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Kevin Surace

Kevin Surace

Kevin Surace - August 03
VIEW RECORDING - 50 mins (No highlights)

@0:00 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Hello everyone and welcome. Hello everyone and welcome to The Shades of Entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores.

Today I'm here with Kevin Surace. Kevin, how are we doing?

@0:15 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

I'm great.

@0:16 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

How are you? I'm excited about this one because folks, we are going to be talking about, I think something that everybody hears about, but maybe doesn't really know too much about yet.

And that is AI. But before we get into all that fun. Kevin, love a bit of an introduction. Can you please give us a bit of a background, introduce yourself, share a bit about your educational background career, any personal experiences that have shaped your entrepreneurial journey.

@0:43 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

Absolutely. I'm from upstate New York. I know you went to Syracuse, so we know. Orange. Yes. We go orange at Jim Beheim, not in charge of the team anymore.

@0:55 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Unbelievable. Right. I can't believe it. I'm still in shock.

@0:57 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

Well, you know, he ran basketball. Oh, there for, I don't know, 88 years or something like that.

@1:02 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

probably probably time to give it up. Yeah.

@1:06 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

Look, I went to school at RIT in Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology. I'm on the board there these days, great school also.

Look, I really wanted to be on stage and be an actor and a drummer and a music director and all these other things.

And my dad probably rightly so said, I think you're going to school for engineering kids. I'm not sure about this acting thing, right?

There's some really good ones out there. And that turned out to be really, really a great choice. was probably always an entrepreneur at heart.

had little businesses, really repairing radios and TVs and things like that when I was young. And so I came out to Silicon Valley right after college in 1985, a long time ago and decided this was for me.

And I did work, large company, too large company. I worked for a small company and then I felt I had learned enough to go out and start companies.

I started my first company at 29 and continued to do so after that and continued to plow them out.

I had some big successes and had some losses along the way. earned almost 100 worldwide patents. So I've been inventing the whole time.

And it is a great way to live if you want all the stresses that God was being an entrepreneur.

How am I going to make payroll this week? So it's not always for everyone.

@2:37 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

I would definitely agree to that. And I think it's sometimes a lonely feeling sometimes because you're kind of out there on an island sometimes being a pioneer without a frontier and kind of creating your own path.

Now, let's talk about, because we kind of briefly discussed this before we got on the air, all of the different things that you are doing.

So what is your current venture?

@3:00 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

Sure business and what inspired you to pursue this particular entrepreneurial endeavor. So, so these days I typically have many businesses that I've started and and after you've done a lot of these what you tend to do is start them hire people far better than you to run them and be on the board right because because it's very hard to be CEO of five businesses so a lawn musk aside everyone else is unless you sleep zero hours.

So, so I think there is you know at a certain point in one's career you can start these higher amazing teams be very active technically and very active when there's a problem and very active when you're needed but also let that team you know run its course right and and and so early on when you're an entrepreneur you are also the CEO and the janitor and everything in between and I've been CEO you know a dozen times give or take and I don't I don't necessarily need to do that anymore though I often do step

Ben, when there isn't a CEO in the role or something like that. So, first business is today. At Vance, Fance AI, that is an AI company that has developed and brought to market five years ago, technology that finds bugs in software without writing scripts, without manual testing.

can find things that you could never find. So, using AI, generative AI, actually, in 2017. We used to call it AI generated.

Now, it's generative AI, but the concepts are the same. It was a time it wasn't a transformer model today.

It is, but we'll talk about that a little more. We've got token ring. Token is a company that is in Rochester, New York, addressing a huge ransomware and cybersecurity issues that we have today.

In fact, with AI coming along, people are using AI, guys, of course, to generate phishing emails that really, really are getting hard to tell that they're phishing emails because they are generated by AI.

Something a lot of you are listening to. There's no no is that all MFA to FA on your phone.

Everything else is long been hacked. It's quite easy to hack. And so all these codes that you've been to a while, you got to do this.

Actually, a real ransomware person knows how to hack those in a second, both socially and engineering wise, technically. Got another company called Penn Performances, where we are working on a very high end personalized, two way interactive performances for high net worth homes.

And you'd say, well, how many of those are there? I'll just give you one staff. It's very interesting. There are a hundred thousand million dollar home theaters in the US.

A hundred thousand million dollar home theaters just in the US.

@5:46 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)


@5:47 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

Yeah, which is fascinating. That's a big market. It's untapped. Nobody is delivering high quality specialized entertainment just to them that only they could afford and that they would find super interesting.

they would find it as a user. Unique experience because it is two way, right? So that's a lot of what I work on.

And then I do 40 to 50 keynotes a year, almost one a week, mostly on AI, generative AI, and the impact on your business, your life, how you can put it to work at work, et cetera.

