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Sam Barati


Sam Barati

Gabriel Flores  0:00  

Hello everyone and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I have Soran Bharti oh I messed up your last name.

Sam Barati  0:10  

That's all good. It's it's pronounced the Han Marathi

Gabriel Flores  0:14  

Sahan Bharati. I'm very excited because this is tap car. This is actually something new. And he just told me something that's very interesting because I know folks that listen to this show, utilize this system Shopify. But before we get into all that, Simon, please introduce yourself.

Sam Barati  0:31  

Yeah, my name is donde and I'm a California native born and raised in Santa Monica. I went to Cal State Long Beach for school, double majored in international business and marketing. And really got my first step in entrepreneurship in college. Funny enough, I, when I was going to school, you know, a lot of like a lot of students they want to have, you know, fun when they're in college. And I noticed, myself and all my friends were spending what little money we had to go out cheese, girls, etc. And I figured there has to be a better way to do this to where I can still go out and have all that fun. But instead of spending money, making money, and that kind of landed me in my first business that I was able to launch with a friend. And it led us to do a ton of promotional events all up and down the California coast, Vegas, Mexico, and gave us a very busy schedule on the weekends, Spring Break winter break for the duration of my college career. You know, after that, wanted to kind of pivot into something new, and decided I'm going to take a year off and travel around the world. So I got to backpack across South America, Australia, Asia, and really get to experience a different side of life. Coming off of that trip, kind of came back with a very open mind and decided to get into corporate America as a lot of people do after school, and just immediately realized this wasn't for me. And had a little bit of struggles like exiting out of that role. It was kind of a situation to where once you're in, it's hard to get out. But that motivated me to kind of pivot back into entrepreneurship. And I was able to get into a new industry called drone racing, which most people don't know, drone racing is a mixed reality sport where people fly these racing drones that they usually build that 120 140 miles an hour. And they wear goggles that then stream whatever the drone sees to the goggles so you can fly as if you're the in the cockpit that eventually got a lot of media attention is drone was a big buzzword at the time. And we were able to take the concept of drone racing and really bring it to life. Getting network contracts from ESPN Eurosport, CBS VC funding, non endemic sponsorship from brands like Pepsi, Dell Technologies, DHL, Mountain Dew. And so it was a great five year run where, you know, I was able to take what I saw as a YouTube video online and bring it to life as a full blown TV show. never did anything like that was kind of learning on the go. But it was a solid five year run. And eventually, as the novelty wears off, for a lot of tvip viewership starts to segment into the next big thing. We kind of saw the writing on the wall and decided to exit. John lacing was definitely not as big today as it was a few years ago. So happy with the decision. And then after that, I was kind of looking for my next opportunity and met one of the founders, that top guard kind of told him my story, he was like, You got to come in and meet the team. I was actually going in for a sales interview. And then three hours later, they said, Hey, like we really liked your story. We know you'd be good at sales. But we really need help with our existing customer base. And given your background and technology, project management. And just you know, kind of being a jack of all trades, can you work on our CES team, as an account manager and service are top accounts? And I said sure, I'll give it a try. came on as the first account manager. And now three years later, you know, been promoted twice. Now I'm the Director of Customer Success and have a team of 15 people that report to me and so it ended up being a really cool opportunity that I wasn't expected but most good things in life aren't and it ended up working out really well.

Gabriel Flores  4:47  

That's a really, really interesting story because it was it's kind of like you went to corporate America. It's like a pendulum. You went to corporate America then you went to hardcore solo entrepreneurship, and then you settled in between like the Startup corporate, we're like, not the trick. I mean, you're you're certainly helping build this brand. Right. But there's certainly a founder you mentioned. But you're still like, in that startup entrepreneurship world.

Sam Barati  5:12  

Yeah, exactly. It's definitely the the best mix of both where it's like, super bootstrapped startup to corporate America, I think TAP card kind of finds that that balance in the middle, which is likely why, you know, the company has found so much success. And anytime you go too far to the extreme, you know, it doesn't always work for most people. And so this case, I think, the balance that it provides, has been not only great for myself, but all 156 plus employees that we have with the company.

Gabriel Flores  5:46  

Now let's talk about TAP card. Let's just get into that a little bit. For the listeners. What is TAP card?

