How navigation app Skobbler beat Google Maps to the market

The guest you’re going to meet today had this idea for a map company and the company, in many ways, beat Google Maps.

You’ll hear how Google came in and became a harsh competitor. You’ll hear how today’s guest still ended up doing so well the company ended up being acquired.

It’s an interesting story so I had to get the founder on here. The company is called Skobbler and its founder is Phillip Kandal.

Philipp Kandal

Philipp Kandal

Skobbler

Phillip Kandal is the founder of Skobbler, which creates advanced maps technology and smart location-based navigation apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com.

A few months ago, I flew this guy Ovi from Romania to San Francisco. The reason I did is not because I’m generous. It’s because we have this little community of Mixergy Premium members and we started organizing masterminds. I said, “How about if two to four of you guys get together and help each other out on a regular basis and talk through your businesses and help each other think things through?” And people were starting to do it.

We got dozens and dozens of people who did it. Ovi just kept helping so many people by saying what worked for him, by challenging me, by basically making a better experience for everyone. So I flew him to San Francisco. Then he and I drove to Napa Valley to one of my favorite spots in the area to talk business, and he told me about his business. He’s got this company called SocialBee that helps use social media to grow leads.

He also said that he was staying at this guy’s house. I said, “You mean like an old friend, a family member?” He said, “No, no, no, this is a guy, I don’t fully know the guy, but he’s letting me stay at his house because he’s helping me out.” He said, “Andrew, you should actually interview him.” I said, “Yeah? First of all, I want to ask him why he’s letting you in his house and second, why should I interview him?”

He started telling me, Ovi did, about how this guy, who you’re going to meet here today, his name is Philipp Kandal, how Philipp had this idea for a map company and the map company actually in many ways beat Google Maps, how then Google came in and became a harsh competitor and how Philipp ended up still doing so well that his company was bought out by Telenav. I did more research on it. I even found out that Philipp had a company that went bankrupt before. This was an interesting story.

So I had to get Philipp on here to talk about his business. The business is called skobbler. And that’s what we’re going to find out about in this interview. And this whole interview is sponsored by two great companies. The first will help you hire great, insanely good developers called Toptal and the second one will actually do your books right. It’s called Bench. I’m going to tell you more about both of those later. First, Philipp, welcome.

Philipp: Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Andrew: Did you ever meet Ovi before you invited him to stay at your house?

Philipp: Yes, I met him in the startup ecosystem back in Cluj in Romania. So I did know him, but not extremely well.

Andrew: No. You weren’t even in the house. You just said, “Here’s the keys. Go stay at my place.”

Philipp: Yeah. I do have some Romanian entrepreneurs staying at my place now.

Andrew: Right now?

Philipp: Yes.

Andrew: It’s not weird for you? You’re okay with it.

Philipp: I’m totally okay with it. I think if you give people trust, usually it works out very well.

Andrew: I imagine with Ovi it must have. I imagine Ovi probably left you chocolate from Romania somewhere in the house as you left. The house was better off than he found it.

Philipp: There was a bottle of whiskey. It was working out well.

Andrew: Even better. Did I get it right? You actually went bankrupt? What was the idea that got you into bankruptcy?

Philipp: Yes, the startup which we did back then was basically very similar to Netflix. It was a video on demand company, like end of the ’90s. We started the company, grew it to like 30 engineers, raised $2 million, but then when the dotcom bubble burst, the company didn’t survive. We didn’t manage it well, so the company went out of business.

Andrew: You were sending actual DVDs in the mail to people?

Philipp: No. Actually it was like streaming. So it was like basically a very early streaming video company. Yeah, partnering with one of the big German electricity companies to really like give the people video on demand I mean, very similar as Netflix is nowadays.

Andrew: I see, very similar to Netflix 2016, not Netflix at the time that you were doing it. When you say it was managed badly, what do you mean?

Philipp: We were a bunch of young guys who didn’t have a lot of experience in how to manage a business. So the main mistakes which we made, we had like one customer strictly, the big energy company, RWE, which is like the biggest German energy company.

Basically, they wanted to deliver videos to their customers via the power line, and when they didn’t get regulatory approval for this, then basically they said like, “Guys, sorry we’ll not partner with you anymore.” And if you have one customer that’s paying you and he shuts you down, then basically you’re out of business. That was one of the rookie business mistakes which we made by just having one customer, and that’s like why we went out of business. That’s what I mean as badly managed.

Andrew: I made that mistake too. Why did you do that? I mean with the previous company. Why did you do that? Why do you allow yourself to have one customer and that’s it?

Philipp: It was so good.

Andrew: Right. Me too. They pay you so much. You get to concentrate on them. Is that it?

Philipp: Yeah, you party. You take the money and you think it’s always going up and up. I figured out how as humans we work. If we see a trend that goes in one direction, you can never figure that it goes in the other direction. So, for us, it would have been a lot of hard work to acquire second customers, and we can just ride the wave of the first one. Getting a second would have been much harder, so we just enjoyed the success of the first one. That’s why we didn’t do it.

Andrew: It was supposed to work via the electric cables. Why didn’t that ever take off? In the U.S. they tried to do that. The electric company said, “We can get you internet via the power cable. We can compete.” And they never took off. Why didn’t it take off in Germany?

Philipp: Yeah. It didn’t take off in Germany because the regulatory stuff. They tried it and basically figured out it caused fluctuations in the electricity network. So then people might have a video on demand over the electricity cables, but then their power at home wouldn’t be working stable anymore or a toaster would explode.

Andrew: I see.

Philipp: This is not the kind of stuff that you want to have. So that’s why in Germany the regulatory, the government shut it down and said like, “Guys, the stability of the power network is really important.” So it didn’t get approval.

Andrew: So were you going to do internet over power, and did people need a separate device? What was the process like?

Philipp: So, back in the day, it was a set top box. It was very similar now to what people have now to streaming boxes at home. Basically, we were providing only the software back then. Another company was providing like a set top box that people would connect with their TV and then they could like watch all those shows and so on and download them. That was the idea, the concept back then.

Andrew: What’s the part that actually made sense? If you look back and you were to pat your 17-year old self–and this was 17 years old when you did it, right?

Philipp: Yeah.

Andrew: If you were to pat your 17-year old self on the back and say, “Good job,” what would you give the biggest pat for?

Philipp: I think the general concept was very good. So a lot of the stuff happens now that we did back then. I think the technology was really solid. I think the stuff really worked. Even in the day when you had like low reliability, very slow, 1 Mb, 2 Mb internet connections, it worked in general really well. We had really cool technology to buffer the videos. Back then it wasn’t like that you click run and it runs, but it was more like five, ten minutes buffering and then it played. But this worked really well, even over the internet lines back then that were very wonky. We figured out all the technology and how to make that work, how to do the dynamic bandwidth and so on. When we tested the product, when we did test trials with like 100 customers and so on back in the day, the feedback on the product was really great. That was really nice.