And then last, I have left brain, right brain, the other side of my brain, where I'm active in producing and directing musicals and film.

My last film we finished is 1660 Vine. It is a musical. It's about influencers who come together to live in Hollywood together and build their influencing capability.

It's fabulous. It's for sale to the streamers. So it'll be on one of the major streamers soon. And then got a couple shows on Broadway right now as a producer and part of a production company called Whits End.

So I did get to finally do what my dad said. You should not. Dude, because there's no money in it, he might be right, there may be no money in it, but...

@7:04 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

But I'm doing it anyways.

@7:06 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

No, I will tell you this about that because I think your listeners will appreciate it. Everything I've learned in tech, I have brought to film in Broadway to rethink the way we produce these shows and drive the cost down and drive the quality up.

And we've rethought how we can film literally a feature film, not filmed on the stage, a feature film. And how can we do it at a lower cost faster because we're seeing the cost of these films, there's lots of reasons for it, just skyrocket.

I get that something with a lot of special effects will cost a few hundred million dollars. get that. But not every film is just a wonderful drama.

should cost a hundred million dollars or fifty million. And for Disney to even put something on Disney Plus can cost them twenty five or thirty million dollars.

And you go, that's wonderful. It was a wonderful two hours of energy. How did they spend $30 million on that?

So we're really, really redefining how one does this, just the way we would in a startup. Because in a startup, when you have no resources, you look around and say, how do I save money?

How do I save money? How do I save money? And when you bring that to doing film, all of that mentality, it turns out you can do some amazing things, probably in any field.

If you bring that startup mentality, that entrepreneurship mentality to a new field that you haven't touched before. So the world's our oyster.

@8:33 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yes, you know, that's a great point that I think listeners need to really take note of is your experiences in various industries is translatable to other industries.

You just have to understand what you're trying to translate over. Your operational skills are very translational. Your strategic mindset, your creativity, you know, there's a lot of these things.

You mentioned it. You're talking first AI and then you talk about Broadway. Now, and those are two very different things because AI might be able to write a script someday, certainly, but AI will never be able to, well, maybe a visual sense, but I will never be able to go to a Broadway show and see an AI produced image front of me.

Maybe one of those, well, I forgot what they're called the Dancing Robots. Yeah, the Dancing Robots or something. But yeah, you know, it's true.

There's going to be something things now. But that just kind of goes back to that point is the translational skills.

@9:28 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

Now, let's talk a little bit about AI. Yeah, because I think that's a topic people are very interested. First, let's start with the very simple.

@9:36 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Sure. What is AI?

@9:38 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

So look, AI, first of all, has been around since the 1950s. So we're talking about 70 plus years. Okay.

for those of us have been working in and around the AI field or the application of AI and they're too different.

There are people at Google and universities developing new algorithms. Okay. And then there's people applying those algorithms. So I've been on the applied side.

How can I take this amazing work that you've done in an algorithm and apply it to something that's going to improve the human situation?

And so the first thing, you know, people when you talk about AI and generative AI today, of course, they always ask me, is it going to destroy us?

Is it going to take our jobs and is it going to destroy the world? Well, let me answer the destroy the world part regardless of what my friend Alon keeps saying.

For his own purposes, I'm sure. Look, the bottom line is as long as you do not take chat GPT and hook it to our nuclear arsenal and give it the ability to fire nuclear bombs at will.

@10:44 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

It will not destroy humanity.

@10:46 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

It has no ability to marry humanity. It puts out text and images. Okay. So everybody get over this. The second thing is, is I'm going to give you some things to compare to in the early 70s, electronic calculators came out.

Okay, now, not all of us were there to just use that at that time, but when they came out, it was mind blowing to people because all of a sudden you could do the square root of a number that would have taken you a half hour to calculate and it's done in a second.

And all of a sudden, we never had to do long division again. And 10 15 years after that we got the spreadsheet Lotus 123 then Excel.

Everyone uses Excel today and when Excel showed up in accounting departments at first it was like, oh, I can't use this I've got, you know, I've got all these people adding up columns and rows that's what they used to do right in pencil in in lecture books.

And then Excel took that over. And what happened is by the time we got to Excel, we had solved math.

Any math, all the way through calculus can be done by a calculator and Excel and you don't need to be a computer programmer to do it.

Anyone can do it and we all use those tools today right we all use Excel in fact Excel may be our calculator.

@12:00 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

My wife is a wizard in the formulas. Right. Right. So it's the greatest ever. It's amazing, right?

@12:05 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

And like I said, you don't really have to be a coder to do amazing things. All the formulas are built in.

