How a founder must change as the company grows from startup to IPO

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Joining me today is an entrepreneur who was working on a startup during the dot com boom and he was shaped by the foolishness of that era.

Bob Tinker was the founding CEO of MobileIron which helps companies enable their employees to choose the best devices and best apps they want to do their work and he took the company public.


Bob Tinker

Bob Tinker


Bob Tinker was the co-founder of MobileIron which helps companies enable their employees to choose the best devices and best apps they want to do their work.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses and I do it for an audience of real entrepreneurs who are building their businesses now as they’re listening to my interviews. And joining me today is an entrepreneur who was in a startup in the dot-com days and looked around and said, “What is this?” and was shaped by the foolishness of that era, and then he got into another company where he saw some things work out really well. And then he now most recently, well, brought about this company called MobileIron and help take it public. And he’s seen everything from the beginning days of a company to the point where things are now growing big to actually an IPO.

I invited him here to talk about the journey of how he got from there where he was back in the dot-com days where things weren’t really working out to how he took a company public and what he learned along the way. And his name is Bob Tinker. He is the guy behind MobileIron. And to give you an idea of what MobileIron is, you got to just like . . .

Well, put yourself in my wife’s shoes. She’s been getting . . . She’s gotten a couple of jobs here in San Francisco, and what I noticed is, as soon as she comes in, they hand her a laptop. I don’t know why, but I guess they always want her to have the latest and greatest laptop. But they say, “You probably are attached to your phone and you’re going to do a lot of work on your phone. If you like it, keep it and we’ll just pay your bill.” I always think like, “Look at the security threat of what she’s going to be doing with that, all the data she’s going to be gathering and suddenly like, “Why do they manage it?”

Well, today’s guest is a guy who found that problem long before most of us understood it and created a company called MobileIron to help address that and so many other issues with mobile phones. And he also has a new book coming out. It’s called . . . Well, it’s part of the “Survival to Thrival” collection of books. It’s “The People Journey,” and he says it’s about what we don’t teach entrepreneurs about how their jobs change as their companies change.

This interview is sponsored by two companies. Boy, Bob, I’m doing a lot of talking here in the intro. I promise I won’t be doing a lot in the interview. The first company, HostGator. Second sponsor, Toptal. I’ll tell you about them later. Bob, good to see you here.

Bob: Andrew, thanks for having me.

Andrew: Do you remember the day that you took a company public, you got to actually do something most entrepreneurs only dream of?

Bob: It’s a spectacular experience. After a lot of hard work, after seven years of taking a company from zero to nearly 1,000 people and almost 13,000 customers, being able to go public is a really big milestone. And it’s a fun celebration and a great event for the company and the investors. But I do remember vividly that after it’s all over, what going public really is, is a series A with a new set of investors, public investors, and a really good marketing event, and then it’s time to get back to work.
Andrew: So then . . . First of all, it’s an interesting . . . That’s a smart way to look at it, but I would imagine getting carried away for a moment there thinking back to when I was a kid going to the stock market just to have a peek in there. I think I might even get teary eyed, and I’m not a crier. Was there a moment in business considering how big you built your company? I looked up the ticker symbol MOBL today. Market cap is about half a billion dollars. You built that. Was there a moment along the way where you said, “I’m celebrating. I’m going to have a tear for Andrew to just really appreciate [inaudible 00:03:25] this?

Bob: Yeah. In building a startup, there’s a lot of highs and lows, so you end up sort of celebrating these milestones, whether it’s like winning your first big customer, or getting your first million dollars of ARR, getting your first 10 million, getting your first 500 people. Like, there’s all these milestones along the way that are great, and then there’s milestones that are terrible, and issues that happen and things that just suck. So there’s highs, there’s lows. And the important thing is to celebrate the highs and sort of face the lows.

Andrew: All right. Let’s go back to one of the lows. The first startup that you were a part of did voice over IP. This was back in 1998.

Bob: 1998.

Andrew: Vertical.

Bob: Yes. So this was my first entree into entrepreneurship. And we did voice over IP in 1998. And I learned a lot about what not to do at Vertical. And I think probably the most important thing was that being too late as a startup is fatal, but being too early is excruciatingly painful and sometimes fatal. And for us, what we found was that there just wasn’t an urgency. Like, when you have a cool solution that some customers care about, but there’s just not enough urgency to answer the question why now and not six months from now, is a really tough journey. So, in thinking about what I did next after that, I really wanted to find a problem that felt like it had urgency to answer the question, “Why now and not six months from now?”

Andrew: Let me take a moment to just talk about what Vertical was doing at the time. Today, voice over IP is a given, right? It’s Skype that really popularized it and put voice over IP software on consumer desktops and then on phones and so on. How did it . . . I mean, how did Vertical Networks do it back in 1998? Was it on a desktop? Was it on a phone?

Bob: It was using hard phones that were network connected phones using IP. And this is back in the days where everybody had a PBX in their office with the phone on the desk, right? I mean, it’s sort of funny to think about, like, how many people have a phone on the desk. Not many. But voice over IP by the time it came 2007, 2008 it really took off and became a huge market. And 1998 was just too early. A lot of the technology wasn’t figured out, the protocols were being debated, and just there wasn’t a trust that was going to work and there wasn’t really a motivation to do something now and not later.

Andrew: It was just, this makes sense. And why was it going to make sense in the future? I never understood back then why would a business replace the phone that there was on their desk that connected to the phone company system to whatever that box was that was a phone box. Why it connected to the Ethernet box? What’s the big advantage? Are we saving a lot of money? Is there something else?

Bob: It does save a lot of money, but the thing is, if you’ve already spent that money and put it in, there’s no reason to change.

Andrew: Oh, okay. And so were you guys at least able to go after new companies and say to them, “Look, this is going to save you money. You’re smart to not have this old system in there”?

Bob: Yeah, we were, but I think the second mistake we made along the way was that, remember this is like, 1998, like, times. And the mantra in the Valley was “Go big, go fast. Build for scale.” And we hadn’t really even won that many customers yet. We were like building for scale. We spent a lot of money on putting in a CRM system before we had a lot of seeds. So we did a lot of sort of things that in the rearview mirror would have been embarrassing. But I think if there’s no urgency, frugality becomes an incredibly important trait for a company to make sure you can survive long enough to either figure out where the urgency is or figure out your go-to-market to be successful.

Andrew: And you guys spent $1 million on a CRM when you didn’t have any money, so you had no clients and no frugality, and that was an issue.

Bob: Yeah, that was . . . Like I said, you learn a lot about what not to do.

Andrew: You eventually left the company. How?

