SaaS Founder Interview with Brent Oakley, Founder of Vibenomics

Tony Zayas 0:08
Hey everybody, it’s Tony Zayas here back for another episode of the SaaS Founder Show. excited to have you guys here today. Appreciate those of you who tuned in last week, we had our tech throwdown, we got to talk to our panel of finalists and we had the events in the evening, which was great. So appreciate everybody for all of those that tuned in for that. Hopefully, you found that interesting. We enjoyed putting the event on. Today we’re going to be back to the regular scheduled episode. We’re gonna be talking to Brent Oakley is the co founder and CEO of Vibenomics. And it’s described as an out and audio out of home advertising company, fueled by technology. So with that, let me bring brands on brands, how’re you doing?

Brent Oakley 0:52
Good, Tony. Thanks a lot for having me.

Tony Zayas 0:54
Absolutely. Thank you for joining. And, yeah, tell us about Vibenomics. You know, I just read the little descriptor there. But we’d love to hear it sounds like an interesting concept. So tell us what it’s all about.

Brent Oakley 1:06
Yeah, well, I’ll start with the name. It kind of says it all. So we wanted to create a company that helped location based businesses create a vibe in their stores while driving economics, which comes with biodynamics. And really where the the idea came from is, my first entrepreneurial experience was I own several car washes. And as somebody that had a high end carwash, where people would come inside, I really wanted the feel to be like a W Hotel. If your listeners have been to one of those, it’s high energy, you walk in the music’s banging, and everything’s a lot of fun. The second you walk in the door, we really built that into our carwash experience. And one of the things that I found people really reacted to was more of the audio than they did visual display. So with a world where we’re all distracted by own personal devices, it’s hard to get their attention through eyeballs. So we really started running our own ads and our own commercials through an audio channel. And I didn’t want it to sound like my voice, I want it to be a really professional sounding radio station type of setup. And there was nothing around that was that fluid in that dynamic where I could think of something on the spot, and then be able to send that to a professional voice talent in real time. Within minutes. My message is playing back where it sounds like my my carwash prime carwash had its own radio station, and that’s where the idea was born. And since then, we pit it pivoted like most of your founders do 1000 times and we found ourselves in a slightly different spot now but that that was kind of the seed of biodynamics.

Tony Zayas 2:45
That’s pretty cool. Um, so where did you kind of where did that? Where did the idea come from?

Brent Oakley 2:59
Yeah, I gotcha. I heard where did the idea come from?

Tony Zayas 3:02
Yeah. And I just wanted the timeline look like between, you know, having this concept, this idea to let’s, let’s let’s build it, let’s take it to market.

Brent Oakley 3:14
Yeah. So you know, where it really hit is one day I was in the carwash and there was a local kind of a local celebrity sports kid, a local high school kid that went on to play at Michigan State, an absolute stud here in the community I live in just outside of Indianapolis. And his parents came in on a Saturday after their son just went and lit up somebody for about 30 points. And I thought it would be really cool to have a ESPN come on. And then we give the stats of their son and watch the reaction. And what ended up happening is i i send over to a professional voice talent, and I said, Hey, let’s try this. And the second that comes on, not only their parents were looking around and couldn’t believe it. Other guests were hearing it and they walk up and they’re like how does prime carwash have their own radio? Is there a DJ in the back? Like what’s happening? And that really started to resonate to be like, a moment where you think can everybody in the country that has a location based business have their own radio station and and in a technology world like we live in today? There’s no reason why they can’t. So that that was the part where it was the aha moment that maybe I have something here. Shortly after that I met meet a gentleman by the name of Scott McCorkle and Skye at the time was the CEO of Salesforce cloud. Salesforce had just bought a company called exact target and move their second largest headquarters to Indianapolis, where Scott McCorkle, who’s one of the original folks at exact target takes over as the Salesforce cloud CEO Scott had just left that and he was looking for his next thing. He comes into the carwash, here’s what we’re doing and asked it to chat with me about this technology that’s running this. And so I talk about everything that we’re starting to do, how we think about networking, these these huge companies together, like grocery stores and having this huge channel to be able to advertise and talk to their customers. And Scott just said, you know, Brent, I get pitched five, six times a week. And this is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard is owning your own network, providing an experience. But when you own this network, and you can channel all this audio into this space, the amount of people that would want to pay to be on your network, at point of sale, when people are making purchasing decisions, this could be a really big idea, we should go turbo with this idea. So we did, we raised our first round of capital, maybe four months after the kind of the the gem of the idea started. And we raised an early round of about $3 million outside of the capital I was putting in just to fuel it. But that was kind of our first go to market idea. And really how we started growing is one of our very first larger customers was trampoline parks. And the reason we like them is we could run their entire park through an audio channel. So we started getting kids on and off the trampolines, we would make, we would make announcements about wristband colors. And you know, Jimmy’s birthday, and if you’re so we were running their entire operation, from coast to coast, and all these trampoline parks. And then we signed on Chrome. We did right on pandemic time. And once we had Crover, we really realized CPGs, and all these consumer product goods, companies that Kellogg’s of the world, the General Mills, they have a lot of capital they want to spend to influence shopping habits at point of sale. So we started really pivoting to to be more in that space so that we could make our customer more of the the advertisers. So that’s kind of the trajectory of how we found ourselves in this audio out of home advertising space.

