SaaS Founder Interview with Matt McCarrick, CEO & Founder of SkillSetz
SkillSetz offers businesses of all sizes a one-stop shopping experience for all of their Project-based Services needs.
Tony Zayas 0:06
All right, welcome everyone! Welcome to the SaaS Founder Show where we have fascinating conversations with SaaS Founders who share their journeys and learnings along the way. I’m your co-host Tony Zayas and joined as always, we have Insivia’s founder Andy Halko.
Andy Halko 0:24
Hey Tony, how are you doing this morning?
Tony Zayas 0:27
I’m good. Thanks. How are you?
Andy Halko 0:28
I’m doing fantastic. Just hanging out. And, you know, watching some craziness with GameStop.
Tony Zayas 0:35
Yeah. So why did you get involved in that?
Andy Halko 0:39
Yeah, I put a million dollars in two weeks ago. So I’m about to retire at the end of this week.
Tony Zayas 0:44
Very cool. We’ll do your farewell episode then.
Andy Halko 0:48
Yeah, that’s exactly right.
Tony Zayas 0:51
Andy Halko 0:51
So who do we got today?
Tony Zayas 0:53
I’m excited about today. Today, we have Matt McCarrick. From SkillSetz the B2B services marketplace. So pretty cool concept. And let me bring Matt on so he can talk to him. So hey, Matt, how you doing?
Matt McCarrick 1:11
Hey, good morning, Tony. Hey, Andy,
Tony Zayas 1:12
Hey, much for taking the time to spend here with us. And we want to hear all about SkillSetz and dive into the story, whatnot. But given that, you know, you, your tagline is like ‘Everyone is great at something.’ I love that, right? It’s a great idea. And I totally believe it. So I will ask you just to start us off, what would you say is your superpower?
Matt McCarrick 1:38
Power, um, I, one of the things that I think I’m probably better at than others is the ability to kind of synthesize complex ideas and concepts to kind of broad audiences. I’ve developed that over 14 year career management consulting, mostly in the tech space, a lot of times having to take, like, really heavy into kind of conceptual ideas around technologies and platforms and kind of distilling them down into something that people can really relate to and understand.
Tony Zayas 2:15
That’s a powerful one, right? Anytime you can simplify something and make it understandable to others. super powerful. So very cool.
Andy Halko 2:24
Matt McCarrick 2:26
Yeah, you know, it is it’s funny, you know, a lot of the time. You know, when you’re building a company, you’re trying to, you know, you’re trying to build a community, or you’re trying to grow a customer base, right? You know, that relationship that you have with them, right? Is everything. So the better you are at nurturing and cultivating that community, of whether it’s customers or employees or, or whoever, right? The general public, right? Raising that brand awareness. (It’s) super important to be able to communicate, I can’t believe how many times I see, you know, people really in love with their startup, right, and they’re so down in the weeds, they don’t realize that the people they’re trying to tell their story to are not they’re not coming in. Yeah, they’re not spending the same time focusing on it They’re not spending the same time thinking about it. So that’s one of the biggest challenges for me is to face the pushback from that. And remember, not everyone’s nerding out about this the way I am.
Tony Zayas 3:28
So that’s great. That’s a great lead in so how would you from that simple perspective, How would you explain what SkillSetz is?
Matt McCarrick 3:39
Sure. So um, so here’s a simple way to think about it. So if you think about like the business world, right? Think about your home, right? All the bills you pay every month, right? Your mortgage, your shopping, your electric, right? Your equipment for your kids, all that stuff in the corporate world, all right? depending on the industry in, the industry, you’re in, that amount of money is somewhere between 10 to 20%, of top line revenue to me. So if you’re an insurance company, and you blew a billion dollars in revenue, your monthly expenses, just to keep the business running, not including payroll is probably about, you know, 10 million a month, 100 million a year. So when you see kind of the scale at which these larger companies purchase, right? So the concept is very similar that everyone can relate to, right, you’re managing your budget every month, you have money that comes in, and then you have money that goes out. So if you think about that, like in a broader context, within enterprises, companies that work largely in let’s call it like ‘knowledge work’, so maybe financials, insurance. Things where they’re not actually making something, right? That tends to be about 10% of their top line revenue is what their cost basis is. If you’re in manufacturing, like a CPG, you’re like a Kimberly Clark or Procter and Gamble, the numbers more like 20% of your revenue. So when you start thinking about companies that are in two 3-10 billion a year revenue range, they are spending a lot of money just to keep their business running. And when you’re spending that much money, right, there’s a lot of efficiencies that falters. And that’s kind of how this whole thing with SkillSetz started. So I come from that world where I spent the last 20 years studying how big businesses spend their money. And one of the things I learned along the way was this idea of a black hole. Because if you think about like. If you guys buy a laptop, a laptop, you know what it is there’s a skew their sizes, there’s dimensions, right? It’s a very specific thing. You have a skewed number, you have all the details you need around that item, right? And that’s, that’s Amazon’s secret sauce, right? business is different. You know, someone’s gonna come in whether they’re a consultant or a designer, or they’re doing development work, right? It’s fuzzy. It’s not a widget, right? Contracting, there’s times, there’s just time management. So it’s a different type of spend? And it’s a big, big problem for these big organizations. Because they can’t see it. They can’t look in and say, Hey, I’m buying 50,000 of East us, why am I not getting a better deal? I’m getting the same price as I would if I was buying 10. So it’s within that context to actually that SkillSetz was born. So, you know, on it started out as this concept of I hate to use this phrase, but it’s basically like if ‘Amazon and LinkedIn had to be.’
