Monica Eaton-Cardone, Co-Founder & COO of Chargebacks911

Tony Zayas 0:05
Hey everybody, it’s Tony Zayas back with another episode of the SaaS founders show, where we have fascinating conversations with SaaS founders who share all about their experience, the growth, the process, the challenges and how they overcame them. And so, today I am joined by Monica Eaton-Cardone she is the owner and co founder and CEO of Chargebacks911. They’re the first global company dedicated to preventing chargeback fraud, eliminating cyber shoplifting and safeguarding the E-commerce experience for merchants, e-stores and consumers. So Monica, thank you so much for joining us here today. I will flip. So you’re the one that is being spotlighted here today. But thank you for joining really appreciate it. And I read the little descriptor, but tell us more about chargebacks nine, hold on.

Monica Eaton-Cardone 0:58
Sure. Well, first of all, great to be here. Thank you for having me, Tony. So Chargebacks911, it probably says it in our name, we do something with chargebacks. So we are a dispute and chargeback processing platform. And we provide SaaS solutions to financial institutions. So these are banks, whether they issue credit cards, or they process, you know, merchant accounts for for credit card processing from for merchants and retailers. We also support merchants and retailers. So essentially, we have a platform solution that provides technology that helps automate processes for disputes. And the dispute is really a disagreement between a buyer and a seller. And it’s very common with credit cards and debit cards. And it’s extremely common with the growth of E-commerce. And we we operate all over the world.

Tony Zayas 1:55
Yeah, so before we dive in and kind of unpack a lot of that, I would love to hear or you know, if you can explain for everyone. So everyone is clear on what a chargeback is I have experience with it because

Monica Eaton-Cardone 2:11
Sure, um, so a chargeback is what happens when, as a buyer. So as a consumer, let’s say I bought something from Amazon. And now I didn’t receive my product. Well I call Amazon. They tell me that they shipped it, but absolutely I did not receive it, then I have the right because I use my credit card. And this is a protection mechanism for every single card. So I can call my bank. So maybe I’m my credit card was with Capital One. So I call Capital One. And I tell Capital One, look, I haven’t received this product, it’s not fair, I tried to get my money back, and I haven’t gotten it. And then Capital One forces a refund on Amazon and file something called a chargeback. And Amazon now has the opportunity to either accept liability. So they could say, you know, actually we made a mistake, Monica is right, she should have gotten her money back. Or they can contest it or challenge it. So it’s one of those things, it’s like getting a speeding ticket, you’re guilty before proven innocent. And you know, maybe you didn’t deserve the tickets, maybe you did nothing wrong, you were just singled out. If you don’t defend your chargebacks, then you end up you know, facing penalties and additional fees. And any time that a chargeback is filed. Not only is the retailer charged for the amount of the transaction, but they’re also charged a penalty a fee, sometimes a fine. And there’s a reputation score that’s also monitored. So chargebacks are bad news, nobody wants them. So making sure that you kind of know how many chargebacks are coming in and you dispute or challenge the ones that are invalid, because interestingly, just as many customers file chargebacks on legitimate transactions. And there, they actually use this mechanism for cyber shoplifting.

Tony Zayas 4:15
So just so I’m clear, you guys are in the business of protecting the merchant stuff?

Monica Eaton-Cardone 4:23
So we are a neutral party. And we’re in the business of helping to automate what is a very manual and cumbersome process that takes like 90 days today. So our technology brings in all the data from both sides. And then we have a rule engine that helps automatically identify what the right decision is for a given chargeback case essentially who’s right and who’s wrong. Now we’re governed by rules that are that are put in place by the banks and also by the card brand hence. So Visa and MasterCard, for example.

Tony Zayas 5:03
Very cool. So really curious, like what, you know, we always like to talk about origin stories here. What was the incident or idea that led you to think about, you know, come up with this concept as you know, business idea. And then what made you take, make the decision to dive in and make this happen?