Tony Zayas 7:12
That’s interesting. I want to back up a little bit from you know, the current venture. So to talk about the carwash, right, is that where you made the leap from, you know, into your first your own business? I think it is background.

Brent Oakley 7:29
Yeah, so I was in medical device sales. And I guess my very first venture was a company called golden years homecare where we were giving non licensed non skilled help to elderly we kind of bridge the gap between nursing home and living at home. And I was doing that through a little app that was terrible and didn’t go very far. I ended up selling that company, and basically breaking even on the whole deal. So that that gave me at least a little bit of experience to understand I want to be an honour, I want to do this, I want to run my own my own trip. I had been in the Tronic, which is the largest device company in the world. I was doing heart stents and balloons, everything from basic cardiology. And the front end, the job was fantastic. And I loved medical device sales. The problem is, is you’re on call all the time you work 1000 hours. And I just thought you know, if I’m working this hard, I really want to do something for myself, I’d rather be working this hard and do it my myself. And at the time in Indiana, there wasn’t a lot of options for a very nice high end experience. Shel carwashes most of the industries had changed when you go into grocery stores. They’re beautiful now and they have coffee bars and all of that. car washing, at least in Indiana was still very an automotive type of blue collar environment. And I wanted to make it extremely Country Club driven and experiential. So that’s that was the idea and where we started and we built out the first prime in Indianapolis where it was all membership based. You can come in and get your carwash inside and out as much as you want. We had a full coffee bar barista. The environment was cool for kids and marker boards and all that kind of stuff. So that really started to take off. So that was my first true entrepreneur experience where I did that and was the CEO of that company I build out. We now have seven locations. Couple down in Jacksonville, Florida, some in Indiana. So that’s where I really cut my teeth on being an entrepreneur.

Tony Zayas 9:35
That’s great. I would love to hear a bit about what the MVP looked like when you first launched Vibenomics.

Brent Oakley 9:47
Yeah, it was terrible. Absolutely terrible. So a funny story about so the MVP actually when we started bringing on the trampoline parks. The one thing that we do we do Send them these very knockoff blue cell phone devices because they were cheap. And we could buy them for like $39. So we would send them and we’d load it up with our software to sin because you have to have a device plug in to play over the audio speakers. So we are a cloud, software driven space. But it kind of like if you think about your cable, if you have direct TV, or Comcast or XFINITY you, you still have to have their cable box there. Everything’s driven now, you know, on on software and cloud base, but you still got to have the machine plugging into your, your home. That’s how it is with with our system, we still have our box that plugs in, because that’s what we’re talking to all the time. So anyway, we send these blue devices out. And in the early going, the only thing that we had figured out with our software is we could make announcements in real time. But what we hadn’t gotten figured out yet is how to change playlists and rebuild playlists and the amount of data, it would suck out of our network, we didn’t have all the infrastructure to put it all together. So all we were doing is we would load a bunch of songs on these little devices. And then we’d be able to go in real time on all the content and the creative we would do. But there was a time that we were playing. And Justin Timberlake on bringing sexy back song comes on. And it was for a kid’s birthday party. So they call us and they say hey, we need you to eliminate the song. And as opposed to eliminating it, we had to ship them overnight, a brand new device, because we could never just change out the songs. We always had to ship new devices just to change the playlist. So our shipping costs were out of control. We were shipping devices all day just to change out a song or a playlist. It was hilarious. Wow.

Tony Zayas 11:48
Well, that’s what’s the saying that, you know, if you weren’t embarrassed by your, your MVP, you know, you launched too late. So that’s right, we were the right way. So what are the what are the iterations look like to get you to where you’re at today? And how did you how did you, you know, that product development improvement over time, you know, where did the ideas come from? How much of those are driven by you know, your your client feedback, as opposed to ideas of roadmap that you guys have mapped out?

