#7: Jeremie Habib - Gigwell - Y Combinator Alumni Interviews (YC W16)

Transcription:

(Auto - Generated)
Hello everyone! Welcome to episode number seven of Entrepreneur Gains where I interview Y Combinator alumni. On today's episode I have Jeremie Habib, founder of Gigwell, the first end-to-end booking platform providing the world's leading artists and booking agencies with the tools needed to maximize revenue, time and efficiency gigwell is disrupting the workflow of a hundred billion dollar industry which still predominantly operates in excel spreadsheets and word documents Jeremie combined his passion of the entertainment industry and startups two things he's super close to enjoys a lot and have a ton of experience with I personally find that very smart because startups are hard and it's a long journey so it's best if you mix your strengths and passion so that the ride is a good one this is one of the mistakes i personally made and have learned this after a lot of trial and error anyways I hope you guys enjoy this episode and any feedback or constructive criticism is super appreciated you can reach out to me on entrepreneurgains.com . Hey Jeremie welcome to the show man thanks for coming hey man thanks for having me appreciate it i'm excited to talk to you about so much stuff but uh before we get into like uh me asking you questions i want to know about your journey about the story how did you how did you get to where you are right now how did gig welcome about the whole entrepreneurship journey sure um so it's a it's a bit of a long story i guess you know on uh on the on the professional side um i've always kind of been in tech and so um grew up in silicon valley um you know my entire life my my parents were both in tech uh all my families i was kind of in the blood um and kind of the the path for a lot of people that grew up in the bay area so um out of college i started working for um a medium-sized startup that was in the like telecommunication space and uh that company you know went on uh to essentially ipo and uh it was acquired by cisco which is another big big company out here um and so i worked at cisco for quite some time four or five years and you know various roles mostly in the like sales and bd side and uh did pretty well and um eventually got recruited by one of my old vps uh to work at another startup up in san francisco so that kind of brought me up here about an hour north of where i grew up um so came up here started working for a small startup called opendns and uh worked there for i was the first business hire and kind of helped grow the sales team and um you know the whole kind of business division and got our first customers and all that kind of stuff so i got a lot of um kind of the entrepreneurship uh bug you know from from that i think because it was almost like you know doing my own startup but uh you know within another company so it's pretty exciting to see the company grow and uh you know we grew it from like zero to you know 150 million revenue or something like that and uh i think there was 250 or 300 people when i left and then that that company was also acquired by cisco so it's kind of kind of interesting uh keep ending up there uh but uh but anyway so i left that uh to to start gig well um and you know the the way gigwell came about is you know i've always been passionate about you know music and live events i've been promoting shows and djing myself since i was you know in my teens so you know it's always kind of been like a passion of mine and something i've been really excited about and when you know my business or my professional career kind of started taking off i lost sight of a lot of the things that i was passionate about um you know the events and the music stuff and you know just being being creative that was really like my creative outlet and i lost sight of a lot of that when i started doing better in my career and so um i had the opportunity at one point uh about six seven years ago a friend a good friend of mine approached me and said hey you know we're um we're thinking about opening up a new nightclub restaurant concept and he kind of pitched me on this whole idea and he had already had uh you know a track record of uh experience opening up event of venues and running venues so he really knew what he was doing and i was like well this all has been a dream of mine you know now's the time it's this could be kind of my creative outlet and so i did that and i still had my full-time job working at uh at opendns but i was i was you know doing events on the weekends and um i was tasked with doing a lot of the talent buying and purchasing for the club in the early days because uh it was just you know very time consuming and you know finding the right artists and the right djs to book you know finding out who represents them negotiating with them um you know selling them on the event uh negotiating a fee sending a contract to them you know i was running around town you know to western union a wire you know booking deposits to secure djs and all that and so it was just taking so much of my time and it ended up becoming you know more of a uh i ended up taking probably more of my time than my day job i realized yeah i wasn't making wasn't making any money doing it at the time it was more like a passion thing so um i started to kind of cobble together some workflow tools that i'd been using you know in my in my in my business life and uh quickly realized that you know uh there was an opportunity to build something that was tailored to the space and you know i started talking to people that were doing the same thing that i was doing but for much larger venues and festivals and different types of events corporate events and all that and realized well you know this this is uh this is a real problem for all different types of event bookings you know it's there's no kind of