Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs, who changed the world. And I know this sounds like it’s a ridiculous thing to say, but man, we’ve seen it right in tech specifically, your local dry cleaner is not changing the world.
It’s not entrepreneurship in general is changing the world, but we have an opportunity with what we’ve learned in tech to have a big impact on the world. One of the things that you might have heard me complain about is that my kid’s school was closed and we’ve been looking for solutions. One of the things that we did was we signed him up for multiple schools.
Um, just trying to see what’s going to open up what makes sense. And one of them, I guess I shouldn’t say the name of the school, um, in the podcast, but one of them opened up this private school and they said, look, we have a few things that we need to change before we allow kids to come in. One of them is we need you to get this thing called fever, free this app.
I said, wow, this is a school that intentionally does not want kids to have technology. They want me to go and install an app. Interesting. So I go in and install. I install fever free and it’s pretty straightforward. All I have to do is the thermometer that we have at home, run it across my kid’s forehead to get his temperature and then shoot a video of it into this app and do that every day so that the school knows what his temperature is. It turns out. I assume that that would go to his teacher. So the teachers would know whether he can come in every day. It turns out it’s not. There’s some kind of software that’s reading this thing and this app and the software behind it was created by the entrepreneur who you’re going to find out about today.
His name is Matt Riley. He is the creator of fever free it’s health screening and management app. I imagine that not only are schools everywhere going to be using this, so they don’t have those big lines in front of the school of kids waiting to get their temperature check. But I imagine that we’re also going to start to see this, um, For for businesses.
And I have to tell you if we could just snap our fingers and get rid of COVID 19 tomorrow, I would still like it. If we could be a little bit aware of some people coming into the office with fevers and kids going into school with fevers and say, you know, maybe stay home today so that the rest of the school and the rest of the office doesn’t get it.
So I could see the benefit beyond it. Now, Matt is an entrepreneur who’s had multiple, uh, And he’s got a lot of experience. I want to find out a little bit about his other company. Well, I guess it’s still part of the same company we care. Am I right? Okay. We care which helps people find the right, uh, daycare program for them.
He’s a guy who created alpha draft this incredible. What an incredible idea, sold it pretty quickly. I want to find out about that. We can do it all. Thanks to two phenomenal companies. The first will host your website, right? It’s called HostGator. The second we’ll get you, um, developers that you would not believe how good they are.
It’s called top towel, Matt. Good to see you here.
Matt: Nice to see you too. Thanks for having me, Andrew.
Andrew: Okay. Am I imagining the vision of the company, right? That this is get into work before you walk in. We’re not going to check your temperature at the door, but just check it and tell us that you’re okay.
Matt: Yeah. I mean the whole purpose behind fever free was to help keep organizations safe and healthy. And, you know, as we started thinking about people coming into the office, or it really started as coming into our daycares, we didn’t want them to be bringing sickness to the daycare only to be checked and then sent home.
So we thought about, well, what is the best way to do this? And to be able to allow. People to take their temperatures at home and verify that they’re fever free. And, you know, the easiest way was actually at the time we care within our app, had the ability to take photos and videos. And so we tweaked that technology just a little bit too, rather than sending those photos and videos from daycare provider to parent to have a special type of video that gets sent to us.
And then we analyze that video to make sure that. The daycare at the time was fever free. And at that time there was also no AI component. So it very much was what you had suggested. And now it’s turned into an entire AI system that reads the temperatures and make sure everyone is safe and healthy prior to coming to whatever organization they’re a part of
Andrew: I love the name fever free, because I feel like you could do so much more like there’s so many health checks that you could have on a person before they come in this same system. And I imagine you’re going to branch out beyond you’re smiling. You’re not taking the fence, which tells me that you probably have thought of this too.
Matt: Yeah, you’re not the first person to say that. And you’re right. It fever free. Does pigeonhole a little bit towards, uh, towards just talking about temperatures and that is actually, we do more than temperatures already, their symptoms, screenings, and, uh, processes that happen that are additional checks in addition to the temperature itself.
So you’re right. We’re growing beyond the name, but we had to choose something in the beginning to get started.
So that’s what we went
Andrew: up. I understood exactly what they were doing when they sent it over. I got it. Okay. We’re checking for fevers. We’re fine. I get, by the way, here’s the other advantage of doing this remotely? My kid, one of them runs hot. Some teachers will notice it and talk to me about it. Others just feel awkward.
It’s like I’m telling you that there is some wrong with your kid. I can come over and say that this temperature is hot and they just let them in. And I realize it takes away that sense of discomfort of saying to somebody shame on you. You’re not good. In addition to also letting them check at home before they come in so that they avoid the drive in right.
Matt: Yeah. I mean, that is one of the problems with doing temperature checks in person too, unless you have a very sophisticated sort of system where people are isolated and you’re doing those temperature checks, you can potentially see someone be turned away from entering in onto the premises. And that’s an embarrassing thing, and it’s definitely a breach of sensitive health information.
So this allows them to do it from the privacy of their home. And the other great thing about fever free is the fact that. We’re not tied to any one piece of hardware, meaning we’re thermometer agnostic. And so, as long as it’s a digital thermometer, we’re able to read that temperature and verify the, the health of, of that person.
Andrew: You mentioned that this came to you because your, your preschools needed it. What’s what’s we care.
Matt: Yeah, so we care is the largest network of in-home daycares. In the United States, we have over 2,500 daycares that we service and on one side we’re a marketplace. And so we help parents to be able to find. The daycare of their dreams. On the other side of the business, we’re essentially a business in a box solution for daycare providers to be able to better operate their business more efficiently.
If you think about a daycare provider, it’s really tough. It’s not just a normal, small business. You’re taking care of children, you know, nine to 12 hours a day, and then afterwards you still need to work. On your business. And so, you know, we started, we care to be able to help those providers to, to really have their, their time back and be able to do the things that they love outside of just taking care of children.
Andrew: Like, what, what, what do you manage for them?