They're incredibly powerful. So this is fascinating. That means for humanity, we solved math, doing math 40 years ago, solved, done, put to rest, right?

30 to 40 years ago. This is fascinating because we've never looked back and said, Oh, I really need to do some long division today.

No, you don't ever ever in your life. You don't need to do that. Doing fourth grade once, you know how to do it.

You'll never do it again. Actually, it's probably not even useful to learn how to do it. There's nothing there.

Okay. Now language was much harder. And so it's taken us an extra 30 to 40 years to begin to solve language to where it actually starts to sound reasonable.

And it turns out it took something like a trillion tokens or learning a trillion phrases on the web. Before a system like OpenAPI's Chat, GBT, or BARD, or the others, could start to actually respond in something that sounded like it was pretty human.

By the way, we've been working on these human-like responses since the 60s. The very first sort of virtual assistant that would do a little bit of this was from MIT and it was called ELISA.

And you could ask ELISA questions and it would respond. Now, that was a rule-based system. And we used rule-based systems as fake AI, if you will.

But they could learn. And to, for decades, and it worked. And my, our invention, my invention, which was Portugal, my talk, Magic Talk, became General Motors, OnStar, all of that got licensed to become Siri, Google Assistant, and all of that.

It's the core of that. That was in the late 90s. And we used machine learning and we used rule-based systems.

we used lots of people listening to what was going on to add more rules and add more responses, right?

Well, now, we've got a system that learned Learn's on its own. And learn so much it can really respond in very reasonable ways.

So now we're solving language, okay? That is really cool because that allows every entrepreneur to say, huh, how should I write this blog post?

Let me ask the AI and if you've done this and most people who tried some of these things, it will write a better blog post than you could.

Not always accurate, not always perfect. It needs some editing, but it's really good. It's really good because the prose is excellent.

The sentence structure is excellent. A lot of the ideas, it doesn't have ideas of course. ideas that it is grabbed and formulated from other things it's read are beyond what I would have remembered.

And I see a lot of things show up and go, oh, that's brilliant. I wouldn't have thought of it.

@14:43 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

I know it. I know what it is, but I wouldn't have thought of that.

@14:46 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

So what an amazing tool, just like Excel is. It's just a tool. And once you realize a tool, you go, I'm going to use this throughout my life, throughout everything I marketing, sales, coding.

And of course in co-pilot, something called co-pilot from Microsoft has been out a couple of years now. Co-pilot doesn't write usually very good code, but pretty interesting hints of what you need to do.

Right? So even if it doesn't run, you can use those ideas and edit it in good order.

@15:19 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

So what an amazing time to be alive. Yeah. the one thing you kind of alluded to was, you know, individuals kind of concern.

I think AI does have an interesting It's on jobs, but what jobs are you, would you say are safe?

@15:34 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

Yeah, plumber.

@15:37 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Because who's going to do that?

@15:40 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

mean, the cost of developing a robot to be able to go into every single person's house to fix the plumbing would be so many billions of dollars as to be not worth the effort.

Just get a plumber. It's a better day. So look, first of all, AI is taking tasks, not jobs. What I mean by that.

If I am in marketing in any company, including a startup, right? And I am the marketing department. For sure, I have too many things to do.

I have SCM, SEO, posts, of other ads, ads, all kinds of stuff, right? And I've got so much to do, I'm always behind because that's how it is in marketing.

Now, AI can take what used to take me three hours to write the next blog. I and edit it probably down to one minute to write it and 20 minutes to edit it.

So I have become five, six, ten, maybe more times more productive. So what AI is doing is amplifying my brain power.

It's sort of an assistant. Yes, it is. But rather than artificial intelligence, it's amplified intelligence. I used to have one brain and now for many of my tasks, I have 20 brains.

That's amazing. And now I can do more things in parallel. Now, you'll notice that marketing person didn't get their job eliminated.

Someone would have to still do the work to prompt the AI, to then edit the things that come back, get it out and put it where it needs to be.

But now my job is raised. So instead of me doing the menial task of let me write word by word by word of this blog post, that task is done for me.

Now I'm in editing mode and I'm in raising the thought process mode and be more strategic about it and maybe getting three of them out this week instead of one.

That's amazing. That makes everybody more productive. And when companies get more productive, overall they make more money and overall in time the GDP goes up and everybody makes more money.

know that's controversial and I know again the politics have trickled down and all that. But it is true. Higher GDP ultimately results in a better standard of living for everybody, even if there's a lag between the two.

So, what a fascinating time. It's the best time ever. So, use these tools and really amplify your intelligence.

@18:10 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Now, let's talk a little bit about the future. What is the impact of AI over the coming years and at home and at work?

How do I see it impacting? I see the smart ring, have the ring doorbell, got the automatic door lock.

