Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they build their businesses. And from a personal point of view, Minnie, I’m so psyched that you’ve listened to my interviews, and now you’re back to do an interview yourself. Those are my favorite interviews to do.
Minnie: Oh my gosh. I’ve lived off your interviews. I was commuting to Google for a decade, too when I just got hooked on podcasts.
Andrew: Minnie, whose voice you just heard is Minnie Ingersoll. She was . . . Tell me if I’m wrong. Won’t you one of the first few hundred hires at Google?
Minnie: Yep, I joined in 2002 so a couple of years before IPO. And there are about 500 people when I joined, and there are about 60,000 when I left. So I really got to go through that experience.
Andrew: And the fact that you even went to the IPO period was exciting. While she was at Google, discovered a problem with selling her own car and along with a co-founder who helped egg this whole problem on and helped them realize that this is a bigger issue than most people understand in it. It is a solvable issue. They decided to create a company called Shift Technologies, which actually owns a domain name shift.com. It makes buying and selling cars easier. I’ll ask her what that means? She then left from that company to do a couple of things. Number one, she’s a partner at OneTen Ventures. That’s Los . . .
Minnie: It’s actually TenOneTen.
Andrew: Oh, TenOneTen. I missed one. Thank you for . . . I thought that looked a little bit off in the way that I wrote it. Did you just add that to your LinkedIn profile, like, a few days ago even?
Minnie: No, I may have been messing with LinkedIn, but no, I’ve been there for a year now.
Andrew: Right. Since February 2019, that is a Los Angeles-based venture firm, co-founded by someone who I’m amazed by. Hopefully, we’ll talk a little bit about your . . . The people you associate yourself with are fantastic.
Minnie: The secret to success. Yeah, just stick around with smarter people.
Andrew: And they’re always like . . . All I see is, like them complimenting you. And I’m looking them up, and I go, “Wait. That’s the guy who founded PeoplePC, and that’s the guy who founded this other and . . . ” Anyway, so that’s where she is right now. She is also hosting a podcast. I don’t want to get that podcast name wrong. What’s the name of the podcast?
Minnie: LA Venture, where I interview L.A.-based, other VCs in L.A.
Andrew: I notice that it is just venture capitalists and angel investors?
Minnie: Yeah, it’s actually been . . . To date, it’s just been VCs. I guess one person who I called him an angel investor and man of mystery, but that was my very first episode. So I was just figuring things out. But I think there’s been a little bit of lack of visibility of the L.A. ecosystems. So it’s been fun to get to know the L.A. ecosystem and all the VCs there. And it’s just a lot bigger than I think most people realize. And people joked, “Oh, you know, you’re going to be done with your show in a year.” I have a whole list of interesting folks lined up.
Andrew: I bet. And I bet the number of angels is growing. I’ve just found that venture capitalists are harder to interview than entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have a story. VCs have a thesis, and it’s harder to make a thesis interesting, [inaudible 00:03:10]?
Minnie: You know, a lot of them have interesting backgrounds, so even if their background . . . You know, I just did this interview with a guy who was the CEO of 99 Cents Only Stores, and he started when they were 30 stores, and he grew it to 350 stores. And he had so many interesting stories about . . . Like, then if you’re an entrepreneur, and you want to launch a product and get your product sold in retail like how do . . . You know, how does buying work for retail, and what’s a big store, and what’s good volumes in . . .
Andrew: And that’s what I mean. The entrepreneur story is interesting. The venture story . . . It’s like with Kelly Perdew, you guys spent a little bit of time talking to him about how he structured his angel fund. I guess you could call it an angel fund or a syndicate through AngelList. And then a bunch of time talking about how he won the second season of “The Apprentice,” I think, and what it was like to be on it. Let me take a moment also, to say to everyone that this interview . . . Well, we’re going to talk largely about how she formulated the idea for Shift, how she grew it, the challenges with it, and there were some pretty difficult points. The whole thing is sponsored by HostGator, where you can host your website and also, by Toptal. When you’re hiring developers, you should go check out Toptal. Minnie, do you have an example of, like, the best day at Shift or an example of what you’re proudest of?
Minnie: Wow, best days at Shift. There were a lot of great days at Shift. And, in fact, back to your sponsor point, I mean, a lot of it was when we hired great people. And what you were talking about. Like, I think surrounding yourself with great people, and we had people that we stalked for months. I mean, stalk may be the wrong word, but it was how it felt, at least. And when we closed some of those people that we thought were like, “Oh, this is the best person, the best engineering director we have ever worked with in our careers.” When they decide to join us, it really felt like, “Hey, we’re building something that other people want to come be a part of.”
But, you know, still to this day like I jump up and down every time I see a Shift car on the street. Because we have these are like, licensed plate holders. Every time someone’s in the car with me, I make them, like, jump up and down with me because I feel like, “Oh, this is a successful sale.” Then I go over. If I can, I try to find the person. If they’re, like, in a parking lot or something, I’ll be like, “Did you buy your car on Shift? How was it?” And get, you know, direct feedback that way.
Andrew: I read that the company is planning on . . . I think it was in TechCrunch, that the company is planning on going public in 2021. Do you know anything about that?
Minnie: I mean, I think that my co-founder, George . . . So I’ve left Shift, but my co-founder, George, like, stay in close touch with. I think that’s how he’s thinking about things. But I don’t think anything is . . . you know, it’s not over until the fat lady sings, sort of thing. So I think it’s still more of a directional aspiration.
Andrew: How big did it get before you left?
Minnie: We were over $100 million in sales, and we’d raised over $100 million. So I guess you’d hope that we had over $100 million in sales. A few hundred people when I left.
Andrew: Okay. I want to get to know your background. How did you end up with Google?
Minnie: Yeah, how did I end up at Google? Good question. So I study computer science at Stanford. So that’s kind of the easy part of how I got into Google. But, you know, that was not a foregone conclusion either. I think my personality, to some degree, is I really want to be, like, in the thick of things. Like, if you’ve seen “Hamilton,” which I just was lucky to see recently. It’s in the room where it happens, and I think I just wanted to be, like, a part like a seat at the table. And computer science was really happening in the ’90s when I was at Stanford. I mean, it still is, obviously. So I was going to be a math major, but I ended up doing computer science. That really was fortunate because it really got me sort of in the mix of everything. And I’ve kind of stayed in that sort of Silicon Valley world for a couple of decades.
Andrew: Why Google? You were noticing how big it was going to get?
Minnie: I mean, specifically . . .
Andrew: Or how big it already was?
