SaaS Founder Interview with Jonathan Fishbeck, CEO & Founder of EstateSpace
EstateSpace is a cloud-based property & lifestyle management solution that offers five major advantages over old software and filing systems – instant communication, location-independent accessibility, task automation, data analytics, and secure data backup.
Andy Halko 0:04
Hey, everybody, welcome. It’s Wednesday. And it’s our SaaS founder show, where we talk to really interesting founders of software companies to hear a little bit about their journey, their challenges, and what it takes to grow and create a software company. I’m Andy Halko, CEO of INSIVIA usually joined by Tony. But today, I think he’s got a big sale or getting a COVID vaccine or something like that. But he’s not with us today. But we’ve got an exciting show that we’re going to really enjoy learning about our founder, Jonathan Fishbeck is the founder of a state space, a really cool platform that I think you’ll find interesting, and he’s got a great story of his entrepreneurial journey. And we’ll bring Jonathan on right now. Hey, Jonathan, welcome.
Jonathan Fishbeck 1:02
Hey, Andy, thank you for having me.
Andy Halko 1:04
Yeah, we really appreciate you joining us and can’t wait to have this conversation about your journey. We were just having a little talk about how your threepeater, you said,
Jonathan Fishbeck 1:15
Yeah, that’s exciting. Yeah.
Andy Halko 1:18
So tell us a little bit about estate space. First, what is it? Who’s it for and just a little bit about your software?
Jonathan Fishbeck 1:26
Yeah, so thank you, again, for having us. So EstateSpace is meant to help simplify complex operations to help reduce risk. And we’re doing that to streamline communications and standardization of information. Our product, our platform, our marketplace is targeted for ultra high net worth families and luxury providers. And our, our maturation, if you will, we started with an assets portfolio. So we were the first platform to be able to bring you to both mobile and web now, your real property assets so that you can manage your home all of the things that go in it to include your pets, inventory, etc, we then moved to property, a properties portfolio, or we started to at the beginning of an operational piece and communications. And now we are focusing and working on really an end to end business solution to cover all aspects of an operation. Again, you know, very, very, even if you have a simple business, things can get very complex very quickly. And so it’s our job to help simplify those experiences and, you know, allow our clients to gain efficiencies and really focus on doing what they love.
Andy Halko 2:39
Yeah, that’s great. So, you know, I always like to start out with origin story, whe- How did you get started? Because, you know, and for you, maybe it’s even going back a little bit further to your first business? How did you get started in that? And then how did that evolve to getting to a state space?
Jonathan Fishbeck 2:58
Yeah, no, great, great question. It’s kind of a lifelong journey for myself. So I was a son of an entrepreneur. So I experienced that also, in the technology, space, technologist by education, but I spent most of my professional career in estate construction design built, in the last 12 years, we’ve been, we’ve been really focused on the ultra high net worth space. And it was really through those experiences. You know, my previous two ventures were construction firms, which is still active. And so it was, it was, again, through those experiences through that journey of construction, where we had a front row seat with the stakeholders with, with all the the partners and professional service providers, family offices, in the cases of our clients and their staff. And so gaining all of that, that, that, that knowledge base, really, and that those insights it gave, it gave us the kind of the Genesis and the big idea when it came to estate. And it was it was really understanding kind of what were the problems? What were people? What were the desired results? And how can we use technology? And so it was, it was really about five years ago, when we had the big idea, if you will, and and that’s when you found out this ESTATESPACE four years ago in 2017.
Andy Halko 4:21
That’s pretty cool. I’m kind of curious. You know, it sounds like we have similar backgrounds. My dad was an entrepreneur. You know, I kind of taught myself the program. So a little bit more on the technical side. I’m kind of curious, do you think that you know, your family having been in the entrepreneurial space was influential for you growing up to get into it now?
Jonathan Fishbeck 4:45
Yeah, I think it’s twofold for myself. Right. So they were definitely an influence both both of my parents right, what it took, you know, professionally, at the workplace with my father and then what it took at home with my mother and my father. Family writers, you gotta have both both pieces ready to really have a successful, you know, venture, if you will, it takes a trial, right. But then I think, you know, secondly, a stage could use what’s unresolve some of our family’s issues, right? And so it was for us a great experiences and being able to create technology that can help my businesses. it can help our family and, you know, when, if you ask me kind of why I exist, you know, I just help people both personally and professionally. So, super simple, why, and that’s really, I think, kind of the core cultural value that we that we carried forward into into all three ventures was really just focused on helping people, right, you wake up, if that’s your goal, you’re gonna end up feeling good, some days are gonna be tough, some days are gonna be great. But when it’s all said and done, that core value that can look back on, you know, that, you know, you’re doing things the right way,
Andy Halko 5:57
Isn’t something that something that you use to keep centered is kind of your core value, and, you know, overall mission versus just the the business and the mission of the business, if you will.
Jonathan Fishbeck 6:10
Yeah, I think, you know, as an entrepreneur. I’ve also found, right, that it’s, I, this has changed kind of a paradigm shift over the last five years where I really realized that I don’t really care for more of a hierarchical business model, I like to run a flat model. And the reason I like to do that is because you know, even as a CEO, I believe that it gives you the ability to, to best serve your client to best serve your partners, your employees, your providers, right, so you’re able to work across all four of those different aspects within a company. And when you’re able to work across the cleaning gap down to providers up to your customers and clients. It really allows you to stay in today’s modern business world, you have to you have to have a certain level of agility. And so I believe doing that has really allowed me to find great success, and be able to keep up with the fast pace.
