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Failures to Fortunes| Paul King | Episode 174

Top Tips From Paul King.

1. MVP

So first of all, MVP, don’t go out and make all the bells and whistles start with something small. Test it with your market. Make sure there’s a real need for it. I guess don’t necessarily believe what people say, as in, they’ll tell you that they want and they’ll tell you that it’s great. But there’s a difference between telling you you want something than actually opening up your wallet and handing over cold hard cash to purchase that thing.

2. Getting the right people around you is pretty important.

Getting the right people around you is pretty important, and being able to measure them on their effectiveness that you can really see if they are moving the needle, as I call it, in the business. And sometimes knowing timing, timing was really important, right? So being being the right time, stop being the first to market

3. You got to maintain your mental health as well.

You got to maintain your mental health as well. Like startup world is brutal, and there’s so many ups and downs, you know, it’s a it’s a roller coaster, so you need to maintain your mental health. And I’ve interviewed many people on my podcast that have burnt out, some of them actually in large corporations. And then they started the startup, some in the startup themselves. In fact, I was interviewing a doctor just last week, and she pretty much got burnt out herself. And she’s a doctor, so you got to maintain that


Debra Chantry Taylor




people, startup, founders, sales, space, business, podcast, failure, vr, fail, interviewed, investment, amazing, stories, call, great, hospitality, lessons, thought, money


Debra Chantry-Taylor  00:00

Good morning and welcome to another episode of Better Business, Better Life. I’m your host, Debra Chantry Taylor, Taylor, and I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs lead their ideal lives by creating better businesses. I’m a certified EOS implementer, an FBA credit family business advisor and a business owner. Myself, with several business interests, I work with established business owners and their leadership teams to help them live their ideal entrepreneurial life using Eos, the Entrepreneurial Operating System and the guests that I have come onto my show, they’re here to share authentically, both the highs and the lows of creating a successful business and how they turn things around in their business, either using EOS tools and traction or just sharing the stories of the things that they’ve actually encountered.

Paul King  00:50

Be crazy to a startup with money, thinking, I want to be a unicorn. Want to be a billionaire. You know, I want to build rockets to Mars, like all the rest of them. No, that’s not a good reason. Like be passionate, try and do something that you believe in. Know your purpose. That’s really, really important, particularly if you want to sustain it. And also, of course, it gets to a point, and I think it’s the hardest thing, right? And we’re at that point quite a few times, okay, what do we do? Do we keep going, or do we stop here? And always remember that image of the guy digging for gold. He’s going through the dirt, and he’s like an inch away, and then he stops. I always thought, oh, that’s us, you know, but just now we got to keep going a bit more, a bit more. And look in hindsight, anyone can say, oh, I should have this. I should have that.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  01:43

Today is actually pretty exciting, because I’ve actually got a guy who’s very, very similar to myself, who’s having a chat before, and he is really passionate about actually helping people learn from their failures. So our guest today is the founder of Yes, VR, and I’ve been told it’s okay, so it’s a startup failure that may yet rise from the ashes. He is really passionate about people doing good things, and he is also a podcast host himself, so he’s going to share with us today about how telling stories can really help and how we can learn from failure. Paul King is the podcast host of fail. Wisdom, a podcast about failure and what we can learn from them. Welcome to the show, Paul,

Paul King  02:22

Thank you. It’s great to be on Debra, and looking forward to having a chat with you. Yeah?

Debra Chantry-Taylor  02:27

No, we had a quick chat before, as we always do. And I think the great thing is we share similar kind of passions. I don’t believe failure is a is a bad word, yeah, the F word. It’s not a bad thing. As long as we learn from those mistakes, then it’s always a good thing, in my opinion, yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Paul King  02:41

And I’m sort of on a mission to even change the way people think about that, you know, like, if you think about it, if we don’t fail, then we won’t do anything. Just sit on your couch. You’ll never fail. Just don’t do anything, and you won’t fail, right? But if you want to learn and get ahead, then you’ll fail, and you learn from that. And there’s nothing wrong with failure. It’s just part of life. It’s actually a good thing, and that’s why, just like yourself, like, you know, a lot of people are sick of all the success stories, you know, like you’re saying before, you know, it’s on the beach four hours a day, and you know, they’re, you know, billion dollar business or whatever. But the reality is, in the startup world, particularly, that’s where I’m, you know, I’m coming from. I think it’s like one in 20 actually succeed. But then, you know what is success anyway? Because a lot of startups will then go into another one and another one. But startup, look, business is hard enough, but startups where you’re trying to sell something that is like a future thing that nobody knows yet is even harder, like you’re selling a future vision. So that is even harder, as for me and my co founder found out over

Debra Chantry-Taylor  03:49

Yeah, so six years of the SVR. Tell me a little bit about that. So tell me how the idea, where the idea come from, what? What was the journey that you went on with that? Yeah, yeah. Company, it’s

