Billion Dollar Pitch
Gabriel Flores 0:00
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I'm here with Brendan Dell, Brendan, how are we doing? Well, you know, it's gonna be. It's great. We were talking right before this. And we realized that we're relatively close, Brendan, where are you calling in from?
Brendan Dell 0:21
Bend, Oregon Bend,
Gabriel Flores 0:23
Oregon, folks, so we're not too far away at all. So give us a little background. Brendan, were, you know, before we kind of get into your business, billion dollar tech, you were in the podcast, you've also written a book. Before we get in all that, though, who is Brendan? It was a little background.
Brendan Dell 0:39
Wow. That's, that's a very sort of existential question. Well, who am I? Well, I run a company called go to market accelerators. In early stage accelerator for b2b founders. I started my career in actually real estate. In commercial real estate down in LA spent the first few years of my career walking up and down, office buildings, getting thrown out of office buildings, at which time I was trying to don't drum up business for this team I was working on at which time I had one of those, there's got to be a better way epiphanies. And I was like, Man, this can't possibly be the best way to go about getting clients. I'm literally walking into random people's offices and asking them if they want space. This is, but this is how they did it, you know. And anyhow, this sort of search for a better way led me to a book on copywriting. This book on copywriting writing led me down a rabbit hole of copywriting, positioning marketing this whole thing. And sort of as I was running out of money, I put these two promotions together. They were both direct mail promotions anyway, and ended up getting like $50 million in business for this team, of which I made very, very little money. But it was a very big success. And it also got me an introduction with the CEO of one of those companies who was like, Oh, this was cool, what you did, could you do something like this? For me, that ended up being an early stage tech company that later went public. And I par I've since I pivoted into tech, where I was more passionate. And that's, you know, fast forward 15 years, and here we are.
Gabriel Flores 2:17
Here we are. So let's talk about the first business. Right, your What was your first business?
Brendan Dell 2:24
My first bit, I mean, I guess kind of that, you know, working in real estate was my first business because that was, you know, you're an independent contractor. You know, and that, that was sort of its own thing. And I you know, I did have some very moderate success outside of that, you know, but very difficult time. But I'll tell you what, that first business taught me more than anything, was I was not a salesperson, like that is not like a born quality of mind. And it was incredibly uncomfortable for me to go up and down those office buildings and knock on doors and talk to receptionist and also just sort of have that imposter syndrome feeling of like, I mean, actually, at that time, it really wasn't imposter syndrome. It was like legitimate impostor, like, I really didn't know what I was talking about. And you're trying to get these, like very successful, you know, they have offices on the west side of LA, these are like, wealthy people, you know, like to use me to make their, you know, multimillion dollar transactions. And but what it did was it taught me how to talk to people, it taught me how to sell, and those are skills that have really carried me through and I think for anyone, if the, you know, not sure exactly, listen to your show, but if young people listen to their, to your show, man go out and do direct sales for six months, a year, even if you never want to sell anything, it's just gonna prep you for everything you have to do in life.
Gabriel Flores 3:45
Yeah, I completely agree. You know, I did real estate for some time. And that, that kind of get in front of people like this is some of the biggest purchases they're gonna make in their life, and they're kind of trusting with you. So you're gonna, you're really trying to have to learn the nuances, but you're also having to learn the emotions of individuals, how they purchase, why they purchase, what what kind of is, what is, what is they what do they find valuable, right. And finding that's, that's kind of like the core of entrepreneurship right there is really trying to figure out what it is that your consumers find valuable. And then give it to him. Right, create, create something and then monetize it.
Brendan Dell 4:24
Yep. 100%. That's basically it now, simple, but not
Gabriel Flores 4:28
easy, simple, but not easy. Now, you mentioned, you know, you went to real estate and you transition into tech. Let's talk about that transition. How did that occur?
