SaaS Founder Interview with Jacob Wedderburn-Day, Co-Founder & CEO of Stasher
Tony Zayas 0:06
Hey everybody, and welcome to the tech founders show in this series, we have discussions with leading edge technology founders who are leading the charge of rapid innovation, using disruptive technologies and joined by my co host Andy as always, are you doing Andy?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 0:25
fantabulous? How about you, Tony?
Tony Zayas 0:27
I’m doing great. I’m looking forward to last week we had our first international SAS founders show and today we have our first international tech founders show. So that’s very cool.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 0:39
So who do we have and what are we talking about?
Tony Zayas 0:41
Yeah, so we have Jacob Wedderburn-Day is the CEO and co founder of stasher and stasher is described as the AirBNB of luggage. stasher is a sharing economy solutions for storage and pretty cool, so I’m gonna bring Jacob on. Hey, Jacob, welcome. Hey, how’s it going? Very good. How are you?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 1:02
I also fantabulous i like i like that what I’m going to start using it. It’s it combines everything right? Yeah. Yeah. A lot of positivity.
Tony Zayas 1:13
That’s right. So very cool. So let’s, we’d love to hear Jacob, just tell us about stasher high level overview, and then we’ll dive into you know, some other aspects.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 1:24
Sure. Um, yeah, you described it nicely. It’s, it’s a marketplace business where we give people an easy way to book storage. Probably the easiest way to explain it is I’ll tell you very quickly about how we founded it. I’m 27., but we founded it when we were students. This my my co founder, Anthony, we met studying economics together. This was at a time when Uber and Airbnb were becoming quite popular, like they kind of gone from like, they were sort of niche ideas. And suddenly they were becoming household names. And the sharing economy itself had kind of gone from the fringes to suddenly being like quite mainstream. And we love that whole idea. We love the sort of model we found a great saying, we used to like chat about different things that we could apply it to. And then we’re actually we totally got lucky with this because it happened that aunt lived in central London, between Kings Cross and Euston. I don’t know how familiar you are with London. You’re in the audience. But those are like two of the busiest stations at the Capitol. And so he always had requests from people saying, hey, do you mind if I just leave something with you quickly, or for like a week or so? Any one day just cracked the joke about like, I should stop judging people with this. And we’re like, Wait a second. This is this is the opportunity. And the more we look into it, the more we realize that storage and cityscapes it’s a genuine problem. It’s a need that people have more so because companies like Airbnb will becoming so popular and creating more and more of this problem I’m sure you and everyone listening can relate to like, if you’ve checked out with doesn’t even have to be an Airbnb knows that last holiday effect. The last thing you want to do is worry about your stuff. And so that was that was the origin essentially, that’s where it came from. And, yeah, that’s, that’s, I think it gives a good sort of sense of what we’re about.
Tony Zayas 3:10
It’s great for solving a very real problem, you know, just coming up with the solution on how to handle it. That’s really cool.
Andy Halko 3:18
Yeah, I think I’ve done that before myself as you go to the hotel or somewhere else, and you just drop something off. So I mean, it’s definitely something relatable to almost everybody.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 3:29
It’s true. It’s one of those things. I mean, you probably get this less as an issue in hotels that are generally better able to like accommodate your your needs. But sometimes I mean, to be fair, I find it works. And that tells me that they’re on the wrong side of town from where I need to be going into town, you don’t want to then be like worried about your stuff that kind of kind of kills that last day and more so and then vacation rentals and apartments and stuff or crash with friends. Oh, yeah, as you say it’s it’s a very relatable problem. It’s one we experienced ourselves directly, quite quite having to stumble across it with with the right solution at the right time, really.
Andy Halko 4:07
So how did you guys get started, like what was so how did you take an idea, that kind of piffany moment and actually turn it into a real product?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 4:17
Do you know this was quite cool. We were a bit lucky here too, in that. So I was still a student. This was I was doing like my masters at UCL, University College London. And he just graduated and was he was working at this digital marketing agency. Now UCL had this quite cool entrepreneurship like program that was like it was like a one semester long. And it was the whole idea was like, take a business idea and turn it into like a sort of proper business plan. So it was like literally the perfect title for us. We’re like, we have a business idea. So we went through this like, it was kind of like a competition really because the whole thing was built around. You will pitch to a panel of judges at the end and there was some prize money up for grabs. And we worked our way through that. And we found it quite a useful way to sort of organize our thoughts. Some parts are more useful than others. We got to the competition, got through to the final, got through to literally the final final round, and then we came runner up. We didn’t win. And we were really annoyed. Actually, I think that was the perfect outcome for us because that happening properly galvanized to being like, literally the next day, we were like, you know what, forget all this sort of academic stuff. We’re just going to build a website, we’re going to do it like we’ve thought about it enough. Now we’ve kind of clarified our thinking, let’s just do it. And so there’s a great tool I have for anyone who has like a marketplace business idea, I’d highly recommend it. It was it was great for us back then. And I’m sure it’s only matured as a product, since it’s called share tribe. And it’s kind of I guess, it’s a sort of Shopify esque thing. But for building marketplaces specifically. So we knocked up a website on share, try became really like a day, started looking at how we were going to market it. That was an interesting challenge. We were quite lucky there that and, you know, he was doing a sort of digital marketing role. So we would set up some Google ads. And, you know, this was fun. This was this was a while ago. And it was also it was a fairly niche thing. And no one else was doing this. So actually, we were able to run profitable Google ads, which anyone who’s familiar with search engine marketing is like, it’s not really a thing, unless you have like, super high lifetime values. So that was cool. We did a bunch of like posting in forums, really, we were just doing our best to get the word out. And oh, I should say, the very first iteration of the product, it was literally my flat and Anthony’s flat. Those are the only two places you could book. And I remember going to friends and family and being like, you know, can you sign up? Can I can I list your places? And the plenty of them did. And some of them were quite funny. So like, I’m happy to support you but can you set it so that no one can actually look at your stuff? But yeah, that was it. That was kind of that was the first step right, was just getting something out? And then yeah, and then when the customer started, that was that was the next phase of learning.