Minnie: Okay. So the toolbar, Google toolbar was big at the time. And I was a big . . . Like, I’d always tell everyone like, “You’ve got to download this toolbar because it was amazing.” This is like in what . . . 2002. And so my mom actually started using Google. And there was an ad on Google homepage. It said, “You’re brilliant. We’re hiring.” And my mom wrote to me and said, “Minnie, you’re brilliant, and they’re hiring.” Like, this is perfect. So that was actually how I got introduced . . . I mean, how I sort of thought of it. But then, like, Marissa Mayer and I were . . . Marissa, who was CEO of Yahoo, etc. She and I were classmates at Google, so I definitely had connections there.
Andrew: You mean classmates at Stanford?
Minnie: Yes, sorry. Yeah, she was, like, a classmate.
Andrew: Got it. And then you ended up . . . She ended up at Google. Got it. Of course. What was the toolbar? I forget it. I remember installing it, but I forget why I would’ve installed it?
Minnie: Right. It just allowed you to search from your browser without having to go to google.com.
Andrew: Okay. I guess at the time, you couldn’t do that in Internet Explorer, and this was before they got Chrome?
Minnie: Yeah, I think that was about right. I don’t really remember why I loved it so much, but man, I loved it at the time, and so it was just handy.
Andrew: Yeah, it had a bunch of little tools. I guess there’s a translation tool, a spellchecker tool, a popup blocker, which was good back then. I like to seeing page rank on pages. I thought that was interesting. Okay. And so you were there.
Minnie: Yeah, I mean, a lot of the product made sense to me. And then, you know, when I interviewed . . . It’s crazy. I interviewed with Eric, Larry.
Andrew: Eric Schmidt. Wow.
Minnie: Eric Schmidt. Yeah, Larry [Salar 00:08:34], who was running YouTube, and Susan Wojcicki . . . Well, I’m not sure. I know her quite well.
Andrew: Wojcicki, I think. Yep.
Minnie: Yeah, thanks. And so I mean, you know, with that sort of interview lineup, I thought, “Wow, these people are brilliant,” which it turns out they are, and they were. You know, that made me really excited. But, you know, I should . . . To take a step back, I was at business school. I was graduating from Harvard Business School. All of my friends had jobs, and we were graduating, and I was the only person without a job. Well, that’s how I thought. And it was kind of stressful because I really felt like I wanted to be at a startup. And Google and no other Silicon Valley startup including, Google was coming to, like, the Harvard Business School campus to recruit an MBA. That was kind of a . . . not like a “Scarlet Letter.” But it was not like a thing they were recruiting for. And so I decided I’m just going to move to San Francisco without a job, from Boston and try to start a small startup, and Google was the biggest place I looked that.
Andrew: Wow, a small startup that a big one at the time. And you told our producer that one of the reasons you left was you missed the creation of new things. Does that sound right?
Minnie: Yeah, I think that was something I was craving when I went to Google. You know, I wanted to be a product . . .
Andrew: And when you were there . . . Yeah.
Minnie: Yeah, oh when . . .
Andrew: Tell me about that the early days, and how you were able to create something, build something? And you told her . . . Here it is. I found my notes. “Addicted to the “Fast and Furious” building of things like creating a quick wireframe, outsourcing it, getting it built within six weeks.” When you were at Google in the early days, what did you do that fast?
Minnie: Yeah, you know, early days of Google, you could do a lot of that. And I think that quote was really specifically, when I ended up leaving Google and starting Shift. When I started Shift, the notion that I could do a wireframe on a piece of paper. And at the time, we had outsourced developers in Thailand. And we could launch our website or change our website in six weeks, in five weeks. You know, just get something completely going without . . . There was no, you know, someone else’s vertical, someone else’s horizontal, you know, a legal department or marketing review, all of that. And I got addicted to that joining Shift, which is things that Google had really in the early days which was everyone was, you know, working till 3 a.m., and we were at the . . . I was working on the billing system when I joined Google, and we were two years pre-IPO. And so we were just hustling like mad to be able to have a billing system that could pass an audit so that we could go public. So, you know, there was a lot of pressure.
Andrew: Building system for what?
Minnie: For AdWords, essentially, because that was really where most . . . Well, at the time, we were over $1 billion in revenue in 20 cents increments. And in order to close the books, like send invoices to our advertisers, we had to gather all the logs from servers that were all over the country, all over the world. And, you know, one server would be down in Hong Kong, and it was serving Chinese traffic. And if the logs were out, like, how do you calculate correctly how much to bill each advertiser and doing things like emailing each other spreadsheets is not Sarbanes-Oxley compliant, right?
Andrew: And that’s what you were doing before when you joined. That’s what Google was doing?
Minnie: Yes, so I was working on that billing system for the first couple of years. Few years when I was there.
Andrew: I had no idea it was like that. And that’s because the bigger advertisers were paying afterwards. They weren’t doing what advertisers like me were doing, which is just putting their credit cards into a system and getting charged as they went.
Minnie: Yeah, I mean, it was earlier days. We were still just completely figuring out our offerings, and what we were even capable of offering like the flexibility that we were able to offer to advertisers. It was also we were developing that, and we were . . . yeah, having to calculate at the end of the month what advertisers owed us.
Andrew: The reason that I checked in with my wife to see if she knew you, and she did for personal reasons. But the reason that I asked her is you were at google.org for a while. And I was wondering what were you . . . My wife does . . . she was at Yahoo for Good, and she’s now at PagerDuty. What she does is help for-profits organizations with their social mission. And I didn’t realize how big google.org was when you were there. Can you tell me a little bit about what you did there?
Minnie: Yeah, that’s really interesting. I mean, that’s something I think a lot about is how do for-profit organizations have an impact in the world? And I think it’s really interesting. So I did a variety of different things, but generally, I was working on the access team, which is helping more people get online at faster speeds and lower prices but in a variety of different initiatives. And one of those is now called Jigsaw, but it was at the time called Google Ideas. And it was helping people, especially get around things like government censorship or just have access to information with very international lens on, so we had people from the State Department there. And it really became this interesting blend of how is Google . . .
A quote from our CFO at the time. This is Patrick Pichette was our CFO. And we were trying to do something during the Arab Spring. We said, “This is going to cost a ton of money, and there’s no real revenue. Should we do it?” And Patrick Pichette said, “I think you all need to think about Google as half public company and half movement.” And that was really touching. And so, you know, I think google.org had the latitude to do a lot of those things. And I was working specifically, on the access side of things, but it touched a lot of different pieces.
Andrew: And was it at Google that you were looking to sell a car, and you had that issue?
Minnie: Yeah, so it is. Actually, I think I was about to go on maternity leave, and I was like eight or nine months pregnant, but it felt like I was, like, 12 months pregnant. So two things were happening.
