0:45 This is going to be a great show, we’ve got Ringadoc Co-Founder and some great questions from the superfans in our Ask Jason segment
2:00 Come check out our 3rd Live TWiST in San Francisco with Dave McClure, February 8 at Rocketspace
4:00 A tool you will need to be a great entrepreneur is GoToMeeting. Use the code TWiST to try it for free
6:40 Let’s welcome Jordan Michaels, CEO and CoFounder of Ringadoc
7:00 How did you come up with the idea fro Ringadoc?
8:30 Rindadoc Demo…
12:00 What about me launching a video conference to be able to diagnose things over video.
13:00 What are some of the legel issues around your product?
13:50 So you started this to find a doctor, but the doctors wanted help managing existing patients?
14:45 How does the $40 phone call to a doctor?
15:00 Who are the doctors that I’m talking to?
15:40 Is the idea for the doctors, that there are a large number of people who don’t go to the doctor because of inconvenience?
16:25 Why isn’t this an app like Uber?
17:15 Why are there limitations on some drugs you can get through your system?
19:30 So people can go fill out a form and they can have Oxycontin shipped to them?
20:00 What about emergency care? Could step by step instructions be given with video?
21:30 So you see a time when I could use Ringadoc where we get streaming video and conferencing as doctors are approaching an accident?
23:40 Do you think Doctors will like/dislike their paper/audio trail of diagnoses?
26:00 Where are you guys based Jordan?
26:15 Who do you work with at Founders Fund?
26:45 Everyone check out Ringadoc
28:20 Thanks to Igloo Software for sponsoring the program. It’s intranet you’ll actually like. Save 10% by going to Igloosoftware.com/thisweekin
34:10 What advice do you have regarding the loneliness of being a single founder with no other employees?
40:15 How do you create the best possible working relationship between a CEO and CTO?
46:00 Do you think London or Berlin could ever match Silicon Valley if the schools and universities don’t acknowledge startups as a respected career?
53:30 Thanks to everyone for calling and and thanks for watching! We’ll see you next time!
Distribution provided by CloudSigma. The cloud that adapts to you. Visit CloudSigma.com/This WeekIn, for a free $200 credit.
Today’s episode of ThisWeekIn Startups, is brought to you, by GoTo Meeting. Sign up for GoTo Meeting, using, promo code: TWIST, to begin your free trial.
And, by Igloo. An intranet you’ll actually like. Visit igloosoftware.com/thisweekin, for a chance to win: an iPad mini.
Jason: Hey, everybody. Hey, everybody. It’s This is ThisWeekIn Startups. We’ve got a great episode for you. Today, RingaDoc, Uber for doctors is going to be on the program. What a great idea that is. We’re going to do an Ask Jason segment. We’ve got some great questions. How does a CEO and CTO get along? How do you deal with being a lonely single founder/CEO? A single founder of a startup as opposed to two founders? Really great questions coming up on the Ask Jason segment. Stick with us.
TWiST title sequence.
Jason: Hello, everybody. Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode of ThisWeekIn Startups. I am your humble host, Jason Calacanis, here. Each week, twice a week, I have different entrepreneurs on the program and they talk about what they’re trying to build. How they’re trying to make a dent in the universe. This week will be no different. We’ve got a really clever idea on the program, RingaDoc. Which, you can go check out at RingaDoc.com, which is basically Uber for doctors. We’re going to actually do a demo of it live on the show and talk to the founder, Jordan Michaels. He’s actually the CEO and Co-founder. I always got to be careful about that founder/co-founder. Actually, that’s a good lead into… we’re going to do a couple of Ask Jasons. Which is just basically super fans and founders asking me questions. A lot of them have to do with being a single founder and relationships between multiple founders. So, we’re going to get into that, sort of, psychology and interpersonal relationships and how that affects a startup, in the second half of the program. One of the great things that we’ve done over the last couple of months, it’s really turned out great, is ThisWeekIn Startups Live. We’re going to be doing one on friday, February 8. A week from today, I believe. Today is the first. Is that right? Yeah. No. Today is tuesday, the 29th. Yeah. A week from this friday, will be February 8th. In San Francisco, at RocketSpace, I’ll be interviewing, live on stage, our good friend Dave McClure of 500 Startups. He’s really just a fantastic angel investor and force for good. If you want to get one of the few… Oh, no. It’s sold out, sorry. But, you can add yourself to the waiting list for this event by going to twistlive3.eventbrite.com. We charge a whopping $2 per ticket. The reason we charge $2 is so that you have to put your credit card in and you take it a little more seriously. I don’t want any drive-by sign ups. This event has been great. It’s the third one we’re doing. Great job Brandice and Kirin and Demant and everybody who’s working on it to make those live events work out great for our audience. It’s very rewarding for me to see all you folks there. Just meet all the fans of the show, who, like myself are learning about entrepreneurship, learning how to do it better, faster and more effectively. That’s the whole point of the show. One of the tools you’re going to use to be a great entrepreneur… How’s that for a great segue…is GoTo Meeting. Meeting is believing. I just got off a GoTo Meeting with an awesome company that I think is going to win the Launch Festival on March 4th, 5th, and 6th. I’m not kidding. I saw something so spectacular in the, I’ll just say, quantified self space. That I was just blown away by this. It was actually something that came as a referral from somebody who is an angel investor, who was on the program recently. I invested in this. It is incredible. I saw it today over a GoTo Meeting. The person was actually demoing the physical product. Literally, doing jump and jacks, getting up and down, showing me the product over video while showing me a presentation, at the same time. Meeting is believing. This was my second GoTo Meeting of the day. It’s only 1 o’cock right. In the morning, I had a call with some folks in the marketing group Dyn. You guys all know Dyn. I joined the board of that company, there in New Hampshire. I meet with them regularly. With the CEO, with the marketing team, with other board members, over GoTo Meeting. It feels like I’m right there in their offices in New Hampshire. Flipping back and forth. Giving control of my desktop to them. Them demoing their desktop. All this kind of great stuff, going back and forth. They have a new feature. You can present with your iPad. Which, I’ll be using that. One of these days, I’m going to be on an island, somewhere. That’s the dream, right? We’re all going to be on an island, somewhere. Why is that the dream for everybody? I want to be on an island, alone with my iPad, on the beach doing my meetings. Anyway, that’s the dream. The dream is now possible. You can present with your iPad. That’s the key word, there. You’re not going to with GoTo Meeting, participate in a meeting or conference call. You can actually present on your iPad. Boy, is that an awesome feature. Beautiful HD Faces works on Macs and PCs. Go get your free thirty day trial by visiting. Go visit GoTo Meeting.com, click the ‘Try It Free’ button and use the promo code START. Is that right? Not TWIST? The promo code is now START, right?