Matt: So we manage the communication between parent and provider. We, um, take care of their billing for them. We manage enrollment. Uh, our team actually has a concierge service to where we can take their calls for them. So they’re not distracted while they’re working with the kids. And then we also create curriculum.
In-house. That they can use so that we make sure that there’s education happening at all of our daycare. So it’s not just a place where you take your kid and their screen time. There’s actual learning that happens because those, those years from zero to six are, are the most important in terms of development.
Andrew: God, you know what, when we were doing this here in Sanford, I don’t know why you guys are not in San Francisco. You should see the type, a personalities that descend on preschools and grade schools in San Francisco. I’ve seen spreadsheets that are more in depth for preschools than most people will have during their whole business careers, because we’re talking about very tech focused people.
And so where it all starts is it starts with Yelp and conversations with who knows who it’s horrible system. I want to get more insight into it. There’s no pictures. There’s no understanding of the philosophy. Yelp is more about reviews than it is about understanding what’s going on in the front. In the program they’re not made for this.
They’re made for telling you where the local peak pizza joint and bar are worth going to. Right.
Andrew: Why aren’t you in San Francisco, by the way
Matt: Oh, we are in San Francisco. We have, yeah, we have quite a few daycares that are up in San Francisco.
Andrew: I had no idea. I went to, I thought I went to the phone and you know what? I see it. You’re absolutely right here. A couple right here. It’s still not enough, but I get it. So this one here is called sunup. We care. Does that mean that you guys own the school?
Matt: No, we don’t own the school. We are partners with them in operations. So we help them to be able to drive children, uh, in drive enrollment into the daycare and to maintain the relationship, handle all the building like I had mentioned, uh, and that’s a partnership with them. Some of them choose to use the we care, name others.
Choose not to use the we care name. And I think that the real benefit is the benefit of the network itself. When you say we care now, you know that there is a company that’s behind the provider and it’s not just them operating on their own. And so we help them to be able to do everything that they already do.
And, you know, in many cases be able to do it more efficiently and effective so that their focus is the children. It’s not the operation of the business.
Andrew: And you also will do like day drop-ins. We’ve gone to different countries where I could see my kids are tired of being dragged around and we’ll talk to friends who’ve been in the country. Do you know, have a day care? Can we drop them off with we care? We can just go to the site and find a local place.
Say we want to do drop off at two o’clock on Tuesday. See what’s available. Right. And schedule the whole thing.
Matt: That’s all right. So most of our daycares are more focused on full-time. Uh, especially now as the pandemic hit, because they’re not excited about having a bunch of random people come into the daycare, but yeah, you are able to figure out drop-in and be able to, to essentially schedule and plan your, your childcare, um, you know, a week before you need it.
Andrew: All right. Let me understand how you got here. The first big company that you launched was alpha draft, and the idea was, um, It’s like fantasy football for e-sports. Am I right?
Matt: yeah, that’s right.
Andrew: What’d you come up with the idea for it?
Matt: Um, so actually I was one of the co-founders and my co-founder Todd Peterson was incredibly into fantasy football and was a huge league of legends nerd. And, uh, so you know, both of these things are blowing out simultaneous, simultaneously. You had FanDuel and DraftKings that had phrased exorbitant amounts of money.
And then at the same time you had. E-sports, which was getting a greater viewership than a lot of pro pro sports. And so, you know, we looked at those two industries, then we said, is there a possibility to take this model that’s working on the traditional stick and ball sports side and apply it to the, the e-sports and gaming side and given the structure of league of legends at the time, I mean, they had a schedule, they had teams, they had coaches.
They had, uh, official scoring and stats that could be used. And because of all those things that made it, the perfect environment for us to be able to, uh, we like to say like a dress, the other side of the playground. Um, so
Andrew: I get it. There are a lot of people who can’t relate to football, but man, they’re really into league of legends. Did you read that book billion dollar fantasy?
Matt: no, I haven’t read it. No.
Andrew: Oh, we were supposed to have on one of the founders of a draft Kings and she was a little hesitant. And then she finally just said, I can’t do it, but she recommended, I read the book.
It is such a well-written book. If you like Ben Mezrich is his name, the guy who did a, uh, breaking, bringing down the house. It’s in that style about these two companies that just started out. With the little grain of an idea hit on fantasy sports and basically created legalized gambling in the U S and took it into multi-million dollar jackpots and people were essentially betting on sports.
So an environment where you’re not supposed to bet on sports in a more fun way, with much bigger payouts than if you, you just bet on the super bowl, it seems like you guys were basically picking up on that too, right. Gambling. But at the time it was considered, okay.
Matt: Yeah. So, uh, at the time it still is considered a game of skill. So it was never actually considered gambling. Although, you know, uh, as you may know, a few, uh, it was actually a, a few weeks after we ended up selling alpha draft to FanDuel. The entire industry fell apart because there was a draft Kings leak and that put this concept of a game of skill into a new light.
And there was, you know, uh, uh, a ton of regulation that came down on the industry and basically grinded it to a halt for almost two years.
Andrew: You mean, were, were employees of one company were betting on games at the other company using inside information essentially or no?
Andrew: Yeah. Okay. So you guys don’t just before that happened, when you w weeks before this unreal, um, At your height, what was the biggest payoff? What’s the biggest contest, uh, that you had.
Matt: Oh, I think we’re running probably 10,000, $20,000 contests at the time.
Andrew: Okay. How much did you raise
Matt: Uh, we’d raised about five and a half.
Andrew: a million dollars? How much did you sell for.
Matt: Uh, I’m not sure what I’m able to go into as far as the, the legal details, but, um, yeah, there was, uh, there was a positive financial
Andrew: Did you end up with more than a million dollars for yourself from that?
Matt: Um, I don’t know how much I can say there.
Andrew: Okay. All right. Why did you go sell when you sold? Why didn’t you say we can beat these guys
Matt: Yeah. I mean,
Andrew: flooding the airways, right? I guess. Yeah, they had tons of money flooding the airways. They, they were just commercial, commercial, commercial. All right. I
Matt: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it, both companies separately at the time had to raise over $600 million. So we knew from the very beginning that there wasn’t going to be a way that we could really compete with them if they decided to get into the space. And so our approach was a little bit different.