Monica Eaton-Cardone 5:26
So, so I got into the chargeback management space completely by accident, out of necessity, I was an online merchant. And, you know, my dream was to become the next eBay, I wanted to build this marketplace and, you know, use some of the technology background that I had in order to expand and offer, you know, more opportunities to small businesses to sell their products on my marketplace. And I was growing doing business internationally. And, and just as things, I failed my way to success in that business, lots of failures, by the way, totally a difficult business to get into. But just as I was ready to celebrate, then these, this horrible statistic started increasing called chargebacks. And as a retailer, you know, you set up a merchant processing account to process credit cards. And let’s face it, the only thing that you care about is how do I charge a customer? And how do I refund them, nobody tells you about this risk quota that you have to manage. And there could be chargebacks. And it was this whole taboo. And as it turns out, I ended up losing one merchant account after the next because of this problem called chargebacks. And at the time, this was in probably 2010. There was nothing like if I searched online for chargebacks, nothing came up. And I tried to I talk to the processors for my account, I talked to banks, I talked to risk managers. And you know, I was given advice that said, well, Monica, don’t talk to people about chargebacks. You don’t want chargebacks just don’t talk, it’s a taboo, you shouldn’t actually say the word chargebacks. And I’m like, Well, how do I fix the problem? Well, you need a refund more of your customers, customers are calling their banks because you’re not refunding. So this is how ignorant I was like, I literally created a policy with my call center. I said, anybody that calls, I don’t care, what they’re calling for, no customer is getting off the phone without a refund. That and of course, the only thing that that did is it reduced the amount of revenue that I made. Because lo and behold, I had no idea that the majority of chargebacks that I had, were actually from customers that never called me. So and as I started to unfold the source of all of these chargebacks, really because I was facing either I’m going to go bankrupt, because here’s what happens. When you get a lot of chargebacks, then you’re the processing bank. So let’s say my merchant processor that had underwritten my account for processing credit cards, will keep all of your money that you’ve made on revenue, and hold that in reserve. So as a result, you know, I would go from one day thinking, Okay, I’m doing great, we’ve made all of the sales to the next day, I didn’t receive a single deposit on any of the sales that I made. And as a result, I still have to ship all the products, I still have to you know, fulfill everything, I have to pay for all of those costs, and I have no cash flow. And it’s just instant. And then you have these problems start to fluctuate. And you know, it just becomes a very challenging nightmare to manage and extremely painful. So so we were at a point of really just closing shop because of this chargeback problem, because I had no prediction, I couldn’t scale. I didn’t know when I was gonna get chargebacks, all of a sudden it would just hit because a chargeback can be filed on a transaction that’s even a year old, depending on what product you sold. I didn’t know this. So I could make all of these sales today and tomorrow, fine. That sales that I had made 90 days ago, are now being debited from my account. And I’ve shipped the product to the customers. I’ve spent all the money and now I’ve lost everything. And so push came to shove. And I decided, you know, there’s only there’s one way out and I can’t quit. I’m way too committed. And I’m a die hard in this. I actually have to figure this out. So I did what what any business owner would do, and I just dug in and learned about the problem. And I read probably 2000 pages of the most horrific You know, legalese in the payment industry to learn all the nuances about chargebacks, so that I could speak the language in payments. And I realized like that was my first problem is I didn’t understand this language in payments, I didn’t understand the processes. I didn’t know how things worked behind the scenes. And I, and then I thought, You know what, now that I understand these chargebacks, I need to understand what’s happening with my customers. So I surveyed and I created this survey, and surveyed every single customer that had filed a chargeback, because where else to get the data, I couldn’t find it anywhere else. And lo and behold, I discovered that there were one over 100, I think, at the time, it was 106 different sources for chargebacks. And actually, I was my own worst enemy. In fact, I could solve the problems, I was getting chargebacks for things like, you know, a billing descriptor, or what was showing on the credit card receipt for my customers was our fax number. It wasn’t our phone number. And this is why my customers weren’t calling me they were calling their bank to get a refund because they returned the product to us, or, you know, they wanted a different shipment. And I had no idea. There were all sorts of problems that we could have easily corrected, you know, glitches that we had where, you know, our confirmation email was getting marked as a spam. And so customers weren’t receiving this. And we codified every single one of these so that we could use predictive modeling and technology to be able to identify exact risk with as much precision as possible so that I knew if I was entering into a new market, based on the zip code region based on the shipping delays, based on the demographic of the consumer and all these other variables. Now I’ve checked the box and all these things, I knew exactly what our chargeback rate is. We also found we were a victim of something called affiliate fraud. I didn’t know anything about this, this is fascinating, right? As a as a business owner, then I thought the smartest way that I can grow this business is if I just pay a commission to others to sell my products. What a great method of advertising. Little did I know, there is affiliate marketing online and with this type of marketing tactic, then business owners have to be very, very vigilant vigilant because you could have one of the sellers for your product could be promising things that you don’t even know about. So I discovered so many chargebacks were being filed. Because my customers had been told that they were getting $100 Visa gift card. If they bought my product, of course, I paid the seller, a commission for the sale thinking it was a legitimate customer. And then it turns into a chargeback. And it’s months later.

Tony Zayas 12:54
Those were the affiliates that were like, yes, it’s on us to buy. Okay.

Monica Eaton-Cardone 12:59
Correct. Yeah.

Tony Zayas 13:01
And then the chargeback was hitting you.