Sam Barati  5:52  

Yeah, great question. So TAP card is a mobile app platform for Shopify. So basically, if you're a merchant, that has a website using Shopify, and you essentially sell physical goods on that site, at some point, you may decide to get a little bit more serious about your attention strategy, and decide that, instead of just having a website, you want a little bit more real estate on the mobile phone, maybe even a dedicated marketing channel like push notifications. So you start exploring the opportunity of a mobile app. And most ecommerce businesses, you know, they run on lean teams, there's not endless capital. So they can't afford to build a custom app that's very maintenance heavy, requires dedicated developers etc. So staff platforms like tap Bart, allow small businesses or even large businesses to basically get an app up and running in a matter of days. And because we're SAS based, all the maintenance and support is very much handled by us. And all you have to do is, you know, help assist with the design creation, which you can drag and drop everything into place. And then work with our team to roll off a consistent marketing strategy that will make sure that the app gets its, you know, 15 minutes of fame every month, quarter, whatever the cadence is for the business, to ensure that there's always a nice steady stream of new downloads, as well as existing sales that, you know, tend to compound as time goes on. So top pro, you know, we tend to think of ourselves as the industry leader within the Shopify space, we have a lot of the big Shopify apps, with brands like fashion nova Princess Polly, Brandy, Melville Chubbies, you know, list goes on. And so given the kind of the, I guess, you would call it the E commerce bump that everyone saw during the lockdown phase of the pandemic, that took the business to really the next level, because so many brands we're seeing, like all time highs, and we're deciding to kind of diversify, become more omni channel president. And so a lot of interest came into the mobile app space. And, you know, the big value prop that we provide is that mobile apps really do two things. They help increase the business's lifetime customer lifetime value, and they help reduce customer retention costs. So there is a ratio that every you know, econ business looks at, which is LTV to CAC, or in our case, CRC, which is either customer acquisition or customer retention costs, the lifetime values, how much is how, how much is that customer worth? And you can quantify that Shopify has their own formula that's been widely adopted. And then the retention cost is really how much does it cost to actually maintain that that customer. And so most businesses look for a three to one ratio, which is kind of the golden goose of the industry. And what we found with the app is like time and time again, we would end up hitting that ratio, because app users, you know, they tend to convert at a higher rate. When they buy, they end up spending more than a traditional user. And they tend to end by more often than a standard user. So all of these metrics ended up increasing the profitability of the app user against the website user. When you mix that with the retention savings that you get with an app, so when you think about how to become friends and retain customers, well, they can run paid ads on social, they can send email campaigns, they can send SMS campaigns, all of these things end up costing you money. And so the one thing they all have in common is that the cost is very much relative to how many people If you're sending this message to and how often you're sending it to, and that cost can get quite expensive, especially if they're not if those those campaigns aren't converting, whereas with push notifications, you can send as many notifications as you want to as many people as you want. And it doesn't change the fixed subscription costs on that you pay for TAP cart on a monthly basis. So this allows our customers to get much more creative, experiential, where not only can they send the transactional messages that everyone's used to, so these are like sales, new products, etc. But they were able to now focus on non transactional messaging, which is meant to drive more inspiration and curiosity. And what we found is that these types of messages very much resonate with consumers, they help unlock purchases that you wouldn't otherwise receive, if you didn't send that messaging. And then it drives a lot better, like customer engagement, because the brand is less of a like a sales channel in the sense that you're constantly pushing promotional campaigns, and they can become more of a relationship channel, because now you're learning new things, you're getting information, you're understanding benefits of the product of the business, even things like them, contributing back to their community through charitable events, or sustainability initiatives. So collectively, you know, the app was able to unlock all of this for our merchants. And because the data, I'd say, like, nine out of 10 times is very much on our side, we've been able to kind of pitch this narrative to all of our customers, and then they see it come true, once they launch the app, follow our playbook, and kind of watch the sales come in.

Gabriel Flores  11:50  

Now, that's man, so I feel like this app kind of does really, it's like a one stop shop for folks that are truly trying to target consumers, at least at least from the the online merchant space. In fact, I think, to your point, the pandemic, you know, I was talking to the owner of the CFO of baseball ism in you know, what happened with their sales channels. You know, during the pandemic, they kind of had to use Shopify and things of that nature and funnel everything towards their online channels, because all the physical channels were closed. So all the all your sales channels are gone, right?