Andrew: Who created that? That was you at 17 years old who could actually figure out how to create this box and how to create this streaming experience?

Philipp: We created the software. So I think we were like–

Andrew: You did it?

Philipp: I was responsible for the technology, yes. I was programming and coding a lot of that stuff.

Andrew: How the hell did you do that? Is it what you learned at seven years old? You told our producer that’s when you started tinkering and it’s that tinkering that got you to do it?

Philipp: Yeah. I started a lot of like–I didn’t start coding the stuff. I started to like play around with Amigas and stuff like that. So, yeah, I started when I was like early teens. I started coding and programming. So I was very much into that long, long before. Yeah.

Andrew: When you went bankrupt–we’re smiling about it now because dude, you did well for yourself. You’re doing so well you can afford to have Romanians go through your house and not feel any fear of bad things happening and frankly that you have the space to allow them in, in San Francisco is a shock. But when you didn’t do well, when it went bankrupt, can you talk about the pain of that?

Philipp: Yeah. It was a horrible experience, obviously, that moment. As you said, in hindsight it sounds very fun. Back then it was not fun at all, right? So back then the good thing is that I always say is if you’re young, even if you go bankrupt, you don’t have any responsibilities for anybody else, but it was like at a point in time where I couldn’t afford to fill my gas tank of my car anymore to like do stuff, right?

Andrew: You literally couldn’t fill your car?

Philipp: Yeah. I think we were really — so I needed to go and like do some technology consulting gigs to basically like pay the bills and make sure that I don’t get kicked out of the apartment and so on.

Andrew: Were you depressed about this?

Philipp: Yeah. I was feeling a big time failure. Of course, your parents, everybody has expectations of you. Back then you’re like this doesn’t work. This was, of course, the worst part of it is like our company was like valued in the tens of millions and close to like $100 million back in the day, and we could have probably sold it if we would have been smart about it. So in my mind before I went bankrupt, I already like counted the many millions you would make out of it and it was already a done deal.

Then suddenly from like having this, it goes all to zero, that’s like a very drastic experience and then you’re thinking, “Oh shit, maybe I should have done what my parents told me and get a proper university education and like get a serious job at like a German Siemens or whatever.” So, yeah, that’s of course–

Andrew: Did you think, “Maybe I’m not as smart as I thought I was?” Did you start to doubt yourself?

Philipp: I think I was always very confident.

Andrew: Where does your confidence come from?

Philipp: I don’t know. I think I’ve always done very good in other things.

Andrew: That’s just who you are?

Philipp: But I thought yeah, I thought definitely I made like dumb decisions and that was definitely in there, but yeah.

Andrew: The idea for the new–so, first of all, actually, you went and got a job for yourself, you made mommy and daddy happy. You gave yourself some breathing room. You allowed yourself to recompose and then you ended up with this new business that we’re here to do the interview about. Where did that idea come from?

Philipp: So what happened is I went and did a technology consulting gig for Siemens in the navigation business, where a friend of mine was running the navigation business for Siemens and then he said, “Okay, Philipp, I’ll really need your help to restructure a couple of things if things don’t work great on the technology front. You’re a technologist, can you come in and help?” And then we looked at the business and it was basically navigation for [inaudible 00:11:05] cars and like navigation for PNDs, for portable navigation devices, like the Garmins and TomToms that you know, more the Garmins in the US.

Then we looked at that and said it’s very interesting. There are like two distinct faces of navigation. There was the embedded navigation for the cars, which sold back in that time for like $2,000 or $3,000 euros/dollars, then you had like the TomToms and the Garmins, which sold for $200-$300. We were thinking it’s very interesting. There’s a 10x improvement between the two. So, what’s the next generation? It’s going to be like $20-$30.

That’s when we were thinking about how can you do a navigation system for $20. I was thinking, “Well, you can’t do it with a device because that’s too expensive, so it has to be on the phone.” That’s how the idea was born that there needs to be navigation on the phone, which again, now sounds very silly because everybody has it. But back in like 2007, 2008 when we started thinking about that, nobody had it. There was no Google Maps back in the day.

Andrew: Just to give people an understanding, 2007 is when the idea came to you. 2007 is also when the first iPhone came out. There actually was a Maps app on the iPhone, which was powered by, actually was Google Maps, but it wasn’t Google turn by turn navigation. It was just a map.

Philipp: That is correct. It was just like a map but no car navigation, none of the powerful features that you all come to know today.

Andrew: And you said to yourself, “Look, the only way we can continue with this trend line,” the trend is going cheaper on navigation, “The only way I can go cheaper is if I embed my software in existing hardware, the existing hardware that would make sense is phones, let’s figure out a way to do it.” That’s the direction?

Philipp: Exactly.

Andrew: You then decide, “I’m going to start a company to do it.” So 2008, I think, is when you launched the business?

Philipp: Yes. That is correct.

Andrew: So, 2008 you launch the business. Do you get a cofounder to do it?

Philipp: Yeah. We were actually four founders. So, besides myself, it was Oliver, who was the guy who was at Siemens running the navigation department. It was Peter who launched a very successful navigation business before and it was Marcus, who was then our CFO.

Andrew: You’re doing this while you’re working for Siemens. Does Siemens own any of it? Do they feel any sense — there was no fear that they would own it?

Philipp: No. I mean, I think there was no problem on that because they clearly didn’t want to go into the consumer business. Again, we didn’t do like — we quit from Siemens when we started any work on that. So we just like had the idea, so it’s not that we were like coding while we were there. This was all done basically later. So we were just working on the idea and the concept, but not on that. I was only a consultant for Siemens, so I wasn’t on the payroll. I was just a freelancer for them.

Andrew: Did you know the iPhone would be the first platform? Did you plan on doing it on the iPhone first? No?

Philipp: No. The first iPhone didn’t have a GPS, right? The first iPhone you couldn’t do turn by turn navigation because it didn’t have GPS chip in there.

Andrew: You know what, though, I interviewed Sam Altman. He created apps for phones before they had GPS. He found a way to work with the phone companies on the 911 service to use the GPS that was part of that, and then he sold that technology back to the phone companies, which is crazy, but impressive. So you’re saying this didn’t exist. You didn’t have Sam Altman on the team. You couldn’t do it on the phone. What did you do? How did you do it?