Brendan Dell 4:37
Yeah, so I mean, it really started sort of accidentally and incrementally. It started it. So I was never really big on on real estate. I sort of got into that because it was recommended to me is a good industry and so forth. And I got into tech because I'd had that that one sort of. It was a big success for big success for some Some were not for me, they made, you know, hundreds and hundreds of 1000s of dollars off those deals. But the it introduced me to this, this guy and I found him. I didn't even mention his name on podcasts just sitting there asked, and if it's, you know, whatever kosher, but the, you know, he was an incredibly bright guy who's building his business, it got me exposed to what I saw was like, you know, everything is technology, right? You know, the, it's, anyway, so it got me exposed to this guy, and it got me exposed to this industry. And so I learned from him and I started, he started introducing me to people and I started walking that story around. And it really just started his copywriting. It started as me saying, Hey, I have this skill that I can offer you and I can offer your marketing team or I can offer, you know, you as the founder. And that's how that and I mean, it was really just freelancing at the beginning is what is what it was.
Gabriel Flores 5:54
And so is this this kind of venture grassroot effort from financing perspective as well? Or did you actually go at some financing to go get books and now and that nature?
Brendan Dell 6:02
No, no, I bootstrapped everything I've done a lot of the companies I work with now. They they do raise money, we can talk all about that, if that's useful or interesting to your audience, I think. Raising money, whether you're talking about, you know, raising investment dollars, you're talking about incurring debt there, you know, there are reasons to do it. In my perspective, there's, there's few reasons to do it, generally, you don't want to do it, if you can at all avoid it. And that goes for debt or equity. Capital it just, and again, we can talk about that if it's interesting to you. But yeah, they I've always tried to avoid that, because it creates a host of sort of dependencies. And it, you know, it just changes the dynamic of how you operate.
Gabriel Flores 6:52
Yeah, no, I think the general premise of the you know, this shows are really tried to provide just a general overview of what entrepreneurship is, you know, in some of the pitfalls, so let's talk about some of those things to be cautious of in the in the in the funding world.
Brendan Dell 7:09
So I think we'll start with raising investment dollars, because I think that's what a lot of people, you know, Debt Debt is, is, is common, if you have to start a capital intensive business, it may not, you may have no other choice, if you like, you want to make chips, and you got to buy a machine or something, I don't know, you know, but the a lot of people are sort of enamored by the whole raising money thing. And I guess the first thing to understand is like, when you raise money, you're changing the entire trajectory of your business. Because when you when you are taking money from investors, if you can get it, those people are incentivized in a very specific way. And if you move back 10 years, and you look at why does venture cat or you know, further than that, why does venture capital exist, you're saying you're trying to create big world changing technologies that really need escape velocity, in order to capture a category, right, we want to take this market, we want to be Uber, we need to beat everyone there, because there's going to be some sort of monopolistic dynamic in that environment. And so a lot of people pursue money, but what they actually have in terms of an idea is one, it's not a winner take all market in two, they change the dynamics of their business from, hey, I can see what's going on here. I could build this organically, I can do what's right, by my customers to I have investors now who are primarily in the raising money game, right? Like, the way venture capital firms work that I think a lot of people don't realize is they make money in in a couple of ways. The first is in a 2% fee that they charge all of their investors to manage their money. So they are actually incentivized to raise more money more often, because they take more fees. So they are actually in the LP game, not the founder game. And so that is the end, you are just one of many of those things, and they are very accountable to their investors on short term markups, meaning, if I gave you a million dollars, and gave you a $5 million valuation of your company, can we now go out and say the company's worth, you know, $20 million on the next round, because look, I'm winning, give me more money, keep money in my fund, I keep charging fees. And the second way they make money is by the outcome, but those come few and far between on seven to 10 year windows. And so you really just want to keep your fund and operate, operating. So this is a very long winded way of saying it very much changed the trajectory of the business. And so the only real reason in my mind to take capital is if you really are looking into the dynamic of your market and you're saying hey, I think that this is going to be a winner take all kind of a thing and I need to get there first faster and it's going to require a ton of cash or you have enough existing traction, that you can look at the business and say okay, this thing is going to give me some escape a lot like I can get there on my own, but it's going to take 10x longer and I'm willing to give up now, I have product market fit I have customer of all these things, I'm willing to give up some of that control some of that upside, because I can do it in three years instead of 10. Now, but that's really it, I wouldn't use it to fund ideas, I wouldn't use it to, you know, cover up problems in your business, which is also common, like, Hey, I can't get it, I can't get repeatable customer acquisition. So, you know, let's raise some money, because it's gonna buy us time. Those are all bad reasons. In my opinion,
Gabriel Flores 10:26
no, and this is, this is great. In fact, you mentioned you now have a business accelerator where you help business to business kind of companies. So let's talk about that. Because I think this is exactly probably some of the information you probably provide. One, how do you start that program? And really, really, who is it that you're helping?