Andrew: Wait, wait. You waited for maternity leave until you were eight months pregnant?
Minnie: Yeah, about eight months.
Andrew: I guess that’s more common than I imagined before I had kids. Okay.
Minnie: Yeah. Poof, well, my second kid, I had just raised a Series A. And so that’s a whole different story. So my co-founder, George, he and I worked together at Google. And he’d been telling me about this problem in the used car market. He’d been studying it for a long time. But meanwhile, he worked for me at Google, and so it was like, “George, stop talking to me about this idea and go back to work.” But he quit Google before I did. And he had a PowerPoint. He had an idea. And I angel invested in Shift. So I got kind of hooked by angel investing. And then I had already got angel invested. I was, like, eight months pregnant. I went to sell my car myself. You know, strange people would show up at the house. And I’d be like, “I either had to jump in the car eight months pregnant while this strange man, like, drives the car as fast as he can,” or “I have to, like, give him the keys and watch him drive off in my car and hope he comes back,” and neither seemed like a good solution.
And, you know, most people who are trying to sell a car will go on Craigslist and do . . . It’s not just about the test ride. People will misprice their car. They won’t actually get their car the exposure that they should get it. And all these things felt like a very broken opaque process that made me then feel like I was failing at something that I should not, like, be failing at. Anyways, I then went on maternity leave, and George kind of roped me in on helping him turn it into a real company. So that was where the whole wireframes and getting hooked on just like moving fast and being able to create something really came in.
Andrew: I’m wondering why, as a busy woman, why you didn’t just sell on a service like CarMax? I remember when I left L.A., there wasn’t much time. I had a BMW SUV. I needed to move it. I don’t even remember what kind of SUV it was because I didn’t really care about cars. I just went to CarMax, and I said, “What do you give me?” They gave me a price . . . I’m sure it was $1,000 less or $2,000 less than I deserved, but who cares? I sold it. I moved to Argentina. You’re a busy person. Why won’t you do something like that? Even if it meant sacrificing a couple of thousand bucks.
Minnie: Yeah, it’s interesting. We talk about our users now, having talked to tons and tons of users. So why didn’t I? I actually ended up doing that. So I ended up going to a used car dealership. So I ended up sort of failing to sell it myself on Craigslist. I think there was an aspect of pride. Like, I was like, “How hard can it be? I can sell a car on Craigslist.” So I think there was that and kind of feeling like I’m frugal. My nature, I’m sort of a . . . not cheap, but, like, I don’t want to, like, give some used car dealership an extra $2,000 that they shouldn’t be making because they’re not really, like, adding any value to me. And then I also think that there’s a feeling.
So whether or not, it’s about $1,000, which isn’t a significant amount of money that you lose by going to a car dealership. There’s also the feeling that you were taken advantage of. And I think I just don’t like that feeling where it’s not transparent. So that was one of our main goals was whatever we do, make it transparent. But anyways, we talk to a lot of people now, and we talk about the people who care about the value, the people who care about the convenience. And there’s people who just want to feel that sort of trust feeling. So anyways, there’s a lot of things that are broken, I guess, is my summary.
Andrew: All right. I guess I get that. And so your . . . or George’s vision at the time was to fix it by doing what?
Minnie: You know, it’s interesting now, thinking about the vision at the time. His vision was to make something . . . I think the word delight. Somehow, I roll my eyes because everyone in, like, startup world talks about delighting customers. But he really wanted people to have a good experience when they went to sell their car and when they went to buy their car. And that was the fundamental thing. Like, have people have a good experience like people enjoy . . . I don’t mean it’s just women enjoy buying shoes. Now, everyone’s like on go to all these places like people enjoy buying shoes or enjoy shopping for other things. But, like, no one says, “I love . . . ” Like, some people, I guess, but most people don’t love selling their used car. So that was what he set out to solve, and that’s what we set out to solve.
Andrew: By doing what? By doing what? Beyond the delight, what was his plan?
Minnie: Yeah, so approaching it by . . . Number one, making something that was transparent, I think, was, like, one of the most fundamental things. The other was not having it be driven by sort of like . . . Well, some guy in the backroom decides what price your car is going to sell for but having it really be an engineering and logistics company first. And so this is a unbiased algorithm that says, “What your car is worth if you put in the right information.” And it isn’t sort of a subjective thing. Like, this is a sort of engineering-led business that’s going to tell you what your car was worth, no matter what car you have? And, in fact, I think we’re going to build a whole business that’s just replacing Kelly Blue Book. That’s just saying Kelly Blue Book is a . . . you know, it’s got book in its name, right? So just…
Andrew: Right. Meaning outdated because even that is . . .
Minnie: Yeah, because the data is now . . .
Andrew: It’s not a book anymore.
Minnie: . . . out there. And things that just didn’t exist where you can go and get all the information about what cars are listed for on Craigslist, what cars are selling for an auction, and actually, price a car much better than people are pricing their cars themselves and selling them on Craigslist.
Andrew: So it wasn’t about, “Look. We’re just going to send the guy over to your house. He’s going to pick up the car and give you money right away.” It wasn’t about that. It was, “We’re going to not have Andrew when he’s selling his car. It depend on the person behind the table, behind the desk, judging him harshly, and then giving him a lower price or assuming that he’s more astute than he is and giving him a higher price. We’re going to make it be fairer than that.” That was the whole idea, the thesis.
Minnie: You know, that and the part that you just referenced. The convenience aspect of we’re going to come to your house. We’re going to make it super convenient. Like, people in today’s day and age are used to whipping out their mobile phone, putting in some of the information about their car, getting an instant price, and being able to say, “And I wanted to show up in my house.” You know, bring this to me which is part of what we do is we don’t have a physical retail space. Like, you were talking about CarMax. We’re almost like an urban version of that where we don’t depend on having a big real estate play because we’re generally in sort of more dense areas so making it super convenient.
But what I’ll say there is I think it’s important . . . One of the things we ended up talking a lot about was defining what’s in the mission, and what’s not in the mission because like any entrepreneurial journey, you come across things, you’ll be like banging your head against walls and trying to figure out, “Should I keep going and start banging my head against the wall?” or “Is this something that isn’t a core to the business?” And I think really, defining your vision pretty narrowly to be we’re going to make an experience that is a good experience for someone who’s going to buy or sell a car and not saying by,” Bringing the car to them,” and not being a dealership and all these things.