Philipp: We did it for the Nokia phones back in the day, the Symbian platform, because those were the first phones that in Europe were very popular and had GPS on them, like the Nokia N95 was a very revolutionary phone back then. You could launch apps on them. This was the first phone which we launched on.

Andrew: This is the phone that I’m looking at photos of it. You could flip the phone up a little bit. There’s a dial pad underneath it. It looks very sophisticated, apps that actually the icons look very similar to iPhone icons. So you launch on that thing. Do you raise any money before you do that?

Philipp: No. Back in the day, we basically funded the business from ourselves. We got like a little bit. Before we launched on the iPhone, we got money, but like for the first versions, we funded that ourselves.

Andrew: You guys were doing this, you still need maps.

Philipp: Yes.

Andrew: You can do navigations turn by turn, but you still needed the underlying maps. It did not exist at the time, right? How did you get it? Sorry. What did not exist was the open map system that you eventually integrated. What did you do at the time, then?

Philipp: So what happened basically there were two big commercial map companies. One, now it’s called Here, it was called Navteq back in the day, which is now owned by the German automotive companies. The other one was called TomTom, back in the day Tele Atlas. So they were the two big map providers. They wanted to have if you wanted to use their maps and Google license additionally from them, if you wanted to have a navigation license, they wanted to charge you like $20 to $30 per device, which clearly didn’t work with our vision.

What we figured out there is a guy in UK, Steve Coast was creating something called OpenStreetMap, which is basically a Wikipedia of maps. This is like a completely free map that everybody can contribute to. So that’s great. If we can use this, then we can make it work at a low cost level.

Andrew: I see. And that’s what you built on. I’ve got to say, I just remembered, Philipp, before the iPhone, there was mapping done on mobile phones. It’s not like this was innovative. It’s not like you’re the first person to do it. I actually had a TomTom device on my Treo 650 and Treo 700.

They would sell you this little GPS rectangular thing that you keep in your car and then you install an app on your phone and it sucks, but it works and it gets you around. I just moved to San Francisco at the time — sorry, to LA — and I needed something to help me get around, right? Did you at all get influenced by that?

Philipp: I think there were a lot of these portable, like you hack together and put some stuff together and connect an external GPS dongle and so on. So a lot of that stuff existed, but again, all of that stuff was very, very expensive. So I think the key part was not like to figure out the that you have to do it, the key part was really to figure out that you have to do it at like low cost and scale that you can really make it accessible for everybody. That was really the key insight.

Andrew: I see. Even that device that I’m talking about costs more than $100, and then you also get the software. I see. You said, “This is not the way to drive down cost.” We need something else. I see. That’s how you worked with the phone. I should talk about my first sponsor at this point. It’s a good place to take a break. Do you know about this company, Toptal?

Philipp: No.

Andrew: No. Good. I’m about to enlighten you about it. These guys, actually not in San Francisco, one of the founders was living in South America. He had this idea. He said, “What if we get together a network of developers and we make sure they’re the best of the best? Developers are very competitive. They want to take tests. They want to prove they’re the best of the best. I’ll put together,” he said, “Like a test to make sure we only get the best. Once we do, we’ll help companies hire these guys, help companies bring on these great developers.”

Let me ask you something. Do you have a side idea that if you had a great developer from Toptal you would build right now?

Philipp: I think I absolutely am like swamped with workload. I have a lot of side ideas that I wish I would build.

Andrew: Yeah. What’s one of those ideas? If you had a team of developers that you could hire from Toptal because you can hire a team of developers or individual developers, full-time, part-time, they’re really flexible, if you could hire someone to build one of your ideas, which idea would we hire them to build?

Philipp: I think those are like probably a little bit bigger thing, but one thing I believe in a lot is in AI. Right now it’s like one of the hottest fields. So one thing I’d really like to get into like in the future is a cooking robot. I think like what we were doing with self-driving cars is revolutionizing driving and like one of the second biggest jobs in the U.S. is in like restaurants and hospitality, so I think that would be a very cool thing to work with.

Andrew: I see. So the robot would actually move the ingredients together, fire it up on–I see. That makes sense. I think that might be a little bit more than — Toptal does software developers at this point, not hardware and this is a hardware thing. But you mentioned artificial intelligence. Is there a way for a company that says, “Look, I see the future is in artificial intelligence. I want me stuff to move to artificial intelligence. Is there a way for that to happen for many companies?”

Philipp: I think like it’s the fundamental technology that will be in everything. Similar to how you use object-oriented programming today. I think in five years, if you don’t know about artificial intelligence, then you don’t use it in your products, then I think you’ll just be that for most companies.

Andrew: I think you’re absolutely right. So, if there’s anyone out there who’s listening who says, “I see this is the future. I just don’t think we’re yet. Siri can’t give me the recipe that I need right now. Alexa can’t power my app now.” I do think there’s a way for them to start. One way to do it is to say–let’s just take Yelp, for example. Let’s say the founder of Yelp is listening to us and he says, “I see the future is in artificial intelligence. We’re not quite there yet but I want to be a part of it.”

I think what he can do is he can find a way to create a Facebook Messenger bot or a Slack messenger bot for Yelp so that people will interact with Yelp by chatting with it. That’s a first step towards interacting with Alexa and Siri and doing the whole app via artificial intelligence communication. What do you think of that?

Philipp: I think it’s great. I strongly believe in early prototyping. I think that’s exactly the way that you learn about things.

Andrew: Yeah. Some of this stuff actually will work today. I interviewed the founder of KitCRM.com. That guy has got the whole business running via Facebook Messenger bot or Slack Messenger bot. Anyway, if that’s what you’re thinking of or if you have any other side project, if you guys are out there listening to me and you need a great developer to not just do exactly what you say, but to think through–great developers aren’t just a pair of hands that you can hire off a cheap freelance site.

They actually help you understand your problem and think through the right solution and then they code it up. If that’s what you’re looking for, I want you to go get the greatest developers out there. They are on Toptal.com/Mixergy. If you add the /Mixergy at the end, I get credit for sending you over and you get an offer that’s unbeatable. They’re going to give anyone who’s listening to me 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when they pay for their first 80 hours and that’s in addition to the no-risk trial period of up to two weeks.

I believe in these guys so much that if you guys are out there and you want an intro, email me. I will introduce you to my people over there at Toptal, Andrew@Mixergy.com and I’ll introduce you to Toptal. I have had such positive experiences with them that I’m excited to introduce you guys to them.

All right. Back to the story, Philipp–you have the idea. You decide you’re going to bootstrap. You start to create for the Nokia N95 and the Nokia Symbian platform. You still, once you build it, you still need somebody to actually download and install it. What was discovery like on those old Nokia phones?

