SaaS Founder Interview with Bernadette Butler, Co-Founder & CEO @ StoryTap
Tony Zayas 0:06
Hey everybody, welcome to the SaaS. Tony Zayas here, and I think I had a little glitch. So welcome to the SaaS founders show. Tony Zayashere back for another episode where we talk to really have some great conversations from some fascinating SaaS founders who get to share their journey, their growth, you know, trajectory, the speed bumps, the challenges everything along the way. And I’m excited. I think we have a great show lined up for you here. Today, we’re gonna be talking to Bernadette Butler. She’s the CEO and co founder of StoryTap. And StoryTap is the leader in video storytelling, their platform lets brands easily produce and share video stories. Sounds amazing. So with that, Bernadette, how are you doing today?
Bernadette Butler 0:55
Excellent! Thanks for having me.
Tony Zayas 0:57
Yeah, by all means. Thank you for joining. We’re super excited, I read a really brief descriptor of the business. Go ahead and tell us what StoryTap is all about. We’d love to hear from your perspective.
Bernadette Butler 1:10
Yeah, StoryTap. I mean, it’s so StoryTap we predominantly work with larger brands like the UCLA, the world, the ViZZ, and a bunch of packaged goods, Denon, etc. And what we do is we really help them grow their online brands through tapping into their most underutilized assets, their customers and staff members, we have a number of different video solutions. And ultimately, what we do is we automate this collection of really versatile stories that resonate with their current folks that are shopping on their website to help drive conversions, and we’re all about the data. So we strive to get at least 30%, and more in terms of an increase on conversion of their website and conversion, meaning, whether it’s they’re buying a pair of pants, or they’re clicking to learn more, or they’re booking an appointment, whatever the customer that we’re working with.
Tony Zayas 2:03
So obviously, video is huge. It’s so important for any business in today’s world. Where did you come up with the concept? What’s the origin story behind the business?
Bernadette Butler 2:15
Well, Tony, the origin story. So I’d say, you know, I was in advertising marketing, my entire career, and I was busy spending a lot of money producing videos, that would have kind of a short shelf life, so to speak. So it was a ton of money. And when you’re in an agency, you just care to make really great ads, when you’re on the client side as I was, they have to work. And you, you know, although I had millions, every quarter, I had to make sure that I was accountable for the ROI. And I just had this crazy idea of like, imagine if my customers did stories for me on video. So I tried, and I failed miserably. And then I thought, Oh, I know, I know what went wrong. I tried again, and spent a lot of money and failed miserably. I mean, I got a couple of videos in. But they it was completely unusable from a brand perspective. From that point. Well, after I left the company, I got really quiet with that concept of you know, why is it so hard to tell a video or tell a story on video? Like what is what are the barriers? So that’s a little bit of the origin story. It is definitely where we started as an app we are today we actually started. I got really passionate about, you know, the potential of tapping into a story. And I thought what could be the biggest story out there. And at the time, for me, it was the idea of a life story and actually started recording my grandmother and friend’s parents. And just to understand how that works. We actually our MVP was a life story. products very, very different than where we are today.
Tony Zayas 3:58
I’d love to hear so what is what did MVP look like? And what was the focus?
Bernadette Butler 4:03
So the MVP was really, I literally sat at Starbucks, and I had like PowerPoint PowerPoints and like mock ups and like, I’ll pay you $5 You know, and I’d pick on every baby boomer that walked in and and buy them a cup of coffee. It was really you know, and what’s incredible about starting there was that our product does not feel like tech because it couldn’t we were capturing stories from Baby Boomers, it could not feel like something new they had to learn. So, you know, fundamentally the core of our product is still the same like we still still doesn’t feel like tech even though we capture stories from massive brands to their consumers or their staff members is still the record my phone, tablet, desktop, it doesn’t feel like technology, which is really, really core. So as much as we pivoted because it just were way too early. And I still even think we’re decades away from being able I think is the head that headspace of even more, it’s like their final song and they’re never ready. They haven’t lost the weight they haven’t whatever the thing is, it’s an issue like my own mother wouldn’t do it. So I knew we had to shift gears to the backup plan, which is what I do anyways, as, you know, marketing.
Tony Zayas 5:19
Your positioning of the business is really, it’s about results and outcomes. We just came out of a meeting this morning, our team, just with that really focus on being results obsessed. I think that’s really powerful. There’s so much you can do with with video. It’s needed by almost every brand out there in today’s world, how did you come up with, you know, in that pivot? How did you come up come to develop the solution? To, you know, to where it is today? Like, what was the iterations? And how did it build out? Where did you find the positioning? So the messy way you guys presented? How did you how did it come to be that what is today?
