How Sprig lost over $50 million

Why is Gagan Biyani still smiling? He raised a reported $56.7 million from investors, and lost most of it.

This is the story of Sprig, the startup that made and delivered food. It’s also the story of Gagan, the founder who reached the success and happiness that we all aspire to.

Gagan Biyani

Gagan Biyani


Gagan Biyani is the co-founder of Udemy, an online learning and teaching marketplace.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew Warner 0:05
Freedom Fighters. That was the sound of a glass. I wonder if the mic picked it up. Joining me is an old friend, Goggin biani, who I remember when he came over to my house for dinner, where there are a few other entrepreneurs who I interviewed around the table, we got up at some point afterwards, we all had conversations in the kitchen and in the living room and so on. And he did this thing that was amazing. He said, I’m starting this new company sprig. I want you to sign up and the person said, Yeah, I will. And he goes, Okay, great. Let’s do right now. He pulled out his phone and he had the person sign up for sprig delivery right there and I thought, I’m so impressed, so proud to know someone who feels like he’s ready to like promote this thing that doesn’t even exist. It was literally a spreadsheet. And he watched the person do it on his phone, sign up for spring. Again, the idea behind spring was you get to pick from a menu of food that they prepare. Now there was a whole chef story behind it that I’m not going to do justice to so I’m not going to try and you sign up and you can have these chef prepared meals delivered to your home to your office. I was such a fan of spring. I literally sent Goggin love notes for it. The thing that I loved was Do you remember this?

Gagan Biyani 1:24
Okay, if it was true, I remember at least I when you said it, it rang a bell but I did not remember the specific love notes or anything.

Andrew Warner 1:33
I loved sprig. I loved it because limited menu delivery was so good you can count on the service making sense with the Uber Eats the person might be downstairs might be upstairs the food might be what you expected might be some random thing by accident sprig. Exactly what you wanted nutrition information on the site, you know was gonna be healthy. He raised 10s of millions of dollars for this company. And then it closed and then he started traveling all over the world. I think I read too much into him traveling around all over the world because it partially led me then to say I’m going to call the world to and in travel. Anyway, I invited him here to talk a little bit about sprig talk a little bit about his travels all over the world talk about the business that he had before. He’s also the co founder of Udemy and see what’s going on next. And we can do it thanks to two phenomenal sponsors the first if you want to get a read on whether your customers really like what you’re creating whether your audience really is going to buy something delighted we’ll help you measure their affection. I’ll talk about them later. Delighted calm, and I’ll also tell you why. If you want to sell anything online, you need to get to know Click Funnels calm. The first, Goggin What are you drinking?

Gagan Biyani 2:38
I’m drinking a glass of Chardonnay.

Andrew Warner 2:41
I’m gonna drink Talisker single malt Scotch scotch whiskey. I think it’ll make for an easier conversation if we’re drinking.

Gagan Biyani 2:49
Yeah, I think so. Let’s do it. How much money do you raise for spring? About $16 million.

Andrew Warner 2:56
Wow. And then did you return any of it at the end of it? Spring. Yeah, about 8,000,008 million. That means about $50 million went away. Right?

Gagan Biyani 3:10
Yeah, exactly.

Andrew Warner 3:15
How did you feel at the end of that?

Gagan Biyani 3:18
At the very end? You mean when I returned the money?

Andrew Warner 3:21
Yeah. I mean, did you feel here’s the thing? Did you feel crippled by that? Did you feel saddened by that? Did you feel like this guy who you were who was like a mega success that I remember one investor, Jonathan trice, tell bragging to me not tell him bragging to me about the person in his office who got you to let him invest in your company. He went from that to suddenly having this failure that was fairly public.

Gagan Biyani 3:45
By the time it happened, I was very relieved because I had spent a year and a half having to be the guy you’re referring to when I knew I was because I knew the company was having trouble. So the truth is I was very, I was I was, I wouldn’t say I was elated. I was definitely a probably a six or seven out of 10. But I was happier. The day after we shut down then I was the day, the weeks and months prior to that, and three months later, or you know, eight months later, I was way happier.