Paul King  03:59

Pretty amazing. Jody, oh, look, my background and my co founder were both in the in education. We’re both educators, and we were training people in the online space. So we actually worked for the largest training organization the southern hemisphere for many years. And what we found is students were pretty bored, not very much, not very engaged, and really low completion rate, actually. And so I was at a convention in 2016 and all the way outside, there’s all these demo desks, and this guy’s like, Hey, you want to try this VR? And I’m thinking, Oh, this VR stuff could be interesting, you know, like, see things in 3d you know what this all about? So I put on the headset, and I’m like, oh my god, this is crazy. I’m gonna die. I’ll come before like, what’s going on? I took it off again. It’s like, yeah, did you enjoy the helicopter? Helicopter right over Sydney. There was. Like, wow. It just blew me away, because it actually felt like I was there. So I found that really exciting. And then over like, a few months, I was thinking, imagine if you could actually place students in the actual workplace that they’re going to go into, and they experience that, and they make decisions, and they see the consequences firsthand, but in a safe space, so they get to experience that. So I started filming 360 VR, because I’ve got a background in filming something like I’m always a self taught guy. I might have degrees and diplomas, but all the areas I end up getting into are the areas that I teach myself. So it’s funny, but yeah, so we started filming some stuff, putting scenarios together. And then we found that, you know what we wanted, there was no technology at that time, 2017 that we could put the scenarios together that we wanted. And so then we got in content. Because, like, I’ve done a little bit of programming, but I am a right brain person, very creative. You know, I’ll be struggling with programming. Like, take me like, half a day to work out something where some 18 year old go, Well, that’s it, okay. Like, Okay, forget about programming anyway. So we started down the development track. We got in touch because that time, yeah, funds were low, we got in touch with a developer, actually, in Ukraine. That was Dima, lovely guy. He said, Yes, I can build this platform for you. It will take six weeks and then three hours per scenario after that. So fantastic. Four years later, five years later, $700,000 to down the track. You know it just if you don’t know development, and even if you do, you know, double it, quadruple it, quadruple how much it’s going to cost, and 10 times that for the time it’s going to take lot of lessons still be learned there, for example, you know, just don’t develop that much and put money somewhere else. And we can talk about that. But yeah, we developed the platform, and we actually won lots of awards. Well, it’s called the learnx design so anyone in the learning design space this like, that’s the top awards. And we won heaps because my co founder, Diane, was a brilliant educator, and she put some amazing learning design. And we we did amazing like we got the actors to do these amazing, amazing performances and put together in a way that was really creative for the time. And then we got an intern who became a sales guy, a lovely guy from Chile, and he started getting it out there and starting to sell. And then we, we had a few training organizations that were going to go ahead with us. And that was late 2019 so you know what happens after that, right? Covid. Everything stopped two years and yeah, then we thought, oh, maybe we shouldn’t be in the hospitality space. Let’s look at aged care. Let’s look at this. Now aged care, they don’t want to pay any money either, just like hospitality people and yeah. And so after covid, then we actually came really, really close to some big, big deals. I could tell you that story later, about one with one of the head and owner of one of the the major supermarkets here has a chain of hotels, because we’re in the hospitality space, because that’s where my co founder was in. So that was the training, like sponsor service, alcohol, customer service and all that. And so the head of that organization was really keen on our training. He tried out, and he flew down from Queensland to the incubator at Macquarie Uni that we were situated in. But, you know, I can tell you the story about that a bit later, and then covid came along. And yeah, and so after covid, we came we just lacked in the sales area. So Diane, my co founder, he hated sales horse and keen either. And being a person that was adopted rejection is a big issue. So it’s not fun constantly getting rejected. But B to B, sales is, you know, like I learned a lot that it is a long term thing, you know, three months to maybe 18 months for a sale, and then we got so close, and then pulled out. And then I think it was, like a year ago, we had an investor that was massive in the hospitality space. We were going to take us, you know, all around the world, he was going to put in a lot of money for like, 20% of the business. And then that all was going through, and then the last minute pulled out. And so after six years and being so close, and then this happening, my co founder, she just like, No, I’ve had enough. And she just left for three months, pretty much, pretty much left. And then I was struggling for three months, and I just thought, Oh, God. Do this anymore. And then I just, I just pulled out as well. And I spent two weeks because, you know, obviously you’re upset about you put six years of your life, a lot of money, none of us were paid ever, you know. And I spent two weeks watching the series Breaking Bad on my phone, on the TV. That’s all I did for two weeks, because it totally engaged me. It sounds crazy, but that’s what helped me to get over that, you know. And then after that, you know, I thought, Oh, what am I going to do? You know, what? I want to do, something I really love. Because I love the whole filming side and working with actors. I’ve done courses on directing. I loved all that side that was 1% because didn’t have the money to do too much of it. However, having said that, the first scenarios we did, we actually did that on a shoestring budget, practically for nothing, which was pretty amazing. And I can tell you that story too, if you want, but so many stories, yeah, and so I started the podcast because I think you want to, I’m just going to do something I really love I love helping people. I had a community radio show. I love that. I’m going to help early stage startup founders where I was so they can learn lessons from others about failures, not talking about successes, about me, interview successful people, but I want to know about your failure, and so people can learn from those stories. So I wish I had my podcast when I started in those first few years. So yeah, that’s my story about SBR, bit long winded.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  11:32

