LivePerson: From A Founder’s Most Painful Moment In Business To $100 Million Dollar Year – with Robert LoCascio

What’s your most painful moment in business?

Well when today’s guest started out, he was in such bad mental shape that his therapist told him he was screwed. How did he go from that terrible situation — which you’ll hear more about in this interview — to creating a company that generated over $100 million in revenue last year?

Robert LoCascio is the founder of LivePerson, most well known for its chat platform that allows companies to talk with visitors in real time on their websites. If you’ve ever been on a web site that let you chat with customer support while you were on the site, that’s LivePerson.

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About Robert LoCascio

Robert LoCascio is the founder of LivePerson, most well known for its chat platform that allows companies to talk with visitors in real time on their websites.

Raw transcript


Mixergy’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad

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All right, let’s get started. Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart, the place where over 700 entrepreneurs have come here to tell you their stories so you can learn from them, get inspiration from them, and hopefully go out there and build your own business. And as you build your business, and as you’ve built your business up until now, I’m wondering, what’s your most painful moment.

Well, today’s guest when he started out was in such bad mental shape that apparently his therapist told him that he was screwed and we’ll find out about that. We’ll also find out about how he went from that terrible situation to creating a company that generated well over a hundred million dollars in revenue last year. You’re going to find out all about it from Robert LoCascio. He is the founder of LivePerson, which is most well known for its chat platform which allows companies to talk with visitors in real time with their sites. It’s most well known for that, that if you’ve ever been on a site where you can chat with the website either via text or, I think, even via voice . . . Is that right, Robert, or just text?

Robert: Voice and video now.

Andrew: And video now. You’ve probably have seen them. These are the LivePersons, a company that puts that out; and as you’ll find out, they’ve got so much more behind the scenes that you didn’t know about. That I didn’t know about. And we’ll hear all of that, but first Robert, that thing that I brought up about your therapist. Can you tell us about that, that [??] business?

Robert: Yeah, I started my first company in 1990 out of college and it was an interactive kiosk company, and I started it with my credit cards, and there was no venture capital or anything back then, and built it up; but in 1995, it went under. And when it went under, I lived in Baltimore at the time, I moved up to New York and it was a really . . . I was 27 years old and I had lost everything. So my credit cards were gone; I didn’t have any money. I did have a little money to get a small sublease for an office here in New York and I have a friend of mine, he said, ‘You’re just down in the dumps.’ I couldn’t put the piece together. I knew I felt, but I didn’t know why. And so, he said, “You know, you should meet this guy. His name is Dr. Frank Maurio, maybe he can help you out. He’s an industrial psychologist.” So I met with this guy, Frank, and for about four weeks, he listened to my whole story of my life and my family life. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and I built this company and it didn’t work. And it was funny, I mean, it’s funny now, but at the end of four weeks I came into the office and sat down, and he said, “OK. I don’t need any more information.” I was like, “Great. This is like the beginning of the new Rob” and he says, “You’re f***ed.” So, if I can use that language . . .

Andrew: Yes.

Robert: . . . and I remember thinking, “OK. I’m kind of at the end of the road, and what does that mean?” He said, “Look, you have a big vision in your life,” and he said, “You clearly have set out to do something big, but you don’t have the capabilities and the way you’re viewing the world, it’s like you’re wearing these goggles. We think the world is all clear, but they’re the goggles you were given at birth and they’re not giving you a clear picture of how to interact with people, how to be successful, and how to build the business you want to build. So he said, “If you’d like, I’ll help you reprogram those glasses”. I spent another, about, two years with him working on reprogramming those glasses. And really, that failure really prepared me for the things I had to go through building this company today. I’m very fortunate that I had that happen to me at a young age and that I had someone who really helped me.

Andrew: I’m writing a note here to come back and find out, as we hear your story, how that failure influenced your story and got you to be where you are today. I also want to find out what you learned from going to therapy. But let’s skip ahead for a moment just to show people how far you’ve come from there. What’s your best moment at LivePerson? Is it taking the company public? Is the number of customers that you have? If you had to come up with one moment, what would that be?

Robert: Yeah, I think when I went public. I mean, it was something that I had thought about. It was one of the things that I had articulated to Frank. I want to take the company public. To me, it was like the Olympics. The best companies in the world get to do this. So, the day I got to do this, it was April 7, 2000. I was 33 years old. We were the last – it was a real tough IPO – we were one of the last guys to go public. What I realized was this is a great day. I achieved it. It was funny, because it was like in one hand, it was an amazing day, it was a lot of energy; and on the other side we were about to enter one of the worst implosions of the bubble in history, and we were about to start to live through probably one of the hardest times I’ve ever had to deal with. So it was a little bit of a… You didn’t have to be much of a fortune teller to see we were about to have a rough road ahead.

Andrew: Yeah, and you were one of the last ones to go out and you did the whole thing. You did the private jet, right?

Robert: Yeah. When we… The bankers, they give you a jet, because you do ten meetings a day in each city. We were just on the road for three weeks. The first two weeks were ten times over-subscribed. So many people wanted to buy into the IPO. The last week, what happened is, it was, like, Monday, and the lead economist at Goldman Sachs, Abby Cohen, came out and said the Internet is over-hyped and you should sell, like, 15% of your portfolio. Stock went down 300 points, this market went down 300 points. By the time we went to actually close the IPO, we were half, only half of the book was billed. We didn’t think we were going to go public, and the bankers didn’t think. And H&Q [Hambrecht and Quist] did an amazing job just getting us public. I really owe a lot to those guys.

Andrew: So, the person listening to us is a hungry founder who’s putting everything on the line to build something epic and so I want to learn as much from you about how you went from there – being on your therapists couch with that problem – to going to where you are today – being on how many different sites are you on now?

Robert: 8,500.

Andrew: 8,500, including Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Verizon, Walt Disney …

Robert: Apple.

Andrew: …QVC. All these different companies depend on you for interaction with their customers and, of course, that big revenue number. So let’s find out. You said that in school you were an entrepreneur, but as I understand it, as you told Jeremy Weiss, our producer, you were first working for someone and were fired in an odd way. How were you fired?

Robert: Yeah. I was working for a company out of college called Elders IXL. And Elders was a very large conglomerate out of Australia, and I was in a trading division trading chemicals around the world. The CEO did the typical. He bought the local football team and bought Foster’s lager, I guess everything he liked in life. This company just blew up one day. I remember a fax came through on the fax machine. It was like you need to fire this guy. I remember I called this guy in the UK who was my equivalent and I’m like, “I just got this fax, you know, and I’m going to be fired.” And he was like, “I got one, too.” And I thought this is pathetic. This is the worst way to treat people. It was funny.

I remember the guys at the office were really nice. There were about 15 people in the office and they took me to lunch. They said, “What have you learned?” And I said, “I will never, ever work for a freakin’ company again in my life.” I said, I used the ‘F’ word again. And they just looked at me with a little bit of shock. I went in my car, started to cry, because I lost my job. And then I wrote out four or five things I wanted to do in my life and I ended up picking one of them – that was the kiosk business. I wrote it out, and I said, “I’m going to do one of these now. I’m going to do this. I’m never going to work for anyone again.”

Andrew: What was the kiosk business?

Robert: So, I had this concept of, because I had just graduated college, and I felt like college advertising was not really great, and I had seen these interactive kiosks, like touch screen type systems at the World Financial Center at the time. I said, “Why can’t we apply that technology to colleges to do advertising and local information.

