors
[00:51:37] Ben: support infrastructure, but we can’t build the company investors, but we can’t build the company for you. You have to build it
[00:51:42] Ben: On the other side. You get people who just, no matter what they believe they’re right. And, and course sometimes those people are successful.
[00:51:51] Ben: That’s not surprising, I guess. But they also tend to be those people who crash and burn you know, majestic, right? Because they’re just [00:52:00] so, they believe so much in what they’re doing or themselves.
[00:52:03] Ben: And they don’t take in the input or the feedback or other points of view from others. And they just sort of drive themselves to oblivion. And so, you’ve got to find
[00:52:16] Mudassir: I have a theory, I think goods, I think athlete could make good founders. That’s what I think. What do you
[00:52:23] Ben: Athletes I think that’s a good point. I think it’s, it’s, a high performance competitive that you’re playing. especially if you’ve been playing a team sport. you know, that’s an intern, you know, like solo sport versus team, but there’s always a team, right?
[00:52:38] Ben: Like even if you play tennis player as an example,
[00:52:41] Ben: have a team, you have a team, you have coaches,
[00:52:44] Ben: you have support staff; you have infrastructure around you that you rely on. So, no, I, I, I think that that’s, I think that’s a good, I think that’s a good point. I think it’s you know, the, the, the tenacity you need to be an elite athlete is insane.
[00:52:57] Ben: I mean, there are, you know, I’m a [00:53:00] hockey fan. What are there? 600, maybe 700 NHLs. So that’s the 700 best hockey players on the planet. How, I mean, how many people play hockey? Hundreds of millions. I guess. I’m not sure. Basketball would be the same thing. About 650 I think NBA players. So, it’s an elite
[00:53:18] Ben: profession.
[00:53:19] Ben: And I
[00:53:19] Ben: think CEO is, is, a similar, is
[00:53:22] Ben: a
[00:53:22] Mudassir: Yeah. Yeah. Because, because you know, all
[00:53:24] Mudassir: the traits that you mentioned, like, you know, they need to have grit, they need to have tenacity, they need to be humble, but they also need to be, you know, there needs to be a right balance. And so exactly the same thing that you, you would want to have in
[00:53:36] Ben: yeah. The, the difference actually, now that you brought it up though, you know, the, the difference I think that’s interesting is that sports teams don’t, like, sports don’t evolve at the pace that startups evolve. And so, you know, when you start a company, or three of you, let’s say, then there’s 10 of you, then there’s 50 of you. And there’s, you know, and so a CEO that’s incredibly good [00:54:00] at that early stage isn’t always the CEO that’s
[00:54:03] Ben: Managing a bigger company. So, the, the, the, the frequency of change in a startup is much different from the frequency of change in a sport. And so, the, the, the adaptation, I mean, the game does change.
[00:54:15] Ben: Any game changes evolve. You have to, you have to keep practicing, even if you’re the world’s greatest at something, you’re practicing like, great. So, there is something to that. I’m constantly learning and adapting, but I think the pace of change in
[00:54:29] Ben: startups,
[00:54:31] Ben: is greater than it
[00:54:32] Ben: is in
[00:54:32] Ben: sports.
[00:54:32] Mudassir: I wanna ask you about um, your own personal experiences, like what’s the, successes that you have seen, lowest of the failures that you’ve seen, and how both those events kind of transformed your life.
[00:54:42] Ben: Sure. So, so, you know, one of the successes that I’ve had was I joined a company called Going Instant. So, this was right after year one Lab. So, I joined in 2012 if I’m not mistaken. And I, I joined to run product at this [00:55:00] company. I actually moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is an eastern end of Canada.
[00:55:07] Ben: Not a big tech scene there.
[00:55:10] Ben: we were very quickly acquired by Salesforce. And, and that was a really interesting experience because you know, then I spent two years working at Salesforce and that was quite interesting, you know, to sort of work within this large, a company, very successful tech company.