Bob: So I was an early product manager there, and then I left to go be part of the early team at an enterprise Wi-Fi company called Airespace, which you remember in sort of 2002 Wi-Fi was brand new. It was sort of showing up in conference rooms. Laptops, you had to stick a little a card in the side to use Wi Fi. It’s kind of funny now. Our kids [inaudible 00:08:00]. You know, available in the ether. And it turned out there was a good idea because there was a level of urgency because laptops are starting to show up with Wi-Fi and people were like, “Wow, this makes my ability to get work done easier.” But for enterprise companies, you can’t just go buy like a D-Link access point at Fry’s and use it at work. This was a network that exposed your internal, so you needed a secure system to be able to do Wi-Fi that was worthy of a business. And we built a system to do that, and it turned out to be a good idea. We moved from zero to about $80 million in the course of four years. And that problem had urgency.

Andrew: Because all these computers were showing up, because people expected their laptops to work everywhere. And when they had it at work, they were more productive.

Bob: Yeah. I have it at home. Why can’t you use it at work?

Andrew: I was looking for a one or two sentence description of Airespace and Wikipedia had this. “Airespace was the first to market with integrated location tracking. It grew rapidly into one of the top four providers of enterprise Wi-Fi in 18 months.” The part that I don’t understand in that is that location tracking. What did that do?

Bob: That’s an odd description on Wikipedia. I don’t know why that’s first.

Andrew: Okay. But was their location tracking as a big feature and a big draw?

Bob: Later in the life of the company being able to do some lightweight location tracking for like e911 and asset tracking was useful, but I think the Wikipedia page needs to be re-edited. I don’t think like that actually captures the spirit about what it was about very well.

What was actually important was if you’re going to deploy 500 access points inside a large enterprise, how do you make sure it worked well? How do you make sure it’s secure? How do you make sure when people move, they don’t have to re-authenticate. So it’s really making it pervasive, useful and secure. That’s really what mattered.

And the thing I learned at Airespace, this was my first role as an executive, was that, number one, finding a problem with urgency mattered. Wi-Fi people wanted. And the second one was that even if you have a good product with urgency, you have to do a good job figuring out how to build your go-to market. And I think that’s one of the things in Silicon Valley that sometimes we don’t do as good a job of. I think we’re really a good product shop in Silicon Valley and we help entrepreneurs build products, but I think we’re not as good at helping entrepreneurs build go-to markets on the back of their products. And I think that’s something I learned at Airespace was watching when you build a go-to market that works coupled with a product with urgency, that’s how you unlock growth.

Andrew: What was the go-to market that worked?

Bob: We sold direct to large enterprise with the sales force, but then we figured out how to get channels which are resellers to be able to sell and go wide. And we enlist . . . We were basically competing with Cisco at the time, who had 95% market share. And we did deals with all of Cisco’s competitors to resell our product because they wanted to beat Cisco. So we went from a small company sort of fighting to get people to pay attention to some large enterprise customers with large channel selling. And we went from zero to about 80 million over the course of four years.

Andrew: And Bob, that was you doing those partnerships, right?

Bob: Yes. So I was the VP Business Development, so my job was to figure out how to create non-linear acceleration in our go-to market. And it’s a good mixture of sort of product value proposition and sales and go-to-market enablement, which is good training wheels for a CEO.

Andrew: Can you give me an example of a sale that you made that you’re especially proud or a partnership that you brought on, something that gives us a sense of how you sold back then, what your process was?

Bob: So, in early-stage startup, you’ve got a sales team who is finding customers and trying to win them, and that is sort of the core machinery inside the company. My job was a parallel role of that which was, how do you go find a big friend that’s willing to sell a lot of your stuff? So the deal in partnership I’m most proud of in terms of the results that are generated for the business is we did a reseller OEM deal with Nortel, which maybe you may not remember Nortel, but at the time in 2003, 2004, 2005, Nortel was a major network equipment provider to enterprises directly than Cisco.

And Nortel had their own product in our space. And we were able to create a partnership with Nortel where they stopped making their own product and instead use our product and integrated with some other existing solutions at Nortel had to create value, and then we were able to leverage the many thousand person Nortel sales force to very quickly generate a lot of leads and win a lot of deals with the company. So it was a way for a little startup company to go win a lot of deals with a lot of large companies that normally we wouldn’t been able to. So it was really an acceleration factor to the business.

And I think there’s lessons in there for all startups that your go-to market isn’t always just about hiring your own salespeople just to sort of create leverage in your go-to market by working with others.

Andrew: And so why . . . Were they going to give up on their option before you partnered up with them or was that your convincing that generated that?

Bob: We had built basically sort of the next generation of enterprise Wi-Fi, and by having that we were able to convince all the major partners that we worked with that instead of them investing their own R&D dollars to try and figure out how to get from generation one to generation two, why not partner with us and resell our product which is already generation two? Because to them what was more important to them was winning big deals with customers and having a differentiated solution that was able to beat the big incumbent in the market, Cisco, was what they cared about more because the thing is that you have to help your partners be successful and your channels be successful in their business. Otherwise, like, why work together? It’s like, if the only thing that benefits the startup, then that’s not a good deal. Both players have to benefit.

Andrew: And then they’re selling their equipment to their clients and I think you said they then refer their clients to your sales team to . . .

Bob: Yeah. They actually resold our product on their price list.

Andrew: Got it. Okay. All right. And so then . . .

Bob: There’s through channel relationship.

Andrew: And then the business was acquired by Cisco for $450 million in 2005. Let me take a look at your LinkedIn profile. You then moved on to Cisco. So you were there through the sale?

Bob: Yeah. So, after we sold the company to Cisco for $450 million in 2005, which, interestingly, was Cisco’s largest post-bubble acquisition, I stayed at Cisco for three years and my role was doing business development for the wireless team, which, interestingly, some of the things I learned there is what then led me to become part of the founding team at MobileIron.

Andrew: All right. I’m going to get to that in a moment, but first, let me ask you this question about as someone who competed with Cisco, now that you were on the inside, what did you learn that you admired about their process? What was it that you said, “Oh, I wish we’d known or we could have done that”?

Bob: There are two things that having been acquired by Cisco and gone through an acquisition that were good lessons for me. Number one is that whenever you do an acquisition, that Cisco had a really good post-acquisition integration process. A lot of times an acquisition happens and like, “Yeah, it’s done,” and then not pay attention to the follow-through on how do you make the product successful in the new company. And equally important, how do you make the people successful inside the new company? I think Cisco did a really good job of that. I think we were probably like acquisition number 99 for Cisco if I remember correctly. So they had really learned how to . . . It’s not just about the acquisition itself, it’s about what happens afterwards that drives success. The second thing that . . .