Andrew Warner 4:19
Really? It didn’t bury itself in your head and have you like, think about what you could have done? Why did it take? Well, yeah, is that true?

Gagan Biyani 4:28
I think it definitely did, but it buried deep enough that I wasn’t super aware of it. So my day to day was still relatively happy. You know, it sort of went through this emotionally. I went through this cycle of before I was starting the company, I was pretty. I was pretty down on myself. I mean, my executive coach would have said I was depressed. I think it’s it’s hard to define me as depressed in that context. But I was definitely close because I left you to me. I was fairly disappointed in what happened there and really liked the company and wanted to keep, keep going. And so I was just getting my confidence back while at Lyft, where I worked at Lyft for about six months really built my confidence back started to become really happy. And then Sprague was a whole nother level. I mean, I, you know, overnight in about two years, for two years, we were just a rocket ship growing super fast, you know, had lots of excitement around the company, everyone in San Francisco used it, at least in my social circles, so and then the last year and a half things were really tough. And during that year and a half, it was so tough, that by the time that was over, I was relieved and happy rather than I rather than being upset about it, but during the year and a half, I was really, really, I would say depressed is an accurate term.

Andrew Warner 5:55
Wow. You To me, are you comfortable saying now what happened with You and your co founder, Aaron, why you left?

Gagan Biyani 6:04
I think at some point, I will write about this in a way that is more detailed and accurate than what I’m willing to share now off the cuff, because I’d like it to be accurate and fair to all parties involved. Not because I want to send ties it but more because I can’t tell the story honestly, without having emotions in it when I’m saying it in a video or audio recording, but I can when I write it, because I can edit out the negative emotions. But you know, fundamentally, Aaron and my co founder Aaron and I had a disagreement, a number of disagreements about how to run the company. He felt like I was not living up to the values as a leader that he was interested in and I felt like I agreed with him to some extent but also wanted to change. I also liked the way I ran things, and he was defending it. And he eventually decided that That that was not going to be a good It wasn’t going to be a good fit for us to continue to work together. And so I left.

Andrew Warner 7:10
He fired you. Yes. Wow. You guys talked since then.

Gagan Biyani 7:18
Yeah, we talk all the time you tried three times a week. He

Andrew Warner 7:22
got fired, I should say Udemy is a platform where anyone can create a course and then sell it and it’s obviously a place also where people go and sign up for online courses, good prices, courses by really good people. He got I heard he got pushed out. It may not be for your for you to talk about publicly. How did you guys end up becoming friends or talking afterwards?

Gagan Biyani 7:42
Well, I think his departure certainly helped. But even before his departure, I was you know, I was fired. And you know, you have a lot of choices of what you’re going to do when you have nothing else going on. And I could have done a lot of things to damage the company even inadvertently damaged the country. So even if I wanted to be optimistic about the company, if I had gone out and started meeting with all the potential investors to raise another round of an OTA raise route of a new company, if I had gone and tried to, if I had to basically answer questions like what happened in the six months after I left, I think that would have reflected poorly on the company and affected it. And so instead, I essentially became a turtle, and did not meet with the people who would ask me those questions for about six months, okay. And then I went and worked at Lyft for another six months, where I didn’t have to go and raise money. And by that time, Udemy had found a new CEO to essentially replace my role as president and had raised a $12 million Series B. And by staying sort of silent or not saying anything negative about the existing team. I think I did my duty. And I also made it clear to Aaron during that time that you know I was not I was going to do whatever was in the best interest of the company. And I think that that message was received. And over the course of the next two years, our relationship thawed. And then of course, his departure and the, the details surrounding it, which I won’t go into, sort of put us into another vote of well, both of us are now out of this company. And and so we realized that, you know, we had a choice, were we going to start to rebuild and sort of build a relationship or we were going to be just sort of, you know, neutral, are we going to be continued to be at odds in some level. And I think at that point, we were unlikely to be at odds we had already sort of thought a lot. And I think we made a very explicit verbal conversation saying, it does not make sense for us to keep this in. Keep this, you know, as a garage, so we both agreed, and since then, we’ve become really good Really good friends again,