[00:55:30] Ben: So that was, that was pretty wild ride and ended very positively. You know, on the, on the failure side, there have been plenty you know, one of my, one of my worst failures was, so, after the project management software company, I went and started a company called Standout Jobs in the recruitment space.
[00:55:52] Ben: And this is 2007. We raised 1.8 million for the company. And then [00:56:00] 2008, we had the mortgage crisis in the US It didn’t impact hundred as much, but of course everything went into recession and fell apart. So, it was a pretty lousy time to be running a company in the recruitment space. So, the timing was off but aside.
[00:56:13] Ben: And then we ended up selling the assets of the company in 2010. So, we sort of banged our head against the wall for a couple of years and then sold the assets. And that was a really unpleasant experience. I was the CEO of the company and after that point in time, I said, I, I could never be the CEO again.
[00:56:31] Ben: It’s just, it’s just too difficult. And, and it’s true. Like I’m not the CEO of Highline Beta. I don’t think I’ll ever be the CEO again.
[00:56:37] Ben: So that was a pretty colossal failure. That was a pretty colossal failure.
[00:56:43] Ben: And then And, and there have been others, but that one was, that one was bad. And then, and, but the, you know, go incident was, was, was a success.
[00:56:51] Ben: And I’ve had other successes as well. I think Highline Beta, I, I, I think of Highline Beta as a successful thing, although we’re seven years in, so I think, [00:57:00] frankly surviving seven years is something, fuck that, Chuck chalk that up as a win, you know? But we’ve, we’ve made some good, we’ve made some good investments.
[00:57:09] Ben: We’re growing a very strong team. So, you know, trajectory wise, I’m very excited about where we’re going. But of course, the, the full story hasn’t been written. You know, I’ve made some angel investments that have panned out nicely. And, and I consider those wins. You know, year one labs, if I go back to that one quickly, talk about some positive stuff.
[00:57:28] Ben: So, we made five investments. One of the companies actually still exist today. Which is a long time, but one of the companies was Local Mind. And Local mind was acquired by Airbnb
[00:57:40] Mudassir: heard about that. Yeah, I’ve heard about that. is that the same company? What’s the name other guy?
[00:57:47] Ben: yeah.
[00:57:48] Mudassir: I Oh, so you know him. Okay.
[00:57:50] Ben: Yep. Yeah, I do. Yeah. So, so Lenny and there was another, there was another co-founder and, and then his name was Bo and then another guy joined, [00:58:00] basically was a founder. His name was Nelson. And we convinced these guys to come to Canada build this company local mind. And you know, again, that was a success story because it was acquired.
[00:58:14] Ben: And so, you know, and then we got to watch the inner workings of Airbnb. And, and Lenny and, and Bo and Nelson and the team were, you know, obviously they’ve gone on and done other great things and been very successful. So, you know, there’s some really cool, amazing stories. Often these things are somewhat random.
[00:58:33] Ben: Somebody knows somebody, we convinced this person to come do this. Like, just these random things that you just have to be open to. But stand out jobs as a failure. Big, big, big one. And then, you know, before that, we talked about this already, the idea that I spent roughly 1996 to 2006, roughly with the same people, not doing exactly the same thing, but sort of plateauing and not [00:59:00] growing the company, but not growing myself much either.
[00:59:03] Ben: That was 10 years. You know, you don’t get those 10 years back. So, I, I, I, that’s why I always
[00:59:08] Mudassir: Yeah.
[00:59:08] Ben: opportunity costs
[00:59:09] Ben: when I think about
[00:59:10] Ben: wasting time.
[00:59:11] Mudassir: You, you, you think a lot of founders, uh, are, are wasting their time working on their own products, not pivoting enough.