Sam Barati  12:25  

Yeah, Shopify saw a huge surge. during that phase, their stock was when incredibly high as well. And, you know, the pendulum like you referred to earlier, always swing. So now that we're out of the lockdown phase, and we're kind of coming back to business as usual, you're starting to see this resurgence of retail, which is good for the industry as a whole, you know, you want businesses to not have all their eggs in one basket, you can't just have an app, you know, so you need a website. Ideally, if you can afford a retail store, great or sell warehousing, so hello, sorry, sell wholesaling. So you can then get into a retailer that can then push your goods. And so collectively, we're seeing the industry kind of add back into that direction. But even with the with the rise of retail, you know, the app is still very much an anchor for many of our businesses, we tend to be the second most popular sales channel behind the website. And we're now even focusing on experiences that can allow people to buy online pick up in store or, you know, scan a product in store with a queue that has a barcode, and then the product will pull up on the app so they can get more information, or even using things like app clips, which is a kind of a micro app that Apple rolled out a few years ago, but allows you to kind of test the app without having to download it. And so you can trigger one of those in store for through a variety of different means creating a much more robust experience for your customers. And ultimately, if they like your store, and they want to take your brand on the go, they can scan that QR code, download the app and continue shopping after they leave. Yeah, that's

Gabriel Flores  14:13  

a great point, too, that you made in regards to who the kind of who your target audience is. And it really is kind of almost all entrepreneurs because when you think about it, you know, the beginning stage entrepreneur, those those aspiring entrepreneurs, they tend to be the solo entrepreneur focusing on just the online channel like myself, right? That is, in fact, my space that I primarily focus on. Now. Let's go back to your drone days. I would love to know how did you build that brand? Like that's, that's very unique because it was a you're kind of a pioneer without a frontier. Right? So how do you build that brand?

Sam Barati  14:53  

Yeah, that was a very well crafted exercise in terms of like Did you get a concept like drone racing front and center. And I think some of it was just the fact that it was a buzzword and got a ton of earned media. So when we did one of our first events, which was the 2015 Drone Nationals, it was at the California State Fair in Sacramento. We had roughly 200 pilots from around the country sign up, build this racetrack and the stadium, kind of had no idea what to expect. And I remember on day one, every news publication I've ever looked up to from Showtime sports, CNN, LA Times, New York Times, bunch of international publications, they somehow found out that this event existed, sent the reporters showed up. And then next next day, we were front page news. And from there, I kind of saw my inbox started to fill up with all sorts of requests, what is drone racing? How can I invest in drone racing, so much so that the crown prince of Dubai reached out and we ended up flying out there and hosting a large project called the world drum free, ended up costing I think $17 million, and gave away about a million dollar grand prize to a 15 year old kid who won. And so when you have a lot of like big marquee events like that, that provide a lot of social proof, it does really help legitimize the idea. On top of that, the drone racing community was also very active online. So it went from a couple 100 people to a couple 1000 people to a couple million people very quickly. And given the the scale that it saw, a lot of the numbers, at least from an investment standpoint, look very promising. So I think if we were to like, tie it all back together, it was a combination of earned media, community engagement. And then if you've ever looked at a drone race on on YouTube, you know, I encourage anyone to go search for that after this. You'll kind of look at the footage, and if you've never seen it before, it is kind of it is mesmerizing.

Gabriel Flores  17:19  

It's amazing. I've seen it on ESPN, I'm gonna tell you folks, you have to check it out is the coolest thing ever. It's so cool.