So, I certainly see it impact my home as well. where do you kind of see it envisioning it in the coming years?

In the coming years impacting?

@18:36 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

It's been impacting your home in ways that you haven't thought about facial recognition on Facebook. mean, all kinds of things have been in our life for more than a decade that are AI based, that use neural nets and use the most advanced forms of AI.

Including medical imaging now, all kinds of things that are used to augment the radiologist, the doctor, etc. I think what you're going to see is, first of all, robots are not accelerating at the pace that our algorithms can.

And that's because it's hardware, right? So in the end, hardware like solenoids and motors really haven't changed in over 100 years.

And so you can put vision systems on them, you can do all kinds of things, but in the end, translating all of this stuff to hardware is taking a lot longer.

That's why we don't have a true driverless car today that can go anywhere, because our tolerance for a mistake in a machine like that, a physical machine is basically zero, right?

We know that drivers, human drivers, kill 50,000 people a year in the United States give or take. And we sadly accept that.

A driverless vehicle that pulls grandma as she walks across the road is there's no tolerance for that at all.

It has to be a tolerance of zero, Right? So they have to be infinitely better than humans are. And that's a, turns out to be very high bar.

And, you know, now hundreds of billions of them spent trying to get to that bar. And we still may be in the five years away.

Well, happen. We will have driverless vehicles. But it turns out these medications are very, very hard. It's, you know, the funny things are is, you know, driver or, you know, in driverless mode is going down the road.

And, and, and it sees a The that has a stop sign on it and it stops. Or, or, or a billboard that has a big red light on it.

And it stops. And it says, huh, the lights red, I better stop, even though the billboards off the side.

Now we would recognize that as billboard. There's other things like bubbles. Okay, we see bubbles and we go other bubbles.

can actually drive through them. There's a kid on the side of the road, you know, throwing bubbles where a driverless vehicle says, I can't guarantee there's your bubbles and I can't kill anyone.

Therefore, I must stop.

@20:57 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)


@20:58 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

Yeah, it'll stop as long as the kids put. So you have all these problems that turn out are really, really hard to solve that are easy for humans to solve because we go, well, we're not actually going to kill anyone, right?

Of course, there might be a situation where there's a really bad dude in front of the car and you want to kill him.

@21:19 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

And then the car won't go because driverless vehicle says they can't go, but he's got a gun pointed at me, right?

@21:25 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

So there's all these things that humans know how to get out of and deal very, very hard, you know, to train AI.

But we are going to see drivers, going to see for sure driverless vertical takeoff and liftoff taxis. So we are going to see flying machines that are driverless that will fly us 100 miles or 50 miles and do so within cities.

And that you're going to see sooner than driverless vehicles on the road because it's an easier problem to solve.

You're unlikely to hit anything up there.

@21:53 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

We've just got radar.

@21:53 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

We know how to deal with it, right? You everybody wants, you know, the cleaner in the shop.

@21:59 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Well, we have sort of. Robotic cleaners, as you know, they go around and vacuum. Pretty good. bad. Not bad.

@22:05 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

mores, we're getting those. Those are really coming along. don't have to line it anymore. Use GPS and some smarts.

great. So we are seeing little bits and pieces. But you're not going to see this big jump like you saw with ChatGPT.

Now, ChatGPT wasn't a jump. You know, we're on version four and it took many, many years to get to version four.

But it's the first version that people started to use and they went, oh my goodness. It's a game changer, right?

We're not going to see that kind of jump in these kinds of things that impact our home. all want to chef in the kitchen, but our kitchens are built for humanoids.

And so they have to sort of be built like a human with arms and legs or as they can't work in the kitchen because that's what the kitchen was made for.

Well, a humanoid robot is a very expensive thing and then to teach you and give it and make sure it doesn't run over the dog or anything else.

You know, maybe 15 years. You know, but we're looking at timeframes like it's going to take a while. And then they're

It be $200,000 at first, might be very, maybe more. So there's these are things, but our impact at work is today.

And you asked me about jobs earlier. I didn't fully answer the question. Look, tasks, in fact, almost all the tasks we do today, many of them, majority of them at work anyway, will be gone by 2050, but not the jobs, not way today does long division.

That task went away 40 years ago, but there's more people in accounting today the United States than there ever has been in the history of ever.

@23:39 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah, that's a great point. Great point. And I think, too, your point is like, a lot of people don't see the minutiae in creating some of these things because there are a lot of things you didn't, the bubbles never really thought about that, right?

And then also kind of understanding the FAA, right? The airways and that we read like you mentioned we kind of already solved it so I have a general idea so that does make sense why you're probably going to see flying cars right before you see which is again this is this is crazy to talk about folks I know but in fact in fact it might even be crazy to talk about what I want to do now Kevin I want to take a step back.