Because then, you know, it turns out that we set out not to be a dealership because we didn’t want to like . . . We wanted to have almost like the Google DNA of like do what’s best for the user. But if you put all of that into your vision, then your vision is too bloated. You don’t know when you’re allowed to sort of drop part of that and say, “Oh, now, we’re going to go get our used car dealership license,” which is what we ended up doing.
Andrew: Okay. I feel like I thought it was going to be much more concrete than that. That it was going to be, like, straight-up, “Here is what we do. This is the plan.” But it wasn’t that. It was, “We’re going to create this great . . . this better experience. We think that being open about the price and being convenient is it.” And then the rest, we’ll figure out.
Minnie: Yeah, I mean, I think actually, had some strong hypotheses. But what I learned was it’s important to have some . . . you know, just set out and say, “Yes, we’re not going to have a physical location. We’re not going to have a dealer’s license. We’re going to bring the car to you,” all of that, but those are sort of hypotheses that that’s what people wanted. They wanted transparency. And, you know, some of them proved true. People do want transparency, but some, actually, were things that we had to say, “This is one that doesn’t seem to be true or doesn’t seem to be working either for the users,” or just frankly, for, like, the unit economics.
Andrew: Okay. All right. And I should say that some of what you’ve experienced back then has changed. You’re not with Shift anymore. But I want to understand what you saw, and how you built it up. Let me take a moment to talk about my first sponsor and then get right back into this. My first sponsor is a company you were mentioning that you’re proudest of two things. That the people you hired, and then the second is as you’re driving down the street, seeing your name on people’s cars. When you hired . . . Since Toptal is all about hiring the best developers, what were you looking for? Give us a tip on hiring.
Minnie: Hey, I’m sorry. You just went out for a second.
Andrew: The connection just broke out.
Andrew: Okay. If you can hear me now, give us a tip since Toptal is all about hiring the best of the best developers. Could you give us a tip on how to hire? And we’ll use that as the ad for them.
Minnie: Oh, yeah, of course. Well, so, you know, I think that hiring is all done upfront. So I’m a believer that actually, people kick off their hiring process way too soon before everyone has agreed on what success looks like in 18 months. And what attributes are sort of the most important attributes that you’re going to be looking for? And when I say, “Everyone is in agreement,” I think that’s one of the most important pieces, too, is that you actually have everyone who might be a stakeholder agreeing on what they’re looking for. So then when you meet . . . start meeting the candidates, hopefully, someone like Toptal can help you meet the right candidates. But you then know who the right candidates are, and what you’re testing on. So that’s my biggest tip.
Andrew: Yeah, the way Toptal works is they will understand what you’re looking for. The first thing that happens is you’re going to talk to a matcher. They understand what you’re looking for. How your company operates. The quirks that you’ve got as an organization. And they go to their network, they find . . . Often, it’s just two or three people they get them on a meeting with you, so you can see their video and everything. You do your conversation with them. You can do your interview process. And if you’re happy, you can often hire them and get them started within days. We’re talking about really top developers available right now.
If you go to toptal.com/mixergy, they’ll give you 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours, in addition, to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. That’s top as on top of your head, tal as in talent. T-O-P-T-A-L.com/mixergy. So it occurs to me that you were listening to Mixergy, so there was probably a sense that you wanted to do something entrepreneurial, right? Or were you just curious?
Minnie: Yeah. No. I actually probably said that I was being entrepreneurial within Google, while I was at Google, which then when I started my own company sort of made me feel foolish. Because, of course, you know, being entrepreneurial when everything is provided for you is sort of not the entrepreneurial experience that most people have. And so yeah, I really enjoyed . . . I think I’m also just best at getting things going. I’m really great at that startup energy phase. Like, I will rally a team, and we will, you know, get going on something, and it’ll be messy. You know, everyone’s pants will be on fire all the time. But it’ll be messy and exciting and fun and sort of entrepreneurial, but it’s not . . . I’m not great at crossing all my T’s and dotting all my I’s and, you know, getting buy-in, and stakeholder management is not where I excel. So I think that that part of getting things going has always appeal to me.
Andrew: You mentioned you’re really good at getting people on board. You told our producer, “Sometimes, it may be the wrong boat.” You have an example of why you said that?
Minnie: Yeah, I think that maybe it’s a . . . I sort of admire people who are good at pausing and thinking strategically. And those people sometimes tell me that they admire that I’ve got so much hustle and ability to work with ambiguity and get things going. But I think you sort of admire what you don’t have, to some degree. But I’m eager. I’m overly eager, at times, just to get going and start building things which I think is a good quality, sometimes.
Andrew: Without saying, this is the best thing to get built.
Minnie: Right, but occasionally I . . .
Andrew: So give me an example of what you built that was wrong. That afterwards if you would’ve . . . Afterwards you said, “Ahh, I wish I’d gone in a different direction.”
Minnie: Well, I mean, a big one for us was we hired a bunch of people at Shift to, essentially, help sell cars in the field. And I got going sort of hiring fast like hiring . . . just to get back to hiring. I spent all my time on hiring. And actually, I hired the wrong people, and I hired for the wrong sort of skill sets. Essentially, we hadn’t yet layered in offering financing and warranties and so really just doing it, facilitating a car sale. And once we layered in financing and warranties, the sale became a much more difficult sale, and you weren’t actually able to do it in the field anymore. And so what we needed to do was realize that we need to get our economics, unit economics working. We needed to layer in that financing and warranty first, and that then necessitated a different sort of sales team, an inside sales team, essentially.
So did anybody who . . . You know, if you have any questions about the process of buying or selling your car, you actually, end up talking to someone on the phone, who’s in front of a computer, who can pull up lots of information and really help you. So we had the wrong sort of people in the field. I feel like I hadn’t paused enough to really think through. You know, are we just going, going, going, and hiring or, you know, do we need to work out the business model more first? And actually, for a lot of that, I ended up sort of building in some structures to help me . . . not like rein in my enthusiasm, but, like, make sure I was carving out the right time to actually think about like, “Am I going up the right . . . Am I putting all this energy up the right mountain or the wrong mountain?”
Andrew: What do you mean? What’s the process you can come up with to help you figure out if you’re going up the right mountain?
Minnie: Well, so for me, I use our board the most, probably. So, you know, and I think, you know, everyone uses their board. But for me, it was important to really be thoughtful about, “What are the things that I can schedule on the board meeting agenda? That once I put it on the board meeting agenda, I will treat it like an operational task to make sure that I am thoughtful about the strategy, let’s say. So if strategic thinking is like if I treat it like a to-do list, then I will attack it the same way I attack sort of a more operational challenge if that makes sense.