Bernadette Butler 6:04
Blood, sweat, and tears, smashing my face against the floor with a chair several times, like it was it honestly, I think most founders will echo this, it is trial and error. You know, we were really fortunate we joined TechStars pretty early, and when we launched our SaaS version. TechStars was phenomenal. It gave us cash, and it gave us time in education, and surrounded by other founders that were incredible. And I think having incredible mentors, and advisors. I mean, I remember my TechStars managing director sitting us down and saying, I don’t think you guys are gonna make it like you guys got to figure this out. And I’m like, and that’s when we came out with video reviews. So we I’d say we are really early on that journey of like, video, and you know, propelling your business from your actual customers and video reviews is where we went, Oh, yeah. And we kind of went underground, we built a ton of tech around that, specifically, and then surfaced and then the pandemic hit, and that was great. And then the pandemic hit, and then it was just kind of light bulbs went off about all the video solutions we could develop that really bridge the gap between what what’s happened physically, and now was a bit risky to what could possibly happen on a website. And so we’ve launched products, and then now when you’ve got a suite of products, you get a bit higher. And yet still, for us the core is there’s two obsession points for us, when the stories have to be phenomenal and emotional. So the story side of the platform, we always invest heavily in like story varieties or creation, lots of storytelling, but then of course, the data. So we’ve invested a ton of data. So you know, what customers are, are performing best for your brand. What storylines are performing breath best? What questions are performing best? So really diving deep into the performance of the platform? And so to kind of get back to your question, it’s, it’s an evolution. And I’ve never done I think, you know, most founders kind of revisit, revisit, revisit as the market shifts and changes and, and you just need to keep doing that. And you have to constantly be relevant and like, you know, so I think it’s it is trial and error, it is a journey, to be kind with yourself, being a founder, be kind with yourself, it is a marathon, it is not a sprint, and your early customers real really help tell that story to they you hear from them firsthand, you know, what’s magical, and they’re like, Yeah, I remember my first call with a brand called Canadian Tire who own everything. They’re not just tires, they’re like Home Depot competitor, They’re massive. In Canada, I’m Canadian. And the innovation officer said, like, this is borderline magic. And I was like, tell me more like, I’m trying to write down paths like what he sees, because sometimes it’s forest for the trees where you are so in it. It’s so great when somebody is on the other side and can kind of give you a fresh perspective of all the pains that we didn’t even know we were solving, we’re solving for them. So it’s been an incredible journey.
Tony Zayas 9:19
That is something you like to hear this is this is magic, right? This is like magic. Yeah, that’s really cool. So given your current role, your background kind of what it is you do, you’re kind of an expert on storytelling, right. And so as a marketer, as a founder of this particular business, and what do you guys do with video? I would love to hear a bit about how you as you guys, did you, did you guys pitch to raise funds and did you go through that process? How How was that process for you? And do you have any advice for other SaaS founders on creating that story that you’re telling when your pitching about your business and how do you tell amazing stories?
Bernadette Butler 10:06
Yeah, it is all storytelling. I mean, I think I learned that firsthand in advertising. It’s, you know, what sells is storytelling. What sells even better is truth, like true storytelling, authenticity. And I think as founders, you know, when you go out to fundraise, and so we’ve done our seed round, we’re gearing up for a round. The story is so, so important. And I think a little bit, it’s you, you’re gonna hone your story, you’re gonna create your pitch deck, you’re gonna I mean, I actually funny story, the first check I ever got, I was just going for coffee with somebody. And I was just bubbling over with passion about where we were headed. And he wasn’t an investor, or he was just somebody I was just having coffee with. And he said, Can I invest? And I was like, yeah, like, what do you want to do? And he’s like, I want to put in all this money. I was like, yeah, I gotta get a lawyer. I gotta figure this out. Like, it just kind of happened that fast. And I think if you are truly passionate about what you’re doing, and if you sometimes missed that passion, or you forgotten about the passion, you better find it again, because that they’re investing in fact, in you, in you, like, I’ve got an incredible co founder, we’re both equally as passionate. And I think that is at the early stage. That’s what they’re investing in. The products got to be good, but they’re really investing in you, your vision, we’re going to take this. And ultimately, what’s your exit plan? Like, how big is it going to get? Who are you going to irritate who might want to buy you are you going IPO but really think through that, as well. And it’s great to have a Northstar. But, you know, for us, it was always build an incredibly massive business, like and and here’s how we believe we’re going to achieve that and just really hone that story. You know, and that vision and convey that. Because when you do bring on investors, you are getting married, like it is like you are talking to them often. And so that fit for us was so critical. So when we did our seed round, it was so important for us, you know, video is so hot, we were getting a lot of attention. And we really wanted to choose our investors wisely on fit. And I always call them like Jerry Maguire investors where they just they care so much about like assets, people and lead, like, there’s a human component to building this incredible company. And, you know, I’ve got kids, my co founder has kids like we are human, and they were just have been will always be incredible humans who just want to help propel you and like fires under story tab. And like, it’s just an incredible marriage. It’s an incredible marriage when you choose wisely. So the other advice I would say is you are also interviewing them. It is not all them interviewing you. You are also interviewing them, and and do your reference checks get critical with it, you are 100% getting married.