Now that’s great. So now take you back a little bit, because you said that, you know, you obviously any kind of it or development project. Yes, you can basically take whatever they say, multiply it by three or four times and 10 times the amount of time, that’s pretty standard, I think, for those things, but you said that you didn’t really understand what was going to be required in terms of sales. I remember when I used to do market validation at the Ice House with startup businesses. I always say to them, no matter what you spend on development, you should actually allow the same amount of money to invest in sales and marketing, because you think you’re going to build it and they’re just going to come and that’s it. But that’s not the way that it works. You have to put a lot of effort in. And like you said, long sales cycles, you’re trying to convince people to use something they’ve maybe never used before. So for those listening out there who’s like, but the idea is so great, everybody’s going to come and use it, what would you say to them? 

Paul King  12:19

I’d say absolutely, instead of just doing a whole massive amount of development, just do your MVP really basic, and then with that, go and spend most of your money on sales and marketing. That was the mistake that we did, and I’ll tell you why, because we had some other companies that were just doing pretty much the same thing as us that came along later. It’s a bit about timing as well, because it was early, was early days, and then they got investment. I mean, I’m friends with one of the CEOs, and he’s, like, got a team of 10 business development people, and they’re now all around the world, and they’re pretty much doing what we’re doing. And they did that in two years, so in six years, because in the end, like our runway, you know, it was running out, and we had developers, and we thought, No, we can’t get rid of the developers, because, you know, we still need to develop this and that and make it better. No mistake, mistake, and holding on to employees as well. Like, you know, would like a sort of a family in a way, and then to go. You know, will they get another job? Unfortunately, business is a bit brutal. We have a lovely business culture, but you just got to let people go early. If things aren’t going well, put the money into sales and marketing. I mean, we also had some bad experience. We had a sales guy after covid. He came in, it was like top guy recommended, and because we didn’t know much about it, he’s like, yeah, yeah. Like, I’m on it, and I’m talking the head of this organization and that organization, oh, yeah, really close. Then after I think four or five months, like, things like, can’t be right? Like, can you just give us, like, all your contacts? He said, Yeah. He was always saying, No, I do everything by hand, and he show a sheet of paper. And so what we got after five months was a list of 135 people, most of the saying, Make contact or something, and in negotiation. And I rang 10 of them, and they said, Who is just calling John? John? No, I haven’t heard of him. So, yeah, you got to be careful too. Like we’re pretty gullible. I think we just, it was our luck with with fail. So we thought, oh, okay, I just met a lot of people say, just do it yourself. And I think if you can do it yourself. And I did do some good sales courses, but and I came really close, I just couldn’t close some of those big deal, and some people lead you on as well. So, yeah, you know, we want to go ahead. We want to go ahead, and then you’ll send another email and your contact, yeah, yeah, no, let’s just busy. This week went on for months sometimes, and it’s just like, I think at some stage you got to send something saying, Look, you know, either you. You want to go ahead with this, like, in a nice way, or, you know, I’ve got to move on, and maybe they’ll respond, I don’t know that, but you’re sort of desperate, in a way, because all the money’s running out, and you really need sale. You know, what you got is great, and, yeah, and that’s the worst thing as well. If you’re desperate, you’re doing sales, people pick that up.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  15:18

Yeah, you can’t afford to be Yeah, absolutely, I completely agree. I think it’s the worst place to be in is you want to actually have what do they say? You shouldn’t actually be wedged to the outcome at all. You should be there to offer your help, and don’t be wed to the outcome if they if they say no that, so be it. But I think what’s really interesting is a lot of the people listening to this podcast tend to have more established businesses, but the same principles apply when you’re looking at introducing a new product or new service into your business as well. We tend to get carried away by the next big, great, you know, great, big idea, and it’s all going to be amazing, but it actually requires some validation. It requires a huge investment in terms of going out there, in terms of your your sales person, I wonder if there is something around what you are measuring with them. We’ll call him John, so you know whether, whether or not the stuff that you are holding him accountable for from a scorecard, basics, measurables, you know was, I wonder if you could have picked up any earlier.

Paul King  16:12

Yeah, look now if, if I was through it again and talking to other salespeople, said, if, if it’s not written down in HubSpot or whatever, then it didn’t happen, so that we would have, like, daily updates, everything to be put down in your CRM and, you know, and daily, weekly updates, and really monitor them well. And, you know, not just like, Oh yeah, I’m really close. Yeah, I’ve got this big one, this big fish, and blah, blah, just going on people’s words that was really ignorant of us, you know, to and also the stories his mother died, his sister got paralyzed. In the end, we’re thinking it’s possible, like, you know, we felt sorry for him as well. And, you know, I think it was just, I actually think he had some sort of vice, and it was just getting some extra money. And, yeah, look, you learn from it. You know, you do.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  17:06

I think it’s, it’s interesting that you said that, you know, if you can do sales yourself, you should do I think it’s really hard to have a business where you’re the only person that can actually sell. So I do believe that you do need help in terms of getting extra salespeople in there. What would you do differently in terms of employing a salesperson now? So what are the lessons that you’ve learned from John?