Philipp: you needed to work with the carriers, right? We worked in Germany with like E-Plus. They would like SMS their customers because they know which customer has this phone. They would SMS the customer and then the customer gets an SMS and you can click on the link. It opens a WAP browser and the WAP browser, they can open the app. They can download it. So it was quite a horrible experience.

Andrew: But it’s impressive that you were able to get the carriers to do that. Who was the person who made those phone calls and what did you have to say to the carriers to get them to SMS their customers and get them to go through this whole convoluted process?

Philipp: Back in those days, the carriers have spent like tens of billions on like UMTS licenses, on 3G licenses. So there was a big dream, from the end of the ’90s, early 2000s, that they said the people are going to use the internet through their phone and it didn’t happen. They spent so much money in acquiring all the airwave licenses and then basically nobody used it.

So they were like dying to have somebody using it and our navigation worked online. So, like basically the navigation beginning, they downloaded the apps over the air, so it would cause a lot of traffic for them. They were excited to have any application out there that would use data.

Andrew: I see. Yeah. There was a period there where these carriers looked like fools for bidding up the price of 3G spectrum and then of course they ended up with a really good situation because people absolutely needed it. Still though, Philipp, to be able to contact the right person takes a certain skill level, to work with the carriers takes a certain diplomacy, a certain understanding of what you need, right? Or was it as easy as calling them up and saying, “I have an app. Could you please tell your people about it?”

Philipp: My cofounder, Oliver, is a very good sales guy. He had a lot of experience from like Siemens and he had the contacts. He was a very seasoned business guy. I think definitely that requires a certain level of connection. So it’s not just like you call those guys up. They’re big slow corporations.

Andrew: Oliver Kühn?

Philipp: Yes.

Andrew: And you watched Oliver do this. What did you learn about his process of selling, persuading, doing biz dev? What did you learn that you can pass on to us today?

Philipp: I think the main thing, which I learned if you want to work with big corporations that you think in milestones. Like originally when I was younger I was much more aggressive, like, “They are stupid. They should just do it with us and get done with it.”

But I figured that a lot of it is long-term relationship building with a lot of milestones, so like prove them first at a small project that you’re like a great partner and can create value for them and then like extend on there. The bad thing on working with big companies is that they are slow. The great thing on working with big companies is that once you’re in, they’re also very steady and if you prove yourself, you can extend the business with them.

Andrew: So what’s the first thing you guys were able to do in partnership with them?

Philipp: So the first thing is, like again, we started doing very small campaigns. So we started to send out messages out to a few of their customers. We started to get on their fliers when they like sold the phones, like a flier in the box. When you got your phone, it was like a skobbler flier in there. But to be frank, I think the apps on this N95 never worked great. At the top time, we had like 15,000 people using it, which at that time felt amazing. It was still one of the biggest apps in the N95 days, but it was tiny in comparison to what you could do later on the iPhone.

Andrew: I’m also looking at old articles here. I can’t exactly tell when they’re even from. That’s how bad this experience is. But I’m looking at something that’s one a Blackberry blog about your app on Blackberry. At what point did that come on?

Philipp: Yeah. In the beginning it was basically the technology we used was Java2ME. This was like the app standard that could run on a Blackberry phone. This could run on a Nokia phone. This could run on a Sony Ericsson. So, it was all like similar time when we launched.

Andrew: Did you get a lot of Blackberry users?

Philipp: A few. Also installing apps was a horrible experience back in the day. It was all a very convoluted process.

Andrew: Yeah, Blackberry was–I actually didn’t have much Blackberry experience except my iPhone broke down when I was in Argentina. I asked someone, “I’m curious about what Blackberry is like. Can you please bring me one and I’ll try that for a few weeks? I’ll be okay.” I wasn’t okay. I couldn’t just install apps on it. I had to actually go through the carrier in some ways. I couldn’t just get Evernote from the Evernote store, from their store. Very weird experience, very, very strange experience.

And then shortly after, Steve Jobs announces apps, the App Store for the iPhone. How soon after that announcement did you guys get into the App Store?

Philipp: So, again, the App Store was announced when the phone didn’t have like GPS back in the day. So we saw it and said, “This is awesome.” As soon as we saw it, we knew the next iPhone is going to have GPS for sure. We started building it. We were about like I guess it must have been a year after the App Store launched when we came out with our app. By that time the iPhone was GPS. I guess it was like about a year after the App Store launched.

Andrew: I see. It took you that long.

Philipp: It was quite an effort to build like–the navigation app is quite complex. It’s not like five screens and you click a couple of buttons. But there’s a lot of technology behind it, so it’s pretty complex.

Andrew: Did you know that Google was going to come after you? Did you know that Apple would eventually beef up their maps and do turn by turn direction? Did you have a sense of the future?

Philipp: It was always at some level you could expect that it would be coming. The key thing is why it didn’t happen in the beginning was the same reason that they didn’t want to pay 20 euros per license. So I think the key game changer was that like when Google–Google originally licensed their map data from TomTom. This was why we knew that in the short-term they cannot come out with that.

Even a company like Google, they couldn’t afford to pay like $20 per license for like a big rollout. So Google and TomTom, they had a quite strained relationship. We felt quite safe and said, “This is quite awesome. These guys, they cannot do it.” This is good. But then like Google said just basically a big, “Screw you, TomTom,” and they just sent out their own mapping vans.

As soon as we started seeing like everywhere on the internet appearing images of Google sending out their own mapping vans, we knew that ultimately they’re going to come with their turn by turn navigation.

Andrew: I see. Then did that scare you out of the business?

Philipp: No. I think the business was running very well. So I think we were just like looking for alternative options. But definitely we were committed to like run the business as good as it goes. Then there was also one thing that especially in the European market was very unique is we really focused on two things. One was offline maps. So you could download the maps to your device, which was very unique. This was working very well after Google came out with their products. We had downloadable maps in like 2010, and Google just introduced it like two years ago.

Andrew: Yeah.

Philipp: So I think in that sense that worked really well for people who are traveling, especially in Europe. In the US, you don’t leave the country that often. But in Europe, you’re literally like an hour away from the border in most places.

Andrew: That’s true. But I’ve got to tell you, I go hiking on the weekends or go to these weird places where there’s like apple or pumpkin picking and there’s no freaking internet there. Now, Google actually started to do a lot of caching. So even if you don’t have full internet, you’re not completely lost, but you’re also not completely within map coverage, which is very frustrating. The first apps that you created back in the Nokia Blackberry days, were you charging for it?