Um, We were fortunate enough to have nets, uh, at the time, the head of marketing at Fandel when we first started the company, literally our first day, uh, at amplify, which was our, uh, is one of our investors. And as an accelerator, I happened to be speaking about what alpha draft was in the kitchen. And someone parked up on the side and said, wait, did you say Fandel?
Oh yeah, I’m the COO of Fandel. And so our approach was to be as open and transparent with them as we possibly could to learn from them, you know, bringing them on as advisors and, you know, they didn’t really understand the e-sports space. And so for, for them, we were this test vehicle to even seeing how much opportunity there was and given the growth that we should, that we were able to show over a very short amount of time.
I mean, From the day that it launched to the day that it sold, it was a nine month period of time. Uh, they saw massive growth. And because of that and that transparency, I think that is ultimately what led to the positive outcome.
Andrew: Yeah. Cause they were really into sports. Their office was full of sports memorabilia. Right? The founders were sports nuts. Yeah. Meanwhile, a draft Kings. I think they were Europe. PM’s, they weren’t really into football, which was the major sport for this. Right. They it’s doubtful that they were super enthusiastic about sports though.
They love the business, right.
Matt: I don’t know about their, their love for sports. I mean, I think if you talk to any of those guys there, they’re all pretty, they’re all big sports nuts. Um, but I never had the chance to meet, you know, um,
Andrew: didn’t. I thought that you had an opportunity to sell to draft King FA DraftKings, FanDuel, or even Yahoo, uh, which had a big fantasy sports. No, I’m looking at your face. It’s like,
Matt: It’s my, my face is more, uh, more around the information that, uh, that we’re talking about, but yeah, we had opportunities and where we’re speaking closely with both of those organizations,
Andrew: Can you say if Yahoo was in the bidding at all? It doesn’t frankly, if you can’t, it’s fine. It doesn’t make a big difference, but I’m curious about why Yahoo never made it in.
Matt: they were not.
Matt: I think at the time they were relatively nascent. And so, you know, they just weren’t, they weren’t a player at the table,
Andrew: they weren’t. If they went to fantasy, I think for years and years, it just never got into the big money one, right? Yeah. The daily, right. That was the big thing.
Andrew: Um, all right. You sold the company what’d you do afterwards? I mean, for fun, did you take a break? Did you do anything like that before we get into what you did?
Matt: Yeah. I mean, I took a little break. I traveled for a little bit, but, um, you know, ultimately I wanted to get back into the tech space. I. I hadn’t had a ton of experience prior to that, working with a lot of companies. Um, and what I mean by that is being in the company as, as, uh, as an employee of the company prior, I worked as an online marketing consultant for about five years and had the opportunity to work with a ton of incredible companies and learn from their businesses, uh, learn from the leaders of the businesses.
But. I was always spread incredibly thin and you know, you can only go so deep. And so after alpha drafts, I really wanted to dive into, uh, you know, other business and learn.
Andrew: That rad pad, which is a site where I can go find a home. You then went onto honey, which gives people. What does honeydew, if I, if it, it encourages me to install their Chrome plugin so that I could get what, not cash back points. When I buy, when I shop, what is it?
Matt: Well, it’s really, uh, so you can find the best deal. So honey aggregates all of the discount codes and automatically applies those coupon codes at checkout. So they’re essentially doing the work for you of when you’re at checkout and you’re like, Oh, is there a discount? And then you have to go to retail, me not, and then you go over here and all of the coupon codes never work.
And so they. Aggregate and source those codes and automatically test them.
Andrew: You know what I do do that? You know what I should do today, but I’m an iPad person. So these things never work for me. Let me see, did I have an iOS app? I bet they do.
Matt: They do have an app, but it’s not as great as there is their browser extension. Yeah.
Andrew: All right. So then what did you learn by working at those companies?
Matt: So, I mean, I learned a lot of different things. When, when I got to rad pad, it was towards the tail end and the focus at rad pad was really around, uh, customer retention. If you think about, um, You know, finding a place to live, if that happens only every 18 to 24 hours. And so, you know, we couldn’t really afford to keep buying customers and there wasn’t really a financial model that supported that.
So the focus there was really on organic growth. Um, and so that was where I focused. Most of my time was on SEL and, and, uh, and then also more gorilla sort of tactics like yard signs and things like that. Um,
Andrew: What did you do with yard signs?
Matt: I mean, we had teams that would place yard signs all over the city. Um, and they were these big yellow yard signs.
And so they would catch your attention and you’re walking through a neighborhood and you see this yellow yard sign that says, Hey, this, this house is on rad pad. And so that was where we got a ton of growth and we’ve actually used a lot of those techniques with weak hair too. For all of our providers, we.
And then signs and it’s basically like a local billboard. And so, you know, that was one of the, that was one of the big things that, um, I took from, from rod pad was focusing on organic, unpaid growth.
Andrew: did they put those signs even on buildings that weren’t on rad pad or were all buildings on rad pad? Had they, would they know where to put it?
Matt: There may have been some of that.
Andrew: Okay. Got it. All right. You know what I was, I felt like having looked at your background, what does this guy need to go work at a company and learn?
He’s known so much, we’re going to get into what you knew even before you got started in a moment. First, let me tell everyone who’s listening to me. If you’re looking to start a business, the first thing you need is a website. Well, I recommend that you just install WordPress. It just works. It’s on about a third of all websites out there are using a WordPress and frankly, a lot of people who are a Mac, you might’ve noticed this, or you’re a podcast listener.
Like I am.
Matt: I am. I’ve been listening to Mixergy for about 10 years.
Andrew: Dude. Thank you. Thanks. One of the things that you might notice when you’re listening to these other people. Who are doing podcasts is they have these website builder ads, and sure they have the side business that’s hosted on the website builder, but really their main business is work is WordPress based because they want the full flexibility to expand it as they want to adjust it as they want to move it away from their hosting company.