Tony Zayas 7:07
So I’m curious, how did you I mean, you gave a little bit of an insight into how you started building out that network, you know, the family, but how did you grow that? And what did that look like? Because I imagine that would be an important element in growing and you know, dustbin network.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 7:22
It’s, it’s a critical element. And as you as you like, if you’ve been on the website recently, you’ll probably be able to tell this, it’s we sort of pivoted away from that particular model in terms of at the beginning, we you know, sometimes we go by the sort of name of like Airbnb for luggage, which is a guess just like a simple what they do on the tin, you kind of explanation. But it was very literally that at the beginning, because it was like people opening up their homes. And over time, we realized that didn’t make sense for a few reasons. I mean, I had several personal experiences as a student of having to like run away from lectures early, let people in to pick up a bag for like, five hours, I don’t mind doing this, because I like it’s literally my business. But yeah, I we just felt like you know, we can’t see this necessarily scaling people that are predictable. But on the other hand, you’ve got shops in hotels, right? It literally, you’ve got places that have, if they have space, if they have reliable space, they also have opening hours, they have security features like CCTV. And actually, the in the spirit of the sharing economy becoming more popular, they’re all very interested in ancillary revenue streams that they can add this was this was like, I don’t think this would have worked back in 2000. Like in the year 2000, it just like it would have been too weird. But when I talked about the timing, being lucky, I think it’s that I think it was a sort of confluence of a lot of different factors. And this was the right time for this kind of product to make sense. So we shifted totally from signing up people’s homes, started focusing on shops and hotels, when that was when it really started to take off because then suddenly, we had we could like to have inventory all over the city, not have to worry about whether people would be in or not. And then and then when you start getting like chains, we started getting into like short chains, and then ultimately hotel chains. Hotels obviously took a little bit more time, because let’s build up more credibility before we can really approach them with it. But yeah, that was that was a really key moment, I think in the history of the company.
Andy Halko 9:22
I think it’s pretty interesting, because I think one of our last shows we talked about, like bigger companies paving the way in, you know that there’s an idea that’s a little bit out there. And it wasn’t until they got popular that someone else was kind of able to ride the coattails of it and sounds like that’s a scenario for you in some ways.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 9:46
Oh, I’d say is fairly true. I think quite literally, our business wouldn’t have been possible without the success of Airbnb, partly because having been created so much for the mind, but I think also it popularized that sort of Yeah, no model really and and kind of engender that level of like, trust in services like ours, that that made it possible to function.
Andy Halko 10:12
I’m always interested in these, like sharing slash community marketplaces, you’ve got two audiences to build. So you’ve got to find the folks that you know, will store luggage and then you have to find people interested in storing their luggage. You know, what’s the challenge of trying to build two audiences at the same time? You know, and attracting one when you may not have much of the other?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 10:37
Yeah, it’s it’s a classic chicken and egg problem, right? It’s It’s that thing of like, if you don’t have any supply, you can’t really get them on. But if you don’t have demand and the supply on that interested, we’ve been, we’re slightly lucky in terms of our dynamic is that one is a couple of things. I mean, the first one is key is one host can serve many customers for us like and serve loads of customers, which is actually kind of unique. Like if you think about Airbnb, literally like one host can only serve one guest. So you’ve always kind of got that restriction. Whereas in our case, we could sign up like a great hotel in King Cross. And they can serve like hundreds of customers a day, which means there’s less pressure to get tons of supply, it’s actually becomes a kind of quality over quantity thing. So that’s quite nice. As a feature, it sort of makes it a bit faster to get going. And I guess the other thing is, because our marketplaces, it’s like I talked about it being like ancillary revenue. So shops and hotels have their own core businesses, and they’re always going to be more focused on that. But stasher is a really nice service on the side that generates, like, extra income. And I think we’ll definitely come to this later in the show. But like in a in a sort of post COVID era for hospitality, stuff like that, it’s going to be more valuable than ever, in terms of you just like something that can supplement your income, especially when it’s unpredictable, becomes more and more valuable. But because it’s an ancillary revenue service, I think that makes it quite valuable in terms of, it’s easier for us to sign up supply, and there’s less pressure to immediately deliver results, like hotels don’t tend to mine, and we sign them up. And they don’t get any bookings, like in the first few days. Because when the bookings do start to come through, as I said, it’s not it’s not their core business focus their way kind of anything is kind of a bonus, really. And I mean, it’s worth mentioning, it doesn’t it doesn’t cost us anything to register and statutes. The model is sort of pure partnership. You know, we only succeeded, they succeeded, they don’t get bookings. We’re not charging them anything to be there. So it’s, it’s kind of an in that’s a win spirit.