Andrew: And by the way, I don’t know why I’m blanking on the CEO of Cisco his name . . .

Bob: John Chambers?

Andrew: Yeah. So he just did an . . .

Bob: [inaudible 00:16:42]

Andrew: John Chambers, he just did an interview with Recode where he talked about, “Look, we were really successful at these acquisitions.” How many acquisitions fail? It feels like the majority of them do, but they got really good at it and this was a point of pride for them and I could see how being on the inside would show you how they were doing it well. Did I take the [inaudible 00:17:00]?

Bob: See, I learned a lot from watching that. And the second thing I learned out of that was the power of a large sales force. After getting the product ready to go and now selling it through Cisco, it was either two or three years later, they sold $1 billion worth of our product, which is something to be proud of because a lot of people look at an acquisition at the end, but it’s really important that the acquiring company get value from whatever actually happened. And the fact that we were able to sell over $1 billion of our product through Cisco several years later, is something that you can sort of look back on and be proud of and say, “That was a good deal from a wire and that was a good deal for Cisco and generated real business results.”

Andrew: All right. I’ll take a moment to talk about my first sponsor and then we’ll get back into the story and talk about the Palm Treo phones. Oh, I remember those. I still love those phones. My sponsor is a company called HostGator. And a few days ago, I talked with Seth Godin. One of the things that stands out for me is, he is a marketer who’s had his personal blog forever, but every time he has a new project like altMBA or he’s got this new program about teaching people how to do marketing, he could put it on his own personal website, he could link to it, he could add a sub-domain, but he gets a new website, a new domain, a new design, and it’s all WordPress, but it’s still new and it gives it its own personality. It feels like a substantive product, and it makes you want to experience that new product in a way that you wouldn’t if it was just a page on a site or even a sub domain.

And the reason I bring that up is there are many people who are listening to me who have interesting business ideas that are doing well and they also have these little parts of them that maybe could stand up on their own as their own domain, as their own ideas. Maybe what you’re doing is you’ve got software and you’re teaching a course on how to use your software as a way of getting customers. You might want to put that on its own domain, give it its own personality, let it have its own life and then refer customers back to the main site.

For whatever idea you have whether it’s that or anything else, I really urge you to go check out You’re going to see right there that middle option that they have is going to give you unlimited domain hosting which means every one of these ideas can come to life, can be an experiment. If you don’t like it, you can always close it down and if you do, it cost you nothing to keep it going. I love them for hosting. If you don’t love your hosting company, switch to them. If you’re paying too much, switch to them. And if you’re getting started, start right.

Bob, the Palm, the Treo, which Treo was it? Like the 600 at the time that you were . . .

Bob: Ah, boy. 650 850. It’s funny now that you ask. I was kind of blanking what the model number was, but . . .

Andrew: But those were really good phones. They were phones that could do MP3s, play podcast, show video to you, do navigation, turn by turn navigation. They came out before the first iPhone came out and were able to do all that. And the first iPhone that came out couldn’t do that. It took a while for iPhone to do that. It could do background audio, background navigation. It was really a well, well, well done phone that just didn’t have the right design and had some shortcomings to it. And you were in charge of doing what with that?

Bob: So my role at Cisco was in running VD for wireless and mobility. Part of my job was starting to figure out what was going to happen with the early smartphones. Remember Nokia had an early smartphone, BlackBerry had an early smartphone, Palm Treo had an early smartphone?

Andrew: Yeah.

Bob: And these things were starting to show up at work and part of my job was to figure out for Cisco what we’re going to do about them.

Andrew: You mean somebody would just come in with a Symbian phone or BlackBerry or a Treo that they loved and they start using it to check their email, maybe . . .

Bob: No. Actually back in 2004, 2005, 2006, any smartphone that somebody had at work that was connected to work stuff had to be owned and bought and controlled by the company.

Andrew: Okay.

Bob: Bringing your own device had not been invented yet.

Andrew: Okay. All right. So the company, I guess it’s local departments then within Cisco who are starting to buy?

Bob: It was bought by IT and given to users.

Andrew: Got it. Okay. And so this was starting to come in. IT officially blessed it and started handing it to users at Cisco.

Bob: Yeah. It was kind of like getting a laptop. And interestingly, you kind of had to be somebody special. Remember the early days when you had to be somebody special to get a laptop and everybody else got a desktop?

Andrew: Right, right.

Bob: Like, 2005, 2006 smartphones were so new that you kind of had to be somebody special inside a company IT to go buy you a smartphone and the plan and control it and do the stuff that you needed to do and then give it to you. And what was fascinating about this was you started to see sort of people go, “Wow, I want this,” like even the Palm Treo, like, the email experience was kind of clunky, but just being able to do mobile email, people were like, “This makes my life better. I’m more productive,” or being able to do like a really cruddy web browser, and do stuff like that, it was like, “I’m able to be productive and get stuff done when I want to get done.”

Even though the experience was like really gnarly. You could feel the pull that users were like, “I want it. Give me. Give me. Give me.” Now, the other thing that was interesting about that time at Cisco was I was working with the Cisco IT team as to how they were trying to solve this problem, and I got to see just how painful it was for the Cisco IT team to go figure out the phones, figure out security, figure out email, figure out . . . Like, it was really hard for them. And yet, even though it was really hard and the experience was kind of clunky for users, that you could feel the pull. And that combination of pull combined with that, “Hmm, that seems like a really hard problem,” was part of what led me to be part of the MobileIron founding team.

Andrew: What did you think . . . So they already started the business or at least they had the idea and then they introduced it to you. Am I right?

Bob: Yeah. So I can’t take credit for coming up the initial idea of MobileIron. My two co-founders did. And I think there’s an interesting lesson for me in this which was that Ajay and Suresh spent six months talking to customers before they wrote a line of code or raised dollar venture capital or even really talking to me to make sure they understood what the problem was that they were going to go solve.

And I think there’s two ways startups get built. One is, “Hey, I’ve got this cool technology. Let me go figure out who I can sell it to.” The other model is, “Let me go really understand the problem and let me figure out how to solve that.” And that was the path Ajay and Suresh took. And after that time with those customers and really nailing down what the problem was, what they thought the solution was, they showed me what they were doing and I had sort of this moment of, “Oh, crap. I just got to go do that.”

Andrew: And when they were talking to their customers, what did they understand the problem to be? How did they finally, like, formulate the description of the problem?

Bob: There’s an interesting journey here. In the really early stages of a market, sometimes it’s not always exactly clear what the problem is going to be, so you have to talk to enough people and enough potential customers to sort of start the pattern match to figure it out. We have a thing called Teaching Customers, which they weren’t really customers yet, but people we thought might be customers that we thought were smart and understood what was going on that we were talking about, “What are their problems and challenges with smartphones starting to come into the workplace?” Like, “What about these things showing up, like, how do you think it’s going to happen? When is it going to happen? What are you going to be your problem? How are you thinking about solving it?”

