So what goes into the whole process of starting a startup or building out your own ideas? What are you getting into as a founder and where can you go for help?Those are questions that we discussed today with one of our most experienced mentors on the platform, Lloyd Jacob.
Lloyd is a serial founder, experienced product manager, and one of his past companies even went through Y Combinator, the very prestigious accelerator for startups.
He’s also one of our earliest mentors on MentorCruise with the ID number 23. So without further ado, let’s talk to this veteran of the startup industry.
Dom: Hello. Welcome. And thank you for jumping onto the show.
Lloyd: Yeah, thank you for having me here. I appreciate it.
Dom: I want to ask you a fun question to start things off. If people ask you today, what’s your job description? What would you say to them?
Lloyd: Oh, gosh. Let’s see. What a good question. I think I’ve been in product for almost 15 plus years. It just comes naturally. So I’ve always been a product guy. And entrepreneur is sort of like the kicker of all this because because I don’t want to build products, the side sort of live blends in really well.
Dom: That’s a cool background to half and to kind of transform it, to build your own products. So what does sets does that mean for you today, What are you working on ?
Lloyd: One of the products I’m trying to start is the protocol Keywony. A little background that I used to work very heavily with bloggers and content creators. In one of my previous startups, it was an email marketing company that was specifically made for the blogging community.
And one thing you realize when you work with them is that most of them are individuals or a very small group of one or two of these. And these people struggled for years before this had making any money. And so it’s a very tight knit, close community and it really entrepreneurial community at, at all best.
And so I really wanted to get back in the community. And so I built this product and it’s a pretty simple idea. is a WordPress plugin. You add it to your WordPress site. And at the end of the article, it leaves a little link that lets users search that topic further on the web. So if a user clicks on it, they go on the web and a search engine shows up with the results for that topic.
And obviously if you, if the user were to click on an ad, there’s a reverence. And the search engine shares that revenue with me. And I will say that back with the blogger.
Dom: That’s awesome. I love, I love people building for creators and to create our economy. What’s your motivation, not only behind this, but to keep working on products and startups, you know, it’s a, it’s a hard place to be in. How do you get the energy and the motivation to keep going?
Lloyd: I think certain people, people have this innate energy about just innovating and I, and I’ve been mentoring for a very long time. It’s very clear to see that in certain people and just like this unknown desire that they have to do something. And I, I have that in me as well. And it it’s, it can be frustrating at points because sometimes the idea fairy comes to your shoulder, whispers an idea every single morning, and you don’t know what to focus on.
Dom: What’s your system around building those businesses on a somewhat limited time, time input and timeframe. And now that you have family and maybe can’t work like 24 7 on this.
Lloyd: I’d say these to my mentees as well. And the comment I say might sound really silly, but I did tell him, I was like, look, you’re not going to die to dive in speak. You had the idea to test patiently and try things out. Right? Cause a lot of mentees, including myself, I have a lot of different ideas.
And considering that, you know, we have a certain amount of time in our day, you have to really focus. And execute on a particular project and then see you through. Otherwise, you’re going to just leave everything at like 60% and you’re not going to really see all the way through and you’re going to feel guilty at the end of the day.
So let’s say hypothetically. I don’t like I can six months. I want to be in this position and be a revenue users, whatever, maybe. And then I create a work back plan from there.
What do I need to do to get there in six months? And I stick to my plan and I do that and ask the mentees are the same. And at the end of the six months, if you’re not hitting your goal, one thing we’ll walk away with it. If you followed your work back plan, you’ll realize you did everything you could have done to make that business a success.
Dom: In your past, obviously you’ve built quite a few different businesses and obviously you had quite a few different ideas. Where did you get those ideas from .
Lloyd: A lot of ideas. Came from either being in the space or doing some sort of learning by being space. So I can give an example, the even marketing company that I had, email marketing, just as a quick background, like the majority of the market is controlled by MailChimp.
It’s like the monster of the market. And so everyone competing sort of competing with them. I think about it. Like your Gmail account, once you onboard your Gmail, you don’t just look bad enough for another email for the next month. You built your contacts in there, your details in there, the same with the business, when they hop onto an email marketing to stick around for like, well, over two years.
So user retention is really high and it’s a very interesting. And originally I built the platform to go after startups because I’m in the startup space. as I started making my circle and talking to users and trying to onboard, I quickly realized my product.