Brent Oakley 12:21
Yeah, the initial idea was that we were going to be a true software business. So we would have this every location and we build it with the idea of if Walgreen had 9000 stores, that they would actually have the ability to have a system that they could program their own music, they could work within it. So we envisioned that Walgreens themselves would control our software and have seats to the software and be able to do all of this. What we found out is Walgreens doesn’t want to do that. That’s not their business. It’s not what they are doing every day, they want us to do it. So we built this beautiful, gorgeous software that was supposed to be enterprise level. But actually what ended up happening is we controlled it. So now we only have a few people that handle all of this programming now for for 6000 locations. And thankfully, we did build it with the idea that Walgreens would be using it because we made it so simplistic that now we don’t have to hire a whole bunch of people to manage all of this, our fully managed solution is all controlled by one or two people. And it’s because we built such sophisticated software that can scale. So that was one piece of it so that the idea of them having seats didn’t work out. So therefore our economics of the business didn’t make sense anymore. Nobody was going to pay for seats when we were the ones they just wanted to pay a monthly thing for their their subscription, but they didn’t want to work in it. So therefore, we were thinking, Okay, well now we have all the controls. And what we can do is we’ll take Kroger, for example, they have 2400 locations in an hour, if we’re controlling their space, we need to be able to break down that space and be able to segment it out to say I got 24 spots of inventory. And you know, I’m going to sell, I’m going to sell 18 of them and then use the other side for Kroger to do their own self promotion. So then we had to put a cost per 1000 CPM on the the network itself. So Kroger sees 11 million people a day. So then we had to work out alright, if they’re seeing 11 million people today and I dropped a spot at 10am on a Wednesday. What does you know how many people are listening and hearing and that’s how we came up with the idea to be able to charge the and that’s just simple advertising CPMs and as I educated myself in this space, I started to realize there’s not an audio vehicle like ours. So messaging and stores has been around since the blue light special, but to be able to buy it programmatically be able to see it listed so when big agents sees go into, like trade desk, for example, when, when the trade desk is publishing all their things, all these agencies can go and they can see where to buy video displays, they can see where to buy online advertising. And they start seeing through the computer, we can’t do is we can’t do that through an audio channel and location businesses until us. So we are the first ones to integrate to be able to allow all of these people now to view our inventory, and segment it the way they want and look at it and buy it just like they do on web and programmatically through digital display. So that’s where we’re at today.

Tony Zayas 15:40
Yeah, so it’s it’s really an advertising model that you guys have built out, right?

Brent Oakley 15:46
Yeah, that all advertising? Yeah.

Tony Zayas 15:49
Did you have any experience in that space?

Brent Oakley 15:53
I did not. And luckily, our VC, one of our VCs that came on, it’s a company here called high alpha. I had reached out to Scott Dorsey is the founder of that. And I reached out to Scott and said, You know, I’m getting into this advertising world that I don’t know anything about. Do you have any connections, and luckily, he was connected with a gentleman that was running MS Communications, called, his name was Jeff Smolyan. And Jeff had a guy by the name of Paul working for him, and he would build companies within us that will stand up and they were all advertising tech stack to companies. And Dorsey said, Let me connect you with Paul Brenner, you guys should go sit down and have breakfast together, which we did. And my mind was blown. I mean, when when Paul started talking to me about the opportunities and how big this network can be, and the fact that we own this audio channel that nobody else has, in the CPMs, we could charge to get that close to a customer and influence their buying habits. He kind of just rocked my world to really let us know that we could do this. So long story short, is I get Paul to come work for me as my chief strategy officer, I asked him to build out this whole what it will take to build this advertising company, because I don’t know anything about it. And ever since then, you know, just last year, we grew by 280%, during a pandemic, when everybody else was struggling in this space, we kept growing. And it’s been it’s been a lot of fun.

Tony Zayas 17:26
That’s exciting. So it’s still is there’s the software element to the business. But it is a managed service, essentially, with Yeah, advertising as the monetization. Yeah, that’s pretty interesting. It sounds like you, you know, found people to lead the different areas. What about on the tech side? Is that an area that you did you have a CTO or, who heads up, you know, the the development side of things?

