Making product decisions at scale

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I remember Noah Kagan telling me that he would get on Skype to get feedback from early customers. That idea stuck with me but even then it didn’t seem scalable.

Well, today’s guest agrees with that. So he created a platform that can deliver customers insights at scale. I invited him here to find out how he did it.

Dan Leahy is the founder of MakerSights,  the product decision platform.

Dan Leahy

Dan Leahy


Dan Leahy is the founder of MakerSights,  the product decision platform.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, they’re freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And one of the early people that I interviewed here is, uh, the founder of AppSumo ended up creating a fantastically successful company. But in the beginning, when I asked him a question about what he’d want to do.

I remember what he did was he would go onto Skype at the time and just text a few of his customers and say, do you think this is a good idea? And then to get a response back immediately, and that’s how you would decide whether to do something or not. And I wonder, and I think about that a lot because I wonder do other companies do that.

And then also what happens when they hit scale, where they don’t just want. Skype or text message people. Do they just have a tastemaker? Do they just have instincts? Is that what they base these multimillion dollar decisions on and. Dan Leahy says maybe it worked that way before, but that’s not the way it should work.

He is the creator of maker sites. What they do is they allow companies to reach out to their existing customers and customers like the ones that they’re pursuing and basically do what Noah Kagan of AppSumo did, but in a more organized way and in a more scalable way. And I invited him here to talk about how maker sites has grown with that idea in mind.

And to do that, I. Got two sponsors. The first is a company that he uses to pay his team. It’s called Gusto and I’m signing up. They are going to be the people that I use to pay my people in 2020. And the second is HostGator the company I use to host my website, Dan. Good to have you here.

Dan: Thanks, Andrew. Excited to be here.

Thank you.

Andrew: Um, what’s your revenue?

Dan: Uh, we don’t share our revenue publicly, but, uh, we maybe some context around scale where just that’s 70 folks. Um, we work with 10 of the 20 largest brands in the world. Um, we, and we just raised our series B of revenue or revenue of series B funding. Uh, raise a total of 37, a million dollars across.

Andrew: Okay. And, uh, brands that we’d be familiar with, who are working with you? Uh, I’ve got Ralph Lauren new balance mate made well as a customer.

Dan: Yep. All those. So we have both brands on those sort of large-scale, as you mentioned. And then also just some of the fast growing direct to consumer digitally native folks. So folks like Taylor, stitch and fairity and M the floor. So we, uh, we try to keep our, uh, kind of. Pulse on both parts of the market, because they’re both really important and in both will have a meaningful role on like how retail is evolving, which is.

Andrew: How is this different from a survey with like survey monkey that somebody could send out and say, do you like this style watch or that style? Do you like this type hands or.

Dan: Yeah, so there’s, I mean, there’s a few differences. So, um, one of the things that we support is the breadth of decisions, product decisions that an organization needs to make. Uh, it’s pretty meaningful. Some of those larger brands that you mentioned, the new balances, the Ralph Lauren’s of the world, 10,000 styles, a season that they’re considering.

If you don’t have something that is actually catered towards assortment scale sort of testing. Yeah. You can ask one-off questions with, with tools that are kind of very flexible and not industry specific and those, those tools are great. Um,

but if you’re trying to operate it at scale, that it’s really difficult.

It’s really important to be catered to it, to a specific question, but being specifically focused on a specific question has other benefits. Whereas we have measured purchase intent on physical. Almost 2 billion times since we started our company and we get sales data for products. Once they actually hit market that we use to, to power our data science and power analytics.

And so we have our own kind of data set that no one else has of like how our products resonating with consumers pre-market and how do they ultimately sell in market? And we are able to build, uh, analytics that combine those two to give You Prior to making any sort of production decisions, how the products are likely to resonate with our consumers.

So you spend more resources on the things that are resonating and less.

Andrew: You know what I was thinking. It was going, you were going to focus on the way that you ask questions, the way that you bring images on the way that it’s designed to feel like the company’s own material. And the backend communication that happens between departments. But I didn’t think of that, that you also have sales data to come back and say, in the past, people have said this here’s what they did when we actually saw the results.

Do you have an example of something like that? That was unexpected?

Dan: Oh, yeah. All the time. I mean, we, you see, uh, you think about if you’re designing something, whether it’s a physical product or a software product, you’re going to, if you’re putting the amount of love and care that is required to create something. You are necessarily going to be hugely biased. Um,

it becomes your baby.

It’s very easy to fall in love with your own creation. So when you will very often see products that are kind of, of one of two things, First a designer community is really interested in it. The more sort of avant garde a consumer is, but it doesn’t have this sort of a widespread appeal that might justify a big, uh, inventory position in that product.

And so that might be a great product for you to produce. It could be a great thing to have in the front of the catalog or the front of your website. But if you get caught with a ton of inventory there that it doesn’t sort of, uh, kind of align with the amount of demand that exists, you are stuck with cash that is sitting in that inventory and that you can’t reinvest in your business.

So that can be a real. And the opposite is true. Also like you will have a product that you might think is nice. You might think it’s just like, Hey, let’s bring some people in and create excitement, but you sell out of it in the first week. You can’t get back into it for three to six months because you didn’t realize how widespread that appeal was.

And so we see both of those flavors a lot and we want to help people identify what are the opportunities that we’re not leaning into enough and what are the risks that we want to make sure where we’re tuned to as we make our inventory.

Andrew: Got it. All right. Let’s let’s go back now and understand how you came up with this. You are someone who already had a company before it’s called savored. It’s a company that you launched and you sold to Groupon. This was back a, you launch it back when you were still a student, right?

Dan: As soon after I did a year stint of investment banking post-college and we

Andrew: Oh, he did.

Dan: the company in 2009

Andrew: Okay. Um, it’s silver lake partners. I see it now. Right. Or brown brothers, Harriman

Dan: brown brothers. Harriman. Yep.

Andrew: brothers. And so help me understand what saber did for local restaurants.

Dan: Yeah.

So if you think about a local restaurant and you think about from a simplified perspective, their, their, their, their PNL, they have very high fixed costs, which are the rent. You need to have a chef who’s there, no matter what you’re going to have to probably have someone at sort of host and you have the electricity, uh, and then they have the variable cost, which is, which is the food and the drink and their hard costs for providing this.

Their markup on there, like the food and drink is typically somewhere around 70%. Um, but it’s a very low margin business in general because those fixed costs are hard to compensate for. You’re going to have a place with a lot of foot traffic. And so what saber did is we said every table that you are not turning, that you do not have butts in seats for you are losing money.

That should be profitable. And, and, and is, is, uh, is inventory that you’re paying for in those high fixed. And so what we allow you to do is actually tear your prices based on variations and customer demand patterns. Very similar to How a Priceline would work with hotels or airlines, where it’s like, Hey, a seat that flies with no one in it is a miss.