Jason: Is it START of TWIST?
Jason: You sure it’s TWIST? OK. Visit GoTo Meeting.com, click the ‘Try It Free’ button and use the promo code TWIST. GoTo Meeting, Meeting is Believing. I use it all the time. Actually, we’re going to use it for our interview, today. So, if you need to know how I feel about the product, I did two meetings before that and I’m using it on my show. I’ve done 3 GoTo Meetings. I feel like I should pay 10X more for this product than I already do. It’s well worth it. Everybody thank @gotomeeting on their Twitter accounts. Alright. I think we’ve got most of the housekeeping done. The Launch Festival and Hack-A-Thon. The Festival is on the 4th, 5th, and 6th. It’s about just over a month away. It’s about a month away. About 35, 36 days away. The Hack-A-Thon with $50K in investment prizes will be the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. There’s already 36 teams. I think we’re going to have 50 teams. So, if you want to get in there and join one of the existing teams, you just go to festival.launch.co or go to Launch.co and click on the ‘Festival’ icon. You’ll see Hack-A-Thon there. Click on that. Boom. Sign up for the Hack-A-Thon. It’s going to be amazing. That’s going to happen saturday, sunday into monday. So, it’s really the first time there’s going to be a 48 hour Hack-A-Thon, which is kinda cool. Today on the program, Jordan Michaels, is the CEO and Co-founder of RingaDoc. Which I just saw this. They’re backed by Founder’s Fund. Which is Sean Parker, Luke and Peter Thiel and all those smart cats over there. Let me welcome to the program, Jordan Michaels.
Jordan: Hey Jason. How are you?
Jason: I’m well. How are you doing?
Jordan: Good, good. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Jason: Oh. Excited to have you. I saw this idea and said to myself, “My God, that’s genius.” How did you come up with the idea?
Jordan: Sure, sure. Actually, I have a bit of a unique story. I was a discouraged premed student, down in Los Angeles, at the University of Southern California. Through my experiences at school and seeing where the health care industry was headed, more importantly with relations to patients and physicians, wasn’t sure it was for me. I had a really tough decision a couple of years ago, deciding not to go to medical school, in lieu of pursuing RingaDoc, which I had founded in 2010, after I graduated college. Basically the idea came from, that there was this third party of systems, so to speak, in the form of insurance companies and employers really dictating the way that patients can receive care and the way that providers could provide care. To me, the common denominator was communication. It seemed that there was this point missing between Googling something, going on WebMD, looking on some symptom checkers, and the in-person appointment. Which is Urgent Care Center, wait 3 weeks for an appointment or go to the emergency room. That’s really where we wanted to start, with RingaDoc.
Jason: OK. Let’s do a demo here. I have a camera over my shoulder? Is that right. Oh, there it is. Hey. So, how do I… I almost got it perfect. How do I… I got an iPhone 5. I guess, this is my assistant Brice’s. Let’s go first check Brice’s history on his Chrome. See if he’s been downloading any porn. No. So, you’re going to ring me. I see the RingaDoc… There’s RingaDoc right there. I’m going to play the doctor?
Jordan: Yeah. What I’m going to show you actually… As you know we initially developed it so that patients can call an on-demand doctor. We’re going to demonstrate today, cause we got really good feedback from the doctors. They wanted to use this technology with their own patients. So that’s what we’re actually demoing today. As if you were my personal physician.
Jason: OK. So, we’ve already got a relationship?
Jordan: Sure. I’m going to call the office.
Jordan: You might not be able to hear it. Let’s see. “Thank you for calling the office of doctor, Jason Calacanis.”
Jason: Yeah, we can hear it. Hold it closer.
Jordan: “If this is a life threatening emergency, hang up and dial 911. For office hours, information, prescription refills or to leave a voice mail, please press 1. If this is a call from a patient, doctor or a hospital, with an urgent matter that requires immediate attention, please press 3 to reach…” So, I’m going to indicate that I want to speak with my doctor. It’s going to confirm my phone number. I’m going to give it my name.
Jordan: “Jordan Michaels.” I’m going to explain why I’m calling. ” Hey, Doctor Jason. I think I’m coming down with a sinus infection. I haven’t been feeling well the past couple of days. Please let me know what I should do.” That’s really all I have to do, as the patient. What’s really nice about that too, is that I’m calling the same doctor’s number I’ve been calling for years. So, we’re getting patients at the point, where they’ve already been using a service to call their doctor.
Jason: I have an urgent message it says.
Jason: I’m going to put in the secret password. I put in my PIN. It says, “No new messages.” Oh! Wait. “Welcome. You’ve got some new messages.” I guess that 818 number is the new message?
Jason: OK. So, I’ll click on that one. I’m playing it. “The patient, Jordan Michaels, complains of the following, ” Hey, Doctor Jason. I think I’m coming down with a sinus infection. I haven’t been feeling well the past couple of days…” OK.
Jordan: From here, you can either call me back directly. We can get into a conversation that’s tracked by the system and that the front office has access to. Or, you can send me a recorded message. My phone will ring with a direct message from you. What’s nice about that too, if I were to miss that call and I were to call your office back, the message would be right there, waiting for me.
Jason: I can send a message right now. I can just say, send message, record, “Hey, listen. You need to come into the office. That’s very serious. Please, schedule an appointment.” Then, I can send that to you.
Jason: So, just that simple. If I’m on a golf course and I’m a doctor, I could just give you… I don’t have to wait for it to ring or call you back. I just send you the message. Cause, why do I want to try to get you on the phone live. You’re going to ask me 50 more questions.
Jordan: Right, right. So, actually, your response was actually perfect for where we additionally want to take the product, moving forward. To kind of bring it back to the more of that consumer focused product. Which is we want to allow doctors to get paid for some of these calls that they’re doing. So, rather than saying, “I need you to come into the office,” because that’s a billable visit, potentially, for me. We want to give the patient the ability to handle these visits outside of the office. Also, the doctor the ability to provide those.