[00:59:20] Ben: So, the short answer is yes. But, but the, but the caveat to that is if you are, if you are a founder and you really want to build companies, then to me, you, you, you recognize
[00:59:37] Ben: that you’re gonna have to go through this process multiple times,
[00:59:42] Ben: and some are gonna win and some are gonna fail. The most successful founders that exist out there today you know, have failed a bunch of times.
[00:59:53] Ben: So, to me, it’s about, it’s about, it’s a volume game to a certain extent. Not create [01:00:00] 500 companies, but iterating through this process, building multiple things. I think shutting things down when they’re not working, you know, and not becoming sort of a zombie company that can survive but is never going to grow.
[01:00:14] Ben: Or it, again, it doesn’t have to grow to be a gigantic company, but it’s never gonna achieve what you want to achieve. And you, you sort of hold on for dear life, that is a waste of time, but failing is, is part of this process. So, failure is not a waste of time as long as you, as long as it’s happening relatively quickly and you’re learning from that experience, it hurts and it’s, it’s, it sucks.
[01:00:40] Ben: Nobody should ever diminish how lousy failure,
[01:00:44] Mudassir: agreed
[01:00:44] Ben: failure is the wrong approach, but accepting it
[01:00:49] Ben: and, and, and
[01:00:50] Ben: getting through it fast
[01:00:52] Mudassir: uh, I, I have a, I uh, have
[01:00:54] Mudassir: a theory that, um, nowadays you know, this kind of. Become [01:01:00] fashionable. It’s just like, you know, there was a time when everybody wanted to talk about success, so now it’s coming. Exactly the same thing with, with failure. So, everybody talk about failures is like, yeah, I just have like that when like half a percent failure or something like that.
[01:01:11] Mudassir: But people are kind of, you know, celebrating that in a, in a wrong way.
[01:01:16] Mudassir: I think that’s, a dangerous game that you’re playing.
[01:01:19] Ben: Yeah,
[01:01:20] Ben: it
[01:01:21] Mudassir: It’s, it’s not, it still hurts.
[01:01:22] Ben: failure is not cool. Like nobody wants to fail. You don’t set out to start a company with the intent of failing it. It makes no sense. I think we have to accept it, that it’s part of the process and it’s going to happen. And again, as long as, as long as you, if you’re, if, if, if you’re gonna fail, you know, this idea of fail fast is, is better than spending 10 years of your life doing something and then failing because you, you really don’t get that time back.
[01:01:52] Ben: So,
[01:01:53] Ben: But it’s not fail fast because it’s cool to fail. Failure, failure sucks. We should avoid it as much [01:02:00] as possible, of course, right? So do better things than less, better things. This just makes logical sense, but it is inevitable. If you’re gonna be a founder, you’re going to fail. Nobody succeeds, only succeeds.
[01:02:15] Ben: It’s not you, it’s not all wins. And, you know, back to the athlete thing. So, this is where that analogy is so powerful. But but I think maybe people don’t, the, the, the world’s best athletes lose a lot, a lot like teams. But but even look at solo athletes like the world’s greatest tennis player. Has lost so many times, so many times.
[01:02:42] Ben: so, it’s just
[01:02:44] Ben: part
[01:02:44] Ben: of the,
[01:02:45] Ben: it’s part of
[01:02:46] Ben: the experience and
[01:02:47] Ben: the journey.
[01:02:47] Mudassir: Yeah. totally agree to that. you write a newsletter I, I, I’ve been an avid reader of that when like
[01:02:53] Ben: Yes,
[01:02:54] Mudassir: some
[01:02:54] Mudassir: time. how did you end up starting that and what exactly do you mean by focused [01:03:00] chaos?
[01:03:00] Ben: sure. So, so I started in December of 2022 and, you know, it had been a while since I had been really writing and I, and I, I genuinely enjoyed writing. So that was part of why the experience of writing Lean Analytics was, was really fun to, to just write content. So, so I wanted to start writing again, and it was sort of a whim, I suppose, to say, well, look, let, let me do this thing.