And so as long as we can charge full price to just to a certain amount of our customers, and then be able to offer incentives or a lower price to, to drive that informant, the buyer that is going to be the, uh, kind of optimal.

Andrew: are you doing that? It wasn’t like you were sending out digital menus for the restaurants to give their, their, uh, guests so that they could change prices based on how many other people are sitting.

Dan: So where we first started was we went to general managers at a restaurant who, I mean, they live and breathe customer patterns. They could tell. Uh, next Tuesday at 4:30 PM. How many people do you think you have it? Six 30. How many people you have? And of course there are things that throw that off, but in general, they’re very attuned to that.

Cause that’s what makes their business go. So where we start, as we went to business managers and said, what inventory and inventory in this context was tables, which tables are you not turning with? Confidence that you can say? Um, if I give them to you, I have no real risk that I’m going to cannibalize my full price tables, because I need people to know.

So our initial inventory was basically that the tables that these restaurant owners, we’re pretty sure we’re not going to, uh, to get butts in seats for an infill. And then we could then go to a consumer and say, Hey, these, these business owners are willing to offer an incentive to drive. Um, people at these times.

If you book this time, you can, you can kind of benefit from them, send them to. So that’s where we started, which was like kind of a sliver of the available inventory as we started to gain scale though. And we had more and more restaurants on our platform and as more and more consumers, we we’ve started powering actually the deal platform for open table.

Um, so open table, I wanted to get into daily deals at that point, uh, Groupon and, uh, TripAdvisor or. Public company options for investors to be able to invest in the daily deal sort of craze. I’m sorry. Open table. TripAdvisor is open table, had a daily deal segment. We were the one powering that, um, because we had the best inventory.

And so by giving them our inventory, we got access to their data. What that meant is that. Autumn in an automated fashion, ping these restaurants, inventory systems and identify when there, if there was a bunch of rain, then all the tables were empty. We could see that in the system and then put it on it.

Wasn’t just relying on what a business owner said a few months ago, it would be available.

Andrew: How did you get the consumers in your mailing list?

Dan: Uh, Yeah.

that kind of funny in the early days. So the very early days we’d go to restaurants and we’d be like, Hey, this system is great. It’s going to really help you. And they’re like, I’ve never heard of you. Why would the Southwest we’re like, trust us, you give us some tables or you can get some good diners in.

And so people are all right, well, I’ll give you five 30 on Tuesday in New York that might as well be. Uh, 2:00 PM dinner slots and added like a see what you do. So our very early restaurants, uh, we would have. All of our friends. Uh, we were consumed out of college at that point. We’d have all of our friends be like, I need you to die at this restaurant at this time.

Like, I’ll give you 20 bucks outside a little bit. And then we’d all pretend we didn’t know each other. And so we’d have these like small restaurants, like the west village in New York where it’s like five 30, you got to look around and it’s a bunch of your friends from college. And all of a sudden this business owner was like, holy cow.

Like I’ve never had a restaurant full of this time. And all of a sudden, like this thing really works. And so they would open up more inventory and more restaurants sort of came on and it’s a bit of it. I mean, it’s a chicken and the egg situation, um, and it’s sort of two-sided marketplace. Um, and so what we were able to do is first few restaurants through like an early mailing list and some like early kind of small time press, uh, we were able to start building both sides of that marketplace.

And then once we had enough credibility with some of these top restaurants, we got covered by the New York times. That was a huge boon to our business, both in New York and in Florida. Um, and all of a sudden that sort of marketplace started to build, but we had to sort of create through kind of like grit and spit that first.

That that first, uh, supply side demand side to get us by.

Andrew: And the way that you, the offer that you made to consumers was come and we’ll give you a discount on what you order. If you sit at the tables through us,

Dan: Exactly. So typically, um, we would, we’d simplify as typically 30% off your food and drink if you dine at these times, so meaningful discount, but again, remember 70% margin on this, on that food and drink for restaurants. So it’s a win for them. If they’re getting a profitable diner at that time, it’s a win for.

Uh, and it was kind of the supply demand and balance that as a former econ major, you talk about a lot in theory, and then you’re a bit of a hammer looking for a nail when you go out into the world and that this found like a cool example to, to actually make it work.

Andrew: And you were charging $10. I think at the time for people to buy this opportunity through you, they pay you 10 bucks, that’s your profit. Then they sit down at the table and they pay 30% less and the restaurant gets to keep everything as long as they bought a ticket through you.

Dan: That’s exactly right.

Andrew: Okay. And then I read in fortune magazine that you were talking to Groupon before the IPO, because Groupon before Groupon’s IPO and Groupon wanted to get into the reservation system.

And this was kind of their way of getting into the, into the reservation system. So how did that work considering that you were working with open table, which is a reservation

Dan: Uh, yeah. Uh, what’s a group on ultimately bought us. Um, yeah, the we way, I mean, the reservation system for us was not just open table offers a reservation system, which is like, that’s their core product. Um, it is a reservation. Um, and that consumer community that the books books to today on it, um, what we were doing is our reservation system was actually facilitating a different offering, which is like a yield management.

I want to get butts in seats in these slow times. Um, and so th the, the reason we had a reservation system wasn’t just to like, make a reservation. It was, if we had a reservation system, we could make a promise to a restaurant owner that you will never discount a table, that you could fill it full price, but you should never have another empty table in your.

That’s the promise. And so to do that, you couldn’t just where someone like Groupon historically, I’ve struggled with, uh, working with the highest end restaurants is if you’re a great restaurant, you don’t want people buying a thousand group bonds and coming in on Saturday night and taking the seats that your loyal customers are in full full-price bank, customers would pay.

And so without a reservation fees, you couldn’t do that sort of price discrimination that it’s at the sort of core of the way Priceline works, the way we work. And so it was a means to an end for us, whereas. Uh,

for, for someone like open table it’s there.

Andrew: Okay. And then you got to a thousand restaurants. You’re smiling. As you tell me about this, a thousand restaurants in 10 cities, it feels like madness to get restaurants, to agree, to even see you. They pride themselves on being dicks, right? They write books about how arrogant and like annoyed. They are by everyone.

And then you’ve got to go in there and be a brand new person to them and close the sale with them. And. And tell them that they should implement technology from some guy they never heard of. That seems like a really painful task.

Dan: Yeah. I mean, I think selling software software to SMBs is a tricky thing. And so.

Andrew: don’t know. There’s some SMBs that are more eager for software than others, right? Like if you, if you talk about online businesses, like the people who are listening to us yeah. You throw another app at them. They’ll sign up and they’ll be happy. You say it to a butcher.

Dan: I think that’s right. And I think if you were going just for like, what are the, I mean, that cuts both ways because the industries that are most apps to have adopted technology in the past are going to have less sort of wide open opportunities for new sort of software. So, but, but, but yeah, I mean, we’re not in the restaurant industry now. Um,

there’s, there’s obviously a reason for that. What I would counter though. Restaurants are an amazing business. And every person who’s running a restaurant is an entrepreneur is so creative and they go into that business not to make more money, but to like create a space for people to come and enjoy themselves.