Philipp: No. I think the first apps we were trying to make money with advertisement. So we had like the idea about location-based advertisement. So what we wanted to do let’s say if you search for a certain place, the way you have the Google kind of ads so that you search for a certain place and then we show you an ad for another one and the result, obviously.

Andrew: But when the iPhone came out and you guys finally got your app in there, not finally like it was taking you too long, but finally as you finally arrive, did you charge at that point?

Philipp: Yes. So we went as a paid app in the App Store. Early days, paid apps were still very, very popular. A lot of the early apps were like paid. So, we launched for like an €8 or for discounted €4, so we were like going between like €4 and €8 per app download.

Andrew: How did you then pay the $20 to $30 or whatever it is that you had to pay TomTom?

Philipp: We didn’t. We used OpenStreetMaps.

Andrew: I see. So you were already with OpenStreet. Okay. So you started to make money. You told our producer what the first day or first week’s revenue was. Do you remember? I have the numbers here if you don’t remember. Tell me if it’s right.

Philipp: I think in the first week we were about like €30,000-€40,000 revenue, actually the first day we had 8,000 downloads. That was what our first day looked like. That was pretty amazing. We were like directly going–in the middle of the first week, we were the most sold app in the German App Store across all categories. That was pretty amazing.

Andrew: Unreal. You’re actually starting to make money. You’re actually starting to create this app people want. I do remember in the early days of the App Store people were not just willing to pay, but for navigation you would because we were used to paying for devices. To pay a few bucks for an app, $20 even would have been a steal.

Philipp: We were like at that time in Germany, our competitive navigation apps, they were all like €40 or €50. So we were like 10x cheaper. It was actually the strategy we outlined, to be much, much cheaper than them and people loved it.

Andrew: Until that moment when the revenue actually came in, how did you guys feed yourselves? Where did the money come from?

Philipp: So, again, like after we started the company, initially we self-funded it and then we launched like on Symbian. We got like $1 million investment from like an investment fund.

Andrew: So I had an entrepreneur in here, also a Mixergy Premium member. He’s doing so well with his Latin American businesses. This is his third one now. He said, “Andrew, you have to understand–the investors we get push us for growth in weird ways, push us to give up more equity than you expect. It’s a mess.” He says, “You have to get investors here in the U.S.”

He says this is third company. He’s going to do it here in the U.S. He actually has already raised and he’s going to do more. That’s why he came here. I’m going to have him on Mixergy his business is so great. Next week I’m going to record with him. Did you have a similar experience with your investors? What were they like?

Philipp: Our investor was very conservative. It was like a family office. So they were like much more traditional German style business. They were much more like guys make revenue, grow the company, profitable. So they were not the typical Silicon Valley hyper-growth investors. So they were much more like a small business investor kind of mindset.

Andrew: Meanwhile Waze was not a Silicon Valley company. They were an Israeli company, but they had a Silicon Valley mindset and compare Waze, the mapping company to you and your experience.

Philipp: Yeah. I think those guys did amazing. I think early on when we launched in the US, we were like hat on hat competing with them. I think clearly they just went for aggressive growth. When we were going for charging a few euros, they were free. Clearly if we would have been more aggressive, it most likely would have worked out better for us. So I think for sure the Silicon Valley mindset of hyper growth definitely would have helped us to grow the company to another dimension.

Andrew: But you didn’t know it at the time or you said, “I can’t do it.” Is it that you weren’t aware or weren’t able?

Philipp: I think probably a mix of both. I think the key part is also that we would have needed to be in Silicon Valley to do that. I think if we would have been here, Silicon Valley investors in general, they don’t like to invest if they have to drive more than a half an hour outside of their house, especially for the early stages. For later stages, it’s maybe different. But yeah, maybe we would have needed to relocate here. But it was like impossible from like Germany or Romania to raise money from a Silicon Valley company would have been impossible.

Andrew: What’s the deal with this Romanian connection? You’re German, but you spent five years in Romania, I heard?

Philipp: Yes.

Andrew: How did you end up in Romania? Sorry, what did you say?

Philipp: Yeah. We looked for a great value location to do our engineering in. We knew that the same thing with our maps, the strategy was towards low cost. We knew we needed a lot of engineers. So, if you want to pay like German salary, there’s no way that we could make this business work. So, back in the day basically engineers in Romania were maybe like 30% of the cost of Germany, so you could get like three great engineers for the cost of one in Germany. So that was like where we looked at like doing that.

Andrew: So you just flew over there and you said, “I’m going to figure this out?”

Philipp: Yeah. Peter had previous experience there. So, basically the beginning was very naïve. We really thought we could remotely manage this and I’ll just like fly over once a month. But then we figured out that if you don’t treat the team as like a key part of your group–the team has been amazing over there, but I basically had to relocate there to work very closely with the team. So it was not really like a big master plan. It was more just like emerging and saying, “We have great talent over there. So I’ll move over there.” The other founder stayed in Germany and I just worked with the team over there.

Andrew: How did you find living in Romania? What was it like for you? This is you embedding yourself in a country.

Philipp: I loved it. I still do.

Andrew: What did you love about it?

Philipp: The town that we were in, in Romania in Cluj is like a university town. So like 30% of the population is students. So I loved the high energy culture. Then like Romania has decent growth. So we’ve seen people grow their salary like 10x in a few years. So the attitude is better than ten years ago. Generally it’s great energy there.

Andrew: Yeah. Ovi was telling me there are a bunch of developers who are there in Romania for companies that we know about that don’t talk about how they have their developers there.

Philipp: Yeah.

Andrew: I bet Toptal has a bunch of developers over there. Every time I talk to Toptal, I realize that their developers don’t want to live in the US. They want to earn money from American companies but they want to have the lifestyle somewhere else.

Philipp: Yeah. Arbitrage is a fantastic business model. I think in Silicon Valley, it’s so expensive to live. So if you can get paid a Silicon Valley salary but spend your cost in a low cost country, that’s fantastic.

Andrew: Frankly if you’re making half a Silicon Valley salary and then you’re spending your life like at 20% of the expense here in San Francisco, you’re living a good life and making smart decisions.

Philipp: Yeah.

Andrew: I’ve got to tell people about the second sponsor, Bench. Here’s what Bench does. They do bookkeeping. It’s a freaking bookkeeping company. But the benefit of a bookkeeping like Bench or Bench specifically is that they also use software. They suck in your data so they get accurate data from companies like Stripe, from your bank account. Do you know Bench, by the way, Philipp?

Philipp: No. I didn’t.

Andrew: I’m opening your eyes to two great companies. You’ve got to type this in. You’re going to love it because you talk to all these entrepreneurs. I’m telling you some of them, not all of them, actually bring in revenue. When you bring in revenue, you’ve got to account for it. When you have staff, you’ve got to account for how much money you’re paying them.