[01:03:27] Ben: Let’s see what happens. If I can share some experiences with the world, lessons learned over the last X number of years um, I’m happy to do it. Um, and for me, focus, is this idea, you know, the first idea I had was controlling chaos, which sounds like something you want to do. Uh, but, but the reality is it’s really difficult in a at least a startup environment to, to truly control the chaos.
[01:03:57] Ben: And the, and it’s the wrong analogy [01:04:00] in a way, because we have to accept that some of the chaos is inevitable, and some of it’s actually good because in that messiness, we can find interesting opportunities. So, it’s not, we don’t want to turn startups into a to-do list. The, the, there are playbooks and frameworks, but following them, like a zealot is going to lead to failure.
[01:04:28] Ben: And so, for me, this idea of focus chaos is can you just point yourself in a reasonably right direction, not get everything perfect, you’re gonna make tons of mistakes. There will be lots of ups and downs. We shouldn’t pretend that this is easy, nor should we pretend that you can wrap your arms around the crazy and squeeze it to the point where everything is just perfect.
[01:04:52] Ben: So that’s
[01:04:53] Ben: sort of
[01:04:53] Ben: how
[01:04:53] Ben: the inspiration
[01:04:54] Ben: between, uh, behind calling it focus, chaos.
[01:04:57] Mudassir: it’s, it’s, it’s more like, you know, finding a little bit of [01:05:00] an order inside chaos. I mean, you still have to operate, but you need to have some degree of order,
[01:05:04] Ben: Yeah. There’s a balance. So, there’s a, there’s a balance between. My entire life is a checklist. And if I just follow these steps, surely, I will win. And being a headless chicken,
[01:05:14] Mudassir: Yeah.
[01:05:16] Ben: which is how a lot of founders think startups should be, right? Complete, complete, crazy, constant chaos. Um, working 23 hours a day, you know, all of the, and yeah, I don’t think that’s right.
[01:05:31] Ben: But I also don’t think doing things, you know, okay, I’m gonna follow these instructions and it’s gonna work. This is not putting together furniture you’re doing. Right. The, the, the level of a, it’s not cooking a recipe, by the way. Even if you cook a recipe, it never works out as good as the recipe book anyway.
[01:05:48] Ben: So, it’s,
[01:05:49] Ben: but but the point being is like you, there is no instruction manual to this. There are guides, there are better things to do and worse things to do, but you can’t just follow the [01:06:00] instructions and expect to win. So, there’s a balance between the process. And thinking about things in a logical order and headless chicken, you got to find the balance somewhere
[01:06:11] Ben: in there.
[01:06:12] Ben: And that’s,
[01:06:12] Ben: to me, the definition
[01:06:14] Ben: of focus, chaos.
[01:06:16] Mudassir: Absolutely. Um, so I have been in this startup work for like, quite some time and one thing that now that you mentioned, so, you know, just recall a couple of, you know, things back. All I get to hear from, like, everybody, mentors, you can say that of them were mentors, some of them were friends, some of them were passes or whatever. Uh, it was like, you know, startups Like you just have to work like 18 hours a day, otherwise you’re not a startup founder. some that there was uh, somebody who kind of labeled, labeled this, this whole thing as, if you’re not grinding, if you’re not putting in 18 hours of a day, that kind of a work, you don’t, you’re missing out on a founder’s mentality.
[01:06:58] Ben: Right.
[01:06:59] Mudassir: [01:07:00] and that’s like, that is like, uh, may, maybe that’s true.
[01:07:03] Mudassir: Maybe, maybe that’s not, that’s a different opinion, I think, um, now that I look back, it’s just like, you know, I had like a couple of mental breakdowns and that’s not a good site.