standardized way to do things and things are very much operating the same way that they have for the last 20 30 years and so uh so that's kind of where where giggle was born so cool and hot and then what actually first of all you said both the companies you worked at got acquired by cisco uh it's just a plan here as well like girl getting required by cisco but uh you never know who knows maybe uh maybe three times in a row that'd be pretty while like so once you got in like oh sorry once you go outside the company once you started gig well yeah uh what happened then like how because obviously you said you worked at startups and you had a lot of experience did that obviously help growing your own company and how did like what was the challenge actually yeah i mean i i think it was it was everything right because i had i had built companies from the ground up i had built a company not built a company but i had built like a sales team from the ground up and and kind of set the whole marketing strategy for the last company i had been in so that really helped and um you know i knew kind of what to do and where you know where to start and all of that from from that point of view um obviously you know i'm i'm not i don't have a technical background uh but luckily i have a lot of friends that have a tech have technical backgrounds and uh one of them one of my best friends uh was a um a senior engineer like studio cto at zynga for many years and so he was running like a you know management team of like for a developer team of like 20 25 developers and uh and then you know he and i would do events and stuff together and so he was kind of the first person that i asked for help as i was like putting you know developing the concept and um and so he started kind of moonlighting helping us out and ultimately i i convinced him to to come on board full time and uh and and co-found the company with me so awesome and then what happened after you guys started what yeah so um so we started uh we launched the company um or we started building we started building a product essentially it was a lot of information gathering at the at the beginning like you know any startup should be um so we just talked to a lot of different people and just you know sat uh side by side with them to understand like their workflow and and and their challenges and you know where they're spending most of their time and you know trying to understand how we could kind of streamline that process for them and uh so you know based on that feedback we developed you know kind of a proof of concept and then slowly iterated on that product and you know kept coming back to all of them and hey what do you think about this is something that'll be useful for you and you know just watch them interact with the product um and so we did a lot of that probably took us a solid year solid year to you know do the research build the initial product and then you know have those initial kind of clients on board so okay and then at what point like uh did you guys have funding to start off with or what point like like how did how were you able to make this work or yeah the initial funding was really just my personal um my personal capital and uh and some friends and family money so you know people that i had worked with um had done pretty well in the exits and that we had prior and so and you know they knew my work ethic and we'd worked together for many years and so um when i told them i was starting my own thing um you know quite a few uh ended up investing and you know a lot of my best friends invested in the company in the early days so we're still investors but we're our initial professors yeah got it cool and then you guys launched and then you said it took a year to like kind of get kind of talking to the uh to the customers and kind of changing the product using the product uh and at what point did like the growth or the like uh came along and like when you started like you know you had a product market fit and all that yeah i mean that's that's a tough question i mean i i think um so initially you know we built a product and we had built it uh we had built it as kind of a marketplace first so the idea would be that you know promoters and talent organizers would come and create a profile and then you know uh artists and booking agencies would come and create a profile and then they would connect and they would you know essentially work with one another um but uh that didn't really work um and i think we made a lot of assumptions that you know there would be this uh you know this kind of magic place that people could just come on and you know and just work with one another and it didn't quite work out that way um so i think you know a lot of the research that we did on the asian side and the artist side was great and a lot of the tools that we built were exactly spot on with what they needed but what we hadn't anticipated for um at the beginning was that we wouldn't really get adoption from um the talent buyers and the venue organizer or you know the event organizers um so there's a lot of pushback at the beginning so you know we signed on you know 15 20 clients and uh they started working with the tool and then they would start sending contracts and you know deal memos and stuff to the client and the client would be like what is this thing why do i have to create an account just send me the contract like i don't want to deal with this and so they were getting so much pushback that uh we started getting you know people are like look i love the tool but you know my clients are having you know difficult time adopting it and it's just not working for us it's i'm starting to lose business and you know things like that and so we really had to go back to the drawing board and kind of re-architect the whole platform we kept all the initial workflow tools that we had but we had to