Andy Halko 7:10
Yeah, definitely. You know, I think for everybody, there’s always a lot going on. But as an owner, I mean, you tend to have, you know, a lot of pokers in the fire, if you will. I’m kind of curious to go back a little bit. You mentioned that of you and some other folks around you identifying a problem that a state space can solve. I’m just kind of curious, was that something that, you know, simmered over years? And it was always there really needs to be something? Or was there a big change or event that kind of in the marketplace that that sparked it? What was the evolution of that problem to idea to next stage? Why?
Jonathan Fishbeck 7:55
Yeah, so as far as the experiences went, right, we saw a lot of, you know, we’re dealing in a private residence, right? So we’re dealing with people that have just, you know, real human problems, right? And so that can be everything, you know, we’ve witnessed everything from a lack of communication, where staff and say, a family are just miscommunicating. And there’s issues there or work might not be performed expectations not being met all the way to sibling divorce over real property assets. And so, you know, there’s a whole myriad of problems, you know, and everything in between, it was, it was kind of that was like I that’s the big problem. As far as the, as far as the idea of Estatespace goes. Part of it’s also been that long term. I’ve been in business for 18 plus years now on using 25, disparate technologies across, you know, a number of different platforms, and none of them call in. So there’s a ton of administrative work, there’s a lot that goes into just trying to keep up with and running your business. And it feels like you’re doing something internally for the company, you’re doing something externally for your clients, nothing is connected. And so there’s a lot of churn in the business. And a lot of time spent, you know, I mentioned that, I want our clients to be able to focus on doing the thing that they love right now, managing a workflow, right, but it’s something that technology can solve for. So it was it was kind of taking the problem and then taking our business experience and saying, Okay, how can we create something where we combined all of the best practices and all the experiences that we’ve had installed for all these problems in a very simple way, and we’ve been able to do that at a estate at a Estatespace because we’ve we’ve really focused on, okay, are in order to have an end to end business and be as efficient as humanly possible. We need to take all those 25 disparate tools, and we need to build them on the one platform and so we’re probably about 50% of the way there and we’ve got some exciting strategic partners. some exciting stuff coming out this summer where we’ll actually be completing that where you know, everything from the signature to just all the all the pieces and parts of really running a company and both interfacing with all parties in a secure way. So. So I think that, you know, that’s probably the last piece is that security has been a leading a leading driver for our company, because of the just information in general that you’re dealing with digitally, you need to make sure that you’re protecting it in our focus is always putting our clients first having a win win win for our clients, our partners, our business, but ultimately, our client’s interests or our experience working for us and in security, and then trying to create some character gains for our clients. That’s, you know, it’s been a challenge with our polar opposites are you know, end to end, and so trying to deliver that, that was probably the first couple of years of really trying to figure this company out. But the last couple of years have just been, you know, extremely fun. And, you know, the, the exciting part of the startup, right?
Andy Halko 11:04
Yeah, it’s always, you know, and we’ve talked to a lot of founders always an interesting road. And I really want to talk about the future and the product for sure. But just to go back, I’d love to hear a little bit more of how the rubber meets the road of getting started. You know, how, how did you exactly develop kind of a product plan and then find the team or develop the product on your own? And what were the first like, three to six months of your journey? What What were the details of how that happened?
Jonathan Fishbeck 11:44
Yeah, no? Great, great question. I think my might kind of starts with a problem, right? We had such a huge idea. So the hardest thing for us was figuring out where to starting. And so that that didn’t just happen that didn’t take three to six months that took about a year and a half to really figure all of that out. Knowing that we wanted to do things, I think we got Lucky in the sense that the assets that we created, the platform that we started to build, we were building in the right direction. So we were able to reallocate things as we started to really figure it out in year two. But once we understood kind of where to start, I think that that that that was a combination of really just finding some of the right people to come and consult with the business, help us kind of slow down to speed up, if you will, and really, really think through that. And so it was what summer of 2019, when we, when we had an alpha product, we then took back the beta, we had about 30. We had 13, initial families, businesses, clients that were using the platform to give us that early feedback. And we launched a commercial product, June of 2020. So as far as far as starting off, you know, with any business, I mean, it’s exciting. There’s a lot of ups and downs, you know, as a founder and CEO, you’re going to be experiencing all of those things where an employee might be isolated, and insulated, if you will, from those things. And when it’s all said and done, you know, I just tried to always, you know, just slow down, breathe and be methodical and execute with any aspect of the business knowing that somehow it’s all gonna work out.
Andy Halko 13:31
I’m always curious about the mentality of it. You know, you’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time. I know, you know, I’ve had my business for 20 years, and like you said, there’s lots of ups and downs, you know, you’re, you know, you face a lot of different challenges. There’s also a lot of highs, but, you know, how do you handle the, I guess, mental and emotional side of just generally, you know, starting and running a business?