Andrew: I’m sorry to interrupt. I’m getting excited about this. I think I get. I think you told our producer it was 40 of them that you had but you picked 40 companies that you thought could be your clients and you just said, “Teach us what these problems are. Tell us. Help us understand it”?

Bob: We would just either you met them through a potential investors, your network, you just like ping people like cold call. And you say, “Look, we’re thinking about building a startup and we want to focus on smartphones showing up in the enterprise. We’d love to talk to you to understand what your challenges are and see what advice you have.” And people were remarkably helpful. Like, when you call up and say, “Look, we’d like your advice. We’d like your input. And here’s roughly the area we’d love to sort of understand what your challenges are,” we found like some people aren’t willing to help but surprisingly a large number of people are willing to help and provide advice and counsel, and our term for those were teaching customers.

Andrew: All right. I love that term. Okay. And then as you were learning from them, what were you starting to see the problems were?

Bob: The first problem was sort of just being able to get the users onboarded and experience that doesn’t suck. Like, it was really hard. Like, it was a lot of stuff that’d have kind of come together and users have to do a lot of stuff and IT has done a lot of stuff, and it was just super painful. So, how do you make that easier?

The second core problem was security, which is something you mentioned at the very beginning, which is, “Oh, boy, now I’m going to have like, sensitive enterprise data on this thing that’s in people’s pocket that how do I know who’s allowed in, who’s not allowed? And if they leave the company, what do I do?” So there was a combination of enablement and security that everybody who’s really struggling with, and to make it all worse, like, it’s not like there’s one Windows platform. At the time you had BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Phone, so this problem was amplified because it was across multiple operating systems at the same time. And so you sort of added that all up and I was like, “All right, that’s actually like a really meaty problem. If you can do something about that, you can create real value.”

Andrew: I saw a screenshot of maybe the very first version of your website and it said . . .

Bob: Did you use the Wayback Machine?

Andrew: Of course, I love that thing. Mobile . . .

Bob: I love the Wayback Machine. Yes. For all the listeners, the Wayback Machine is a great way to look on companies, look about people and it’s great for entertainment.

Andrew: It’s so good. “MobileIron is developing a system . . . ” I liked that you guys were even saying “developing.” This was that early. ” . . . developing a system solution to solve mobility problems faced by service providers, small to medium sized businesses and large enterprises.” Service providers too? What does that mean?

Bob: Well, okay. That was website like when we were in stealth mode.

Andrew: Okay.

Bob: So, basically, a lot of that was baloney.

Andrew: Okay.

Bob: Like, the part about, “Hey, we’re focused on mobility,” but we didn’t want to let anybody know exactly what we were doing, so we said, “We’re doing it for everybody.”

Andrew: Okay.

Bob: That was our stealth website. Actually, it’s a funny story. When we first started MobileIron and got the URL, before we started doing any marketing and just let people know who we are, we did a Google search for MobileIron, what showed up was a Japanese hair straightener for traveling called the Mobile Iron.

Andrew: Oh. Ironing your hair, mobile for travel.

Bob: It was [inaudible 00:28:02] again.

Andrew: All right. So those 40 customers, some of them turned into beta customers and others into paying customers. Do you remember how many?

Bob: Yeah. So the . . . If you sort of think about it, it became almost like a bow tie. And you have like 40 teaching customers you’re talking to that sort of help you figure out the patterns, what the solutions are. And you know, like, they’re not all going to become real customers. Like, that’s fine. And then over time as you started iterating on the product and working with the teaching customers, eventually about 15 of them became what we called beta customers, which are willing to sort of put their hands on the early product, try and give you feedback.

You hope some of them will start paying, but sort of 40 to 15, and then eventually, five of them became our first five paying customers, and that is an incredibly important milestone in building a startup is when you get to the point where you have a product that five customers are willing to give you money for and say good things about you. Like, in my mind in some ways, that’s actually the definition of product market fit for an enterprise company is if you find some customers that are willing to give you money, use your product and say good things about it. And when you get to those five, that’s sort of the bow tie where we go, “All right.”

Andrew: And five for enterprise is huge because that represents many, many users. Am I right?

Bob: It represents a lot of potential users. The first couple deals we did were sort of smaller deals within larger companies.

Andrew: Okay. All right. And then from there, you were starting to learn, you were starting to pick up patterns and you used with our producer the word amputate. You had to amputate some customers. What does that mean?

Bob: Yeah. So this is one of the more painful . . . Yeah, I mean, when you’re going through this funnel process to sort of iterate on your product to find product market fit with these first paying customers, one of the mistakes that sometimes startups make is to say, “We know exactly what to do. We’re going to bet 100% of our wood behind one bullseye.” And if they get it right, they win. If they get it wrong, they die.

We followed the different path which is that you need to cast a slightly wider net around sort of your startup thesis to look a little bit to the left or little bit right or a little bit up or a little bit down and sort of find that problem that has urgency, the customers go, “That’s why I’m going to buy.” So we did that. We had a couple of different reasons why customers bought our first product. Some were for enablement and security. Some were because we had visibility into sort of airtime usage and could help them lower costs. So there’s a couple different use cases that customers bought for.

But one of the things that’s tough is at some point, you have to say, which is the use case you’re going to bet on that has urgency that you’re going to build a go-to market around, focus your product and you’re going to grow the company around. The challenge is that when you do that, you have to amputate those other use cases and sort of product capabilities that are no longer going to become part of your core.

And it’s brutal because there’s a couple of customers that actually gave you money, they went in with their boss to like say, “Why we should buy a product from this startup.” And then you come back and say, “I’m sorry, we’re like, putting a bullet in that.” It’s a really painful thing to do and to give up the sales on that. We had a customer in North Carolina that used a part of our product capabilities that we ended up deciding not to focus on. And they were pissed rightfully so. So I end up flying to North Carolina, the . . . Is it . . . Wilmington, North Carolina and basically brought a check and gave them their money back saying, “I’m sorry, we’ve chosen to not focus on the area of the product that you bought us for.” Now, interestingly, fast forward two years later, they actually are customer on our main line product.

Andrew: You know, that’s what we need to keep remembering when we want to let go of customers and product lines, but it’s so hard when you’re just getting going when you’re trying to figure it out, every dollar seems like validation. What did . . . Was it hard?

Bob: You’re just trying to survive and make some deals, right?

Andrew: Yeah.

Bob: And to say no to deals.

Andrew: Yes. How did you get yourself to do that?