Jason: So, what about me launching a video conference to actually ask you… get on a video chat and actually be able to look at your throat through the camera on the phone, obviously?
Jordan: Yeah. We’re going to be adding that to the product this summer. We’ve done video conferencing in the past, on the direct to consumer product. We saw that patients were opting more to do a phone call, but the great part is, once the doctors have this application on their phone, they can just update it when we add the new heavier features for video conferencing. Picture sharing is actually a much higher request because, you’re able to get a higher res photo. Rather than moving the camera…
Jason: Ah. So, if I had this rash on my foot. I take a picture of the rash on the foot. They say, “Listen. I can tell from that that it’s probably athlete’s foot. Just get some… whatever. Athlete’s foot cream from your store.
Jordan: Exactly, exactly. They’ll also be able to prescribe as well. What we’ve seen in the past.
Jason: What’s that legal issues around this? Obviously, there’s HIPAA and all this compliance. Where are you at with all of that? Are you breaking any rules? How does that affect the monetary transaction here? Right? I don’t see any transaction occurring here. This is between an existing doctor. You said you had a direct to consumer business. Is that so I can just meet a new doctor and have them look at my athlete’s foot, without being embarrassed and just rotate doctors? How does that work?
Jordan: Sure, sure. Yeah, that’s right. The direct to consumer system is for patients to speak to a doctor that they don’t have a prior relationship with. Like I said, the goal is for those products to be merged together. Basically, we got feedback from doctors on that product. They wanted to use this on their own patients. They wanted one spot that they could go to to manage all of their after hours care. Whether, it’s their patients or new patients that we’re going to be sourcing for them.
Jason: So, when you originally started the business, it was get a doctor and get service and care from that doctor. Then, the doctors told you, “Wait a second. That’s not my issue, getting new patients. It’s managing my existing patients.”
Jordan: Right. Well, we saw that they wanted to do both.
Jordan: So, we actually came back and built this product for them. Then, from this product, they’ll have the ability to treat new patients, as well as offer paid calls to their existing patients, with some heavier services like you’re talking about. Such as photo sharing and video conferencing.
Jason: So, here’s the direct to consumer. If you go to RingaDoc.com/patients, you can see, “Sick? Feel better right now.” RingaDoc gets you a doctor on the phone right now. The call is just $40. The doctor will help figure out what’s wrong and what to do next. No insurance, no problem. It’s $40. How does that work? Do I just do the payment online? I see I do. I sign up here. Then, I just put my phone number in and they email me back? How does that work?
Jordan: So, for that product, you actually just call. You call the number that’s given to you after you register.
Jordan: You enter your PIN code. You basically wait on hold while we get you a doctor, instantly.
Jason: Who are those doctors? Is it like 10 doctors who you’ve contracted out to? Or, is it like a bank of doctors? How does that work?
Jordan: Sure. It’s actually a physician network that we’ve curated ourselves. The doctors range from younger, more tech savvy physicians all the way towards the older physicians that are moving towards retirement and are looking for some other ways to supplement their income. So, it’s a nice variety of primary care physicians, in California.
Jason: So, let’s say… Is the appeal of direct to consumer… I want to stick on that for a minute. Then, we’ll talk about your entrepreneurial journey to build the doctor software as a service product.
Jordan: Oh. By the way, Jason. I got your missed call from the message you sent me. It just popped up here.
Jason: Good. So, now, is the idea here, for these doctors, that the consumers there’s a large group of consumers who don’t go to the doctor because, A- they’re embarrassed, B- they’re concerned about the bill, C- they just don’t have one yet. Are those the reasons that people give? I’m curious.
Jordan: Absolutely. I mean, it’s a variety of reasons. For the most part, the people that are using that product, that we’ve been piloting is convenience factor. For instance, I had a buddy call me a couple of weeks ago. He has a primary care physician. He couldn’t get in touch with his primary care physician because the answering service product, that one that we just demonstrated, it’s crappy 1970s call center technology. He couldn’t get in touch with his primary care physician. So, he went to our network through the direct to consumer product.
Jason: How come the direct to consumer product isn’t an app, like Uber. I would think, if I just went in there and clicked it, put my credit card information, then if I need something embarrassing like a Viagra, the athlete’s foot, or… I don’t know. Something. An STD… Whatever it is, I’m embarrassed about it or whatever. I could actually just use that and get my Viagra filled or my athlete’s foot filled. Whatever it is. Why isn’t there an app for that?
Jordan: Sure. First of all, no Viagra, unfortunately. So, I don’t mean to burst your bubble.
Jason: Why not? is that something you have to do in person?
Jordan: Yeah. There’s no controlled substances, no life style drugs and no long term prescriptions. If you’re talking to a new physician that you don’t have an in-person relationship with.
Jason: Why is that? Do you have to do in-person for those kinds of… I don’t know the laws around it. Is that a decision you made? Or, is that an actual law in The United States?
Jordan: It’s a decision that we’ve made to be cautious along the guidelines that the medical board suggests. Now, those are changing as we realize the tele-medicine and tele-health in particular. It is a really big way to solve some of the issues in health care, today. The reason… The app on the patient side is on the way. Right now, we’ve seen that the patients are fine just using the phone as an entry point. But, the first step was to release the physician app. Then, the second step is to release the patient app, once the physicians get comfortable using this kind of Netflix type queue’ish system handle all of their calls.
Jason: It would seem to me that you have all of these poor people who live in rural areas, who are an hour’s drive to a physician and it’s very inconvenient. But, they could, if they had a situation a prescription for whatever it is. Let’s say they needed a Z-Pak. They has some sort of flu. The doctor can very quickly determine that through tele-medicine, through an iPhone, through a picture, they look at your symptoms, the same way they would in person. Then, put the order in for the Z-Pak. You have it delivered to you by FedEx or UPS, the next day. So, you’re not doing that because you’re just concerned of abuse? Is that the issue?
Jordan: Oh, no, no. We are doing that. There just isn’t an app for it, right now. Not yet. The patient facing app is on its way. We’re currently working on that right now.
Jason: But, what’s the… Is it that you’re not doing certain drugs? Like if I wanted a Z-Pak, I could get that, but I couldn’t get Oxycontin, or something?
Jordan: Correct. You can get a Z-Pak. That’s a very common one. But, you can’t get Oxycontin.