Monica Eaton-Cardone 13:03
Correct. I mean, it’s a whole plethora of, you know, different loopholes. And but the good news is, you know, there’s you can use technology with all the different data points that you have in order to be able to really understand what type of risk the propensity and so we developed this platform as a science. Well, as it turns out, last thing that I wanted to do is anything with chargebacks. This was just a necessary evil, like an Achilles heel to my business. And as I started to solve the problem, then something amazing happened. I started getting calls from the very banks that previously closed my merchant processing account, and they said, Hey, what are you doing? Like, you’re, you’re winning back all the revenue from your chargebacks? I said, Yeah, I figured out that I have rights as a merchant. And I can dispute these cases, I have customers that are stealing from me, finally, chargebacks to just get free merchandise. And I sold a lot of luxury goods. So this was a problem as well. They said, Oh, my gosh, we’ve never seen anything like this. Can you talk to one of my merchants, and I had no problem getting any merchant account, I developed relationships with all the banks that previously close my accounts. And and so I thought, you know, actually, I’ve now helped so many merchants and I’ve been passionate about this, but I still hate chargebacks I just want to be I just want to build the next eBay. But I started Chargebacks911 actually is a consulting company to start. I thought, I’m just going to have a company so that I can help other merchants and I have, you know, a legitimate organization. And I wrote all the articles developed the first programs and created Chargebacks911 thinking with a name like Chargebacks911 clearly. I never thought that I would do business with a bank is totally not conservative at all, but As a merchant, I thought what I want as I want to dial 911 and get rescued from chargeback, hell, I wish there was a company like that, because I would have called them. So it’s one of those crazy, crazy stories within a matter of weeks of, you know, putting this public, then I was contacted by the New York Times than the Wall Street Journal, and very, you know, quickly thereafter, just a flood of merchants. And I thought, you know, I think was his destiny. And now, I sold all the interests that I had in the merchant company, and decided, I’m going to build a chargeback platform, and we are going to solve this problem for the industry.

Tony Zayas 15:41
That was super, super interesting story, a lot to unpack, and I want to dive into some of those points, I’ll just share a personal story. I have ecommerce businesses going back about 15 years. So I am familiar with the process. And it’s interesting, because you say, it’s kind of taboo, when, from what I saw, no one did really talk about that it’s kind of a quiet subject matter. They know that you’re out there solving that is awesome, and really fantastic. I have learned from just a personal consumer perspective, that I will mention that word, if I’m calling in and disputing something. When I do that. Usually they take care of you. So right, that’s something and I’ve shared that with my wife was also named Monica. And she actually once said to me, You know what, I think I’m just, we saw something show up on our bill. And, you know, we did not recognize it, or whatever the case was, didn’t receive the product. And she said, I’m just gonna contact the bank and have them charge that back, I sort of wait, we can’t get you. You can’t just do that you got to contact the merchant first go through the process. But it was kind of funny. But super interesting that this is an area. That is you mentioned it, it touches everybody that has, you know, a merchant account and needs to sell online. And it is pretty quiet. So I, I would before you, I guess I would like to hear about how you went from and how long were you doing the consulting? I’m guessing you’re working with? You know.

Monica Eaton-Cardone 17:14
None, I did not do consulting. All I did is I set up the website with an idea that I was spending so much time on the phone, helping other merchants that were referred to me. And some of these were big box brands like they weren’t, you know, no name merchants. And so I literally did no consulting whatsoever. I just had this idea. And you know, it was one of those things like when you go through so much pain and firsthand experience, you want to just share that with the world because I was so angry and enraged about like, why didn’t I know that this is a problem? Why did why wasn’t there resources available to solve this. And so I just had, like, so much knowledge on this subject. And I just put everything online, and with the idea that I would start charging consulting, and now I have this presence. And it was like, there, there was a lot of interest. And then the next thing I realized, you know, I think that we can actually take this technology platform and scale it. And and it’s funny, you know, if I look back then the number one obstacle that I confronted in selling the solution is literally convincing merchants that they could do something about it. Like today, everyone knows about it. I think there’s like 30 Different companies in the chargeback space. But then that was my number one challenge because I would talk to a merchant, they say, You know what, no, you can’t there’s no solution for chargebacks. There’s no prediction for chargebacks. And I would have to say, I promise there is and our very first business model was I just charged them a percentage of the money that I was able to recover or prevent. And it was a no risk proposition. And I literally didn’t know marketing to merchants, it was just referrals from clients that I had that talk to other clients, and we grew organically.

Tony Zayas 19:21
Very cool. So how did you go about kind of laying the foundation for what the software would look like the platform and build that? Do you have a technical background? Or did you have to bring in a CTO or technical founder kind of what was that process? Like?