Tony Zayas 13:06
Yeah, I love that. And we have heard that from some other founders that have been on here, I think it’s an important, really important point, I think when you’re, you know, starting to, you know, you have that need to raise those funds. And there’s a bit of desperation that could be coming out. But ultimately, as you said, it’s got to be a partnership. And it’s, it’s an engineer locked into it. So it’s got to be a good fit. And so I think that’s really important to talk with someone else. And another a past one. And the idea of, you know, being looking at it as a two way process, probably beneficial as well just given kind of human nature, right. Like, when someone is needy, you don’t want them as much, but when they’re not kind of you’re drawn to that. And so if you’re going out there with that kind of approach, it’s probably going to actually get you yield you better results. But uh
Bernadette Butler 14:02
You know, we bootstrapped for a long time, like we took early investment. And I would also encourage founders in the early stage. Like get involved in the startup community, find out where there’s non dilutive cash, and like you might qualify for it, you probably do qualify for it. So find other ways to fund your vision till you get to a point because you don’t want you know, I think raising on the idea is great if you can pull it off, but then at some point, this company needs to make money. And that that’s another journey all by itself. It’s figuring out your business model and proving out that it works. So I’m a big fan of bootstrapping, staying hungry. You know, having marital disputes of why you’re not bringing in a paycheck because I was definitely me. But it was awesome because it did it helped us find our way faster, and in a way that eventually paid off. When we finally did do our seed round. We are in a much, much stronger position.
Tony Zayas 14:59
That’s great. I’d love to hear more about your co founder kind of what that relationship looks like how you guys met, where it all began, and kind of how you work together as well.
Bernadette Butler 15:11
Yeah. So his name’s Sean Brax. And so I originally kind of came up to this wacky concept. And like I mentioned, I got our first check. So I had money in the bank to kind of pay people to pull things together. And this was the first time I was kind of leaving corporate and entering into startup land. And I had many people who I’d meet to say, Do you have a co founder? And I was like, oh, no, I don’t. It’s like, we should think about one. This is going to be a really challenging journey. You should think about one. And at first, I was taken aback by it. And then I started to go. There’s a lot here. Yeah, I could probably, you know, benefit. And so I, I started to think about it, I met a few people. But I ended up meeting Shawn, because they hired him to do user experience of our MVP and a separate developer, to do user experience. And we started working together. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, this guy is so smart. And then and we worked really, really well together. And then he the one day, he said, You know, I? Like I’m self taught, but I’m a full stack developer. I said, What? And so I talked to my developer, the time I’m like, can you guys talk and like, see, like, if this could be, and so they had a chat. And my developer at the time said, Oh, no, this guy’s this guy’s phenomenal. I’m like, Okay, and so we literally went for a walk. And I was like, Do you want to be my co founder? And he’s like, yep. And we really haven’t looked back, I’d say, you know, what’s incredible about Shawn is he loves to work on things that are well beyond my scope, and I work on things that he just doesn’t want to. So there’s that incredible balance. I’m more, you know, I’d say outspoken, I think it headlines and marketing and sales. And he’s, of course, he’s the tech, he’s the product, He obsesses over that. So there’s that, that balance, and I’m so grateful that in when things got tough, you know, that’s when you really look for a co founder, because when we, we didn’t have a great business model initially, you know, we both had to do some side hustles to figure it out. So we could, you know, make it work, and it still has to be even, and it still has to feel good. And I mean, fast forward to where we are today. I, you know, never even had a fight. Like, we’ve had disagreements. But the maturity level is, and the the camaraderie and the friendship, I think that we’ve built outweighs anything. So we just soldier on the best decisions we can and move forward.