And there is a, there’s a level of energy around that industry. And there’s a level of passion with the people that you’re working with. That actually doesn’t feel super different than a startup itself, whether that’s software, whether you’re starting a new restaurant. And so I think that. I think part of what drove the connection between us and our partners, part of what drove people to come work at our company and allowed us to recruit exceptional people.

There’s a romance around restaurants. There’s, there’s a real, tangible value. They’re delivering. There’s a real risk. These entrepreneurs are taking when they start their business. It’s not an easy business for them to run. And I think that that bond between a startup company and versus like these public companies that they kind of begrudgingly use for POS systems or our reservation systems, don’t like that they’re like us against the world mentality.

Andrew: Um,

Dan: very similar in startups and in restaurants. And that, I don’t know, you kind of feel like you’re, uh, you’re, you’re, you’re on the same team. You’re fighting the same fight. And I think that that connection can be pretty powerful.

Andrew: did you talk to Groupon before their.

Dan: Uh, we did, and we would see them not only that we would see when we would sign a restaurant in a restaurant owners would tell us the S the second that they went on, on, uh, savored, they would get an email from Groupon, from living social. So we were like w we were seeing them in the field a lot. Um,

and so that’s what led to some of the conversations where we were consistently winning in our segment of the space, even though we were this kind of tiny company out in New York.

And, um, and that that’s where this sort of interest came from. But yeah, we’d see them in the marketplace a lot along with other.

Andrew: I’m Amanda like for a buyout, but as the more you, the more you talk about how many restaurants you talk about, the more I remember the story you told our producer about how, as a kid, you did the thing I did too, you would write to athletes to get their autographs.

Dan: I did sports illustrated for kids back then used to have the addresses for practice facilities for these sports teams and

Andrew: I had no idea. I used to buy these books with addresses of celebrities and athletes, and I was pretty deliberate about who I mailed. I think I should have done what you did. How did, what was your approach?

Dan: I was a, Uh it’s a numbers game, sort of guy in my, uh, my outreach. So yeah, my parents were always, and still am a big handwritten note people. And so, uh, like be surprised what you get, if you ask.

Andrew: parents would, would write handwritten notes to people.

Dan: Well, I would, they were big on like, thank you notes and all this sort of stuff. So I would write handwritten notes to all these athletes, um, and sometimes include a picture of myself or whatever It is.

We got the whole USB team to send something once. Uh, but yeah, I would think of like, they were the athletes who are the good people in the NBA draft that I liked the most. And I’d write to them and say, Hey, I hope you join the Celtics. And my name is Dan and I play on my basketball team and I’d sure love your autograph.

And 95% of people never write you back. And that that’s 5%. If you’re writing a hundred years. You’re getting a meaningful amount of.

Andrew: What are some of the ones that you had? I don’t remember any of the big ones that I had. I just remember the experience of opening it up and seeing that someone would not just do my card, but add more of their. You know,

Dan: Yeah. I mean a bunch, I mean, remember Pawel, Baret. I was so excited about, uh, I’m remove on Movado mother and the word got out that his mom was friends with, uh, the nurse at our school. And so through her, I sent a note and you get to someone’s mom and sh and that was like the gold. He sent his own picture and autograph.

Um, I’ve got a whole bunch, uh, I mean I wrote to Michael Jordan once I’d love the bulls with family Chicago. And, uh, my parents had took a picture of it because I wrote a note as a dear Michael. You’re my you’re my favorite athlete. There is if you’re ever in Maine where I grew up, I’d love to hang out with you.

Um, can you see, can you please sign this card, PS? I wish you were my father. My parents thought that was a very funny touch. And my, my dad had a more, more funny than that.

Andrew: Did he write back? I’m assuming he didn’t Michael Jordan at Dunedin, me,

Dan: I stuck with my own father and, uh, and didn’t get a

Andrew: uh, it seemed to work out and then I, I always would look up what an autograph was worth, but I never sold any, did you

Dan: I was obsessed with, I get the Becket and like update my, my like personal portfolio. I was like, maniacally. I mean, I still have, when I go home, I have like, I have a Western conference MBA, a folder and Eastern conference. It’s

Andrew: Oh, and you kept it as like a portfolio where you would update your list of, of, uh,

Dan: of your best ones.

Andrew: Well, yeah,

Dan: That was like cache among your friends was like, oh, you have that one, you have this

Andrew: that’s, that’s exciting.

Dan: part it too is like, I mean, I, I probably bought individual cards, like five times in my life. It was always you buy the pack or like a Christmas, you got a thousand cards and you go through every single one to see that joy and the randomness and the sort of random surprises was

Andrew: I hear Gary Vaynerchuk. Talk about going to the conventions as a kid. I remember my mom would drive me out there and then I would just go in and look around. It was just a bunch of older dudes, but they, they got it. You know, they, they felt excited to see that there was a kid who got into. All right. And so I’m seeing then also that kind of hustle come through when you’re going to restaurants, I’m assuming you were emailing them also.

You were going, we were emailing them, right?

Dan: Honestly, they don’t use that much. I mean, a general manager of a restaurant is behind a computer, maybe 20 minutes a day. And they’re looking like they’re, they’re trying to figure out the food gym. And that was late there. They’re less like trying to find tools to optimize their. It was feet on the street.

You go in, you have a drink, you ask who the manager is. You asked what they’re willing to talk. I mean, our sales team over time, like, I’d say more of those conversations were started at 9:30 PM the normal business hours. It was, uh, and you show that you’d like to place you show that you brought a date there, you show that you like that sort of, Hey, do you respect?

My business is a really important sort of trusted develop prior to get them to adopt something that’s new. And it feels a little bit like interesting, but scary. So.

Andrew: Wait. So you basically pay for your people to go take their girlfriends out to restaurants that you wanted to work with.

Dan: Well, I mean, it’s interesting though, the restaurant system, uh, the industry has like a real barter world to it. And so at it was more like these, I mean, our salespeople in these markets, I mean, they were the cream of the crop in terms of getting like great tables or anything like that. Cause they befriend these owners, these owners. But like, I mean, when we’ve walked into a restaurant that we were driving $20,000 a month in incremental. We were like conquering heroes. Like they brought out trays of like shots and food. I mean, we ate ourselves. Like I probably gained 20 pounds in our first year. You’re just, uh, and so,

Andrew: that’s after the sale, before the sale, they would have to sit in order a drink for their husbands. They talk to the person.

Dan: Yeah, you’re building the, and we weren’t, we weren’t necessarily paying for those, those drinks, but, but it was, Um,

that was, I mean, there’s, the people really attracted to that. That is a way of doing business. That is like, it’s very different than sitting in a desk and dialing for dollars where you’re going to some of the, you could have five gold restaurants in an afternoon and you try to catch a manager and you try to connect with them.