Monica Eaton-Cardone 19:40
Yeah, so So I built the program. I constructed the program to start myself and tied together a bunch of databases. It was homegrown with some HTML. And so that was like and we use that for probably a couple years and and then I hired some developers obviously I had, I had a team that managed websites. But, you know, to when you build software, it’s a totally different, it’s a different animal, right. And the user is very different. So it’s it’s different if you’re dealing with businesses versus B2C. So, but yes, to answer your question, I had had a background in technology I previously had was involved in building VoIP software in the early 2000s. And you know, one thing, I think when you get into technology, you just have that bug. And you think outside of the box, about, you know, what problem you have to solve. And it’s really about trying to reorganize systems and figure out ways to repurpose technology solutions. And so interestingly, so the chargeback platform, the original vision was actually based on the the ACD, or the automated call distribution software that I had in the past, because I thought this what is needed for chargebacks is intelligent routing. And it’s, it’s a similar application with a different use case.

Tony Zayas 21:19
Interesting. And so by similar routing, you mean, depending on what stage of the process things are kind of what you

Monica Eaton-Cardone 21:28
Right! Right. Like you’re, you’re really just handling random case data, and you have to qualify all of those different attributes and make a decision only, you know, in the in the VoIP world, then you’re making decisions in real time. With chargebacks. It’s more of a latent process. And the task is you need to gather a lot more data, but it’s still process driven. And, you know, you can use machine learning. And there’s, there’s, there’s a lot of cool tech that can be deployed to help create better decisions, faster outcomes, and then with chargeback data. So if you think about it, I used to use an analogy, it sounds awful, but chargebacks are like garbage, right? I mean, it’s like you find out everything about the company, just like you would if you went through someone’s trash, you know, how their QA department is, you know how their shipping is because you’re going to get chargebacks on anything that you do wrong. So it’s really that that it has tremendous BI and intelligence to a merchant, providing that they know how to, to digest that information and use utilize it. But also just like garbage, there’s a certain amount that can be recycled, and you can get money from. So you need to know the value that that each of those, I guess, each of those data points bring, and use that to help improve your business processes, and then defend cases where, you know, it was filed against a transaction that was totally valid.

Super interesting. So what does the team look like today?

So today, we have just under 400 employees worldwide, we have our headquarters for North America is in Tampa. That’s where we started. And then we have our international headquarters in London. We have a location in Singapore and two locations in India.,

Tony Zayas 23:34
Wow, very impressive. And how, you know, this is a question that I love asking and hearing. But as the founder, you know, how has your role shifted and changed from imagining early on it was a team of one, right? To this, like really large, nice size to make 400 international presence? What is that? What were the what was the evolutionary steps of kind of your involvement? And what do you spend most of your time doing today?

Monica Eaton-Cardone 24:06
Sure. Um, so I think just like any business owner, right, scaling is your number one challenge and once you get to a certain point. So, you know, to start, of course, I did every job, I created every process, and I wore every hat just like any any founder led business, like this is the way that you start. And, you know, fortunately, I was able to, to recruit amazing individuals, I mean, just amazing people. That many of them are still with us today. And this has been a decade now. As we’ve grown, you know, I think it has just become divide and conquer. And you know, funny enough, so I’ve always hired very competent assistants, executive assistants that were really much more than an executive assistant kind of like my right hand on all these different areas. And so far, every single one of them has become a department manager, because they have so much education, and they learned so much. And I think as you grow, then you just end up dividing and conquering. And, you know, when you’re smaller than you don’t look for you, no, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t necessarily look for people that had amazing leadership ability, I wanted people that had great heart, and they could catch on quickly, and they were 100% committed, and this job was their life, our passions aligned, that was the most important. And then as you grow and get larger and larger, we’re now you know, we’re doing business in, you know, different, different regions and more international, then you have to, I think, then you need to start to look at bringing in more external talent, it’s, it’s more difficult to just promote from within, because you need to, you know, broaden your horizons, and you want that external feedback, you want some of the traditional corporate influence, it’s great to have a startup mentality, and you don’t want to lose that culture. You know, I used to have my hands in every single department. But as we’ve grown, I still have a lot of a lot of interest and a lot of a lot of input in product development. But my role has changed more to, you know, handling our larger strategic relationships, working more on the strategy side of things I’m handling, I don’t handle as many escalations because I have, you know, more bench to, to handle that. And, and it’s been, it’s been a very exciting, very, super exciting journey. But, you know, making sure, and I would also say, No, I think as, as an owner, as a founder, and even as a leader, you know, my, my number one job is actually making sure that, that I’m, that as an organization, first we’re able to maintain our culture, we’re able to, you know, maintain a very solid strategy, but also making sure that, that every that every person, we’re really we have them matched, we have their skill set, matched with a role where they can contribute the most with the least amount of effort. And for me, I’ve learned, you know, establishing a culture that creates owner mentality has been substantial for us, you know, I can only take the organization so far, that the organization has to drive itself. And in many ways, you know, it’s the team that actually motivates me to get to that next level. And oftentimes, I’m chasing behind, trying to keep up because I have such a passionate team. But I think, you know, you have to keep things in perspective. as much of a control freak, as probably every single entrepreneurs, I have the same challenges, I want to get involved in so many different facets, but you need to you need to let people grow on their own. And, and they will surprise you, I’ve been incredibly surprised by the ingenuity and brilliance of have, you know, people that that have have grown in this organization, and even those that we’ve recruited from external.