Jason: Right. OK. I see. So, you’re basically the number one thing that people are going to say, when they see this is, “Oh. This is something that you can be abused for doctor shopping. You’ve taken, as an entrepreneur, you’re taking a pre-emptive strike, and saying, “We’re just not going to service that stuff.”
Jordan: Exactly. There’s a lot of online pharmacies where you can get that. Basically, you fill out a simple questionnaire. You don’t really speak to a physician. This is for… This is to be the front line of medical care. So, you can speak to a physician and actually get a prescription for something applicable to what you have. Rather than filling out some silly questionnaire.
Jason: Oh, is that right? So, people can go online and fill out a form, a doctor reviews it, and they could get Oxycontin shipped to them? Is that how that…
Jordan: There’s a lot of really sketchy sort of businesses out there. That’s why we really wanted to change the focus towards really improving the existing patient/physician relationship in person. As well as opening that channel to other consumers that may not have an in-person physician.
Jason: I got it. I got it. Now, what about emergency care, right? This must come up. I’m really fascinated by your thinking on this, as an entrepreneur. As to innovating, verses getting caught up in the potential abuse of the system. Let’s say it was an emergency situation. Do you see a time when, I’m on a farm somewhere. We’ll go with the rural one. I know that a helicopter evac is going to take 20 minutes and an ambulance is going to take an hour. So, I’ve got to deal with this person having a heart attack, for the next 20 minutes or something. I’m in the field and somebody has their iPhone there. Is the concept of, I can click an emergency button, show a video tape and have somebody tell me what to do, out of the question in your mind? Or, is that something we’ll see in our lifetime?
Jordan: Oh, absolutely. That is something we will definitely see in our lifetime. With expense of broadband connectivity and the ability for the devices in our hands to do so much. We’ll be able to see a lot of really exciting things. Especially, hooks into the local emergency room. So, that based on the location of the actual phone, it can populate what’s the closest ER, what’s the closest level 1 trauma center, who are the closest physicians that are on call, and how do we get in touch with them in the best way. That’s why we wanted to leverage the existing technologies, so that we are using the iPhones that we carry around rather than a big bulky tele-medicine unit or a larger solution, that is also out in some of those hospitals today.
Jason: So, you see a time when I can take out my iPhone, click on RingaDoc and say, “This is an emergency.” It says, “What kind of emergency?” I say, “This is somebody who’s got in a car accident.” It automatically starts streaming video, pings the emergency doctors who are on call, through the 911 system, and they actually can see the video as they’re driving to the scene and see exactly what they’re coming to?
Jordan: Sure. I definitely don’t see that out of the question. Obviously, right now, we’re not focused on emergencies. If you cut your arm open or you think you broke your arm, right now, you do have to go to the ER. Just cause we don’t have the infrastructure yet. In the future, once we build this network up, those are some possibilities that I can see a couple of years from now. If not… a little bit more probably is more realistic.
Jason: Yeah. I think it’s fascinating too. I used to work on an ambulance. Bravo Volunteer Ambulance service in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. When I was 19 or 20, I was an EMT, first responder. Which was like the lowest level of it. But, I used to ride on the ambulance and we used to have to call in, “Hey. We’re going to Maimonides or we’re going to Victory Memorial, here is the status of the patient.” That was my job. In the passenger seat rattling of the blood pressure and all that kind of stuff. Boy, if you could actually put sensors on somebody and video and have that being shown, it would actually prepare the ER for what to expect.
Jordan: Right, right. What’s really great about the trends outside of what we’re doing, we’re looking to really just be the communications platform for all outside of the office patient/physician communications. Kind of the backbone for that. There are going to be some real interesting opportunities for the future. Not in the short term, 6 month, 12 months, but 2-4 year period of integration with electronic health records that have a lot of data on patients. So that when you do show up at the ER, they’re able to pull that information up. As well as reading sensors that may or may not have been on the patient’s body.
Jason: How do people… By people I mean doctors… look at the recording and digital asset of them giving feedback over the phone? For example, if you did have some symptoms that did look like the flu. I tell you, “This looks like the flu. I’m going to give you a Z-PAK.” That’s recorded and kept for all history. It turns out you had something worse. Are doctors looking at that saying, “I want the paper/data trail/audio trail of my voice diagnosing incorrectly or under-diagnosing.” Because, at least that’s better than people claiming that I did something. How do they look at that like permanent record of interactions with patients? Is it a positive or is it a negative?
Jordan: So, that’s a great question. I would say it’s a positive. Actually, a lot of the doctors like the fact that the out of office care between their own patients is now being documented. So, the fact that it is recorded and that there is an audit trail of it, this is really important in the case of… Say, that I’m your physician and I’m out of town and one of my colleagues I have identified is covering for me, if you have a conversation with that colleague that definitely right now is not being tracked. So, it’s almost actually a more legitimate system of cross-coverage care that we’re providing. Because, doctors are professionals. They’ve been providing… most people don’t realize this… they’ve been providing out of office care and phone calls for decades. This is actually a system to legitimize the work that they’re already doing out of the office and actually give more of a protection and less liability to them.
Jason: I would think, if the recordings were kept, insurance companies might say… and they could audit them… and they could actually look at the behavior of the doctor, they might actually lower their insurance rates. Isn’t that what’s putting private practice… From what I’ve read, it’s incredibly hard to be in private practice because of insurance. This might actually be something where, not dissimilar to car companies saying, “If you drive less miles or if you drive under certain speeds, we’ll give you discounted insurance.” Is it possible that doctors who are audited and their conversations are recorded, will get lower insurance, eventually?
Jordan: One of the big macro trends, you’re correct, is the closing of small physician practices. That’s why we’ve actually positioned this product to be a way to, in the future, drive incremental revenue from patient consultations and from insurance reimbursement. There was actually a bill passed, two weeks ago in California, that has stronger mandates for reimbursement for tele-health. So, that definitely will be a point that can kind of bring back more control to those smaller physicians that are getting squeezed.
Jason: Listen. I think, what you’re doing is fantastic work. I think it’s very important and it’s very transformative. Jordan Michaels, CEO and Founder of RingaDoc. Where are you guys based?
Jordan: We’re in San Francisco, California. We were originally, from Los Angeles, California, but we moved up to San Francisco in May.