Tony Zayas 17:37
How do you guys collaborate and work on like, bigger level things, you know, strategic planning, within the business? How do you go about that? Is that something that you kind of have on the calendar that every month, every quarter, you check in on? Are they just kind of organic conversations? What what is your process look like?
Bernadette Butler 17:56
Yeah, so we’re a fully remote company. And so how we typically we, him, and I chat every day we have, we’re constantly jumping on Zoom calls like this, we’re always on Zoom calls. But for planning, I always find it as as much as possible to do it in person. And we’ve we’ve done planning and coffee shops we’ve at last week, we just rented out a big space and flew a bunch of people in, but I think the in person, the sticky notes on the wall, the you know, having too much coffee, getting ridiculous, like all of that adds incredible momentum, I think and creativity to what you kind of need when you’re when you’re diving into planning. And so yeah, so it’s definitely a mix. We as much as we’re remote, and we’ve got folks across the country, Shawn, I don’t live that far away from each other. So meeting up is pretty easy to do. And we do it often.
Tony Zayas 18:50
That’s great. So I would love to hear a little bit about the team, as you mentioned, you know, folks across the country, you guys are fully remote. What does the team look like? And how has the you know, what are the team look like, you know, 18 months ago, as opposed to today, and how are you managing that growth?
Bernadette Butler 19:12
Well, good question. So 18 months ago, we iddy biddy I mean, we were five we were like three full time five with contractors. Everyone had a million hats, working around the clock, things, you know, it was a challenge, you know, money was tight. We weren’t able to pay people probably what Yeah, well, for sure what they were worth and they were everybody was kind of in it to win it after our seed round. And we’re on this trajectory of that, you know, we needed to defined and to grow at a high performance team. And so I think a few things went into that one is really honing your values or our values. So and we’ve done it several times, and we actually refine them a little bit, especially as you kind of get into growth, growth stage refining them. Because where you are at five person company is quite different when you’re at a 30 person company. So, and then really, we started to double down at that stage and marketing and sales are really growing out those two teams, we do have a customer success teams are really growing out that team has more customers joined. And and the last one which which we’ve just kind of really bolstered which is incredible is the tech side. But it’s funny because my co founder, so incredible, he could do so much. And he’s so fast. But now Now we’ve got a pretty large development team. Yeah, so that’s, that’s it. And I’m we’re just starting to add on like that really senior level. But being very careful about that. And so far, it’s been it’s been really incredible.
Tony Zayas 20:47
It’s great. How do you as you’re bringing people into the business. So any lessons that you’ve learned along the way of like finding the right people that are a good fit for what you guys are looking to do? A lot of times we talk to founders about things like core values and culture, finding those people that you know, there’s typically telltale signs early on. What have you learned what’s worked for you guys?
Bernadette Butler 21:14
Well, you know, one thing we did post our seed round, we hired full time HR. And I wasn’t sure whether we needed that or not. But Shawn was adamant. And boy, was he right? Because it is to ramp up that fast with that many humans, it’s a lot and to do it, well, you it’s not, it’s not a side hustle, you’ve got to really invest in these people they’re joining you, you know, we are a startup they’re joining, a chance to be a part of something massive, and you want that experience to be fantastic. So that was one thing we did. I think, you know, fit is great. I do believe in you know, fire fast if things aren’t working out and you know, probation period, but we’ve learned a lot. It’s, I think hiring well. And I’d say hiring and sales is different than marketing. And you know, like, across the board, every, every different department is very different. You know, marketing is kind of my sweet spot. So I feel like that strong. And, you know, we learned a lot. So we did, I think we did kind of a few mistakes throughout the journey, like many half, and you learn fast, and you adapt quickly. And you know, figuring out, you know, a faster hiring system for salespeople, for example, we had a really long drawn out one to make sure it was the right fit. And sometimes that hurts candidates, because you’re taking too long. So you really do need to think about, you know, talent as like, the biggest asset of the company. And, you know, I think you’re constantly looking for great talent. Like all great founders, I’m constantly looking for credible humans that could add value, because it just makes such a difference. So hopefully, that makes sense. It’s great.
Tony Zayas 22:57
Early in the conversation, you mentioned about talking about making the platform feel, doesn’t feel like tech, right, something that doesn’t. And I think that’s a great way to look at, you know, a lot of software, SaaS businesses, it’s, it’s that simplification, is necessary to grow. How do you, you know, another other piece I’ve taken away is how you apply that idea of kind of humanizing, and it’s not the people. And so with that being the case, I think sometimes early on, people that are starting a tech business, can lose sight of that when they’re too far in the weeds. And I think it’s all about the technology and all that. How do you promote, like culture, with it amongst your team? And how do you help these team members as you guys are growing quickly see the big vision and the big picture? And have something for them to buy in? Like, how do you approach that? What does it communication look like as you’re getting bigger and probably not touching base with everybody? More and more? How is the founder and co founder and CEO? How do you make that vision available to all your team members?