Tony Zayas 12:43
I was I’m curious, how did the pandemic impact the business?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 12:49
Yeah, as you can imagine, pretty negatively. You know, it’s, I like to break it down. I mean, well, there’s a few things to mention. One, we were very, very lucky, we raised a round of financing in January 2020, before the pandemic was really on our radar at all, which is kind of great. Like, it meant that the pandemic didn’t affect any of the terms of the round. And we were then like, we kind of entered this thing, feeling quite financially secure. It was obviously a bit sort of shaky to begin with, it was a bit scary, like suddenly seeing, I remember we did like we did like a forecast model at the end of February, when when it was starting to look more and more worrying. And we’ll Okay, what happens if 2020, like, you know, is only as good as 2019. And, you know, God, if that had happened, that would have been a dream, right? Like, that was our worst case scenario back then. Yeah, obviously, what actually happened was, on the one hand, we had shops in hotels that were like, either sort of pausing or completely going bankrupt. And then on the other hand, no one’s really been able to travel. So it has, it’s been, it’s really kind of got us into hibernation mode. In some ways, actually, I think that’s, it is bad. I’d obviously prefer that what’s been the case, but in considering how things could have gone, I think it’s not bad that it was quite clear that decision for us, like when it happened, we didn’t really waste time trying to pivot we then sort of burn money trying to think like, how can we salvage things? We looked at it straight up, and we were like, yeah, this is this is going to us from both angles, let’s just be sensible about this. We’ve got cash in the bank, let’s preserve as much of that as possible. The one thing that made it quite stressful originally, which we which like, we just hired a really great team, sort of in the wake of the rounds, culturing team and that’s like we’re small team, but that that kind of, I think makes it a really key part of it. So we were desperate not to have to let anyone go and not jump the gun with that. And I think it’s likely that we didn’t because then sorry, there’s a siren going off in the background. It’s lucky that we didn’t because then the UK government, in our case came out with like the furlough schemes that allowed us to retain our employees and So yeah, we kind of between the government support and just having the funds in the bank we’ve been, we’ve been able to ride it out kind of fine. And then I guess in some ways, the most painful part, it’s just like, it’s just a waiting. It’s just like, you know, I eager for it to come back. We’d love to have more to do with it. But I think we just have to kind of be patient and take everything in context, really.
Tony Zayas 15:22
So what is the upticks? You know, since looked like everything’s, you know, started to return to the pre pandemic activity? And, you know, how are you seeing that, you know, progress.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 15:36
It’s happening, but it’s a bit slow, there are certainly green shoots. I mean, we’re live internationally. So we’ve been, you know, we, there are parts of the world, we still we still haven’t reached, and we would like, you know, we’re playing through Asia and South America in the last round that we haven’t yet got ran through. But Australia actually has been doing relatively well, for us the whole way through the USA, we saw significant pickup, as different restrictions East across different states, the UK and Europe have always the following international news, I’m sure you appreciate being much slower, you may start now. But hospitality doesn’t open up here till like, till next month. and Europe, I think is just kind of Yeah, is operating an even more lag basis. And obviously, for us, Europe and UK, were kind of the core basically just like end of 2019 was when we were launching Australia in the USA. So it would be nice to have a stronger photo there. And we’ve been trying to direct our various efforts in those places. We are Truthfully, I mean, we’re still we’re still somewhere like 10 to 15%, of where we were in 2019 at this point in the year. So it’s there’s a long way to go. And I think international travel is kind of key to unlocking that, really. We’ll see more this summer, I’m sure like, between domestic travel and stuff will will definitely get a boost. But I guess yeah, realistically, it’s hard for me to do this. Because I’m I’m naturally extremely optimistic. But being a sort of pessimistically realistic as possible, however you want to call it, I think we’re probably looking at 2022, being back to 2019 levels, and then go from there. So
Andy Halko 17:18
we always talk in my entrepreneurial circles, you know, these difficulties and challenges just teach you more stuff better. So you just got to find the positivity in it. But we’ve talked to a couple founders about the impact of the pandemic on their business. And the one thing that we haven’t talked about, and I don’t know, if you have any insight is what was the reaction of your investors towards you in the business? Well, where are they, you know, coming down and going, what are we going to do figure this out? Or were they more receptive? What was, can you talk about that at all?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 17:56
Yeah, absolutely. No, no, no problem. We I think we have quite great investors, really, we’ve generally picked investors that were former entrepreneurs themselves rather than guys who sort of have traditionally more finance background. And I think particularly last year that really paid dividends in the sense that I think they would, generally very, very sympathetic and understanding. I think the other thing in evan facility, lower and jump, it’s a little bit that we got right was we kind of got out ahead of it with them. So like though I don’t know if you’ve talked about this with other founders, perhaps you remember, Sequoia wrote this, like, open letter to founders, the Black Swan, one in like February, for anyone who’s not familiar, is just this very punchy, like letter that they’ve been published more and more widely. That was basically to the effect of like, COVID. This time, like this is going to be a pandemic, that’s going to be like, once in a generation thing, actually. I mean, ironically, they done the same thing, when the O eight crisis happened to once in a generation events happening, like pretty quickly. But like they they kind of hit all the nails on the head. They’re really they’re like, get out ahead of this. Organize your cash flow. Like if you run out of cash, that’s it. So that’s got to be your number one priority. As founders, look at opportunities in the crisis. Think about all these things, get your team sort of in the right mindset. And I think we were Yeah, it was cool. We read at the right time, kind of did all those things before investors had a chance to reach out to us we were like going back to them saying, All right, we’re concerned about this forecast. Obviously, we got the forecasts totally wrong. But it kind of it kind of didn’t matter. Like we were able to reevaluate and reassess. We were kind of proactive again, about like calling a board meeting fairly early doors. So once the furloughs came and all that kind of stuff was like, once there was a sense of like, sort of calm and like we kind of go through the crisis. We called a board meeting said Alright, we’ve done all these things. What do you want us to sort of think about and truthfully there wasn’t there wasn’t at that point and all for what we could do other than just kind of keep a finger on the pulse, keep in touch with our main clients and and the team and kind of ride it out. And I think it probably paid us a lot of favors that we did that for actively at the beginning. Because then our investors have actually been very cool. Like the rest of the year, they’ve always kind of had a sense of like, these guys know what they’re doing, to the extent that we do. And then that trust has actually been really nice. It’s been really reassuring to have those guys kind of have our backs. And yeah, it’s it’s interesting. I’m kind of I’m waiting to see how that changes as things pick up, I think we will still, because like most of them, were European based, there’s still a sense that we’re not quite out of the worst of it here yet. But I think as that happens, I’m kind of looking forward to that tone changing and getting more optimistic, but now it’s been Okay, thanks. Thanks for asking. It’s been it’s been Alright.