Minnie: So learning to use the board better. I don’t think like I feel like I’ve solved that, but I think the board can be a great resource for sort of attacking the bigger picture things and making sure you don’t run up the wrong mountain repeatedly which is my weak spot at times.
Andrew: All right. I wrote a note here to come back to the warranty changes. Let’s go back to the early days. So you came onboard, and you said, “We’ve got to figure it out whether this makes sense, and how it makes sense?” And so you went to Craigslist. What did you do on Craigslist in the beginning?
Minnie: I mean, very beginning, we just started buying and selling cars off Craigslist and onto Craigslist, essentially. And so, you know, there have been different times I’ve seen either friends or other people say like, “Well, I don’t know whether I should really do this thing,” whatever it is, because it’s already a solved problem. Like, this has already been done. You can buy a car on Craigslist. They are called flippers, car flippers. They buy cars on Craigslist. They fix them up. They sell them for a profit. So are you just flipping cars? And are you actually going to learn anything? But that’s exactly what we started doing was just buying and selling cars off Craigslist, and we learned a ton, and it was very interesting.
Andrew: What did you learn?
Minnie: We learned some about . . . Well, here’s like it one we weren’t sure. So I think of product management and building companies as essentially, hypothesis testing and proving or disproving your hypotheses, and one that we weren’t sure about was if we’re not giving you money upfront so kind of a consignment model. We’re helping you sell the car, but we are physically, taking inventory. Will you be willing to give us your car and your car keys without getting any money? And just we’re sending someone out to your house and we’re like, “Hi, give us the car keys and, like, the title to the car.” And we’re going to drive off with your car, but we’re not giving you anything in return. And so that was one of the things we were testing, and the answer was, “Yes.” Like, we could send . . . My nephew worked for me that summer, and my nephew was 16 or so. And he could show up at some house and just, like, drive off with their car. And so we were just testing our [inaudible 00:31:17].
Andrew: That’s what I think I was trying to tell you earlier when I said some dude come into your house. That’s the dude. It was your nephew would go to somebody’s house and even . . . Why would people trust you guys at all? You didn’t have any funding. You didn’t have anything.
Minnie: Right, right. That was one of our big tests. You know, we think that this . . .
Andrew: Why do you think they trusted you?
Minnie: You know, we tried to present ourselves as trustworthy. We did a variety of things to try to be trustworthy. So, like, we sold people who were maybe like friend of friends’ type cars and then have them, like, leave us reviews on Yelp, all those sorts of things which we would then quote to. We would make sure that the person showing up at your house, like, was, like, clothed in a jacket that had our logo, so it didn’t totally look like . . . you know, my nephew showing up in his sweatpants or something. So, you know, we were deliberate about what we did. We would give people a piece of paper that said, “You know, we just pick up your car.”
Andrew: It’s amazing how those little things add so much trust. I won’t say the name of the company or the person. But I had lunch with an entrepreneur who had to send professionals into people’s homes and offices, and people didn’t trust the people he was sending in. So what he did was he had a card made up with their photo and their name and a barcode. And laughing, he said, “The barcode is meaningless. We just kind of pick one off of Google images.” And that’s what they have. And now suddenly, people are able to get in the door. But those were the trust factors that you leaned on, and so that’s one of the things you learned. What else did you learn?
Minnie: Well, I mean, kind of one of the things that catapulted our company. I mean, you know, the amazing . . . the amount that you can do with just sort of hustle. So, like, we ended up just parking these cars when we picked them up, like, outside of George’s apartment. So we are working in his apartment. I would just show up at George’s house every day at 10:00. I’d been awake for, like, four hours, and, like, I’d show up at his house at 10:00. And then, you know, and I showed up earlier when it was street cleaning days because we have to, like, move the cards around to different parts of . . . This is San Francisco, right? So, you know, just being able to do that and show that we could sell, you know, 10 cars a month, 15 cars a month.
You know, we were able to sell, let’s call it, like, 25 cars a month. You know, we needed to bring on a couple of more people, we could then . . . If you’re in San Francisco, there’s a Costco, that’s kind of in the middle of like, gosh, like Bryant and 9th Street, 13th. I can’t remember. Anyways, you could then go and, like, park your cars there, and you could just, like, rent out a corner of the lot. Anyways, what we’ve found once we got up to a certain volume was . . . And this is a very Bay Area, San Francisco thing, but a lot of people were buying Teslas and wanted to use our service. I mean, it’s kind of . . .
Andrew: To sell their old cars.
Minnie: Yes, because Tesla won’t take a trade-in.
Andrew: Okay. And so they were coming to you. You were asking, “Why are you doing this?” They’d say, “Well, I’m about to buy a Tesla.” Got it.
Minnie: Yep, and it turns out that every . . . If you’re going to a regular used car dealership . . . Because Tesla is a direct manufacturer/sale, so they won’t take your gas car if you’ve got a gas car. You know, they sort of turn up their noses at it.
Andrew: Will they take an electric car? They won’t . . .
Minnie: Actually, they would take an electric car. I think even at the time, they wouldn’t even take a Tesla trade-in. Now, they will take a Tesla trade-in so, you know, if you’re going from one model to another. But we found that, and so then we just said, “You know what? Maybe we should just, like, show up and sit at the Tesla stores.” And we were just going to hire someone who’s going to go just camp out at one of the Tesla’s showrooms and see if they can, like, become friends with the manager at the store, and so we just had . . . So then we, like, essentially, hired, you know, more people like my nephew. My nephew was one of the people. And he went first to like . . .
There’s, like, five different Tesla showrooms in the Bay Area, and we ended up just camping out there. We’d actually staff the Tesla store and become friends with the managers there, the store manager and, you know, bring donuts in. And the store manager would, like, got to know us. And then the store manager, if they had a customer who had a trade-in, would just be like, “Oh, we’ve got a service for that. They’re sitting right here.”
Andrew: Wow. Oh, that’s how you did it. I thought it was just like one VC made a friend with somebody else, who was an investor in something else, who connected you to Tesla. It was just going into the stores and making friends with the manager, and then Tesla started sending you business.
Minnie: Yeah, I mean, there was also all sorts of . . . you know, how can we pull on our network? Because, you know, who do we know at Tesla, who’s, you know, a higher-up? And actually, we did end up hiring someone as a contractor who claimed to be, like, the best BD person ever. And he said, “Look. I can get you a partnership with Tesla” Beyond just sitting at the store manager because the store manager was not, like, the decision-maker sort of. They weren’t going to become a partnership for us. And we ended up hiring this guy as a contractor, and he brought us a Tesla partnership, and then we hired him as a full-time person because he was fantastic. But that kind of was pre-Series A, and that kind of, I think, having a Tesla partnership made us look more than we were just, like, parking cars outside of George’s apartment, which is what we were doing for a while.