make it so that the buyer was like almost a transparent and seamless process for them like really lower that barrier to entry for them so that they didn't have to create an account they didn't have to log in everything was done via email all of the interaction was done via you know click a button in an email you know go to a screen interact with that screen and then you know yeah and then on to the next thing yeah so um so that's kind of the the the initial major assumption that we had made that what that didn't quite uh pan out for us um but uh as soon as we figured out like you know how to how to get around that um that's really where where the growth started started happening so and at what point did yc come along with this pretty early i mean so we thought we were pretty far ahead like when we applied for yc in hindsight it was pretty silly of us for for us to think that but we had i don't know like 25 customers or something 25 paying clients and uh we thought like oh you know we're way too far for you know ycu like we don't need an accelerator you know this in the scenario um and so uh but we're still very much trying to figure out product market fit like we had paying clients we had happy clients but you know we also had a lot of future gaps and challenges and you know the product was really early stages at that time um and so uh it was probably two years in i would say like you know again the first year year and a half was really just trying to figure out what the product even how it worked and you know how it looked like and then you know we're probably six months into actually selling the product and growing the company when uh we applied for yc and uh my co-founders were a little hesitant at the beginning so i was just gonna apply without telling them and then i went through this like you know eight-hour application because it's like you know you really want to get all your facts together and get everything just you know wordsmith and perfect and all of this and then i realized we all had to shoot like a three-minute video together oh cats out of the bag i've got to like tell them that we're applying now so um so that was it we applied we probably took like an hour or two shooting and reshooting the video i'm sure much like like like you guys could get it just right and then uh sent it off and uh yeah a few months later we got a call saying you know they want to talk to us a little bit more about the company so it's pretty exciting i remember we were at the party when you were talking about michael seiber's party and you were talking about uh the club and he was like yeah we spent a lot of money at your club you remember that yeah yeah yeah yeah that was pretty funny both both he and justin i think uh a few nights there yeah i still remember that i'm like it's funny um cool man and so last question i got the story part where are we right now what's going on yeah so um obviously you know kovid's been um a bit of uh a bit of a negative impact obviously on the live events industry as a whole and so um you know we've been fortunate that you know yes we're down uh we're down a bit but for the most part we've had we've maintained like pretty low churn levels throughout all of this even though most of our uh clients are in the live events industry um obviously we've worked with a lot of them to like reduce pricing and this and that uh but uh but people are still signing up which is which is great um and there's a lot of markets that are still open there's a lot of events that are still happening a lot of them are moving to uh you know virtual events so there's a lot of that we also started working uh with you know different verticals like speaker bureaus and like esports and you know influencer agencies and things like that and a lot of those things happen you know by naturally happen online anyway so you know they're not as impacted by kind of the in-person in-person events and things like that but uh but yeah i mean it's uh it's good i mean i think we're we're feeling very fortunate that you know things are are still uh are still maintaining and growing and and uh yeah hopefully hopefully we get through this quickly so our clients can get back to work and they can be less stressed and more happy as well so man amazing to her i think it's so cool that like the way you got into it and the way you like because you know you talk to every entrepreneur or every founder is a different story you know like how the stars aligned and how you kind of you know like how even like you working at cisco oh sorry the company the open dna open the industry and just like the whole process of like you know like how you ended up like working at an ed you're like in working they're doing promotions for the club and then you're like holy hold on there's a business idea here and then just jumping into that it's an amazing story i love it um cool let's move to the part two i wanna ask you a lot of questions uh sure um first of all i wanna start with like we had a chat about this when we were at camp yc where you said you had you moved to another office you have moved to another office in portugal now right uh it's actually barcelona in barcelona sorry that was portugal for some reason uh yeah yeah no never mind uh how is that first of all um it's it's actually doing great um probably one of the best decisions we made uh we were we were really uh challenged by you know like our business from day one has been very international um so we've had clients from you know dubai and mexico city and you know south africa and all kinds of places right and so um it was it was always just a really big challenge supporting those clients from uh from the west coast i mean we're arguably in the worst time zone you know with the exception of hawaii i was like the joke is like you know we're probably the worst time zone in the world to be in in terms