Jason: Who from the Founder’s Fund? Is it Luke? Who’s involved with you?
Jordan: It’s actually Howard. We were dealing with Bruce Gibney. Now, it’s Howard we’re dealing with.
Jason: So, you guys raised an angel round or an A round?
Jordan: Yeah. Actually, we’ve just announced that we’ve added $500K more onto the convertible debt, today. So, we’ve raised $1.2M in total. That’s led by, as you mentioned, Founder’s Fund.
Jason: Listen. I think this is a fantastic idea. I think you really can do something transformative here. Obviously, I’m an investor in Uber, as people know. This just screams Uber. So, I would love to get a cup of coffee with you, the next time I’m in San Francisco. Continued success. Everybody check out RingaDoc. I’m going to take a guess that they’re on AngelList. I don’t want to solicit for them, on their behalf. I don’t want to say I’m interested in investing as an angel investor, but, I am. I don’t want to say you should be. Maybe, you should be after you hear this interview. You say, “Wow. This has shades of Uber, to me.” I think it’s fantastic. Michael… I almost called you Michael Jordan. You gat that a lot, huh, Jordan Michaels?
Jordan: Yeah. My parents are basketball fans. Growing up, in the 90s, I got that quite a bit.
Jason: Oh, you’re kidding me. Your dad, Mr. Michaels, your dad, what’s his first name?
Jordan: His name’s Eliot. He’s from Brooklyn. He grew up and played basketball out in Brooklyn.
Jason: Where in Brooklyn?
Jordan: He played at L.I.U. Brooklyn.
Jason: At L.I.U. you said?
Jason: Oh, OK. So, your dad, Eliot Michaels decides, “Ay. I’m going to name my son Jordan Michaels. So, he can be tortured in high school?”
Jordan: I don’t think it was intentional. I do come from a sports family. They definitely are large basketball fans.
Jason: So, when you’re playing pick up games, is everybody like, “Jordan. You’re no Michael Jordan.” When you miss.
Jordan: In 8th grade, I had a teacher make a comment, that I was the complete opposite of Michael Jordan, being short and white. But, I think it’s made me stronger.
Jason: Yeah. Absolutely. I would be torturing you on the basketball court. Hey, listen. Jordan Michaels, great job. I can’t wait to meet with you when I’m up there.
Jordan: Awesome. Thanks, Jason.
Jason: Thanks, for coming on the program. Another thing you’re going to find interesting is our friends over at Igloo Software. These guys and gals, the team over there… I’m always trying to get gender specific. I’m trying to get people to use gender neutral ways of describing someone. So, the team at Igloo… I constantly have people who I do business with say, “Oh, yeah. The girls are handling that.” I was in a meeting with this reality TV producer and he’s like, “Yeah. I got a girl for that.” I looked at him and I said… in the middle of a meeting, with two other people… “Do you literally have a girl or do you have a woman?” He said, “She’s like 25.” I said, “Do you know that women really don’t like when you call them girls?” He said, “No. I didn’t perceive that.” There was another woman in the meeting. I just asked her, ” Do you find it offensive?” She said, “Yeah. It kind of perturbs me.” He was like, “Oh, my God.” Anyway. Don’t call women girls. Just say people or their names. Kirin, Brandice. Just call them by their names. You don’t have to call them girls. Like, if you called a bunch of guys boys, they would be offended. Anyway. The team over at Igloo Software… A little bit of a tangent… build an intranet that you’re actually going to like. We use it here. All of the sponsors information, we put inside of Igloo. So that, if we have something about Snapterms or MailChimp or Igloo or Hiscox. All that data is stored inside of the ThisWeekIn Intranet. We keep our calendar of all the shows that are coming up, the pre-tapes, etc… So, I don’t have to ask, “Hey. What’s going on with the show? Oh, look. Howard Lindzon and Gina Bianchini are both going to be on the News Roundtable on friday. Awesome. Dave McClure on the following week. I can see all of that stuff and know what’s going on. Even boring stuff, like all of our equipment and what we have. If it’s 1 o’clock in the morning, “What is the equipment we have? Oh. Let me go check that out.” Then, figure out where we’re at.” All this great stuff, all this great collaboration is done in a fully hosted and managed in the cloud, in a secure business context. Thank you to my friends at Igloo for providing this to us. And, to people like IDC, Deloitte, NetApp, Kimberly-Clark, RSA… That’s kind of impressive, RSA… and Aetna insurance. All these great folks are using the amazing intranet software by Igloo. Everybody go ahead and thank @igloosoftware. And, by the way, if you go to IglooSoftware.com/ThisWeekIn you can enter the drawing for the free iPad mini. So, don’t forget to do that. IglooSoftware.com/ThisWeekIn, get a free 30 day trial and enter to win an iPad mini. The last day for the iPad mini, this thursday, January 31. So, get in there, right now. IglooSoftware.com/ThisWeekIn to get a free 30 day trial. I love reading ads about products that I like and love. It makes it easier for me. Thank you IglooSoftware for making a product that I love. Go ahead an d go to IglooSoftware.com/ThisWeekIn. I say IglooSoftware, you say secure intranet. Let’s do an Ask Jason segment. Oh. There’s no bumper or anything? I’m like let’s do an Ask Jason segment. I thought they were going to play like some 10 second thing. Andy? Super fan Andy, are you there?
Andy: Yeah, yeah. How are you Jason?
Jason: I am well. Let’s just check… Andy can you count to 5 for me please.
Andy: Yeah. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Jason: Great. Brandice, Brice, Kirin, when the super fans come on to ask questions, they should start the salutation interaction with me, just by saying what’s their favorite episode number. So they just say like 77. We know that it’s whoever. Or that it’s 105. We know who that is. So, do you have a favorite guest, Andy on the program?
Andy: Yeah. I would have said Sacca but I recently listened to that Howard Lindzon one. Cause he wasn’t your traditional kind of tech entrepreneur.
Jason: No. He’s out there.
Andy: He was more of an investor business guy. Oh, yeah. That was a hell of an episode.
Jason: Yeah. I have to say, I was surprised. When I am doing the interviews, it’s hard… I knew Sacca was going to be a legendary one. But, with Howard he’s so all over the place and he’s so stream of consciousness. I was like, “I’m having a hard time keeping up with this guy. Like, is he on speed or something?” I can’t keep up with him. He keeps bouncing off the walls. He’s contradicting himself, then going on to the next subject and circling back around. For me, it was like pinball. Everybody says the same thing, they love the episode with Howard Lindzon. He’s going to be on again, this friday. So, Andy, tell us, what is your question on Ask Jason?