And it’s hard. It’s hard work. Don’t get me wrong,

Andrew: I would, I would hate that. I remember talking to Michael Evans from grub hub and he, he would do that in the early days. Just go knocking door to door, to door, to door. And I don’t think he got electrified by it. He was just like, all right, this is what you gotta do. Um, all right. And so you did that. Why did you sell.

Dan: Uh, I mean, to, to what we were just talking about, I think what we realized Is As you sort of hit a certain scale, a company like that is a local sales business. I mean, you just need we’re in 10 markets at the time that we sold open table raised, raised and spent over a hundred million dollars prior to their IPO. Um, and that, I mean, I guess that doesn’t sound like a ton to give it how much is raised today, but that was 15 years ago.

It’s just really expensive to scale a national Salesforce and to have people on the ground selling and serving these cases. And it wasn’t like our thousandth restaurant that we signed was like that much easier to sign than our 500. And so we had, we created a bunch of value for, for our investors, uh, for, for ourselves.

And, um, it felt like timing was good. And we had the sort of someone like Groupon is excellent at a great go to market motion that got excellent local sales. I kinda like the modern yellow, the yellow pages was excellent at that twenty-five years ago. And then some of these great local businesses where that.

W w we had a good product, good offering, good, good sort of customers. And it made sense to combine,

Andrew: my research, right. Did you sell for what? 15 to 20 minutes.

Dan: uh, I don’t think I’m able to publicly share,

Andrew: Did you personally become a millionaire from that?

Dan: uh, saw something to talk about.

Andrew: You can’t say that. All right. Um, was fortune, right in saying that you talked to them before their IPO and you should have talked to that, that you should have closed the deal before the IPO.

Dan: Uh, I wouldn’t, I mean, I wouldn’t say so. I mean, Groupon’s IPO is really interesting. It was, I mean, most hyped IPO of, of what I remember in that sort of whole decade.

Andrew: And then there was a hole, will they, or won’t they sell to Google and so much else going on around it. Yeah.

Dan: and so, uh, no, I don’t think, uh, we did have conversations with them prior to that point. Uh, when we sold it, it was post IPO. Um, and I don’t mean at the time it was disappointing. Um, but, uh, in terms of the first, first dance, but then, um, but I think the ultimate outcome was, was better for, for the better.

Andrew: Why do you think that this does not, I’m looking at their site now, if you go to, they redirect you to Groupon, but they tell. That you can type in reservation in this. Let me see. I’m going to type in reservation in the

Dan: Well grub hub grub. I’ve actually purchased it from Groupon

Andrew: oh, they did. Okay. But it’s still not like a massive part.

I don’t understand why this doesn’t exist. Why isn’t it like a natural for me to say I’m willing to go to a restaurant I’m not super eager to go five 30. I’ll get a sitter, a five 30 or I’ll adjust my. I get something for, even if it’s just like, don’t worry, the host will take care of you at five 30 is when you get the host attention at five 30 is when the owner comes over and checks out what you’re up to.

Anything like that, it’s still doesn’t exist. Let alone what you did, which is I’m going to give you money up front so that I know I have this spot and yes, I’m going to eat at five o’clock instead of eight. When I prefer to. But I get something in return. I get to taste this restaurant at a little bit of a discount and it feels better.

What, why doesn’t this exist throughout the market? I’m frothing at the mouth dude,

Dan: Yeah. I mean, it’s a, I think it’s just an expensive business to grow. Um, I think, I mean, if your ACV.

Andrew: and grub hub and others are already in even, um, open table. They’re already in Yelp. They already have these relationships with the restaurants, right?

Dan: It’s a good question. I don’t, I don’t know. It’s one of those things where like you hear other entrepreneurs get really excited about it. People have just launched savored knockoff. Certainly. I think it’s, I mean, I think if you get a sort of SAS, uh, if you’re going to sell into this space, I think getting a SAS type revenue stream is just something that if you’re going to really invest heavily on your, on the ground motion, something like SAS is like much more predictable.

And so I think, I think marketplace local marketplace businesses are hard. And I think the unit economics, whether it’s in the restaurant space, The marketplace is local. There’s only so many that have been successful. I think people are instead turning to like, okay, POS tools. I’ve like totally been revolutionized during, during COVID.

And like the thing that I tip on and whenever I buy something now, like that changes really quickly and that’s like, that’s a hardware, that’s a subscription. That’s just like, I think it’s a little bit more attractive and more predictable of a business. Then building all this infrastructure with the hopes that this marketplace is going to, um,

Andrew: It is frustrating. There are a lot of things that just seems so logical that are not going to work in restaurants. And part of them is that. The logic is not, it’s not helpful. Like the founder of seven doors told me it was illogical for him, a guy who had all this money, but not much time to go and wait in line to get into a restaurant.

And he thought, well, if I could just show them how much money I have, they’d let me in. And the restaurants didn’t want the douchebag. I had the money. So, so maybe what I think is logical actually does not make sense when it, when it comes time to the actual experience. Right. But here’s what is logical and does make sense.

Gusto the company that I’m going to be using to pay my people next year, you use them. Are you connected enough to the business to know why you guys are using Gusto or is this like something that seven layers down and happens?

Dan: do. I mean, I log into it probably once a week. It’s uh, it’s just so easy to use. Um, it is, it is an enjoyable experiment experience I get in and get out and get what I need to get. Um, and it’s just a very easy way, whether it’s like looking at our sort of payroll trends, whether it’s reporting, whether it’s just activating a new employee, it’s easy for our employees.

They get paid on time. I don’t have to spend a ton of time on it. It’s a good experience with.

Andrew: That’s critical for me. I don’t want to spend a bunch of time on it. I’m still doing this stuff myself. I’ve, I’ve had other people do it, but I wanted to see, I want to be aware of how much we’re paying for people. Um, and then I don’t want anything that’s going to slow me down. I don’t want anything that I’m going to have to log in on a special device that doesn’t fit well on any other devices.

Let me pay people and move on. And also I’ll be on. If a am OD creates mercury bank, I’m signing up for mercury bank, right? If someone else comes up with something else, I’m going to sign up for those things. And truthfully haven’t had any issues with mercury, but some of the other things that I mess with might have my cause problems.

I don’t want my team to suffer because I’m experimenting. I that means I need somebody at Gusto to be there and help me out if I run into trouble. And they’re all about that. So anyone out there who’s listening to me who wants an easy payroll solution that your team is going to love. That’s going to make it easy for you to pay.

That’s going to just get out of your way and that frankly, if you listen to my interview, How many of my past guests have used Gusto. If you want to sign up for them, I’m going to give you a URL, which will frankly give me credit, but also let you use them for free for three months. Here it is. It’s, G U S T I X E R G Y.