If they want all those benefits come to you. When you’re hosted on a WordPress. Well, if you’re going to host on WordPress, I highly recommend you host with HostGator. And the reason for that is they have loads of different plans. Yes. I’m going to promote the cheapest one at least expensive. No one should say cheap right now, at least expensive plan.
It will work well for you. It’ll get you started and let you do. Even, even theirs. They’re cheaper plans. They’re less expensive plans will let you host unlimited domains, but they’ll grow with you. They have everything that the competition has as far as WordPress hosting. They have, they just don’t put that forward.
They say, look, let’s get started in an inexpensive way. And then we’ll grow. We’ll give you more offerings. And they’re always going to be cheaper than the competition if you want to get started. Oh, okay. I’ve seen cheaper. One thing I noticed Matt is entrepreneurs hate when I say fail and they hate when I say cheaper, you can see it like in their eyes, they feel uncomfortable.
So, sorry, I shouldn’t say cheaper, less expensive, really good price. Good value. Go to hostgator.com/mixergy. And it will cost even less. Not cheaper, less than they’re already. Low prices. Go to hostgator.com/mixergy and get started today. We’re hosted on HostGator Mixergy. Um, when do you listen to podcasts?
I’ve been listening a lot. We’ll get into, into your business in a minute.
Matt: Uh, yeah, when I wake up in the morning, I’ll throw something on while I’m in the shower, try to catch up on the news or catch up on a business podcast at night when I’m trying to go to bed, I’m constantly consuming information. Um, I don’t really find that much time to be able to read, uh, as often as I’d like to.
And so, because I’m constantly, you know, Moving and doing different things. And so podcasts are the way that I consume information.
Andrew: You’re an entrepreneur at heart is why I was saying before. I didn’t feel like you needed to learn anything. First of all, you had a good business, right? You went through the whole process of selling a business, which must have demystified it for you when you went through it. Um, with alpha draft and second year guy who is like an entrepreneur at heart, was it a college that you started your first business and then got hooked on entrepreneurship?
Matt: Yeah in college, I, uh, started grub hub before there was grub pub. It was basic. Oh man, it was, it was terrible. Cause I actually, you know, I learned to code at the same time, I had a friend who started a similar business at another college, which was basically, um, you know, showing food specials, drinks, specials, menus, coupons, those sorts of things.
And he was using a franchise sort of business. Couldn’t afford to pay $10,000 for this franchise fee. And so I locked myself in the library. I learned how to code and I built the first business. And then after the website itself was built, then I had to learn how to do the marketing. I had to learn how to put a team together and that business was not a wild success.
I probably ended up making 10 grand from the business, but at the same time, I had the opportunity to learn every different piece of it. And that’s, that’s where I got the bug. And since then I have not been able to okay.
Andrew: Was it hard then for you to go and work for someone else? When you knew that you had entrepreneurship in you, were you thinking, am I I’m being too much of a chicken? I should go start my own business. Why am I not just launching another thing? And another thing.
Matt: Yeah. I mean, I think one of the most important things about being an entrepreneur is being able to say that you don’t know something, uh, and there’s oftentimes where you can learn from other people. And assuming that you’re surrounding yourself with the right people or putting yourself in situations where you’re able to learn something different, then I think that that’s incredibly valuable for instance, We, I didn’t really have a ton of experience marketing, a mobile app.
And so rad pad gave me an opportunity to do that. And so I think that you don’t always have everything at your fingertips to get the experience that you need, or that you want to set you up for the future that you see for yourself. And so. You know, there’s, I think there’s a lot of reason to go and learn from someone else who, or, or learn from an opportunity that can give you that experience.
Andrew: That site that you launched was called the dub grub it had nothing to do with grub hub. Right? You didn’t, you
Andrew: their name at all.
Matt: no, no. So Wilmington is called the dub and so it was the dub grub.
Andrew: And that’s where he had like the dub style marketing agency at one point. Is that a thing that you also did?
Matt: yeah, you’ve done your research. I’m not my face. Isn’t blushing at all.
Andrew: Okay. I, I wouldn’t be proud of this. I’m actually from everything I’m seeing, it’s, it’s impressive. How far you got with that at a time when it just wasn’t working? I think, um, I mean, at a time when people weren’t looking for this stuff, I remember, um, Uh, the founders of Reddit started with something similar to, they had this idea for mobile food ordering, and they were told by Y Combinator, this is just not going to work.
And they gave it up and moved on to Reddit. So you jumped in at a time when it didn’t make sense. And you got pretty far with it.
Matt: Yeah. I mean, you know, the thing, the thing that I learned the most about that business was building myself out of the business. Not necessarily building myself in. So what I mean by that is everything was dependent on me. I knew the code base. I knew how everything worked. I had the relationships with a lot of the restaurants.
And so when I graduated college, it was either. Day and keep working on this or go, I have the, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to grad school. And so I essentially had to just leave that business as it was. And, you know, looking back on it, I would have focused more on building myself, building systems that, that pulled my knowledge base out into a more open source area or a place where someone could take it over for me.
Andrew: And so what are you doing now to do that? To systemize it that way?
Matt: To systemize we care and an alpha DRA or fever free. Uh, well, I mean, you know, everything that we do. Is creating systems. I feel like we, we run our business very much like a series B series C company, everything starts with an idea and then testing out ideas and then creating once we prove those ideas, then we’re creating systems, uh, and, and structure where someone else can take that over.
So, um, you know, I think. It really is the focus on developing procedures around each and everything that you do. And if you let that get too far away from you, meaning that you don’t do that from the very beginning, then it’s hard to go back and start doing those things. And so we early on knew that this was a business that we thought could really scale.
And so, uh, you know, we operated like a larger company from day one.
Andrew: The business started because of a coworker of yours at rad pad. Right. Jessica Chang. What was she? What, what did she do that led you to start this?
Matt: Well, so jet Jessica and I worked at, at rad pad and she was on the, she was on the supply side of the marketplace and I was on the demand side of the marketplace and we have the.