Bob: [inaudible 00:32:31]

Andrew: I feel like sometimes it takes an outside force, someone from the outside to say, “Look, I’m not going to invest unless you focus on this one thing or something that makes it urgent internally.”

Bob: Yeah, it’s a good point. Like, what sort of drives that forcing function? If you sort of think about in the early days of a startup when you’re winning your first couple deals, it’s sort of like darts on a dartboard, and they start to cluster in a couple spots and you start to get these like clusters and you eventually have to pick one of those clusters you can focus on and de-emphasize the other clusters. And that’s really painful, particularly when every dollar counts.

Sometimes the forcing function for that is a board or a board of directors, it’s like, “Look, you can’t do all these three things at the same time. You got to pick one.” Sometimes the forcing function is just pure necessity which you have so few resources that the CEO knows if you try and do all three of these things, you’re going to die.

The other forcing function interestingly is starting to build your go-to market because if you think about . . . One of the key things I learned in terms of how do you really unlock growth in a company is you can get your first 10 or 15 paying customers, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to unlock growth. The key is sort of how do you build a repeatable playbook to find and win customers over and over and over and over and over and over and over again?

And if you start to build that repeatable playbook as an early stage company, you can’t build a repeatable playbook for like three different problems for three different customer, and so it’s like, you’ll just go insane. So there’s almost a forcing function that as you start to build that repeatable go-to market playbook that you’re going to drive growth around, there is sort of a natural pruning process that happens just out of sheer necessity.

Andrew: Okay. Let me talk about my second sponsor and then get back into how you built up the business from there. The second sponsor is a company called Toptal. Bob, I know that you advise entrepreneurs, right?

Bob: I do.

Andrew: You got to know about Toptal. They’re known as having this database of great developers and when you need a developer, they can often get you started with one within a couple of days. It’s amazing. And these are the best of the best developers. I’ll tell everyone a story about a guy named Shariq Minhas. He ran the engineering teams at Hotwire and Expedia and together with his cofounders he decided, “You know what? It’s time for us to create something brand new in the travel space.” And so Shariq said, “Well, let’s go online,” and he went to one of the online . . . Would I call it a job board? Would I call it . . . You know what? It’s Upwork, is the name of the place that he went to first.

What he found was the ratings on the site were kind of misleading and if someone got high ratings, it was probably for doing something like building a WordPress or Joomla project, not for doing the more complex stuff and he said, “This is just not for me.” And so a lot of us will try lots of different places to hire. He said, “You know, I’m actually going to give Toptal a shot.” And Toptal’s rigorous screening process is so good. I could talk about it endlessly, but I think if you go and see what developers say about how they got through the process, how they failed one of the tests, how they wish they’d done better, then you’ll get an understanding of how rigorous Toptal’s process is.

And he went to them because he’d like their rigorous hiring process, and he ended up hiring four Toptal developers and had success with all four of them. One of the developers has worked for him so far for more than a year. Toptal saved Shariq a lot of time and ended up getting him really fantastic developers so he can focus on his strategy and getting his new venture off the ground.

If you’re out there and you need developers, one person, part-time person, a team of people, whatever it is, really, all you have to do is go to, hit that big button on there and when you do, you’re going to get set up with a conversation with someone at Toptal. If they can help you, they’ll get you started. I was able to hire someone and get them started . . . It took a while, maybe a week for me to get on a call with the person they introduced me to. A couple of days later, we were able to get started with them.

So you can get started much faster than you can anywhere else. Go to, they’ll even give you 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours. I should say, it’s top as in top of your head, tal as in talent,

Bob, I’m not a professional broadcaster. I talk so fast like a New Yorker. And when I listened to myself go through this, I go, “What’s the sponsor’s name again? What is this?” Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

Bob: I grew up in the Midwest.

Andrew: All right.

Bob: So I’m kind of an intense Midwestern kid who left to move to California.

Andrew: What does it mean to be an intense Midwestern kid?

Bob: One thing that I loved about growing up in the Midwest was sort of the work ethic and just with a little ego, and I think there’s a certain curiosity and work ethic that comes with that and I think somehow that just got wired into me in an early age.

Andrew: You know what I’m getting a sense you? There are times when I’m diverting in this interview. There are times when maybe I’m a little bit off, I see you pulling it right back. “We are on track, Andrew, we’re staying focused, I’m intense, we’ve got a point to make,” and I go, “This is the way I usually am. I guests are the ones who go out off track.” Is that . . . Am I right?

Bob: Yeah, I’m not sure that’s the Midwest in me. That might be the fact that I’ve spent a lot of time doing interviews over the last 20 years of my career, so it does become second nature. The other thing I learned in terms of going to sort of presentation bootcamp and getting ready for the IPO. So I went through this like really intense speaker training session that a guy named Jerry Weissman would put on because it’s like four-week day and lots of work, and at the end of the day it all comes down to one thing, pause. So you’re hearing . . .

Andrew: That’s a hard thing for me to do. That’s a hard thing for me to do. And I noticed when I talk fast and I pause for a second, even I appreciate it, even I can take a second. There were three value propositions that you found your customers cared about. Do you remember what they are?

Bob: Let’s see. It was security for Symbian, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. Two was cost reduction, and three was, “Hey, can you help me with these new iPhone things?”

Andrew: Because you were just getting started just as the iPhone got started. I think the same year, right?

Bob: Same year, right.

Andrew: Same year.

Bob: And the time, you know, BlackBerry ruled the world, Symbian was a big deal, Windows Phone was a big deal, and iPhone was considered sort of a toy for the consumer world and something that people didn’t really take seriously to be used at work.

Andrew: And still, IT departments were buying some for their people?

Bob: No, they weren’t at all. And when MobileIron first got started, it was all Symbian, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. And if we’d actually just paid attention to the market data, it would have been go where the volume is which would have been Symbian, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, which you sort of look at today and laugh about, right, because they all more or less died.

What we started to see was in the iPhone, people were starting to bring it into work. And first place it started was with the executive suite in companies, they’re like, “Hey, I need to be mobile.” The IT team would say, “Here, use a BlackBerry,” and they’re like, “No, I don’t want that. I want to use my iPhone.” They said, “Well, we do BlackBerry.” The CEO would be like, “No, I want an iPhone. Make it work.”

And that created a level of urgency where IT teams were like, “Oh, crap. What do we do?” And we started to see just, (a) sort of a gap in the market and, (b) urgency in an IT team that was willing to say, “I need a solution for this. And it’s such a new area that I’m willing to bet on a small startup that I’ve never heard of before to solve this problem for.”

Andrew: I’ve heard you use the word urgency so many times in this interview and I’d be a bad student if I didn’t take a little bit of time to ask you about that. Why is urgency so important that you’ve emphasized it so much? And I should have stopped and talked about it before. Why?