Tony Zayas 20:57
So with, obviously, the downturn and activity, you know, over the last year, have you in your team if you guys use this as a time to do some strategic planning and kind of work on the business and look at the future? And just be curious, you know, how that time has been spent? And what that all looks like?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 21:19
Yeah, I think we’ve, we’ve done we’ve done a few things actually. Ones one’s a bit unusual, but it’s, it’s, it’s quite cool. Yes, is the short answer, like, we’ve kind of, we’ve kind of had to like, basically reassess with every new cycle, what the future timelines look like, but at least like we had product market fit, and therefore the direction of the business is kind of clear. We know we need to sort of one keep in touch with them reactivate our old hosts, who like to sign up new ones look to expand the network. Marketing has been something we’ve by and large, been able to just sort of pause, send them. So that’s really kind of a case of like, thinking about how we want to do it in the future. And, and being ready to turn it on when it happens. Generally, that split between paid advertising, I’m talking like search, Google, social, that sort of thing. And then partner referrals, partner referrals, it’s kind of mostly travel companies who are in the same boat as us, it’s kind of just a case of staying networks, right. And then when I get a key one, there’s just reducing technical debt. So going through the products like taking this as an opportunity when it’s not, like normally, you know, we hesitate changes until like, sort of quiet periods of the evening, because you just don’t want to disrupt anything when there’s going to be people in the checkout flow. But generally, nowadays, we appreciate whatever time of day doesn’t really matter. We’ll have to we’ll have to get less relaxed about that when things turn around. So that’s that’s kind of the stasher answer. That is, yeah, we’ve kind of looked at the business fundamentals and made sure they’re all ticked off. Certainly the unorthodox thing that we basically, in the first lockdown, and I’m talking here, like march to do last year, we were like, you know, we’ll take this as a bit of a red time off, we’ll do this strategic stuff. But I think it’s kind of unusual as founders that we, you know, we just raced around, we’ve been running like 100 miles an hour, it’s kind of rare to have a little bit of time just like pause and reflect and like, it’s kind of took it took a bit of time off really which was which was, which was kind of nice. Things started to pick up a little bit in the summer. And then the second wave obviously loomed. And at that point between us as well, so me and my co founder sat down and we like, the next six months are just going to be quite ahold because of lack of things to do really more than anything else. There’s a lot of fundamental things that we can keep ticking over. But the stuff I described, even if it sounds like a lot, just kind of isn’t. So we’ve ended up completely starting something new on the side. And this was sort of intended as a side hustling. And it’s now it’s now going quite well, it’s actually it’s still taking up a more meaningful chunk of time. It’s a project called tree points. And it’s, it’s a little sustainability, social enterprise, the products we’ve ended up with there. And it’s kind of just been like an accelerated version of like the iteration and testing stuff that we’re doing with stasher. That all those learnings like took years we’ve kind of like condensed into this, like more recent six month lockdown sort of period. So we basically ended up building an API that businesses can use to integrate like sustaining elections in either checkout or point of download or whatever like that. So the kind of thing where if you see planetree at checkout, our API kind of handles that pretty seamlessly. So that does all that sort of stuff in the background. You can make all this carbon neutral, you can recycle plastic bottles, these kinds of things. Yeah, definitely point so that’s been a complete diversion. Nothing to do with stasher that was just something to like, keep the team busy. And launchbar time actually ended up being kinda successful in quite a lot of fun. We did a big launch last week birthday, got a bunch of sort of fairly like meaningful clients on board running integration. And now, yeah, now we’re going to have the fun problem of like allocating time as, as things pick up. So there, there are worse problems.
Andy Halko 25:20
You talked about using a third party tool for your MVP. To build it, you know, I’m kind of curious. So did you end up rebuilding on your own platform after that? Or did you continue to use that third party tool.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 25:39
So in stasher case, tool users called share tribe, we stuck with that for the best part of the first year. And then at around the time, we raised our like, first kind of pre seed round of funding, we took tech in house and built our own custom tool. With three points. What’s interesting is the state of that kind of technology has evolved to the point that no code tools have actually become so accessible. So the API is obviously like, that’s custom built. And we’ve done that in Python. But the website that sort of functions around the API is actually like, complete no code. And using something called bubble for that, and it’s actually it’s I kind of I love being in tech for like, just kind of seeing these advances, so I really think no code has the potential to unlock, like, a genuine wave of entrepreneurship, like AI coding, I think is one of those things. It’s actually it’s a real, it’s been a real barrier to entry. I talk to so many founders who have like, they have good ideas and just have like, their first question to me is always like, how do I find the tech guy? How do I like if then, if they aren’t a tech guys? Like how do I find the tech guy? And I do think like, in our experience of just like, knocking together tree points, it bypasses that it really overcomes that hurdle. It’s it’s super exciting to see like how far that technology has come and genuinely like, I used to think of no code as being kind of like drag and drop for the very basic. But if you take a look at the tree points website, when you have a time treatment, the I’m not really praising myself, and we’ve got some brilliant designers, if you’ve done it made it look so good, but it looks Yeah, it looks slick compared to what you’ve imagined.