Andy: OK. I’ve got a startup called RealTimeWine.com. I’m from South Africa. A little bit of context to the question, I suppose, is in South Africa we’ve got a fairly young, but rapidly growing tech industry. You would have met some of those on those meetup shows that you’ve done.
Andy: As you know, in any young industry, the investment cycle is still in the low-risk phase. So, if the investors aren’t seeing big enough and quick enough exits, they are therefore not willing to take lots of high-risk investments. So, we tend to raise, in our industry, anywhere from $50K to $200K, on the up-end. There’s one or two exceptions that prove the rule. That’s pretty much there. So, in that kind of environment, where you don’t have a lot of burn, your options are limited, you have to keep it extremely lean, you have to hustle, you have to hack. Most of the time you don’t get to pay yourself a salary, as a founder. Which means, to put bread on the table and support the wife and kids, you have to earn money on the side. So, if you’re single founder and you’re not paying yourself a salary and you don’t have any money to pay anyone else a salary, it can get kind of lonely. Not depression lonely.
Andy: I love this stuff. I wouldn’t do it any other way. But, when you’ve got no one to high five when something goes right and you’ve got no one to prop you up when something goes wrong. So, that’s my question. What advice do you have, besides the obvious, harden the ‘F’ up? What tricks have you seen for single founders to motivate themselves?
Jason: Yeah. This is a great question. Listen. Being an entrepreneur is incredibly isolating, I find at times. You have to basically curate your life not to have it be isolating. I’ll give you a couple of examples. Somebody’s a founder of a great company. They are running out of runway, the product’s not kicking in, some large company creates a competitive product. Everybody in the press is saying this darling company is going to get crushed by the big company that just copied their functionality. They have a board of some investors, they have employees. But, they don’t have a co-founder and they have nobody to talk to about exactly how bad it is. Cause, if your the employee, the leader doesn’t want to show weakness and say, “I think we could be out of business in six months.” You don’t want to go to your board and show weakness and say, “I think we could be out of business in six months. This is really bad. What do we do?” Even though, it might actually be the right thing to do is be honest like that. People love honesty in their leader. People’s perception is, “I don’t want to start rattling people. If I start telling my employees that this is a really bad situation, they might leave. If I tell my investors this is a really bad situation, they might want to sell the company or not believe in me. So, there’s this constant battle of the worse the news is the less you have support. The better the news is everybody’s talking. So, leaders define reality. We had Warren Bennis on the program. He talked about that. You have to define reality for your team. If your team is just you or one or two people, it gets pretty lonely. So, what I suggest is, creating a founder/CEO club. Bring them together, with the explicit purpose of… in private… talking about what is the biggest problem they’re facing. Every two weeks or every month, you’ll lock in this dinner. It is a code of honor that nobody… anything said at the dinner, doesn’t leave the dinner. The point of the dinner is for everybody to help solve everybody else’s problem. So, you got five guys and gals, five people, non-gender specific language. You got five executives, five founders around the table. Each of the five founders takes 5 or 10 minutes to explain how bad things are, the worst possible thing they’re dealing with, the hardest thing. Everybody gives advice. You do it 4 or 5 times, it takes half an hour each. Now, you’re talking about a great meal. Everybody leaves with this great sense of enthusiasm. You throw in a bottle of wine and some great appetizers. Maybe, a little dessert. Boy, what an evening. To me, that’s fantastic. I have been doing that my whole life. I bring people together and I try to do that. But, of course, you think you’re busy and you get more and more isolated. I really like the fact that in South Africa you guys are on a shoestring and really having to push hard to make this stuff happen, it’s going to make you disciplined. Boy, does your product look good. It’s a really well-designed product. I’m looking at Real Time Wine, right now. I like the concept, sharing what you’re experiencing. But, sharing and having dinner is the ultimate anti-depressant. What’s his name… Tom Cruise? Everybody made fun of him. “Oh, he’s a scientologist. Oh, he’s a kook. He’s jumping up and down on a couch.” You know what the truth is? He did get some things right, there. Listen, I’m not pushing L. Ron Hubbard or scientology on anybody, but they happen to be right in that exercising and talking to other people and sharing a meal, does relieve anxiety and the people who isolate themselves get more anxious and more depressed. So, you need to go out and find people and bond with them. Create your own little support group for founders, by founders, for founders. Does that help, Andy?
Andy: Yeah, yeah. I think that’s another interesting thing about young industries, is that people are… they haven’t grown up to the point where they can share freely. So, there’s not a huge amount of sharing about… take something easy like user numbers, in South Africa. People don’t share. Usually, they’re going to pull the wool over someone’s eye’s in order to make it up.
Andy: But, it’s getting there. Those kinds of things need to happen more. You’re right.
Jason: Well, you know, all you have to do is find one person. Say, “Listen. I will give you very piece of information I have. You give me every piece of information you have. We’re going to be in it, together.” Then, you get the next person and you get them to agree. You just build your own little support group. You know, I have that relationship with a lot of folks who… They’ll just tell me everything. Like Jason Nazar is a good friend of mine from Docstoc. We’ll tell each other everything. We’ll share a bunch of information. Other people like that, we’ll put open kimono. Tell everybody everything. That’s part of how things have changed here, in the United States. I was saying on the program, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, if you wanted to even get a term sheet and you asked another entrepreneur, “Hey, can I see your term sheet?” They’d be like, “No, no, no, no. I can’t show it to you.” Now, you’ve got the VCs posting term sheets online, explaining all the details of them. Good people like Brad Feld or Fred Wilson or Mark Suster, all very transparent and open. Or, Venture Hacks or AngelHacks team, Nivi and Naval. They’re very out there, saying, “Here’s how it’s done.” So, all that informations there. That’s what grows a community. You guys and gals, down in South Africa, need to take a page from the play book that’s worked really well, in The United States. Sharing is caring.
Andy: That it is.
Jason: Alright. Andy, well done, good question. Let’s go on to John Shipple. Shipple are you there?
John: Hi. I’m here. It’s Shiple.
John: Thank you. I’m happy to be here.