Wasn’t up to par where it needed. And so I tried to see where can I find product market fit? And I ended up once talking to a blogger and it was interesting.
Their needs are quite simple and products seem to fit exactly what they needed. And I explore that further.
They were using MailChimp at that time and it wasn’t serving their needs. And what I built out was much more in mind or what they needed, and I eventually found a fit there and the product scaled over time. I got lucky. In my opinion, you should actually be building much more smaller prototype actually an extent we have marketed, right? You’re trying to make it fit. And so you do these sort of like role experiments, and sometimes it works. Sometimes they don’t. But ideally, if I were to give a recommendation, I asked most founders, are you going to ask myself now going forward, like, Hey, can you go take this a little basic MVP or pitch this idea to a few different potential customers and seeds.
It provides a value a value to a point where they don’t want to build it themselves and value to a point where they’ll pay you to use your product.
Dom: It seems like, you know, being in product seems like a great spot to be in as an entrepreneur, just because you have that focus . Is there something which you think is a weakness of yours once you were building businesses, something that, you know, you’re still looking to learn today or something that you had to pick up?
Lloyd: My weaknesses I’ve never been a developer. And so whenever I’m building something. I can sketch out the entire product. I know what needs to be in what areas I can complete the specs, but when it comes time to execution, I rely on technical folks who make sure they can execute on idea.
And it’s not like I can go into code and validate the quality. So for me, the way I’ve kind of worked around that as I, I try to hire the best, whenever it comes to any products I work on, I try to look at the.
past projects to see what their actual involvement was. What do they actually do in the project? So that gives me enough confidence.
Especially at MVP stage, you can get away with like know shoddy like development, but then as you start going to like a larger scale of customers, you really need to have your tech in place.
Dom: As, as you were saying, there’s, there’s very few people that are the perfect entrepreneur than other people that have the technical background. They might then struggle on, on like actual product prioritization, marketing and so on. So there’s always, it’s always a case off, you know, maybe having a general knowledge, but also hiring or having the power to hire and collaborate with other people .
Lloyd: And if you think about most startups, most startups tend to have two-plus farmers because one is usually the guy who was really business savvy knows how to sales and that’s a very important role. And the other person is usually the person on the tech side who can actually, you know bring the ideas to fruition.
Right. Moving a single founder. That’s always been the weak point. So I have to kind of figure out how to make my weak points, his strong point by figuring out techniques to work around it.
Dom: Where does mentoring really play into this? I was mentioning before your mentor number 23, very early on, on MentorCruise with us are also mentoring in other places. What do people need from you? What can you give. Where does it also what role does it play for you as a mentor? What does it give, give to you?
Lloyd: Yeah. So I think the story will help your so when I first started my career. I remember my co-founder and I, we worked out his bedroom for the first two years. We were dead broke. He had a bunk bed. He slept on top. I worked in the bottom. Sometimes we swap sleeping and his parents were very gracious.
They us breakfast, lunch and dinner for two years. And you know, we started scaling out the two years. And then as we started making some money, we started getting out there and started meeting some other founders. And then she made a wait till I see him. That’s some really smart people. And that learning curve took a very long time.
And when I had first started my career in the startup space there wasn’t all these resources you see today, you?
know, like The hacker communities and Bookface and so on. Right. And so it was a really hard learning for me along the way. And being on your platform, I still to date feel entrepreneurs don’t know exactly where to reach, to get the right information support.
Now there’s too much that they just don’t know where to focus. Right. And so one thing I learned when I met other entrepreneurs that people smarter than me was I started to gain from their knowledge and accelerate what I was doing in my own business. And that was a huge lift for me. And I felt my business has got better because of that knowledge.
And so. I’ve been doing this for 15 plus years. And so I genuinely feel I’ve gained enough information that I want to give back now to future entrepreneurs. I’m unlike the old generation, I’m the old G of entrepreneurs. So I want the new generation to really benefit. I don’t want them to go through what I went through.
And so being able to spend the time on your site to actually work with them is a way for me to give back heavily and ensure that like they can gain for knowledge. The one is like helping them get clarity on their product department fit their strategies and marketing .
Dom: Amazing. I read a stat, actually that in a survey, 60% of adults set that they have this dream of entrepreneurship and starting their own business. But obviously in reality, a lot less than 60% of adults ever, ever go through with it. If you get mentees and you ended kind of trying to work with them on becoming entrepreneurs, what are really the roadblocks that they need to get out of there to, to start their own business and go into entrepreneurship.