Andrew: that needed tenants. You were working on finding tenants to come to the platform.
Matt: Okay, exactly. And so during that time, Jessica got pregnant. And so I watched her go through this process of trying to find childcare. And then once you found a child care, seeing how expensive it was and seeing the long wait lists and the quality of the education at some of these places. And so, you know, I watched her struggle through that.
And Jessica is very business-minded and comes from a finance background. And she ended up, you know, seeing that there was a massive problem within this space and she wanted to learn more and her solution to learning more was acquiring a preschool. And so she.
Andrew: I’m sorry to interrupt this. Just fricking mindblowing. Because on the one hand, it just shows me how incredible people who are in our world are that they just go in and they buy a business that they know nothing about. On the other hand, it just seems fricking crazy because childcare is so tough.
It’s so full of full of issues, people issues, but also taking care of kid issues and legal issues. And she’s willing to buy one of these places and take all that on.
Matt: Well, you know, I think there was a couple steps in between her, uh, you know, seeing the issues and buying it a lot of what she did was trying to understand what was going on, why these businesses weren’t operating at their full potential. I mean, We hear that there’s a childcare deficit for every, for every one child or for every six children that are looking for care.
There’s only one space that’s available. And so she wanted to understand the why behind that. And so a lot of that was really the evaluation of. These preschools to see are they, is there an opportunity there? And through doing that, she started to identify what are the issues that they’re having. And a lot of them were around marketing and communication, um, and those sorts of things.
And so that’s where she saw that there was an opportunity, but, you know, buying and selling preschools, there’s only so many distressed preschools that are out there right now because there’s so, so much of a need. And so, you know, we.
Andrew: I, my wife, I guess I did too. We’ve written letters of recommendation for freaking three-year-olds. To our school. I swear, we got one in, we were heroes. It’s unreal. We paid while my kid was in the womb, there was an opening at the preschool. I paid for the wound baby to go to school, knowing that there’s no way the wound baby could go to school even at the first few months, but I needed to hold onto that space.
There’s that kind of a deficit?
Matt: You know, it’s funny that you say that there was actually a bug in our system. When we first started, when you were trying to sign up to get childcare, you had to put a date of birth. And a lot of the people who are looking for care, their children are not born yet. And so there was a, you know, it was a small bug and an easy fix, but it was just funny.
Andrew: of applications have that because you have to apply two years before the baby’s born and your soccer, if you wait until the baby’s born.
Matt: that’s right. Yeah. You’re you’re behind the ball.
Andrew: Yeah. People, I mean, seriously, people will shame you, like, what’s wrong with you? Don’t you care about your kid.
Matt: Yeah. That was actually a part of Jessica’s pitch. As we started to go out is like, you know, she didn’t even know the sex of her baby and her friends were like, wait, you don’t have childcare set up. And she’s like, I don’t, I don’t even know if it’s a boy or a girl.
Andrew: Wow. So she decides she’s going to buy the school. What? All right. How many students in the school? I mean, would we talking dozens?
Matt: no, I think we’re talking like 200 children.
Andrew: Whoa, we okay. All right. In some ways I’d rather have that most of these preschools are basically in somebody’s house. Right?
Matt: So this was center based, not home-based.
Andrew: So she buys this thing and then as she goes through it, she comes from tech. When you come from tech, a lot of things that are outside of tech, feel like they’re just antiquated and you could, you feel like you’re like, ah, like you’re a time traveler going back 50 years and Oh, if you could just show them a few things that just seem basic to you.
Did she do that?
Matt: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s like Excel versus an Abacus or something. Um,
Andrew: those things into the school.
Matt: Yeah. So she brought a lot of the tools in, and luckily she had the tech background, so she was able to piece mail certain things together. Uh, there was another company called bright wheel, uh, that had recently, maybe a year before, two years.
Before been on shark tank. And so they were starting to get into the, the childcare center and preschool space. And so she was using that and looking at what they were doing. And while there were opportunities in their products, we ultimately saw that the, the larger portion of the childcare market was actually in-home it wasn’t center sensor-based.
And so we felt like that was an underserved segment of the market. And they were not incredibly tech savvy. And so, you know, they were really hacking things together in order to make their finances work. In fact, a lot of them still use pen and paper. And so we felt like we could create a tool for them that would help to make their, make them more successful as a business operator.
And again, like give them time to do things that they love. Okay.
Andrew: Like what? So marketing doesn’t feel like it would be that big of a deal because frankly there is such a demand. People will, will find it. No.
Matt: They, yeah. So I mean, they, you can, but I think it’s more than that. I think what’s most important is how you’re showing off the school. And a lot of them, you would think that even though there’s this there’s over demand or there’s supply, um, And over demand, you would think that they would be able to find them.
But a lot of them didn’t even know how to market themselves. A lot of them weren’t even putting themselves on, you know, Google my business or Yelp or those things. They were putting up flyers inside their neighborhood. And so, um, they just didn’t have the technical skillset to be able to be as successful and keep their daycares at full capacity.
Andrew: Oh, wow. I had no idea. Okay. You know what they are. I always thought that it would all be on LinkedIn because somebody would put it on LinkedIn. It turns out they’re not, my friends went to a German. School who knew that this existed, that had six or seven kids and Noey Valley, the only way they knew about it is because someone else talked about it.
And the only way we knew about it is because they talked about it. Um, all right. So I get where you’re coming from. And so she sees all these possibilities and she says, we’re going to, I got to create software for this. The two of you decided to partner up.
Matt: Uh, we have one other co-founder to our technical co-founder Jesse forest. So Jesse at the time was the director of engineering at Tradesy. Uh, trades is our high-end. Women’s fashion marketplace. And so, uh, you know, Jesse, his mom, she was an underpaid educator and he grew up watching her struggle. And so like, you know, hearing this idea was something that really resonated with him.