Paul King  17:28

Well, I wanted to do differently. I would, you know, like I went through a sales group before, and they recommended him this time, I would interview them myself. I mean, we did an interview, but I would interview them myself and see their sales record, try and get somebody also in the same area with connection. Let’s say we’re in hospitality, so someone with a hospitality background that has connection, size area, I think, is really important. And as I said, you know, everything has to be written down, everything monitored and make sure if nothing’s happening within, like, even a month or two months, and there’s no proof for, you know, then just, yeah,

Debra Chantry-Taylor  18:12

Yeah, higher, slowly, fire, faster, yeah, yeah,

Paul King  18:16

Yeah. That’s, I think Gary V talks with that. I think he’s higher, fast, for F

Debra Chantry-Taylor  18:20

Oh, right. Okay. I reck, I reckon hire slowly, fire fast because I mean making sure you’ve got people who share the right core values and that actually will fit in with your organization and can improve their things. Interesting. What you were saying about the clients. You know, I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but certainly in New Zealand, you know that, I think there’s this whole thing about not wanting to say no. So it’s almost like we want to appease people, and so we will keep saying yes. We don’t want to actually just say no, I’m British. We’re a little bit like that. But at the end of the day, we’re also kind of prepared to go, you know what? I’m just not interested. Leave me alone. It’s interesting. When you’re in B to B sales, people do tend to kind of, you know, drag it out and try really hard. I don’t know if they’re trying not to say no, or if they’re thinking they’ll make you feel good, but tell me a bit about more about that experience for you. So you had people who were saying, yeah, yeah, we’re interested, but we’ve just got this on, or we’ve just got that on. Tell me how that worked. There was one

Paul King  19:16

Group, the Hospitality Group, and they were interested, but it was through another contact of ours in Melbourne. So we had, like, these amazing contacts, and these guys would they knew a lot of people in the space, and so they would show them what we have on the headset. And so I was in Melbourne just pre covid as well, with this group talking to the general manager or the CEO and someone else. And they were quite interested, but they were saying, Ah, but if only we had, you know, not just RSA, but also, I think they wanted something on money laundering or something like that. And that’s another lesson as well. Like, you can’t just, you know, cater to everybody. You got to start with what you. Have. And I should have said, well, yeah, that could be something we’ll do later. Let’s get started with this. But, and they weren’t quite convinced. And then after covid, this contact got in touch with them again and said, Yeah, no, we’re interested. We want to go ahead and we offer them a really good deal. And every week, he said, No, we’re just a bit busy at the moment, but I’m still interested. Just went on for months and months. In the end, I just, you know, and there was another training organization as well, and they were really interested to do something with us. And what they wanted to do as well is to do some sort of profit sharing. That’s right. And then they’re really keen to go ahead. And then that’s just through another contact as well, and then they just went quite as well and and nothing happened. And the funny thing is, as you say, like, you know, we could be resurrected. That same training group now has done a trial with us, and they’re looking at maybe signing a contract where we will profit share with them, and they’ll introduce it to other groups. And we’ve also had that we’re not doing any sales. Had two other groups approach us as well, and I have to say, as well, like, say, a month or two after everything went to to pieces, I get a phone call, because I get a lot of phone calls, like, you know, we’re an IT group, and we can help you out. I just thought it was one of those said, Oh, hi. Look, before you go any further, yes, VR is no longer said, Oh, I said, I just just, by the way, who are you? Said, Oh, I’m blood Sarah from a major hospitality crew, and we looked at your website. And I’m like, well, actually, we’ve stopped, but you could buy us if you want, but I never heard back from her. So to always ask you, it is first before you, you know? Say, oh, you know, we’re finished. Because anyway, so the funny thing is, like these people coming out of the woodwork, but I think it’s a bit to do with timing as well, because when we started, like, I could tell you a story about this first demo we did. It was absolute disaster with, you know what? We had to have them with phones and stuff. And it was such early days, people just didn’t know what VR was, as compared to now, nearly everyone does, and most people have tried as well. So timing is really important. Like, we were really the first in Australia doing this. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. You know, there’s,

Debra Chantry-Taylor  22:30

There’s some again, some say, I can’t remember who said it, but it’s actually your best to be second in the market. The first one actually wears all of the hits, wears all the costs as to do the education. And I’m sure, I know if you’ve read this, but Jeffrey Moore is crossing the chasm. It’s a really great book that talks about the fact a lot of businesses now we talk about the classic s curve, or hockey stick curve, that doesn’t happen very often. And way before that, there’s actually like a chasm, which is like, if you can’t get more than just the early adopters taking on board your technology, you literally drop into the chasm, and you die. You never get out of it. And so it’s like, how do you actually go from having the early adopters to actually having the sort of majority of people who are actually prepared to start using this product? And I think that the first people to market often don’t you know they’re fighting all of that. They’ll get the first people who are really excited because they’re the early adopters, but they haven’t managed to actually get the majority of people actually interested.