I found the product called DVI which was a company down in Washington using it for training. It was full motion video. This is 1990, and I saw full motion video on a hard drive, and I said, “This is the future. This video, you can transfer around the world and back then this was very unique. Now, it’s not so unique. So, I applied that technology, I learned how to program because I wasn’t a programmer and just started building this company and got it up to five or six schools. Then, in 1995 I was sort of faced with what was the end of it because the Internet was coming.

Andrew: I see. So, people didn’t want these standalone kiosks, they wanted the Internet which kept growing. I see.

Robert: Yeah. It was weird. I always had these kind of epiphany days. We were putting one into NYU. Capitol Records was a customer. They brought an artist, Sing, where we put in this whole kiosk in. The whole student union building was packed with people, and I get a call on my cell phone from Northwest Airlines, and our contact there who had advertised on our system said, “Can you build a website for college students?” And I go, uh-huh, and I hung up the phone, and I was like, OK, I’m done because I knew that the kiosk wouldn’t have any value if you could access this information on the web. At that point, I just started to shut down. So …

Andrew: Wow. And if you were at NYU, back then NYU had Internet access well before most households had Internet access or even heard of what it was.

Robert: Absolutely.

Andrew: Of course, schools did, too.

Robert: But at that time it was interesting because there were interactive TV pilots going down. Time-Warner was doing one. Disney was doing one. I mean, it was amazing. We thought interactive TV, and I was in that world, was the future. The Internet came and negated it in a matter of days, it felt like. And so, it gave me a lesson which is you have to be very aware of where you are and realize that things change, and either you’re changing it or you’re being changed. The technology world is just unforgiving if you’re lazy, and I didn’t have a vision back then. I kind of thought, oh, the Internet doesn’t have video, but it gave me my lesson which is you have to look beyond your prejudices about a business to understand what it can do for you.

Andrew: What do you mean? Tell me more because here’s the thing. My first goal with Mixergy was to interview successful entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And then, I realized by not also talking to companies who had failed I was missing the other half of the picture here.

Robert: Yeah.

Andrew: When I interviewed entrepreneurs soon after their failure, they tried to be generous with the information, but they still hadn’t processed why they failed or what they did wrong. It was still too raw. You’ve had some time and obviously, a lot of time with your therapist, Frank, to think about it, what have you come up with? Why didn’t it work out?

Robert: It was really conditioning. In many ways, I come from a family of entrepreneurs, my grandparents, my father, and they built these small companies and had done OK, and there were just things I learned. I think everyone faces this in their mid-20s, late 20s. There’s a break that you’re going to make with your family and what your family’s expectations are.

For me, that was that period when I lost everything. I thought, you know, and Frank said something interesting. He said, “You’ve got a preview into your life. This is your life as in you can start another company today. You can ignore the fact. You can say the marketplace was bad, the Internet came and shut your business down, or you can just deal with the facts which is it’s probably you. And so, you will start another company, and it will fail. You’ll start another one after that. That will fail, and you’ll keep doing this until you’re about 50 or 60, and you’ll die of a heart attack. And so, you’re lucky. You’ve got a preview, and you’re 27, you can do anything. You can course correct.”

And so, I think that really resonated with me in that I may have a pattern that I may have been given that I now had to break if I wanted to become something that I had in my head as a vision for myself.

Andrew: I’m sorry. Maybe, I’m a little slow, but I’m not picking up what that pattern was. What did you do that you kept repeating?

Robert: It’s many things. We all have these … I remember, it was interesting, I’d be in meetings, and any time I felt any anxiety about things I was dealing with in a negotiation, I’d be like, oh, these people are trying to screw me, they’re not giving me my contract, what I want, they’re not treating me fair. Instead of acting like that, a lot of entrepreneurs do. You see it. They trip up themselves. Most entrepreneurs, they’re tripping up themselves all the time.

And so, I would talk to Frank and say, “Look, I’m in this meeting, and this is what’s happening.” I’d go to the bathroom and I’d talk to him. Call him on the cell phone. He says, go back and do x, y, and z. I would go back and just do it totally different, and I started to win contracts. Things started to happen. I started to recondition. About two years after I met him. One day I came in and he said, you don’t need to see me anymore. And I never saw him again. He’s like, you got it. You got what you’re gong to need. When I went public I gave him some stock. I called him up and he said, I knew you would make it. I said, I did it. I made to the public offering. He just changed, when I would have that feeling, he changed my perception of how to deal with situations.

Andrew: What’s the feeling? You’d get frustrated because you couldn’t get your way?

Robert: No. Once again, I meet entrepreneurs all the time, and I see this personality style There’s that drive. There are the things that you have a vision and you’re thick-headed about it. You tend to want thing your way. What you realize is…

Andrew: Give me an example of how that would manifest itself. Give me a made up meeting. Let me be a real one that you remember. What was the incident that came up and how…

Robert: I’ll give you the classic one I see to date.

Andrew: OK. Perfect.

Robert: If you’re an entrepreneur you’re going to do this.

Andrew: I see a smile on your face. I know that we’ve hit on the right story.

Robert: Yes. I see this all the time. I’ll meet guys who have businesses, and they’re looking at them, and doing something strategic. They all have the same thing. They think you’re going to steal their stuff. Every entrepreneur thinks, give me a nondisclosure. I need this. They’re not open about their product sometimes because they think they’re going to get screwed. That’s an entrepreneur’s way. I’m like, nobody really wants to steal your product, because no one has the time to mess around with your product. Only you know your product. That, I think, really represents this entrepreneur. The small time entrepreneur.

Then, you have a perspective that you’re the guy driving the business versus it’s theme. OK. So every entrepreneur, the best ones in the world, came from family or family backgrounds in which they had some real challenges. You’ll find that with everyone. Larry Ellison. Steve Jobs. The only one is, Bill Gates, I don’t know what happened. But all these other people had something in their life that made them an entrepreneur. It gave them that drive, but that drive can be destructive. You have to understand what that is so it doesn’t destroy you. My first company, it destroyed me.

Andrew: What was that one thing that happened to you?

Robert: I can never put my finger on it really. It was never a single thing. It was a series of not being able to hire great people. But not…

Andrew: Did it go even further back then that? Like maybe growing up. Did you grow up in New York?

Robert: I grew up in New York. Yeah.

Andrew: That’s got to have scarred you right there. I remember going to school in Brooklyn. People wanted to steal my shoes.

Robert: Yeah.

Andrew: I wanted to make enough money so I didn’t have to deal with that kind of environment.

Robert: Yeah. Look, we all have childhoods and we all have families that aren’t perfect, and they…

Andrew: Can you talk a little bit of yours? What can you say?

Robert: No, it’s more like I grew up in a very entrepreneur house. One day, we were driving a Jaguar, the next day we were in a Pinto. It was like this. Life was a lot of ups and downs. That’s what I knew. This is how I understand the pattern of life now. That up and down is a great thing. Today I can handle a lot of uncertainty. It also can be very destructive if you run your life to run the pattern of up and down, instead of trying to run it up. A lot of entrepreneurs can sabotage themselves, because they feel like when they’re down is when they get that ego of, I’m going to build it back. So the constant up and down feeds off of the need to be the hero.

I think, if you look again at entrepreneurs that struggle, a lot of times it’s when they drive their businesses down they come back and drive them up. They like the ups and downs, and the high and the low. Entrepreneurs are a lot about the heart. You’re working off emotion and the heart. If you play into that, you’re going to get those highs and lows, versus look, we’re here to build a business. You’ve got to attract good people. Your goal is to grow, and not have all the drama.