All right after the sale, did anything happen? Like fun. Did your life change in a positive way before we go into boy? I can’t believe it’s halfway through once again. I’m not going to do my second sponsor. I don’t even know that I have time for it. I’m so freaking fascinated by you, Dan, that we just spent half an hour.

I realized talking about your baseball card collection in your past, and we haven’t even talked about microsites, the biggest win, but let’s talk about just one last thing would say, but did you buy yourself anything nice. Did you did anything big happen? Was there good, like finishing line?

Dan: You know, it’s interesting. I, you, you think about a time when you first started business, you think, especially coming from an investment bank. Do you think about how they exit and it’s going to be this great. And yeah, you can get like a, a little bit nicer apartment and you can maybe do it Like, a trip or two.

And so there are certainly some like creature comforts that come with it. I found myself surprisingly quickly afterwards thinking back. Man, like we had a good thing we had when we had 40 people who are this, like all rowing together and like going head to head with some like big competitors and winning more than our fair share.

Like that was pretty neat. And honestly thinking about more and more like, how do we get back to that? And that’s part of the company. And so, I don’t know. Maybe that’s like the curse of being an entrepreneur. Uh, honestly, I think I thought back and reflected on, on what, it had been much more so than like what it allowed to do.

And that really informed. I mean, I think it sort of kicked off the discovery and the search around a maker sites. And then I think also just informed, like what really mattered?

when you had a little bit of perspective and how do you be really purposeful about creating that next company? And I was much, much more thoughtful about that.


Andrew: Like, what, what really mattered?

Dan: I think, I think working with exceptional people who you like to be around with and who are extremely talented, like that is motivating to the right folks. And like, if you can get that, if you can get, it’s almost like there is a work world equivalent of being on a winning sports team. And I think many people are conditioned.

I probably assumed in my mind that like you get out of high school. I mean, I was a high school athlete and nothing. Um, we kind of assume you’re gonna get to the working world and you kind of commit yourself to like the drudgery that’s associated with that. And, and you realize like, no, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Like you can be part of a team that is like, that is ripping, that wins together. That is like motivating to each other there’s growing. And I think that that environment of being surrounded by just super high caliber folks who want to win together and like being together. That’s pretty unique. And I think startups are well-suited to, to attract that sort of crowd because you have like an upside orientation versus just trying to like, keep an existing business from, from deteriorating.

You, you have like an energy associated with it. I think. Energize people. And, um, and so I, I knew pretty quickly post that that was, that was an environment that I wanted to spend my time with. That’s where I got the most energy. That’s where I thought I would be most successful. And that’s where the learning curve is honestly that the steepest and you could, like, you could have your own personal trajectory to be at a much higher, higher level.

If you’re, you’re putting yourself in a position to be challenged, to prove yourself in position, to be wrong all the time and to maximize for that.

Andrew: What I was sensing from your conversation with our producer was that having the right team was more important to you than having the right product. It was like, let’s find the team let’s decide which kind of customers we just don’t want to go back and service or go in and service for the first time.

And then with the right team, we’re going to figure that thing out. Am I right about that?

Dan: Totally. I mean, my, so my co-founder Matt and I for the first week of working full-time on maker sites, we went up to Maine where I’m from. We went to a cabin with no wifi or anything, and we spent our first week not. Not focused on like whatever was our product going to be, was our approach, what our go to market.

It was like, what do we want our company to be? What do we want, what do we want it to feel like for someone who was working in our company, how are we going to recruit and retain exceptional folks? Because. Oversimplification. Yes, but our perspective is if you are tackling a big enough problem and you have a reasonable enough solution, if you can recruit and retain exceptional people, you will be successful.

You will build something meaningful. And I think more often than not, that is the case. Yeah, we talk about tactics a lot now, but thinking about what is an environment that you can create that could recruit and retain exceptional people. That’s what we spend our time thinking about. Um, but we actually wrote that week, a promise to employees in terms of, uh, what they would get if they came to maker sites and in terms of the environment that they would get every new employee joined, still guests, that initial promise that we, what we wrote.

And yeah, I think having the opportunity to be purposeful about what you want to do and not just have culture, be a by-product. Uh, of whatever else you’re building. That’s, uh, that’s something I think you hear second time entrepreneurs are much more thoughtful about and it’s definitely something that?

we paid much more attention to, and I’m really glad we did.

Andrew: What’s one thing that I wouldn’t expect that significantly important to you, that you had to put it in that conversation.

Dan: Cool. I think the, I’m not sure if this is obvious or not, but I think the. The highest caliber folks that are going to want autonomy, and they’re going to want more responsibility than they would have in other opportunities. Like that is your best currency you have as a startup. Um, and so. Yeah. It’s one thing to say that, but you need to be purposeful about if you want to really create autonomy.

Like, what does that mean? Does that mean like you’re going to come down someone’s throat when they make a mistake? Well, no, that’s not going to be living up to that value. Does that mean you’re going to hire people? Who’ve only been there, done that. Like, no. Cause like that, that person is going to find those sort of job responsibilities, less of a step up than they were in the past.

I think thinking about that as a currency and being really purposeful about how you set yourself up and How you celebrate success and how you sort of guide and coach. That’s probably the single biggest one. Maybe it’s obvious. Maybe it’s

Andrew: do you guide someone to do so? You know what, what you’re saying? Actually it reminds me of a conversation I just had with Andrew Monday. He was the first hire at grub hub. Just went off to create his own, uh, company, local kitchens. And that’s what he said. He loved about grub hub that he could act, excuse me, door dash Dota.

He says what he loved was with door dash. He could just go and create a new city on his own. If he wanted to, he could take on the whole legal work of the company and he needed if that’s what he wanted to do. And he’d look around it. Like the people at Uber and all the other companies that he was talking to, they were all actual lawyers who are doing the legal for their companies.

And it’s just like, just him. I wonder, how do you create a culture where you could do that? Where he could take that on without saying we are not going to handle it. And if somebody just steps up fine, how do you, how do you delegate it instead of just neglected and let somebody come in and, and do it.

Dan: I think the main, I think the biggest difference from startups and other companies, um, at least in my example, my experience I’ve I worked in investment banking for about a year and then. Start the biggest difference for startups is you are maximizing for upside. You are not trying to minimize your downside.

And that sounds, sounds maybe trite. But what that means, I think is when a startup, you have an opportunity to paint a picture and get everyone bought in on like what is possible. And there’d be a lot less specific on the, how. I don’t know what, it’s not like the, how it has to be, that we have no idea what we’re doing in many cases.

And so giving people that I think spending much more time on, like, what would incredible success look like and then providing sort of guidance or experimentation and celebrating failure and the sort of pursuit of that. I think that is something that when you don’t have a kind of a cashflow business, that a ton of people are relying on that that is kind of like keeping your focus.