Tony Zayas 28:28
What is it like, um, I want to dive into some of this stuff as far as growth and team expansion and all that, but what is it like, as you grow, and in identifying those people that are right fit to kind of own and lead different aspects of the business? And you being the founder, who was involved early on and kind of touching every aspect? And kind of owning that every aspect? How do you How did you get to the point where you were able to hand off and let people be, you know, run someone autonomously? And make that part of the business, you know, their own to really own that piece and lead it?

Monica Eaton-Cardone 29:11
So, great question.

Tony Zayas 29:13
I think that’s a big challenge for a lot of founders is letting go and allowing others to, you know, take the reins in certain aspects where they are the strong fit.

Monica Eaton-Cardone 29:23
Yeah, yeah. No, I, I totally agree. Um, so I think, you know, traditional and then I am not a fan of traditional and probably a nonconformist. But if you, you know, I always looked at, I am not a huge fan of hierarchy, either. So, if I and I went through some challenges, you know, early on in thinking, Okay, well, actually, I need to change the structure of our organization. I want to be more Wall Street. I want to be more like a bank. But you know what, I don’t want to be more like a bank. I’m actually a technology company and we are nothing like a bank. We are agile, we are nimble, I have people that are passionate people that argue that but they have owner mentality. And this job is more than just a paycheck. That’s what actually what makes us better. And so you know, getting the confidence to realize your your culture, I think Peter Drucker had said, culture eats strategy for breakfast. So, I mean, it is super important. And it’s very easy to fall into a trap of thinking, Oh, the grass is greener. And I need to, you know, agree with this very rigid hierarchy structure. So what we have done in our organization, we have a whole archi type of system. So imagine, it’s like a Venn diagram. And we encourage more self management. So it’s role based management, as opposed to higher traditional hierarchies. We’re not huge on titles, we’re huge on roles. And what that allows an individual to do is to really be able to dig in and add value where they’re most passionate, which let’s face it, if someone’s doing something that they love, and they enjoy, you’re going to get more bang for your buck, they’re going to be happier, everybody’s going to be happier, and they’re actually going to do a better job. And, and everybody wins as a result. Now with whole Archi type of system, with this type of Venn diagram, where you have, you know, concentric circles, and they and they interact with different departments, then I have found a much more successful management structure, because it’s peer base management as well, you know, where there’s an intersection, then it’s not just one person that is managing, you know, these 20 people, they have a direct report, it’s actually that person is interacting with others, and there’s a lot more KPIs, there’s unified statistics, there’s a lot more collaboration. And it’s, you know, the whole organization kind of moving as a unified team, as opposed to, you know, extremely siloed components that aren’t looking out for each other, they’re just working as an independent company. And these are some of the symptoms that that I’ve seen, you know, as we’ve, we’ve toured with different types of structures. For us, what has been most effective is to maintain that culture, and that, that type of structure, where there interlaced, and so I don’t need someone to be an expert leader, to be an amazing manager, because we’re able to leverage expertise from many different team members. And, and really, we strive for improving qualitative statistics. And at the end of the day, what I’ve discovered is that happy employees are employees who are performing, if you can show an employee how to produce, and they can realize that they’re adding value you haven’t made, that is the name of the game. And if everybody is producing, and everybody is paying attention to the same type of statistics, then you have a very agile, you know, fun organization to work for and work in. And, and that’s really our goal.

Tony Zayas 33:18
So how would you describe the culture at Chargebacks911. And as a follow up to that, it sounds very unique. And I love you know, what you’re describing here? Was that intentional? Or was it trial and error to get to more of the flat ish org chart and just some of these things that you’re doing differently?