Andy Halko 27:16
How do you decide, you know what to build? Because, you know, I think some founders that I talked to, they want to build a full app instead of an MVP, which is obviously challenging anything go that way. But then when you did build it, you know, how did you guys figure out what the best feature set was the launch with and put your time and money into?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 27:40
it? Yeah, it’s, it’s still a perennial challenge in product development, isn’t it? It’s, I’m a big fan of MVP, iterate, test learn, like, it’s kind of the Lean Startup playbook, which we sort of did by accident before having actually read the lean startup, I read that like a couple of years into the journey. But I feel like there’s something kind of natural about like, you know, if you, if you rush to market or not even rusher, you go a little bit slow to market with what you imagine as a fully fledged product, you still ultimately need to take customer feedback into account in refining what it looks like, you know, there’s, there’s no way you’re going to launch something that’s sort of finished and flawless. And if that’s the case, then you basically need to kind of step back and be like, what is what is kind of the reason I call it MVP raise Minimum Viable? It’s like, it’s like, what’s what’s the, I’ve heard other sort of definitions that I quite like, I’ve heard minimum delightful products, which I think is quite a pleasing term for like, that kind of takes into account the fact Okay, like an MVP might be really bare bones. But then an MVP has like a guess of more of a sense of design about it, like a flavor of like, this is what the product could be. But yeah, you’re not going to pack it with features. I yeah, I’m a big fan of that, that method of doing things just because I think otherwise, there’s a risk of, there’s a real risk of over engineering, to be honest, there’s a risk of building stuff that people don’t need. And it’s helpful to identify the stuff that they liked and kind of build off of that, rather than anticipate what it might be. And I think it’s it’s better to do it that way. So that ethos has guided both sets of product development that we’ve done.
Andy Halko 29:18
Yeah, I think that mentalities become more standard, and most of the founders that we have talked to on the show, talk about that MVP, slow, agile, lean, you know, approach, but I remember years ago, I would have folks come to me more often and had this big vision for what they would develop. And so I you know, now that you say it, I kind of think the mindsets probably just evolved really well over the last, you know, X number of years, that people really get that a lot more.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 29:54
I think so. I mean, you’re definitely about I think that’s kind of It’s fundamental, I guess, mostly to like raising money raising finance. People, people always look for that kind of big ambitious vision. But I think even even just for like, inspiring the team hiring, selling to customers, like all stakeholders, for some extent, people like to feel part of a mission, right? They like to feel part of something. And I think with stashers, that’s always been the sense of like, we want to build a simple product that’s really helpful. It’s new, it was like a new original concept that people really like it. I mean, it’s I think it’s quite unique and having such overwhelmingly positive reviews. And it’s quite a lean, kind of product. Like, it’s the kind of thing we built with a team that was never bigger than 20 people. And yeah, it’s kind of fully international like that, like, and I always, I always really loved that about that. I always really loved how scalable it was. And were three points. I mean, the mission is even clearer, right? Because I think climate change kind of sells itself as a mission. Anything that’s sort of working to resolve the climate crisis is something i think that you know, that’s that’s only going to become a bigger theme, it’s going to be something that people care about increasingly imagined maturity, it’s fully queued up and cared deeply about already. Being able to sort of build a tool that’s albeit a small part of a much bigger problem is I think, something people find incredibly motivating. So having that big vision is really important. But I think, yeah, I don’t I don’t think it contradicts starting small, I think I think I sort of it’s Yeah, it’s just the kind of journey from like, test design, through to like, okay, but here’s that kind of guiding principle. This is like, this is where we want to get to.
Tony Zayas 31:41
Jacob, you, you mentioned that you had a really strong team in place. And you know, you luckily, weren’t you were able to hang on, you know, retain your team and the talent that you had, what does the team look like? I would love to, you know, hear about the roles and something. Yeah,
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 31:59
it’s reduced a little bit. Sadly, I think even even with the best of efforts of the government schemes, it’s difficult to retain, like talented people, in a situation where things are great. Actually, to be fair, this is one of the reasons we ended up spending about three points as well, just just like, you know, it, you need you need something to occupy it, like smart people, I think don’t do well, just being told to sit at home and watch Netflix, right? So we’ve got a team that at the moment, we have, we have a team of like four in terms of sort of tech and product, five, or six, but you include us as the co founders, you’ve got business guys, as well, which is a split between like kind of sales and marketing and sort of content since generally very young, I think our average age is like 25 26. Probably, that’s a symptom of us kind of hiring a little bit in terms of like, maybe even in our own image, like looking looking for people that like a kind of young, hungry sort of grads, and then and then kind of training them up rather than going in for experienced people. That may or may not be a mistake, but it seems to have worked for us. I think it’s certainly fed into like a really positive team culture, where you’ve got a lot of young, smart people who feel quite motivated to come in and work with each other every day. And yeah, that’s something that we’ve we’ve really like, over time, we’ve become more and more deliberate about fostering that as well. I think in the early days, it sort of happened a bit more naturally. And we didn’t, you know, I culture I think sounds like quite an abstract concept. When you when you sort of study it before you before you kind of come to like actually sort of nurturing it and experiencing it, but I think it’s, yeah, it’s probably when it comes to sort of at least retaining talent, if not hiring it, it’s probably one of the most important aspects is just really creating a place that people feel like they can do productive work and enjoy it.