Andrew: You know what; I also grew up in a family with a very long entrepreneurial history. I do remember one time picking up the phone at home, and hearing some kind of message, this phone is disconnected. My friend was standing next to me as I was making a phone call. Can you imagine not being able to make a phone call from the house, when the phone call costs 35 cents tops.

Robert: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: I was so embarrassed by that, that first of all I made up some kind of excuse. The phone company was having trouble. I remember saying, I’m not going to have these ups and downs in my life. When people hear that I put most of my money in CD’s or safe secure investments like that, they don’t understand why. That’s why. What did you do to keep from having the ups and downs in your life?

Robert: I think it’s more like you just don’t play into it. You don’t want to play into it, but they happen. By the way, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. I’ve had…

Andrew: Yeah, we’re going to find out about more ups and downs even afterwards. Guys, if you’re listening to this interview and you’re saying, hey, if I just have one setback then I’m recovered for life. Wait till you hear what happen next. So what did you do?

Robert: Once again it’s whether you drive the ups and downs. Ups and downs are natural in a business, they actually get you to innovate. Downs will push you to do different things to think differently. If you drive the ups and downs that’s different. Sometimes ups and downs are just driven that’s the way the world works like this. So, I think the difference is a healthy entrepreneur is not driving that. A healthy entrepreneur is managing them and reacting to them and using them and using them as ways to better grow the company. But not personally driving it. A lot of the guys I see that never get out of three or four people in a room that have this big vision is because they’re driving it up and down. They’re not respecting that there’s a team that’s needed and not about you it’s about all these people that can build something that’s great. So, that’s the challenge of the entrepreneur. And I’m not an entrepreneur anymore. That’s the difference, I don’t consider myself an entrepreneur.

Andrew: You don’t?

Robert: No, because my company, we’re 650 people now. We’re global. I’ve got a team of people. I’m innovative, and I’m driving a business but I’m not the guy on the couch anymore. And I don’t want to go back there ever and I don’t have any need to go and build another company. And so that’s now where I am as a person.

Andrew: All right, in the mid 90’s you logged on to Dell’s website and an epiphany. What was it?

Robert: Well I wanted to buy a laptop and I sent in an email and asked a bunch of questions and they never got back to me. And then I picked up the phone and I spent two hours writing an email, do you have it. And they were like no, and I had to explain everything, and I thought, why can’t I just click an open a window online and ask a question by text based chat, which was unique back then in ’98 or so. That was the epiphany, and that was the genesis of the company.

Andrew: All right, and so you had this vision that people should be able to interact with websites and you shouldn’t have to make phone calls. What did you do next with that idea?

Robert: Well it was interesting, it (?) you get driven into certain places so, we were building websites. It was about five of us at the time, we were building websites with this idea for chat. Actually chat grew out of another product we had. The original idea was building communities on line.

Andrew: This was even before you came up with chat, you were still building communities, this was a company called Town?

Robert: The product line was called Town. And it would enable customers to bring their customers together like a Facebook-y type of thing. And we went live with Xerox and we had a chat room. And Xerox was like after they went live, they said, we don’t want our customers talking to each other because they complain too much. And they’re organizing. So what we do want is the ability for our customers to chat with out customer support reps on the chat rooms, this is awesome. Customers are loving it and support guys are loving it, so that was like two days worth of code out of this monster code base we wrote over a year. We plucked that out and made live person and rewrote that code to make it. Today it’s beyond what it was back then. So I always tell everyone as an entrepreneur your idea is probably four years out, and your job is to navigate and stay alive to get to the fourth year. The first idea is never the idea. I’ve never seen it accept there are some ideas like Facebook and stuff but most peoples first ideas are not the idea to make them successful. But they get there if they just stick around for four or five years. On the fifth year you kind of get the next wave.

Andrew: You know what’s interesting Robert. Before we started I asked you how do I make this a win for you which is a question I ask all my guests, and you said. Andrew I want the audience of entrepreneurs to know that what’s happening to them is normal. And so what’s happening to you is the experience that they should go through but most entrepreneurs don’t talk about it. They forget that they had for year of bad ideas until they hit on that one good idea. They forget that they had years of depression before they regained their personal confidence. This is what you’re seeing in others.

Robert: Yes. I’ve been keeping a journal since I was 15 years old. And I read the journals every now and then and they’re funny. It’s like, oh my god, we signed a customer, we’re going to stay alive. A week later, oh my god, we’re going out of business, I don’t think I can make payroll. A week later, oh my god, I can’t believe it, we signed another customer. A week later I got to eat a good meal because we signed a customer. Next week, I don’t think we’re going to make it. The normal thing is just the up and down and what I think the journey of the entrepreneur is and it’s a very specific journey. It’s a specific thing because it’s not designed for everyone, and it’s got a lot of walls. There’s a nature to it which is, the walls are designed so not everyone can make it, and that’s the way it is. So, only 1% of people who start out in their businesses… I think they said about 90% go out the first year, they fail.

So, it’s because when people hit the first wall, like, forget this, this is too tough. I need to go get a job, and it’s all designed to get rid of the weakness and get to the part where you have strength. Our country was built on entrepreneurs, and my grandfather came from Italy as an entrepreneur, and they helped build this country because they went through the hard times. And that made us stronger, I think, even as a country. So, it’s not designed to be easy.

The things, the stories that Facebook or Instagram. I see yesterday that Instagram was at $1.1 billion. These are bad stories because entrepreneurs see like, yeah, I can be in business for two years and I can make $1.1 billion. This is not reality. It happens, but this is not the normal entrepreneur. It took 20 years to get $1.1 billion. I almost have a billion dollar market cap right now, and it’s taken me about 12 years to get here. Overall, it’s taken longer. It’s taken 16 years to get here. That’s normal, and I’m fortunate. So, this is what entrepreneurs have to understand. It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint.

Andrew: It does kind of seem like the Daily News in New York will have on the covers the guy who won the $500 million lottery, and it does make the average person think, if I just play, if I have a dollar and a dream, maybe I could do it.

Robert: Yeah.

Andrew: Maybe, we’re doing the same thing here. Ours isn’t the lottery ticket that won the half a billion dollars, ours is the guy who built the billion dollar business overnight seemingly, and that’s our understanding. You had co-founders when you launched the business, didn’t you?

Robert: No. I launched it alone, and then about seven months into it a guy joined me who was with me for about the first two years, and he had a great story. He was a war baby in Vietnam, and he was tossed into a garbage can. They found him, and then he was sent to the United States and lived in Harlem and he’s a really smart guy. He went to Cooper Union, and I put an ad in Cooper Union looking for a smart guy to help me, and he applied, and we would split the cash.

I’d sleep on the couch one night. He’s sleep on the couch another. I had a girlfriend. I’d sleep at her place. I’d sleep in these terrible hotels on the West Side highway that were used for God knows what, and they were like $20 a night for two years. And then, about two years into it, which is normal, we had a different vision, and I was like, I have to make this thing work. We saw things differently, and we decided to split up.

Andrew: What was his vision?

Robert: He was young, and he was almost back where I was when I lost my company, like creating the ups and downs. I just knew I couldn’t do this anymore. I knew I needed to have people that wanted to go for it. So, we just decided. There was no big drama. One day, we were like, it’s not working anymore. He actually went on and founded his own design shop and, like I said, we’re great friends. And so, it always happens at the beginning. One thing I see with entrepreneurs is everyone always wants a partner. I see it over and over. If I just had a chief operating officer or a president, I’d be saved. That’s an excuse, like you have to go through learning, and entrepreneurs, it’s not about having big visions, it’s about executing.