And, you know, while Jessica and I were talking about what this idea was, I had, uh, I met Jesse because we played soccer together and him and I were meeting simultaneously. On the other days of the weekend and we were batting other ideas, just throwing everything against the wall, see what stuck. And ultimately, once Jessica and I kind of nailed down this market opportunity, then it made sense to bring Jesse in and introduce.
And Jesse’s an incredible technical co-founder.
Andrew: All right. I’m going to talk about my second sponsor, but I should say it’s top-down for hiring developers. Your developers came from Tradesy. Am I right? Because, because they all want to work with him with your CTO, with, uh, that’s his title, right. CTO. Or is that your title? That’s his title, right?
Andrew: All right, listen up guys.
If you don’t have a CTO who can go back and, or just forget about going back, who has everyone worked with him wanting to follow him wherever they go, you need to hire good developers. You need a way to bring them in. And that’s where top tile comes in. When you go to top towel that’s top in the top of your head, towels and talent.
They have already screened people. They have the reputation to bring the best people in their network. They test them, they vet them. They make sure they’re really the best of the best developers. So in a company like mine or maths one day or yours decides that you want to hire new developers, just go to them, you talk to their people, you tell them what you’re looking for and they’ll go into their network.
And often they’ll find somebody who’s done the work like that. Imagine you say, you know what. We need hardware. We want to have our own thermometer that’s hardware that automatically will connect to the phone and through Bluetooth, send it in. They’ll find somebody who’s built that hardware. Who’s done the work on it, and then done the software for someone else’s hardware.
And they’ll say, Mac, this is the person they’ve done the work before. And now you can ask them questions about how they did it, what they could do for you. And you can get started if you’re happy or move on. If you’re not you’re
Matt: Well, that would take a lot off of my shoulders.
Andrew: Go to top. If you’re out there, go to top towel.com/mixer.
Do you find the best of the best developers? And when you use that slash mixer G at the end, what you’re going to get is 80 hours of developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours, in addition to a no risk trial period. So that’s a huge win for you. All you have to do is go to top. Towel.com/mixer.
GTOP T a l.com/mix E R G Y. In the past I’ve said people put it up online. Let people know that this is available. Top tile has asked me really to stop spreading that out. So I’ll say if you want to share it with your friends, great, please don’t put it online anymore. Um, they’re really not making that offer available everywhere.
I thought that’d be great, man. I thought they’d be wonderful. They don’t want this situation that you guys have with honey. Right? A lot of people who are with honey, they want those discount codes out for people who are looking for it. Top tail says we don’t need it. We got people coming in. Andrew. We just are trying to track how many are coming from you? Um, have you considered hardware by the way? I’m, I’m coming. I’m skipping a step here for a second. I want to come back to what you’re up to with, uh, with we care. But if fever free, have you considered having your own hardware?
Matt: We’ve talked about it, but the whole ethos, so fever free is trying to be device agnostic. So it really depends on like what markets we’re trying to segment and focus on. So, you know, the in-person event space, there’s a lot of things that we can do there. And the strategy right now is not to develop our own hardware.
It’s to partner with organizations that have the hardware and do what we do best.
Andrew: All right. You start with, we care. I’m guessing you started with her, uh, daycare center with your co-founders daycare center, and then you started creating software to market her or to manage her,
Matt: To manage the business, both. It was a marketplace, so it was both manage and market.
Andrew: The manage point marketplace makes total sense. Right? Frankly, I don’t know why. I didn’t think of that. Every time one of these people send me a spreadsheet. I should have just gone over to some no-code site, created a marketplace for daycare and stop messing with the fricking spreadsheets. But you have that, you did it.
That seems like it’s fairly straightforward, right. To have the marketplace, but the way to have, um, to have people in the marketplace who are engaged with the marketplace is to give them software kind of like what open, um, what’s it called? Open, uh, not open door. The, uh, open table open table does, right.
They give the hardware, they give the software to the restaurants and then they enable other people to customers to connect into it. When they’re trying to make a reservation.
Matt: Sorry. What was your question?
Andrew: guess I’m thinking through your busy, I’m excited about your business, Matt. Um, I’m guessing what you did was you offered them some mat.
What’s the management software, the management layer that brought daycare programs onto your platform and, and then brought the marketplace to life. What was it that you did at first?
Matt: So the original place that we started with weekend was actually to help create new daycares. That’s where we started.
Andrew: Help create new daycares.
Matt: Create new daycares. Yeah. Because by helping them to go through the process of getting their license, being able to certify their home and open up as a daycare provider, because really where this.
The idea started was that there was an under supply in the marketplace for childcare. And so we felt like by being able to help open up more daycare as we were expanding the marketplace and being able to make it more affordable, uh, for, for parents. And so by doing that, what it allowed us to do from a product development standpoint is there’s about a three month period of time.
Before a while a daycare provider can get their license once they submit. And so. We had this very linear process of building out each of the tools that were necessary to service that daycare provider during the three-month period of time. So originally what we started with was creating a website so that we could market them.
Then after that, we built the billing system. After that we started building the, the tour management system. Uh, and so there was a very linear process towards what does the daycare provider need and what are we building?
Andrew: Oh, wow. And so how did you find people who wanted to open up daycares? That seems pretty hard.
Matt: Yeah. I mean, so it was a lot of listing on job sites, those sorts of things, um, uh, finding teachers. But the truth is, is that there’s so many incredible teachers out there that are underpaid. And so our business gave them an opportunity to be able to three X their income that they would have at a preschool.
So there was a strong motive for them to get into, uh, starting their own business. And we, with our toolset. Eliminated a lot of the risk of starting a business,
Andrew: Wow. Okay. So you, you found them, you helped them get people to take tours, the application process, the payment process, everything that they needed as they built their business, you started working on. Got it. Wow. Now, now I can’t read your smile. What, what are you smiling about? You picked up on some, or I’m not picking up on what is a mate?
What, what did you do?
Matt: you know? We focused on that path because we didn’t have a tool set that was full-featured enough to be able to offer us solution to the current daycare providers. They were using different tools and piecemealing those tools in order to make everything work. So once we got to that full featured status, then we really switched our focus from starting new daycares.