Andy Halko 33:51
Yeah, I find culture always one of those, you know, we have people that come in interview with our company, and they go, how’s the culture? And for me, it’s always been that, that that word means something different to everybody. It can be hard to define. How have you, you know, talk about that a little bit like what do you see us as culture from a founder leadership position? And, you know, what does it mean to you versus you think some of your people and how they view culture?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 34:25
Excellent question difficult. There’s a phrase I heard that I think probably rings quite true, even though it’s a little bit blant, which is just that culture is the result of who you hire, fire and promote. So in some sense, it sort of says that culture is just kind of like the culmination of like the way you sort of reward people or remove them. More specifically to our case, I’ve seen like a lot of companies do that kind of three values, thing, three, three web value. So we we kind of we design that for stasher to an I think that that works. It’s kind of I mean, it’s not like plastered over the office or anything. But we always talked about like, smart positive action. So we said, our first value is, you know, we want people who are sort of not just prepared to work hard, but work smart. Like there’ll be efficient about stuff, like if we give them a task, they’re not going to just sort of sit there and manually sort of do. Like, they’ll think of like, oh, how can I make this like, you know, clever ways to approach the problem. Positive, I think is key, I think you really do want to fill an office with people who have that sort of energy and optimism and belief. And I think, especially startups, especially small companies that have that kind of taking on the world, vibe about them, you need positive people to make that happen. It’s the you know, that’s not going to come from a group of pessimists, I think, positive people, again, make make make it a fun place to work in it and a happy place to be. And then action speaks to the fact that we prefer people have a sort of bias to action over kind of just like, you know, we don’t want people who are going to sort of think and postulate ideas and just kind of like, write about stuff and not actually get on and do it. You know, I think for us, again, it’s that startup mentality of like, to make things happen, you kind of have to actually make them happen. This stuff, right? You know, it’s not, it’s not going to happen just from being talked about. And therefore, we want people who have that sense of initiative, who are going to come in and be like, here’s an idea. Let’s test it out. Let’s try it out. And I like those three values. I think they’ve served us fairly well, in terms of like a guide to hiring and I think in and retaining and promoting that I think the people that have done the best that staff are the ones that tend to exemplify those three values, particularly.
Andy Halko 36:45
Have you had the duty to, you know, hire slowly, fire quickly scenario, where have there been people that haven’t fit? And where are you able to do that tough thing that I think most founders have trouble with, which is, you know, cut the, you know, the pain when it’s early, rather than sit there and let it fester?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 37:05
Yes, is the short answer. But I tell you what, it’s very tricky to fire people on the basis of culture fit, and it feels like it shouldn’t be because I do think it’s extremely important to get that, right. But it’s far easier to fire people on the basis of like, you’re not performing well, than it is to be like, I don’t know, it always feels more challenging to kind of deal on the basis of like, it doesn’t feel like you kind of you’re a great culture fit. But it is really, really important. And maybe that’s just, you know, maybe maybe that’s just something that over time, will become more more comfortable with doing. high, slowly, I think is wise, we’ve definitely had it where we’ve kind of rushed hiring in the past and kind of come to regret that I think it’s there’s a lot of wisdom in that sense of like, you know, a higher as a significant investment. You just in not just financially but like in terms of time and training and stuff, you ideally do want people who are gonna last years and provide a lot of value to the company. And I’m just going to work with but yeah, certainly if I was to something that we’ve got more comfortable with over time, in terms of like I the first person we fired I remember it was such an uncomfortable experience, probably for everyone involved. But yeah, it’s a it’s a kind of monster. And I guess you have to crosses a boundary. And over time, I think we get more professional about about dealing, but it’s the advice itself.
Tony Zayas 38:36
So Jacob, what, what would you say the next 12 months? Looks like assuming that there continues to be an uptick in activity and time to return. Especially like the summer a little bit of a pickup. What what is what is the next year look like for you guys?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 38:55
It`s gonna be interesting. It’s, I am still very, very hopeful and, like, optimistic about the return of travel. It’s completely subject to restrictions. It’s, it’s funny, I often get people asking, like, you know, when when they’re coming back, and like, um, what do you look at? And I think we look at like leading travel indicators every month around sort of like hotel, occupation, airlines and all that. But the truth is, it’s completely subject to government rules and international rules. And I think as soon as that happens, it’s going to unlock, I really do think, and you may have heard people talk about the phrase revenge tourism, which I kind of love. I think, I think there’s going to be a wave of that. I mean, I’m speaking now purely from personal experience, but I know I can’t wait to go traveling as soon as I’m able to. Hopefully, that’s a feeling that a lot of people relate to as well. We shall see the I basically as and when that happens. I think we’ve got enough of the sort of core stasha crew in place that things will turn back on fairly quickly. I’m looking forward to hiring again, I’m looking forward to being able to Instead of rebuild, and the parts of the team that we’ve lost and ultimately sort of go past that point, as to when it happens, it’s hard to say. In some ways, the best thing for us therefore is that we’ve also got the three points project was keeping us so busy. That’s super exciting. I’m really interested to see where we take that because it’s kind of gone from being a bit of like a sort of side hustle to actually feeling like it kind of has legitimacy as a business in its own right. And at some point, we’ll kind of have to formalize how we how we sort of divide that and, and split out who’s working on what, but you can take the place where it’s a little bit more autonomous and kind of functioning as a business without so much need for us to like, kind of completely manhandle it the way we deal with it, like incubate it, like an early startup, and then yeah, and it’s gonna be fun, right? And then we’re gonna have two things to kind of run. Luckily, there’s two of us, that makes it certainly a lot easier. Yeah. The pubs opened up in the UK two weeks ago, honestly, the last few weeks have been so much fun, like, the real semblance of like, returning to normalcy, I think, I think whatever happens with both businesses, the supports been pretty great. And it’s just gonna, it’s gonna be a lot of fun, it’s certainly gonna be a lot better than last year.