Andrew: But didn’t it help you to have somebody sleep on your couch one night to enjoy the stories of what happened the night before when you were sleeping at some rinky dink hotel on the West Side? Didn’t it help you to keep going?

Robert: Yeah. Of course, it was necessary, I guess, at that time. And, yes, it’s great to have a companion on the ride, but you won’t always get it. That’s what I’m saying, if you get it. In 1999 a gentleman joined as my CFO, and we were together for 11 years up until last year. And so, we went through the company going public and going through the downturn in 2000, 2001. And so, he was somebody in my life for 11 years. We did amazing things together.

So, there were people who joined during the journey, but wishing it or trying to find it, it’s hard and it’s not going to solve the problem all the time to find that person, so.

Andrew: You said Xerox was your first customer. How did you get Xerox? This is Xerox, for goodness sake. How did you get them to be a customer so quickly?

Robert: It’s great. I owe so many people so many things for being here, but there’s a company called Radical Media. Radical Media is an ad agency here in the city. They won the bid to build a website for Xerox. They were doing a big conference. They had the high-end guys, the guys who do the industrial printers coming to the conference. So, they built the website for millions of dollars. You can imagine, back then, it was like $5 million for a basic website. They used our product as the community areas, and that’s how we got to Xerox. That’s how we got Xerox as a customer. After the website went down, we kept them as a customer.

Andrew: Then they told you that this core product that you spent how much time building?

Robert: Like a year or so. It was a long process.

Andrew: The product that took you a year, they didn’t want. The product that took you days, they did want.

Robert: Yeah.

Andrew: What happened to all the people who were working on that bigger product?

Robert: It was all the same two or three programmers, and it was the same code, the guys who were doing the coding. The interesting thing I didn’t finish with the story before was on a Friday somewhere in 2007, we have Xerox wanting this product, and 70% of our revenues were we were building a website, an e-commerce site for another company. The guy who ran that, one day called me on a Friday, I remember it was Friday. He called me and said, “I can’t pay you anymore.” He was two months behind already paying me, and I’m like, “Well, can you, at least, pay me for the two months?” He said, “I can’t pay you for that either.” So I looked and we only had two months worth of cash in the bank. So I went over the weekend, and I’m, like, “We have to make a choice. Either we go after websites or we build this chat thing.”

Andrew: I see.

Robert: We didn’t have enough money to do both, so on Monday I came back, sat with the five people in the company, and said, “Look. Here’s the reality. I think we should probably do this chat thing. I don’t want to do the consulting work.” Everyone agreed. I said,”OK. Then we have to cut our salaries in half.” And this is amazing because our top guy was making $30 grand, you know, $25 grand; I was making $10 grand or something. We cut our salaries in half and then we went for it. In January of 1999, we raised $3 million. We had $5,000 in our bank account and we raised it. So, it’s like we cut it so close to the wire.

Andrew: Do you remember taking that check to the bank?

Robert: Well, I remember the money was being wired in by the venture capitalists, and I remember the next day, when the $3 million was in the bank account, I went down to the bank – it was a local Chase branch in Tribeca. I sat with the woman, I got friendly with her, and I said, “Can you look at our account?” She looked at it, and she goes, “What the heck is this? There’s $3 million. There was $5,000 the day before.” She’s like, “Are you doing something illegal?” I said, “No, no. We just got funded. We’re building this product.” I explained to her the thing. From there, we never looked back. We raised $40 million in the next 12 months. We went from five employees to 180 and we went public all in that time frame. We raised $30 million on the public offering. So it was like we never, ever looked back.

Andrew: Wow. By the way, before we go forward, I just want to make the point: You were sleeping on the couch at your office because, as I understand it, Frank told you stop sleeping at home, stop using your mother’s credit card, you have to be your own man and stand up for yourself, right?

Robert: Yes. That was the first thing he said was, “Look. I’m going to ask you to do a bunch of things you’re not going to want to do, and if you don’t do them, I’m not going to work with you because I don’t want to work with losers.” That was his thing. It was pretty hard core. He said, “The first thing I’m going to ask you to do.” I was living on Long Island. That’s where my parents are and I couldn’t afford to live in an apartment, He said basically, “I want you to go home and I want you to give the credit card back” – my mother had given me a credit card because I didn’t have any money to eat – “I want you to take this journey on your own.” I told him, I said, “I don’t have any place to sleep.” He said, “Well, you have an office, right?” I said, “Yeah”. He goes, “Sleep there”.

So I went to the Kmart downtown, got a comforter and a pillow. That first day on that couch – which I was alone the guy who later became my partner wasn’t there – I remember thinking, “Man, this is a scary day. I’m alone. It’s dark. It’s November. I’m alone in this building that no one’s in right now.” There was no shower or anything. I had to shower at a health club (I got a health club membership). But I was like, “This is just the beginning of something. I’m either going one way or I’m going the other way.” I had no place to go. I knew I had to go up, because I was at the bottom.

Andrew: That’s inspiring. So you had a client, you had a vision, you were starting to get going. What did that first version look like, the first version of the product?

Robert: It was really… I remember the chat window, the actual physical chat window that consumers use today – and we have 13 – 15 million consumers a month now that are chatting through our 8,500 customers – we designed that window, it took weeks. We really wanted to get it right. We didn’t want it too big or too small. The actual chat window is a standard now. Even competitors copied the size, I never knew that this would be a standard. We spent a lot of time with that, and the actual back end was a web interface at the time, today it’s much more sophisticated. There’s so much more on our products. It was a very basic product. I was beautiful though, it was elegant, and we spent a lot of time with the interface. I’m proud of that first product.

The funniest thing was, when we went live, I’ll tell you this funny story. We had about five customers on it during the holidays. All of a sudden, we get a call from one of our customers called, iBeauty [SP], and they’re like, “This chat’s really slow.”

At the same time, because next to me is the main programmer, he goes, “The CPU usage on my little spark station is maxed at 100 percent!” And I hear these two conversations, [laughs] and we forgot to point the servers out, the code out to the servers. It was pointed to his desktop [laughs] computer.

Andrew: So, all these people who are doing chat, using his computer remotely.

Robert: [laughs] It was a desktop. It was a little cheap spark.

Andrew: Oh wow.

Robert: I was laughing. I was, like, “OK. This is going to be a long ride.” [laughs]

Andrew: All right. So, you had a big investment, but it was starting to run out. Right?

Robert: Yes.

Andrew: Why?

Robert: When we got funded, or . . .

Andrew: Yes. You got the funding after you hit about $5000 in the bank, then you get funding, you and your bank are excited . . .

Robert: Yes.

Andrew: . . . and then you use it to build up this great product, and then something happens, or where does the money go?

Robert: We invested infrastructure. Back then we were in the first SAS [SP] business, and we actually built our own facilities. We brought in dark fiber, we invested about $20 million into building an infrastructure that could support a cloud based system. Back then you would backhoe the internet. I remember the internet got shut down because someone hit a backhoe, and cut the fiber on it down near Virginia.

We had to build stuff to ensure that our customers could use a cloud computing system. A lot of money went into that, and when we went public, we raised $30 million, but very quickly we realized that our customers were decelerating. Everything was starting to decelerate, and we realized we were to going to be in big trouble.

