Entrada Insights Inc. Chief Digital And Analytics Officer, Co-founder
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How did you get to where you are today? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path? What inspired you to work on this startup idea?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
had a very nontraditional career path. I started off wanting to be an adventure and climbing photographer. Ah, that morphed into being Ah Photoshopped trainer and lecturer, author and conferences around the world that had it's funny, skips and hops to joining the Utah Office of Tourism, which is most relevant to today. Um, in seven years there, I went from being the content social media manager to becoming associate managing director. And there the seeds were planted for this business idea in seeing the need for destination marketing organizations. These are governmental or semi governmental organizations responsible for tourism marketing for community, so that the Utah Office of Tourism is responsible for promoting the state of Utah out of state visitors. Every city, county country on state province, pretty much in the world has one of these organizations, and yet they have lagged behind the private sector in their use of data and technology to dry a strategic and operational decision making. So from out of my experience at the Utah Office of Tourism came this business opportunity to help to provide ah data infrastructure, data training and data strategy for these organizations

Can you walk us through your first few weeks when you started working on this project? How did things change over the next few months?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
uh, the first few weeks and a new startup endeavor is a really fascinating time. Um, you are starting with a proverbial blank slate, and that is exhilarating and that you can create the world, and at the same time, it's terrifying because you have no boundaries to what you can create. And so it's a lot of federation. It's a lot of listening to what customers needs. Trying, experimenting, failing and continuing to persevere, to get through to something that becomes a minimum viable product.

What were the challenges in building the initial team and how did you overcome them? How did the team's composition, dynamics, time, and resource commitment evolve?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
relatively small team where six total one of the keys for starting the business. I've been percolating him on this idea for some time, and, um, my hesitation moving forward was, I don't have a strong sales background. I'm not the kind of person that likes to go knock on doors and sell the product. And I knew that if I didn't have that as a compliment to my technical skills and my product skills, the business wouldn't be successful. And so, uh, through industry connections, um, I I was able to join forces with my business partner where that is his core skill on core competency. So together the two of us complement each other really well. Our next higher was a software engineer, though I've sort of defaulted to be the technical product lead for this company. I've never had any formal training and software engineering. It's been all self taught, Um, and that is good for some things. But it's also good to bring in an expert who really knows after engineering at a deep level, he was the next higher. We then, uh, added a CEO third business partner. She has experienced growing and operational izing companies and getting them to scale. And so she rounded out the core ownership and leadership team in a really remarkable way that she has operational excellence. So among our founding team, we have the product knowledge and ah, technical route, technical basis, sales and marketing and operations. And the three of us complement each other really well. The positions that we've begun hiring out our advisory team, which is a hybrid technical and strategy, and we're now hiring for two new technical positions, with two new advisory positions coming shortly thereafter.

How did your venture get its first professional funding? What were the challenges and how were they overcome? How'd your fundraising efforts change in subsequent rounds?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
perspective, Our mentality has been to try and bootstrap it as much as possible. Eso from the 1st 2 founders with the addition of the third Founder, we've been self funded. We haven't taken any outside investment at this point. We know that that will come at some stage of the venture on there are different approaches to that, uh, and someone that's new to the startup culture. Uh, I really see two paths, and there are merits and challenges with each, uh, self funding gives you more flexibility. It also puts things on your schedule and allows you to maintain ownership and equity of the company. When you have a new idea and you're shopping it around to somebody who would be a professional investor, you need to be prepared to give up a lot of equity in that company to get that initial seed funding. Andi, in some ways, you're letting go of your own destiny in your own control and the potential upside of the company. But for certain types of products, that may be exactly what you need to do in order to build the team and resource the team to be able to do that effectively. So my experience would that I would share is to be very thoughtful, how you go about funding. We all hear stories about X y Z startup that gets $100 million everything's great. That $100 million comes with a lot of strings and a lot of expectations, and you give up a lot in order to get the $100 billion. So be thoughtful about your funding strategy. Consult a wide range of opinions and choose the thing that's going to allow you the best opportunity for success.