Andrew Warner 10:02
one thing I respected about both of you was, I would have people over here for scotch all the time. And I had to have you for scotch over at least twice at least once. Probably more. No matter how much we were drinking, no matter how, like fun and open we were, if I asked either of you about what happened during that period, you both were no way I’m not going to talk about the other person in a bad way or any other way. And you’re not going to get them to say anything was like implicit, complete trust in the in, in you by Aaron and vice versa. You were though cash poor at the time, right? Because you had shares in the company and you had a vested interest in in Udemy. Doing well, but it’s not like they give you a big cash payout. What’s it like to live in San Francisco when everyone thinks that you’ve made it and you don’t have cash? And I think I interviewed you in your mom’s house at one point.

Gagan Biyani 10:53
Yeah, I don’t know that I was living at my mom’s house for long I had fortunately enough sovereigns to at least pay rent. out of place. But I definitely was not well off. I was still relatively poor, I would say even buy, buy buy moderate standards in San Francisco for someone of my

Andrew Warner 11:12
background. Because what you did have equity in Udemy. And right?

Gagan Biyani 11:18
Well, you don’t get to sell your equity until there’s a secondary sale. And so I didn’t have the opportunity to sell until maybe two or three years, two years after I left the company.

Andrew Warner 11:27
But what I mean is, Oh, you were cash poor, you weren’t like, it’s not like the whole time at Udemy didn’t pay off. It’s just that you couldn’t go and use it to buy groceries. You couldn’t use my trip to Vegas. Okay, so then what is it like in this environment in this city?

Gagan Biyani 11:43
I don’t know that I cared that much. I mean, most of my friends in San Francisco were non founders anyways, because I grew up in the Bay Area. And so I always had this group of friends that were, you know, living, they were very smart. Very be successful, but they were not millionaires in that age range. And I was about 2425 when that happened. So it didn’t feel to me, like my life was that different, I could still generally afford to go out to dinner once in a while to go out drinking. And I never had any pressure to drop cash the way that entrepreneurs sometimes do, which, of course, I’ve now experienced, but had really had that back that I was still relatively unknown. I mean, to be able

Andrew Warner 12:31
to drop cash. I, what do you mean by that?

Gagan Biyani 12:34
Well, I think now, if I go out with founders, or if I’m added, you know, even just the events that founders show up that they cost a lot of money. And I and so you feel like you need to be, you know, contributing to that. Even if it’s just someone picking up the tab for a bar tap where you’ve got 20 people and there’s two founders in the group. And one of the founders is the one who sort of tends to pick up The tab regularly. Well, if you’re the second founder in the crew, you’re also expected to kind of throw down. And no,

Andrew Warner 13:07
I do that too. I think I do to myself, I always feel like I have to buy everyone dinner, buy everyone drinks, and I know I do it to myself. I don’t think they’re expecting that. But I get it.

Gagan Biyani 13:19
Yeah, most most of my friends now aren’t expecting that they’re all I don’t think they ever really were. And then those wider groups of people that do kind of expected, you know, I just tried to stay away from those types of people, at the same time that people who don’t expect it but are happy to accept it. I’m okay with that. Because I think there are, there are limitations to what people can afford and that doesn’t make them people that you’re not worthy of your time or worthy of being friends. So when I was traveling, for example, I, I put down money a lot for people who I was hanging out with, you know, if you’re in Colombia, or in India, even although Indian people are the people I hung out and you have a pretty well off, but in Africa and Colombia, etc. I often felt like and Cuba, especially if I didn’t pay for it, we weren’t going to go out at all. And so I would cover people’s costs. And I had great friends there. But in San Francisco, I didn’t really ever feel the need to do that.

Andrew Warner 14:22
And so why did you feel depressed at that period in your life? And what does depression look like for you?

Gagan Biyani 14:29
In the Udemy, in the post Udemy is

Andrew Warner 14:31
here. Yeah.