Brendan Dell 10:47
So I work with early stage software founders, primarily in the b2b space, and that's usually somewhere between a friend and like, if they're raising money between friends and family and the Series A, if they're not, they're usually under 50 employees, they're trying to figure out how to scale. And if you look at this market, you are sort of as a founder, you have a couple of like, what what I guess what's common is, you have somebody who's either technical or they know how to build the thing, or they come from some space, they're like, I was just talking to a guy the other day, he's like, I came out of lawn care. So I started the Uber for lawn care, right, like, or I have a client right now who came out of finance. So she built a tool for finance people, this is super common. So they understand the people that are trying to address, they do not know how to bring the thing to market. And they're left with basically two choices. One is I can take a long time and try to experiment and figure it out. Or two, I can try a higher. And both can work. And both have problems. Experimentation, obviously, is takes forever. And it's exactly that it's experimenting. And there's actually like, you can just skip that step by figuring out what other people are doing. And to when you are hiring, going from zero to one is a very different skill set than going from like, you know, 10 million to 50 million, or 50 million to 100 million, those are management roles. And so when you hire a CMO comes out of those spaces, they may not even really understand the tactics of which they're executing, they understand how to staff and organize an apartment. And if you're a founder, and you don't understand even like the questions to ask or what the pieces of the puzzle are, you end up hiring the wrong people. And I see this again and again, that people will burn 612 months because somebody sort of talked the game well, but they actually don't have any idea what they're talking about or how to do it. And so we're solving for those two problems to give founders a place where they can capitalize on what's working right now. They get the information that's aggregated across all the companies we advise, and we help they work through all the foundations of what makes it go to market strategy, which is ideal customer profile, positioning messaging tactics, and scale and leadership hiring. You know, you also
Gabriel Flores 13:07
you're you're really also talking about a lot of the granular things I think people overlook, right? The customer acquisitions, and really like the targeted the targeted messaging from a marketing perspective, what would you say is one of the most difficult things of being an entrepreneur like what, what are one thing maybe that they overlook the most?
Brendan Dell 13:29
Well, okay, I'll there's sort of two different questions there. But I think the most difficult thing of being an entrepreneur is managing the uncertainty. And because you're constantly dealing in, in uncertain environments, and so like on a personal level, I think that's one of the most difficult, difficult parts. And one of the ways that you can overcome one of the things that people overlook, and typically don't do well, especially in tech, is you can solve a lot of that uncertainty with focus. Because the clearer you are, and when I'm talking ideal customer persona, I'm talking about getting granular about who is this person in a b2b context, what are their jobs to be done? I'm not talking about a title, right? Because a title can mean a lot of different things. I'm talking about like, what is the job that this person is trying to do? And how are you uniquely qualified to help them accomplish it. And that all helps to overcome a lot of that insecurity. Because the closer you can get to your customers, the easier it is for you to position in their mind as the best option, the more you can understand them, the more you can design solutions that are specifically tailored. The first way to kill efficiency in in a go to market strategy is to go broad, first way.