Paul King  23:25

Yeah, no, totally agree with that, and that’s what happened to us. And interestingly enough, there’s a company in the US called striver, S, T, R, i, v, r. They’re pretty much doing what we’re doing, but in 2016 they were at a American football match, and they were using some VR for that, and one of the executives of Walmart tried it out and decided this is amazing, you know, let’s, let’s talk about it. And now strive are training 1.5 million Walmart employees and the VeriSign employees, and they’ve absolutely gone massive, and they’re pretty much doing the same thing as us. But then again, America is usually ahead, you know, like, sometimes three or four years. And also, I think they’re more open to things as well.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  24:05

They’ve also got a bigger market. I mean, this is what we did. We don’t understand. When I have my American guests go on the podcast, they’ll talk about small businesses. I have to say to them, be very careful, because a small business in New Zealand or Australia is, you know, something under 100 employees. Your small business can be 1000 employees, and a large business is 10s of 1000s of employees. The scale is just so, so different, and so even getting a very tiny slice of the pie in America can mean huge amounts of income for the business. Yeah,

Paul King  24:34

That’s absolutely true. And even like American investors, they’re more open to investing. There was a bit of a bug bearers mind as well. I don’t know if we can talk about that, but we bootstrapped, right? Because we thought, like with investment, they usually want to see you producing sale, right? We think, well, if we get sales, then why do we need investment? And so we bootstrapped. It. And looking back now, in hindsight, I probably should have gone after investment, but the thought of one of our mentors, very successful, three startups, very successful. He said, If you’re going to go down the investment path, you’ll be doing that full time for a year. Reflects don’t even want to do it. I just don’t really like going after invested, but now, if I was to do a startup again, depending on the timing, I still think if you can bootstrap I mean, there’s people like Canva Atlassian, they’re huge, and they are bootstrapped actually, which is amazing, and it’s great if you can be in control of your own company, of course. But sometimes, you know, like looking back, if we could have got investment, say, in 2021 and then pull all that into marketing and sales, mainly now, I think we’d be in a completely different space right now.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  25:53

Yeah, it is interesting that when I was doing my work at the isas a lot of the American investors, they are, they only want to invest in their own backyard. There’s not an awful lot of American investors who come over and invest in Kiwi technology or Australian technology. They tend to be very much about they want to have something that’s close to where they live, that they can kind of be involved in. So it’s hard. I don’t know what what’s the investment scene like in Australia these days?

Paul King  26:17

Well, I mean, I’ve interviewed some VCs. I’ve interviewed some people from lend for good as well. So there’s different spaces. So you’ve got, like, the mums and dads sort of investors, you know, when someone starts off, it gets them going. And then you might have the angel investors, like, here there’s Sydney angels and that sort of thing. You might get up to, like, million dollars. And then there’s the VCs. Of course, they’re all looking for the unicorns, you know, like the 1 billion above, and so they okay, they might invest in, say, 20 or 40, and one gets to a billion, and they get 100x their investment. But the problem is, you know, what? About everybody in between? And particularly, I think you said at the start, I’m particularly interested and passionate about the social enterprise impact space, people doing something for good, and it’s really hard to get investment in that space, but there are companies like Glenn for good and others, but there’s a huge gap in Australia. There’s a $31 billion gap between somewhere between the mums and dads angels and the VCs in that space, and so, yeah, it’s very hard for people in that space, and even for anyone, because if they’re looking for the unicorn, you know, you have to have something that can scale dramatically worldwide. I mean, some people would say that’s what a startup is. You know, there’s all different definitions, be honest. Like when I started. I didn’t even know what a startup was. People say startup then, oh, what’s that? Oh, I’m a startup. Okay.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  27:45

I think it’s interesting is, I think the term entrepreneur gets into change with startup, and my view of an entrepreneur is something very, very different to a startup. But you’re right. When it comes to investment, most people are looking to invest. They’re looking to get big returns. And the only thing that can genuinely scale to that kind of level is usually a tech startup. So there’s a lot of really for good businesses out there that are doing amazing things, but they’re not going to be the scalable, sustainable return type business that those investors are actually looking for. So says challenging, because they’re the ones that will actually make the biggest difference, but they won’t make the biggest

Paul King  28:22

Dollars, exactly, and it just depends. Like, there are some investors that will, you know, invest because they want to make a difference, but unfortunately, they’re fueled apart between.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  28:33

Okay, so a couple of things that we’ve kind of learned on the world journey so far. So first of all, MVP, don’t go out and make all the bells and whistles start with something small. Test it with your market. Make sure there’s a real need for it. I guess don’t necessarily believe what people say, as in, they’ll tell you that they want and they’ll tell you that it’s great. But there’s a difference between telling you you want something than actually opening up your wallet and handing over cold hard cash to purchase that thing. Getting the right people around you is pretty important, and being able to measure them on their effectiveness that you can really see if they are moving the needle, as I call it, in the business. And sometimes knowing timing, timing was really important, right? So being being the right time, stop being the first to market. Any other lessons that are really stand out for you? Well,