of like sales and support um and so uh so it's really difficult you know early mornings late nights to try and you know bridge that gap and and all of that um so we made a decision uh you know for ourselves and for our customers to open an office overseas and you know barcelona was has always been one of our favorite cities and it's it's quickly growing as a tech hub a lot of our clients were there obviously we do a lot of business in ibiza um so there's you know ton of events there and so it's just it's kind of a natural fit for us um and also it's pretty inexpensive uh you know comparison to the rest of europe um so so yeah we ended up um just everything kind of fell together uh one of our one of our employees had been wanting to move to europe for quite some time and uh volunteered to go over there and open the office for us and uh and you know i couldn't have couldn't think of a better person to do it i mean he's you know he's great and really kind of brought the company culture with him and did a great job hiring the team there and uh yeah it's it's it's awesome really happy with you try to like stay like live from there because like you know the weather and the beaches and everything you're like i want to work out of barcelona instead i would love to live there for for a couple of years um i don't think it's in the cards just yet but uh but who knows i mean i think it's it's nice to have an office there and you know we've been traveling two to three times a year uh and spending some time with the team there so um yeah but who knows i'd love to love to go for a year or two when uh when the time is right awesome yeah is it is that was that anything to do with a personal thing as well obviously saving costs and obviously the clients was there any like personal uh like feeling of like you know being in like a more like a tropical place uh with anything new yeah of course of course i mean you know we thought of all of the different you know startup hubs like when you think of you know uh where technology companies are in europe you know obviously uk is the first choice and then after that maybe like berlin um but berlin is like too cold and then you know you've got like paris but then no one speaks english there i speak french but like nobody else on my team speaks french um so you know that's challenging uh and then barcelona is like really kind of like an expat uh place you know it's like everyone's everyone there speaks two to three languages um everyone there speaks perfect english um and obviously you know with us supporting you know a lot of latin america and and and spain uh we needed spanish-speaking people and so it just made sense like barcelona like all signs pointed there and then it helped that it's our favorite city in the world to visit and spend time in so you know made it pretty easy love it um so yc uh how was your yc experience it was really good actually um i would say you know some of the like some of the best friends that i've made in the last few years um have probably come from yc just like you know going through you know that kind of experience with other founders that are in a similar whose you know companies are in a similar stage um you know just really creates a bond and and and some great friendship so um i thought i thought that part was was awesome um you know just the access to to a lot of the alumni as well like whenever we've run into like a technical issue or whatever um the uh the community's always been there to kind of help us out and you know make intros and you know share insights and things like that and so you know that part's been that part's been great how was your experience though like when you were there the three months the go go go it was intense it was really really intense um i remember you know being pretty stressed out and you know having to come back here and run a company you know drive down to palo alto every week and you know have to do all these all of these things and you'd have to have like you know clear progress made from week to week or you get pretty drilled so yeah i mean it was it was a really intense experience but i think it really helped us uh level up quickly and it helped expose a lot of our blind spots and it helped us you know focus on the things that really mattered and you know cut out a lot of the noise um so you know i think we came out you know in a much much better position uh than we than we came in and uh yeah i mean you know those three months were pretty brutal uh late nights and you know not a lot of sleep and a lot of stress and a lot of a lot of go go go but um but ultimately you know we came out a much much stronger company and um i get this all the time and i kind of feel like you have felt this because you said your your partners and co-founders were like i'm not sure or whatever right and i get to all the time as well where every time i meet i'll be traveling i'll meet somebody and they'd be like well i don't know if i need it you know why do i need it like uh i don't want to give away my equity or whatever you know what are your thoughts on that yeah i mean listen at the end of the day um the equity is a drop in the box in the bucket compared to the network that you'll create um the additional value um that the name brings for for hiring for attracting investors for all that kind of stuff and then you know there's a bunch of other obviously perks and benefits and you know access to you know software for free and you know a bunch of other perks outside of the the money side of things and then of course the investment um i mean even without the investment even without the money i would have i would have i would advise people to do it um you know money inside i think it's uh it's such an invaluable experience and um yeah i mean we do it again in a heartbeat i love it cool um yeah looking back now what will be a moment or a