Andrew: All right. I’m going to talk about my second sponsor. You guys don’t do any sponsors, and you have no reason to do sponsors on your podcast at LA Venture Podcast, right?
Minnie: You know, I’m not good at it. I’ve played around with it a little bit.
Andrew: You have?
Minnie: Mostly, just for, like, friends of the show. Almost more like less for the money and more for, like, people who we want to help promote.
Andrew: Right. I get that. I’m going to talk about HostGator. We talked a moment ago about how people trust you more when you have little trust indicators like a piece of paper that says, “I’m taking your car. And here, I promise that I’m going to give it back to you.” Or an ID badge that has a barcode. That’s a meaningless barcode. One of the best trust indicators is having a website. And I know it sounds silly, but it is true, right? That if somebody has a website, not only does it give them more trust than maybe the website deserves to give, but it also gives information. So there’s a utility to it, unlike a barcode that’s meaningless. I remember I wanted to get my kid into the right school, and I didn’t realize how early in San Francisco the kindergarten application process is. And I realized, “Oh, man, I’m so behind.” And so I started asking dads around here. I don’t want to figure this out for myself.
I know some of the moms and dads have spreadsheets that they share back and forth, and they could add me as a viewer. I don’t want that. So is there someone I can hire? And they introduced me to this guy. And I don’t know anything about him, but he had a website. And so I looked through the website and said, “You know, seems like a reasonable person. Let’s do it.” I bring the guy to my house and sure enough, he helps me figure out the school process which is insanely painful here, and we went through it. And it’s because he had a website that I was able to trust him enough to say, “Yeah, this is the direction.” Tell my wife, “I’m not going through the spreadsheets. Look. I got a website. I don’t need all those spreadsheets and all our friends’ feedback,” and it worked out well.
So if you’re out there and you need . . . and you have an idea, just give it a quick website, and you’ll be amazed by how much credibility add to it. And I don’t just mean if you have a new business. I mean, even a side project. Think about how Seth Godin, one of the top marketers, whenever he has this new idea, he could just throw it at Seth’s blog. What is it? It’s like seths.blog, I think, is his blog or whatever his main site is. He’s had it for years. He could just throw a slash new idea at the end of it, but he doesn’t. He gives it a new website, gives it a new meaning, gives people a place to go. And that’s what allows it to stand up on its own and have more significance just because it’s on its own site. So take your new ideas over the hostgator.com/mixergy. They’ll give you a super low price. Already, HostGator has the lowest prices.
What, the lowest prices of all the reputable hosting companies. If you go to hostgator.com/mixergy, they will give you even lower than that. I’ll be honest with you. They’re just going to take a few cents off because their price is already super low. So like $2.64 a month for the Hatchling Plan. That’s what they’re offering you. We’re talking pennies here, but you will save them. And if you’re like me and you’re like Minnie and you like to save even a little bit of money, you’re going to love that they’re going to save you even a few pennies. And beyond that, you’ll be supporting my podcast here by going to hostgator.com/mixergy to start your website or move it over if you don’t like your hosting company. The first funding came from you and other investors. And then Series A came from who?
Minnie: DFJ, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Highland Capital split the round.
Andrew: And you weren’t part of the . . . or how involved were you in raising money?
Minnie: I was pretty involved. It was me and George, but George, who was our CEO, you know, it really fell on him. And it was a huge amount of his time, actually. So yeah, none of our rounds were super easy. Even though, you know, our Series A, we ended up having multiple term sheets and ended up splitting around. You know, there are still just . . . I remember we marched up and down Sand Hill Road for our Series A, and we were meeting everyone. And at one point, George just said like, “I need to take a nap. I’m going to go to your car and just sleep there.” And it was in between . . . And then we were, like, going to Greylock in, like, an hour later. I said, “Okay. I’ll wake you up.”
Andrew: I just assumed you guys would’ve had an easy time considering your background that you already had proven a few things. What was the most difficult part about raising money?
Minnie: Different rounds also, I think, had been easier or different. You know, experiences. And, you know, like in our seed round, just getting the first, probably, like $500,000, and then we raised it to 3.2 million seed, But, like, the first 500 was way harder. And then once people sort of feel like, “Oh, you are legit. You’re going to be able to do this.” Then everyone wants in. So there’s a little bit of that, I think. You know, I was really glad George did it because I’m just intimidated. I mean, now, I’m a VC, so I’m far less intimidated by other VCs luckily. But I’m not great. I don’t know. I’m intimidated by the whole process, I guess, and I’ve gotten less so. But, you know, walking into anything where you’re really nervous, and you’re . . .
You know, if someone like . . . If Mark Andreessen sort of craps on your idea and says he doesn’t like it. Like, I take it very personally. Like, I’m not one to immediately pushback and say like, “No, you’re seeing it all wrong.” So I think that whole venture model of, like, strong convictions loosely held is a hard one for me because I have like, “Oh, if you have strong convictions, this isn’t going to work.” Then I feel like I might . . . You know, it makes me have doubts a little bit. So the whole process was challenging and just time consuming, too.
Andrew: You know, I’m not surprised to hear you say this. Because I think when you became a VC, one of the things you said was, “I was intimidated by the prospect of being a VC.” So who gets all these articles written about them and tells the reporter, “I’m intimidated by this”? I wonder if one of the reasons why you do the LA Venture Podcast is because you’re trying to humanize these investors for yourself to say, “They’re just regular people.” Right?
Minnie: Oh, totally. Oh, totally. It’s 100%. So that was one of my huge lessons is that when I listened to someone . . . Because it’s such an intimate experience, like, hearing how someone talks as opposed to just a written word. It’s in my head. I feel like then I can go talk to someone as if they’re a person as opposed to something that I’ve made in my mind of some intimidating. Mark Andreessen, your name is on the door. Great. But when I hear someone talk, mostly, I think, “Oh, what a lovely person. What a lovely human. They have children. Great. I go to the same school.” Whatever.
You know, we have the same problems. But so it makes it . . . And so I wanted that resource when I was an entrepreneur was to be able to hear everyone . . . And I’m not a great reader. I mean, and so the podcast is an amazing format for me. And so I joke that my podcast is meant for entrepreneurs who want to raise money from one of these VCs. But it’s also like, at least, half for myself. Like, I am my own target audience.
Andrew: I find those to be the best podcasts. The ones, where the interviewer has an ulterior motive where it just feels more natural, instead of assuming here’s what random people that I have no connection with probably want to find out about this.