How did you set the scope for your minimal viable product? How did you get to product-market fit? How did your product evolve over time?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
of the things that, um informed our strategy. Andi subsequently I've heard is Ah, good seed for successful companies is first and foremost coming from your own background in your own experience on and solving a real problem that you have. So for me, this waas knowing that I needed to lead a team that was spending millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars, I needed to spend it responsibly. And I didn't feel like I had appropriate tools for data informed decision making. Ah, that kind of kernel of the idea was what formed the basis for an Trotta insights that accelerated the product market fit because I already knew it was a problem. I'd already had a network of peers who had validated that that was a problem. And I'd already done some preliminary work in building parts of this out internally, and so I had a base roadmap to build off of, So I wasn't starting with a blank slate and going into round two shop. The product market fit, uh, subsequently is we've talked to potential clients and current clients. We've gotten a lot of feedback and how the product can be improved. The different perspectives that they want to see and bring to it, and that has continued to shape and refine our product strategy. And I think will continue to do that for the entire life of the company, that it's an ever changing field. It's a growing field on with different context, even things like Cove. It right now is really changing what we need to offer and how we build the products delivered to clients.

Who were your early users? What marketing channels, approaches, and marketing tools did you use to contact users? What worked and what didn't?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
as I mentioned earlier are my business partner comes from a strong sales and marketing background. He's very well known in the industry. It's a relatively small industry. Were selling be to be within ah, narrowly defined industry channel. So the approach is that we would take that we have taken are very different than you would take with a B, the sea product, for example. So in our case, a lot of what we had, how we've grown is through word of mouth through personal connections, personal networking and demonstrations, and showing the product to a large number of people soliciting feedback, continuing to operate on the product and getting it to a place that it was ready for them to make a commitment and write a check.

What changes would you attempt in customer targeting, acquisition process, and marketing tools in the later growth phase? Why?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
is particulars. We go beyond the boundaries of the United States. We would have to go beyond ah, personal connection that we have with our perspective client Thio, more speculative or cold calling. We're not gonna have a strong personal connections in Italy and Japan and France and, um, Sweden, as we do here in the United States. So as we start to think of growing internationally, looking at how we will acquire clients through a broader salesforce, internationalisation and localisation of product, as well as expanding the list of trade shows in market events demonstrations that we would provide the nature of the industry is such that we probably would never do TV or broad marketing traditional marketing campaigns. Um, just because it's such a narrow feel that would be difficult to target that specifically.

How'd you hire, incentivize, and track the progress of your marketing team including agencies and part-time workers to scale user base?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
minimal marketing at this point. For the purposes of my answer, I would group together sales and marketing in this, uh, this has been a topic of a lot of discussion of making sure that the incentives are aligned with the long term the goals of the company as we're bringing on new members of the sales team. We are cautious about going with a straight commission based sales because that incentivizes those sales people to go out and bring in a lot of customers. Those customers may not be our ideal customers, and so we're looking to find a way that we can incentivise through a commission based structure up front and bonus them based on the number of renewals and the customer lifetime value. Ah, that's a little bit trickier to do, but that's something that we're trying to do as a company. We really want to have customers that we can retained for a long period of time that we can grow with another product, can grow with and around there needs and so finding the incentives both from the sales and marketing team as well as the technical team on our customer service, our customer advisers, um, that's all been something that is ongoing and development, and we're continuing to refine

Who were your competitors when you started and how did the competition evolve? How did you create a competitive advantage and a unique selling proposition?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
um, we're coming into a segment that doesn't have direct competition. So on one level, our greatest competition is the status quo and inertia. The second level, particularly right now with a difficult set of budget circumstances for our clients who are facing budget cuts, uh, are competitive. Set is around share of wallet that everyone's having to do more with less. Ah, right now, with the way that our product is positioned and what we offer, there is no head to head competition. It's not a Coke versus Pepsi situation, so we have a bit of a market advantage. Now we know that there will be other people who will come into the space other coming and prefer Lee to the value proposition that we offer or directly a direct, competing product. So our goal is to innovate as fast as we can to give us a much Greenfield to continue to grow and to differentiate from the existing solutions such that we can carve out a pretty broad market opportunity. I've been heavily influenced in my thinking in the Blue Ocean strategy framework that's been around for a dozen years or so from a business strategy perspective that The best means of competing is to offer something that changes the value proposition compared to the incumbents as opposed to competing with them directly, and that's the approach that we've tried to take.