Brent Oakley 17:58
Yeah, that’s, you know, in the early going, and I’m sure your listeners will will remember this stage, there’s a point where your your company is made up of nothing but developers, and you have one or two people selling, and then all your payroll is going to these very expensive worth it but expensive engineers and developers. And we have a best in class team. Again, it was Scott McCorkle, who was an original exact target, his team that supported him and exact target building that out. Two of those individuals came up. And now Chris Keaney is my CTO. And he built a team around him. And one of the things that I’m so happy that Paul Brenner, who is my chief strategy, officer, I’m so glad we met when we did. And the reason I say that I tell him this all the time, had Paul come in early, I may not have spent as much time developing this best in class software, we might have skipped a lot of steps. So the fact that we had to go and position and move ourselves really allowed us to be forward thinking enough to build out this beautiful sophisticated software that now can plug into the trade desk, it can plug into vistar, it can be listed on the exchange and, and the way that it works and interacts it allows us to truly be programmatic. When we look at our competitors that are very old school legacy type of music providers, they’re just streaming devices, and they don’t have a lot of sophistication to them, which makes it impossible for them to ever plug in programmatically like we have. So everything does kind of work out for a reason, I think and as long as you stay the course and you keep doing and moving and keeping your eyes open. I think you look back a lot of times and even the mistakes that you make are the places that you’d been as a company, you can almost go back and connect the dots and say thank God, we screwed this up. If we wouldn’t have done that, then we wouldn’t be here. Thank God we You know, learn this to get us here. And I talk to peers. That’s what we talk about all the time is timing, it’s important meeting Paul brand, when I did versus earlier, it could have messed up the whole company.

Tony Zayas 20:14
Now, some of that I’m wondering is the some of that, you know, perspective come from the fact that this wasn’t your first, you know, business that you built, you have some experience and learning that, you know, sometimes those points of, you know, you know, those trials and tribulations they take you through something, and they’re learning opportunities. And I think that’s the thing that entrepreneurs understand that, you know, every failure is really a learning opportunity in, in in an opportunity for you to improve the business. Do you feel like you brought a lot of those things along?

Brent Oakley 20:51
Yeah, I really, I think what it comes down to, and you said it perfectly as you just when you are building your first business, and you get into it, I think you always have the mentality, if I can just get here, everything will get better. And if I can just pass this place, everything will get better. And the truth is, it never gets better. It just It gets you to a different place. And then you have a whole new set of problems. So a lot of people are like, if I could just get my first big enterprise customer, if I could just get to you know this to work. And then all that happens, and then you have more and more things. So really, what I’ve started to think about for myself is, it’s never a I’m not going to a place I’m just always moving, always going forward and realizing along the way things are going to happen to the business, things are going to happen to me and it’s going to move me and change my opinion, my I guess the perception of what’s going on. And my lens is changing every day. And I think if I wouldn’t have gone through building a carwash, and that exact same thing happening because it doesn’t matter if you’re in the carwash business or asphalt laying or our software, businesses business. And, you know, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a group called YPO. It’s a Young Presidents Organization. And in my forum, we don’t talk about business specific things, we talk about things that happen, happen to you in general, and how you deal with them as a person, because that’s really what it comes down to. It doesn’t matter if I’m building a marketing software, or building an ad tech software, or whatever the case may be, all of our stories are always the same. It’s just the things that happen to you in a business, it’s how you react to them, and how much you listen and are willing to adjust and just change your perception every day.

Tony Zayas 22:43
I love it. This is some really good stuff. I have a mentor that used to say to me, for every new level, there’s a new devil, that’s kind of you know, what you’re sharing there. And it’s so true. We like to talk a lot about, you know, people you that are that founders lean on whether their mentors, a peer group like a forum. So I’d love to hear more about the one that you’re involved. And just some of the value that you’ve gotten out of we’re big fans of it. Andy, who is our CEO and founder is a member of a EO forum. And, you know, it’s, it’s great, what we’ve gotten out of it. And so just in how you leverage, you know, that network and interact with those folks?

Brent Oakley 23:32
Yeah, no, I, first and foremost, if you are a person that doesn’t have a business coach or somebody outside of your organization, that is step number one, if you have to have that person from the get go, and I’ve even taken a step further is, you know, I, a therapist, and I know that that word sometimes has a bad a bad notion like something’s wrong with you. But look, what what we do in the lives that you affect that the more lives the better your company does, the more lives you’re affecting, the more jobs you’ve created, the more people rely on you, which means it’s the more pressure the more the more capital that you raise, the more expectations go up. To put that on yourself every day. It’s hard. And what we do is really hard. So by all means, get somebody that can help you with that. And there’s two sides of it, you’re going to go to a business coach, and they’re going to look at you as the person in specific situations. And then you grow you join a group like YPO or EO that really is actually shaping you more from 10 20,000 feet, where you’re not looking at your business. They’re not trying to change you within your business. They’re trying to change you how you react to things and how you deal with your family and your home life and also building a business At the same time and the challenges that might have, and then a therapist is actually getting inside your soul a little bit and helping you think through and realize all of this pressure and the tightness in your chest and the things that are happening to you and the headaches and you don’t understand it. It’s all okay. And here are mechanics that you need to deal with it. Because it’s, it’s hard. I mean, and there’s no one in left it through. And unless you’ve been in the seat of a CEO, Lincoln County and raising money going to those, nobody understands it, nobody. So you have to surround yourself with people that that do. Or you’re gonna drive yourself crazy. So I certainly I am a huge fan of getting that support somehow, some way and a bunch of different ways.