Andy Halko 41:20
It’s great. A lot of I’m curious about, you know, the two products. Because just from a standpoint of, you know, we talked to folks, it’s like, well, you gotta narrow and focus or else you’re, you’re gonna be too distributed. But there are definitely founders who have that mindset of, you know, let’s put some couple a couple things out there. Let’s, you know, use our talents and go about it, versus that kind of make sure that you keep your your blinders on. I don’t know, where is your I mean, obviously, you started a second one, but it was driven a little bit by this pandemic, but what’s your feeling on this, you know, agile startup, you can try different things versus focusing in and saying, We’ve got to dig in and like, make this one thing successful.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 42:10
It’s, yeah, it’s a really unique circumstance, I think, because a business like staher, it’s mature, and it’s got product market fit. And we have, like, you know, in terms of the team that we’ve built already, even though we’re distributing someone at a time, really over three points now, we know that we’ve got good structure in place, they’re like, it’s the kind of thing that it’s a machine that we can kind of turn back on, and it’ll get running again. And and I think that’s kind of unique, because, you know, normally, you wouldn’t be splitting time that like that kind of business would be fine. It’s it’s pretty rare that that’s like been pushed into hibernation. Treatments is obviously it’s much more like early days, early stage. It’s, it’s kind of fresh, exciting. That, like, it’s the kind of thing right now where Yeah, like internally, treatments need to look focus, like we still we still need to establish product market fit. Now we need to get that to a place where we know what people want. And before we can sort of scale and double down. I guess I mean, just personally, me and my co founder are quite high energy guys who like the like the challenge, to be honest. So I really looking forward to I’m kind of optimistic about both of them. I think there’s a lot to be said for focus. I think that applies, particularly in the early days, when you are still seeking out that product market fit. I think there’s a real danger at that point. I mean, you know, you want to test multiple things you want to you want to find product market fit, obviously. But there’s a real danger of trying to spread yourself too thin and actually, therefore not achieving anything. I think what luckily for us makes us kind of unique statures already, it will be back in a really good place. It’s just kind of waiting for like the environment to change. And hopefully, that happens in the kind of timeframe where we can get three points to replace by that functions more like stash when it’s more independent and autonomous. And then, yeah, that will that will have so two businesses to co manage, but with a bit more structure, and sort of clarity in terms of where both of them are going to stash it has that stash it has that very clear vision of victory points. That’s what we’re still working out. So we shall see, we shall see, I’d be fun.
Andy Halko 44:16
I found over the years, I’ve had to like manage my shiny object syndrome. I think like, you know, that thing that just is over here, and it’s real shiny, and you kind of change your direction, then you go back. And so me it took me a couple years to start really like being able to manage that. Because like you said, when you’re higher energy person, or you’ve got a lot of ideas. You know, it’s easy. I mean, you’re everybody can come up with ideas, and some people are just like a mile a minute with that stuff. So it can be hard.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 44:46
No, I can totally relate to that. And I guess the Yeah, the thing The thing is key for us, I suppose is like, focus on enough of the stuff that works. Give yourself like a portion of time for like the kind of moonshot stuff the show. Cuz, yeah, I think it’s hope it’s been goal just to get him out of that. But But yeah, as long as I think once you’ve got that roadmap of what works and you kind of get them more of a sort of like, rinse and repeat stage it Yeah, it’s, it gives you that kind of clarity. Gesture, I just noticed my battery’s running a little bit low. I can get it if we if we if we need more time. So I don’t want to cut your short.
Andy Halko 45:30
Yeah, if you want to go grab it, do it.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 45:32
Bear with me them one more minute. So I should have brought it with me. So pause is one second.
Andy Halko 45:39
See get she’s got a roll with it right Tony
Tony Zayas 45:41
Andy Halko 45:44
If only there was some sort of product that you know, I don’t know, I’m trying to think to make sure that you remember to have your battery plugged in at all tabs. I don’t know. That’s why our one client that did wireless charging, where it was just up in the corner, and it would send energy vibes to your devices and just you know, make you your charge. You don’t even need a cord.
Tony Zayas 46:09
It’s super cool concept. If we had commercial breaks, this would be a good time for one. But yeah.
Andy Halko 46:17
We need that. Well, what’s something that you want to look at this? plugs? This is fun. Look at this. We’re getting like a tour. Yeah, we’re gonna start doing that with other founders is make them carry around their laptop and give us a tour of their, their offices or home. Okay, Andy, Tony, this is our bathroom. All right, I’m back. I’m back. Sorry. No, it’s all good. So I’m kind of curious, outside the pandemic, what has been the biggest like challenge or roadblock or thing that you you’ve faced in trying to build a business?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 47:06
Yeah, you’ve taken the obvious. I think, you know, what, I think this applies to both of them, it’s, it kind of comes down to trust and credibility really. And with stasher particularly, just because of the nature of the business, like, it’s, it was like a storage model, but like, you know, people, people are sensitive about even giving away their, their personal data. So like, when you talk about looking after their personal property, it’s like a whole new level of trust is required. And that was, in the early days, especially that was a real hurdle. And we had, like, you know, loads of people, you get that early adopter thing. I’m sure you’ve seen that graph, like the early adopters through to like the sort of mainstream adoption. And, you know, I’ve got so much time for early adopters, I think they’re the best people in the world. Because these are the guys who are just like, prepared to try something out with like, no reviews, no proof of concept. There’s like, Hey, this is cool. I love that. And they gave us enough traction, that we were then able to build in things like add insurance, and then you start working with more trusted brands, like recognized hotel chains, like holiday and stuff like that. And then it kind of snowballs. I guess that’s the ultimate answer is there’s no, like, there are single things you can do that are like your step changes, but there’s no one thing that kind of suddenly makes you trusted. But you kind of look back at that point in time. Like, you know, we look back now five years on, and we’re like, wow, we’ve got 20,005 star reviews, and we work with all these big brands, and we have this great insurance deal and all this stuff. And like very, very, very few insurance claims. And, you know, suddenly, like I it’s actually all fine. But I think especially and maybe this is a symptom of being young as well, as a founder, but like it just convincing people on that credibility piece. I think it’s a challenge. I think in any business and just kind of winning consumer trust. Same certainly will be true for treat points, that’s going to be there’s a different angle to that, which is just around like sustainability more broadly. And I think it’s it’s such a hot space, and there’s so much being talked about and people don’t yet have like there’s not like clear consensus on what the sort of what the what, there are things that people have consensus around what we should do, but it’s like, yeah, it’s getting that right. I think I’m making sure that we communicate that effectively. Again, there’s a sort of credibility piece to be had there. So that I don’t know if that’s if that’s the kind of, I guess, again,
Andy Halko 49:38
I think the credibility piece is huge. Just and I am thinking of my own personal story when I started when I was 22 years old. I remember the first year the business I had people and clients being like, well what happens if you’re out of business in six months? You know, that doesn’t happen anymore. But I mean, that’s how people think and like You said, the early adopters versus people that require like credibility, because there’s probably people out there that are fear, like, you know, what if I give you my money and my my stuff, and it’s just gone, and you’re gone, so yeah, it’s true. And I think that it relates to any software startup is, you got to build some of that credibility before a big group of people are really going to come in and adopt at the end of the day.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 50:29
Yeah, it does, it does become a little bit like building a ladder, doesn’t it? You kind of have to go like one rung at a time. And then eventually, it’s actually it’s a pretty decent sized ladder now, but like, you know, even even like, you know, you can’t, well, you can’t like week, straight from like, day one, like getting investment, we had to sort of go through like different hurdles to kind of get Yeah, example.