Bob: Yeah. I had some tough lessons on this one, but yeah. You can actually have like a problem, a good problem that you’re solving, you can have a good product that you’re proud of, but in the enterprise and B2B world when you’re selling, you’re competing against all sorts of other alternatives that customers have to buy and they have limited resources, limited capital. So the question of urgency I found becomes sort of the secret ingredient in unlocking growth because if there’s no urgency, a customer is just going to go, “Well, you know what? I’ll wait a year. Why now versus a year from now?”

And if you can actually latch on to sort of a problem or an issue or something that creates some urgency that catalyzes the demand, that can change your business. And sometimes it’s not exactly what you thought would be the urgent problem. As a startup, you tend to think sort of the thing you work the hardest on is the most important problem and the part of your product you’re most proud of, but you don’t really get to decide what’s urgent, your customers do. So, in listening to the customers and asking the questions as you’re going through those teaching customers, winning those early deals, seeing where the clusters are. Paying attention to where do you feel the pull is one of the most important things in early stage startup to figure out where are you going to focus and where are you going to go build a go-to market. You can build a great go-to market, if the problem is not urgent, nobody’s going to buy.

Andrew: Can marketing then make a product that already exists feel urgent, or does it have to be urgent as a product?

Bob: That is a really perceptive question. It’s interesting. Like, as I’ll do talks with entrepreneurs, it’s like, “How do I create urgency?” is a question I get asked.

Andrew: You know what? You’re right. I’ve heard that phrase before. Yes.

Bob: And so to be fair, sometimes there is a problem that’s not well articulated or not well understood around which you can shine a flashlight and sort of create urgency. But in many cases, I think it’s a fool’s errand to try and create urgency where there is not naturally urgency. I think a more powerful question rather than “How do I find urgency?” is . . . I’m sorry. “How do I create urgency?” it’s “How do I find the urgency? How do I find a problem that has natural urgency? How do I attached to a problem with natural urgency?” That I think is a more powerful way to go about it. In the back of my head when I hear people say, “How do I create urgency?” in the back of my head the voice is saying “75% of the time there isn’t any and you’re going to be in trouble.”

Andrew: So, if we’re going to go back to Vertical Networks, was there a way to find urgency there, do you think, or was it one of those 75% that don’t . . . ?

Bob: It was one of the 75% things that if somebody had already bought all their voice stuff for their office, like, “Why buy now? I’ll buy five years from now when I’m building out my new office.” Like, they’re just . . . There wasn’t. And actually, when you look at how the voiceover IP market unfolded, it grew really slowly for a very long time, like, very slowly. It eventually came really big, but it just took forever which is not really a great place to build a startup. Solving urgent problems that require solutions now is a great place for entrepreneurs to go focus their energy.

Andrew: Let’s talk about one of the biggest setbacks and then I’d love to get into your book and how the stages of entrepreneurship played themselves out of your business. But the big setback, as one of the big setbacks, you told me before we started, “Look, there are several of them.” But one of them happened after . . .

Bob: There’s lots.

Andrew: You know what? The one I was going to ask about was the one after you went public in 2014, you guys missed your first product numbers. I guess that was in 2015.

Bob: Yeah.

Andrew: Tell me about that. What happened there?

Bob: Yeah. So we had grown from basically zero to well over $100 million in like five years. Like, we ended up being one of the . . . I think we were named the fastest growing company in tech between 2011 and 2014. Like the Deloitte 500 we ended up being number one, so we’re on a tear in terms of growth. And we went public in early 2014 which like I said it’s a big milestone, but it’s fundamentally how investor invent with marketing. You spend time to get back to work.

But one of the things about being public is predictability matters a lot. When you’re private, a little bit up and down, venture capital investors can deal with. When you’re public, that’s bad. And so four quarters in, we missed our guidance, and it sucked. Like, we lost like $400 million in market cap in a relatively short period of time. And actually that was probably a two-week period. In that period we missed the quarter which was brutal. Market cap dropped. My CFO quit and my Head of Europe who I had been working with for eight years committed suicide all within like two-week period. I can safely say with high confidence that that was by far like the worst two weeks of my entire professional life. Yeah. I literally like get upset just thinking about it.

Andrew: And so what happened to you? How did you handle that crisis?

Bob: Well, you go into damage control mode, first of all, which is, all right, how do we figure out why we missed and what do you do about it? And at that point, in some ways, you should sort of need to stop listening to the public market and go inside and sort of say, “All right. What do we got to do to fix things? What do we got to do to be more predictable? What do we got to do to grow?”

And I think we actually did a reasonably good job of that, but I think there is a part of this that was much more self-reflective for me which was, “Hey, as CEO, this was fundamentally a failure in my leadership. And what was sort of my role in contributing to that?” And when I sort of look through the rearview mirror and looked at a lot of the mistakes I made as a CEO, a lot of them sort of tie back to one core issue that I found for myself, which is that I realized that I would let my fear of sort of self-inflicted short-term turbulence. Like when you make a change, like, it creates turbulence. I would let my fear of sort of self-inflicted turbulence get in the way of sort of making a big change that would be the right thing to do in the long run but it would kind of suck for a while.

And in the early days of a company, self-inflicted turbulence can kill you, so you don’t do it. But when you’re a bigger company, it’s not about not dying anymore, it’s just about how big do you win. Like, sometimes you do need to make some tough changes that create some turbulence that it’s going to suck for a little while, it’s going to be the right long-term answer. And I let my fear of short-term turbulence get in the way.

So I think that was sort of the crucible moment for me where I sort of connected the dots and figured that out, and then I went on kind of a rampage of changed and clearing this backlog of things and I think I’ve gotten in my own way on in terms of helping get the company set up for the next level. And that was a really big sort of personal lesson for me about sort of rewiring myself as a CEO.

There’s also sort of another interesting lesson that came out of that, which is a crisis sucks, like, it’s not fun, but never let a good crisis go to waste. It’s a great opportunity to make a whole bunch of changes and clear a lot of things. And maybe when things are up into the right are hard to do and you are going through some turbulence, it’s a great time to make changes.

Andrew: And are you saying that you wish you’d made more changes or you think?

Bob: Oh, yeah. When you talk to any CEO, they always wish they had sort of moved faster on to the hard decisions.

Andrew: And at that point, you should have just made even more changes. What are the changes that you wish you would have made at that point?

Bob: Oh, no, I actually went to . . . After sort of the biggest crisis, I then went . . .

Andrew: And you’re saying you [inaudible 00:49:03] like that?