Tony Zayas 25:47
Yeah, I love it. And I love how you’re talking about the point of basically our humanity, right? Like, it’s about the perspective, we can dive into the weeds and talk about, you know, business tactics and strategy and all that all we want. But the fact that people, human nature is going to dictate how we behave. And until we wrap our hands around that, and the fact that as a founder, it’s a lonely journey. And you have to be bold, and you got to be daring, and you’re gonna go through challenges, you got to learn how to come out on the other side better off. I think, you know, that’s, that’s really good stuff. So I love, I love we’re touching on this, sometimes we get into the, you know, real tactical granular, and I think this is a really important conversation to be had. So I appreciate that. I would love to hear a little bit, Brad, how your role has has shifted, you know, as a co founder as the CEO, what is the day to day look like today, as opposed to, you know, when you just launched? And how did that evolution happen?

Brent Oakley 26:50
Yeah, there’s been a lot of growth that I’ve had to, to figure out and go through some of my own demons as as you grow. And what I mean by that is, when I, when I started prime, what’s nice about a Main Street business like prime carwash is you hire a lot of young folks, typically not educated. They are there folks that are maybe going through high school or college, they’re part time. And they’re just, they’re just there for a job. And the way that you lead that organization is very, if you follow the disk, you know, you got to almost be a very high D, in that situation where you’re more of a dictator, you’re saying this is the way we’re going to do it. You don’t really ask for opinions. It’s this is the way we wash cars here at Viva nomics. Take it or leave it. When you get into a space where you’re hiring, very educated people who know their field extremely well. Crazy cerebral engineers, and people who understand way more about certain aspects of the business than you do that you actually cannot be a dictator anymore, you really need to raise your eye and make sure that you’re just being an influencer of the organization and where you’re going and that you’re able to give them the site to where you need to reach and be, but you allow them to get you there. And that was a huge transition for me, because I’m used to being person says, this tower doing it this way we’re gonna go where that really came to fruition for me, and where I really took a step back as more of a hands on execution person is when I hired Paul Brenner. And, you know, I brought him into the business. But I was still very much telling him where we were going. And finally, one day just came to me and he said, Look, you hired me to come in here and build this advertising unit for you. This is this, this was the understanding, correct? I said it is. And he’s like, Well, if you’re continuing to tell me what to do, how can you feel like this be, and I need that trust from you. And once I took a step back, and let him do what he does, what I really realized is I was free now to go around and influence the culture of the business, how we onboard our people, the way that we treat them, and where we’re going, I was able to cultivate relationships with big advertisers and talk at a much higher level. It freed me of being in the weeds every single day. And that trust also empowered Paul to really rise up and just be an incredible leader within the organization. So I’ve been lucky enough now to hire a chief CEO, along with a Vice President of Finance and I’ve been able to learn all of those people are brilliant. That’s why you bring them in. I think it was Steve Jobs. You know, that famous quote is, I don’t hire smart people and tell them what to do. I hire smart people so they can tell me what to do. And I think that’s really what it came down to.

Tony Zayas 29:57
How hard was that? make that shift from urine control, you’re dictating the way everything is run, how it’s done, so on and so forth to me say, Okay, I gotta let go, I got to relinquish a little bit of control here or a lot and put trust into these people. I know that is a big challenge for a lot of people. How did you deal with that? And kind of how long did that take for you to really embrace that, hey, you know, he’s the guy, he’s gonna lead this, let him do his thing. And then also that mindset to be able to see the opportunity, I can now work on these other areas of the business, you know, was that that takes some time, I’m sure the roof level discomfort. How do you deal with that?