Gabriel Flores 14:38
I you know, it's kind of funny you say that I completely agree. I think when you go too broad, it's like focus on what is your core competency, right, focus on your core competency. Now, what would you say has what is what are some of the easy things that an entrepreneur has to go through? Is there anything
Brendan Dell 14:55
easy things? Yeah, well, you know, But the easy I don't know if it's easy, but and it has its own problems. But if, if you, you know, if you're if you're smart and you position well, and you grow, you had periods where you're like, holy shit, this is excuse me. Alright, yeah, where are you like, you know, man, this, this is happening almost too easily hit like this is just like it's all clicking, it's rolling the right way, you know, you sort of ease you can't seem to miss, and you get periods like that too. And I think that's, you know, that's what you work for but knowing that it's always a moving target that that gentleman who founded the companies called Green Power the other day, he said to me, on my podcast, billion dollar tech, if you are not reinventing yourself, every 33 years, you're not becoming a new and better version of yourself as an entrepreneur, you're doing it wrong, because the challenges keep changing. And so if you're not evolving with the pace of that, you know, you're not going to make it, what would
Gabriel Flores 16:01
you say? What would you say? What does it take to be a successful business owner? Like, what what does it take?
Brendan Dell 16:09
What does it take? Well, consistency, I think more than anything, and then best as you can. I don't want to use the word obsession, but you know, there's so many superlatives in like the modern business context of like, you know, you gotta kill yourself to make it work and all those things. And, you know, you do need focus, you do need those things, but it's the consistency, and the falling in love with the process of it. Because it's easy to get hooked on the result, somebody one time compared it to me, to marathoning, which I'm a runner. And if you're if there are any runners out there, you know, that basically, like, distance running is 99% training, 1% racing, like you, you just it takes, you know, five months to do a marathon build, and then you get a couple of hours to execute, and it works or it doesn't. And I think business is a lot like that, because you're building building building towards towards these big points. And you might get your exit, or you might get, you know, a few that have that huge year, but it's that and it's the process of doing it. So if you're only in it to get that hit of the thing at the end, you know, it's very, very difficult to sustain. And so like, what's the day to day process, the boring work? That's gonna get you to the outcomes.
Gabriel Flores 17:31
Now, for those individuals that are are listening, they have an idea, how do they take their idea and turn it into a business?
Brendan Dell 17:40
That's a big question. So the first thing that I would do is start with, okay, somebody, there's a gentleman named Tony Jimu, who's on my podcast, he's the founder of oyster HR, this is a unicorn. And I always use this quote, because I think it's so good. There's so many entrepreneurs out there with solutions looking for problems. So they think that they've got this very interesting idea this, you know, but does anyone care? And so the first question to ask yourself is, you've got this idea? Who is it for, and then make sure that they that you understand the problem it solves for them? Because there's too many solutions looking for problem. Don't just believe that, because it's a problem for you. It's a problem for other people. And don't just believe because, you know, your mom said, it's a good idea, or your friend who's in the space, like this guy Hirsch, he founded a company called all stacks, which is very, you know, well, they're, they're growing fast. I think they raised their a recently. And doesn't matter what they do, but he spoke to 300. engineering leaders before he was like, Okay, I think this is a real thing. Do that, like, go out and talk to everybody that you think that this is a problem for and that, that it's a real problem. And by the way, if it's a real problem, some of them should probably be willing to give you money in the form of being like an early customer, or at least a beta tester to help solve that problem. Because if they don't care enough to give you their time, they sure as hell aren't going to care enough to give you their money.
Gabriel Flores 19:10
That's very sure. Now you've you've kind of talking you know, in a way very confidently Have you ever had a moment of self doubt?
Brendan Dell 19:22
Yeah, every night before I go to bed How do you overcome? Yeah, I get back to work. That's really all it is, you know, you stay focused on who the who it's for how you're helping, and I get back to work.