Minnie: Right, right. I mean, and I’m trying to learn venture capital, so I just asked the VCs about how they think about during their follow-on funding or, you know, things that I’m still curious. Like, if they have good tips for me.
Andrew: Why did you want to be a venture capitalist?
Minnie: It’s all the early stage stuff that I like, again.
Andrew: To help . . . So what I understood was you were going out looking for a job, right? Like, you were thinking, “Is there is a role at one of these companies that TenOneTen invests in?” You started looking at these different companies. You started helping them out. And then they said, “Why don’t you just be a partner here?” Right?
Minnie: Yeah, I mean, you know, it wasn’t totally as easy as like, “Yeah.” Everyone’s like, “Yeah, why don’t you come be a partner here?” I think, you know, venture capital jobs are just general few and far between. But yes, so I decided to move to L.A. for personal reasons and then decided that I needed to get a job. And, you know, it was always part of the deal, and so I did. I wasn’t sure whether maybe I would go back to join, like, a portfolio company of one of the VCs in town. But I did end up talking to a lot of the venture funds in L.A. about both their portfolio and whether they had any ability to bring on another partner.
And, you know, back to sort of wanting to be in the room where it happens or a seat at the table sort of thing, I think that some of it is listening to entrepreneurs, and what do entrepreneurs need? And there’s still a huge number of great entrepreneurs who . . . They’ve been scraping by with friends and family money like very literally, their own money and their uncle’s money and to be able to be that first seed check, where it’s like . . . We’re usually investing into someone who’s raising, like, $2 million. So it’s not someone who’s just raising $300k. It’s like this is their first . . . Like, this is a big check, like, to get your first $2 million to really build the thing that you’re . . . like been dreaming about and scraping by on, it’s a different . . . They launch to a different level when they get this funding. And that’s an amazingly awesome role to be able to play, and then to be able to work with the people who you’ve just decided are going to be amazing people to work with.
Andrew: You’ve told our producer, “I always wanted to be in front of people. My parents were academics. I just had to do something where I was in front of people in the real world.” This is what you’re talking about. That you want to be . . . not just making the decision about who gets funding, you want to be in there with them as they’re building it. Be that person that . . . You said that part of your checklist was going back to the board. You want to be somebody who somebody . . . who the entrepreneur would want to put on a checklist and say, “I better check in and see what she’s thinking.” Am I getting some clarity looking at this, but I don’t think that I’m hitting on it right.
Minnie: Yeah. No. I think that is some of it. I think that I joined these two partners you referenced that I had two great partners. And we all have spent a lot of time building companies in the early stages or, you know, growing . . . One of my partners has done three companies. One has done a couple, and one became Google AdSense. So we all feel like we have something to add and can actually be there when entrepreneurs need . . . It can be need, whatever. Really, I feel like I can, at this point, plug-in on a lot of different things. And, you know, some are going through your own entrepreneurial journey like you make so many mistakes and hopefully, do some things right. But you are then excited to say, “Let me take what I’ve learned and actually put it to use somewhere.” So hopefully, I can put it to use helping the entrepreneurs in our portfolio and just entrepreneurs, in general.
Andrew: Let’s continue with the story. And then I want to find out why you left Shift. You said that you put the car . . . you finally put them into Costco. How big was the business before you got a Costco deal where you can just park your cars in their lot?
Minnie: Oh, that was another . . . Okay. Another memorable experience was when we actually got our first warehouse when we moved out of Costco.
Andrew: And the reason you moved out was what? It was too small for you. There were pigeons dropping.
Minnie: Oh, yeah, we did move into a warehouse that had pigeons shitting on our cars.
Andrew: Oh, that was the warehouse after Costco. Got it.
Minnie: That was our first warehouse. Yeah. Yes. So yes, I mean, I may have mentioned that to your producer because it was like such a . . . I mean, a good example of, like, entrepreneurship. You think you’re going to be thinking about the big strategic like how does this . . . you know, whether strategic forces and strengths and weaknesses. And really, what you’re thinking about is like how do I make sure when I’m selling a car, I don’t show up at someone’s house with, like, bird shit on the car, which is, you know, more what we are . . . You know, we did a lot of very tactical things which I enjoy solving those challenges.
Andrew: What did you do to avoid the bird droppings?
Minnie: You know, we talked about everything like whether we should poison them, but we didn’t poison it, the pigeons and . . . Like, none of us were experts. We were like we were going to get a hock at one point or, like, BB guns. But I think we ended up just like hiring a professional, like, pigeon exterminator or something.
Andrew: Oh, oh, really? You had to exterminate them. Wow.
Minnie: Yeah, I’m not sure what he did. In the end, we just outsourced it, which is probably what we should’ve done earlier. But it was, you know, an amusing challenge for a while until it really became a pain in the ass.
Andrew: Okay. So all right. Those are the problems that you’re solving. Can you tell me a little bit more about this warranty inside sales issue? What was the sales process like for selling the warranty before and then after . . . What was it after you hired the right people and changed the process?
Minnie: Yeah, so you know, essentially, there was this notion of we’re a venture back business, so we’ve got to keep growing and in which direction do we want to expand. Like, we could’ve expand geographically or we could expand sort of the depth of our offering, and we decided to expand the depth of our offering. I mean, well, we talked about actually, expanding into having some retail locations where people could actually come to us or there were different directions to expand. And what we ended up deciding was to be sort of . . . We needed to get . . . Let’s expand and improve our unit economics, so let’s make sure that our revenue growth is coming in from not actually from doing more units necessarily or let’s grow our units and grow the sort of revenue we’re getting from each sale. That’s what I was worried.
Andrew: Sell more cars and make more money from each sale, and that means sell warranties?
Minnie: Yeah, warranties and the financing of the car. So actually being able to have someone be able to finance our car. And so it’s a weird thing, which is, if you were to go to Citibank, Wells Fargo, wherever you bank and say, “I want a home loan, a personal loan.” You can get that, but you actually can’t get a loan on a car unless you go through a car dealership. I know it’s a little weird thing. It’s an asset that they don’t . . . I think it’s because it’s an asset, they don’t know how to or want to value. And so what we were able to do . . . and so you just need to go through a variety of things in order to be able to get a loan. And so if you’re trying to buy a car on Craigslist and it’s a $20,000 car, you need to buy it in cash. You can’t go get a loan for that easily.
So there’s some credit unions. But, for the most part, it’s a difficult thing to do. So we decided that was important because it was something we were hearing from our users that they wanted to be able to do that. So we wanted to expand into that, but that then meant that we sort of pivoted to a model where the person who was out in the field bringing you a car was really just driving the car to you or picking a car up from you but not actually going through the whole process of getting you into the right loan and the right service contract.