Andrew: I was in New York, I think at the time, building my company, and we built a code room in our office to make sure that we had complete control of our systems. You did that too?

Robert: Yes. We all did these things that now, you can use Amazon web services, . . .

Andrew: Right.

Robert: . . . AWS, and you don’t have to anything. Writing code was even; I remember when Java was created, and they came to New York City, and presented it to this group of us to show us what Java was. I mean, shopping cart technology was hard, and it was just hard to get businesses up and running then. You had to spend a lot more money than you do today.

Andrew: You told us that you went public. What happened after you went public?

Robert: I remember this, April 7th, 2000. By June I get a call from my head of west coast sales in San Francisco, he said they used to sell 30 customers a month, they were selling zero, went to zero in one month. I went out there, and met with him, he said, “You should shut us down.” He said, “There’s no more selling out on the West Coast.” Because there’s all dot coms at the time.

What we realized very quickly, is that this was going to end. We started to buy a company in Israel that was competing with us, but they were delivering their technology at one tenth the cost because they developed their product only six months before. They were lucky, because they didn’t have to do what we did. They didn’t put $20 million to anything, they had three servers, and they were using Java.

We ended up buying them, and then we started in 2001, with a plan to restructure the company and get profitable. We were burning $2 million dollars a month, and we had $20 million in cash starting in January, of 2001; which is 10 months worth of cash, which as a public company would not work.

Andrew: Let me go back a moment here, and follow up on what you just said. You had a system where you were getting customers on a regular basis. How many a month were you getting?

Robert: We were growing at, 50 customers, a 100 a month. I mean, it was out of control at one point. Our best sales were up, we hired someone, put him in his seat, and he sold within 15 minutes. We were . . .

Andrew: How did you get it? Because here’s the thing, you are selling people on a monthly commitment to you. You . . .

Robert: Yes.

Andrew: . . . are selling them on a product that lets them talk to their customers, very important piece of their business, you are selling them on an invitation to their websites. You get placement on their website. I’ve seen your . . .

Robert: Yes.

Andrew: . . . stuff on people’s sites. They’re . . .

Robert: Yes.

Andrew: . . . branding you. That’s a big ask, much bigger than I do with Mixergy Premium, where I say sign up and nobody has to know if you don’t like it.

Robert: Right.

Andrew: So how did you get so many people to do that?

Robert: Look, we played into that chat could increase sales and decrease your costs. And the thing is, because we developed the first hosted model and we would say, look, just put the tags on your page. Put the button on your page. If it doesn’t work, take it down tomorrow. It was interesting, we had some competitors at the time, it was a company called Eshare out (?), and they were selling an enterprise software. They were putting us down, like, oh that’s such lightweight stuff and you want enterprise software. I knew that it was a new technology, a new idea, so for the buyers, they need a way to get out of the contracts and we sold month to month at the time. So if you didn’t like it, you could cancel. We gave a lot of flexibility because it was a new innovation and that helped us get on all these websites.

Andrew: I see.

Robert: There was very little commitment at the time.

Andrew: So were some customers thinking, I’ve got a long term commitment to these people, I’d rather pay. No, you don’t want to pay all up front, because if you’re not happy with me, you’ve lost all this money.

Robert: That’s right.

Andrew: Here, if you pay month to month, you can break up any time and you don’t have to keep paying, but still, how do you prove to customers that your software helps increase their sales in a world without the terrific analytics which we have today?

Robert: We started to build basic analytics back then, and actually in 2005, we actually build the behavioral targeting engine, a very sophisticated analytics engine, which today supports all of our product lines. Because we realized, analytics is what really powers these things. So we have a way in which we can actually, today, recognize consumers, and say, this consumer looks like they need chat. And we proactively invite them and then we measure conversion. So even back then we measured conversion, and it was really important to prove the value. Today, we still measure conversion, that’s why we have all large customer (?) 10 million a year, because we measure conversion.

Andrew: I see. So even back then, you knew, if you could give your customers numbers to show how valuable you were, they would be more likely to keep you.

Robert: We had to. We had to show that. So we had to prove it, and it forced us as a company to really be very close to our customers, which today is really part of our mission. Our mission is to create meaningful connections, this is what our company’s mission is, we believe with our customers, creating very deep connections is necessary for our products to succeed and it’s what our products do for them, their customers. So we’ve always had high touch with our customers. We always think, you’ve got to be close to them, especially in a hosted, in a (?) model.

Andrew: Wow, that idea of showing your customers exactly how much you’re benefiting them is really helpful for me, as an entrepreneur, learning from that. Also, I didn’t realize, I thought I knew everything about your product. I didn’t realize that you can now allow merchants like me to only pop up the chat box to only engage with customers who look like they need to be engaged with. I just, as a user, I see that it’s available and sometimes it pops up and sometimes it doesn’t. Now I understand why.

Robert: Yes. Today, we just recently expanded the product lines. We took the intelligence in the data layers, and we have chat, we have a product called LP marker, you can send out marketing campaigns like coupons on a website. We’ve got ways in which you can take the data and intelligence and enhance your keyword vise on Google, we have a way to read the chat transcripts now and look for marketing intelligence. So we’re really moving the company towards being more of a data/intelligence platform that powers applications to create conversions in real time. So it’s chat, it’s mobile, it’s social, it’s couponing. We’ve really expanded now the ability for our platforms to go beyond chat.

Andrew: I see. I sell a product called Mixergy premium where courses are taught by real entrepreneurs and you’re saying that what I can do is, as someone’s going through my site, I might be able to pop up a coupon and say…well first of all, we’d know that they’d be the right person to show the coupon to, that would show a coupon that says hey, instead of paying 25 bucks, it’s now going to cost you only 10 bucks if you sign up in the next few minutes.

Robert: Exactly. What we’ve found is that, let’s say, a high value customer, someone who takes 3 courses, may show a pattern. So we can look at the pattern that they did on your website and say, this is a high value customer. They’re probably going to do 3 courses because of the pages they’re looking at, times on pages, what keywords they came from Google, we gather all that data. And you say, give him 10 bucks off. And then give somebody a chat, or give somebody else nothing. It’s a way to just use the data that we as consumers are providing on a website to help. It’s really for the benefit of the consumer, so they can feel more personal, they’ve got a personal touch from you. Which, today, they don’t get that on most websites.

Andrew: All right. So you were having trouble paying the bills. Rent was a special issue. Can you talk about the issue with lease? I didn’t even know this was a problem until it hit me.

Robert: Yeah, so, in 2001, we put a restructuring plan to the board and we were basically going to lay off, go from 100 employees down to 40. Convert all of our customers onto that platform, the company we bought from Israel; get out of all the equipment we had, because we had all that equipment for hosting; and the last one was get out of our lease, our physical office lease (we had about 40,000 square feet and we had about $250,000 a month payment). So we fired all these employees. That was a big chunk. We let a hundred go in one shot, and then we did 40 beyond that.

We converted all of our customers onto the other technology, and we got down to burning $300,000 a month – this is July – and $250,000 of that was our office lease. More importantly, we got down to $7 million in cash. $3.5 million was tied up in a deposit with our landlord, so the office lease would effectively kill the company. So I met with the CEO of the company Vornado, they’re a big REIT here in the city, and I begged them. I said, “Please let us out. We did all this work. We could survive now.” And they said, “I don’t care.” They just told us to get lost. We’ve gotten many offices since, and I’ll never, ever get an office space from them. I didn’t think it was very helpful. Regardless, we walked away and said, “OK. We’ll just kind of see what we can do.”