big mistake you guys made which was a lot of time they could go back and change well i think the one that i touched on earlier right it's uh you know we we kind of really focused on you know the customer experience and what our customers wanted but we didn't think about what their customers would want as they were our tool yeah and you know in hindsight it's like well duh that's you know seems like it'd be pretty obvious but you know when you're so focused on developing an amazing experience for your client sometimes you forget you know how how that is perceived by the people that you know that they work with using your tool um and so you know definitely but if we could go back we would have we would have done a little bit a little bit more more research on that on that end and i think that would have saved us a lot of time and heartache early on i think you say it's obvious i don't think it's obvious like it's a it's like a you know like you only think about your customers you don't even you know i it's interesting but i mean yeah hindsight now it seems obvious but in the moment i'm sure it was like uh like what the hell like you guys love it like just pass that yeah exactly just tell your customer this is how you you're doing things now it's like it doesn't quite work like that they're the ones they're the ones paying us so that's awesome yeah um regarding you touched on this before where you said like you know you were not a tech founder and i felt that as well right like i think i love vice to my heart but there's one thing that i am personally one only one thing that i don't like about y is just too much focus on the tech founders right yeah and i legit i felt like my self-esteem just go down when i went for the first week because you're like you're basically useless and i and i get it i think when we're first first-time entrepreneur starting out i mean you had a lot of experience i was a young kid i didn't have a lot of experience so i knew my skills were not there so i get it where they were coming from like looking back at it uh yeah and obviously you're building a tech startup you need a strong tech co-founder right um yeah but with that being said though like you know one thing i loved about you like you're very charismatic you have an amazing personality like you're good at like events and talking to people and obviously you've done a lot of sales which obviously built you've done you build the experience from there um how important is that skill especially in the event industry but it's all about building relationships extremely important i mean it's all about relationships you know business is all about relationships um i think you know those early customers that we had if we didn't have those relationships first of all we wouldn't have been able to build the product because you know that's super time intensive right like when you're just researching like your product and how to build it and coming back to somebody over and over again like that's all about building a relationship and maintaining that relationship um sales and businesses is all relationship building uh fundraising is all relationship building um you know hiring and building a team you know it's all about that as well so um yeah i mean that's super important and i think i would agree with you that you know yc does not focus a lot on that um much at all actually uh and it would have been nice to have you know a little bit more mentorship on that on that end and things like that but uh but yeah i mean i think uh yeah relationships and and and speaking to people is like probably just as important as building a great product awesome love it so cool man that was great i i had a there was a lot of learnings there uh i'd like to do this for quick fire one two two sentence questions and uh so let's do that i do that for every episode so uh number one is one unconventional thinking outside the box you guys did in your startup uh while growing it or was starting out or whatever uh that's a good question unconventional or hacked or hacky or anything yeah so i i guess one of the like funny things that kind of has to do with like our industry is like antonio and i'm one of my co-founders uh we always uh we would always because you know there's not really like a bunch of networking events for people that throw events like if you're if you're doing an event or you're booking an event or you're managing a roster of talent like you're usually uh you know attending those events like your own events that you do and and and not something else so uh so we found like a lot of a lot of uh the way for us to get to those people is to actually go to events and track down the people that were managing these artists and things like that and so we got pretty expert at like sneaking backstage at like festivals and shows to like get into like the green room and like you know rub elbows with like the managers and the agents and stuff like that and we actually got quite a few clients that way um so just kind of bsing our way like backstage oh yeah we're you know we're with this artist team in the sense and that and you know we'd like name drop like somebody that's on their team or or just make up a name and uh and and and get back there and then just be kind of hanging out and you know just real friendly with everyone backstage and we'd end up finding like our clients that way no way um so yeah so that was kind of crazy or you know we we'd have like a target of like okay we want to close this client one of their artists is playing at this local venue like let's go to that show and and find them you know essentially and they're always you know with the artists or back you know backstage with the artist so they're pretty easy to spot probably easier to get to them obviously because everyone's kind of around the artist so i guess or or no yeah yeah i mean you know usually