Brent Oakley 30:44
Yeah, I think the biggest, the biggest thing that happens has to happen is you have to commit to it. And most of us are, you know, I think there’s, there’s several different types of founders, you have engineers and software developers that have this great idea. And they’re one way and what typically happens with that group of people is, they actually don’t lean in enough, they don’t, they, they stay out of the weeds, and they don’t want to touch the stuff they don’t know about, they’re not willing to do it. And sometimes they need to go find somebody, that’s more of that the and somebody who can lead it, then you have somebody like myself, that is I wouldn’t say that I am good at any part of the execution, I can, if I had to point a direction I’m pretty good at it’s the sales side. But everything else when it comes to finances, or product development, or any of those, they’re not my strong suit. But I still had a very big opinion and all those things. And I wanted to run everything. So I had to commit to the fact that this thing is only going to work if I let people who are great, do what they do. But the most important step I had to take is I did commit early to let my people do their thing. What ended up happening, though, is the company and all the people who had been following me all this time, they got really confused, like who’s leading this who’s who’s really in charge. And it was a very hard thing for me to sit back thinking that they wouldn’t think of me as the leader any longer if I turned everything over to my executive team, which is actually completely not the truth. What ends up happening is they think of you differently, they don’t approach you on very tactical things any longer, they will only bubble up big strategy, things that hit your desk, which which keeps you elevated to be able to keep your mind thinking about what’s two years down the road, what’s the next steps. And that was a hard thing is loot feeling like I was going to lose the value and the respect of my team if I allowed Paul and my the rest of my team to lead them. And that doesn’t happen that way. It just you they look at you differently. But they they do follow Paul, and they do follow Marty, my chiefs, my COO and but they look at me in a different way. They still want to hear what’s the vision of the company? Where is it going, they need to have complete faith that I do have the next phase of this thing figured out. And it works, it works much better that way.

Tony Zayas 33:16
Yeah, it’s fascinating to hear that or you’re saying that people are coming to you for little tactical, you know, things and that is probably was probably a relief, right. But they are coming to you for those bigger higher level strategy elements, which are where you should be focusing your time anyways. So that’s, that’s pretty interesting. You know, the fact that you did have, you know, you were able to successfully step back, put good people in place to lead those areas. How did you then once that shift happened, keep you know, that team, your leaders in alignment with your big picture vision, and make sure that that you are on the same page as those guys? How do you do your strategic planning? How do you communicate with with that, you know, team of, you know, your leadership? And what does that look like?

Brent Oakley 34:13
Yeah, I, I think the the biggest thing that can destroy a company is when you when you leave a room, and you’re not all aligned, it’s it’s the number one thing that that I think causes a cancer within an organization that tears it apart from the inside out. And one of the things that it’s kind of like, you know, your your parents and if you know those who have children, it’s, you know, as, as parents, you can go behind a closed door, and you can have disagreements, and you can argue and you can, you know, figure it all out that but when you leave, the kids have to know that mom and dad are completely in sync. And that is exactly the way that the business of an executive team has has to work to is my expectation is, when we sit around the executive table, my team is going to push me, they’re going to challenge me. And I’m going to do the same back to them. But whatever the decision that is made at that table is, regardless of where you stood on it, even if you don’t agree, if that’s the consensus of what we’re doing, when we leave that thing, everybody is buckling up, and we’re doing it. And we are dropping any of the ill will towards the idea. And all of that is checked at the door. It’s the only way and if it fails, there cannot be any of that told you so mentality. This is it’s a very team driven environment. I’m a huge sports guy, played sports my whole life. But you know, we always have coaches that says what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room and just the whole thing when you go out and you execute on the gameplan. Even if you lose, you don’t want to hear well, we should have passed the ball more, we should have ran the ball more, we should have done this, we should have done that. It doesn’t matter. It’s we we made our choice, we went that direction. And we learned from it. Now we’re back in this table at the table again, figuring out what to do. But the number one thing I think, to get buy in from everybody is everyone has to be aligned. The second you walk out of these important important meetings.

Tony Zayas 36:17
Yeah, totally agree. That’s a I think we heard that from Amazon. I don’t know if it’s a Jeff Bezos thing or what but disagree and commit. And that sounds like what you guys do, you know, once you make a decision, everyone’s you know, all in on that and trying to make it happen. That’s right. Breadth I would love to hear how you know, in your role are used to are you the still the sales leader in the organization.

Brent Oakley 36:47
Now I’ve turned over the sales to Paul, and as the Chief Strategy Officer, really what he’s in charge of is more of the revenue side of the house. So Paul is now Chief Strategy Officer and president of audio out of home, I will still broker or sit at the table when needed, you know, towards the end of finalizing deals or to help push it over the hump. A lot of times Paul will invite me in just to make a presence as the CEO to give complete commitment, and that we are all in on this partnership. And it helps close or solidify some deals. So that’s really the extent of what I’m doing. My my main focus is typically on what’s next for the business, how we’re going to either integrate with a different party partnership, next raise and where the funds coming from possible acquisitions, you know, going out and looking for competitors to go by things like that are really where I spend my time that.