Tony Zayas 6:52
Matt McCarrick 6:53
Okay. So you have Amazon, which is this marketplace, super disciplined about their content and their structure, right? They’ve got skews, they’ve got the supply chain legs, right? And they’re growing like crazy. Why? Because they’ve made it incredibly easy for people to find exactly what they need. They’ve got really good at understanding what people want, where they’re coming from, right? So all those things have right. Now you have LinkedIn, which is basically, if you think about it, a wonderful marketplace, of the most talented workforce ever known to civilization. And you have all this information about these people putting work history, who their relationships are, a lot of the things that they’ve done throughout their career. Right there. But, and I know they’re trying to do this, but you’re not… LinkedIn is not commercializing right? those skill sets outside of hiring, right? So there’s a whole world out there where they’re hiring people. But make no mistake about it. Those top 2000 companies in the United States, every year spend over a trillion dollars on business services. Not legal, not accounting, trillion dollars: management, consulting, engineering, IT. That’s a lot of money going out the door. And it’s in it’s a really big black hole. So that’s really kind of conceptually, that was kind of the origin of SkillSetz. This concept of having this visualization and taxonomy of talent and capabilities broken down by business function, combined with the search and usability of the Amazon experience. I can come in, I can search, I can find localized experience. That’s really what we’re trying to accomplish with SkillSetz. And back to the tagline. You know, it’s true, everybody’s great at something, right? And, you know, people who, who basically have careers or professions, where they’re doing things that kind of line up with their skill set, right? With what they’re great at, they’re invariably more successful and happier than those who don’t. Right? And, you know, and we’ll probably get to this in a minute, right, with the big COVID pivot, but all of this thinking and strategizing that we were doing right with, with the folks who’ve helped me build this, this was all pre-COVID. So we’re thinking to ourselves, there’s like a 10 year timeline on this, where remote collaboration and the acceptibility or the trust necessary right, to commit to a fully remote working relationship right with your employees, your customers? We were thinking that was like on a 10 year timeline. So we were taking our sweet time building this thing slow playing the long game and then COVID hit and then, right? The rules of engagement. And when we were 18 months into the built, when it hit, and it email kind of caused us to rethink our roadmap, it made us do some changes, but it really kind of pulled forward this idea of, Okay, let’s not forget how many unemployed talented professionals we have in this country right now who are completely capable but for, you know, reasons beyond their control, right? We just see utter devastation right across the workforce. And it kind of added a purpose and a meaning to what we were doing and went from like. ‘This is a really cool problem to solve, where we could probably make some really good money’ to ‘Holy smokes, like, I need to do this’. You know what I mean? Like I need to, now we have meaning. And that everything is great is something still it makes, so we’re stuck with it. And we like almost tripled our investment in our dev team and our roadmap and some of our UX stuff. And we really kind of dialed it up the past 12 months, and we just went live, actually last week. So we just got our first few transactions going through. So it’s been a long journey and a lot of fun. But that’s kind of the history and the thinking that went to the original idea, and then kind of how it played out.
Andy Halko 11:28
Yeah, very cool. Dig into that a little bit more. So when you would, did you have the idea while you were in another position, and then started building it out? Or…
Matt McCarrick 11:39
Andy Halko 11:40
You know, what did it really look like in that time period from like, the idea to starting to find people to build the platform?
Matt McCarrick 11:49
Yeah. Interesting. Good question. So I originally worked for a company called BuyerQuest. So a buddy of mine was the CEO, was telling you guys before the call. So at a time when I needed to not go back on the road as a consultant, again, I went to work for a buddy of mine who was starting up a software company. And it ended up becoming a wildly successful enterprise. And it was there that I learned how to do a lot of these really complex enterprise integration. So I was overseeing these implementations, you know, of billions a year and spent for customers, right, we go in, we set up an enterprise system, whole change management program, implementation, get their employees up and running, get it integrated with their SAP, Oracle, right? Doing all of that work. It was during that. I’m watching the services spend and the problems that it’s causing for my customers. That’s when I started kind of getting it in my mind that there was an opportunity there. But I didn’t really start to think about it, I went back out of my own to go back to consulting. And I was, it started out as kind of like a really expensive hobby, that like got out of control. Like it started out with. I have some buddies who were developers, I was like, let’s take some code. Let’s spin up an instance, let’s just play around, let’s look at some templates. So we started that, basically. And that was, and I knew I have a full time job, and I’m doing other stuff. So this is like nights and weekends, I have a consulting business full time, that is where I make my money. And then I take my net profits from the consulting business, and that funds the software business. So, um, and then I have a whole team of people helping me with software business, you know, so I was kind of doing that. And so then it was like, it started there. And then it was like late 2019 when we started doing, we have some unique things we do with respect to like a two side, it’s a two-sided marketplace. So it’s actually both sides can sell on board. It’s a little different than Amazon’s a little more restrictive. But anyway, it was in that phase that we were late 2019, that we were testing out the dual-sidedness of our marketplace, and we had settled on our approach. And it was like right after that, where I made the commitment that Okay, I’m going to spend the next 12 months and we sat down and laid out, you know, a 12 month roadmap. And then 45 days later, COVID hit the US. So, went back and decided to reach much bigger, um, it kind of changed. It changed kind of how I thought about accessibility and interoperability with our platform, given what I knew what was very clear, we all knew right in February, we’re never going back to the way it was.