Jonathan Fishbeck 13:58
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s, it comes back to core values, right? Like, I’m honest with my team, I trust my team, I trust them to be honest. That I know that I don’t have all the answers. I think probably as an adult, you know, over my experiences, I’ve grown up a few different times as a leader in business. And I probably made my biggest leaps and bounds through others, right. actually being able to kind of take that hat off and pass it to somebody else and trust that it’s going to get done. And I think that’s, that’s, that’s one of those scary moments, right, where you’re here. You know, a lot of us are control freaks, if you will, trying to step back and, and I think the My favorite part is I’m kind of always just humbled to be on the team that I put together. Fantastic people, right. So to be able to know that you don’t have all the answers and just, you know, rely on their seek advice. I mean, I was asked the question of if I if I had $1,000, what would I spend Get on, and I will spend it on good advice, I wouldn’t buy a computer, I wouldn’t buy Wi Fi, I wouldn’t get good advice, often up front, because most of your challenges when it comes to costs, the costly challenges are in the beginning, right. So if you can get good advice, you can get a mentor that’s been in your space and been there and done that to help you navigate those most costly risks in the beginning of starting a business. Again, that happened for me, you know, it’s, you know, a year and a half into the company, but it was the best thing that ever happened, right, but one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And I, you know, I’m just again, thankful and humbled to have a team both up and down with with a, you know, great board, great advisors, and then just, you know, a great team that I’m able to work with every day.
Andy Halko 15:45
I love that, you know, humbled to be part of the team that I’ve been able to assemble because, you know, we always hear you want to surround ourselves with people that are smarter than us, or more capable, etc. And so I think that’s a great way to look at it is, if you’ve, if you are humble, you know, humbled to be part of that team, you’ve probably done something right.
Jonathan Fishbeck 16:10
Andy Halko 16:13
You know, mentors are such a big piece. I’ve used them throughout the years and different groups that I’ve been part of, of entrepreneurs and having folks to rely on. I’m kind of curious to hear from you how, you know, obviously, it sounds like you’ve you’ve had mentors? Where’d you find them? How did you engage with them? What do you typically look for, from someone to get advice from?
Jonathan Fishbeck 16:40
Yeah, so I think, I mean, my first mentor was my mother and father, right. So they kind of had me when it came to professionally, I, you know, I’ve said, I, you know, I would say that anyone would be lucky to have one great mentor in their career, if you can have more than that, you know, that’s just your blast. I feel like I’ve been blessed, I’ve worked through a lot, worked with a lot of great people that I’ve been able to gain a lot of knowledge from. I would say, though, that, you know, again, in the last few years, it was kind of, you know, that that maturation, for me, personally, and professionally was kind of, you know, with, especially with this business being similar to the business that my family was in, in technology, it was kind of finding a new new group of mentors, and I was able to do that across the different verticals within our business. So sales, marketing, and then you know, and then a coach and an advisor, and Mr. Barry Leeburg, who was able to really help me mature and be able to take this company to where it ultimately can go, which is, you know, our ceiling is very high here. And so, you know, it was, it was, I’d say the last, the last two, three years of really kind of separating from my family and my and from a mentorship perspective, and just being a family. And then, and then finding that that next group of advisors to help best serve this company, again, very, very tough decisions that we have to make as founders, some some some great, some not agreed by many. But that’s kind of, you know, the last few years of where I’ve kind of come from and gotten to at this point, which has, I think, my favorite part of all of this is being able to give back to other entrepreneurs. And so in order for me to help keep myself sharp in best practices, you know, I’ll take on somebody that I, you know, someone who wants to start a business and help them to the same process and give back to the community that’s given so much to myself over the last two decades.
Andy Halko 18:52
Yeah, I, I’ve gotten a chance to do the same and being in a mentorship program where they, you get a mentor, but then you give back and I find those relationships always valuable because you learn, you know, plus, you’re giving back and you’re being able to help someone else, which I really love. I’m kind of curious, and we’ve never really talked about on this show. You know, I’ve always had the belief with mentors. You know, there’s different relationships that you have. But I’ve always really tried to leverage them well and have a structure and really make sure that you’re making it as easy as possible for them. I’m just kind of curious if you have any thoughts and in the best way to engage a mentor and leverage their time and their insight.
Jonathan Fishbeck 19:42
Yeah, so I think I can keep that pretty simple for you to me, and it’s to be the best mentor read that you can possibly be. So when I that’s how I approach a coach or a mentor and advisors. I want to be the best mentoree that they’ve ever had. Right? So I know that if I do my job really, really well for them, it’s gonna make that experience better, more efficient. And ultimately, that’s the you know, that’s my advice.
Andy Halko 20:12
No, that’s fantastic. I’m just kind of switching gears a little bit, you obviously had the design, build business and created this product. But the one thing that I hear a lot with founders, especially if they have an existing company, is finding the time and focus to build a product within another business. Was that something that was a challenge for you? Or? or How did you manage that, between trying to create a new business or a new product? While you were probably trying to manage an existing business?