Sam Barati  17:26  

So what it lacks in being hard to understand in real time, as far as like the sport, who's first who's lot because it's so fast paced, the content is actually quite compelling. So much so that the film industry is now poached all the ex racing pilots, and now they've hired them to be their cinematographer. So we see a lot of our big former pilots like Johnny FPV, who now is filming movies with Michael Bay, James Gunn, etc. So the industry kind of exploded from there, and it's still continuing to grow. But I think, you know, the lesson I really learned in that is that with drone racing is that I was unhappy with my current job. And I wasn't getting any traction leaving that job. So I knew I had to kind of throw a Hail Mary. And I would say, the challenges that drone racing had, you know, you have to deal with the FAA, you have to deal with local municipalities, lots of legal red tape that wasn't really defined, because no one really knew how to regulate drones at the time. And then if you scale that to international, so governments, it gets very complicated on top of things like radiofrequency, etc. So it was a quite a challenge to put together. But I think my perseverance and persistence, I should say, is really what helped kind of move it forward. And so anytime we were to face a challenge, we would find a solution to it, for better or worse. And that allowed us to kind of get to that next step. So it was definitely not something that you know, there was like a direct playbook to say do X, Y, and Z, and you'll succeed, like we took it one day at a time. And I think it was only because of that, we were able to kind of maneuver this gauntlet of challenges. So much so that even our competitors, once they got some traction, threw us a couple of curveballs. I remember, we were doing a project with DHL, and formerly in New York. In 2016. We were going to set the GIL Guinness world record for the fastest drone in the world. And we had everything ready to go. And I'm pretty sure the information leaked through either some of our pilots or sponsors and got into the hands of one of our competitors. And I remember waking up that morning, opening up my phone and seeing an article saying one of our competitors just a A hit the Guinness world record for the fastest drone in the world. So they literally beat us by one day, and we had to scrap the entire project. So, you know, you take that one incident and multiply it by 100. Those were the challenges that we faced. But I think, you know, if you're motivated, and you want to stay persistent, to really win the race, we were able to take situations like that, learn from our mistakes, turn it around, and then come back hungry, or the next day to make sure that, you know, we can keep the momentum moving forward. So it was a really interesting experience. One, I wouldn't trade for anything, just because I learned so much. But yeah, I'm excited to kind of put that behind me. And now focus on the task card, which is the industry I'm currently or the company I'm working on today.

Gabriel Flores  20:51  

You know, that's a great, great entrepreneurship story, because I think a lot of entrepreneurs are going to have those moments of difficulty, how did you continue to persevere and what what's, what's your drive? What keeps you going?