If you get any bit of it wrong, you can screw yourself tax-wise. You can screw yourself by not having enough money in the bank. You can screw yourself like some entrepreneurs who I met here who just ran out of freaking money and then couldn’t pay their people. It’s a really painful spot to be in. It’s one thing to be jerky. It’s another thing to be jerky to your employees, to your customers. You can’t do that.

So one of the people who I interviewed, a guy named Patrick McKenzie said he was going nuts with this. He had his virtual assistant organize the data because he wanted to know where he was standing week to week, month to month, but he realized if an assistant made one mistake, he could be screwed with taxes.

Beyond that, he wants to have accurate data without driving the assistant nuts. So he signed up for Bench, loved it so freaking much that when he did his annual revenue blog post about how much his software company was making, he said, “I’m dedicating a whole section to how much I love Bench,” didn’t get paid by Bench.

He just said, “I have to tell the world about how great this company is.” And I read it a long time ago and I think what happened was I talked to someone on my team and told them about Bench and he said, “Let’s get them as a sponsor,” and that’s how we ended up with Bench as a sponsor. If you’re listening to me, you’ve got to have somebody do this for you.

The reason you need this is playing video games. You would not play video games without knowing what your points are. You cannot run your business without knowing what your points are. And on a more serious level, you can’t pay taxes at the end of the year properly unless you know how much money you’ve made. It’s going to reorganize our whole business just getting your financial data in order.

Do not wait until April 15th. Do not wait until you have to do this. Do not wait until you screw up. Go to Bench.co/Mixergy. Sign up. They’re going to give you 20% off their low prices already. Frankly, compare them to any bookkeeping service and you’ll see their prices are already low. But you get more than just a bookkeeper with them. You get a team of bookkeepers who are on it. You get the software that pulls in the data from the financial companies that you work with and then you get everything organized for you, really.

Lose the agita. Go to Bench.co/Mixergy. If you scroll to the bottom of that page, you’re going to see Patrick’s tweet about this. You’re also going to see Jason Fried’s tweet about Bench. Here’s what he says. He says, “I love the idea behind Bench.co. It’s not just software. It’s a person plus software that you use to review what they’ve done.” It’s fantastic. If Jason Fried likes it, I love it because that guy knows his stuff. He’s the founder of Bench. Do you follow his work too?

Philipp: A little bit. I didn’t follow the company though.

Andrew: You don’t follow which company?

Philipp: Bench. But I’ll definitely check it out.

Andrew: But Jason Fried, he’s the guy who influenced so many people to design beautiful looking software. The fact that he actually likes something makes me stand up and take notice. He actually–I had this friend who just moved into a new office and didn’t have his tea. So he was going to a local coffee shop and getting tea from there that’s substandard or getting coffee, which is not his thing. He said, “I’ve got to get him a tea maker for the office.”

So what’s the best tea maker out there? I start doing my own research and I go, “This is going to drive me nuts.” So I said, “Let’s see, does Jason Fried like some tea thing?” It turns out Jason Fried does. He’s very persnickety. He likes it done just right. He had this thing for like $300 that makes tea. I bought it. The guy loves it. That’s what you want. You want someone with taste like Jason. I use those guys as guideposts.

Philipp: Fantastic.

Andrew: At what point did you start to shift? Google comes in. Is that when you said, “I’ve got to shift my whole business here?”

Philipp: Yeah. I think then we had seen our revenue drop by more than half when Google launched their navigation. So we said like, “Shit.” There’s really some bad things happening here. So then we thought, “Okay, what do we do?” Then we figured out that instead of being a consumer-driven business, we started to license our technology to other companies and got it to license through Mercedes and other companies who are like interested in using navigation for their purposes. TripAdvisor was one of our customers. So we went from a B2C to being a B2B business more and more.

Andrew: But if OpenStreetMaps–that’s what you were using, right?

Philipp: Yes.

Andrew: It’s available to everyone. Why would these guys like TripAdvisor need to work with you? Couldn’t they just go get the data themselves?

Philipp: They could get the data. But it’s in the same way that if you could get the Linux kernel, you’d get all the source code, but you still want to have a company like Red Hat to compile it for you and build it for you. In the same sense, we did all of that work. So we gave people an easy to use SDK and they could just use it and the developer could integrate it in a few hours instead of like spending like months and months building all the stuff. Part is the data, but part is also the engine, the rendering engine, everything behind that they use. So there were a lot of other things behind it.

Andrew: How did you just–this is kind of like what Mapbox does today, right?

Philipp: Yes, exactly. So we were like in that space before Mapbox was doing their SDK. We got in there by serendipity, right? This is basically exactly the same business.

Andrew: How did you get in there?

Philipp: We got in there because customers called us. We were like in the consumer business and like these guys at Mercedes would call us up and say, “We want to license your technology.” We said, “No. We have other stuff to do. We’re a consumer company. Stop disturbing us.” Later on we figured out maybe it’s a good idea to listen. We got a lot of this recourse. Like early on the companies would call us and say, “Can we license your technology?” Early on, we said always no and then one day we said yes.

Andrew: And the reason they wanted to do is because they didn’t want to pay the $30 to TomTom. Is that right?

Philipp: Absolutely.

Andrew: I see. And so you start making a deal just with the people who call you up?

Philipp: Well, after we figured out there’s a business, obviously we went on being proactive and like acquiring new customers. So we didn’t just sit there and wait for customers to come.

Andrew: How did you know what to charge them?

Philipp: I think we tried to figure out–early on we didn’t have a clear pricing model in the beginning. We tried to figure out how to ask them what to spend on it and see how much the cost is. But later on, we like structured it more in terms of what is the value for that and then tried to build a pricing model around it. In the beginning, we didn’t really know. There was like competition charging some price for it. We knew that we always wanted to be on the more cost-efficient side.

Andrew: I see. And you could ask them, it’s not so crazy to ask them how much would you pay because you’re basically saying we’re thinking of getting in this business. How much would you pay? And they have an incentive to give you a higher number to get you into this business because they want something lower than what your competition is charging.

Philipp: Exactly. If they would have given us a number that’s so crazy low and say, “Okay, then we’re not interested in running this business.”

Andrew: What did they offer you per user?

Philipp: I think in the beginning this was a great thing. Because we had no unit cost, we could just do like first thing, we just did like a flat fee deal saying this is what you’re going to pay us. But it’s worth our time to work on that. And then we offered a small operations fee for the user to cover our costs, but at the beginning we could just do flat fee deals.

Andrew: You said you then started going after other companies. How did you figure out who would want to buy this?