Paul King  29:20

Yeah, the whole get investment if you need it, like you don’t have to. You shouldn’t necessarily bootstrap if you can, it’s great. If it works for you. I’d say don’t fall in love with your employees, so to speak, enough people are feeling sorry like, you know, if they have to move on, they’ll get something else. You have to look after your business first. And, yeah, also, obviously, you know, you got to maintain your mental health as well. Like startup world is brutal, and there’s so many ups and downs, you know, it’s a it’s a roller coaster, so you need to maintain your mental health. And I’ve interviewed many people on my podcast that have burnt out, some of them actually in large corporations. And then they started the startup, some in the startup themselves. In fact, I was interviewing a doctor just last week, and she pretty much got burnt out herself. And she’s a doctor, so you got to maintain that. Actually, I was in a talk about a year ago to a whole bunch of young startup hopefuls by these you know, startup founders and mentors now saying, if you want to make it in the startup world, you’ve got to work 18 hours a day, seven days a week. I thought you, you, I’m not going to swear on your podcast, but you idiots or, yeah, I mean, seriously. Like, how are you going to tell these young guys that they burn out, like, six months, one year there’s going to be useless, like, yeah, be passionate, but you got to maintain your health and your mental health, you know, and you’re not going to do it like that. That’s you can only do that for so long. And then I just say you can do that in

Debra Chantry-Taylor  30:54

Short sprints. I think, I think it’s, you know, sometimes there are times that the business absolutely needs it. If you’re doing that consistently, whether that be a startup or an established business. Let’s be realistic, it’s just not sustainable.

Paul King  31:06

And you got to think always, well, why are you doing this, you know? So it’s really important as well. You have to believe in what you’re doing, not do it for the money, so to speak, like you’d be crazy to a startup of money thinking, oh, I want to be a unicorn. Want to be a billionaire, you know, and I want to build rockets to Mars, like all the, all the rest of them. No, that’s not a good reason. Like be passionate, try and do something that you believe in, know, your purpose, that’s really, really important, particularly if you want to sustain it. And also, of course, it gets to a point, and this, I think it’s the hardest thing, right? And we’re at that point quite a few times, okay, what do we do? Do we keep going, or do we stop here? And always remember that image of, you know, the guy digging for gold, he’s going for the dirt, and he’s like, an inch away, and then he stops. I always thought, oh, that’s us, you know, but just now, we got to keep going a bit more, a bit more and but look in hindsight, anyone can say, oh, I should have this, I should have that, but if really, if really not going well, then sometimes you think, but I’ve wasted all this time and all this money well, you know, sometimes you just got to think, Well, maybe it’s best to pack it in now before you double up on all of that, and it doesn’t work, I guess, but it’s, it’s a really hard call.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  32:25

I guess, I think in that case, and I’ve had that myself as well, so I’ve had a couple of business failures, as you know, and the thing for me was that I actually had to have external people around me who could help me to make that decision, because you become so passionate about what you’re doing, what you’re trying to Do. You also, as you said, have put all this money, time, effort, your life, into this thing, and you just really want it to work. But I think with me, I had to actually get some external people into to give me some objectivity and just sort of, you know, know, when it was time to actually call it quits. And I always like to reposition and kind of go, you know, yep, sure, it failed, but it was just another expensive MBA. You know that it was a, it was a great learning opportunity, yeah, yeah.

Paul King  33:05

I mean, I interviewed one of the founders of Twitter. His nicknames, rabble, really interesting guy. And he was saying, Look, most, most founders and that they’ll go through like seven different startups before they become successful. The funny thing is, well, talking about MVPs as well, that these guys were actually developing a podcast like the first one, right? And then, you know, there was some issues. And then they said, look, let’s do a hackathon at which they did over a week or something, and then they came up with 12 different ideas, right? So said, Okay, let’s go with these three. And one of those was Twitter, okay? And so he says, when people say to me, Twitter looks like it was made in a day. He said, Yeah, it was. It was made in six hours. But then, using the customer feedback constantly, they improved it, you know, over time. So that just shows you, you can, you know, Twitter, they made it in six hours, and then they just improved it over time. So, you know, look, it depends what space you’re in, and it’s not that complex, but it just goes to show you and and he also says it’s all about who you know as well. So, you know, it’s, it’s your network and your contact. The most important thing is your network and contacts, particularly in the startup world, and then you know you can go from one to another, and people respect you. They know who you are, and like as as you probably know Debra as well, even in sales space. And no it, it’s what you build up over time. You know your your own personal you know, people that will recommend you, and the people in your network, and the respect they have for you, and you built that up over over a long period of time, which does make it difficult for for young people you know, haven’t got that big network.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  34:53

But they did it. You just need to you to reach out and ask for help, right? And this is one of my biggest lessons that I learned many, many years ago, is that it’s okay to ask for help. Well, we cannot possibly know everything, and we need to actually do it. And you know, people actually enjoy helping you. So when you ask for help, you’re actually making that person feel good about being able to help you. So don’t feel afraid to go, I don’t know it all. I’d love to have some help.