Lloyd: I think almost every mentee that I work with, they have a great idea. They’re super excited about it, but that’s where That’s a depth of thinking I’ve done. I feel like the reason I say that is because when you start working back, like I mentioned before, like where do you want to be in six months?
When I put them in that position, Hey, where do you want to be in six months? And they gave me the. Then I start talking about, okay, let’s break down. You go and let’s work back on. What do you need to execute? That’s the very first time they realize a level of execution that’s necessary. You go hit that six month goal.
Once I realized that, then I started working with them to figure out how can they actually accomplish that? And that’s when all the roadblocks are coming here, right? Like they’ve got a full-time job commitment. They’ve got. You know, and then, then we end up with like, okay, they can only dedicate like three hours a week on the project.
And so then they quickly come to realize, oh man, like six months goal and I have three hours a week, how am I going to actually accomplish this? So I try to provide them realistic clarity as to, as to what is required to execute on the idea that I tell them that. This is, this is reality and you have to figure out how to work on it.
Right. And so then, so then we figured out like, okay, what can we do in your maybe a work life or personal life that you can sort of have two hours a week to work on a project. Now you’ll have 10 hours a week because that’s, you know, quadrupling your potential time when the project.
So I think this, this clarity is super important because like I mentioned, idea fairy comes to people. They get an excited, I was super excited on being an entrepreneur, having. But when you come down to execution, it requires time thinking. And if you don’t have a slotted, your ideas, never going to get off the gun.
And I think that’s why most people, when they start an idea, they’re first, like to-do list ends up being like, and sort of one week task ends up being like a month long task. And after like two months of lost motivation, because you know, it just, it just doesn’t come into fruition. Things are going so slow.
Setting some realistic expectations with my mentees is one of the, probably the number one tasks that I do to help them up.
Dom: So maybe as a last kind of advice for entrepreneurs out there, I am in this situation, I have an app idea and I’m super excited about it. And now I have to time to work on it. Realistically, the very first thing I should do. Is it reaching out to you? Is it doing some methodology?
What would you suggest?
Lloyd: So you have the cost space, you have time, right? That’s number one. So what the I would do is before jumping on to me I would suggest?
starting to talk to customers. So if you have an app, you can use something like Figma and make like a complete mockup and you can take that app out and show it to people and start getting some feedback out.
In fact, I have done this myself. I had an app that I was starting to launch and it was audio texts. And I built the whole thing Figma in two days. And then I basically went to events where I wouldn’t be able to show the app off, let the users play around with it, garner some feedback. And if they excited, I would get them to sign up on my site and move forward with that.
So it’s a, it was a great way for me, early feedback. And it was also a way for them to like ask questions and things that didn’t make sense. I wish I could go back to my design and quickly iterate and improve. I will start with that.
And so if you have gone out and done the work and you’ve talked to customers, And then he comes to me with the troubles. You see, then I’m able to take what you’ve learned and maybe help you kind of get clarity on that. But I cannot provide that clarity, the number of courses and providing clarity is your customer.
Dom: I think that’s a really interesting and cool way to get some initial validation for your own project. Let’s get back to you two to close things off. For you this year and in 2022, what’s on your immediate roadmap and what your goals for the rest of.
Lloyd: One, I told you I have a full-time role. So I had that actually, I’ve got a family you know, and I am working as I mentioned before, some my. Planned for the rest of the year is trying to execute our key warning and give myself till December to really execute on that.
And if it doesn’t work, then I will want to know the idea of.
like shares. That’s a big one for me. And this year I also have taken on, on your site. I mentioned a few folks right now and that’s something I constantly want to do. I don’t want to back off of that because I provide value. And I, I feel like I also learn when I talk to mentees as well.
So that’s three things that I want to really focus on.
Dom: Amazing. Thank you so much. Obviously your profile of mental cruise is going to be in the description of this podcast. Is there anything else online? follow along in your journey of building these businesses.
Lloyd: I have my own site. https://www.heyitslloyd.com/ and I try to keep that up to speed and what I’m working on or you can follow me on LinkedIn as well. If you prefer that, that’s fine.
Dom: Obviously both of these links are going to be in the description of this podcast at this point. Thank you so much for joining me and sharing your wisdom and knowledge entrepreneurship and building businesses with.