Andy Halko 14:45
Matt McCarrick 14:46
Anyone who’s in tech knew that. Right? So at that point was when we made our change. And then so like February, March, but it was really it was in that early phases. It was like we really spun up like a lot. lightsail instance in AWS. You know, one thing for founders, you know, this is about it’s not talking to you makes me think about it. So I don’t know these guys a Product Hunt, you know, these Product Hunt guys? Yeah. So one of the things I did was I did their founder club thing. And have you guys seen that?
Andy Halko 15:21
Matt McCarrick 15:23
Yeah, I don’t know what the catch is. I haven’t caught I haven’t found the catch yet. But basically, I basically paid $700 subscription to this founders club thing. And you literally I got like, a $50,000 processing credit with stripe. I got like $5,000 AWS credit on my cloud. I got like a $7,000 credit on HubSpot. I got like a… I don’t know what the catch is yet. All I know is that you know, so like I say the founders is, if you’re in the tech game, and you’re trying to do stuff, and you’re testing you, like, drop the 700 bucks, and get yourself that little subscription right there. Unless something I don’t know, right? Like it was incredible deal. An incredible deal. And and you basically it was real easy to take a code, I put it into my AWS account, and boom, my next six months is covered. And when you’re starting a business, now that’s money, all that money I just told you about that I’m saving is now going somewhere else.
Andy Halko 16:32
Matt McCarrick 16:32
And I’m getting more, I’m stretching, right? I’m stretching my capital and extending my run, so.
Andy Halko 16:40
So you’re bootstrapping this? Have you thought about going after capital? Or is the plan to continue to bootstrap yourself?
Matt McCarrick 16:48
Yeah. So I go back and forth about this. So there’s a couple of things here. So philosophically, I’m one of these people that believes that like, raising money is not a business model. And I think there are far too many businesses out there today, or startups out there, where they think the game is raising money. And so I’ve Oh, and I’ve listened, I was CEO of a company that raised two rounds, a and b. So I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I’m not saying it’s not something that’s valuable. But I think for early stage startups, okay, don’t be chasing money. Get your business model, right. Get your cost basis, right. Like for me, man, this is probably because I come from the procurement world, but I’ve got this thing so lean, that I could fund this business myself without like, you know, but it took time and thought and effort to do it that way. I could have very easily fallen in love with, hey, I’m going to do this, and I’m going to do that and the money will be there. Or, you know, I’m going to jump in here and pay myself. So now I’m burning my own runway on this business, right? I advise founders to stay away from that. I, you know, get your business model, get your customer acquisition costs, get your baseline metrics done first, you’re much, every time. Every minute you spend pitching up an investor that shoots you down, you’re never getting that back. every minute, every minute you spend building your business is value and equity you are building in your business. So I’m like, a militant when it comes to that. Now, with all of that said, I do think like the rise of the, the safe note, I think, certainly what’s happening now in the post pandemic world with respect to you know, valuations, investment capital coming into the space, especially in the b2b space, HCM, human capital management related stuff, right? Those are all very, very, you know, hot areas right now. So, um, my preference is… to continue to grow this organically. And I’ve been fortunate enough with my other business that I’ve been able to do both, I’ve been able to fund this business…
Andy Halko 19:33
Looks like we got a freeze. Yeah, I think and I was gonna, you know, talk with Matt a little bit about, you know, as he’s coming back, but as we’ve talked to a lot of founders, that question of bootstrapping, versus raising capital. Raising capital, it’s pretty much a full time job. You know, so, I mean, that’s one of the challenges.
Tony Zayas 19:59
Yeah, there’s such a trade off, you know, the different paths, there’s certainly the pros and cons of both sides. Alright, looks like Matt is back.
Matt McCarrick 20:10
My children have the nerve to be… video chatting with their teachers. I apologize for that.
Andy Halko 20:19
How dare they?
Matt McCarrick 20:20
How dare they, but I’m, go ahead, what were you gonna say?
Andy Halko 20:23
Well, we were just talking about as you popped off, we, you know, we’ve talked to a lot of founders and how, you know, raising capital can be a full time job. I agree with you, you have to make that decision of when is the right time. Because you don’t want to unnecessarily go and raise capital when you have no value, because then you’re just gonna get completely taken at the end of the day. So it’s definitely an interesting, you know, equation of deciding what’s right. Bootstrapping versus. and when you go do it.
Matt McCarrick 20:56
Yeah. And I think that’s a very good point. And I think like, for me, part of it is like the alignment, right? Of the strategy, because if you are locked in, right? Frankly, the more developed your business is, the more leverage you’re going to have, right? With outside investors 100%. And so there’s that piece, and then the other pieces. Again, I keep coming back to the safe note, because I think what the safe note accomplishes. And this is something that wasn’t really… I mean, I think was Y Combinator introduced them. But this was something that was not commonplace, even three, four years ago, to my knowledge, is this set up, raise money, without, you know, getting caught up in the wrong, you know, everyone’s swagging what valuations are, what equity is, and what ends up happening is the safe note is a cool way to protect both sides. So if you know, so. That’s a kind of a long winded way of saying, I’m not really… my first instinct is not to raise money, simply because I’m a balance sheet guy. Um, but given the environment safe notes, with the right investors, given that they protect both sides, I would probably take a look at it, and it’s not off the table for me… We’re probably not we’re probably too early for an institutional round. Yeah. So and that’s, you know, and we know that. So we’re, we’re operating accordingly.