Andrew: By the way, I had, I think it was $3 million, too, on a lease in New York. I think the reason is that you’re better off dead than alive to them. The market was pretty bad at the time anyway.

Robert: Terrible, yes.

Andrew: So it’s not like he could replace you next week. But if you were going to go out of business, you were still going to make the payment or he can grab the deposit you had with him.

Robert: Yes. That’s what he did. He was like, ” can get the deposit, and then when you guys go under, I’m just going to lease it out again.”

Andrew: Right.

Robert: So, you’re right. It’s a win-win for him, but it was really going to hurt a company. There was a bunch of us. I remember I had a bunch of friends who were all in the same position. And then we had this very strange moment, which is the morning of 9-11. Our offices actually faced downtown, and we saw what happened. We witnessed the whole thing. I remember it was the most bizarre day, because here we’re 40 people now, or 30 people (there was 10 in Israel, 30 here) shoved into 20,000 square feet in a corner of this huge office space. It was just empty desks and had a very bad vibe.

We were fearing for our survival as a company, and now we were fearing for our lives. There’s no way to manage through that. No one gives you a book or can even tell you how to manage through it so we just dealt with it. A lot of it was just sitting in the conference room and talking. But the next day we get a call from our broker and he said, “I’m going to have you out of your office lease this week.” I said, “How can that be?” “Bank of New York – which didn’t lose any people, they were in Sovereign World – lost their space, but they need your two floors and they need the other two floors in the building. They want you out now.”

Andrew: Wow.

Robert: And it was just, the emotions of the whole thing was like, “OK. We’re going to live. As a company, we’re going to make it.” Yet we were dealing with 9-11 and we survived. It was interesting. You would see in our filings, which was really fascinating, because we converted all of our customers onto the company we bought, we went from negative 40% gross margins to 80% margins.

Andrew: Wow.

Robert: 80% gross margins over night.

Andrew: Wow.

Robert: You would see in the quarterly funds this flip. You could see that we were going to survive. The stock got down to $0.07 cents a share. So we were at $0.07 cents a share that day, on September 11th, which is a $2 million market cap. We went out at $300 million, we went down to $2 million, so…

Andrew: The company you acquired is HumanClick. They were an Israeli-based company, as you said. As I understand it, your developers are still in Israel as a result of that acquisition. True?

Robert: Yes. Today, we have about 325 people in Israel, about 150 of those are developers. So, yes, we still have our large team we built up from that small, little group that we bought in 2000. We’ve really done a lot of investment there in Israel. We moved all the technology out of New York, essentially, at the time.

Andrew: So, one of my premium members – and I should keep reminding people Mixergy Premium.com – said, “Hey, you’re going to have this guy from Live Person on. He has developers outside the country. How does he make it work when so many of us try to outsource and wrestle with issues?”

Robert: Israel, I think, is a neat place. It’s got development talent that’s as good as the Valley, and they’re very entrepreneurial, very smart, very innovative, really great coders – some of the best on earth. You always have challenges with distance and culture, but you deal with. You have challenges with people whom you sit next to. I think we’ve had to work through those challenges. The interesting thing about us, as a 40 person company we’re a global company, which is a very unique thing. We’ve always thought global. We think of our resources global. We’re not afraid of being global. We know how to communicate with people spread out. About 150 people today are in home offices around the country and we keep connected to them. It’s really important that we maintain these connections, and part of that is because of our experience of having this company half way around the world, as really half our company at the time.

Andrew: What are the challenges? What’s one of the big challenges of having someone so remote, and how did you overcome it?

Robert: The biggest challenge really was on the products side, which is that we shifted in the last two years to, I think, a model that works at our size. We had a functional product group at one point. They would capture information for customers, and then go back to developers. These functional product group are not, I don’t think, good for innovation. You’re hiring people to be product people. It’s a weird job title.

So, what we did two years ago, is we created a framework which entrepreneurs in the company were here instead of leaving, can think up innovations, and there’s a way to drive it through the company. But they have to drive it through the company. Then they become product owners, and then they get technology resources in Israel. So they’re here. There’s one in Israel and three or four in the United States. They’re in the market. They’re with the customers. They’re with the sales guys. Then they’ve got the development teams back in Israel, and they push those development teams to know about what the customers want.

By having product owners, it’s like we’ve got a bunch of entrepreneurs around here. That’s one of the things I wanted to do. I wanted to create culture, in which even at our size, the entrepreneur can drive the business. Now we have a series of six entrepreneurs that are helping drive the business.

Andrew: With the in live person there are these entrepreneurs who are treated with the same kind of resources that they’d have outside, but with more security, and more of a team already there.

Robert: Exactly, and they get the access to 8,500 customers. When you meet them, they’re up all night, they’re creative, they’ve got visions for their product. What I felt like what we were doing was we were losing our entrepreneurs. Which, we hired a lot of good people. They’re very smart. They realize, I can go out and get funded so why am I staying with this company. They get stock options and they do well. In this case, as the entrepreneurs, they can get the same benefits here as they would if they had left. That’s really what we wanted to create a culture of entrepreneurs in it. I think that keeps the company very innovative, and will help drive us into the future versus relegating product down to some functional group that may or may not care about product, because they’re product people.

Andrew: I’m looking in my notes. I think this is Andrea who put these notes together, and she said in 2007 you acquired Casamba Inc., an online provider of live expert advice delivered to consumers via real time chat. You acquired them for $40 million. How did you decide to acquire them, and how did it influence your business?

Robert: We did this research study on why consumers are using chat. What do they do when they shop. We found this thing that’s called the triangle of trust. When a consumer buys they do these three things. First thing they do is, they ask their friends and family, have you ever bought this product. The second thing they do is, they look for independent expert advice. The third thing they do is, they’ll go back and forth about five times to sites that sell the products, the competitors, to see who’s the cheapest and who ships overnight. We felt, well look, we’ve got chat on the websites of the businesses, but what if we could power the communication between the consumer and expert and also have chat there. That would solve two sides of this triangle.

That was really the impetus for driving us to buy Casamba. Today it’s quite well. It’s about a $14 million business. It throws off about $5 million in cash flow. It’s growing nicely. It just pieces a part. It’s smaller than the whole. Obviously the corporate base does much bigger. It’s just a piece of the story.

Andrew: The brand is still Casamba?

Robert: Yeah.

Andrew: You didn’t use LivePerson. Why not?

Robert: We did. It was LivePerson. Now, it’s still live person. It’s on our website. So it is live person today. There is a Casamba piece of it for spirituality, but it’s predominately a LivePerson.

Andrew: I see. All right, you now have done it. You’re running a successful publicly traded company roughly a billion dollars in value. Forbes calls you, what do they call you, one of the 25 fastest growing tech companies. I’m seeing more accolades here that I can scroll over and read during this interview. How is life different as a result of all of this?

Robert: It’s not really that much different. I guess for me, it’s just about continuing on the journey of building and learning. I don’t really think, the external stuff, I don’t really pay attention to it too much. I just look at what I believe I should be doing in the world and am I fulfilling my purpose in life. We do a lot of working in the community and helping people. The great thing about having a company this size is we can impart a lot more people’s lives. Including our customers, the community, our share holders, and you employees. We can do so many more cool things. So that’s exciting for me. As someone who started on the couch, to see it here today.

Andrew: Three tears ago you went to India. Why?