Gagan Biyani 14:33
Two things happen. One, you know, Erin fired me. This is May, maybe a late April 2012. And then my girlfriend got into medical school around the same time, my girlfriend at the time, I’ve been dating with her for three and a half years. And she got into medical school in New York. And it was the only school I mean, it was the best school she got into and she didn’t get in any school in California. So it was fairly clear that she was going to leave as well. And so honestly, I was just sad and unsure of myself. The years that Udemy had given me enough confidence to believe that I could build a career in business. But it wasn’t yet a breakout success and I didn’t feel like I was getting the credit for it. And I didn’t think people realize how big it was going to be. I thought it was going to be big. And also, I think I personally was just bummed that it happened to me, because the reason it happened was fairly personal. It was very it was very much about my personal style and the way I interacted with people on the team Yeah. And that hurt

Andrew Warner 15:38
because it was a it was literally a reflection of you and who you were he

Gagan Biyani 15:43
hundred percent.

Andrew Warner 15:45
And so you were doubting whether you’re a good person or doubting whether you come across well to other people.

Gagan Biyani 15:52
More the latter, I think some of the former comes in no matter what, but more of the latter. I’m pretty well aware. And I think everyone involved was pretty well aware that I was intending. Well, that’s always been my saving grace. But you know, I grew up in a very different environment than what most sort of modern well off people did. I grew up with very tough environment. Not exactly. I grew up in a tiger mom environment with a fairly aggressive with fairly aggressive parents, who were who were not. I think my you know, my mother was was fairly encouraging, but not well versed in how to be encouraging. So she tried and she really did a great job of pushing me into great activities. But she didn’t she wasn’t like the pat on your back kind of mother. She was like the, hey, these are the five things that you’re doing wrong, and this is what you should do to improve. And then my father, I think I didn’t really get really much sort of positive motivation and I often got a lot of mixed mixed messages in terms of motivation. And so I was taught to fight I was taught to you know, be aggressive and to fight in order to get what you wanted. And I was also not really I didn’t have a lot of positive reinforcement. And I was taught to be very, very direct, because I grew up. And I think this also comes from growing up in a lower middle class family. You know, my parents were not lower middle class by the time I was, you know, in high school, but they grew up in a very lower middle class or even lower class society in India. And so we were not raised with the same kind of, you know, our sense of what manners are like or how your sample I have to

Andrew Warner 17:32
tell you. I think when I think of you, the younger you I think of a couple of things. One is like, you had this charisma that Aaron never had, and it just came across all the time in your smile and the way you presented yourself. There was a hunger but charisma for sure. The other thing is, you look like a good little boy from a well off family I ever looked at you I always felt like this is me building up a story about you in my head comes from a rich Family expects him to do well we’re probably wore a sports jacket just to be nice all the time for for dinners. I didn’t know too later on that that wasn’t you. What was you what what is an example of what life was like in India when you weren’t

Gagan Biyani 18:12
well off?

Well, I didn’t grew up in India I grew up in, in the Bay Area, but I

Andrew Warner 18:18
okay, they grew up in India. So when you were in the Bay Area, what was it like for you and you weren’t well off?

Gagan Biyani 18:23
Well, we we just really made a lot of poor decisions as a family in terms of financial financially, particularly, that my dad was in startups and was an engineer and did fairly well for a while and sort of spent a little above his pay grade and then spent a number of years not working. And then my parents divorced after five to 10 years of my dad not working. So my mother who had an associate’s degree and had slowly started to build up a career was was paying a lot of the bills. So we were okay. And then to the In 2000 2001, crash happened. And so my dad is a software engineer cannot get back on the horse and start making money. And so we lived in a middle class suburb in Fremont, California. It’s a beautiful place for kids to grow up with amongst a bunch of people whose families were doing much better than us. And we cannot keep up. We essentially had a bunch of, if you will, we, we had a great first 10 years going up until you know, from when I was born until I was 10, or 11, financially, and it all sort of fell apart. And then my parents got a divorce, and the divorce lawyers plus the splitting of two fairly average salaries at that point relative to the population that we were living amongst. And we were not an upper middle class neighborhood, even in Fremont, right. We were in the middle class of Fremont. And so, you know, that led to another 10 years and then my mother really had a lot of challenges. My mother and father both challenges post divorce. You know, and so financially, we went from a family that was going on vacation. You know, every year, maybe twice a year. We didn’t stay in nice places. But we stayed in, you know, the cheaper and hotels and still did a lot of vacations to a family that at least in when I was 12 to 15 years old. You know, my mom hid a lot of it from me and basically sacrifice a lot. But she wouldn’t go out to eat. She wouldn’t go out to eat period for months, or even a couple of years, I think. And if we went out to eat, it was like one meal every month. And other than that, we had to cook everything at home. And honestly, we had many times where we thought we were going to lose our house. So we weren’t poor.