Andy Halko 50:49
I mean, the biggest one, you know, funding gives people some credibility that if they’ve got, if they don’t have the customers, if you can say that we raise 6 million, that’s, that’s somebody that, you know, that helps, too.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 51:01
Yeah, totally. Totally.
Andy Halko 51:07
So, you know, there’s a question I always kind of ask founders, and it’s, it’s a little bit like the challenges question that we just talked about, but if you I always want to know, if you were able to go back and have coffee with yourself, you know, a year before you started this business, what is like the one piece of advice that that you would you would kind of give future you? Or past you, I guess?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 51:38
Oh, good question. Really good question. That’s Oh, that’s a tough one. Because I suppose I suppose I’m saying that just because I hope this doesn’t sound too corny. But it’s like, the process of kind of making the mistakes that we made to have kind of got us to this point, right? Like, you kind of need to go through some of those knocks. I think one thing I’d have told myself, we didn’t actually, we didn’t really talk about this. Like, we had a we had that classic, like early co founder who never quite so committed, but was around for a while, like that whole dynamic thing. And I think, if I could tell myself to be like less sentimental about that, at the time, I think it would have saved us a bit of time and drama and like us kind of worrying about like how we handle that dynamic. So that’s the whole like, juicy, big topic that we talked about, too. But definitely, there’s an element of that. That’s because I guess like, you know, and then the pandemic, I think, is something that’s obviously been a massive challenge. And I think if I, if I’d known way back in April, that it was going to last as long as it hasn’t, it wasn’t just going to be the sort of six weeks two months kind of thing that we thought it might have been at the time. Possibly we did, we did make some different decisions there too. But now I think, truthfully, as we’re saying, a lot of these mistakes she making, and they’re they’re kind of necessary. Oh, actually, I tell you, I can give a more general piece of advice that I could give the founders, which is a lot when it whenever startups come to me for advice, a lot of them I think, tend to really like over fixate on the product aspect of the business. And under fixate on like the marketing element. And I think that something without the true stature and again with three points. products, I think more and more are kind of the easy part. Like it’s it’s natural to fixate on it because it’s kind of fun. And it’s so within your control, right. And you have that sense of like building and creating something. And that’s, that’s great. Like, you’d love to see that. But I think the marketing thing is something that people like systematically underestimate how difficult it is, it’s actually it’s really, really hard to like, find and convince customers to part with their money over your product. And it was probably it’s probably only getting harder as the internet becomes more and more like saturated with content, like it’s more noise to stand out. So having like, viable sales channels and ways to market to customers is something that we were lucky with in stasha. Because like I said, it was a nice product. It was it was early days, and we could advertise profitably on Google, like no one else was doing it. But that’s not true for every product in every market. And certainly three points that doesn’t prove to be the case, you have to be a little bit more creative about how we reach people. And I guess like for b2b sales person, so that’s kind of nice, but like, yeah, it’s sorry, that’s actually probably a better answer. I’d say that like, worried.
Andy Halko 54:42
I think that’s great. Yeah, I mean, I think that, like you said, a lot of people think about building the product and then the afterthought is how do we actually like, market this and find customers, when you know, the greatest product in the world that nobody knows about? Is not that great?
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 55:00
Yeah, whereas you could take a really like bad average product, the best marketer in the world? And I’m sure it would actually do pretty well. So, yeah, there’s a lot to be said for that.
Andy Halko 55:10
And I actually see that all the time talking about Minimum Viable products is products that, you know, the great product people out there would be like, what a horrible user interface or what, you know, bad this, but it’s out there, and it’s being sold, because they have a good go to market strategy. And they have a good marketing strategy. And, you know, they were over able to overcome the product challenges, versus someone that has a great, fantastic UI, great, fantastic product, but no one knows about it. So it’s always interesting.
Tony Zayas 55:45
Before we wrap up here, just would love to hear where people can, you know, find more information, pay attention to what you have going on. If you want to share websites and where you’re active on social.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 55:58
Oh, thank you. Yeah. So LinkedIn is probably the best place to catch me full name is Jacob Wedderburn-day, but you can find me by looking up stasher or three points. stasher stash to .com. Three points is three points that green. Both have like the full suite of social like Facebook, Twitter, definitely check out the Instagram actually the two points Instagram content is pretty cool to go. We’ve got running that is really great. He’s got some really like, beautiful visual content and cool videos. So definitely worth a look at. But yeah, you can reach me on LinkedIn or [email protected] is probably the best email as well.
Tony Zayas 56:33
Well, awesome. We want to say thank you, Jacob. This has been fantastic. Appreciate your time here today. And thanks for everyone for watching.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day 56:42
Now, my pleasure, guys. It’s been a pleasure. Today I started out a little charger incident but it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed it.
Andy Halko 56:48
Add some fun to it. Thanks, Jacob. Thanks a lot. Take care everybody.