[01:07:13] Ben: Right,
[01:07:13] Mudassir: uh, exactly. So, so, you know, we, we kind of made the thing in checklist. you, you wake up, you have to do like a thousand things day, regardless of if you have like 24 hours in a day or like 72 hours in a day, you just have to do those hundred things. that’s when you know, you do it, like once you do it twice, you do it three times, you do it like six months and then you’re on a bunch of like mental breakdown.
[01:07:33] Mudassir: You just kind of lose this, the whole plot. And that’s when you realize, oh, so been doing this like all wrong.
[01:07:40] Mudassir: So, um, you, you work with a lot of founders probably you mentor them as well, right? So, um, how do you make sure that you know, the founders that you’re don’t have like mental breakdowns?
[01:07:50] Mudassir: They’re not going to that.
[01:07:51] Ben: It’s, it’s.
[01:07:52] Mudassir: spot
[01:07:53] Ben: it’s tough. It’s really, It’s, really tough. I don’t think you should, I don’t think you can diminish [01:08:00] the emotional roller coaster uh, that is being a founder. That, that’s, that’s real. Because every day, if you’ve, if you’ve started a company, you know that every day is um, multiple ups and victories where you feel like, I won.
[01:08:17] Ben: I’m at the, I’m at the top of the hill of the mountain, and, and equally I’m in the garbage. And that’s multiple swings per day. And it’s really difficult to deal with. I, there’s no question that running a company is a grind, but I, I don’t think the, the, the sort of extreme of hustle culture is healthy. Uh, you know, this 18 hour a day, you must be working all the time. work a lot. There’s no question about it. I enjoy it. Some of it, I think of it like, you know, writing the newsletter takes a lot of time, but I, I just love doing it. So, I, it’s barely, I barely think of it as work, but
[01:08:54] Ben: the extreme of hu hustle, hustle culture is not healthy.
[01:08:58] Mudassir: Yeah.
[01:08:59] Ben: [01:09:00] for me. I think the way, so answering the question is, is difficult because everybody has different life circumstances, but to me, the way to try to simplify things a little bit is to really try to prioritize what are the most important things you need to be working on, or the riskiest assumptions as another way of thinking about it as opposed to things that just don’t matter.
[01:09:26] Ben: Uh, and so when you look at that endless to-do list, what you objectively would appreciate is that most of that stuff doesn’t really matter to get done. Now, there are some things that do need to get done now or need to be figured out immediately. Founders have this tendency or, or this habit of maybe, of not being able to prioritize things super well.
[01:09:47] Ben: They get caught in stuff that doesn’t matter as much, but consumes energy and that’s, that’s where things get sort of breakdown because the, the, the list of things to do is infinite. [01:10:00] And so
[01:10:00] Ben: get overwhelmed if you can’t really crack how to prioritize in terms of how to avoid um, issues of, of, of mental breakdowns and mental health issues. For us as investors, it’s trying to stay as close as we can to founders and understanding genuinely how they’re doing. Uh, and again, because in our studio model, we’re working with those founders’ day. We we’re pretty close, we’re pretty close to them, but, but you don’t know. You don’t know what people’s family lives are like or their, their personal financial lives.
[01:10:33] Ben: And so, there’s so many variables in that. It’s hard to know how people are, are genuinely doing. More transparent conversations about it, more openness about it. Helping founders connect with other founders I think is really important because it’s hard for a founder to talk to me. I, I’d like to believe it’s easy, but I’m an investor.
[01:10:54] Ben: They’re spending my money. That’s a, it’s a bit of a different dynamic, another founder in [01:11:00] a safe space. So, we do have to put more effort into supporting the mental health of
[01:11:06] Ben: founders
[01:11:07] Ben: because it’s a, it’s a,
[01:11:08] Ben: it’s a roller coaster
[01:11:09] Ben: ride. It’s no, it’s no joke.
[01:11:12] Mudassir: yeah,
[01:11:12] Mudassir: Absolutely. Um, and, and I think almost all the founder’s kind of feel the Like, you know, it’s exactly the same thing. Like people are going through their personal traumas, personal life problems uh, and of the times those problem get translated into their work. then, ability to, to make good decision kind of get diluted and like all sorts of
[01:11:33] Ben: Right.