Andrew: And that’s when you needed somebody who was a salesperson, right?
Minnie: Yeah, that’s when you need someone who is not just a salesperson but just in front of a computer and having sort of all the tools in front of them. And so we ended up building some tools for people who were meant to be sitting in front of a computer. And the ended benefit of that was what we wanted to be able to do was when we expanded geographically to go into a city and sort of plug-in there without needing to hire a whole new set of people and train up a highly skilled set of people who knew the variations of the different loans we were offering. But to have all of that centralized in one place, so when you open a new geography, you’re essentially, hiring people who are drivers of cars but don’t need to know all of the processes and, like, the difference . . . you know, different warranties are available on different sorts of cars to different sorts of buyers, that sort of thing.
Andrew: Why did you leave? You finally had this company that was growing. It’s so hard to find. Why? Why go?
Minnie: Multiple reasons. To some degree, I mean, there were a lot of personal things. Like, one aspect was, I was having a third kid, and for my second kid, it’s just really hard . . . I think it’s very hard to find a job where you can be gone for, let’s say, three months and then come right back in right where you were. I did . . . And, in fact, some about like how do you structure maternity leave and those sorts of things. But so I had a second kid, when we were right . . . when we were raising our Series A, and I just took, like, two weeks off. I mean, I took a little bit of time off, but I just brought her to work every day, and it’s tricky, and it’s very personal decisions.
And, you know, I worried a lot about like, “Was I setting the wrong example?” But that’s what I do with my second. So then when I was having my third, I decided I really wanted to take some time off. And I think, you know, also, leaving my husband with three kids was going to be a strain on him. And so I decided really wanted to take some time off, so I looked at how can I get rid of all my responsibilities? And in the process of that, also, we ended up hiring another very senior . . . I mean, hiring sort of . . . Hiring may be the wrong word but getting another kind of co-CEO, and his name’s Toby. He has actually been with us since the beginning as, like, an advisor, but he decided to join full-time, which was really crucial because I was trying to handoff some of my work.
But having another sort of co-CEO, which is his title now, meant that, to some degree, I felt less needed. And in a very, like, nice way, I kind of wanted to feel less needed, and so it was a nice . . . It was a kind of a nice thing where I was like, “You know what? There’s nine months. I had a time planning. I’m going to . . . You know, I’m not giving birth tomorrow. Like, there’s plenty of warning here.” And meanwhile, we have another senior person who could do all of my job and probably do it better.
Andrew: Toby Russell was the co-founder of Taxi Magic with George, your co-founder. Got it. That’s the connection with them.
Andrew: Got it. All right. And then you moved on. You became a VC. Do you still feel intimidate . . . You do still feel intimidated on a regular basis even though, you’re doing all these interviews.
Minnie: Yeah, kind of. I mean, but it’s just the way I think I operate which is I find people intimidating until I get to know them. And then I get to know them, and I’m like, “Oh, great. You know, not intimidating at all.”
Andrew: You know what? Here’s the part that I got . . . That was demystified for me about you. Your podcast sounds really good. I just assume you guys were in a booth. Great mics and all that. I was really prepared for the show when the camera came on on “Zoom.” You just have a standard mic. Is that where you record your podcast from home?
Minnie: No, actually, we do it all in person. So we just have a backpack with our mics, and we just show up at people’s . . . or we used to just show up at people’s offices.
Andrew: And you record from there. And now, what do you do? They show up at your office?
Minnie: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: Got it. Because at your office, you could control the sound.
Minnie: Kind of. Although my office is . . . I mean, it’s like being back at the startup, being at a VC fund, right? There’s four of us, and there’s no way to kick them out today because they’re having other meetings. And so going on your podcast, I’m just . . . yeah, doing it from home.
Andrew: I appreciate it. There are a lot of noise. There is a lot of noise. With a lot of guests, one of the things that we’ve done is we send them mics. We just buy them a mic and send it out. Did we do that for you?
Andrew: You did. Oh, we did. Okay.
Minnie: I appreciate it because I don’t have anything at home, actually
Andrew: Oh, that’s the mic that we got you.
Andrew: We’ve been experimenting with different mics. You sound really good. I just assumed it was your professional set up.
Minnie: No, I appreciate it.
Andrew: All right. For anyone who wants to go check out Minnie’s podcast. It’s LA Venture Podcast. I actually don’t think it’s . . . It sounds like it’s meant for people in Los Angeles, but what I like about it is you guys are coming out of venture capital, from a point of view of, people who are in the space, who know about it, and you’re just talking to other VCs. And you do demystify them. You do make them seem like regular people without . . . you know, what I think some of the more professional journalists do which is, try to trash them to show how superior they are. You know what I mean?
Minnie: No, we definitely don’t do that. Yeah.
Andrew: No, you don’t.
Andrew: Let’s talk about who you are, what you doing, and we’ll have a conversation about how you think.
Minnie: Yeah, well, I’m hoping that entrepreneurs then, learn . . . yeah, learn some tips also, just from the VC’s perspective of how do VCs operate. So that when they go and pitch things, you know, they don’t sort of make errors that are avoidable errors, I guess.
Andrew: And the TenOneTen name, you guys have a description on your website that . . . It’s tenoneten.net, which makes no sense. It’s got something to do with the Interstate 10 and the 110 in Los Angeles. Did they connect? I don’t remember. Those two highways don’t connect. It’s the 405 and the 10 that connect near your office, right?
Minnie: Andrew, if you want to say it’s a confusing name . . . And like Travis Kalanick now has his company. I think, it’s 10100, and ours is TenOneTen. And yeah, you could claim that it’s confusing. I mean, I joke that my partner, Gil . . . I believe that his brain works in binary instead of . . .
Andrew: Oh, I see. So that’s what it is. But you do have fun with the name on the website and for anyone . . .
Minnie: Sure, we do.
Andrew: . . . who wants to check out the name, it’s tenoneten.net, right?
Minnie: Yes, thank you.
Andrew: All right. Congratulations on the podcast, on the new gig as a VC, and really, frankly, on Shift. It’s so hard to start something and have it be this successful.
Minnie: Yeah. No, it still makes me excited that . . . yeah, we’re able to build things. And people tell me all the time, “I sold my car on Shift.” And I feel proud that I built something that makes . . . you know, does something good in the world.
Andrew: All right. Cool. Thank you. And thank you to my two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first, if you’re hosting a website, just need to add credibility to anything, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. And the second, if you’re hiring developers or your friends are, tell them about toptal.com/mixergy. Thanks so much for doing this interview.
Minnie: Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew: You bet.