Jonathan Fishbeck 20:50
Yeah, so I would say that I lost focus. That was the biggest challenge was was I’m building, you know, $40 million, state home, and then I’m trying to, you know, build and revolutionize part of an industry that needs a lot of help with technology. And so I couldn’t be in both places. And so you ended up getting kind of the best half of me from from for most of the time. So it was that I’d say that was the biggest challenge I and I tend to always do this professionally, philanthropically. Personally, I always try to take on too much right, do more than I can. So 2021 is, as far as I go, I’m definitely studying the art of saying no, right, just trying to continue to keep my focus. And so I’ve been able to successfully navigate that by just kind of making the decision that I need to get out of my own way, if you will. And so I’ve been able to now find really great executive controllers for the construction company, I step out. Estatespace is awesome, right? For me personally, and professionally, because it’s taken everything I’ve ever learned in my in my life, my career, and it’s rolled on the one business. So the only service that we provide that I still provide as an owner representative service for our clients that are looking to deploy capital and invest in our real property asset that they own, you know, an existing restaurant business home. And so I’m able to, you know, work back to my construction company, as an owner wrap. But I’m not in the day to day business. I still love engineering, and art and science. And so that’s what drew me to that. And so you know, but now I, I, I’m in for the last probably, what, 24 months now, I’ve just been the sole my sole focus has been being the CEO of a state space and being the best CEO that I tend to the company, our team and our clients.
Andy Halko 22:44
And you have a technical background, right? You were saying?
Jonathan Fishbeck 22:48
Andy Halko 22:49
How much have you used that? You know, do you get down to the level of writing the code? Or is it just a scenario where you feel like it’s, it’s good to have the knowledge to be able to have the right conversations with the right people?
Jonathan Fishbeck 23:03
Yes, I’ve been writing code since college. And my team challenges me to kick that back out, I probably will not. I’d say that the methodologies that I learned, technically, through my education were things that I was able to carry in. But as far as my daily role goes, I’m I’m a project manager for our development team. We run our operation financially, but then also, technically, I helped write the requirements based on client feedback. So I’m at the ground level, but I am not coding, I understand. without a shadow of a doubt, I understand that technologies are going to integrate. You know, I’ve got a fantastic CTO that I’ve learned a lot from, and, you know, in that in that role that I have, again, I’m kind of connected to everything, right, so. So that’s, for me, that’s, that’s one of my favorite things that I love about this company is that I’m able to kind of do all of these things in a way which I’m able to bring in and help benefit the company with what I’m doing versus, you know, maybe bring us we’re trying to do too much. So, again, it’s, for me, this is like a dream come true. Because I’m able to just continue to give back every day to all the people that are in my network. And that’s kind of the thing with this company, when we made the decision this year to stay family owned and operated institutional because this company has been built on relationships, right? And that’s my number one capital as a as a person is it’s kind of a human capital, money year or things, right? And so, all relationship that is taken to get to this point and now being able to help people across my entire career with with this business as you can really start to talk about the platform itself. You know, that for me super rewarding, and I can’t do anything to harm that. And so now it’s really a focus of scaling the company in 2021, to build out our product and our platform, you know, and just continuing to, you know, best serve all those relationships that we’ve been able to, you know, build on us.
Andy Halko 25:19
It sounds like you have a ton of passion for a lot of aspects of this. I’m kind of curious, just opening up the conversation of passion in business, you know, how much do you think if someone sees a problem, and they want to start a business to do that? How much? You know, do you think passion needs to be in that versus just a no drive to make money? Or these other things? I’m just kind of curious your viewpoint on something like that.
Jonathan Fishbeck 25:51
Yeah, no, no, I actually have a viewpoint on both sides. Right. So my first company, I started it to make money. I had an injury in my mid 20s, that didn’t allow me to do the things that I was doing for the construction standpoint. And so I do really reevaluate, you know, the business, my wife, and, you know, that was kind of the decision point in my, in my journey, where I, you know, really dedicated my life to just wanting to help others. As far as like, passion goes in anything. I think that’s the beautiful thing. I mean, even though we’re in the middle of a crisis and a pandemic, I see so much beauty coming out of all industries worldwide now, and just rethinking and reimagining things. And so, I’m always amazed, personally, when I’m able to kind of see a startup or a new business that I could have never thought of in a million years, but makes perfect sense. And, you know, if you’re doing something that you love, you know, they say, you know, you never work a day in your life. At the end of the day, it’s definitely work. But if but, but having that passion is and, and having the drive for the right reasons, right? Again, I’m happy to share my why with everybody. And knowing that the one of the best things you can start a business is is wanting to help somebody else, both profit for profit or nonprofit. So I’m a super, super big fan of having the passion to do something. Ultimately, if you’re for profit, you need to make money to help the company grow. But money in this case that you know, those funds, those should be seen as a way to continue to expand and help more people. And so that’s, you know, for me, you know, simply put, yeah, you should definitely have passion. But, you know, the coolest thing I’m seeing is how people are solving problems and how we’re going to forever be better for it, especially in the space of technology where a lot of tech was built, you know, as you look through the history of technology, what we know, there’s been a number of revolutions over time, but I’d say the last five years have been pretty incredible. And in the pandemic’s driven us to another revolution that we’re in right now, and I just continue to see technology, not just existing to maybe help someone make money, but it feels like there’s this this huge shift, right, globally, where, you know, we’re using technology to make a positive impact on society. And that’s what we’re doing here. And it’s just really awesome to see that trend trending up across the world.
Andy Halko 28:30
Yeah, how did the pandemic affect you and kind of this journey and and I ask it in some ways, from the perspective of, you know, someone may not deal with a pandemic in a year, but just this idea that in business, you never know, what can come up a shift in the market, you know, something that that happens, it’s a natural disaster or a change in the economy. So one, did the did the pandemic affect you? And two, what are your thoughts on on managing through a big impact that is kind of out of your control?