Philipp: Well, we figured out like who is going to need maps in their apps, especially that was like our target customer. So who has maps in their apps? Who has requirements for some special features like offline maps and so on? We started to talk to all of the companies who were doing like running apps. We started to talk to all the car navigation companies. So we built a short list of like whoever needs the stuff, really, and started to talk to those guys.

Andrew: This is a little too tactical, but I’m curious about how do you know who the right person is to talk to over there?

Philipp: At the company? Typically the product manager. So I think we oftentimes try to get into the guy who is like building the product roadmap and tell them how great our technology is, how could it make his product better. That used to be often the advocate for us within the customers.

Andrew: I forget where I heard you say look at Sochi–is it Sochi where the Olympics were held? I forget now.

Philipp: Yeah.

Andrew: You said look at Sochi. Google Maps doesn’t have as good a mapping system of Sochi–I don’t know why I’m having trouble pronouncing it–as OpenStreetMap does. The thing I’m wondering is how? I actually should know this but I don’t. How does OpenStreetMap get such good mapping data? Who’s putting in? What’s the process?

Philipp: Yeah. There are two million people out there mapping for OpenStreetMap. There are volunteers, like from Wikipedia, everyone can sign up and you can like map your neighborhood and put in stuff. The people in general have an awesome amount of passion for this. So they try to get every small feature in the map. Others focus on the roads and some major things. There they go and map individual park benches or they go in a zoo and map every single animal cage and stuff like that, so they’re really very detail-oriented enthusiasts who are trying to–

Andrew: Why? I remember asking Jimmy Wales this years ago. I said, “Why are people writing your encyclopedia for free?” He said, “Why do people bowl? It’s fun.” So is that what it is about OpenStreetMaps?

Philipp: I think it’s too things. One, it’s just fun. I think that’s a very important part of it. But then another part is also like people in Germany want to do something useful and help other people. And if you know you put information in the map, if you like map an area very well, then the next guy who’s coming there will have better information about it. It’s also people really want to do something good and help other people.

Andrew: By the way, do you use Night Shift on your phone?

Philipp: Yes, I do.

Andrew: I do. I set it to automatically turn on and off based on sunrise and sunset, do you?

Philipp: Yes.

Andrew: And now that they changed the time, by 5:30 I’m in night mode. I need it to be much brighter while I’m at work. I’ve got to turn that off.

Philipp: Yeah. Mine is in night mode too.

Andrew: Just looking on the phone, it’s jarring. The reason I was looking to the phone is there an app I can download on my phone if I want to start mapping the park benches here in my neighborhood or if I want to start going to a different country and mapping there. What’s the app?

Philipp: So like a great app to use is called Pushpin.

Andrew: Pushpin?

Philipp: Yes, that’s like a great OSM POI editor on the phone that you can use it to edit the map.

Andrew: I see. There are actually a few different apps called Pushpin. It’s Pushpin OSM, OpenStreetMap.

Philipp: I suppose, yes.

Andrew: That make sense. All right. I’m going to install it. Maybe I actually want to start mapping my neighborhood. I imagine San Francisco is already well-mapped.

Philipp: San Francisco is very well-mapped. I tried to map some stuff in San Francisco. There’s very little stuff you can still find which people didn’t map yet.

Andrew: There’s no gamification? There’s no benefit beyond just the fun and the importance of helping the world?

Philipp: There are some games you can play. There’s a really cool website called Map Roulette where you get like individual challenges and like every time you answer something right, then you can get some points for it. So there are cool little apps and websites you can play with.

Andrew: Got it. You sold the company. Why did you sell?

Philipp: So the reason why we sold was that we figured out that our traditional business is going away, like the consumer business is going away. We figured out that we either need to like invest massively into this new SDK line of business, which probably means that we basically literally like start a whole other company or that we basically either get a lot of investment in to grow it or that’s a good moment to sell it because we had a very good offer that we were very happy with and quite frankly was a lot of personal reason, right? I think two of my cofounders had like families back then.

As a startup founder, it’s not like you get a fantastic salary and stuff like that and say, “Do you get by another few years on that or do you get a really healthy big paycheck that you don’t need to worry for the future?” So, I was like single, independent, so I couldn’t care less. If I would have gone bankrupt again, I would have managed it and like got over it.

Andrew: So, you weren’t in favor of the deal?

Philipp: I was very skeptical, yes. I was more like okay, let’s really hit it big. Let’s make it like a billion-dollar company and let’s go after this SDK business. I would have gone more aggressive.

Andrew: Mapbox did get to that–I don’t know if they’re a billion-dollar company, but they’re huge aren’t they?

Philipp: They’re huge. They’re very successful.

Andrew: I met them in San Francisco. The founder is like super-tattooed.

Philipp: Eric, yeah.

Andrew: Easy to have a drink with. I’m just hanging out with him and I’m like I don’t know what this guy does. Maybe he owns a bar somewhere. He’s got confidence. He’s got like ownership energy. People were starting to tell me about how they were working for him or wanted to get a job for him. Apparently he’s hiring everyone in San Francisco who’s at all startup related and a smart engineer.

So you guys could have gotten to that. You wanted a billion-dollar business. You told our producer the advice I would give your audience at Mixergy is if you monetize early, it can hinder your ability to grow at some level, which is what you want to think about. Think about that tradeoff and go into it with your eyes open. You wanted a billion-dollar business.

Philipp: Yeah. Absolutely. This is like go big or go home, right? I think that’s what the game is about.

Andrew: Why? Why do you want to have a billion-dollar business? What is the appeal to you?

Philipp: I think the billion dollars is just an effect of that. You want to have a business that has a huge impact and that’s used by everybody. So I think if you don’t want to build a niche business, but something that’s used everywhere but something that’s very appealing because that’s why we’re engineers because we want to like scale stuff and we want to–

Andrew: I see. I heard–let me see, where was that? I heard you sold the company for–where’s my number? I heard that it was like $25 million cash up front and then another $5 million some other way. What’s the deal? How much did you sell for? You’re nodding. I’m close.

Philipp: Pretty close. Yeah.

Andrew: But it was all cash?

Philipp: Yeah, part of that was also like stock. But it was all like direct compensation. So it was not based on any goals or targets like that.

Andrew: I see. It was like $25 million for the company plus some compensation afterwards, stick around, we’re not going to make it contingent on whether you guys can sell or anything like that.

Philipp: Exactly.

Andrew: I see. So you became a millionaire?

Philipp: Yeah. It was good.

Andrew: How did your life change after that?