Tony Zayas 37:47
Yeah, that’s great. And I do want to hear and a bit I want to hear about what’s next piece for sure. But the reason I asked about the sales experiences, I think that that’s important. And we’ve done I want to say about 50 of these shows now. And I don’t believe we’ve really had an extensive conversation with someone that had, you know, came from that sales background and and I think that’s incredibly valuable. I do think we talked to a lot of technical founders, we talk to the people with the marketing experience, so on and so forth. But I would love for you to share just some some a bit of how your you know, your background in sales, you believe helped you grow the business, and maybe some tips for the people that don’t come with that experience in the sales realm. Because early on, when you’re a founder you’re selling that’s mean you’re doing a lot of things you’re doing almost everything but that’s an that’s a key one critical. A little bit of your

Brent Oakley 38:52
Yeah, I think you’re I think about this a lot and you know, I know a lot of peers that to your point are extremely more technical, they built a great product. I can’t imagine I’m so thankful that I am sales minded because I felt like I could find somebody that could build the product, but nobody was going to be more passionate about what I was doing than me so when I was out selling it and you know you It’s my money that was in early on and it was you know, my my my friends who were investing and giving me cash to build this thing. So the fact that I could go out and tell the story and so wholeheartedly think that’d be hard to hire that app so if you’re a technical person looking for a salesperson way that that sure I bet is hard to find somebody that is passionate as you are about the product built. So what I would say though about it building an organization so the one thing I say all the time is we are no question a Salesforce organization. Some people might say you know if you build a big a great enough product, that it’ll take care of itself. I actually think that with the way that iteration happens and world, products going to be great for a blip in time, you have to be passionate and find new ways to make it better all the time and keep selling. And the one thing that we talked about within the organization is, I don’t care what you are hired for. Everybody in this company is in sales. So I don’t care if you’re in product. And you were you were brought here, you’re a salesperson in this company. And what I mean by that is, when you’re out talking about it, when we bring in new employees, you need to know the pitch, you need to know what like the product, people need to understand what the salespeople are out saying. And when we walk by and we say what do we do? I want it to sound as as crystal clear as it is when our salespeople say even coming from the product people. And what that does is when they’re out talking to their developer friends, and they’re able to say what we do, and it’s almost like a salesman doing it, it excites their peers. And now they want to come work for us. And like, wow, that’s really cool. I love what you’re doing. So you’re always selling everybody from end to end. And the company is always selling no matter what. Some of the breaks that you get from third party, you know, a lot of our product folks and engineers, they’re out talking to really cool software designers all the time. And if they’re able to sell what we do, you’re gonna trigger one of those engineers to say, you know, what, we could actually integrate and make this happen and start this. And so everybody’s always selling, everybody’s always bringing ideas. And I would always just tell everybody to say, this is a sales organization, no matter what you do, we are a sales organization. Everybody’s always selling.

Tony Zayas 41:44
And that’s, I love that, that mindset, I don’t know if you’ve ever read it, but I love the book to sell us human, by Daniel Pink, it’s kind of that concept. That’s, you know, we’re always selling every aspect of our lives, relationships, family, work, whatever it is, so we might as well learn to be good at it, because it’s such an important skill. So I love that. That’s fantastic. Um, Brent, I guess I would love to hear you know, you said, you know, big focuses on what’s next for Vibenomics. Tell us, you know, what is what’s on the roadmap for the next six to 12 months? Let’s say?

Brent Oakley 42:21
Yeah. So a huge announcement today, we just hooked up to the trade desk, that that press just dropped. So we’re excited it’s going out and the trade desk for those that don’t know, it’s the largest display side, purchasers their their demand side platforms out there in the market. So what that means is essentially, you know, if you’re in the stock market, you get on each trade or you get on something, e trade is a platform that lists all the different stocks, and everyone that you can buy from in real time. That’s essentially what a DSP is on our side of the business. Now, all the agencies and brands can see all the inventory in real time, every day of what’s available at all of our networks, like Kroger and Circle K and Kwik Trip and all these folks so they can build out their own campaign. So how it’s coming up, they can geo target areas, they can think about, you know, or Kellogg’s, what you want to be selling during this time, you can change your campaign. So it we are the very first ones to ever be put on the DSP as an audio company. It’s really baked around web and display and visual. So we’re the first audio connected. So we’re really excited about that. And what that opens us up for is true integration from path to purchase. So when you start really thinking about an agency or a brand, when do they want to start targeting you targeting you? And how do they bring the whole story to fruition? So you think about I’m going to buy Pandora because when Tony is out on his walk or jog in the morning, he’s listened to his Pandora station, I can drop my commercial there. And then I’m going to buy web so when you’re on Google or Facebook or any of those I know I’m targeting you they’re getting car and you’re listening to your podcast can target you there. And then the next stage is when you actually get into a store and now your wallets out and you’re ready to make a buying decision. Want to be the last you hear and that’s vibe anomic. So it’s truly a path to purchase mentality. And we get to be a part of that journey now, which is changing the trajectory of the company for good. So

Tony Zayas 44:38
That’s awesome. Well, congrats on that big announcement exciting to have you on here today to be able to share that very cool. Yeah. Where can you know people are tuning in? Where could they learn more about Vibenomics. Pay attention to you, your journey, where are good places to follow?