Bernadette Butler 24:13
I think the hardest part about joining a startup is that startups by nature are constantly evolving. And as you should the product evolving. The messaging is being tweaked. And I think that’s challenging for a lot of people who come from, you know, corporate, that don’t have a lot of experience in startup. I think it’s frustrating for an I’ve talked to many, many founders in my network that kind of echo that same thing. There’s this frustration. So I think communication is really critical having the right setup like we’re remote so we really focus and intentionally are growing a remote culture one that folks can connect with in person we’ve got like a program in place where they can, you know, we help them kind of connect in person but then also, you know, Slack zoom calls stand up. So, you know, we have, you know, a weekly call where we talk, we’re very, very transparent. We talked about where we are as a company, what it looks like, where we’re headed, and all the key measurements that indicate our performance as a company. You know, it’s one thing to say, we’re gonna hire performance, folks, there’s nothing to hide what’s actually happening. So we’ve taken the full transparency approach with our company. And I think it’s just, you’re constantly having open discussions. And I think what’s great about story tap, and the team that we have is it’s very collaborative, you know, like, it isn’t a, it isn’t a top down. I mean, the planning sessions and those that contribute to it, it’s, it’s quite incredible. So I think it’s not just me communicating the story. I mean, I’m definitely a big voice, of course, but every department head has a voice and helps their team translate where we are today to their goals and initiatives. So we spend a lot of time around OKRs and measuring objective and key results. And that takes the big message and the big goals of the company and breaks it down. So we’re all kind of marching along to the same beat. And I think that’s, that’s pretty helpful.
Tony Zayas 26:13
That’s great. I would love to hear a little bit more about you know, how you’ve leveraged you know, we’d like to talk about mentors, communities, you mentioned like stars, like, what did you get out about that? What was your experience? Like? You stay in touch with, you know, other founders? What does that network at support look like for you?
Bernadette Butler 26:34
Yeah, like I am, we’ve done two accelerators, TechStars and Lazarus to scale up luxury to scale up, a lot of folks don’t know it in America, it’s Canadian based, it takes place in the valley. Both were phenomenal, like every time like, ah, you know, can I? How much time? Is it going to be, you know, you know, what do they want, you know, there’s that, you know, logical rational chat you have with your lawyer about does it make sense. But I would say, Do it, do it, do it, if you can get in, it is transformational. And so for us Tech Stars, we were part of TechStars, anywhere the first time they ever had a virtual program. And I remember flying down for the first time, and my co founder wasn’t sure if he wanted to go because we were so busy. I said, we should just we should do this. And just to just, you know, we walked in the room. And I think I was the only one that hadn’t done a TED Talk like these, the caliber of the founders, in some of these programs, you would be a fool if they weren’t friends for life, and you feel like you kind of you know, through the program, it’s very, very intense. So you actually do bond quite a quite a bit of Yeah, I mean, I just had a call yesterday with my managing director from TechStars. And we’re four years into this program, I had a call last week with another founder that I’d say is, you know, five years ahead of us and, and what’s great about is, it’s just, it’s such, it’s built on friendship, you know, like you, you, you go through a program together, and it’s so intense, and it’s really, really challenging and hard. And so you bond over that, and everyone knows each other’s business. And it’s so incredible to see where everyone has, how far they’ve come like it really, really is incredible. And if you pick the right program, it’s a little diverse, so ours in our program, it wasn’t just marketing, it was all different types of technology. And I think that was really insightful just to see those different business models and founder setups and how they kind of approached their go to market etc. And then on the flip side, leads are bigger scale up, that’s for a lot more mature companies who have done their a round BC, even IPO. And they spent a lot more time on, I think culture and growth and stability of a larger set company, and how do you keep a lot of the questions you’re asking, like, how do you keep that the vision and the direction and I think both were phenomenal for us. Like, we just were sponges, you know, we didn’t miss talk, even though it you know, I wasn’t able to run the business while I was doing it. I was sitting in a classroom, so to speak and learning. Choose them wisely. And then, like, get everything you can out of them. If you can, again, we’re still close with all the founders from that program. And even those that ran the program still there. One of them is one of our advisors. It just it’s an incredible experience. Because what we do what if you’re watching this, you’re thinking about doing a startup? It’s not normal. Your family is not understand what the heck you’re up to. And it’s lonely and it’s hard. So make sure you want to do it. And then like if you get to that point, keep trying to get into those accelerators and they are hard to get into. They’re highly sought after, but if you can do it, you’re going to really enjoy the dividends of that connection and the learnings you get from them. It’ll like I get them for years post TechStars. And I’m still benefiting. So you can’t go wrong.