Monica Eaton-Cardone 33:41
Um, I think it was, it definitely wasn’t intentional. It was just I mean, I, I am told our motto is challenge the status quo. So I think, you know, I’m a huge fan of innovation, I’m a fan of failing, fast, embrace change when you need it, and you’ve never done your best. So always be willing to challenge. I’m willing to test anything. So I’m not a believer in anything that is totally static. I think, you know, if you subscribe to that belief, you’re already moving backwards, because the world is moving way too fast. And it’s moving with behavioral trends. It’s moving with, you know, I mean, consumers are evolving, employees are evolving, the whole world is evolving, and we have to embrace those pivots. And so if I look at, you know, how the organization started, then it wasn’t, it wasn’t intentional. It was just kind of organic, because let’s face it, it was very, very flat. And and, and I realized, and we scaled pretty rapidly. So in order to scale rapidly, that means I need I need people that are going to be worker bees that just do the job, but then I want to make sure that they’re also passionate about it, and as they attain in more business logic, and they become experts in their arena, they’re going to naturally move up in the organization, they may not have been the best managers, which is sometimes a challenge. It’s always a challenge in small businesses, because you never, you never go out, you don’t have the money to go recruit the most amazing external talent. You you, you’re scrappy when you start. And it’s like the garage shop crew. And then this crew, they’re all diamonds in the rough. And they’re actually they become the leaders of tomorrow. But it takes time, it takes perseverance, it takes a lot of training, because you’re all working up through the ranks and working in the trenches together, and that builds character. And then as you grow, and as you scale, now, you can start to establish more finesse, you’re gonna hire people that already have that training, they don’t have to go up through the ranks. And, you know, you’re in a totally different space. And so I think, you know, by just organically, we, we scaled very rapidly. And as a result, we needed, we needed people that that weren’t going to, to belabor us with red tape and policies, which is what I would have gotten, if I would have said, let me let me be hard, let me recruit the external talent that I have today, they would have quit in two seconds with their organization when we started, because we were very, very different. It was, like, you know, we every single day was survival. And this is how most businesses start out. And it’s a very different, you’re developing your processes, you’re, you know, creating everything on the fly, figuring out what’s needed, because you don’t actually have every single thing mapped out, you haven’t scaled to the point, you’re just you have this vision. And your goal is to create to make that vision a reality. And what you need for that team is a different need than what you need, you know, for the team as you grow. And what I’ve recognized is that those needs for the foundation of our success, that is a foundation that that makes us better. And that’s a culture that I have found tremendous value in maintaining it, even though you know, we’re playing a much different ballgame with nearly 400 employees worldwide and doing business, you know, virtually in every country. It’s it’s more challenging to maintain that startup type mentality culture, but it’s much more advantageous.

Tony Zayas 37:35
That’s cool. Super interesting, just the growth you guys have had? How do you find just to dive in a little bit to you know, some of the points you brought up? I think you mentioned, you know, those diamonds in the rough those kind of early team members, I think you were said like, they were even like executive assistants as their starting point. How do you? How do you find those people? How do you find I mean, are there any clues when you’re looking for talent, and people have to really fit?

Monica Eaton-Cardone 38:08
Sure, um, so. So I have never been a believer that somebody needs to fit in a certain box, in order to do a good job. And mainly because of my own experience. So, you know, I, I studied art and architecture for one semester, I didn’t ever finish college. I, but and I have never thought, you know, I got ahead because I was the smartest person in the room. But I’ve always known, I was the hardest worker in that room. And I’m the hardest worker, compared to anybody, and I will not and I will not give up when anyone else will. And that’s how I’ve gotten ahead. So that perseverance and tenacity has served me very well. And these are the qualities that I look forward individuals. So when I would interview someone, then I will look for someone, you know, it didn’t matter to me if they had a degree, but what have what have they tackled in their life? What if they have been job hoppers that was totally off that I’m not going to be interested, because I want someone who has shown a level of commitment. And if you stay with one company for a period of time, there’s no such thing as hearts and flowers for every company constantly. There’s always ups and downs. So I knew, you know, this is something that I’m looking for is someone that has stamina, and someone that’s been progressive, and also attitude. I was looking for a can do positive gung ho attitude, where you know, they have confidence in their ability to learn to catch on and to work hard. That’s all that I needed. If I have that confidence, then I can work with the rest and providing you know they they can catch on quickly and they’re not going to give up. I am much more apt to you know, find a great fit for the organization with a person that’s not going to second guess themselves in taking the wrong step, it’s so easy to correct a wrong step, it’s almost impossible to try to convince someone to where they need to go to move forward. And for me, in every organization is different. But for me, I would look for people. I even would if I was looking at degrees, and I would think, Okay, what, or even pre or prior jobs, I would think, you know, what I’m looking for waitresses, that that actually want to do more, and that have worked at the busiest restaurants, because they can handle stress, they can handle change, and they can multitask, you know what, I’m gonna give them an opportunity to change their entire life, if they can, if they can adapt to technology, there’ll be amazing, I will look for people who had studied criminal justice, because I knew these people have an interest in identifying who’s right and wrong, and they’re going to be detail oriented, and they’re going to care about digging into things. And I really want that passion. I look for people that, you know, maybe they were studying psychology, or they’re studying something totally different. But it till it told me, this is a person that is looking kind of outside the box, teachers, another great recruit for us. Because these are people that, you know, they want to control things, they’re going to lead something, they they have that level of competence, otherwise, you wouldn’t want to be a teacher. Many of our clients may have acted like children at some point. So, so that’s always good when you’re starting out to have those skills. But I think, you know, it’s really just, and sometimes, you know, you just need to make bets on people. And sometimes it doesn’t work. But oftentimes it does. And if you find, you know, people that that are very interested, the other thing that I that I did is, I, I, I never started anybody at a high salary, I wanted, I wanted to make sure that they were going to invest, because I because it was a huge risk for me as well. And then I would say, you know, this is a new education that you’re getting. And I want to know that you are committed. And so I would make sure that there was a very strict timeframe, and very, very strict performance metrics. So I knew there are 100% in this is not just, you know, a temporary job to get to the next item.