Jonathan Fishbeck 29:08
Right. So yeah, I mean, on day one, the pandemic definitely affected us in more of a negative way. You know, I had, you know, a few $100,000 of construction work go away, right. You know, I was very concerned for Estatespace. And, you know, our outlook is we’re just getting ready to launch a commercial product. And now, you know, we’re watching the market crash. Right. So that was, that was interesting, but I think in any situation, you know, you just got to go back to kind of your guiding principles. And especially with something like this, it’s out of your control. Well, what how can we leverage it? What are the things that we can control? How can we innovate, right? Well, what are we seeing here and so the pandemic that’s driven everybody, industry, agnostic, right? To rethink how they are actually doing everything from onboarding their client to manage Engaging over the course of the relationship. And so, you know, that’s kind of, you know, kind of slow down and take a step back, don’t necessarily react to it. I think is is very important. And then ultimately, you know, transparency across your team of trying to figure this out, right, because we is always smarter than me, as I’ve been told and, and preach in practice. And I think it comes down to, like, for us with the pandemic, we’re a pretty cool story. And that, you know, we are where we have private funding we’ve got, we’ve got government funding. Now, we know prior to the pandemic, we, we did a pivot, I decided in summer of 2019, and to downsize, we-I got rid of a lot of our long term liability as a company. And, you know, we were in a pretty good position when the pandemic hit, and we knew where we were going at that point. And so that was super scary, right? We’ve just, we’ve just figured out how we’re going to help as many people as I could ever imagine helping in the world. And, you know, Matt, now there’s a pandemic. And so we were able to persevere through it. And we just did that together.
Andy Halko 31:10
Yeah, like that we is better than me. So what what’s the team look like? And you know, what are the type of people that you’ve surrounded yourself with?
Jonathan Fishbeck 31:21
Yeah, so we’ve got six people internally. And that is a mix of my partner. And when it comes to starting companies, and Jay Shelby and their VP of Sales and Marketing, so I’m able to, to kind of get all that to him. And that’s taken that hat off completely now for about the last year. And that’s been very helpful for me to focus on the operations and finance where I’ve got fantastic controller, and then we’ve got customer success, individuals, and we’ve got just three developers internally, are teaming overall, those more closer to about 15. With some of our external partners that we have, again, just a few partners, drag, just keep the business as simple as possible, especially at this stage, and really every stage thereafter. And but it’s exciting for us right now. So we, we had a great, we ended up having our best year in 2020. Because you know, we were kind of remote before remote was kind of cool and necessary. But now in 2021, we’re actually doubling in size, actively hiring new new developers, we’ve got a great problem, which is that we have traction, and we can’t build our solution fast enough. So that’s, you know, just very exciting. And, you know, again, scaling and growing the business, but doing that in a controlled way and knowing that the right answers and all just throwing our horsepower at it. You know, it’s finding that right next, and I’d say that’s probably an attribute I’m in now, which I’m most thankful for now as being able to, you know, I had to pivot professionally from construction to technology. And that took me a couple of years, but through that experience, through those experiences, you know, I was able to really learn and understand, you know, what is the best team and, you know, I look at a lot of bigger companies as examples where, you know, some of the best work, Microsoft did that, you know, 13 engineers in the room, right. And so it doesn’t always mean that we just need as many people as possible. We need the right people, and you don’t want to just think about it as in, I’m hiring great people, and then I’ll just have a great team. You need to hire the right people. And in order to have a great team, and I think we’ve done a really good job of that. And we’ve now put processes in place to ensure manage your budget to hopefully get that right, the more right people to join the company. So again, it’s a quick super simple process, but we’re really looking at people more personally, right? Cultural fit, obviously, they’re going to they’re going to need to have the technical competencies that could actually get the position but we have, we have probably 60/40 in a personal personality fit versus competency, because we really want to really hold on to and make sure that we protect What’s our most important attribute as a company, which is our culture.
Andy Halko 34:29
Yeah, I was gonna ask you a little bit about that of, you know, how do you find the right people because I’m sure like both of us I had the business for years and finding people and training and building culture and all that stuff is always a challenge. It sounds like you use your culture and core values as part of that equation to find the right people. But are there other ways that you you know, look and evaluate to get like you said the right people in on the bus?
Jonathan Fishbeck 34:59
I cam here and told you i want to do good. So, you know, when it comes to kind of getting the right people, you know, I think I feel like I’ve gotten pretty lucky. I think moving forward, we I try to try to figure out well, how can I repeat that law? But you know, it’s, it is tough to hire. And so I think that, you know, again, we just go back to really slowing down, right? The more people you interview, the better, you know, given your full attention, have a repeatable process in your, in your, in your hiring, so that you’re able to then properly evaluate individuals for the position. So and then, you know, I’m also a big fan of, even if somebody doesn’t get the position, when it comes, I want to give them feedback, right, I want that I want that minutes or that hour and a half that they spent with me to be of some value to them professionally. Because I know that if I was in their position, that you know, that’s what I would want. So I tried to kind of look at it through their lens and provide them with some value, even if it was a 30 minute interview, and we just figured it wasn’t going to work. And I’m not just saying no getting back to them, but really giving them that feedback. And by doing those things, we continue to home and get to that right person. And so, you know, it’s but but at the end of the day, it’s really tough. And, you know, I just really did the best you can. I also believe in what we practice is happening, not just myself, but multiple people on an interview so that we can get different perspectives. And I think that’s, that’s super helpful for us in being able to, you know, have those different people come together and deeply find somebody. You know, what did you see? Making sure that we’re all seeing this, right. So not making it my sole or singular obligation to hire that person by bringing a whole team and across the business across verticals that thoroughly invest, evaluate somebody.