Philipp: Actually not that much. I think I didn’t spend much of the money, so I didn’t make a big change. So I think small little things that I afforded, paid down the credit for my parents and stuff like that, but I didn’t like buy a Ferrari or anything like that.

Andrew: Did you buy the apartment in San Francisco?

Philipp: No.

Andrew: You’re renting?

Philipp: Yeah. I bought an apartment in Cluj in Romania. I bought a place there, really nice place there. That was really–

Andrew: Got it.

Philipp: And it’s so much cheaper there than in San Francisco, you wouldn’t imagine.

Andrew: Everywhere is cheaper than San Francisco.

Philipp: I got like a 2,500 square foot place and like a 4,000 square foot terrace. I think in San Francisco, I would have needed to make a billion-dollar company to afford that.

Andrew: You seemed a little bit like disappointed in the sale or it was painful.

Philipp: Not at all. It was a great outcome. I think again, it was fantastic for the team. The team we had was like 80 people in Romania when we sold. Now it’s like close to 200. So I think for everybody it was very–I’m still at Telenav. I’m running their automotive engineering group. I’m still around there. I think, again, the only thing is we would have had a chance to create something bigger but the outcome was fantastic. I’m not disappointed by it at all. I think it was like a fantastic ride. We created products that are used by many, many people. I’m very, very happy with the outcome.

Andrew: Ari asked you how do you celebrate things or what’s an example of a big success. Here’s the line that you gave her. She wrote it down. You said, “We have a fabulous party culture. Enough said.” That’s enough for Ari. She’s a producer. I’m the interviewer. Tell me more. That’s not enough. What do you mean? What kind of party culture do you have?

Philipp: Well, I think in Romania or in Europe in general, we don’t have like in the U.S. and the workplace you need to be very correct, you need to be careful that nobody sues the hell out of you.

Andrew: Yes.

Philipp: So I think one of the things we did earlier on from Romania is like twice a year, we have really fantastic company parties. So we do drink a lot, party, go out and give people the next day off.

Andrew: And you get drunk together with your coworkers.

Philipp: Absolutely.

Andrew: I can’t do that. I’m always afraid I’m going to say something that’s going to hurt someone’s feelings or they’re going to judge me the next day if they see me drunk. I watch myself very carefully in those situations. You’re okay with that?

Philipp: Oh yeah. I’m totally okay.

Andrew: You’re okay with like if I see you be a fool, you’re okay with that?

Philipp: Yeah. I like the concept that the Japanese have. If you have seen the worst of somebody else, then you don’t need to like fear anything anymore.

Andrew: I’ve never held it against someone when I saw them act foolishly.

Philipp: Yeah. Exactly.

Andrew: I do if it’s at work, but if it’s out at night, I like it. I dig it. Let me close out with this big picture question, one that’s designed to add gravitas to my interviews. Where do you see the future of mapping going and map companies?

Philipp: So I truly believe in autonomous driving. So I think that’s the big future of maps. Right now, the maps are fairly static. But in the future, if you autonomous cars and the maps need to update themselves in real time and provide guidance for where cars can ride where they cannot drive I think that’s the next big frontier of mapping, building these maps for autonomous cars for all this information in there that you need.

Andrew: Is that what you’re working on right now?

Philipp: Yes.

Andrew: Getting us to that future?

Philipp: That’s what we’re working on. Absolutely.

Andrew: All right. That’s at Telenav right now. Thanks so much for doing this interview. If people want to follow up with you or see you somewhere or stay at your house in Romania or get drunk with you, what’s a good way for them to connect with you outside of Telenav?

Philipp: The best way is to just add me on LinkedIn or follow on my Twitter at @apphil. I think this is the best way to find me. By the way, anybody here from San Francisco is very welcome to come and visit us in Romania. I’m very happy to host you or your listeners.

Andrew: I would freaking love it. All we have to do is contact you and say, “We’re in Romania, do you want to get a dinner or drink or something,” and you’ll do it?

Philipp: Ideally if you’re in Cluj. Romania is big, but yes.

Andrew: By the way, I’m following you on all these different places you’re talking about–Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. You’ve got a good photo. Whoever took that photo got great lighting on you. Why is your head chopped off on all these images?

Philipp: Good question. I don’t know. I might need to fix it.

Andrew: Why do I care about these little details? I don’t know. Sometimes I think these details have insights into the person. All right. Here’s why I like following you on Twitter. You’re into these freaking drones and I did not know there are drone competitions that now I am into. These guys sit down in chairs–you know what I’m talking about?

Philipp: Yeah.

Andrew: I’m not making this up.

Philipp: No, you’re not making it up.

Andrew: Looking at your face it seemed like maybe I was–they wear these goggles, virtual reality-type goggles, right?

Philipp: Yeah.

Andrew: They then rate–that’s how they see their drones, they control them using remote controls in their laps–actually, they’re wrapped around their necks for stability. Then what they do is they race these drones inside hula hoops around sharp turns doing U-turns. It is the most interesting out there thing out there. I can’t believe how captivating it is.

Philipp: One of my colleagues has one of that. I’ve actually tried it. It’s pretty amazing.

Andrew: One of those racing drones?

Philipp: Yes. It’s pretty amazing.

Andrew: You’re also into drones like I am. It’s fascinating. You believe that drones are going to change pharmaceuticals. Imagine it’s going to get delivered. Right now I have a guy who drops off medicine, if I need it. I’d love that. But he’s in a car. Imagine if he could come by drone. I also learned by following your Twitter account that the future could potentially be about less ownership and more borrowing or sharing and renting because whenever you need it, you don’t go to your closet and pick up the thing you bought. You get the drone to deliver the thing you’re renting and you only pay for it by use, kind of like Netflix.

Philipp: Absolutely.

Andrew: I’m a little too wrapped up in your life. I get really deep into the research. I love that.

Philipp: It was fantastic.

Andrew: Thanks. It’s been fun researching you. It’s been fun talking to you. I’m really appreciative of Ovi for introducing us. I’m appreciative of the two sponsors we have. One is the company that’s going to help you hire the next great developer or developer teams. Please, if you are looking for developers, you’ve got to check out Toptal. The second company will organize your books so beautifully it will be like seeing the points on a regular basis in a video game. It will help organize your life and grow your business. It’s called bench. Go to Bench–not .com–Bench.co/Mixergy.

Thanks so much for doing this interview.

Philipp: Thank you. See you in Romania.

Andrew: I’d love it. See you all in Romania. Bye, everyone.


  • lisa.thompson

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  • Congrats for a great interview, and glad I could help with this!

    BTW, for the ones interested, the Social Bee that Andrew mentioned is at http://SocialBee.io

    Happy to give a demo to any Mixergy listener. Just ping me.

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