Gabriel Flores 19:41
And what is it that keeps you up at night as an owner? What are is a you know, a founder?
Brendan Dell 19:49
Yeah, I think as I go on, what it used to be is just a lot about the uncertainty. You know, will this work? What are people going to think about it or or what will people around me think those kinds of questions. But when you the longer you go, the more you realize you can only control what you can control. And so if you have an uncertainty in your mind, first of all, is it? Is it a real thing? Or are you catastrophizing? And then second of all go go through the risk, like so if the risk is that people don't find the thing valuable, go ask the question, build a landing page set up an ad, right? Like, how can you de risk the situation, to feel but you know, so that so that you have less less to worry about? And so I just tried to stay focused on those things at this point, because it's, as you go along, it's always something you know, and it never, you know, you have periods where it's not something but in general, it's always something.
Gabriel Flores 20:46
Yep. It's always something. Now, you mentioned your podcast. I've also mentioned the book, give the give the folks at home that are listening right now. Tell them about your podcasts, what is it do tell us about the book, you know, plug yourself here.
Brendan Dell 20:58
So the positive podcast is called billion dollar tech. We speak with unicorn founders as well as people on their way there. And what we're trying to do is deconstruct the, you know, the practices that have helped them be successful with their businesses, and any of the lessons learned along the way. And the book is called 12. Immutable Laws of high impact messaging, I wrote that because I believe the way you communicate the value of your business is one of those critical levers that influences you know, how much traction you can get in at what speed and it's something that many people overlook, and do not do effectively. And so from working with all these companies, I documented what I found works, and put it in that book. And in the earliest stage, accelerators go to market accelerate. And that's it, Brendan dell.com.
Gabriel Flores 21:49
Nice, nice. And I focus, I was looking at the book, it's pretty unique, because I completely agree with you. It's about telling the right story. And to the right audience, right. There's there's various stories you can tell but understanding who you're presenting to, and what story is going to resonate with them is an parable. Very important. So awesome. Brandon. So do you. What about social media? Do you have any locations? You mentioned you have the website? Where else can folks find you?
Brendan Dell 22:15
Yeah, they can. So they can find me on LinkedIn. Brendan del, they can find me on Instagram, the Brendan del. And I even think the Tick Tock that the podcast producers are getting us on tick tock soon, so maybe not exactly sure about all that. But I think it will be under my name, something.
Gabriel Flores 22:37
Just go in the shades of E so go. So folks, we are in fact on at the shades of V on Tik Tok. Go ahead and follow us. Three or four videos on there, Brendan, thank you, again, so much for being on the show is anything else that you would like any advice you would like to give our entrepreneurs that are listening?
Brendan Dell 22:56
Yeah, if you want to do something, I just encourage people to get out there and do it. And that, you know, you you can't get the upside without going through the crappy parts. So anybody's story you see, that seems like and also, you know, it's easy to listen to the business press or whatever. And somebody's like, they built this from that and you know, in no time, the real world, it happens sometimes, but the real world it doesn't look like that. So get out there go through the you know, the the shitty part, spend a couple of years so you don't have to work for people and deal with their crap.
Gabriel Flores 23:33
Yeah, yes, Brandon again. And thank you so very much for your time. I really do appreciate it. For those folks listening. Please follow me at the shades of E on the social media sites. You can also visit the shades of e.com to subscribe to the newsletter. We'll have Brendan's information on there, the week before the episode airs, the weekly episodes and the week after as well that will have a dedicated podcast page on the shades of e.com website. So make sure to visit that after the show and you can get the full transcription of our conversation. Brendon again. Thank you so much. I hope it's not too snow. I'm not sure what is it out there and bend. We've got some snow out there.
Brendan Dell 24:09
Yeah. Quite a bit of snow so far. This Yes. Yeah.
Gabriel Flores 24:14
All right, man. Well enjoy and enjoy the holiday season. Thank you folks for listening and have a great night.