Andy Halko 36:57
Yeah, I totally agree. We, we A lot of times, use our core values, it’s a huge part of the business and evaluate folks on you know, how we feel they fit the core values, not only in the interview process, but as we go forward and reviews just because it is, you know, we always believe the core values are what we should do, and that, you know, just foundational piece, do you use things like vision mission core values, other elements in the business?
Jonathan Fishbeck 37:31
Yeah. So we do, but I think when it for us, we keep it simple. And for us, it’s all about our why, right? We help We exist to help people. You know, I’m a believer that in five seconds, we knew that we liked each other Andy, kind of talking, we knew that we wanted to have this interview, and then we could talk today, and we can talk in the future. Very quickly. There’s so many things that we’re processing as people where we know what we like, we know we don’t like we know what works for us and what doesn’t. So I always start with my why because it helps protect my time. If somebody doesn’t like why I exist, then, you know, that singular point, that saves us both time, if you don’t want to help people, then we don’t have the one thing in common where now we can talk about honesty and integrity and, you know, the other values that we’ve built the business on. But you know, we just we start with the why. And I’ve learned over time that that that protects the one thing that I covered the most, which is time and saving me from going down paths that I need to ever really go down because we’re we fail on step one.
Andy Halko 38:40
Yeah, I love that I love the kind of litmus test of Do you match the Why? I’m kind of curious to shift gears a little into the product. And more of the product planning, you know, how do you how do you evaluate what the right features are? And how do you get feedback from customers? How does that roadmap process look like for you and your team?
Jonathan Fishbeck 39:09
Yeah, so I, I think when it comes to any aspect of the company, what we did we were grooming things on a daily and a weekly basis, whether finances the operation, the people, our product release schedule. And in that meeting, that I think that the best thing about a company and especially with Estatespace is that it might have started with me as a founder and I had a vision, right? But now we have partners, we have clients, we have people and so now it’s our vision. And that’s the best thing for for me and I have experiences that our vision way better than my vision. And so I bring the team and I typically with my senior staff, I will kind of work through that release schedule like I can go on too many chefs in the kitchen. So, you know, we’ve got two, two people that were going to technical person, I’ve got the business requirements person and myself on our product on our project manager. So we’re kind of drumming that together, and then we sprint weekly as a development company. So we follow an agile methodology. So, every week, we’re getting input from all of our developers. And they do that. And they realize that we’ve gotten lucky in that we have just phenomenal partners, both strategic partners, as well as clients. And it hits in trifectas, here with some just really great folks that that, again, not to give away too much, but some really, really exciting things that we’re going to be releasing this summer that I can’t wait to. Hopefully come back and be able to share with you when it’s ready to be shared. But as far as the product, and the release schedule goes, you know, dealing with that on a daily and weekly basis, including all of the members that make that possible to include your designers, we developers, both front and back end engineers, and myself as a product owner, and then bringing our clients into the conversation and user testing, right. Those are all the things that that we do here that allow us to kind of not necessarily get right on the first try. But the 90% of the way to 100% versus we just build something and it’s completely wrong, right. And I’ve been there and I’ve done that. And I’ve learned that but that one the hard way. So there’s that process that we have now of constantly dreaming of product release schedule. And then what we’ve done is we’ve just really focused on who’s doing what, when, you know, what are their blockers, again, keeping it very simple? And then what are the requirements? And what’s the success criteria for that, that teachers will then be ready for release? And so really understanding, again, very complex process that we’ve been able to simplify. And we do that by just kind of saying, communication and having complete transparency across.
Andy Halko 42:04
Yeah, I think inclusions really good because, you know, if you’re doing it too much in a vacuum, you’re not getting the insights you need, but kind of on the reverse. And I’m curious to hear your thoughts. But on the reverse side, I see a lot of software, you know, companies and founders, that, you know, inclusion can sometimes get overwhelming to lose focus, you know, I hear where they’re getting, you know, they’ve got their own ideas and aspirations for where the products going. They’ve got team members with, with ideas, customers, friends, family, all this stuff, mentors. And I see companies quickly get overwhelmed or build features that aren’t necessary. You know, so how do you I guess, take that inclusion? Or, or what are your thoughts on balancing that inclusion with making sure that you’re not, you know, building the wrong product, or the wrong features that aren’t valuable or, or like you said, you know, give back to customers and the people that are around you?