Tony Zayas 42:48
It’s great, really good stuff. Just real quickly, you mentioned, it’s certain at a certain point, especially scaling a business until you guys have grown, going and look knowing you need to look for external talent. So how did you know what are the signs there that it’s time to bring someone with an outside perspective?

Monica Eaton-Cardone 43:11
Sure. Um, well, I think I think as you as you grow, and first of all, you know, you get to where you have much more financial security. So you can look at recruiting talent, and people that are already trained, you don’t have to work them, you don’t have to hire at a lower level, and then know that you can bring them up to speed after a couple of years investing and making sure they have that skill set. So as you scale, then you think, Okay, well, maybe I can just hire that skill set now. And I don’t have to build it internally. So those are things that that you know, we look for it, we’re growing quickly. And we need somebody who has been a technical project manager, well, we have the ability to train a person who’s interested in becoming a technical project manager, but it’s going to take us a while to get them trained. Whereas now I want to hire someone who’s already a technical project manager, they already they spent the last few years working for an organization that was a startup and they and that organization already trained them. And now I want to get further ahead by getting that expertise, also processes. You know, every I only know so much each department had that I have only know so much. So you in order for you to continue to stay relevant and up to date, then it makes sense to take a look at bringing external talent that is going to have a totally different viewpoint. And I would expect this viewpoint means they’re going to challenge everything that we’re doing some things they’re going to win other things they’re going to lose but having a mentality that is a fresh perspective and external perspective. You know, otherwise, you have everybody on the same page. And they’re saying, hey, everything that we’re doing is great, because it’s better than what it was last month. Well, but is it really, because if I asked someone else from a different industry, a different organization, maybe they’re gonna come and say, what you guys are doing could be 10 times better. It doesn’t matter that you’re improving on your own, you are pathetic in this area. And this is how you can change. So those are those are, you know, tremendous assets. I think that that can be uncovered by looking, looking for a great diverse mix, you know, internal and external.

Tony Zayas 45:37
Yeah, some really valuable stuff. There’s but I think, especially right now, with the whole workforce, in it being challenging finding people, and then finding those people who are fit. So this is this has been really good. You mentioned, you know, having this vision, and then having to figure out, you know, what do I need to turn that into a reality? I would also add to that, how do you how do you share that vision? Because that’s something that’s probably hitting your head, especially early on? How do you articulate that out to your team members? Mostly internal, but any stakeholders? But you know, team members? In particular? How did you do that early on, to get people to buy into your vision, what they were a part of? And then to today, we have 400? People? How do you continue to do that? So that now this large group of people that probably aren’t, you know, engaged with you on a daily basis? How do they get to see that as well?