Jason: Do you have a favorite episode, favorite guests?
John: I like just about any episode with Mark Jeffrey. He’s a friend of mine.
Jason: Oh. He’s fantastic.
John: He was involved early on. No. I’m just passionate about startups.
John: So, I have a hard time choosing.
Jason: Let’s hear your question.
John: My question is this. I’m a consulting CTO. So, it’s a slightly loaded question.
John: I’m here at one of my clients called, Relish Mix. They’re an analytics and intelligence for movies and TV. But, the question I have is, how do you create the best possible working relationship between the CEO and the CTO? I come from a tech perspective. That’s why I’m asking the, kind of, Los Angeles CEO of CEOs what your perspective is.
Jason: It’s a good question. Obviously, I famously had Brian Alvey as my partner. He was the CTO, I was the CEO at Weblogs, Inc. He, of course, went on to do Crowd Fusion. Which is now Ceros. He’s the CEO now and he has that same thing. I guess his CTO is Craig. I think, now Brian is not the CEO. Anyway, the point is, I’ve been through this. Also, with Mark Jeffrey. He was the CTO of Mahalo for a while. It is a balance because, the CEO is out there making promises. The CTO actually has to deliver. There’s deadlines and this sort of natural tension back and forth of what the CTO is trying to deliver. The CEO generally doesn’t have the time to be on top of everything. The CTO generally doesn’t have insights into everything that the CEO is doing. So, I think regularly breaking bread and talking about what’s working. The technique I used to use was, I would do like a… if things are going well, I wouldn’t drill down too much. If things were problematic, I would obviously get more involved. But, I would like to walk through their thinking, as a CEO, and say, “What is everybody working on?” We would do what we call a stand up. Let’s all just stand up and talk about who everything’s going. We would go through each of the 10 people on the tech team, or 15 people or 5 people and say, “What is everybody working on, right now?” and “Why is it important?” “What is the impact on the business?” So, sometimes when you say, “Tell me what very single person is working on, right now?” People can be offended. “Oh, what you don’t trust me?” Or, “Just let them work.” However, if I as the CEO give the business perspective on that feature, “This person’s cleaning up the database and making sure that it’s as fast as possible. This person is working on this feature. This person is working on a thing that the client wanted.” I can say, “Hold on a second. The client work is important for this reason. If we get that right and they’re happy, they’re going to give us a testimonial that will get us the next client. Making the database faster, that’s always virtuous, but this other feature that we think is speculatively good, let’s have a discussion of why we’re building that exactly. Who are we building that for? Oh, because we think it’s…? Did any client tell us they wanted that? Is that going to impress the hell out of a VC and get us more investment? Is it going to be something we’re going to show at a conference? What are we doing it? Right?
John: What do you do if this kind of pie in the sky CEO talk is freaking the CTO out? Right? Like, I’ve had CEOs tell me, “If you tell me it’s a good idea, do you think I’m building it?” Half the time they say, “Yeah.” I just was saying, “It’s a good idea.” You see what I’m saying?
Jason: I think agreeing on the roadmap and agreeing on the order in which you’re going to execute and why. It’s not like CTOs can’t understand business. It’s not like CEOs can’t understand technology. It’s that they’ve chosen different paths because they have different skill sets. So, if you start with the recognition that the CEO can understand the technology and the technology person can understand the business case. If you’re smart enough to be the CTO, you’re smart enough to understand the business case. If you’re smart enough to be the CEO, you’re smart enough to understand the technology. Even if you can’t do it yourself, necessarily. So, I think the recognition of that and being true partners in, “Hey, we’re going to execute against this roadmap. By the way, it’s going to change.” If the CTO doesn’t want to hear that stuff, then I don’t think they’re going to be a particularly successful CTO. I’ve seen CTOs like that, who are just like, “Tell me what to do and I will do it. I’ll go through the punch list.” That can be… That’s a missed opportunity for the CTO not to get out of the day-to-day and the roadmap and look at the big business case. One of the things is, I would bring Brian Alvey with me, he was my partner as much as he was CTO, he would come with me to go meet with Mark Cuban, at the All-Star game. Or, he would come with me to meet with a client. Or, to meet with Peter Rojas to try to recruit him to do Engadget with us. So, getting the CTO out of the building and into the business flow, that’s virtuous. Getting the CEO to come to the code am and hang out and have dinner with all of the developers during the code jam, and take them all out to dinner, that speaks volumes. Most of the time, it’s when these turf wars happen and people are not communicating, that things can break down between the CEO and CTO. Obviously, when there’s pressure and people are not performing, then these things can really break down. You have to double down on communication.
John: Excellent. That’s great feedback. Thank you.
Jason: Awesome. Hey, John, great meeting you. Let’s go on to our next question. Which is Ed Hardy. I hope I’m giving good answers. Ed, how are you doing?
Ed: Hi, Jason. I’m doing well thanks.
Jason: Wait a second. How old are you?
Jason: Oh, my God. It’s getting younger and younger. So, you’re a 16 year old entrepreneur and you’re in London?
Ed: Yeah. I’m actually at a boarding school just outside London, but London based, most of the time.
Jason: So, I take it ThisWeekIn Startups is really popular in your boarding school?
Ed: Yeah. Sure.
Jason: Sure. Absolutely. Right after Downton Abbey. We watch Downton Abbey, Sherlock then ThisWeekIn Startups, in that order. Alright. What’s your question?
Ed: Do you think London or any european startup hub can ever be able to match Silicon Valley. While universities and schools continue to sort of tend to not connect with it or recognize going into a startup instead of a valid industry? Or, like even acknowledge it. Like, particularly, here, at my school. You go into a bank, then you go and you have your family. That’s it. The accepted career path.
Ed: It’s something that’s changing slowly, but I think, more in America. I think it will help London to grow. At the moment it’s just not getting that kind of support from schools and universities that it needs.