Jonathan Fishbeck 43:06
Right, So first, the first first thing, I look at our business model, which is where our SaaS core offering, which means, now we know that we we have software as a service, which means that we don’t do anything custom, whether it’s customer development, or its customer services, we don’t do it. Right. So we know what we do and what we don’t do as a business model, we know that we have a marketplace of service providers, and soon to be suppliers. And so we know that that engagement has to be super simple, right? And so then then we know that when we have those two things, and we keep them simple, and we follow those basic rules, now we can use machine learning and AI, we can create a data set that we can then apply those things to, and we can increase our network effect as a as a modern business model. So that’s first and foremost. The second thing is kind of a secondary set of guiding principles when we know what that are related to our platform, which is that all of the tools that we build have to be universal. So whether you’re a a wealth manager, whether you’re a caterer, whether you’re an estate manager, you know, any business, I believe it’s a business, it’s a business with a business, right? We all have, even if I’m a technology company, if I’m not, I’m still using technology. So all that those same kind of, you know, 100,000 foot attributes of a business, I believe exists universally. And so we don’t build anything that some client said, Well, we need this thing Well, okay, let’s think about what you’re really asking us for. And so we do a good job with kind of listening to someone that might share 1000 words of requirements and boiling down to seven words, right. I think you’re really just saying this over and over again. Is that right? Right. So making sure that we understand what we’re hearing and then saying it back and simple way. And then, ultimately, I have to be my biggest – I have to do the grounding round as the product owner of what we’re going to do and what we’re not going to do, and something sounds great, or there’s an opportunity that, that I know that if I just want to pivot my team, just to say that we have an agile methodology, it’s a slippery slope. You know, I think that the agility lies in knowing that I’ve got a feature that can have an MVP state and then an advanced state, right? And so let’s make sure that we’re agile and are thinking through what do we really need is a foundation versus what do we then want to advance that feature to be able to do? Where could it end up being, so it’s gonna have three buckets of you know, we have a basic and the beginning, and it’s gonna have advanced, and then it’s going to have the on capabilities. And so again, just kind of following those rules, you know, I end up kind of becoming my best ally, versus my own worst enemy, when it comes to all these requirements. And, again, I learned learn that through working with a fantastic project manager and our
Andy Halko 45:56
Jonathan Fishbeck 45:57
Commercial development. So it was like, I just watched a guy that knew exactly what he was doing and was able to say, No, started things on time, finish them on time. And, you know, I was able to really kind of absorb all those amazing qualities and bring that to this team as a pm and more or less emulate all those fantastic things that I saw and watched over the course of a, you know, four or five month development as we worked with one of our partners to be able to bring our product to the market.
Andy Halko 46:26
Yeah, it’s really great. I’m shifting gears, again, a little bit his customers, I think one of the biggest things that I I see is, you know, for companies that grow in the software space, they have a plan in the beginning to acquire those first customers, whether it’s relationships they have, or going to, you know, certain marketplace, and but I also see a lot of people that struggle with that and say, Okay, I’ve got this great idea. But you know, how do I get that first customer? You know, how do I then turn a first customer into the first 20? I’m just kind of curious, where did your first customers come from? And how do you see the the approach for software companies to grow their customer base?
Jonathan Fishbeck 47:16
Yeah, so good advice that I got is there’s no place in life that’s worth going, it’s easy to get to. But when it comes to clients and starting a company, you definitely want to know that you’ve got somebody there at the end of that path that’s going to buy your product, if you’re a SaaS business. So for us, we knew that there, we already had clients within our network, that included professionally, past clients that we’ve had with our other businesses, and then any friends, where, you know, we don’t go from one to 20, our experience is that, you know, you can put a plan together what you’re trying to sell, and that’s great. But at the end of the day, you know, it’s going to be one to two to three, and I’m gonna second celebrate all those wins, and No, not now. Now. We’re somewhere in the 40 to 50. And you know, that now you go from 40, or 50. And now you can start to get the kind of exponential growth and start getting that the J curve of what a SaaS company should do. But, you know, I think it’s just, it’s, you know, when it when it comes to clients, you definitely don’t want to, even if you have a great idea, if you can’t articulate it, and no one can understand it, and no one’s gonna buy it. So being able to understand what it is that you’re trying to accomplish, who you’re trying to accomplish it for, and then, and then going out and practicing to say, Okay, here’s what I’m looking to do is this makes sense? Was this something that you’d be interested in, and trying to understand what that marketplace actually looks like for you before, before you actually start to make make investments and to go ahead and go down that path of I’m going to start this company and do this great thing and healthy people, you need to make sure that they want that help. And, again, I had the experiences of going something that never made it to market and, you know, in going through all those kind of challenges. In my in my transition back into technology, and I think it was a you know, it was it’s important to understand that if no one can understand what you have, you can have the best thing in the world. But if you can’t, can’t tell somebody what it does, then and they don’t want it then you know that business isn’t gonna be profitable. So…
Andy Halko 49:27
Yeah, I always think if it takes too many words to explain something, then you know, there’s something that’s that’s too complex. You hinted at a big future for the product, but some of it you can’t you can’t talk about but I’m kind of curious. What is the future of both the product and the company look like? Where are you headed? What kind of things are you excited for coming up?