What were the major exciting and memorable moments? Were there also any moments that almost got you to quit? How did you get past them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
Ah, you could go. He'd sent an entire hour on this one, even though we're only a year old. The exhilarating moments have been seeing the really positive reaction from our perspective clients that when we show the demo, when we show what we're doing, people are saying, Oh my gosh, we've been needing this for years and years and years that is so validating that were on the right path and we're building the right thing Even if our solution today is very imperfectly, it shows that we're headed the right direction. We're trying to solve the most important problem for them. That's super validating Every time we have those conversations, it's really rewarding when we're on a sales call. We had one yesterday with a client, prospective clients and they see the value and they're engaging with us and and were there as a solutions partner. That's really exhilarating someone that's come into technology and software engineering late. When I'm solving a complex technology problem and it actually works, there's a beauty in solving a could problem that you couldn't do before. Um, and you can see your progress in real time. That's also very validating the hard times are when you're getting knows. The hard times are when you're, um, facing a really substantial backlog and the amount of work that you need to dio or know that the clients are waiting on something on deadline and you've got to deliver Andi with Cove. It has been really challenging that, uh, our growth plan was interrupted, just like almost every other company in the world. Right now, unless you're selling hand sanitizer, um, that we had to slow that down, we had to be more measured in our approach. Our growth plan was much leaner than we had intended to be. Are hiring Plan has been slower. And so day to day that has created ah certainly created challenges. And as my, uh, CEO and other business partner said, start up life and early stage companies are a roller coaster of emotions with lots of ups and downs, and you've gotta be prepared to weather both sides of that equation.

What responsibilities and decisions did you handle at work? What were the challenges? What strategies were effective in dealing with these challenges?

Based on experience at: Associate Managing Director , Utah Office of Tourism
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
Office of Tourism. I managed a team of around eight or nine with many contracted agencies. I was responsible for the communications, digital marketing and digital communications channel. So that would be website, social media, digital analytics, marketing analytics, public relations. Uh ah. And a lot of the outbound communications facing from our office. It was exceptionally rewarding work environment to work in love, the people that are there today. Um, and I learned so much there, I had never imagined that working in the public sector in state government would be as rewarding as creative and as challenging as it Waas. I think what, uh, would be some key takeaways. There would be one to really focus on building an exceptional team of people and know that those that team will challenge you on that that team will be better than you are in most of the things that you're hiring them to do and that it becomes your challenges a leader not to do the work or execute the work, but to help to facilitate the success of your team and executing the work. Uh, also working in state government. It taught me the value of listening and appreciating a really broad range of perspectives. Ah, tourism is not specifically a policy department, but it interacted and overlapped with a number of other policy decisions. But you and so, um, hearing the needs and the different points of view on the different perspectives that people brought from around the state Waas um enriching and rewarding in ways that are hard to calculate.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: BS, Religious Studies, University of Colorado Boulder
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
people asked why I was getting a religious studies degree when I was taking that. It's not a very practical degree. Most of the time, um, people graduate with that and go do something else or they go into academia. And, uh, I was passionate about the subject. I think what the key takeaways from my degree were is an ability to understand the world and a point of view from someone else's perspective that has a different worldview at different life experience than mine. And to be very thoughtful about that, and that has served me very well in a broad number of contexts. Uh, there was also a lot of critical thinking on writing that came through that, and being able to communicate effectively is a critical skill in the business world. And, uh, finding ways to synthesize information became 1/3 pillar of that