Paul King  35:13

No, it’s a really good point. In fact, most people that are a bit miserable and not happy are ones that are always focused on themselves. That’s why, you know, like, for me, as we discussed before, it’s all about the journey. Okay, so like, okay, you’ll get to this goal. I want to be just unicorn. Okay, I’m now on this unicorn. Am I happy? Am I satisfies my life? No. In fact, I interviewed somebody that’s really into that space. Knows all these people and said most, like half of them are really miserable, because maybe they got there and then they just don’t have anyone really close to them anymore, or the way they got there, for the you know, that may not been a great path. They’ve got money, but money’s nothing like when you leave this place, you know, planet Earth, you know, take any of that stuff with you, but you will take all the good things that you’ve done, all the growth that you’ve had. And that’s why I don’t look at my time in the startup world as a failure. I look at it as an amazing time where I learned so much. I met amazing people’s to be honest. Like, yeah, it was brutal, but I had a ball as well. And, you know, I wouldn’t, you know, if I had my chance again. I do it again.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  36:29

Yeah, I’m the same. I think a lot of those people, I always said on the hamster wheel, right? It’s like, when I get to this, then it’ll be better, and then they get there, so when I get to this, will be better. When I get to this be better. It’s like, actually, you’ve got to really enjoy what is going on as as as it’s going on, and really take the lessons from it. Because, as you said, money can’t be taken with you, but all those experiences of people around you absolutely can be and I also think that it’s it they, if you can learn from the lessons. Sure, they can be quite tough, but they actually they help to build resilience. It means that life will become easier as you go through it as well. So, yeah, so you’ve interviewed lots of people on your podcast about, you know, failure, and what failure is for them, and how they got through it. They’ve shared their stories. Is there any common threads on them?

Paul King  37:12

Common Threads? Yeah, like we were talking about before, people holding on for too long. In fact, this recently, I interviewed this lovely girl got a startup. She’s been going for, I think, a couple of years, big development going on, and so I don’t think she’s really tested it with enough people. And she said, I don’t have an MVP, I have a MLP minute, not minimal viable product, minimal, lovable product, I thought didn’t register. Then after, I thought, no good. Like, you’re in love with your product, which is great, but up to the point where you just want to develop it, and you just know, and that’s, that’s me, right? That was me as well. Like, yeah, this is going to be amazing. Everyone’s going to love it. And you know that that’s a mistake. And I actually, after the podcast, I wrote her a nice email saying, just be careful with that. And you know from my experience and others, and you know so that that worried me a bit. So keep it, not keep going when, or just fall in love with you with your product. Or I tell you another big mistake that people make, that they become their business or startup, that’s them, like, I’m my business. Like, if I talk about SBR, yeah, I’m USBR, no, you are Paul. You’re over here. You’re an individual, and that’s just your business. If you’re a CEO, that’s just your title, you know, because if you can separate that, or if you can’t, then when something happens, it’s like it failed. This has failed. Oh, my God, I fail. I’m usvr. I’m the CEO. I felt no that failed, but that you’re over here, you’re continuing on, you’re learning, you know, so people that identify really deeply with their startup, like it’s them, you know. So I think that’s, that’s another big mistake as well, and also people that don’t maintain their mental health properly. And the main things mental health that most people do that are successful with that number one is sleep. Get enough sleep. Get good sleep. Exercise, you know, good diet and and also, you know, socialize, get out there with people like even myself. At the moment, I’m working from home, but I get out often, and I see some of my ex founder friends, and visit places. I think it’s really important as well. I mean, everyone’s a bit different in that area. But, well, one other thing as well I would, I would say highly recommend, is being in a space with other founders, even if look if you can get there physically, sometimes great more, even better. But having that connection and that communication with. Other startup founders more than mentors, because you can get mentor whiplash, because one mentor says this, one says that, one says the other, right? But if you’re with a in a room with a bunch of founders, there’s nothing better than that to work things out, because they’re on the same journey as well. And I found that with a lot of people I’ve interviewed, they think exactly the same thing, and a lot of them, like I did the beginning, have this mentor whiplash. People really try to help you and do the right thing, but they say, No, you should do this, this and this and the other like, Oh my God. What? Sometimes I got off calls in the early days, like, what do I do? What do I do? No, and I just feel like my head what’s going to explode? Yeah, and that’s where

Debra Chantry-Taylor  40:39

My things have always had a bit I’ve done a lot of mentoring as well as coaching. And I think as coaching. And I think, you know, as mentors, we are there to kind of share experiences and tell you what we think you should do, but it’s they’re not there to coach. And I think a coach is a person who can actually help you come up to the right decision by asking the intelligent questions. A mentor is more likely to tell you from there based on their experiences. So if you’ve got multiple mentors, you’re right. They’re pulling you in all different directions, but the peer group, the peer group, I think it’s all these things we’re talking about are relevant for startups. They’re also relevant for business owners, even established business owners, having a peer group where people are going through the same things as you and can share from their own experiences, and having the experience at the same time as you is in some ways far more powerful than having a mentor who’s who’s done it before. So, yeah, yeah.