Jason: I think, in your lifetime, it’s not going to happen. These things take generations to happen. In order for London to become a tech hub… or Berlin… on the scale of Silicon Valley, you would need to have 3, 4, 5 generations… 3 generations of exceptional growth and Silicon Valley would have to be stagnant. I don’t think Silicon Valley is going to become stagnant. If anything, it’s accelerating and the gap between Silicon Valley and other places might in fact be increasing. That doesn’t mean individuals can’t create amazing companies outside of Silicon Valley, but, we’re comparing overall the ecosystems. Unless Google and Facebook and Twitter and all these people decided to be in these other countries, it’s going to be very hard because, you’re not going to have hundreds of millionaires leaving those big companies with their stock options to go invest in these other companies. We had Brad Feld on the program. He built Boulder up. I don’t think he would say Boulder is going to catch up to the Valley anytime soon. However, Boulder can produce meaningful startups. Right? So, those are two different things. One is eclipsing Silicon Valley. I don’t think anything is going to eclipse Silicon Valley in our lifetime. Perhaps, Shanghai or a developing country like that. Perhaps, because of the scale of it. Maybe, but I don’t think so, actually. Because again, of the fluidity and the cultural things that you point out. Which are huge. Europe is anti-entrepreneurship, in many ways. The laws are set up to be anti-entrepreneurship. The expectation culturally, is that entrepreneurs are, in many countries, looked down upon. As you just said. Your family would much rather you become a banker, wanker than a entrepreneur. So, I think the deck is stacked. I think for a young person like yourself, get the hell out of Dodge and go to the Valley. Go to New York, go to Los Angeles or go to a tech hub that really is taking it seriously. Learn… then maybe you can go back and you’ve got a lot of skills and a network. You could always come back to London or go to Berlin. I think, for a young person, if you were my son or something, or if you were my friend, I would say, “Get the hell out of there.” Just like if you want to make movies, you got to be in Los Angeles. I had a friend who is a director. My friend Nick Jarecki, he just did this incredible film called, Arbitrage. Which, Richard Gere got chosen for a Golden Globe and it’s an incredible film. He was in New York. He’s trying to make filmmaking work in New York. I moved to L.A. and I was like, “Get the hell out of New York. Get to L.A.” He goes to L.A.. I go to his party the other night and he’s got every famous person in the world at his party. It’s just easier when everybody’s down the street. So, I think for you, the second you get the chance and you’re done with that God forsaken boarding school, go to the valley. Forget about college. That’s a waste of time. That’s just not worth it, in terms of spending £100K or £200K on school. Then you get a piece of paper. Put that £100K or £50K towards a startup company. Do it 3 times, you’re going to have success. The answer is, it’s not going to happen. It’s not your job to make it happen. Your job is to make Ed Hardy successful. Your job is to have Ed Hardy put a dent in the universe. Do you understand what I’m saying, Ed?
Ed: Yeah. Super. Thank you, very much.
Jason: What are you working on? Do you have a startup?
Ed: Yeah. I’m working with a startup called, Kuato Studios. Which is Palo Alto and London based. It’s gamifying coding for the younger market. We’re launching our products in the next couple of months and it’s going to be a nice iPad app. I think it’s one to look out for. It’s exciting. And, I’ve got my own startup called, Resort View. We basically aggregate data on a bunch of different resorts. We group them together. So, on top of user reviews, you’ve got the data to consolidate that and improve conversion rates. That’s still in it’s very early stages.
Jason: So, why don’t you come to the Launch Festival, March 4-6? You can take part in the Hack-A-Thon and you stay and launch Kuato Studios?
Ed: I’d love to but I’m at school.
Jason: With that attitude you’re not going to get far Ed. You got to be able to break some rules. Can’t you just leave school and then you get suspended? What’s the worse that can happen? They’re going to throw you out? What are you a sophomore, a junior? How does it work? Two more years left?
Ed: I’ve got… yeah. After this two more years.
Jason: If you were to cut school for a week and come to the U.S., to the Launch Festival, would they kick you out?
Jason: That kind of sucks. Maybe, you can play them this tape and tell them that I invited you and you can come. Maybe, they’ll give you a credit or something. You should come.
Jason: Come to the… you can come later. What are you a developer? You program, you code or you design, what do you do? What’s your skill?
Ed: I’m not technical.
Jason: Not yet.
Ed: Yeah. Not yet. We’ll see.
Jason: The number one… You’ve got to have a skill. Listen, to me, Ed. You need to have a skill. That’s how you break in. So, you gotta become a world class designer or a developer. You’ve got to have some specific skill that helps a startup. It’s great that your getting this generalized education in high school, but try to get a skill under your belt. Like, UX is a major skill, design is a major skill. Just by the top ten books on design and become an expert on design. Get Photo Shop. Whatever. You can steal it off of BitTorrent. Just become good at creating wireframes or something. Something. Mobile apps. Be a great designer. If you can get your head around that, there are unlimited opportunity for you.
Ed: Yeah. Super.
Jason: Alright. Do you have a favorite episode or a favorite guest on the program? \
Ed: I liked the Evernote one. That was good, a couple of weeks ago.
Jason: Oh, Phil.
Jason: He was great. Phil was great. Alright Ed. When I’m over there, in London town, we’ll grab a drink. Well, actually, we can’t go fro a drink. What’s the drinking age over there? 18?
Ed: Yeah. We’ll sort something out.
Jason: So, at your boarding school, you all sneak… Is it all boys, this boarding school?
Ed: It is. It’s all boys.
Jason: How do you sneak girls in? What do you guys do? You sneak out on the weekends? How do you meet girls?
Ed: We find time.
Jason: Are you allowed to leave the boarding school?
Ed: Every couple of weeks.
Jason: Oh, man. That’s rough. How do you sneak beers into the school? Is there like a security guard… can you give the security guard like £10 and he’ll go get you a couple of beers? Some Guinness. What happens?
Ed: No. We’re near a town. It’s fine.
Jason: Oh, you’re near a town. I’m just trying to figure out how it works, over there. Alright. Listen, this has been such a great episode. Thank you, so much to all the people who called in on the Ask Jason segment. Congratulations to RingaDoc for making a kick-ass product, that I think is going to do really well. We’ll see you all live, February 8. twistlive3.eventbrite.com if you want to get on the waiting list. Make sure you get on the waiting list. So, if you’re going to email me, “Try to get me in.” kind of thing. Just put yourself on the waiting list. So, at least we can go in some kind of order. We’re going to need a bigger boat. I don’t know if RocketSpace is going to be able to keep hoisting this. There going to have to move some more desks out and get some more space in there, RocketSpace. Thank you @gotomeeting. Thank you @igloosoftware. We’ll see you next time on ThisWeekIn Startups. Bye-bye.