Tony Zayas 22:32
Circling back, Matt, you mentioned you have, you know, some, you know, a team of people that are building this out. Tell us more about, you know, that team?
Matt McCarrick 22:42
Tony Zayas 22:44
How do you keep that team, you know, on the right path? And,
Matt McCarrick 22:49
Yeah, so we live in slack. We, we take advantage of atomic. So, my developers I’ve known for more than 10 years now. Wow. So they’ve helped me. So we have like long-standing relationships. And, like, we work together inside massive enterprises, with all kinds of hairy, homegrown systems. So we really kind of been battle tested together. So there’s like a trust factor. There’s a lot of unspoken communication that we do. And it’s incredibly efficient. So I have a platform, lead, who advises me on all things platform, got a product lead, developers, QA, have a design lead. I call her Our Lady of the Font. And she’s responsible for all design across the whole company. We have UX people. And then we have some other folks helping us now we’re starting to ramp up our 2021 campaign. So we’re beginning outreach later, q1. So we kick off our big push into enterprise.
Andy Halko 24:02
So what have you found, you know, what is either been some of the challenges, or, you know, insights from this product creation process, going through ideating? what its gonna be and planning it out, and then getting someone to build it and then bring it to life? What have you seen in that process for yourself?
Matt McCarrick 24:25
Yeah, that’s another good one. So I will tell you the biggest thing, the biggest thing I learned in the last two and a half years, is how much functionality is like, It has never been easier to build a company from scratch than it is today. And the progression of some of these platform providers, and like, I’ll tell you right now, I’m not building a payment system. Okay, when I just I just have a developer drop some code from stripe. And I don’t have to worry about PCI compliance. I don’t have to worry about money laundering, I don’t have to worry about identity, I don’t have to worry about, you know what I mean? So there’s a lot of that. You know, you look at some of these platforms now. And some of the capabilities and the models, that the pricing, you can see these guys are all playing a long game. So I think it’s actually, it’s something that probably corporate executives are not doing enough of, you know, they tend to be very homegrown, and you know, security, blah, blah. And I hadn’t noticed it as much right when I was behind the firewall with these guys, because you didn’t really look at systems like that you were looking at more like the SAPs, the Oracle’s right? Watch and stuff like that. But I’ve been just so that, to me, has been like a massive thing. The collaboration tools. Envision, Miro and Trigma. We’re using obviously, JIRA cloud…Is so much. Yeah, that you can do and with slack. Like, we’re all it’s like, it’s like an ongoing conversation that we’re always having with everyone. So, five developers,
Andy Halko 26:23
Sometimes bad, right?
Matt McCarrick 26:25
Correct. But I’m speaking from like, a collaborative standpoint. Yep. I feel very close to that. I haven’t seen my any my developers, probably 18 months. I’ve seen anyone since COVID. Right? I’ve been, I’ve been locked in my basement, as you can see, for a year now. Um, but I feel very close to them, intellectually. I’m talking to them every day. We’re collaborating. So all those things are available to everybody.
Andy Halko 26:55
Jessica Willis 26:56
You know, if you don’t have like,
Andy Halko 26:58
what about on the challenge side? Have you run into any, like, issues that have been you’ve had to overcome or figure out?
Jessica Willis 27:07
Yeah, so um, look, there’s no substitute for trial and error, right? Like, I always tell my people, listen, we are gonna make mistakes. Right? The trick is just don’t make the same one twice. Right? Everyone makes mistakes, just don’t make the same one twice. Made a ton of mistakes early on. I made some mistakes early on. With personas that I had the look back that right, we should be building a software company, you get your personas wrong, you get yourself jammed up. Right?
Andy Halko 27:36
Matt McCarrick 27:36
So lost a few months on that had to back those out. Spent way more money with lawyers on stuff that ended up not getting done. I still have to pay the lawyers.
Andy Halko 27:51
Matt McCarrick 27:52
Right? I’m just about writing contracts, right. So there’s like, there’s a lot of things that, you know, in retrospect, I should have said, Hold on. Why am I committing to this either financially or intellectually, right now, at this stage in my journey, when I should be? Right, it’s a theme for me like it’s a focus is that is, is kind of to me where it’s at right focus and execution. Because all the other pieces are going to be there. If you have a solid strategy, and you have what you think is a winning business model. You know, today, you do that, you know, Legal Zoom, you’re up and running, right? In a couple hours, right? Your tax ID, your QuickBooks, boo, boo, boo, boo, boom, and you’re up and running.
Andy Halko 28:34
Well, I’ve always found it funny over the last couple years that, you know, they used to say the first two people that you talk to is an accountant and a lawyer. And and my opinion on it. And it has been this way for a long time, especially in the software space, is you talk to a development team, product person, and you talk to a marketing person to figure out how you’re going to find customers. Those should come before the accountant and the lawyer Yeah, not as important as those folks can be. If you don’t know what you’re going to deliver that has value and you don’t know how to put it in front of the right people. What’s it matter?