Robert: I turned 40 at the time, and it was kind of like the Eat, Pray, Love guy’s version of it. I wanted to go to India. I always thought it would be cool. I went to an ashram in a place called Pondicherry [SP]. It was a really amazing experience for me. It really got me to understand a lot about what I think entrepreneurs call gut. A lot of times we live off of our guts. By learning about meditation, I learned that the gut is actually an active voice that we can listen to, and it will give you a lot of guidance. If you take it as a voice that’s there, it has a lot more meaning than gut. Sometimes with your gut you use your active brain to say, well that doesn’t make sense, or if I do that I’m taking a big risk, or that I have a lot of fear in change. We all have fear in changing. Even entrepreneurs have fear of change. I think the ability to meditate gave me a little more perspective on making decisions and feeling confident about them.

Andrew: Give an example of what you’re able to do now because you meditate, that you couldn’t do before.

Robert: It’s just, today I don’t question why I feel a certain way. I used to do that. We all do it. Now I just go, look, I don’t understand why I have to do this, or why this person should or shouldn’t be here in my life, but I’ve just got to do this because this is what my gut says. My voice tells me and I’m not going to try to figure out the logic of it. I did a lot of research recently on change. There are some great studies on the brain. Even for entrepreneurs, when we were first on earth, when things change our brain is hyperaware. There’s a piece of our brain that’s very aware of our changing environment. Back then, if a new species came into the weather change, you would probably die.

When you think about it now, when we talk about change today, we always feel like we’re going to lose everything if we make this change. The reality is, there’s a fifty-fifty chance that you’ll make the change and be successful. You’re not going to die. But, the emotional feeling see have are a lot from that period in time when change equals death. For an entrepreneur it’s very important that we understand that, and we’re able to embrace it and say, this is the right thing for the company. Even though it seems like it will have a lot of risks, for myself and people I work with, it’s something I should do because it will help better us. I don’t understand why all the time, but it’s something that makes sense.

Andrew: As I was listening to you say that, I think about how you were influenced by Tony Hsieh of Zappos and his understanding of how important culture is. Are speaking out about what you’re learning about yourself, about the head game that entrepreneurs have to plain in order to survive? About the gut? Are you passing this on beyond this Mixergy interview?

Robert: Yeah.

Andrew: Because, you should.

Robert: Yeah. I talk to entrepreneurs a fair amount, as much as I can, or anybody who wants to [??] through emails sometimes. I’ll meet with them. I think it’s important. I think part of my purpose in life is to inspire entrepreneurs to build companies, and they can see that I, and most entrepreneurs, take this type of journey and not be down about it. There were times when I was down. Things happen, and I was like, I must be the only person on earth who’s experiencing this. You realize, as I talked to other entrepreneurs, we all have the same experience.

There’s the experience of the head of sales. I’ve always heard that over and over again. I’m trying to find a great head of sales, or I hired a guy and he didn’t turn out well. Every entrepreneur has his story, is the board member who wasn’t great. He wasn’t a great board member, and he had to deal with a board member. There’s raising money, and venture capital. There are a lot of these stories. There’s the first sale, there’s losing customers, there’s losing key employees, whatever it is. It’s just natural. When you talk to people about it, like you said, it makes people feel great. I feel confident, I’m doing what everyone else is doing, and then they move on. So I try to as much as I can, to touch entrepreneurs.

Andrew: All right, two other questions. The first is, Mixergy Premium. I’m trying to get people to teach a lot of topics that entrepreneurs need to learn, and as you were talking about, the triangle that helped you think through who to buy, I was thinking, well, he had this understanding of this sales process that I wouldn’t know about because I’m not spending as much time on it as Robert is. You’ve thought it through, and anyway I’m wondering, do you know who can teach it the way that you’ve learned it that triangle that you mentioned earlier, that now I can’t even do justice to by naming it properly?

Is there some LivePerson that I should ask to come on here and teach? Is there someone that you know outside a LivePerson that I can beg to teach this stuff? If it influenced you and your customers, I want it to influence my members, too.

Robert: Yeah, no, look I can tell people about it, and I’m more than happy to just share that. There’s also a great guy. There’s a great guy called Paco Underhill. I don’t know if you know Paco.

Andrew: He was in Fortune Magazine when I first heard about him.

Robert: Yeah, and he’s great. I read his book six or seven years ago. I called him up right away. He wrote a book called “Why We Buy” and the psychology of buying.

Andrew: Actually, he might have even been on Mixergy. Let me see.

Robert: Did you have him on there?

Andrew: Maybe. OK, so you’re thinking Paco Underhill should be here.

Robert: He’s amazing. Paco is like one of these guys. I think on the culture side, Tony from Zappos taught me a lot about our core values and why our core values are not some things written on a wall like customer first. But if you understand what your values are, that’s the one thing I’ll say [??] I wish that I had written out what our values were when I started this thing on the couch because we lost our way a little bit during those times because we didn’t have a clear set of values.

Today, we have two values; be an owner and help others, and our mission is to create meaningful connections. If you take the time to write those out when you hire your first employee and they tell you, I remember the big change one time was we’d all be in our shared space. We hired one of our first professional employees after we got funded, and the first thing he said to me was, “I don’t sit down in a space like this. I need an office.” And then, I went into an office.

It was so against what I believe was our culture about sharing and being open and being connected, and yet that started me down a path of having a bunch of offices. Today, we don’t have offices. Two years ago we went back to our core, and that’s why we’re innovating a lot, but I think you’ve got to write your core values out because things change and people influence you. If you have the values, you can say no, and you can say yes to things, and there’s a logic to it.

Andrew: I just did a search right now on my site for Paco Underhill, and here’s what I came up with. In an interview that I did with another, with Herb Sorenson who teaches super markets how to sell, the first line in that is, “I’m a big fan of Paco Underhill who is also”. So, anyway, I guess I mentioned him that way, but I didn’t get to do an interview with him, and now you reminded me that I need to get him on here.

Robert: Yeah. He’s great.

Andrew: Final question. By the way, guys, if you want to take those courses that I mentioned, go to MixergyPremium.com. We get people, hopefully like Paco Underhill soon, who turn on their computers to show you how they do their job or just teach it, step by step so that you can use it and get results, MixergyPremium.com.

Final question is, is Frank available? Can other people hire Frank to do what he did for you?

Robert: I’ve had many friends that have wanted to go to Frank. He’s actually met a few. A lot of them can’t handle him because he’s pretty much like, either do it one way or not. Yeah, he’s got a private practice. He doesn’t do too much anymore. He wrote a book. If you look for Dr. Frank Maurio on Amazon, you’ll see a book he put out a few years ago, and the book’s really great. It really will give you the stories, but he’s pretty jammed, so. You can reach out to him if you see the book.

Andrew: I think he’s even on Twitter. I just Googled him right now. By the way, I love that you have such a strong Internet connection that I can do it. “Located in New York City. Read my book. It’s available everywhere, including Barnes & Noble nationwide. “The Strength Within is the name of this book.

Robert: That’s his book, yeah.

Andrew: All right. If people want to check it out, if people want to say thank you to you because you’ve given them so much, what’s … I went to his website, DrFrankMaurio.com. That’s the voice you hear in the background. If people want to reach out to you and say thank you to you, what’s the best way to reach out?

Robert: They can just email me at Rob or Robert at LivePerson.com, so Robert@LivePerson.com. Just email me or if you want to Facebook friend me, I also have a blog I can send you. It’s kind of not public, and it gives you all these kind of tools on being an entrepreneur and books to read and things like that. So, I can send you a link to that, and so I can give you some things if you just send me an email.