Brent Oakley 44:58
Yeah, what’s great is because we are the pioneer of audio out of home advertising, if you just Google that Vibenomics shows up on the first two pages of audio out of home. So follow along what out of home advertising, if, you know people have never heard of out of home advertising, it’s a fascinating place where 10s of billions of dollars are being traded, really monthly. It’s very, it’s unbelievable the amount of advertising that’s going into out of home advertising and digital out of home advertising, you go into New York, and you see all those screens, you now drive on interstates, it’s no longer the stale boards, it’s all digital. So everything is moving to that world. It is incredible, the software that’s being generated to drive it, the analytics and the business intelligence that are coming out of it, the understanding of our behaviors as human beings and where that’s going. It is scary and awesome, all at the same time of what’s happening. So definitely check it out. As far as Vibenomics goes, certainly follow us on all the social media feeds. And, you know, we try to do a really great job of not just talking about ourselves, but talking about the industry, and how fascinating, we are fascinated we are with it. It’s a place where all advertisers are going. And it’s the biggest, biggest brands in the world, we think about Anheuser Busch, and all of those companies that we consume every day. Where are they spending their money, start getting into digital out of home and audio out of home. And you’ll learn a lot about where where the world’s going in advertising.

Tony Zayas 46:31
That’s awesome, super exciting stuff to be in that, you know, such a rapidly changing important space. Awesome work you’re doing. branches to as our last question, the question we love to ask our guests is, you know, if you were able to go back, and I wouldn’t even say seeing that, you know, you’ve been through, you know, you’ve had a few businesses, if you’re able to go back to the start before that entrepreneurial journey, and have a cup of coffee of your past self. What one piece of advice would you give?

Brent Oakley 47:06
Yeah, I think I started out with it a little bit is, you know, entrepreneurs, I always say, you have to have at least a few screws loose, they just can’t all be loose. But you got to be a little bit crazy to be able to do it. And I think one of the saving graces for me that I didn’t know what I was getting into. And anything that I’ve done, so I had never really I didn’t get into the carwash business. And before I knew this is overwhelming, and it’s too much, I had already completely cashed out my 401k, I’ve completely depleted our savings account and mortgaged our house, I was at a point where I didn’t have a safety net, I had to make it. I had I had no choice. But to move forward, our we would definitely have had to file bankruptcy. And I say, all the time to people is if I would have had a cushy situation behind me, or if I would have had a place that I could have been like, yeah, it didn’t work out, I probably would have retreated, I would have gone back, but I put myself against the wall. And it’s amazing what you’re capable of when you back yourself against the wall, and you got to claw and fight to get there. And the other thing that I would say is it will work out. I mean, it’s just crazy how everything happens. And as long as you keep moving. And as long as you keep getting up every day to get something accomplished. It will all work out. It’s it’s a crazy thing the universe has for us. But every single person you ever talked to, it’s like you you’re in this dream for so long, and you’re just going and going and all of a sudden you finally realize one day and you look up and you look back at everything you’ve accomplished and you can’t believe it. And that’s a moment where it gets emotional for you. But that’s what happens as you get into it and you just keep moving. You just keep going. You just keep going at some point you will be able to take a big breath and think wow, I have a multi million dollar carwash now wow, I built a advertising company that has a network six times the size of Pandora. Wow. I have like and you think that but all the while that you’re growing and you’re trying to work through it. It’s a blur. It’s just an absolute blur. So just keep going through the blur. Keep going through the fog, it will all work out.

Tony Zayas 49:22
That’s awesome. Really great insights and perspective here today. Brian I very much appreciate your time. So thank you for you know spending this 50 minutes here with us. Really appreciate it. To our viewers. I encourage you guys to check out Vibenomics Brent Oakley really appreciate you being on today. And to our viewers. We will be back again next week. Same time, same place.

Brent Oakley 49:47
Thanks a lot. Thanks Tony!

Tony Zayas 49:49
Thank you.

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