Matt McCarrick 29:09
That’s an…Andy, that’s what I was, that’s what I was talking about, like, why am I spending money on these lawyers putting together a cap table five and when I haven’t done anything yet? Right. So that’s kind of, you know, I’m with you 1,000% on that, and I, you know, I’m blessed with a lawyer and CFO advisor, who are both like super talented, they plug in with our people, but they’re very, they’re not they’re, they’re, they’re in a support role. Right. And what they’re helping us like, with the the compliance stuff, they’re helping us with like to like. Their help, they’re being productive. They’re not standing in the way of anything that myself, the developers and the CX people are trying to do.
Tony Zayas 29:58
So Matt, to talk About the growth side of things, what has been the strategy to this point? And and what’s, you know, what’s the column? Are you having shifts?
Matt McCarrick 30:08
Tony Zayas 30:09
Jessica Willis 30:11
Yeah, so. Really 2020 was, take advantage of, I hate to say this way, but like, take advantage of these crazy times when no one’s paying attention, right? And just quietly, finished banging this thing out and get it ready for 2021. So as part of that, right, reached out to a lot of the people in my procurement network, you go to SkillSets, right now, I know every single person that’s up there. I’ve worked with these people, some of them were my customers. There’s people in there right now, you know, who managed multibillion dollar P&L, and they used to smack me around all the time when I was a consultant working for them. But they’re in there now.
So what I wanted to do was get like a core group of really talented professionals that really kind of set the tone for the marketplace, for lack of a better phrase, right? We’re not Fiverr, right? You’re not coming here, to get a manual written for five bucks, right? This is experienced, curated professionals. And it’s project based work.
So you know, there that’s kind of like a independent, lukewarm buyers and providers, right? A buyer is actually the one buying the service. And then there’s your provider, which is going to be either an independent worker, someone on a 1099. Sould be a husband and wife consulting team. Could be an SMB consulting shop, all the way up to not that we’re gonna go chasing them, but you know, the KPMG is, and those guys that are well, but that’s not typically how they find their business. But here’s the thing. There’s a, I have to look at the numbers, but there’s like half a million professional services firms in the US, right?
And if you back out the top 50 in each vertical, so you back out like the McKinsey’s and the KPMG and the Boston Consulting Group, you’re, you’re still looking at a half a million firms competing for roughly 700 billion a year and services work every year. So I’ve got my kind of core high quality team of rockstars, to start. I expect that this smaller group of providers will grow over time.
What I’m really looking at now in Q1 is we’re going after the buy side. So there is an outbound campaign designed to attract the SMB buyers. So small business, you know, you’re a small business firm, right? Maybe you can’t afford, you know, you can’t afford to hire someone, but you’ve got a problem. You know, in today’s day and age, right? I can’t promise that someone’s gonna, I can’t afford someone for 12 months.
But I need help right now to solve a specific business problem. Bang, we’re going after those folks. Right? On one side. And then on the other side is the enterprise buyers.
Now, I spent…to my earlier point, I come from the procurement world. So the people I’ve worked for, fthe last 20 years are the ones in charge of spending that $1 trillion here. So I’ll go back at my network. And I’m going to see, to be honest, I shouldn’t say this in a podcast, but I’m thinking about just giving the software away to a couple of big, big buddies of mine or not, I say buddies, I mean, customers, people, CEOs that I worked for in the past, right, just to get my fly wheels.
Andy Halko 33:32
Matt McCarrick 33:33
Andy Halko 33:34
Get feedback on what you’re putting together.
Matt McCarrick 33:36
Correct. So it was really about like, software in place, onboarding, right? And a high quality team of professional service providers. And now here’s where now we’re going to go start showing these people, these people and the platform off to the buyers.
Andy Halko 33:55
You know, I found it interesting, you you kind of hesitated to say take advantage of, you know, what’s been going on and and there’s no you know, lack of reality of the seriousness of the pandemic. But I think the the interesting thing to pull out of it is that, you know, opportunity does come from these moments. And it’s, you know, you can either be a company like Apple that creates a disruption with an iPhone, or you can leverage a disruption that exists something like COVID-19 and there’s been tons of people that have turned that into new businesses and careers. And so, you know, it’s, it’s interesting that you, you know, to me that you hesitate, but I think for other founders out there, there is something in the fact of looking for disruptions in the world and trying to leverage those. Because there are opportunities that come out of all of those types of things.
Matt McCarrick 34:49
No, that’s, that’s 100% true. And I’m glad you said that. I did hesitate. I lost people, in the crisis back in New York, right? So it’s it’s tragic, right? And so that’s where I hesitated there, but to but you’re right. Like, when it hit I was like… I was, like I said to my wife, like, I feel terrible I feel terrible saying this. But this is so good for what we were doing like. And it was a bit of a struggle did a little bit to be honest with it. But But what happened was when I, and that’s when I settled, like, everyone is great at something is what set me free. Because it kind of helps me and that that didn’t happen.
It used to be called Sligo this, this company, because that’s sort of town where my dad was born in Ireland, many county many, many moons ago. And my developers were like, ‘Sligo? What does that mean?’ So if I had a problem, my developers, I knew I was going to have a market problem. And that’s when I ended up land.