the artist is performing or playing and then they're like part of that like immediate you know entourage and you can kind of tell like you know who like the industry people are um and so yeah it was interesting we got like we found quite a few uh clients and actually made you know real friendships with a lot of uh a lot of people uh that way you know just just being back there in a social environment true hustling right there uh that's awesome uh advice for someone applying to yc um advice for someone applying to yc definitely have a technical co-founder yeah i think we talked about yeah um uh and i would say you know you know go through the application um and even if you're not ready go through the application it's you'll learn so much about uh yourself your company and your blind spots and the things that you should know more about um you know some of the questions you're like oh wow i haven't hadn't really thought about that and it really gets you to start thinking about you know certain things that you probably should know um and so i think uh you know look you know if you have any desire to apply look at the application go through it see you know how far you can get and uh you know don't hesitate to apply multiple times and i think i remember hearing some staggering result like 60 of people that uh that get in uh you know it's like their second or third time applying or something like that right so it's uh it's pretty uh don't you know don't be discouraged i definitely like to see that grittiness and that perseverance and and all of that and i know some people that applied four or five times got on their like fifth try you know things like that so i don't know i'd probably be discouraged by that many tries but yeah uh and it's also interesting because i was like interviewing uh david uh phillips i don't know if you know him or not uh but anyways um i was chatting with him and he said and i had this question for him which i thought was pretty interesting i was like dude your first company you raised like 200 million dollars second one second one got acquired for like 18 or 20 million dollars and third one he went through yc and i'm like why i'm like you know yeah yeah and he was like man like it was just a it was it was like i wanted like it was like a perseverance thing i've tried it before i didn't get in and i'm like i just wanted to go through it i just never wanted to give up which i yeah i thought was pretty cool that's very cool but very very but the answer you said actually that's probably the best answer i've heard on on like the part with like just going through the application and like it gives you so much about yourself like the things you don't even think about like i remember we didn't even know before we got in what like i mean we knew the term but we didn't really know what it meant like what kpis were like we knew what it meant but we never knew like you know yeah and you're like what why are they asking us again in a game maybe maybe it means something important you know what i mean yeah yeah yeah yeah that's so cool okay third one advice was someone starting their first startup um definitely make sure you have co-founders that you trust and that you you know can see yourself with long term it's so important because you know everyone's really excited it's really easy to get excited when you have a good idea or something new you know shiny that you're working on um but you know having the right team around you is everything i mean if if uh you know you're gonna go through really really intense times uh and you know really high highs really low lows and it's important to to make sure that you know the person next to you is is ready to weather the storm with you and uh and has your back and you know is uh is compatible with you you know work style your work style as well so um i think that's super important a lot of people you know don't spend as much time thinking about that like okay well this person's smart i'm smart you know we're both qualified to work on the idea but you know it's really like a marriage you know you've got to be compatible and in it for the long run otherwise it's not going to work that's a great great answer awesome and last question if there was only one thing people could take away from your experience something that you live your life by now or has helped you a lot what would that be um that's a deep one i just yeah that's that's a tough one i don't know i i'd say you know just don't be afraid to to go you know just to go for it i mean i think a lot of you know entrepreneurship is about just taking risks and if you think too much about it you end up talking yourself out of it sometimes you just got to jump in the water and and learn how to swim you know versus reading every book on uh swimming methods and techniques you know what i was jumping ironic i just learned how to swim like six months ago there you go how did you learn did you read the books but i also didn't jump in 150 because i could i would die i would legit i i couldn't even i didn't know how to tread water either so i had to get a coach and i had to start in like a shallow pool but there you go but but yeah i know what you mean but i just like started the shallow pool then i went one up and went to the seven feet pool with the coach with me i'm like you stay right here are you i'm not i'm not paying you until until this class is over uh that's nice but yeah but i know what you mean though expert lifeguard now or yeah yeah i can teach people now who don't know what the hell they're doing uh i still can't go to ocean i think i'm still not ready for that like as in like uh the waves and everything but i can't but i can save my life in a swimming pool now that's well that's awesome thanks so much man for doing this this was amazing appreciate your time yeah absolutely happy to do it thanks for having me