I want to take a step back all the way to you beginning of your entrepreneurial journey when some of these things were completely not even thought of right I would love to kind of hear one can you take us back to the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey and what motivated you to take that leap to start your first work or business.

@24:37 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

So look I think an awful lot of entrepreneurs today start right after high school or right after college. I don't recommend that and let me tell you why as much as you will learn in school you do not know how the workplace really really works until you go there and I think there's value in going to a large company and learning how they work what works for them and what

What doesn't? What red tape is at a large company? Why? You probably don't like it as an entrepreneur, right?

So I did two large companies, a very large one, and then a slightly smaller one, and then a very small one.

And I learned something at each of those. And the last company that I worked with that I didn't start was, you know, it might have been 12 people or something like that.

So I started it was, you know, 10,000 people and then it was 500 people and then it was, you know, 12 people.

And I learned so much at each of those. And when I finally got to the 12 person company, you know, I had to do some of the accounting and I had to do sales and I had to do marketing and I had to do engineering and I had to learn about payroll and all these things that you would have never really learned.

And you don't want to learn that on your dime. You want to learn it on some else's dime. I don't mean that a bad way.

mean, you're producing output for them. And I'm really proud of the work I did at all of those companies.

But at the same time, you're learning what works and what doesn't work so that when you do go start a company, you're starting with.

It's a real basis of not just classwork, but you were there. You went to major clients and tried to sell them and you go, wow, easy when you're a 10,000 person company, harder at three to 500, really hard when it's 12 people.

How many people do you have and why would I buy from you and how do I know you're going to be there?

mean, you need to embed how hard that is before you go out and start a company and start knocking on doors.

And if you think you're going to start a company and you're not knocking on doors, you're wrong. My friend Tom Galasano started Paychecks.

he says in his book, Paychecks is, you know, they and ADP are the two largest payroll processors in the country, and Paychecks is worth whatever, tens of billions of dollars today, right?

when he started that, he and he talks about it. But he simply almost every day went door to door and said, want to process your payroll.

And then went to another door and just kept getting rejected and rejected. So, you know, one couple times a week, you'd get someone to say yes.

Okay, there you go. Then do it again. Then do it again. And you know, he did that for the better part of a year before there was enough business where he could then hire a salesperson, right?

This is what's interesting. And you see this all the time into it.

@27:18 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Everyone knows who into it is and quickening and all of that.

@27:21 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

But into it nearly died. It got so bad that the rental place came and took all the furniture from the office.

There was no one left, but one person, Scott, you know, who founded it, at one desk that wasn't rented, that was from his home or whatever, making calls, trying to get one order, just trying to get one thing, and then he got an order.

Okay. Then he got another one. And then he could call and say, bring the furniture back. This is true with all of these kinds of companies.

Bill Gates with Microsoft, you know. Everyone thinks, oh, it was just high flying from day one. Well, it wasn't.

They had real issues with non-disclosures upfront and doing business with IBM. should they take these risks? And when it was just a tiny company, was smart enough to step up to IBM and said, I'm going to produce what was basic at the time, a language.

And then they, how he landed the operating system is this is funny, because IBM had come out to the valley to license an operating system for Mr.

Curl there here. And the longest short of it is he would not sign IBM's NDA because IBM's NDA had a residuals clause.

Basically, if they could remember it, they could keep it. And so he wouldn't sign it. So then they called Bill Gates, which is a 20 person company at time and said, we're desperate.

We actually need an operation. He said, I'm not a person. I'm a I'm a good person. person. person. person.

engaging you. of the PC world. He's got this idea where the friend of mine actually, we used to work together to come out with a music player.

This is a computer company. Why would a computer company do anything with music players? it goes to his board and says, this is what I want to do.

And of course at that point, the board didn't really care because the company was dead anyway. And that's actually how he could risk the company on a music player, then risk it on a music service, then risk it on a Then became the iPad and then eventually risk it on the iPhone or literally risk the company at every stage.

We could do that because the company was basically dead anyway. It wasn't until you really hit the iPhone that the thing really took off.

then you had the biggest winning category in the history of consumer electronics.

@30:48 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah, and I think you see that right where you see those variations of people coming back. I think there's a good point too to make is I think one of my most frustrating pieces in the entrepreneurial industry.

I would say is there are individuals that have this sense of if you haven't owned your own business before, if you haven't really run the muck before, you don't know what you're doing, which I would say is inaccurate, because again, you can be a corporate entrepreneur often.

@31:15 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

work in healthcare. help, you know, actually support.

@31:18 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

sit down on the board. I sit on various boards and I really do, in fact, help build our strategic plan for various service lines.