Paul King  41:24

And the startup world, like we are startup founders, we are a bunch of weirdos, and that’s a quote from the quitter Twitter founder. We were really weird in the way that a lot of people can’t relate to us, because we were like, a lot of us are risk takers and stuff we’re doing. You talk to other people and they’re like, Okay, isn’t like, my wife and kids, like, Yeah, okay. And you talk to other founders, like, yeah, we’re all passionate, and you should go relate to each other. So you got to get it with the other weirdos.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  41:55

Same with business. I mean, businesses that end up becoming, you know, established business from startups there’s also that’s a different breed. I mean, I’m married to an actuary and I’m an entrepreneur. I mean, I’ve done many, many different businesses, and I still have my fingers in many, many pies as well. I’m married to an actuary. There’s no way in the world he’ll ever understand what I do not I mean, because if you think about every single spectrum, you know, taking risks, he’s got to have all the facts and all the figures, and then he’ll only take calculated risks, and then it’ll be very, very low risk, whereas I’m like, sure it’ll be okay, it’ll be all right. What’s the worst? What’s the worst that can happen? That’s always my favorite quote, what’s the worst that can happen. And so far, you know, a few bad things have happened, but not, not, not the end of the world. You know, here’s

Paul King  42:34

A bit of a story, like, I interviewed that doctor recently, and she does actual end of life care, right? And she was saying that the main thing that people will say, What do you regret at the end of life is not taking more risk and not doing things? So there you go.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  42:50

There you go. We should, we should die pretty happy when we eventually get there. I guess. Hey, look, we could talk for hours, but I do try and keep these things reasonably short, just that they have a chance to listen to them all. Tell me very quickly about your your podcast. So you obviously are interviewing people who are sharing their failures and telling you what they’ve learned from them.

Paul King  43:06

It’s called Startup fail wisdom, one word podcast. I actually started with another, like, I absolutely want to fail in the in that the title, because, unlike now, I’m going to change fail as a meanie. I’m going to make it something good. And then we do a couple of founder friends, and they said I was actually going to call it the failed startup founders podcast. So I talked to some friends like startup. They said, Paul, we’re not coming on your show with that name. This. Looked at all these other names, and I’m like, Oh, what do I do? You know? And chat GPT and like I end up with startup journeys, founders unplugged. So if you go to my pod, you’ll see the first episodes like that. And I was never happy with it. I’m never happy. And then good friend of mine, Bernie, said, Paul, actually, another person I interviewed is a friend of mine. Actually, he’s a Hollywood director. They call him director’s director because I did some courses with his beautiful man, Mark W Travis, listen to his podcast. Is wonderful. And he said, Paul, you should, you should keep fail there, if a word is that’s what you really wanted. And I said, Yeah, you’re right. So after I was searching again and I failed wisdom, and I said to my wife, said, Can you have two words together? She said, You teach her, right? And said, You like English teacher? Yeah, yeah, of course you can conjugate a word. I said I was hoping to think it was ticking it right. And so I thought, That’s it, the star startup, fail wisdom podcast. And I was just like, you know, it’s like, a click, like, that’s That’s it. That’s what I want. So I’ve just actually building my website. At the moment, it will be released next week. So it’s but the story is that I wanted to help other founders that were, like, early stage founders, where I was, and entrepreneurs, you know, all those years ago, didn’t look I didn’t have business background, didn’t know anything like I’m a dummy. I still am. I’m a dummy. But I learned from all these people about from my face and all the, all the, all of their. As well. So I have highly successful people and others that, you know, like Bernie, that was, like, my second or third episode that his crypto thing was hacked $5 billion and completely collapsed. Like, there’s all sorts of stories, amazing stories, but it’s all about stories, because people love story, and I think that’s the best way to learn. And then, you know, we talk about failures and other things as well. So it’s to help early stage founders, and I’ve been really passionate about the social enterprise impact space as well. So that’s that’s my purpose, is to help as many founders as I can so hopefully have a easier journey than I had.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  45:37

That’s wonderful. And look, I think a lot of the lessons that we’re talking about, for starters, are just as valid for established business owners as well. And so, you know, I and I think if you look, if you look at the real like, one of my favorites is Richard Branson, right? Richard Branson had several failures before he ever became successful. He was bankrupt twice, I think. So, you know, we all go through this, and one day we come up the other side and everything’s rosy. But I think without all of these, if you want to call them failures, but these learnings, we would never get to where we get to. So I think it’s important to share those stories.

Paul King  46:10

Absolutely, yeah, and you know, we’re both similar in that way that, you know, we believe in that as well. So it’s been great being on your podcast today.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  46:19

Lovely to have you. I’m looking forward to actually returning the favor and come and come and telling you a few of my because I’ve had at least two failures so far. So I’d love to tell you a little bit about that. But, um, yeah, no. Thank you for your time, and thank you for sharing your lessons. And hey, let’s hope that this is a phoenix rising from the ashes. But if not, I tell you what you’ll have learnt so much that there’ll be another, there’ll be another, something that is going to be your thing, absolutely, lots of

Paul King  46:40

Personal growth, and you know, it’s just been an amazing journey, and really looking forward to having you on the show as well. Debra, thank you for having me today.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  46:47

Thank you very much. Thanks. Paul, it’s a pleasure.







Debra Chantry-Taylor 

Certified EOS Implementer | Entrepreneurial Leadership & Business Coach | Business Owner

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