Tony Zayas 30:07
Yeah, that’s great. appreciate you sharing all that, I would say I kind of want to focus a little bit on the, the loneliness and the difficulty, it’s easy to talk about, you know, successes and all their good stuff. But, you know, tell tell me more about that mindset of a founder and kind of what you have to learn and maybe how you have matured and grown, going through kind of some of those challenges. And maybe, you know, I would like to ask, you know, what is the closest you’ve come to like, throwing in the towel and say, you know, this isn’t worth it? And how do you bounce back from that?
Bernadette Butler 30:44
How long is your shell? You know what, you, you either have it in your gut, and you don’t, I feel like I’ve kind of learned that, like, you know, it is it’s a challenge because you’re constantly having I was caught, you got a Nancy Drew it, you’re always looking for the unlock, and you know, you lie, every founder, I know, they lie awake in their thinking of the unlock the unlock the unlock, and that’s from marketing, sales. All every facet, product innovation, like you’re always, always always, and if you have a great co founder, they’re doing the same. And if you have great, you know, senior folks, nothing, they’re doing the same. They’re always always looking for the unlock. So you’re never coasting, you’re never, you’re never standing still, you’ve never got it, you know, it’s like constantly evolving. And so that that by itself is unsettling. And just when you kind of shared to your friends and family where you’re at, you’ve shifted a bit, they’re like, Oh, but I thought you were and we’re like, we’ll keep up, come on, we’re here now we’re here for technology’s moving. So, and that’s it technology is constantly evolving, like we’re video was when we started is not where it is today, video is exploding. And so you know, for us, personally, I’m so grateful we’d spent and invested a ton into our patents. So you, I think the loneliness, and I didn’t come up with this term, it was the former CEO of Shopify Plus, that said, what we are doing is not normal. And when the minute he said that, and again, it was at a class, I was like, Finally, this feels so good to me, because it doesn’t feel normal, it is challenging. And it’s, you make a lot of hard decisions. You know, you get really close with people you work with. And sometimes, you know, the business changes, and it’s not a good fit anymore. I mean, there’s a lot of hard conversations and challenges, but but the winds are incredible. Like, when you do unlock, and you do figure it out, and you do get that first check. And your tech does work. And you do get like I said, the conversation from your customers. That’s it. And when you do meet with investors, you’re like, they’re like, holy crap. And we’re like, yeah, right. This is holy crap. Like that. That is why you’re doing this, you’re in this to make a difference or in this to, to have to change and disrupt something incredible. And that’s, you gotta keep your eye on the ball. So yeah, it’s hard. Yeah, no, have I cried in my car? Yeah, sure I have. But you know what, I get up the next day, I’m excited, I’m excited to take on the next challenge and figure out that new unlock, because that’s what it’s about.
Tony Zayas 33:20
And I would imagine that having, you know, those friends that you’ve made from, you know, the startup community, you know, other founders are the ones that you can talk to, because what you’re doing is not normal, and not everybody’s gonna get it. And there’s probably unique conversations you’re gonna have with those type of people. It’s really can’t with you know, other other friends, family members that just don’t really get kind of where you’re at in the mindset and how it all works. That brings me to I would like to hear a bit about we like to talk about, you know, typically, when you’re a founder work life balance goes out the window, but at some point, you got to find harmony. Right. So how do you go about that you mentioned you kind of made a mention of family, you know, earlier in the show, how do you maintain harmony? As you’re running a fast growing SaaS startup? Like what does that? Like? What are some of the things you’ve done and lessons you’ve learned to work through that?