Jonathan Fishbeck 49:53
Yeah. So So as far as our you know, working through say the end of the third quarter of this year are really Focus is completing our initial goal. Here’s the 25 disparate things that I need to use every day in my business, and now states besides all of them, so that end to end on any business operation, I can manage it simply everything that I do has an internal facing component, an external facing component. So, you know, I’m able to, you know, I’m able to really, at that point, now visually transforming the entire experience for all of our clients, right? Taking what is a heavily document based business or, or client that is now moving to a database system, right? And now, with that we can do more than we ever thought possible, there is no way ever to eliminate the majority of administrative work, we’re able to better relationships because we have transparency, clear communication, you know, we’re gaining institutional knowledge, because we’re dealing with both, you know, our clients are able to manage their clients manage their their partners, their staff, so the all those communications that happen outside of the Enclave, which is your business are lost or your you have to take the time to get back reason something to other people spoke about. So being able to do all that in one place is going to allow us to gain tremendous efficiency and really start to solve those first problems for our for our clients. So I’m probably I’m most you know, in the near term, excited about that, but as far as the meet what our end of year looks like, is what we’re going to then be able to start looking forward to, you know, making the family office experience the estate planning that, you know, the use cases that we’ve experienced, that are just terrific and sibling divorce and being able to take which is very much an archaic, even with new technology considered archaic, right? document based process and state planning or putting together a family office, and making that experience simple, dynamic, and something that’s easy to manage. That’s an ongoing constant evolution and management process and managing your family as well, or managing the business as well. Or, you know, trying to understand, you know, it’s easy to say that this person gets this extra amount of money versus flying out for for child number two, but all the Real Property assets are where sibling divorce happens. And, you know, again, with all of it, there’s been hundreds of millions of dollars invested into companies and startups over the last 24 months. And you know, they’re given a series C, but it’s like, you know, I’m watching them go down the wrong path, because they still can’t solve and what ends up being a huge problem for all families, and you know it, for me it you know, I start with my wife, and I really like to talk about the things that we’re solving from a problems perspective, because that’s where I’ve been able to build some of the most meaningful professional relationships with a state face that includes, you know, Pink Shark PR out of LA, who got me in touch with you guys, which we’ll be forever thankful for, you know, and it was their founder that had that same experience. And so kind of talking through those things, when you first are meeting people, that really starts to protect your business because they understand why you exist, right? What are you doing? What are you trying to do? And so for us being able to look back at the end of this year, and know that we’ve grown, we’ve grown our team, we’ve scaled the business. But we’ve been able to kind of achieve that first horizon of growth, both as a company but also for our clients. I think that when we look back on this year, that’s what we’ll be able to say. You know, for me, I’m most excited about about all those three things.
Andy Halko 53:47
I always like to wrap up and ask a question about, if you were able to go back iEn time, let’s say to a couple of months before you really got on this journey for a statespace and have coffee with yourself. You know, is there one piece of advice that you would give, you know, pre a Estatespace, space Jonathan?
Jonathan Fishbeck 54:15
Yeah, it would be that $1,000 question, right, I would take my $1,000 and go find the right advisor for this company. I just did if I could ever do anything differently than that would be the one thing I would have done because it would have saved me a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of ups and downs. And really just weren’t being able to find somebody that I could kind of best Shepherd me through this business, which is different from my other businesses. And so, well, you know, I’m a serial entrepreneur. And,you know, hopefully, I can’t say that I won’t ever start another one but but you know, kind of through those things, your your business acumen, those things carry over, but if you’re going to go into a different space, even within technology, right, and it’s really different from another SaaS So just making sure that you get good advice way up front, really, really focused on finding finding the right advisor for you, that’s gonna save you a ton a ton of time, it’s gonna make the ride a lot more a lot better. And then again, as you continue to go from one venture to another, you’re able to carry forward a ton of value that you’ve been able to build from one company to the other. But, you know, again, the advisor may be different. So that’s, you know, having a cup of coffee with myself, I would say, Jonathan, go, go Go get the right advisor for this business before you actually want to start it. So…
Andy Halko 55:34
I love it. I mean, I think today’s conversation, you know, we this better than me, you and I getting to come together giving back. And you know, even the concept of of how important mentorship is, and hopefully some of the advice and ideas that we talked about today will help other folks. So I love and appreciate the conversation for our audience, how can they reach you? or How can they learn more about a Estatespace?
Jonathan Fishbeck 56:03
Yeah, so you can just go to a Estatespace.com you can visit any one of our social sites. So we’re where where you would expect to find us digitally. And then you can simply contact us and we’re happy to have a conversation. I think that’s one of the things that I’ll continue to make sure that we do as a company, which is not necessarily hiding behind a SAS veil of I can’t get ahold of the human being right, we want to have a relationship with all of our clients. Because for us, that’s the best part of having the company being able to do the business that we do. So yeah, you can just reach out to us, you know, either via email or by phone. But you know, we are always happy to have a conversation, meet new people and see how we can help.
Andy Halko 56:43
Very cool. Well, again, thank you so much for being part of today’s conversation and giving, you know, to our audience, and to me, and I wish you all the success and hopefully you’ll come back and talk to us as as the product continues to evolve.
Jonathan Fishbeck 57:01
Yeah, no, no, thank you for having us down. And I really appreciate your time here today. I’m happy to come back at a later date and do this again. Again, just super happy that we were able to connect and I look forward to, you know, a long term relationship with with yourself and your company.
Andy Halko 57:18
Thank you. Awesome, everybody will. Thanks for joining us today to hear about estate space. We’ve got a show next Wednesday. Join us then and I appreciate everybody’s time. Thanks, Jonathan.