Bob: Yeah. I went on a rampage in making a lot of changes. Everything from reducing products to changing folks on the leadership team, to rethinking about pricing. Like, we went through a whole bunch of changes relatively quickly. When everything is sort of up into the right, if things feel like they’re going well, it’s hard to make a change that you know is going to make things go less well.

Andrew: Right. And disturb that growth. It feels like that was a really tough turbulent part of the journey for you because also competition was starting to heat up from what I saw when I was reading contemporary articles. Am I right? Good Technology was about to go public roughly around then. This was before they were acquired by BlackBerry. Am I right?

Bob: I mean . . . Yes. I think, our miss was not actually really competitively induced to as much more on self-inflicted operationally. We just didn’t do as much forecasting. But I think if you look at the competitive environment in startups, like, if you’re in a business that matters, there’s always going to be competition. Frankly, if there’s not, you should worry there’s not a big enough market. In over our seven years of building the business, like, new competitors entered and then we beat them and new competitors entered and beat them. At the end of the day, at that stage, there’s really sort of, it was us, VMware and Microsoft because really, everybody else sort of fallen away, including Good, they’d sort of fallen away.

Andrew: Okay.

Bob: BlackBerry bought them in a distressed fire sale not too long later.

Andrew: Maybe now is a good time then to talk about the different stages of entrepreneurship. I forget. What was the word that you used? You used this phrase. There it is. “There are bugs in Silicon Valley.” And I want to talk about them.

Bob: Sure.

Andrew: And one of those bugs is being addressed by your latest book “Survival to Thrival.” Thrival is a word that you guys made up, you and your coauthor?

Bob: Yes, it’s a made-up word. I actually saw it on a billboard on 101 about 10 years ago. I kind of like that word.

Andrew: And this one’s about . . .

Bob: So, it’s memorable. Do you guys [inaudible 00:51:07]

Andrew: Yeah, [inaudible 00:51:08] I think there’s a lag on this. Usually Zoom, which is what we’ve been using to record interviews, it’s so crisp, and when there’s a little bit of a lag, it makes us feel like we’re talking over each other. I was just going to ask you for the title of book, the point, and then to talk about those three stages of the business where you say, “Basically, not only does the business become a whole new company in each of those changes, but you as an entrepreneur have to remake yourself in each one of them.” So start with the name of the book, the mission, and then we’ll talk about how it played out.

Bob: Yeah, so there’s actually two books. The first book came out last spring. It’s called “Survival to Thrival: The Company Journey.” And that book addresses sort of what I felt as a B2B entrepreneur sort of one of the bigger bugs in Silicon Valley, which is that I think Silicon Valley is finally a great product shop. We do a great job helping entrepreneurs build products. But one of the things I think we do less well at is helping entrepreneurs build go-to markets on the back of their products which then helps make their business successful.

So book one is primarily focused on helping entrepreneurs unlock growth. And if you remember as I was talking about, we found product market fit, I can do our first 10 paying customers, that’s great. There’s a lot of companies that never unlocked growth. And the missing link is number one, urgency, and two, building a repeatable go-to market playbook for how you find and win customers. So that’s sort of core topic in book number one.

Andrew: Okay.

Bob: Book number two, is going to be out in early January. And this gets to sort of bug number two in Silicon Valley that as an enterprise entrepreneur sort of three times that I felt like I had to learn the hard way, which is that I think we need to do a better job helping entrepreneurs understand how their jobs change as the company’s change, and therefore, like, how they need to change themselves.

For instance, at MobileIron as CEO for eight years, actually I had three really different CEO jobs. And I had to, in some cases, unlearn like what made me successful in one CEO job to become successful in the next CEO job, and I learned that to the next, and it’s kind of like trying to fly a plane and rewire it at the same time, like, it’s very uncomfortable sort of insecure process. And that unlearning I think is something that all leaders going through growth sort of very intimately struggled with. I know I did. And yeah, that’s going to be the focus of book two is unlearn, not just the CEO but all the execs, the leaders, board, everybody goes through. It sucks but it’s an amazing personal and professional growth experience.

Andrew: Meaning unlearn everything that I learned to get from, let’s say, zero to 50 employees. I’ve got to unlearn to get to 100 employees and then again, all of that has to be forgotten and pretend that it’s not the truth in the Bible and start over fresh to go from 101 on . . .

Bob: It’s not quite for unlearn everything. The trick is like, you have to unlearn about half of what you’ve learned. And the hard part is figuring out like, what do you need to unlearn and what do you need to keep? Like I’ll give you an example. So I had three very different CEO jobs over my eight years in MobileIron. The first one, you’re sort of like Captain America or Wonder Woman. It’s like you and the platoon in the woods. Like you’re throwing punches, you’re getting punched, you’re digging ditches, you’re getting dirty. It’s a blast.

And then in about sort of 50, 60, 70 people the job changes from being sort of Captain America and a platoon to being Captain America and the Avengers or Wonderland and the Legion of Honor. Like, it’s your job to then hire sort of a band of superheroes each of whom has a better superpower than you do in whatever their field is, you know, sales superhero and marketing superhero, Customer Success superhero.

And what’s the first thing that happens when they come on board? They’re going to be like looking at all the things you’ve been working really hard on the last few years and be like, “Well, that sucks. We need to do better.” And it’s really uncomfortable. And it’s sort of intimidating actually. So you, in many ways, have to sort of unlearn this like hands-on control where you’re sort of emotionally tied to everything. As you hire the band of Avengers you have to be able to not just like go to let them be successful. We have to be willing to let them call your baby ugly because their job is to actually make it better.

Andrew: And that doesn’t mean that they don’t get it and they’re not the right people because they’re not a good culture fit or because they don’t like the product enough.

Bob: Oh, absolutely. Like, I mean, when you hire executives, you hire them for their skills, their culture fit, their ability to grow, all that stuff’s there. But if they’re going to do a good job, it’s going to be uncomfortable. Like, any startup that hires their first grade A VP of Sales is going to come in and be like, really pushed the company to the next level, it’s going to be uncomfortable. And as a CEO you have to sort of be willing to, like, just run straight at that and embrace it. It’s an uncomfortable feeling.

Andrew: What was . . . Just to be specific about you, when you were at that point and a new superhero came in, what was the part of your business that was the baby that they were calling ugly?

Bob: Oh, like, it actually happens when the new exec came in. So I and the other founders and one of the early sales reps had sort of gotten this like 15, 20 customers. We were super proud of. That’s a big [inaudible 00:56:28]. You hire sort of a grade A VP of Sales comes in and looks at what you’re doing and says, like, “All right. You don’t have a go-to market playbook. Like, how do you find and win customers? Marketing? Where’s lead gen? You guys are terrible.” Or like, “How are you putting customers into an evaluation and making them successful?” Like, “Oh, and by the way, you’re doing too many things. This is like . . . ”

Andrew: This whole thing that’s worked for you that’s your magical superpower to get those customers is not good anymore because there’s no process behind it and it’s not . . .