Bernadette Butler 34:21
Yeah, and I say specifically as a mum. So obviously, my co founder is a dad and he’s got three kids and I’ve got two and you know, when I started this, I mean, I I literally had one baby, don’t don’t ever do that. Don’t do that. Don’t do that with a baby. It’s actually dangerous for the baby don’t because you are very distracted. Do not do that. Um, yeah, you know, I don’t know if you ever find work work life balance. I mean, I feel like what I’ve learned Now, having done this for several years, I’ve had to really figure out my superhero power and where I perform best and like for me, I’m a morning person so like five o’clock, I’m up and mental health, I’ve got to get on that peloton meditate, and then I start work. So I’ve got East Coast folks working away. So like, in this position, I’m really working off two time zones. And I think, but But you got to carve out little snippets of time, and you do need to unplug. I actually think in some respects, being a mom has helped me because it’s two different crazy stresses sides of the brain. There’s the work stress. And then there’s the kid stress. And if I think you would probably see maybe a lot more burnout if it was just all work. But I do as you would ask my husband, he would say I work around the clock. But I feel okay with it. Am I filled with mom guilt? Totally. But guess what every mom I know, is filled with mom guilt. So whether I’m doing this, or I’m working for someone else, that’s just part par for the course. Well, my kids been therapy, I don’t know. You know, that it was interesting during the pandemic has traveled stopped. So that was like, you know, that was a new challenge by itself. And now that travel is gearing up again, it’s I think that’s a challenge for the kids is like, Oh, you’re leaving again, I’m like, a lot. So, you know, but you make it work. You just I’ve got an incredible husband, who is basically Mr. Mom, and like, like, he does all the cooking, and he does all of that. So I don’t think I could do what I’m doing if I didn’t have that support. So it’s really thinking through that and getting really honest, if you’re about to do a startup with your partner, if you have a partner and talking about that, or, or if you have children like really figuring that out getting really honest. Because a lot of late nights a lot early mornings. Yeah, what the job is.
Tony Zayas 36:47
That’s very true, very, very candid feedback there.
Bernadette Butler 36:52
So no work life balance is I guess the point.
Tony Zayas 36:56
Well, you you, you find that harmony, right. And yeah, it’s usually not very balanced. But that’s why I think you got to love what it is you do and be passionate about it. You got to find those wins. so rewarding. I mean, that’s that’s how you know, that you’re made, you’re built for this as when it’s all worth it right? When you do get you know, the validation, positive feedback, and
Unknown Speaker 37:18
You got it. It’s all about that. It’s really cool. Like what we’re doing is really exciting. It’s really cool. Yeah. Yeah, but it’s great.
Tony Zayas 37:28
I want to talk a little bit, I saw a video that you did, and you talked about the end of influencers, and I love the content. And if you recall, you know, the video was talking about, I would love for you to elaborate on that. Because when we hear about influencers all the time, but you were talking about authenticity, and how that’s what people want to see and hear. And I think that goes very much in line with your business and the product. So what do you mean by that, when you say, you know, people are getting tired of influencers, you see, you see a deer coming in decline in that area.
Bernadette Butler 38:02
I think, you know, I might have been a bit dramatic. But I mean, I’m old enough to know that I was, you know, influencers came for really important reasons, marketers had to do more with less, we had all these social channels, we had to have a role on, you had to be a part of all of them, your customers demanded it. And influencers had a really, really important role. And, and I think they still do today, quite honestly, there is that awareness play that they do incredibly well. However, people are to the fact they’re getting paid, it is an arrangement, it is a business model. And really what story tap is doing, if you were to look at the trajectory of influencers, you’ve got macro micro, and I think what we’re excited about is for that new, it’s just your real customers influencing. So it’s not dead per se, it’s going to look a bit different. So I think the mix is broadening. And when you when you do look at the potential of your real customers and real staff members, you know, giving them the tools to help you grow your business in a way that they feel fantastic about. There’s a shift, there’s authenticity, true telling, and you just kind of know the difference. So I think the landscape will change, but we’ll be dead, it’s gonna look different, I think and I think that’s pretty normal and probably pretty natural. They’ve had a good ride for a long time. But I think things things will shift and in order they have to get it has to be a lot easier to work with the influencers to and I think there needs to be a lot more transparency there. So I think again, it’s just going to be a different landscape. And and I think the future is real people telling stories about the brands that they love or like or are using, they may not even be in love. It may just be that that whatever product services is helping them in this way. So that the stories and there’s so many stories it’s not just As promote, there’s so many stories that help average people make great buying decisions. It’s not just like, I like this, it could be what the packaging is? Or is it a sustainable company? Like there’s so many stories, and use cases. And that’s where we get a little excited because we know that we see that on the data side, what stories are working? And what stories people want to watch? What are they looking for? What are they trying to learn before they make this buying decision? So the landscape is shifting.
Tony Zayas 40:29
Yeah, and you’re already giving some kind of direction of where you see video going. But I would like to hear other predictions that you have for how video is going to change and evolve, I think, being you know, that, that being able to showcase those really authentic customer stories and journeys is certainly one area, but anything else, because video has had such a quick and rise, and now it’s everywhere. And it’s so important to us. What else do you see happening with video?