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? Please discuss the stories behind these lessons, if possible. Stories could be yours or observed.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
um, but I thought about this. I would put them into three buckets. First would be you're learning. It's important in the learning that you're doing in your class now, but expect that you are going to be a lifelong learner. The world is changing so rapidly your career path is going to change. Um, build good habits of learning and absorbing information. Be hungry and curious about understanding the world and learning the world, and that will serve you really well. Be adaptable in the skills that you have and know that those need to be replenished and refreshed even after you leave formal education. So first skill would be becoming a life long learner. Ah, in my career, I came from religious studies, self top and photography and self taught in digital manipulation, self taught in business. Ah, that grew to learning how to become a manager. And then that changed into learning how to be a data engineer. It's after engineering technologist. So every stage of my career has been, uh, need to reinvent my skill set, reorient around the problems I'm trying to solve, and those things are cumulative in your experience and at the same time I find it exceptionally rewarding could be facing a new challenge and have to find something new. So that has allowed me to continue to stay on top of trends and to continue to grow my career. And I've seen it replicated through many others, uh, to would be persistence there. You'll encounter lots of obstacles along the way. Uh, stay true to yourself and stay true to where you're trying what you're trying to accomplish. And don't be afraid to dream big dreams, even though there will be lots of hard times along the way. Persevere and don't get discouraged. Life lesson for that was when I was 21. I was an avid climber and a friend took me to Yosemite National Park and he had climbed El Capitan the couple of times we dreamed about doing that someday, and I had in that summer that first time standing beneath that monstrous cliff, I thought that that was an absolutely impossible thing to do. A few months later, he convinced me that we should go do it and, uh, thinking about the challenge of climbing that over five days as a whole was too big and the way to do it was to break it down into a series of simple steps. And when I was scared and tired and overwhelmed, the way to do it was just be to focus on that very next step, to advance three feet or six feet up the side of the cliff and five days later be emerged on the top and it was accomplished. And so breaking that persistence and breaking down a really big goal into something that's more manageable and lots of little small sub goals is a way of making it of accomplishing it. And not getting too hung up on the enormity of the situation is the perseveres. Number two on the number three would be to take away is to just listen to a lot of different perspectives. Listen to people who disagree with you, try and see the world from their perspective. Oftentimes, even if it's not something that you would later agree with or is in concert with your beliefs in your world view, if you understand that point of view that that person is coming from, you can find common ground, find ways to work together, find ways of solving problems that's mutually agreeable on. There's so much contention in the world right now. We're not wanting to listen to. Other people were not wanting to listen to people that we disagree with. But if you can really listen to people listen to their needs, empathize with the perspectives that they're coming from and seek to find common ground, you can accomplish a lot more than if you try and convince people that you're right.

What starting job (after internship) would you recommend to students who hope to grow professionally like you? What other parting advice, dos, and don'ts would you give?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 30 2020
ago, Uh, probably going on 12 or 15 years. At this point, Fast Company magazine produced an article or a series of articles called Generation Flux, and it encapsulated the changing workplace, particularly for young people. That a career path is not a linear is always a linear progression from one point to another that as technology is changing our society, Aziz things evolve and change. 15 years ago, there was no social media manager, but that's a ah, well established position today. Stay. The scientist was not an established position 15 years ago. And yet, um, as you accumulate skills and you continue to learn your are continuing to orient yourself around the ever changing landscape of the job environment. So for a first step coming out of your educational program, I think deeply about what you're passionate about and think about accruing a body of knowledge and a bag of skills that you can carry with you throughout that career and look in that first step for alignment between the direction that you want to go and the skills that you want to accrue and see if you can find a match between those 1st 2 at the same time, be open to new perspectives on open to new opportunities that you may not have thought off a touch upon my experience in state government as being richly rewarding. And I would encourage everyone on this to consider whether state government might be something to pursue. There you have an outsized influence in your actions and the impact they have on a really broad number of people. Think of the 2.5 1,000,000 residents in the state of Utah on the many millions more who visit the state of Utah for vacations every year. The work I was doing within state government at the Office of Tourism touched a really large number of people and was part of an exceptionally large a $9 billion a year industry. So think about what are the things that you are passionate about, that you want to grow toward. Look for alignment in that first step that will help work you up that ladder and at the same time be open to new opportunities and in particular open to the opportunities of working with great leaders because you will learn an exceptional amount. Um, listening to the way the great leader leads their team