[01:11:34] Mudassir: But I think it’s, it’s, it’s important from a, you know, from an investor’s standpoint, that if you can have that um, you know, support system, I think that that’s Like, you know, people, people are there to just so you can talk to them so you can hear your problems and open up.
[01:11:51] Ben: Yeah. One of the things I also realized as an investor is that uh, investors learn, take a [01:12:00] everything. So, you know, we don’t invest in one company, we invest in a multitude of companies. Sometimes it’s, you know, it doesn’t matter what the number is. And so, we’re, we’re, our whole business is hedging our bets.
[01:12:11] Ben: We know a bunch of things are going to fail. That’s the nature of venture capital.
[01:12:16] Ben: Founders make one bet typically, right? One company. They’re all in on that one company. They’ve got one shot. I think what I’ve learned over time is founders are, are. Scared often about talking about the problems with investors because they’ve taken that investor’s money and now, they’re spending it and they, they realize, or they’re stressed out about, I’m not gonna be able to generate a return because I’m failing and that investor’s gonna be mad or disappointed or never wanna talk to me again, or whatever the case may be.
[01:12:51] Ben: And I’m not gonna suggest that doesn’t happen. That of course, does happen, but, but often what happens is the investor says, yeah, that’s, that’s the [01:13:00] game. I’m playing a portfolio game and
[01:13:03] Mudassir: Exactly.
[01:13:04] Ben: I’m, I invested in you, and even if this fails, I might still invest in you again. So, we can have a conversation about the realities you’re facing and the struggles you’re facing.
[01:13:16] Ben: And yeah, like I, I want more things to win than lose, but, but I’m playing a different game than the founders playing. And founders often get. Look, you shouldn’t take someone’s money and then just spend it like an idiot. You have a responsibility to spend that money as intelligently as possible, but sometimes things don’t work.
[01:13:38] Ben: And I think investors are more um, accepting of those realities they think, oh, I took that, that VC’s money. I’m, I’m wasting the money. Or I, I’m gonna lose and now I’m gonna hide, or I’m not gonna talk to them anymore. That, that’s the worst thing to do. Clenching up is the worst thing to do.
[01:13:59] Ben: The best thing to do [01:14:00] is just be upfront about it uh, and, and, and move on with your life. And, and that’s when investors, think, will actually want to genuinely help the
[01:14:08] Ben: founders that they’ve
[01:14:09] Ben: invested in they’re gonna see a return or not.
[01:14:13] Mudassir: yeah,
[01:14:13] Mudassir: absolutely. So, I need to, uh, you know, been meaning to ask this question.
[01:14:18] Mudassir: earlier in, conversation, but kind of forgot about that. coming to my mind, because, you know, nowadays it’s just like without ai you can’t have
[01:14:25] Mudassir: a conversation without anybody unless you’re mentioning ai. So, uh, I, I think, you know, um, every least, uh, a hundred different, a thousand different, you know, tools, coming to the market. you wake up, you probably see the same
[01:14:39] Mudassir: amount and then, you know, people are just like, going crazy with like, because it’s like opportunity and everybody’s like pouncing on that. So, from, from your standpoint, what’s, because you, you mentioned use cases and you know, as, as part of the criteria that you guys have in mind, what’s the biggest use case?
[01:14:58] Mudassir: Do you think of [01:15:00] AI or any part that you know, that you’ve seen out there that you think, yeah. Okay. So, they’re actually solving a use case. So, like, that’s pretty powerful. That is something that, you know, we would consider going after. What exactly is that?
[01:15:11] Ben: Yeah, so it, it’s a good question. I think. I think we’ve yet to really. Uncover those use cases. I think the, the obvious ones are around efficiency, uh, operational efficiency The speed with which you can start to things becomes very interesting. I think the notion of a co-pilot for every profession, if you think about it that way, could be very, very powerful.