Bernadette Butler 41:00
Well, you know, it’s funny, like when when I started in the biz, if I mean, at the height of high production, I was doing, like 15 videos a year. And that was exhausting. And I’d say when we started storytime, we started coaching our customers that they needed, roughly about 50 a year. And now I mean, if if they’re not thinking 300 I mean, like, and that number isn’t just you need all this volume, it is when you really look at video, what’s incredible about where it’s headed is personalization. And what I’m gonna resonate to is not what you’re gonna resonate to even based on geography, you’re in Ohio, I’m in Vancouver, you know, your opinions, very different than my opinion just on geography. So when you start to peel back personalization, and the future of how folks want to engage with an online brand, they do want video, but they don’t just want video, they want video that’s relevant to them. So that is like that, that new level of humanization is the is the future. And of course, we’re highly invested in that direction, because we see how it performs. And it’s incredible.
Tony Zayas 42:12
Has there been one particular growth channel or tactic that has been like, just really important for, you know, for the growth of the business?
Bernadette Butler 42:27
Yeah, I mean, so, so many, I’d say one, that it’s really interesting for us, and we actually built tech around it, that we don’t even sell our events. So we have an event version of our platform, we literally don’t even sell it, partly because it doesn’t, it’s not part of our air, our journey. But it’s incredible for us, when we when we partner with events, we help them capture stories on the day. And that is wonderful because it gives us exposure. So I’d say events are an incredible challenge, or an incredible opportunity for us to for lead gen. It’s phenomenal. In fact, um, and then quite honestly, we do a lot of Video, Video SEO. You know, Google bought YouTube, it cares a lot about video. So we’re kind of high on that. So I’d say when you think through channels, thinking through ones where the wind is at your back is best. And to try to get that flywheel that momentum happening is obviously the goal. And again, it’s not easy to find your channels, and we’re still channel hunting, as all founders are even on their C and D round. They’re hunting for more efficient channels to drive leads. So I’d say we’re no different than that. But yeah, that’s a that’s a window into what we’re up to.
Tony Zayas 43:42
Fantastic. What would you say, you know, if we were to talk about the next, I don’t know, 18 months to three years, where do you see story tap being, let’s say three years from now?
Bernadette Butler 43:58
Good question. Well, I we’re really excited about the future of where we’re headed. And you know, the the TAM is incredible. And I do believe there will be one winner, one top of mind winner and I think reposition quite well and we’re going for it. So I think honestly, world domination can get an answer. So I think yeah, that’s that’s where we’re headed. That’s where we’re focused in an incredibly authentic, transparent way.
Tony Zayas 44:30
Fantastic. Before I ask my last question, it’s a question we ask all of our guests, Bernadette, where can people who are tuned in learn more about storytelling more about you follow kind of pay attention. Check it out. Where are the best places to look?
Bernadette Butler 44:50
I think if we were just gonna StoryTap.com We’re pretty active on LinkedIn. You could follow us on LinkedIn you can reach out to me directly on LinkedIn happy happy to have a conversation I love connecting with founders. It’s not easy. We’re all in it together. Um, yeah, I think those are two great places to start. And yeah, and we’ll have those conversations.
Tony Zayas 45:10
Fantastic. Really appreciate that. So just to kind of wrap up question we like to throw out there to all our guests is, if you were able to go back in time before you launch the business, and sit down and have a cup of coffee with your younger self, what’s the one piece of advice that you’d share?
Bernadette Butler 45:32
So you’re saying before I got into this business, and I met my get into tech, if I would have met myself at even 15, learn to code get into tech, that is so exciting, and the learning never stops. And if you’re, you know, a nerd, like me, you’re gonna thrive. I feel like I could have started this much sooner. And yeah, just get into it. Start learning start failing. I hate that term. Fail fast. But honestly, it’s so true. And I hate I don’t love that but it is so true. Like, get in and make mistakes and screw up and keep going.
Tony Zayas 46:11
So awesome. Well, thank you, Bernadette. We really appreciate you being here. You know, sharing your time. I encourage everybody to go to StoryTap.com Check it out. Connect with Bernadette. This has been really great. Look forward to seeing you guys do incredible things. So, again, Bernadette, appreciate your time here today. Thank you for everyone who’s tuned in. We will see you again next week with another great and interesting founder. But for now, take care everybody, and thanks for tuning in. Thank you, Bernadette.
Bernadette Butler 46:45
Thanks, Tony. My pleasure.