To focusing on the existing daycare market. We kind of, we used to say that it was like our Uber black cars, which helped us get into an area. And then we could leverage the data around that area to then start new daycares and be smarter about where and how we were starting them to make sure that they were operating, uh, at a financially efficient way.
Andrew: okay. And then to get into a new market today, what is what’s involved in that?
Matt: Uh, there’s, there’s some secret sauce there, but, uh, it involves a lot of connecting with the existing market. Um, you know, uh, letting them know what the offering is and creating a seamless process for them to be able to go on and test out the tool for themselves. We care is. Is free for our providers, our, uh, what we, we take a 10% revenue when we find them a child for their daycare.
So all of our interests are aligned. So I think, you know, it’s a process of like how we go and do outreach, uh, to then how we onboard them and making that process seamless and easy. And then also just the support that our team provides for them.
Andrew: All right. I should say, by the way, this is, we care as in like little weed, w E not as in we work. All right. And so, Jessica, I guess, has family near Wu Han, am I right? And so she started to watch what was happening in China and she had a hint about what’s coming right.
Matt: Yeah. I mean, because her family was there, she’s pretty in tune with when the pandemic was hitting, what was, what was happening. And, um, you know, we were also focused on, well, if this comes over to the United States, there could be a pretty substantial impact on our business. And one of the big things that they were focusing on was doing fever checks.
Um, before you walked in anywhere, they would take your temperature. And so. We felt like at that time, you know, everyone was sending a, a pamphlet or a letter about the best practices to wash your hands or disinfect things. And while that’s that’s valuable, we wanted to do more. We knew that we had the technology to be able to do more.
And one of our team members. Said, well, what if we used our video feature to allow the daycare providers and the families to show us what their temperature is, so that we can prove that everyone is healthy before they actually come and interact with each other. And I also want to say that I know that that is not a full proof method of, of health.
You can be sick, even if you don’t have a fever, but it is a leading indicator and yeah, it was what we could do to help. And, um, we felt like it was the best option, um, to, to help keep our daycares or network safe.
Andrew: Is it a leading indicator? Don’t people get sick and then they get a fever and a lot of people don’t have fevers at all.
Matt: It’s true. They can be. Yes. But, um, we had to do what, what we were able to at the time. And that was our solution.
Andrew: Yeah, I see we’re being asked now for fever checks everywhere. A lot of people are using those guns on the forehead. You know what I mean?
Andrew: we got the kind that you swipe on the forehead. So it’s, it’s fairly quick to do. I guess it’s one of those things that doesn’t hurt, picks up on some, but doesn’t completely eliminate risk.
Matt: Yeah. I mean, outside of. Uh, constant daily COVID testing. There’s not, there’s no foolproof plan. And so this is something that does help. And a lot of people don’t even know when they have a fever. They may just think that, you know, Oh, I’m not quite feeling well, but they don’t understand. And so that’s been a lot of the feedback too, for people who have not received clearance status when using our product is, Oh, I didn’t even realize I had a fever.
Andrew: I guess I would also, I might know if I had a fever, maybe not. I don’t know, but I definitely wouldn’t know if my kid did. Sometimes it just feeling down, you know, they’re exhausted. They’re whatever. Right. Take a temperature check and you, you get it. All right. So you saw that and you said we need something more than pamphlets.
You used your app. And within the app, you had a way of getting data directly or, or video directly to you. Why did you build that? Why did you build a way to get video directly to your company? To we
Matt: Well, so we already, we, we basically were just, uh, making tweaks to the technology that already existed in, in the app. The app allowed daycare providers to. Take moments or show what the children were doing at the daycare during the day. So the parents felt like they were connected to what was going on and they could see what the child was learning.
And so it was a very short leap in the tech to be able to then have a video that gets sent to us, rather that we can look at and make sure that they were fever free.
Andrew: All right. And so that started working for you. At what point did you realize we could spin this out? It should be its own thing.
Matt: Yeah. So, uh, we started, we, we actually got a contract with LA city and we were helping them to place, uh, The essential workers placed their children into childcare centers, um, so that they could stay at work. And one of the biggest things that was important to them was the fact that we had this tool that made sure that there, that there, uh, that the daycares were healthy before bringing everyone together.
The worst thing that you could do is have an essential worker, someone who works at a hospital getting sick because their child went to. Daycare and then brought sickness to them or vice versa. And so the technology that we had enabled us to establish these, these partnerships, um, and so that ultimately led to then those organizations saying, Hey, can we use this for our business?
Andrew: For there for the essential workers. So it started out with help us get a daycare for the essential workers, kids. And then when they saw what you were doing for their kids to keep their kids from spreading the virus, they said, can you give it to all of our people?
Matt: Yeah, can we use this app for our people? And so that’s really where this, this, this happened organically. We, you know, we had a few customers who wanted to use this product before the product was even built, released.
Andrew: Wow. We, and so then you, you had how many users then because of LA, LA city?
Matt: On the fever free app. Oh, it was very few at the time. It was only like one or two that came of those businesses that so they’d be willing to pay, but also at the same time, our business had been impacted by COVID parents were, I mean, we were, we were on track to be raising series a. Right when COVID hit.
And so we needed to do things to make sure that we were able to do, to continue to show growth. And so this was an opportunity for us, um, to leverage the technology that we had already built and enhance it and be able to make another product line that also helped the world in a really beneficial way.
Andrew: Wow. So. This is just an amazing recovery. As I do these interviews with entrepreneurs who ended up doing better because of COVID, I’m just so inspired and overwhelmed by what’s possible. Are you doing better now because of COVID or after COVID than you were before
Matt: Yeah. Yes, it has. It has started to build up for sure. And fever free has really taken off.
Andrew: And so are you seeing schools are kids now going back to school? It feels like it here in San Francisco, they are.
Matt: Yeah there.
Andrew: is picking back up.
Matt: Yeah, very much. So. I mean, we are working with a ton of different schools, school districts, uh, childcare centers, ha uh, healthcare organizations or hospitals to make sure that they’re keeping safe and healthy before they get in.