Bob: It’s not repeatable at all. You found your selling is not repeatable at all.

Andrew: Right.

Bob: And so here’s a grade A VP of Sales, here’s a great leader coming to you like, barking all over the . . .

Andrew: And this is one of the things that you’re good at. It’s not like he’s saying the software is not good. He’s saying the sales part that . . . Okay. All right. And so that’s the second . . .

Bob: And the same thing happens again and again as you hire. Let these VPs figure it out.

Andrew: Okay. What’s the third level?

Bob: And then this happens again in about 400 people that the job went from like, Captain America and the Avengers to being more like Professor Xavier in the X-men where you’re like the dean of university and your teachers are your warriors that are sort of bringing up the next generation of leaders. And the job changes really fundamentally because as CEO you now have to do a lot less things, but for a lot more people and repeat yourself a lot which drove me absolutely crazy.

Like, I found myself repeating myself all the time when we were 4 or 500-person company, and I’ll tell you the dialogue that was going on inside my head was like, “That’s not value-add. I’m just repeating myself. I look like a politician or a clown. I should be adding value in more profound ways.” People are looking at me like, “Why is he repeating himself? He just said that last week.”

But when the company gets to that stage, your job as CEO fundamentally changes, like, you are a big signal generator. Part of your job is to actually reinforce the goals, the mission, what’s working, what’s not working, and you have to do it over and over again. That’s actually part of the job and I had to sort of get past this, like, internal judgment that I was placing on myself that that’s not real CEO work.

Andrew: Right.

Bob: And in fact, it is. So I had to sort of unlearn what I thought my value-add was and learn what the next value-add was. And I’ll tell you a sort of an insecure experience. It’s like you’re letting go of the things that you feel like you’re most good at and you kind of feel like sort of a voice in you is like, “How am I earning my keep as CEO?” and that’s part of the emotional return on investment for the insane commitment required to be a startup CEO and here you are and be like, “I hope nobody notices I’m not adding value anymore.” But yet, that’s actually the way this works.

Andrew: All right. The new book, I want to be clear about the name. “Survival to Thrival” is the series name and is the new book “The People Journey”?

Bob: Book one is the “Company Journey” which is about changes the company goes through as it grows. Book two is about the “People Journey” which is about the changes that people go through.

Andrew: And it’s still “Survival to Thrival” is the name of the series, “People Journey” is the name of this specific book within the series. And you have a website called if I if I remember right. Right?

Bob: That’s correct. The books are available on Amazon, A lot of materials and the books are available for download, so if you want to use it for your own teams, you can use them.

Andrew: Bob, why? Why are you writing this book? Why do you give a rat’s ass at this point? What are you looking to do?

Bob: So, you know, like a lot of things are sort of born out of combination of frustration and inspiration. So the inspiration for the books was actually driven by a question I get asked which was, “If you could write yourself a letter that would be sitting on your desk 10 years ago as a first time CEO, what would you tell yourself?” It’s actually a really profound question. It’s like, “What would you tell yourself 10 years ago?” That was sort of the inspiration part of it. The frustration part of it was that as an enterprise and B2B entrepreneur, I really felt like there wasn’t a lot of great content out there for me. There’s a lot of content for consumer entrepreneurs, because it’s sexier and more interesting than pop media. But for like hardcore B2B enterprise entrepreneurs, I didn’t feel like there was a lot of place for me to go learn. So, that was the frustration part of it and I said, “All right, let’s go do something about that.”

Andrew: And is your goal now to use this to teach people and then maybe get some investment opportunities from this? Are you going to find your next career step from this?

Bob: I teamed up with my the investor that I built the last two companies with, and for me personally, I just did it as sort of a karmic re-contribution to the karma bank of entrepreneurship for all the people that helped me on my journey. This is sort of my karmic contribution back to the karma bank.

Andrew: I’m excited about this new book. I’m so proud to have you on here. Congratulations on what you’ve done. I feel like sometimes if I could just, through the Zoom app, send you a bottle of champagne to give you a moment to celebrate. I’d love to do that for entrepreneurs because to me I thought the IPO would be your big celebratory moment. You said, “Andrew, it’s just a step along the way,” and you’re still back to work. And I wonder, “Did you ever have that big one? Maybe Mixergy needs to be that big one.”

As an entrepreneur, you’re coming here, you’re telling your story, you did it, you crossed the finish line. I want to give you just some way to say to feel that you’ve done it. I’m just going to say congratulations on having done it and I’m so proud that we live in a world where entrepreneurs can come back and do this. If you remember back to your childhood when you were that intense kid, or what was it that you called yourself? The intense . . .

Bob: The intense Midwesterner?

Andrew: Yeah, the intense Midwesterner kid. There weren’t a lot of entrepreneurs who were sitting down and writing books. Bill Gates wrote a book, but it was more of a like a think piece, a vision piece, but it was not, “Hey, look, Bob, you might be interested in this thing called software. Let me show you how I built my business.” That wasn’t going on a lot. There are a few more entrepreneurs doing it today, and you’re right. In the B2B space, in the enterprise space we’re just not seeing it enough and I’m glad that you’re out there doing it.

Bob: Thank you.

Andrew: The website for anyone who wants to go check . . . You know what? I should take a moment there and pause while you’re saying thank you. For anyone who wants to go check you out, I think the best place to send them is your website, Survival to Thrival and of course, you’re going to see his books, plural now, at Amazon and everywhere else where you get your books, but let’s face it, most of us are buying on Amazon. And I want to think . . . Isn’t that what you’re doing? Are you buying iBooks yet from Apple?

Bob: You’ll see both Amazon and eBooks both sell, so . . .

Andrew: You mean like where I can just go and buy a book and download it to whatever device I want. You guys are selling it directly on your website.

Bob: Yeah, we do physical books, eBooks, both.

Andrew: All right. So there you go, “Survival to Thrival.” And I want to thank my two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first is the company that will host your website right, it’s called And the second one is the one whose name I just keep like over like speeding past. Here’s what it is. It’s top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, And if you’re at all interested in company culture, I have an entrepreneur on Mixergy who build up a company to $100 million. He said culture is what got him there. And I invited him to do a course on how to do it. You can see it at His name is Scott Bintz and I’m proud to have him on here, and you too, Bob. Thank you so much for being on here and spending so much time with us.

Bob: Thank you, Andrew. I appreciate the opportunity.

Andrew: Bye. Bye, everyone.

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