It’s liberating in a lot of ways, and there’s not like sacred cows that you need to make sure you’re preserving, like everything is in service of getting towards that sort of upside. And so I think that orientation in of itself really shifts what someone who’s, what success for your first sales person looks like, what your success for the first like customer success person looks like.

It’s just going to be different when you’re trying to build versus mean.

Andrew: I like the way you phrase it too, that you need to focus on the upside, not protect the downside. That that’s, that’s what it’s about here. All right. So I see where you’re going. You said we’re not going to go after restaurants. We want to think about bigger customers, right? Not small, medium sized businesses.

And then you also said what’s another industry that hasn’t taken on technology the way it could. How’d you land on how’d you land on the fashion.

Dan: Yeah. So, yeah. So somatically really liked the idea of easy to use technology today that you could put in the hands of actual practitioners to kind of, uh, help find these opportunities where supply And demand aren’t meeting today. And they could meet more efficiently like that theme. I liked a lot. Um, but that was very relevant for, from from Sabre.

I think in terms of business who wanted to create. We thought there was a few things first, I want to build a multi-decade company. And so as a result, they’re going to be an industry that I’d be interested enough excited about to spend multiple decades in. And that cuts a lot of things off the table. Um, secondly, we wanted to have an average contract value of at least $50,000, and that sounds kind of random and, and, and it is, it’s actually not a financial metric or it’s not, we didn’t think about it for a financial person.

But we wouldn’t to think through how do we create an extremely customer centric company? Um, how do we make sure that we weren’t just building the things that we thought were neat or important, but we were actually building to serve the needs of our customers. And we thought that if we forced a constraint upon ourselves to have 50 K for average contract, People are going to give you 50 K for something that doesn’t solve a need for them.

And so w w we, prior to even determining what businesses we were looking at, things through that lens of, okay, where could we go to be in an industry that has meaningful needs at the sort of intersection of supply and demand? That’d be exciting to be in for multiple decades. Uh, and that would have the ability for us to provide so much value to, to individual customers that they were worth four 50 K.

Retail is the first industry. It’s pretty adjacent to where we had been. My co-founder was, was the first employee at Birchbox. Um, so in the beauty space, restaurants are maybe a form of retail. So we, we early on had inklings that the restaurant or the, sorry, excuse me, that the retail industry would be an area where it had the sort of characteristics, but that was just a hypothesis.

And we went out and we spoke to 300 people and we spoke for everyone from practitioners all the way up to C-suite investors. Important. And then we asked them a script that was a pretty similar across each of them, which is like, what makes or breaks your quarter? What makes or breaks your year? What are you most fearful of?

Like, what is changing in your industry that you haven’t adapted to? Like where do you not have data where you wish you had data? And when we started hearing again and again and again so frequently that it, we couldn’t ignore it. The processes for retail brands, creating physical inventory is basically unchanged as the early eighties and the early eighties was really when Eastern manufacturing opened up to Western companies and you can make these big bulk orders overseas.

And you also had kind of a media mass media in the U S whether it’s super bowl ads or billboards, you have this, like this ability to really control consumer demand in a lot of ways. Retail industry came up in that, in that era. And it created a ton of wealth. And as a consumer back then, and when this model was created, I didn’t have that much choice.

I mean, I grew up in Maine, I’d go to the main mall once a year with my mom to go back to school shopping and I’d walk into the gap and I’d buy two shirts from the gap. And I walk in the foot locker and I buy my back school. She was at foot locker. And like, that was my universe of available products.

Like if I had 60% of the shelf space at foot locker as a brand, like I was probably going to sell about 60% of the, of the products. What we learned is like distribution was destiny back then and brands optimized around a world where they really controlled that consumer demand. But all of a sudden that’s changed in the last 10 years.

That’s changed really meaningfully, whereas a consumer, not only can I buy any product in the world from any brand in the world with the click of a button. Now I don’t just get information from what’s available in my local stores. Now it’s not just the billboards that are telling me what sort of boxers to buy.

I’m getting user-generated content. I’m seeing reviews online. I can stream a runway show if I want on Instagram. These gatekeepers have fallen that historically really control the access to consumers, but the processes for developing products to serve that consumer has it shifted at all. And once we got we’re attuned to that dynamic, it was like, this will have to change.

There’s no way that brands are going to be able to create, continue generating waste at such an unsustainable level on sustainable for the environment on sustainable from their, from their own business. Something had to give, and we set out to, to create that platform that could allow brands to modernize the way they created inventory to align with a more modern consumption for.

Andrew: And from the beginning you were thinking, let’s find a way to bring the customer in, to give, get feedback you were

Dan: Yeah. W w w we I’d say our, I mean, our company mission is we want to dramatically reduce waste in the retail industry by helping, uh, brands become radically more consumed, uh, responsive to their consumers. Responsive in our mind has always taken two forums. Responsive is I want to be more informed, like, kind of data-wise in terms of what consumers.

And I want to be more efficient in terms of how I bring products to market. Most large-scale brands have an 18 to 24 month process for going from concept to shelf. It’s pretty insane. So it’s very hard to be kind of right. Even if you’re right, if you’re two years out, you’re gonna be wrong in two years.


Andrew: It’s maker sites is working on that too. Not just what do consumers really want, but also how do we make it faster?

Dan: Exactly and that’s relatively recent. So we’ve spent our first four years. So w w we from the beginning, we said, Hey, these are the two components. This, if you think about how the software industry evolved from like the waterfall process, where I start working on windows 2012 and in 2008, like that’s how the world worked.

Um, we think retail is going to go undergo a similar shift where it’s going to be far more agile. It’s gonna be much more to, to consumers. Um, and so from the beginning we thought those are the two components more informally. But are are more efficient. But when we started, we’re like, okay, who are we as a startup going to be, to tell the largest brands in the world that tell the new bounces, the Ralph Lauren, the Nordstrom’s like, Hey, here’s a new process that you should choose to take on.

And we just started our company six weeks ago. And so I hope you, uh, justice, but what we did think we could do is okay, let’s take their existing process and let’s start with the existing. And let’s inject value data for them at key moments of time. So at least it’s existing, like slower to market inefficient process.

They’re gonna have better data about what the consumer wants. They’re going to have call it like a GPS system to kind of know the path once COVID hit though. And so we spent our first four years doing that and we started with direct to consumer brands. We scaled up to, to large enterprise brands. I’m happy to chat about any of that.

Andrew: Let me just pause on there. So at that point, that’s where, like, I think you told our producer Taylor stitch was the first company that you signed. It’s actually, I’m kind of lost in their website. I’ve never heard of them before you they’re like a men’s brand that makes you feel like a, like a man without feeling like, right.

Like you have to have an ax in your head or anything. It just feels it’s got a good feel. Um, so I could see how a company like that would work with you. They’re online first and probably only, I think, right. You probably reached out to them through a friend or cold called you didn’t need to spend months and months getting them to say yes, let’s try it.