So towards the end of 2019, was when I landed on this whole SkillSetz idea. And then when COVID hit, that’s when I came up with the punch line. Because to me, it was like, okay, because I was thinking like, all these people who are getting blown. I mean, we all know about the restaurant workers in the hospitality, we know they’re getting… buried. But there’s also a lot of white collar workers who have got blown out also. And I’ve always been someone in the consulting world, I’ve always been someone who has had to, you know you get brought into a company, right?
You don’t get to pick your customers, you don’t get to pick your stakeholders. You got to plug in with their teams, you got to get along with them, right? You’ve got to you’ve got to vibe with them. So I learned early on to like, look for what people are really good at. And then play to their strengths, like relate with them in a way that plays to their strengths. And for me as a consultant that always works. Because when people feel like they’re playing to their strengths, they feel good about themselves. And if you’re making them feel good about themselves, they feel good about you. Right?
So that was so and I think. I started thinking about that within the context of like, all these people that have these skill sets, how do we like just get rid of all the noise? And just, and that’s where it all came from? So I do feel better now. But you’re 100% right. I can tell you, if it wasn’t COVID I would not have spent the money I spent months on this. And we probably wouldn’t be nearly as far along as we are.
Tony Zayas 37:30
When, when, and at what point last year, did you see what was coming. Was probably earlier on than for a while but given what you know.
Matt McCarrick 37:41
Yeah, when I, um… I think for me, so at the time, I was working at a I can’t say the name of the company, but I was at a publicly trading company, doing an NDA for them. And, and the end of February, when I saw what happened to them internally, not like and they’re great now. But what I saw what they had to do, the pivot that these guys had to make in late February and early March. That’s when I was like, life is never gonna be the same,
Andy Halko 38:23
Matt McCarrick 38:24
And I just happened to be in the right place to see that. And to give me that and then I was like, and then it like it started there. And then it filtered down to okay. Even me as a consultant, right? With my other business, right? How do I go out and- like I have a network, right? But like your average Joe that has like a consultant? How do you go out and buy someone dinner now? and generate new business?
How do you how do you go to a networking show and shake hands? I’m like, That, to me was when it all was like Oh, boy. That’s when it all kind of came together. Right? How do all these people like? So? How many hundreds of thousands of consulting firms are out there right now? If not, you know more. Where what, what are they going to do? How are they going to get noticed on Google? Right? Like, what are they going to do? When the old days was, I’m going to this conference. And I’m going to go to every booth and I’m going to shake everyone’s hand and I do that for 100 people, I’ll get 10 meetings and I’ll attend meetings.
I get two gigs. And the next day we’ll do it again. Right? That’s what a lot. A lot of people have worked like that over the years and especially SMB consulting firms. So to me, that’s when, you know, it was kind of like when I saw what happened to my clients, and then just started extrapolating that out.
So I would say like by St. Patrick’s Day last year, I was like ‘Oh man’. That’s, because I know that, Because I know that we have basically rebooted our entire roadmap by the end of March. So it happened between COVID hit and the end of March, we knew massive pivot. And I were way over my skis investing too. Because I believed it so much.
Andy Halko 40:18
I’m kind of curious, you know, go to market. For a business like yours, I always find it interesting when there’s two audiences like two primary that your bit, you know, you have to build a community. And this is the challenge with I think some of these other businesses that are in a similar space, where you’ve got to bring in the consultants that are putting up their profiles, and then you’ve got to bring in businesses that are buying from them.
And I’ve found for other companies, that that can be a challenge, they, you know, really do well with one audience, but not the other, which then for that audience, they brought in the values not there, and you almost have to have both of them keep moving at the same pace, or there’s not going to be the value for either of them. And starting out can be hard, because you may have just one or the other. So I’m kind of curious, your go to market, especially from that side of having, you know, the two different parts.
Matt McCarrick 41:13
Yeah, another good question, you looking for a job? Now, the, so you’re right, so so I really think about my SMBs as really kind of buy and, buy and sell side are really kind of the same thing, right?
So it’s really just about making this awareness that there’s this combination where you can get these services in the same way you get that. Um, that’s going to be largely your run of the mill, you know, SEO, digital campaign, online advertising, your general what I would call ‘brand awareness place’, right.
And another kind of thing for founders, like, don’t go spending money on SEO shops, unless you’re going to, because I will tell you, Google will assign a project manager to you, if your spend and you don’t have to spend like a crazy amount for them to literally assign a trained person to your account to help you set it up, manage it and run it for you, right? So I’m doing some of that started doing that seeing really good results early on. So I’m going to be boosting that up a little bit till I’d be paying a 20-30% Vig on top of what I’m spending with Google. If I brought in an SEO shop. I know this because I’m a procurement guy, from my time negotiating with these people, so I get it. So like that’s one thing.
So we’re pursuing like an S. A vanilla SEO, digital campaign strategy. Our platforms integrated with HubSpot. We have all our workflows tied off together. So data is flowing back and forth. We have workflow on nurturing campaigns. So did all of that work ahead of time before launch, did all the pipes made all the connections tested it out. So when they come they onboard, we’re nurturing them through. And then we’re continuing to do the awareness.