[01:15:42] Ben: The challenge is that it’s pretty easy to build with the AI tools that exist today. So, the, the differentiation becomes the problem because
[01:15:54] Ben: now almost anybody can build an AI tool that writes [01:16:00] code for you or helps you with that. Or anybody can write an AI tool or build an AI tool that helps you write content.
[01:16:08] Ben: So, the, now the challenge is the differentiation between the myriad of products that are all trying to speed up or automate the same tasks. And, and so from an investment perspective, it’s hard to know what the winners might look like or how they win. But from a uh, efficiency perspective or like, I’m, I’m totally idea of a hundred tools coming out that do basically the same thing.
[01:16:37] Ben: Cuz, I think it moves the whole industry forward. None of them are fundable maybe. Right. So, it’s, there’s a difference between
[01:16:45] Ben: festival opportunity and what is just cool and should exist. So, and, and I think unlike some of the other trends we talked about, particularly things like metaverse, I don’t think, I mean, I don’t think metaverse is going away either, but [01:17:00] AI is not going away.
[01:17:01] Ben: It’s too, it’s too interesting. It’s too,
[01:17:05] Ben: powerful. The ease. You know, when, when, when Open AI launched chat, c b t and showed us an interface to interact with this um, capability, that, that really did, I think change the game. And, and that’s being, you know, we work with big companies and, and startups. They’re all implementing ai.
[01:17:25] Ben: This is not like a couple of companies doing. It’s like literally everybody is doing, again, where, where are the venture backable opportunities that remains to be seen, but totally fine with the, with the, with sort of the chaos or the crazy. Now,
[01:17:41] Ben: then it will settle down because
[01:17:43] Ben: a lot of these things won’t become commercially viable.
[01:17:45] Ben: People are already thinking, okay, where are the commercially viable opportunities?
[01:17:49] Mudassir: Tor. Yeah, exactly. It’s just like, you know, everybody’s building the same thing over and over and over, over again,
[01:17:54] Ben: Over and over? Yeah. Yeah. Automated pass lists, Automated blog, post writing, automated [01:18:00] this.
[01:18:00] Mudassir: yeah,
[01:18:01] Ben: all very helpful and make people’s lives better and faster, so that’s awesome. Those aren’t necessarily real businesses that you would invest. They could be good small businesses,
[01:18:13] Ben: but they’re not necessarily venture scalable businesses.
[01:18:15] Ben: But those are gonna, those are gonna come like that, that I, I, my, my thing is I think if all of us are
[01:18:22] Ben: working with the same
[01:18:23] Ben: data set, it, it
[01:18:24] Ben: becomes hard to differentiate
[01:18:26] Mudassir: few years ago, probably like a decade ago or something like that, when Apple launched Citi, and then you will assist, came. It was, it was like charge g p t light version or maybe a free version of charge G P T. That what it was like, you know, you can ask it, it can, you know, give you answers, can scrape the data through the web, give you the same thing. Do you think will be a point in time when Apple will enter this race just from consumer standpoint?
[01:18:53] Mudassir: Because data, they have the, the resources.
[01:18:57] Ben: I, I, I don’t, I don’t think I, I think [01:19:00] everybody will enter the space. So, yes, I think this, I think the short answer is yes uh, what they’re gonna do with it. But, you know, they have, they have, they have multiple interfaces now. They have computers, phones,
[01:19:13] Ben: Uh, watches, so on and so like, uh, yeah, a hundred percent.
[01:19:17] Ben: I, on the health data that they have that’s interesting. Um, so I, yes, I, I think a hundred percent.
[01:19:23] Ben: but I think every techno, every, every technology company, and I’m telling you, every non-technology company is also trying to figure out what to do. Uh, and, and we’re just sort of understanding what the implications What’s interesting for non-tech companies is that not all of them, but many of them have data
[01:19:44] Ben: and they were, they were never quite sure what to do with it.