Dan: Yeah, absolutely. Right.

Andrew: And the product that you had for them looked like, what, what did it do?

Dan: Yeah. So I mean, very, very scrappy version of what we have today. Our, our two hypotheses prior to like hiring people prior to raising money prior to really anything was like, okay, this will only work. We think that the consumer’s data point is going to be a helpful addition to brands, decision making process.

If that doesn’t work, like we have fun new business. Cause that that’s what kind of core craftsman. And so that really came down to two sub hypotheses. First consumers would be willing to provide feedback to brands that they cared about, um, which we felt pretty strongly about, but we needed to prove out and consumers actually know what they’re talking about.

Consumer intent measured pre-production would actually be a valuable signal to brands to help them attune their kind of supply to, um, to market demand. That second one was much more controversial when we got started many brands thought at the time, but sometimes actually don’t know what they’re talking about.

They don’t know if it’s good until they, until they’ve seen it. Um, my role as a merchant or my role as a brand is to kind of create that demand. And so we didn’t necessarily fully believe that. Um, and so we needed to prove that out. And so when we went to these early brands, We’re going to create a really on-brand way for you to engage your own consumers.

It’s going to look and feel like your own website. You said you’re on the Taylor swift website. It’s got beautiful imagery. Like we wanted to create a modern experience that, that mimicked, um, these, these DTC brands who’ve invested so much. And so we’re going to leave consumers through that process.

They’re going to see some future products on our platform. They’re going to indicate in a structured form, their interest in buying those products, and then they’re gonna be redirected to your e-commerce. So that was the only product in the early days. It was a way to, to take a consumer that was directed to us via social media, via email, um, have them go through this process where they’re evaluating products and then send them to the outerwear page or the website,

Andrew: An existing customer,

Dan: existing customers and the

Andrew: existing customer that you would then retarget on social media, bring back to a page that you created. It looks like their site that asks them. Would you buy this? Essentially,

Dan: Yes. And the

Andrew: give me more detail.

Dan: Yeah.

So, so the messaging is something like Taylor steps. You’re on the website. Sustainability is an important part of their business. They don’t want to be creating a ton of ways. And so with their messaging would be, they actually typically reach out on email, email, their email list and say, Hey, Andrew, we’d love to get your feedback on some future products.

We don’t want to create stuff that you don’t want. And so help us make sure that we are only bringing to market products that are. Consumers love that. Um, and so particularly today’s consumers app. And so I consumer clicks in you get that email, you click in, you come to a maker sites hosted, but Taylor stitch branded experience that looks and feels like the websites say, Hey, I’d love to get some feedback.

You click in, it looks and feels like e-commerce, um, you can see multiple images, you see product description, you see price, but instead of putting on your credit card, you were indicating in a structured format, your purchase intent for that product. We have asked that question in the exact same way for that half a million products that we’ve tested.

Um, but, but at that point, That was it. You get redirected. The e-commerce all we had was a raw data download of like every single consumer and their responses. And then we would do everything else manually. And so we would take those thousands of responses. We’d analyze them in every which way we can think about how to weight them.

And we just presented it back to the brand and some like interesting takeaways, like, Hey, the same consumers likes this product and that product. So like maybe you don’t need them both. Or like, this is by far the most popular, and this we’d have any sales data to back it up with. It was mostly like, Hey, we’re gonna capture a bunch of data.

We’re sharing. But then once sales data started coming in from these brands, we could start to correlate the two and see, Hey, here’s some signals that we can see in pre-market sentiment that correlate to in-market selling. Uh, once you prove that out, I mean the scale of investments that brands large and smaller making on inventory are such that, I mean, on average, we drive a 5% margin lift by helping brands reallocate their inventory between products that don’t resonate so well. And those that do. You start to extrapolate that to large brands, making multi hundred million dollar bets every single season. And all of a sudden that like DTC data point, uh, became pretty meaningful for these larger brands. And that’s how we sort of scaled up to those more enterprise type accounts.

Andrew: And direct to consumer DTC brands were the first ones to say yes, because they’re more willing to experiment you get in. You prove they’re also willing to just look at your random spreadsheets that you hand create because they’re scrappier too. Then you take that and you go and get big brands to pay attention to you because now you’ve got data.

How do you even get big brands to respond? I don’t think you or your co-founder have any, uh, you co-founder’s name is Matthew, right? You or Matthew have any relationships with those bigger brands? Do you

Dan: Uh, no, not really. I mean, leverage alumni networks. you

you ask me to tell every single friend what you’re doing and ask like college friends. If they know everyone, I mean kind of the same way we started started, started talking to this first 300 people, by the way, among those first 300 people that we spoke with a bunch of them, we said, Hey, we’ll keep you in.

We’ll keep you informed. We’ll tell you how things are going. And so that was definitely a great lead list to be like, Hey, that thing we talked about, we actually felt it. And like, I’d love to show it to you. All that said like early days, you need to identify who are the early adopters. And that’s a very different persona than the type of people who were necessarily targeting today.

We looked back at our first time customers and there’s some, I mean, a lot of like eerily, similar characteristics among the people who first pounded the table that take a risk on that. Often they hadn’t spent their whole career in retail often they’d come from an industry that was much more analytical.

Like even the, like most of them were in their early thirties, late twenties. Uh, you have like, you have these patterns, you start to see of the people who are like. I don’t know, hypothesizing, but less, less tied to like the old way of doing things who are like more eager to make their mark. They want to have like, try something new.

And when you start to identify what are the characteristics of the people who will pound the table for an early stage company, and then you start seeking them out at All costs. And you can ask questions in the early days to figure out like, is this, is this someone who’s going to be a friend or foe? And you try to do your best.

You can to align with the people who will palpitate.

Andrew: All right. And then you were starting to say earlier, COVID hit and you know what, let me take a moment. I, I keep missing my ad for HostGator and it doesn’t even have to be long. All I have to do is say my site’s hosted on HostGator. If. Good hosting that’s inexpensive and just works and will scale with you.

Do it. I did go to When use that URL, they’re going to give you a bigger discount than everyone else has, and frankly, the price had already glow anyway. And so get it even lower Enjoy great price, great service. So yeah, tell me what happened for, um, for COVID. I wouldn’t have thought that would impact.

Dan: Yeah, well, I mean, it impacted us a lot in that, I mean, impacted our industry a lot. So we’re, we’re, we’re entirely focused on the retail industry. Retail was obviously hit very hard by store closures. Uh, I think at its worst, there were a million people in the retail industry being laid off or furloughed a week, uh, due to COVID.

And so the economic impact.

for our industry was massive. And so that, that, that influences. Um, but once the very early days, what our brands are grappling with is a holy cow. We ordered millions of units of products that are now being canceled by retailers because retailers have closed their doors. Like what do we do with all this access?