Right. that is, again, like you kind of talked about it. Learning those. Those traits. Learning those experiences has helped me evolve become a better entrepreneur.

It's allowed me to create this business, it allows me to learn about SEO, learning about all these various things I've never known before that have been benefiting me and now my individual career.

Because it is a very, it's a give and take. Right. You kind of mentioned it. You know, Steve Jobs had to come back Starbucks was the same way.

Right. They almost went under in the came Well, that book is the Starbucks. This way and talks about them.

Disney was the same way at some point. There's a lot of these companies that just, they kind of need the visionary to kind of come back as well.

But sometimes those visionaries are individuals that you work with right then. Right. not always the CEO.

@32:17 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

it's nice kind of be able to venture out. Hey, there are, there are entrepreneurs within big businesses that have a division or do something very interesting over there.

So entrepreneurship, you know, all over the place. But I would say, look, people always ask me, you know, you become an entrepreneur?

You have to be born into it. Or, you know, are you born an entrepreneur? Here's what I'd say entrepreneurs are willing to fail.

Get up the next day. Try something else. Fail at that. up the next day. Try something else. Entrepreneurship is not about winning every time.

It's actually about failing and learning and failing and learning and learning learning. How to do that fast. Very fast feedback loop.

Because I think a lot of people think entrepreneurship is about becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg and you invent this thing in college and it's worth a trillion dollars.

Look, that does happen once a lifetime. But most entrepreneurs have found a pain point, I hope, and they're working to solve that pain point.

This brings up another point which I think is a really good job. I do see a lot of entrepreneurs who come to me and say, hey, I need you as an advisor, I need help in my company, need a board member, whatever.

I say, tell me what you're doing. I go, that's interesting. That sounds like a solution looking for a problem.

You don't understand. I've got, you know, I've got microphone covers that are blue now. Said, I'm making it up, right?

really, is there just this huge pain point over black ones? Do they have to be blue or red? You know, really?

That's a bit. I see a lot of these things that would make a nice feature. There are fine, you know, solution, but there's no problem that they're solving.

And the best thing you can do, and I think Jobs did this well, is step all the way back, pretend you are writing the press release for the release of this new thing, this new product, this new feature, this new software, whatever it is, right?

Write that first, and give me all of the features and benefits that this has, and what major problems it's solving for humanity, for customers, for whatever.

that first, then decide if you're going to go design it, and code it, and build it, or whatever it takes to get to the other end.

And then at the end of that, go back, hold that press release, and it should already have been written for you, because you wrote it a year ago, and it's ready to go.

the customer needs and the customer pain points drive what it is you're trying to do. Product service software, doesn't have to be technology.

It can be retail. can be. Look, I see people say, oh, I'm going to open a smoothie shop. Okay.

Lots of smoothie shops. What problem you're solving? Now, the problem might be people don't like the smoothie shop down the street.

It could be there's a smoothie shop for 10 miles. It could be, you know, who knows, whatever, right? But you better be solving a problem or what problem do people have?

@35:29 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah, what pain point do they have? So it could be as simple as retail and you still have to say what pain point am I solving?

Let me give everybody great example of this. I'm going through this right now. So when I created creative Linsane, which is the parent company of the shades of entrepreneurship, I'm thinking I'm going to create, I want to build this out, purchase brick and water locations, have it called creatively insane, have other entrepreneurs come to this location, they can create, they can design.

could be a multi storefront, right? I'm solving a problem.

@36:01 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

What I thought was a problem that needed to be solved, right? Creatives didn't have places to go, podcasters didn't have a place.

I would have a place that everything can be done, right?

@36:11 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

As I'm going through this two years now, this podcast, almost three, I'm realizing that's actually not the problem.

@36:18 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

I was, again, I was finding a solution to a problem that wasn't solution. Nobody has a problem.

@36:24 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

But now what it has pivoted to is to a solution that doesn't need to resolve. All around the problem.

So here it is, folks. This is what I'm working on right now. I have mean tomorrow about this and being completely transparent.

We are trying to create additional co-packing locations for small business entrepreneurs to scale their businesses because that is a problem that they don't have.

Let me give you some examples. Let's say you have a drink company that needs salt. However, the large industry commercial industries are only going to sell you 250 pounds of salt at a time, right?

But you only need... 50 pounds of this salt. Well, in this co-packing facility, we can find other individuals like a chip manufacturer who also uses salt who only needs 50 pounds and another candy manufacturer also uses salt.

Now you're splitting those resources with three other entrepreneurs, right, and a co-packing facility. Now, in addition to that staffing, right, we're seeing a lot of small breweries, a lot of these industries kind of closed down.