Enterprise…Enterprise, to me is his I don’t want to say I’m not focusing on the SMBs but enterprise to me is my growth hack. Hmm. And I’m just gonna be straight with you guys. So if you look at like the Upwork to the world, and they’ve got Olance, and these guys are all out there. And a lot of what they’ve done is just they do this kind of project related work. But it’s very much this concept of like, staff org. Fill up, fill a seat, for x period of time and down. Whereas again, this comes back to my history with these procurement people, as I just know, that’s not how the services money is spent in the enterprise.
So my strategy for the enterprise guys is to highlight for them, all of the efficiencies, and the visibility. And the touchlessness that I bring, that SkillSetz is bringing to the SOW process.
So if you again, let’s look at like as an example, let’s look at a let’s look at a $5 billion company, pick your company, any company 5 billion. Chances are? They’re spending somewhere north of 75 million a year. Maybe more on professional services and consultants all over the place.
Marketing needs someone to help them with this. You know, finance needs someone to help them with this. Supply chain needs a team of guys to come in and help them rework or implement some system. Right. So next thing you know, and the problem with all the spend is is that there’s contracts and all these business units. You don’t know what’s in them.
You know, auditability legals always freaking out that you know all the right terms and conditions of the right protections. So those are all things I learned, working, I know these procurement guys drives them nuts. So my place to go to them now and say, hey, we can scratch this itch for you guys like, you can take this, and it’s a two sided marketplace. And you can basically bring all of that dark data that today is your services spend, we can help you bring that together into one place, and everyone’s self onboard.
So it’s not it’s not like an implementation thing. It’s not Yeah. Those days of like, massive, enterprise multi year 20, 30 $50 million projects? Those days are over, especially now.
Andy Halko 45:54
I was gonna ask, you kind of mentioned Upwork, and others. So how do you see the competitive landscape? I mean, there’s definitely a number of these platforms out there and other solutions. So have you and it sounds like you have an idea is that you’re going to add services? Or, or features that support, you know, these bigger enterprises, but how do you see that competitive landscape? And how have you thought about that in the process of developing your solution?
Matt McCarrick 46:22
Great. So yeah, I did, I did quite a bit actual research on the market. So studied Upwork, Fiverr, Toptal. MBO partners, all these guys, great companies. So I’m not here to bash anyone, I think everyone does different things. And a lot of it comes from like, where they come from. But I would say competitive landscape, the first observation I would make is, the penetration right now, in terms of TAM is, like miniscule. I mean, if you look at like the deal flow going through all the platforms combined, doesn’t even represent like two or 3% of the total addressable market right now. So very, very, very early stages on that. Um, the second part is, I think, you know, you call this out, and I think I happen to think it’s a differentiator we have is our build, right?
Our understanding of enterprise systems are I built this, we built this platform, specifically, from day one, to be able to interoperate at scale.
So we have rest API’s for Oracle, PeopleSoft Microsoft Dynamics. Because if I didn’t come from this world, right, professionally, before this, I’ve never would have thought to do that. I would have built a front end marketplace with a credit card thing and started there. And I said, Well, that’s nice. And maybe I can make a little money doing that. But that’s not a billion dollar platform, a billion billion dollar platform is a platform that can come in, and you can plug and play at the enterprise level.
So that’s what we spent most of our time building was a framework and an application model that allowed us to be able to do that simple front-end, shopping experience, but at the same time, be able to support that enterprise way.
Andy Halko 48:12
It’s pretty cool.
Tony Zayas 48:16
Matt from a standpoint of, you know, peers, advisors, it looks like you have a handful of advisors on your team. How do you lean on those people? It sounds like, you know, obviously, with what you’re bringing to market, you have a big network, yourself. You believe in networks and finding people who are experts in their area, how have you, you know, use the network that you have
Matt McCarrick 48:44
A lot of begging. So you’re obviously like, on the site, you know, I lay out a lot of like, my, the advisors and skill sets, Andre and n and all them. So they’re that crew, I lean on them. They’re kind of like my alter ego.
So I’m dropping, they’re there. They’re there for me, I love them. Like, you have no idea. And they’ve been so supportive of me. They totally taught me for two and a half years. I also have I’ve been using my network, and there are I don’t want to name them. But there are several people who are established, who have had quite a bit of experience. And I do a lot, I go to them a lot.
And one of the things I’ve learned in my career, his humility gets you a really long way with people. And I can tell you, I go to these people in my network, and I’m like, Listen, this is what I’m thinking, this is what I’m trying to do. Have I completely tried my fuse box, or does this make sense? And invariably, they will tell you, right and if you do it the right way. So I’ve been very, like the CEO of buyerquest. JACK Malloy, Dave bush overspend HQ Bob Solomon, founder of the BBB. networks everywhere I can rap Jean Zeno from Nvidia, I can rattle all these guys off. That’s the key thing founders should be doing. Because these guys have made mistakes already. Even the ones I made my own plenty, believe me, but they’ve also made them mistakes, right?
So like, I’m not like you cannot talk to enough smart people. And when you talk to them, you’re talking to them with humility, you’re not talking to them to sell them. At least that’s how I do it, right?
I’m not sitting there trying to beat them over the head until they say, yes, this idea is great. I put it in front of them and say, What do you think? Am I thinking about this the right way, and my look at it like, and what you’ll find is, is that most people are hardwired to want to help other people. Right? So what you’ll find is, if you take the right approach, people will die. So people have helped me so much pull this together, guided me with nothing in it other for themselves, other than to be kind to me. So I’m very grateful for that. And, and I lean on it a lot, a lot more than I would admit.