[01:19:48] Mudassir: yeah.
[01:19:50] Ben: if I can just ask, you know, funnily enough, in lean analytics, we, we, we have this, like, this phrase, like all it goes all full circle where I think
[01:19:59] Ben: we [01:20:00] we said something like, the purpose of data is to be able to ask you good questions.
[01:20:05] Ben: But, but like that, that didn’t really, that doesn’t really exist. Right? You can’t just be like, Tight, you know, yelling at your computer to answer questions, but, but now you actually, you’re pretty darn close, right? So, so yes, apple, yes. But but these companies sitting on, on large amounts of proprietary data,
[01:20:25] Mudassir: Mm-hmm.
[01:20:26] Ben: are or should be thinking about how do I le finally leverage this data?
[01:20:31] Ben: I have to do more than like retarget customers with ads, which is probably important, but not terribly interesting.
[01:20:40] Ben: That’s where I think
[01:20:41] Ben: you’re gonna
[01:20:41] Ben: see a lot of
[01:20:42] Ben: interesting venture backable companies emerge.
[01:20:46] Mudassir: Yeah. And, just like, you know, early adapters, like everybody’s jumping, grabbing the API keys and building something on top of that. So that’s pretty easy. All of that is cool stuff. But I think once when the big player enters the market, that landscape gonna change like [01:21:00] drastically, like most of these tools. Yeah, may, maybe they’re around, but they’re not gonna be as, you know, popular or whatever. And then these big companies will take over because uh, the dataset they have, the resources they have,
[01:21:14] Ben: Bye.
[01:21:14] Mudassir: kind waiting and just seeing, okay, so let it calm down, let it calm down,
[01:21:17] Mudassir: let the hype come down, and that’s when they can enter the market.
[01:21:20] Mudassir: So, I think it’s pretty,
[01:21:21] Ben: I think so, but again, I think, I think you’re gonna see some of this get integrated into almost all tools. So just the other day I was creating a survey and I was using Typeform for the survey. Uh, so I start filling out the questions and then a little, little shows up. Next to my questions, oh, what is this?
[01:21:39] Ben: I haven’t seen this before. And I click it and it’s like, use ai. I’m, I’m, this is not exactly what it says, but it says something like, use AI to rewrite the question in a better format. All right, click the button and it writes the que. I’m like, that’s a better way of writing that question. So, you know, that doesn’t change my life.
[01:21:57] Ben: That’s not a gimmick but that makes [01:22:00] Typeform more useful. I’m like, that’s pretty cool. That’s a very simple use case. Uh, for, for ai. That’s really helpful. I.
[01:22:10] Mudassir: so, we have, uh, when we have this ritual on the podcast, what we do is we ask all of our guests a question and then a unit for, for our next guest what that question is.
[01:22:20] Mudassir: so, the question for you is, what are you putting in the world that you find amazing and that you think is going to change the world in a positive way?
[01:22:29] Ben: I, you know what, the question that I was gonna ask the next person was gonna be similar, so now I need another question,
[01:22:33] Ben: So, I, I would say for me, uh, I think my ability through Highline Beta to help founders achieve their missions, their dreams of building the companies they want to build,
[01:22:48] Mudassir: Mm-hmm.
[01:22:49] Ben: uh, puts value into the world so I can help other people do the things that they want to do, uh, to solve [01:23:00] problems in the world that matter.
[01:23:01] Ben: Uh, and I think that, that, that can create value.
[01:23:04] Mudassir: Okay. Awesome. Thank you so much for that. Uh, what’s your question for the next guest?
[01:23:09] Mudassir: Yeah, no, thank you so much. Uh, when really lovely talking to you. Um, I think this, this is probably the longest episode that we have recorded. so, thank you so much for the time.