Sam Barati  21:05  

Yeah, I funny enough, when I was before college, I was never really a competitive person. And in fact, I, you know, I find myself a lot more passive. And I think once I went to college, I joined a fraternity, you know, and you put yourself around 6070, guys, like, competition becomes very big. It's not like the number one thing. And so, I think during college, and ever since I left college, I was just competitive to be successful, you know, either against, you know, my own standards, or even some of my friends. And that drive really kept me me going to a point to where like, losing was not an option. So if it was staying up all day, long, 24 hours to get something prepared for the next day. That's just what it took for men to go live in Dubai for a couple of weeks, you know, way from my, my significant other. Look, that's what it took. So I really was just kind of just rolling with the punches to ensure that whatever we needed to do to get to that next step, regardless of how hard it was, we were going to figure it out. And then you basically get to that next step. And so that I think process, like I said, helped us kind of conquer these challenges one day at a time, and then led us to our success. And I use that same mentality here at Top for when the company first launched, I started when I first started working there, and there was no account management team, I had to quickly learn what makes an app successful without having any mobile app experience in the past. So I started doing a little bit of research, talking to our merchants, looking at the industry, even non ecommerce based apps, what they did to kind of gain their footing. And I quickly realized, comes down to three fundamental categories. And those are design, marketing and technology. So on the design side, and look, I had no design skills prior to Tasker. And I quickly realized, if an app doesn't look good, or meet consumer expectations, it's gonna get deleted off the phone within 30 seconds of it being downloaded. So econ brands, you know, they're very bootstrapped on time. So how can we take a good looking website and then recreate that on the app, our customers weren't doing it on their own. And so I had to find a way to bridge that gap. So I taught myself how to design using an app called sketch. And I started designing apps one by one. And I got really good at it, to the point to where I started demoing these designs to merchants be like let's push this live immediately. And then the follow up two weeks later. And an app that was making $2,500 in sales was now making 60 to $100,000 in sales just within a two week timeframe. And so we quickly realized, like, hey, there's something here. And so we ended up hiring a couple of graphic designers to basically design the app from the bottom up before a merchant comes onto their kickoff call. So when they show up to take off implementation, they have this like world class design put together, which helps reduce the time to live and really motivates them to see what's possible, and kicks off a relationship on a good foot. So that was a good lesson that was learned through you know, just firsthand experience, and we're able to find a way to scale it to now every customer has this experience. And even our sales team has started to do this for prospects because seeing is believing in For prospects, you can see a really polished app with their logo, their assets, everything, they're more likely to kind of buy into that deal or find out more information. The next, you know, pillar was marketing. And you know, it's one thing if you have an app beautiful, looks good, it doesn't matter if nobody knows about it. So how do we get users to kind of a understand that this business has an app and then provide some incentive to get them to download. So we quickly looked at what these brands were doing marketing wise to begin with, then, you know, a lot of brands have monthly drops, or big sales that they announced. And these campaigns kind of cycle on a monthly basis. So we realized, alright, we have to kind of create the same thing for the app, however, there needs to be some sort of unique incentive for the app that separate from the site. And so we came up with these app exclusive promotions, where you can launch a product or discount exclusively on the app. And even if you do that, once again, if nobody knows about it, it doesn't matter. So we started using our designers to build marketing collateral for social email, all of the popular channels, showed our merchants how to basically post these assets that we made for them to then highlight the promotion, like, Hey, we're having an app exclusive sale for 24 hours, or there's a flash sale, we're going to call Appy Hour for the next few hours. And once they started marketing the app externally, we saw this flood of downloads and sales. And all of those downloads, you know, ended up converting into existing users. So every time we ran an app exclusive usage would go up significantly. And then you could see the compounding effect. So an app that was making 10k a month, is now making 20k a month consistently, because they were able to double their users. And little by little, that compounding effect started to pay off more and more. So much so that now a lot of our businesses are doing 20 to 30% of their their total sales through the app, which is great. And then finally, the technology piece, you know, that's really just making sure that the app is kind of best in class, you know, we obviously have other competitors out there. So our product needs to be better than than but our product also is better than the website, because in some ways we do compete against the website, because the user can go to the website, or they can go to the app. So how do we make the incentive or the experience on the app better than the site that has led us through many long product discussions that has ultimately led to the platform that we have today, which I think a lot of our customers find super successful. So you know, just to recap, I think, based on talking to our merchants and kind of evaluating the market, we really found that the three pillars to success were design, marketing, and technology. And these are the same three pillars that we use today for, you know, all of our new hires when we train them on the CSI in terms of what makes us successful app. And one thing, you know, from this lesson that I thought was super valuable is that a lot of these ideas came from me talking to my customers, and it's only there where I learned, you know, these strategies are most effective. And I think a lot of businesses overlook this idea of being your own customer. And why I find that to be so important is that, you know, many businesses, they're spending 1000s, in some cases, millions of dollars to hire these consulting firms, or customer research firms to find out what they should do next. And sometimes those agencies get it right, sometimes they get it wrong, you end up signing a pretty big check nonetheless. But what we found and even some of our own merchants that are in the DTC space, it's actually a lot cheaper and more effective to just ask your customers directly. What do you want to see from us next. And I think because we got so good at capturing customer feedback, and passing it to the right channels, a lot of the new features that we've rolled out, have been very much in line with what the industry wants. And that's allowed our business to grow. And we see that with many of our merchants as well. So one of our customers, which is a company called My Avi, they make flavored collagen. They found a gap in the market by actually using Google to see what was trending and what wasn't being fulfilled. And so they came up with this flavor collagen concept that they rolled out. And once it was out and they were kind of looking to, like how should they diversify the product or really what is the next flavor that they should Make that's going to do well, instead of guessing. They turn to their community and ask them directly, hey, what flavors should be made next, everyone chimed in, the community was able to vote on it, they were able to pick a winner,

a winning flavor out of the selection. And then they told everyone Hey, in four to six weeks, this flavor is going live. And then, as a result of that, they had this nice four to six week like build up, where everyone was getting hyped for this new flavor that they were able to influence. And so when they event when that flavor eventually launched, it would sell out within minutes, because it was fully in line with what their customer was wanted. And the entire campaign spoke to the fact that they asked, they listened. And now they're giving the people what they want. And I think for a lot of businesses, you don't need to overthink what your next move is or what your value proposition is, for the benefits that you provide your customers. Just talk to them. And you're likely to get a better answer than anyone who's not connected to your company will charge you a pretty penny for it.