And how do we stay pretty soon after? I mean, so then every person is forced to work from home as was the case in many industries. And all of a sudden people said, okay, we’ve gotten over this like very early shock where now. Experimenting with dramatically different ways of us, our own ways of working internally.

Like what are some of the things that we ate? Like this may be a chance to reset. This may be a chance to look at the way that we do business and think through if we’re going to be reinventing it. Like we don’t need to just like, do a new version of what we have been doing. Like maybe we like truly think through how should we develop products?

How should our functions come together and develop them? So we started hearing from a lot of brands like, Hey, what are you guys hearing? What are, how are other brands making decisions? What are people doing when you can’t get together and have these big in-person meetings to guide decision making. And there’s a, there’s a stage in many brands, uh, a product to market process where it’s called line review and line review is you literally pin up all the products in a wall, in a room and you get together and you walk around and you say, is this inner, outer the line?

And it was her sort of depth for it. That is how retail decisions have been made for a long time. Those rooms were closed and the flights were canceled to bring people in. And so all of a sudden you had an industry. I said at the beginning, when we started, they weren’t gonna listen to us how they changed their process.

But all of a sudden we had a bunch of credibility cause we’ve been accessed obsessed with this problem. For five years, we’re working with a lot of the great brands. We have a perspective on how technology could help this sort of thing. And so what we, we built in partnership with. Tooling and like a collaboration suite that allows teams across different geographies and different functions to come together, to pull in the right information, to have the right conversations and ultimately make the right decisions on the products that they bring to market.

And we call that a digital line review product. Um, it’s been really well received. Um, and That’s where we think of like that combination of more efficient and more informed. It’s finally starting to come to life.

Andrew: That’s the part, that’s the part that I saw before we got started, where it was the collaboration within, and that was within a team. And that was a post COVID addition. And now you’re deeper in their business and you’re you’re frankly, moving them to the future in a way that they would have eventually got faster than they would have.

Dan: Exactly. I mean, this was on the like strategic to-do list for every brand for the last 10 years. But like, you know, how strategic to do lists go? Like there.

was more items on that list than capacity and COVID was the first time where there was like, okay, this is, this is mission critical. I should add, like, this is where the DTC and traditional brands are coming in.

You have many traditional brands that were doing 15% of their sales in the past on direct channels that shifted north of 60% during COVID and selling online, as you know, well, it plays by different rules than selling in brick and mortar stores. All of a sudden their competitive landscape is folks like Taylor, stitch, people who are digitally native people were marketing teams that right next to product teams, people who are used to looking at the performance of Facebook ads actually informed their product.

It’s just a very different ball game than that. Selling into department stores and just competing against other brands at the scale-up. Uh, to sell the department stores. And so what you’re seeing is now people say, this is where the game is being played in there. I need to adapt my processes to be successful in this new environment.

I need to be faster. I need to be more informed, but that’s tell when that that’s pretty helpful for our business.

Andrew: Do you think people are going to go back to retail the way they did before?

Dan: I do.

Andrew: I mean, to store.

Dan: Yeah. I mean, I think. Yes. I mean, you’re already starting to see it. Um, I mean, people are shopping more online than, um, uh, than they were two, two or three

Andrew: Yeah. But do you think they’re going to go back into, into retail stores and buy in person the way that they did before

Dan: so. I think brick and mortar retail is a lot as a lot more meaningful to the retail industry than most of us think. Then I thought before, prior getting into it, it’s it drives a lot of the sales. I do think the bar, like you’re not going to go into stores for selection. I think that’s the big difference.

It used to be. you go in like, there’s so many better. Primarily your mobile phone or your browser. If you want to get selection, you’re going to go in to see what does the brand stand for. You want to see, like, what is my experience with this brand going to go convenience to see multiple brands next to each other.

You’re not going for breadth. And that many retail experiences were built around that breadth. How many products can I see it sort of Wade through? I think that is very much going away and you’re seeing that. That the share shift from like traditional retailers, but I think there’s a real need to go in person.

People like it, it’s a way to spend time gen Z like shopping a mall. I was like, there’s a lot of these narratives that I think can be oversimplified. And I

Andrew: I hate going into stores. I did go into them recently. I said, you know what? We moved to Austin. We don’t have any warm weather clothes. So I took the kids in. And I was shocked by how often the stores would shift me to online. The store was the place for you to see what you liked, but maybe not find the size that you’re, that you’re looking for online is what they were looking to do and say, we’ll mail it to your house.

We’ll bring it over here. If you need it, we’ll send it to another store. I kind of liked that merging of the two worlds.

Dan: Yeah, I think there’s people That do both have the direct shopping experience. Then also just like as a way to spend time with friends. I mean, that is, it has been, and that is still a wave that.

Andrew: That part I don’t get, but I, again, I get it, but I don’t get it. I get that. I’m I’m not ever going to be that person. You know what I would love to see more of, I used to have a personal shopper, look at me. I’m not dressed great, but I used to have a personal shopper who so good who take me from store to store.

I’d like more of that. Like the in-person stuff should be more experiential. And I could see that it’s getting there.

Dan: And I even think your curation across e-commerce is going to, I mean, I think personal, like virtual, personal shopping, like could that exist, maybe there’d be a lot cheaper, more scalable. I agree. I think curate, you’re going to see this next level of curation, whether it’s for retailers themselves or like non traditional retailers and people like tastemakers.

I think it’s really true.

Andrew: We’re going to do what it might be. You’re saying maybe an individual personal shopper who does the thing via zoom, who then helps you find stuff online stores, and then tries it on with you when the stuff arrives, that kind of thing. And then eventually, maybe one store that carries multiple brands products, but it fits well together

Dan: mean, I’m a big fan of stitch fix. I think stitch fix has built an incredible business. Um, and they’re, they are certainly a flavor of that, but I don’t know if that’s the only, I think that’s kind of the start of curation. We need supply, but we’ll say.

Andrew: I just signed up for stitch fix. All right. I got to give them feedback. You just reminded me on what they sent over. All right. Uh, den. This is phenomenal. I’m excited to see where you’re going with this, frankly. I just kinda dig you as a person. I’m glad that we got to spend an hour together. And I think for anyone who interested, they could go to maker sites.

So you guys in personnel, if anyone comes in, if you’re hiring

Dan: We, yeah, we, we offer, we offer a mix and we have offices in San Francisco, uh, Austin, uh, London in Vancouver. Um, but we also have folks who are outside of those, those have markets and, uh, giving people, the option to.

come in. I’ve got. You got a kid at home. So it’s a little bit of a, this is like my sanctuary coming into the work, but some people are doing their deep work at home.

So yeah, we’re trying to build a culture and processes that are supporting both of those and we’re hiring a bunch. And so if folks are, uh, folks are interested in checking us out with.

Andrew: it’s maker sites. S I G H T But you probably saw this in your podcast app, and I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first is a company that Dan uses I’m using, uh, starting 2022 it’s Gusto. Go to And the second is HostGator

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