Andrew: Good.

Robert: I can send you some stuff.

Andrew: I know my audience is not going to be the kind of audience that emails you and says, “Hey, let’s get together for coffee because I saw you on Mixergy”; say you get together with any random stranger for it. Yes, you’re shaking your head. You don’t want that.

Robert: No. That’s not it I will.

Andrew: Oh, you will?

Robert: Yeah. Yeah. I meet people all the time who are entrepreneurs. If you’re legitimate and you really need help, I feel that it’s very important. There are people that helped me, like Frank, and did this without asking for anything, and I think it’s important to just pass it along. And so, part of my purpose is to help people and not be judgmental about who they are.

Andrew: Oh, you know what? I’m going to be in New York in a few months. I’m going to email you and see if I can take you to lunch or coffee or something to say thank you, and also to just hear… You know a lot of the problems that entrepreneurs face. I want to hear from you so that I can direct these interviews in a way that’s more useful. If you’re seeing commonalities in the problems that all entrepreneurs face, I want to write them down and react to them.

If you’re out of town, and I know you’re out of town six months out of the year you travel, I’ll understand.

Robert: Yeah.

Andrew: I hope we can meet. First of all, let me be the first in my audience to say thank you, Robert, for doing this interview. I really appreciate it.

Robert: Thanks for having me, Andrew.

Andrew: Thank you all for being a part of it.

Sponsors I mentioned

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Grasshopper – Don’t make the mistake of comparing Grasshopper with other phone services. Check out their features and you’ll see why Grasshopper isn’t just a phone number, it’s the virtual phone system that entrepreneurs (like me) love.

Share

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shawn-Kirby/100001006827496 Shawn Kirby

    I am going to write a script about this guys startup life, The therapist  seems like hollywood material. By far one of the best interviews ever, feels like I was part of the journey.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Founders who are open make the best guests.

  • Niels

    Thanks Robert (& Andrew) for a great interview. It’s good to know that the roller coaster many of us are on is normal. Your journey is inspiring, thank you for being so open.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Interviews like these are why i come back everyday! Thanks Andrew and Robert. This was one of the greats.

  • Kr103185

    Great interview Andrew! Do you have those links to share that he mentioned at the end of the video?

  • http://www.JiansNet.com/ Jian

    Great interview, packed with useful tips. I could listen to it again, just to keep myself motivated. Definitely feel much better hearing Robert mentioning that it typically would take a lot of years to build up a business.

  • Robert LoCasc

    Here is a link to my blog, http://blog.liveperson.com/rob/RobBlog/Home/Home.html

  • Anonymous

    Truly inspirational. Robert really hustled from the bottom more than a few times. Lots of gems shared on this one. Thanks for sharing your story and being so open in the details.

    Thanks Robert. Thanks Andrew!

  • Anonymous

    Hey Robert! Great story. Thanks for sharing.

    And thanks for the link to the blog too. Some interesting stuff on the Tools page.

    Hard to condense a story like this into 1hr but once again, great job by Andrew to explore the evolution and bring to the surface the stuff that will resonate.

    Kudos to you both!

    Cheers!

    Trent!

  • Jimmy Moncrief

    Andrew – Great Interview as always! 

    YOU should get the therapist on!!!

  • siva n

    I bought the subscription to your website Andrew – I am listening to one or two videos a day on my mobile. The interviews are very warm and personal – and I guess you have a flair for asking the right questions.

    Thank you so much for bringing such great experiences to us

    Siva Nalavenkata

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Good call.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks, Trent.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks, buddy!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Right.

    It’s all part of the process.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Which ones?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks! I’m glad he was so open.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Oh, thanks!

    And thank you for doing the interview, Robert.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks Siva!

  • marina

    Very honest and inspiring interview!

  • Anonymous

    From the interview:

    “The things, the stories that Facebook or Instagram. I see yesterday that
    Instagram was at $1.1 billion. These are bad stories because
    entrepreneurs see like, yeah, I can be in business for two years and I
    can make $1.1 billion. This is not reality. It happens, but this is not
    the normal entrepreneur. It took 20 years to get $1.1 billion. I almost
    have a billion dollar market cap right now, and it’s taken me about 12
    years to get here. Overall, it’s taken longer. It’s taken 16 years to
    get here. That’s normal, and I’m fortunate. So, this is what
    entrepreneurs have to understand. It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint.”

    I hear this phrase bandied about quite a bit, but it just doesn’t seem to be “internalised” (or perhaps the best term is “externalised”) by the tech press.

    This is what I think is so important about what you’re doing here, Andrew.

    I made the worst business decision I’ve ever made because of precisely the “bad stories” that Robert is talking about and I’m still paying the price today.

    Robert, this interview was an absolute corker. So genuine and fun and inspiring and just amazing. Thanks for coming on and taking the time to share – it really means a lot.

    I’ve also never heard the term “industrial pyschologist” before but I’m looking it up now :)

  • Anonymous

     I’ve pinned this as an “app tab” in Firefox :)

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks, Marina.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    What mistake did you make?

    Great quote, by the way.

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  • Shayrgo Barazi

    Great interview! So god damn inspiring. One of my favorites on Mixergy. Thanks Rob for taking the time to interview. : )

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks.

  • http://www.mangodigital.com mangoman

    Thanks to you both for your conversation – so encouraging!

  • guest

    Good interview. Back in my day, there wasn’t a broad awareness of the “pivot”. When you hit that wall and need to pivot there is a *lot* of emotion to deal with. Like life or death emotion. Your guest, like myself and others, can look back and chuckle at pivoting and jumping over walls but in the heat of the battle it is really really tough. 

  • guest

     Stories about 1st time entrepreneurs becoming billionaires are in the news because they are news, because they are so exceptional. The press enjoys writing about exciting exceptional things because they are so interesting and fantastic. The day-to-day life of an entrepreneur as he bludgeons through his on-average-3.5 failures before succeeding is too gory and bloody and tedious and scary for the general public.

  • Anonymous

    Hmmm how to say this briefly ;)

    After 2 years in what I will for the sake of brevity refer to as a “failed startup” with the tech assets being “sold off for parts” so to speak, I was in debt but had cash to pay it off.

    Rather than pay off the debt using the cash then focus on building up my business I chose to aggressively pursue development of a product to the detriment of all other financial considerations, driving myself further into debt.

    I actually thought it was realistic to expect vast sums of VC money and/or a speedy acquisition for millions of dollars because I had never read beyond the Tech section of the local papers which run stories like “A business started in his garage is now worth billions” etc.

    This went down in the first half of 2010. Then I found Hacker News and Mixergy and realised what an idiot I was :)

    I’m now on the long road to recovery from said debt – which is basically the size of a small mortgage (but I don’t have a house to show for it!)

  • Anonymous

     Absolutely – traditional press will *never* tell the full story, which is why communities like Hacker News and Mixergy where we get a peek “behind the curtain” are so valuable.

    I now evangelise them with the fervour of a brainwashed cult member!!

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  • http://camcollins.com/ Cam Collins

    I finally got a chance to watch one of your interviews Andrew and your site is in my top 10 now. Right up there with @Jason. The interview with Robert was so real and human. Its so refreshing to see guys like Rob tell it like it is…!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks!

    I put a lot of work into prepping so you can get a lot of the interviews.

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