Gabriel Flores  31:09  

Yeah, that's a great, great point right there. And first and foremost, engaging your consumers in the way that company did to kind of really make those individuals feel that they were part of the decision making, because they were right, they're part of this decision making process. And that creates that sense of kind of like ownership and like I now need to support like, this was my decision, I need to kind of go out. And that's why they sold out probably so quickly. But also just that organic marketing, right? Because now those individuals who probably voted on that, that flavor, they might have been so, you know, enticed to actually go to their social media, like, hey, please vote on this flavor that I also like, right, creating more awareness to the brand. And then it's just a very organic way to do that. But then I really I really do like that concept. Because I think that's something I needed to probably do a little bit more here on the podcast as well. How do I figure out ways to engage with the consumer one, but two? What do you want? Right? What do you find value? And in this, this is something you know, I've talked about constantly is perceived value, right? What are consumers willing to pay? Right? You talked about LTVs? Right? How much is gonna pay to keep these clients right. And so it's very interesting how that just works out organically a small little idea like that, just engaging your consumers. And so folks, listen, I hope he really kind of took note of that example, because that is a free way for you to engage your consumers, you can do it on social media, you can do it on a podcast, you can do it on a newsletter, right? You can do any type of channel you choose. But it's just a really unique way to engage your consumers and really kind of get them really, really become a loyal consumer. Because right recording on this going down the sales funnel, right? You're trying to create a really loyal customer. And that's just one way to do it. Now. What would you say? Because you've you went from entrepreneurs or your corporate America, entrepreneurship into? I'm not sure. Would you say TAP card as a startup? Are you pretty established?

Sam Barati  33:03  

Are you married? My first startup?

Gabriel Flores  33:05  

Okay, so you went from corporate America, to entrepreneurship to the startup world? What has been difficult about that?

Sam Barati  33:13  

Yeah, great question. Um, you know, each type of career path, I think, has its own set of challenges and benefits. And I think the difficulty I had was really figuring out which one was right for me, you know, when you start out as a college grad, like most kids, you know, they don't really know what they want to do, they kind of have an idea, but they don't have any experience in it. And so once you start hitting the job market, you kind of take what you can get initially to start out. And that doesn't always align with, you know, your long term goals in life. So I think, for me, the difficulty was, at least taking a risk by starting a job that I didn't necessarily know that if it was something I'd want to do, or if it was going to work out, and then seeing what was happening and seeing what was gonna happen. And as a result, you know, I did strike out a couple of times in the sense that, like, I moved from my own company to this corporate job after I graduated, hated it. But what I learned during that that phase of my career was really just how to be like, extremely professional, because that's where corporate culture excels at, you know, how to be polite, how to be formal, because I think when you work with, you know, more senior executives at larger companies, that's kind of the culture they have. And it was it allowed me to kind of align with that. And a lot of those things that I learned during that phase of my career I still use today. Um, But ultimately, you know, wasn't for me. And so I struggled to make that next pivot into drone racing, which ended up being a five year run, where I probably worked harder than I ever have, physically and mentally, to only end up losing again, because the drone racing industry, you know, lost a lot of its novelty, there was some cannibalization as well. So, what was so tough is that, at the time, we all thought we had this kind of golden ticket to really hitting the jackpot with a concept that no one thought about, it was going to be the next big thing. And for a while, it was poised to do that. But eventually, the numbers I would say, weren't sustainable enough to kind of make it a timeless kind of sport or concept. And so as a result of that, the industry kind of imploding. You know, it sucked, because I was like, Well, you know, after putting all this time, energy and money into this, I'm essentially having to start from scratch again. And that's where I kind of landed into top part. And I would say, out of all the jobs that I've had Tapper is definitely my favorite one to date only, because it's the most well rounded, the people, the culture, the product, all of that all of those things are dialed in a way that has allowed the company to scale in ways that drone racing could never do. And the experience for someone like me who works here is far more fulfilling than anything corporate America could provide. So I think I had to learn what I didn't want to eventually land into what I did want, and I think if you look at my career history, 1015 years, that wasn't necessarily an easy journey, but I'm very happy with the destination, which is being able to have a really good career on top art. And, you know, the, the experience has been amazing thus far, meaning like, probably my favorite team I've worked with to date, everyone's just so hungry for success, no one kind of slacks off, or just cheats. This is like a job, like they're very committed into winning. And so when you have a group of people that kind of have that same mindset, you're able to take a company from, you know, small amount of ARR, to, you know, what we have today, which is significantly larger than when I started. And when I first started, I was the 19 tire. Now we have close to 160 employees. So definitely a huge amount of scale. But, you know, that journey in itself, it wasn't easy, but I'm happy with how it ended up and I probably wouldn't change anything.