So there's actually a lot of special need. A special skilled employees that we now can tap into that can say, hey, this small business doesn't need you five days a week.

They only do two days a week. However, this other small business needs you for two days a week and this only needs you one day a week.

There's your five days a week, right? You're doing the same co-packing or doing the same products and development because again, the crux of the shades of entrepreneurship the entire time was to create a diverse ecosystem, right?

To create an economy that were not having to rely on. The Eli Just3 board. The Ela And then apples because when you do look at the stock markets of the world, it's about 10 stocks that really do dictate if we're losing 500 points on the on the Dow this day, right?

@38:10 - Kevin Surace (Surace)


@38:10 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Hey, the tech industry is down. There's two companies in that tech industry. I do an horrible apple and apple and Tesla.

Oh, well, there goes the stocks, right? goes your With it. It's a little market with it. And you're starting to see that with crypto too.

know, crypto crypto should be happening today. Right. crypto was intended to have its amount. And so right now we're we're in for instance, high and all these things are high.

But what you're seeing is at the end of the day, crypto is the exact same way as investing because it's emotions.

You're investing with your emotions. You want your return back. Sure. So I'm not if the markets going bad here, I'm pulling out everywhere.

Right. I want my money. I want to hold it in.

@38:51 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

And so what we're really trying to create is this kind of diverse ecosystem.

@38:54 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

We're looking at, you know, I'm talking to folks just kind of seeing one. What's the what is is there?

We have identified there is a need. Do have enough entrepreneurs to do this? To fill a copac and facility?

Okay, looks like we do. There's a lot of them out there. Okay, now we need to find the space.

Investors, what are they going to ask for, in the commercial? What is my rate of return? You get a good rate of return about 5% or you're looking good.% investors are going to be drawing.

Now I'm starting to learn all of this stuff. And this is all Kevin because of this podcast. I didn't know any of this stuff, right?

But now I'm going down and I've failed a lot. I had a clothing line before that failed. I've had other ventures that failed.

I've failed. And I've learned a whole crap ton of those fellas and I try to fail fast so I can learn quickly.

again, what's happening out here is that's just so many different opportunities. I also, you mentioned it too, is presenting me more opportunities to do more, helping articulate various blog posts and newsletters to your point.

It's very imperative you go and edit those things because they are not always accurate. Make sure it's coming from your lens, from your voice still.

They can help you with key phrases instead of spending your time going through this the source like I used to do all the time right.

Just type in and see what is just going to help you. It's a guard here. You're in the thesaurus publishing business life's bad.

Life is really bad for you. This is not a good day for you.

@40:36 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

And you know, we've all had businesses that succeeded and failed, because that's part of the entrepreneurship includes failing and you tried and you gave it your all and it wasn't the right market timing, etc.

But here's what I say. There's only one reason a business fails. One reason these start a startup fails. What is it?

@40:57 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Employees or the money. Ran out of money.

@41:02 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

Because if you hadn't run out of money, you would have cycled your business plan, cycled your business plan, cycled your business plan, and eventually, often by the fifth or sixth business plan, people actually figure out where the business actually is right because they're listening to customers to getting feedback, etc.

But when avenues to people run out of money before they get to what the final match is the final really good match to the consumer pain point right consumer business whatever it is.

And it takes time to get there because you think you know what it is in a year later, really know what it is, but you're out of money.

You can't run out of money, which means you need to cycle faster, you need to always spend less, way less than you think.

Well, I'm going to hire five people. How many are you no one? Yeah, but then I can scale. Really?

Are the customers absolutely eating the dog food right now? Right, because if you run out of money, the business is over.

But if you have more time, the business isn't over and you will find, you know, you should never ever, unless you can't use your brain, right?

Another problem, but if you can use your brain, you will find the match and it for sure it's not what you thought it was.

Look at Slack. Many of us certainly in the enterprise world use Slack every day. Slack started out as a gaming company.

@42:14 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Nobody liked the games.

@42:15 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

Nobody's doing anything with the games. But they started using this little chat thing they had over on the side that turned out to be slack.

And as a last, last brush movement to save the company. They just productize that one piece of all They did all this game where all these people, the friend has that one piece and it took off and it turned out that was worth billions of dollars.

Nobody wanted to play their games. It wasn't games at all. These people set out to do games. Nobody wanted their games, but they wanted a little chat function over here.

Now, that's fascinating. Right. Unfortunately, they were smart enough to recognize people are using this and they're not using that.

We should do more of that. Right. It's fascinating. So look, you got to listen. got to be willing to find that pain.

When you're going to be willing to say, I was wrong because I can tell you, as an entrepreneur, you think you're right, you're not.

Just let it go. It's okay. entrepreneurs recognize they're probably wrong coming into it and they don't try to defend it.