Andrew: Okay. Overall, would you say that school attendance is down from last year or is it back to normal?
Matt: No, it’s definitely not back to normal. I mean, even the, even the schools, a lot of the schools that we’re working with, they have a phased approach to opening. Um, so they’ll start with a small number of kids or they’ll do alternating days of learning. So, but each. Each city, each state, each town, each district, everything has their own regulations.
And that’s one of the hardest things is being able to keep track with everything that they’re being required to do. And so that’s one of the benefits of our technology is that we’re able to, to be able to quickly iterate when someone needs some additional layer of. Tooling, whether that be, Oh, we need to be able to log attendance when someone not only takes a health check, but physically arrives on premises, we were able to iterate and create that tool for
Andrew: yeah. Oh, you know what? One of our kids’ schools doing that used to be able to pick up your kid whenever you wanted, and then all the kids would be dismissed at the same time. Now you have to be. You have to tell them and get permission to pick up your kid in the middle of the day. And each grade is let out at a different time and they have to figure out a way to manage that.
And of course they’re doing it with paper and pencil, but it seems like if that’s a need, you guys can start setting that up and stagger
Matt: Staggered arrival, arrival times. Yeah. That is, that is on the roadmap.
Andrew: Yeah. Wow. You’ve overwhelmed at this point, considering how many things you have to get done. I know at one point, uh, Apple and Google both said, Hey, nothing COVID related is allowed in our app store. So you’re constantly getting, getting curve balls thrown at you, and you’ve got limited resources. How are you dealing with all this?
Matt: Yeah, first things first, um, we need to focus on what’s most important for the business and, um, you know, that’s driving that revenue right now. And so our, our decision-making criteria has changed a little bit from before. Um, You know, a lot of the things that we were building before we would invest some in net revenue generating opportunities and then others in value creation opportunities for our providers.
And so it’s really shifted the priorities. And so, you know, our product development meetings and our roadmap planning meetings, those are, those are hard, you know, because things are constantly changing. Priorities can change literally on. In, in a, in a moment’s notice. And so that is it’s, it’s difficult, but I think one of the things that our team does really well is thrives in complex environments and is able to handle a lot of things.
In fact, I think we work. Better when we have more things going on. Then when we have less, you know, we, we tend to take too much time to think about what is the right way or the perfect way to do something. And now we’re forced to make decisions quickly, pull the trigger and, and learn. And I think that’s one of the most important parts.
There are things about being an entrepreneur. It’s like the person who is most successful is the one who can learn the quickest.
Andrew: Uh, I just see so much possibility for you. I feel like the, the standard we care business is already just phenomenal that it’s, I didn’t get to use it for myself. I mean, from what I’ve seen. It’s well done, but as a person who struggled to find proper daycare for his kid, I’m willing to put in the work for that.
There’s a lot, I’m not willing to put the work for, um, I’m not willing to take the boxes out from Amazon deliveries, but I’m willing to put in the work for this. And God knows I couldn’t freaking find anything. And all I had to deal with was bad. Overly detailed spreadsheets. So that alone is a killer business.
What you’re doing here with fever free is a, is a step above. I could see so many things that you’d be able to, to grow into with that. There’s no way that Regis should allow it. There’s no way I could work at a Regis office. Why not work at home, but there’s no way that I would want them to fever, check me every day and that they don’t want to do that.
And I’m paying them. So they’re not going to say no to me. They’re going to let me through, but imagine if they had this, if they said, look, just use the app. And if you have the Apple know if you’re okay, great. And you had some COVID tests and then I can show them my COVID tests this way. Yeah.
Matt: Yeah. I mean, the way that we look at this is like similar to in 2011, how nine 11 changed the travel industry. We view this as something that’s changing, how we think about health and, and the management of health. And so. We think that there’s a massive long-term potential for this. And even in, we had a fireside chat the other the other day and had a few of our nonprofits onboard.
And one of the things that they said was since using fever free the overall sickness. In their organizations has gone down. One of them was a teacher and she said, I used to get sick all the time. And now, because of using this tool, general sickness has gone down for us. And so I think that this is something that is really going to be here to stay and has long-term potential to, to help eliminate, you know, not just COVID, but.
I’ve read an article the other day that said that there were more, that there were more viruses in the world in on earth than there are stars out there that was on the national geographic. And so like this pandemic is a microcosm of so many other things that can happen. And so that’s really what we’re looking at this as an opportunity to help change the way that we view view sickness and keep everyone healthy longterm.
Andrew: Yeah, I think. Comparison to nine 11 is a great one. Before nine 11. I had offices space in Manhattan, Midtown Manhattan. You could just walk up to my floor. There’s no cars. There’s no, nothing. Just go up there. Nine 11 happened suddenly they’re starting to figure things out and they have these guys stand at the door and they don’t even know what to do yet.
But eventually we ended up with computer systems where if somebody comes into my office now, They check with the office space upstairs to make sure they’re allowed in or better yet I emailed beforehand. And so the person is automatically welcomed in. You could imagine this changing the way that we behave on a day-to-day basis.
I don’t, I don’t yet know where, but it looks like you’re well-positioned Matt, but the more impressive thing for me as a business owner is to just see how fast you change, how fast you said this is not working, what we build our business on. It’s not going to work for awhile. Let’s see what else we can solve.
What are the problems? All right. What’s the best place for me to send people right now. Just we care.co, right.
Matt: we care.co. If you’re looking for childcare or fever, free.ai, if you’re looking to help, keep your business safe and healthy.
Andrew: And it’s available in the app stores too. And I guess the idea is businesses want to bring their people back, have your people install this app, get them to be, uh, get them to be checked before they come in. All right. I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first, if you’re hosting a website, go to hostgator.com/mixergy.
And the second, when you’re ready to hire the best of the best developers challenge the people at top tau to amaze you. If you go to top talent.com/mixergy, they’ll give you a great offer that will make it worth your while to get started with them. Thanks.
Matt: Thanks, Andrew.