Gabriel Flores  37:52  

Love it. Now, what advice would you have for aspiring entrepreneurs from your experience, either in corporate America from drone racing to now TAP card? What advice would you have?

Sam Barati  38:03  

Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, don't be afraid to take risks. I know I was earlier on in my career, but I have found that taking risks, whether they win or lose, tend to be some of the most rewarding things in my career, because you always miss the opportunities you don't take. And sometimes you can be presented with a situation that can very be can be very life changing. I remember when I first got into drone racing, I was still working at the bank. And I had to basically take a chance of quitting that job cutting off all my income, and seeing if this was going to work out. And I think by by taking that, that risk, it basically put me in a state to where I was like, I can't physically afford to let this fail. And it pushed me to basically make it work. And it did work for a good amount of times. And you know, same thing with tapper, like I was getting into a role that I was I've never worked in before it being customer success, never had a goal to work in it as well either. But it was open to the idea, especially because the need was so in demand at the company. But I ended up really liking it. And in many ways I think traditional CS tends to kind of operate by its own playbook. But by not having a CS background, and really just looking at the objective of what is it take to make an app successful, and we're not going to stop at anything to pull that off. That ended up out catapulting my career within top bar and the success of the company far more far further than any sort of like traditional playbook that was probably less risky at the time, but definitely not as innovative. So I think taking risks is just a part of doing business. and you're not like many entrepreneurs, you can listen to Elon Musk, you know, he'll tell you that he's failed more times than he's succeeded. But where he succeeded, you now have Tesla, SpaceX, some of the biggest brands in the world. So, you know, plan on failing more often than winning, but you only need to win once or twice to really hit it big. And I think we see that consistently across the board within the entrepreneur space

Gabriel Flores  40:29  

is a great point. In fact, you know, one thing I tell listeners often in fact, I don't think I've mentioned this quote in some episodes. One quote I always use is I've never felt a day in my life I either learn or I succeed.

Sam Barati  40:42  

Yeah, no, I mean, it's, it's very true. And failure tends to be at least one of the best teachers in my lifetime. Only because it stings. And that sting is why you remember the lesson that you know that that failure taught you. And hopefully, the takeaway is that you've learned that lesson and make yourself better for it in the long run, so that you don't repeat that mistake when that scenario comes up again in the future. And I think as long as you can learn from your mistakes, you will continue to progress in a positive way within your within your business or industry.

Gabriel Flores  41:20  

I definitely agree. Now for the folks at home that want to connect with you. Maybe they want to learn more about TAP card, where can they find you on the internet, maybe social media? Where can they get in? Where can we slide into your DMS

Sam Barati  41:35  

definitely hit me up on LinkedIn. You can find me at Salon Verratti if you just search for that, or you can use my email at Sam at top The reason why it's Sam is that when I started, there was another employee with that had my same name, which is a rare name. And him and I he still works here was the first employee at toppcards. So yeah, seniority, and we were on the same team. He was on implementation. I was on account management. So we would essentially like kickoff and launch every one of these accounts. And to have two people with the name Sihon on a call can be quite confusing. So adopted the nickname of Sam. And so yes, Sam at tap I very much like monitor my email religiously. So if you send something I'll be sure to respond. Yeah, happy to answer any questions.

Gabriel Flores  42:34  

Love it. Love it. So Han Bharati, thank you so much for your time. This was a great episode. It's very good conversation. I'm gonna check in your stuff because I think this is I think the you know, the online areas kind of where the brand is going to be mostly mostly successful. I don't see any brick and mortar coming on anytime soon. Although I think that might be the aspiration one day, we'll get into that. For the folks listening at home, you can go ahead and subscribe to the newsletter. We'll have that card information on the newsletter. It will be there you can subscribe at the shades of You can also follow us on social media, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram at the shades of E Thank you and have a great night.

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