They go, I just went out to eight customers. They all probably same thing. Okay, well, let me do this.

And you go back to some others. go, okay, almost, but now you got to change. keep doing that cycle as fast as you can until now people are banging down your door saying, I want it.

What do you mean? And so I've been in businesses where we needed a copacker and they're very hard to find that will do smaller volumes, right?

And you need the first small volume copacking. We had a food business that did that, right? And so that needed copackers.

And so there's a huge need to do that. And if you do this right, there are hundreds of medium and small, you know, of creators of food products that need it.

Copac interests. And you'll be, you know, really have a lot people community.

@44:29 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

can replicate this model.

@44:31 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

But people get confused. go, Oh, I've got my first five customers. This, I could serve hundreds. Let me open some more.

@44:39 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Don't open them. Yeah. Yep. And to your point, you know, one of the things I think is imperative too is finding folks that know what I don't know.

Right. There's things I don't know. don't know. And so, right. You mentioned earlier, you know, folks kind of come out to you and like, Hey, I need you to help them and be on the board to help you do this.

That's exactly what I'm doing. I'm going to kill He stakeholders in our community and saying, hey, this is my vision.

@45:03 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

Yeah, I need you to help me with this. Right.

@45:05 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

don't know how to do it.

@45:06 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

The best thing you could do is certainly when an advisory board at a minimum is give your advisor some stock stock options and and and find advisors that know that space really well they've been in the food space.

They've been the they've been the co packing space. They've been whatever right they've been to the kitchen commercial kitchen space and get people that know that space and they know the rules and they know the regulations.

They know stuff you're not going to know. You're just not going to know it because you haven't done it.

I'm I'm on the board of a company that it's brilliant. It they do advertising testing. And they they can get you know how people are feeling about a particular ad.

Let's say before the ad run. So you could you could test four or five of them and say, well, this is the one that really people are drawn to.

And they got in and they thought they knew everything about it. And within a year they realized that Actually, on day one, really knew nothing about the advertising space.

But getting into it, they thought they did. And in the end, they knew not now today. They know they know it really well because it's been many years.

But it was a huge change. And hey, we're going to disrupt this entire industry to a year later. Oh, there's actually lots of competition.

There's lots of people who do this. And I think we can do it better. it's really fascinating how much everybody had to swallow their pride.

@46:28 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah. And that's another thing too. That's why I mentioned what I'm doing, folks. I think it's imperative to share your ideas.

If somebody else is going to do this idea, then you can do it better than me than do it.

By all means, do it. But if you're going to get into that industry and you feel you're confident, you better be able to do it better than everybody else as well.

so I think that's important too. But also sharing your ideas to know if like, hey, is there anybody else out there that is thinking like this?

Love it here for me. Kind of build up that rapport. Now, before we go, how can folks Getting in contact with you, want to learn more about you, want to get more information, where can they find you on the internet?

@47:05 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

I am on LinkedIn and Twitter and X now and TikTok and everything else. But normally people are reaching out, most people would reach out unless it's something like with their business, they need a consultant for their business or something, that would be LinkedIn.

I look at those messages and people message me there. But if people want me as a keynote speaker for their events or they know, you know, companies and all of that, I do about 40 to 50 of those a year.

And in the easiest way to find me is just that Kevin Surace, S-U-R-A-C-E and then Speaker and 25 Speaker viewers will come up and I'm with all those Speaker viewers.

they booked me regularly. Love it. So, yeah, that's the easiest way.

@47:49 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

And you know, folks, if you forgot all the information, a great way to remember, it's a great time to plug the Shades of Entrepreneurship newsletter.

You can subscribe at I will have Kevin. Kevin, I'm talk about Surace.

@48:28 - Kevin Surace (Surace)

going talk I'm going talk Kevin who are watching this are all over the place in their journey. Some have very successful companies already, and some are just going, should I be an entrepreneur.

And the answer to that is yes, go do it, but be okay with failure. And if you can't be okay with failure, that's probably not for you.

Because you're going to have to fail a little bit, even if they're very quick cycles.

@48:55 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

And just have fun and solve people's problems. Yes, yes, and don't. Be a jerk out there, folks. Come on.

think me and Kevin are talking about it. Don't use AIs and opportunity to take advantage of other people. You know, improve people's lives, bring value to others.

You know, let's let's we got some people. Graham is money with AI. Exactly. Jesus. And don't forget to pivot if you need to.

Don't forget. Twitter at one point now. X was actually a podcast station before. Well, used to be podcast. So don't forget if you want to pivot.

You can everything's possible. So Kevin, thank you again so much. Thanks, Those listening at home, please follow at the shades of E on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, TikTok.

Thank you and have a great night.

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