Monica Eaton-Cardone 46:39
Yeah, so, um, so, you know, when we first started, I think it was a lot easier to convey the vision. And, you know, I, I am a huge believer of keeping things simple. So I may have a vision of 20 steps ahead, and I have a tendency to focus on the future. But I know, in order to lead a team, they can handle five steps, you know, we don’t need to, like, you don’t want to get too out there because people lose perspective. And you actually need your team to focus on the present. And just a little bit of the future. As as, as an entrepreneur, you’re probably focused more on the future and a little bit of the present. And that’s how you can maintain momentum. So that’s really important. But as as we’ve grown, and as we’ve scaled, then I think, that mentality has changed a little bit as well. Now, our organization by design is a bit more compartmentalized, because in many ways, they’re different business units. And this is what you find naturally, with with any organization, and each of those business units operates sort of independent, so they have their own vision. And that vision is not the same as I mean, everything goes toward the same, and they have an idea of where everything is going. And everybody’s on the same page with, you know, how their production values or contribution is adding value to the organization. But they’re, I think, that, that as an entrepreneur, you, you also need to, to realize there’s some risk, when you get a certain scale of, you know, of outlining with too much detail what the exact strategy is, because let’s face it, as you grow, you collect competitors, and really, you know, your vision and your strategy also becomes a competitive advantage. And so it becomes actually super important that, that you maintain, you know, certain things that we have in product development that actually that is going to be bifurcated from the rest of the organization and some that are over here. They have a different everybody can see like, where things are going and overall corporate goals. But there’s there’s a lot more, I guess, strategic separation. I think Steve Jobs did a great job of this, you know, you always hear about oh, well, he, he kept everybody in the dark with what was going on in product and what is going on over here. You know what, you have to do that you have to do that because your as you grow, you have more and more competitors. And it’s now not as much about what is your product? It’s actually about what’s your product strategy. What are you doing next? What’s your vision? What are you building? And so a lot of those things become more sensitive, and it’s the Intel as well that you have to protect.

Tony Zayas 49:46
Fantastic really good stuff. Beforehand asked my last question to wrap up the conversation. Okay, there’s just Yes. Yep. Awesome. I encourage everyone to go check it out. Really cool hearing the story about you know how you’ve grown. And then I any place that for people that want to follow you connect with you at LinkedIn or anywhere else here?

Monica Eaton-Cardone 50:17
Yeah, you can look me up on LinkedIn. So Monica Eaton-Cardone. And you can also visit my own website, which is

Tony Zayas 50:26
Cool, very cool. Well, with that, so we like to wrap up by asking the question, if you’re able to go back in time, before you even started, this may be when this was just a thought in your head. As you’re going through the challenges of chargebacks? What would you if you were able to go back, sit down, have a cup of coffee with your former self? And offer some advice? What would that be?

Monica Eaton-Cardone 50:53
Um, so my advice would be to be more brave. So, um, I, you know, I think I’m starting out in any business. You know, you always think you’re the only one that’s going through this, maybe you should, I mean, I’ve been very risk adverse. And looking at the opportunity, you know, sometimes it has taken me a couple of years to realize, hey, this idea that I had, you know, what, actually, I could have done it two years ago, but I waited, because I just didn’t have that confidence. And so I think, you know, putting, being willing to put yourself out there a little bit more, at least for me, that I mean, we’ve had incredible success, and it’s been super, super exciting. But if I were giving myself advice, there, are there certain things that I, you know, I didn’t do or I didn’t, I didn’t go after that, that I probably that I could have very easily. And because I was doubting, you know, maybe I just don’t maybe I don’t know this enough. So I think and maybe listening to too many people, like another thing. I mean, I hired I hired different consultants to tell me how to run the business. And because I had other, you know, people saying, well, you know, what, you should have this org chart, and it should look like this. That’s another thing, having confidence that, hey, my stats are great, the company is growing, you know, what, what I’m doing is working. And it’s right, I actually don’t need anyone else to tell me to change it. And oftentimes, you know, it’s these consultants that actually, they’re telling you how to do things. They’ve never ran a business, they’ve never owned a business. They’re actually not successful themselves. And but it’s that those critiques that end up affecting you and creating doubt, and some of those doubts, actually, I would have given myself advice, say, if it’s working, and if you can see that it’s working. And if you know that this is gonna work, actually don’t listen to anyone else.

Tony Zayas 53:11
I love it. I think that’s a great, great point. Sometimes we got to kind of listen to ourselves and, and rise above some of that noise. And

Monica Eaton-Cardone 53:20
Yes, don’t try to please everybody. You do not need to please everyone.

Tony Zayas 53:25
That’s fantastic. Well, Monaco, thank, great conversation and insights here today. So I appreciate your time. I encourage everybody to go and check out the website, and connect with Monica or reach out if you’re interested in that. To everybody who’s tuned in. Thank you guys for joining. We’ll be back again next week with another guest. But again, thank you so much today, Monica, for all the great insight and sharing what you did. Absolutely.

Monica Eaton-Cardone 53:58
Thank you very much for having me.

Tony Zayas 53:59
Yeah. Take care. And we’ll see you guys next time. Thanks again, Monica. Bye.

Monica Eaton-Cardone 54:04
All right. Thank you. Okay, cheers.