Andy Halko 51:14
Kinda on that tangent, I always, you know, think about with folks that we’re hiring or whatever it might be his skills and traits, you know, skills are more tangible things that you can do. You know, traits are intangible, how you are, honesty, you know, hard work. What do you think for a founder of a company? What are the skills and traits that you think are really important to have to be able to be…one, an entrepreneur start a business in general, and to probably be in the technology side of starting a business?
Matt McCarrick 51:48
Yeah, that’s a, that’s a loaded question. I would say, I would say that. I think the most. So the two most important things, I think a leader, any founder needs to have, right? Is integrity/trust. People understand that, okay? And people will follow that. But they know it intuitively whether you like, so. Integrity, and trust is a big thing, right and a commitment to communicate is the second thing.
Um, I find that… people like, again, it’s like people are, it goes back to this, like, everyone’s great at something, right? Everyone is great at something. And people, people naturally are wired to do the right thing. They want to do positive things, right? And they want to do constructive things. And, to me, the best thing I did to help me build this company, right, was to surround myself with people who were smarter than me, at their respective areas. And I treated them with the respect they deserve. And I was like, hey, I need help. I’m trying to figure out how to do this. I’m willing to pay you, I can’t pay that much.
But over time, you know, and, and I kept my word to them. And we kept over to each other. And like, by doing that, I really believe like, I’ve watched now we’re up to like, 40 people now heads, and I’m watching this kind of community start to grow.
And I see them kind of treating each other like that, then I know now, okay, now we’re onto something. I tell, I’ve told my teams this, for as long as I’ve led teams, now almost 20 years, I’ve always say the same thing to my teams, the greatest teams in life, and all walks of life, sports, business, whatever. They trust each other. But more importantly, they reward each other’s trust. It’s both things.
So trust each other, and reward each other’s trust. If you can set a culture like that. You’re going to be dangerous. And that’s what I’ve tried to do with SkillSetz. And I think, you know, no investment, no outside money. I’ll put this squad up against anybody. So it’s worked for me so far. Thank God.
Andy Halko 54:17
Tony Zayas 54:18
Very cool. Well, we got a few more minutes left here. Andy, you want to ask your question?
Andy Halko 54:24
Yeah. So I’ve got a question. And I have to say, I made the whole way through this interview without trying to emulate your accent. I’m impressed with myself because I usually would. But my, my final question that I’ve been asking all of our founders is if you could go back in time, and you can think of it either, you know, when you were first coming up with this idea or further back. But what advice… If you could go back in time and sit and have coffee with yourself? You’re sitting across the table, what advice would you give yourself about the future and what you’re doing and what to be thinking about.
Matt McCarrick 55:06
There’s no substitute for hard work. There’s no shortcuts, right? There’s no, there’s no, there’s no silver bullets.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking there are. It’s the worst thing you can do to yourself. Hard work, focus, execution. I would say that because I feel like I spent too much time early in my career, looking for all you know, and this is not my first startup, I flamed out probably three or four. Seriously, in a day, I still may flame out this one who knows?
But, you know, I in retrospect, I look back at those times, and more often than not, I contribute my flame out to focusing on the wrong thing. Not it’s not a it’s not a… It’s different for each person, right? Yeah. But I but the one thing I would say to my younger part, because I was so in love with the startup and I’m an entrepreneur, and I’m gonna raise money, I’m gonna be rich. And that’s, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s not constructive.
Andy Halko 56:16
Yeah. Yeah, it definitely changes. Yeah, you get older, I started this business at 22 years old. And you know, I’m 40 gonna be 41 soon. So I mean, it’s been interesting, that change in mindset and what you want and who you are, as well through the process.
Matt McCarrick 56:35
And the things you learn along the way, too. And you know, one thing I will tell you, and I will say this, the effective founders out there is this even before I founded SkillSetz. This is the 20 year guy, consulting management consulting, I can tell you, all of my biggest failures, every single one of them, that was like epic, and like crushed me. Okay. I can see now… How it benefited me.
Andy Halko 57:05
Matt McCarrick 57:05
How… I didn’t see it then. But now, years later, I’m like, Oh, yeah, it sucked. But I didn’t make that mistake again. Or it sucks but guess what happened next. And that wouldn’t have happened if that didn’t happened, right. So I would just say like, Don’t get too high. And don’t get too low. Keep it right in the middle. Things are never as great as you think they are. And they’re never as bad as you think they are.
Andy Halko 57:37
Yeah, I agree. It’s awesome. Thank you.
Tony Zayas 57:40
Yeah, really good stuff, Matt. Thank you so much for spending your time here with us. On everybody go check out skillsetz.com. It’s been a pleasure, Matt. We really appreciate it and look forward to seeing, you know, where 2021 takes you and we’ll be paying attention and following along.
Matt McCarrick 58:01
Tony Zayas 58:02
I hoped you enjoyed the interview here tonight. We’ll be back next week, so take care everybody!
Andy Halko 58:08
Thanks Matt. See ‘ya everybody.
Strategy & vision can propel an organization into scalable and predictable growth.
Download 'The Vision Gap' to understand the challenges a weak Vision can cause and the steps to begin building a smarter Vision to drive a business to success.