Andrew Warner 20:43
That’s my anxiety that I’m going to lose the house is anxiety. Where do we go next is anxiety.

Gagan Biyani 20:49
I think losing the house was a very high likelihood for a number of times and we got very, very lucky. Fortunately, I yeah, I mean, I won’t go The further level of anxiety that you know, I won’t get into too much. But this was what I would call a very bad period relative to the personal stories I’ve heard of almost everyone I know, in, in my current position as a founder, and certainly in my suburb of Fremont, I was probably in the bottom 10% of Indian people, and maybe the bottom 25% of people in terms of how rough this was for our family.

But I just I just

Andrew Warner 21:30
won’t go further than I get it out. We’ll move on past this. I’ll tell you one of the things that I used to have anxiety that we lose the house and then I kind of wish that we would because it became this big thing about almost keeping up appearances by making sure you stay in the place and then holding it up for why it didn’t just I didn’t love it. I didn’t like it. I kind of wish we would just say, let’s get out of here and go someplace simpler. And a time that still comes up for me that you lock yourself into a lifestyle and there’s an expectation In a comfort and I am scared that to the point where I won’t take on expenses that probably should. I won’t take. Yeah, I

Gagan Biyani 22:07
think I think that’s something that I was able to avoid for a couple reasons. One, because it got a lot worse than what you’re talking about. So we were very clearly poor, buy most of my friends standards, and they knew it, because they saw that my parents got divorced. And my mother was a single mother who was educated in India, and did not have exactly the best financial opportunities here. And she really kicked ass honestly, at financial management, saved well invested super well. She was a financial advisor. And so she did okay. But ultimately, she was a financial advisor in a retail bank, right? So we’re not talking about someone who had it, you know, and so it was fairly obvious to everyone that we were not going to keep up with the Joneses, and keeping not keeping up with the Joneses. Also, having a one parent instead of to immediately in Indian American circles, kills your ability to keep up with the Joneses. We were nowhere close to what you’re talking about. We were significantly, we were significantly ostracized by whether that was out of our own problems, because we simply cannot keep our emotions out of, you know, parties and we weren’t able to be good, good citizens, if you will, of, you know, fun people to hang out with or whether that’s because people were turning their nose up at us because we divorce we had a divorce, and then my mom wouldn’t disclose why that happened. But this was not a situation we were consistently ostracized on multiple levels by our best friends. You know, and my mom is very different.

Andrew Warner 23:37
Did you use that as what Mark booster says the chip on your shoulder that forced you to work harder? Or is that a demon that you kept running away from coming back to business?

Gagan Biyani 23:51
Well, on the one hand, not having money, made it so that I started my first business. So I started my first business when I was 13 years old. And it was because I wanted to make more money so that I could afford some of the things that I wanted to be able to do as a high school student. And so on the one hand, it was very motivational. On the other hand, I think it really did stick with me for a long time. And I had a sort of negative chip on my shoulder socially. And I probably didn’t need to, as you said, I mean, I think the truth is, as a, you know, I could look back at my 16 to 23 year old self or 25 year old self and say, reasonably sociable, you know, people people certainly enjoyed having me around, and I was, you know, valuable and I think that the negative anxiety caused a few incidents that I wouldn’t have liked to happen where I, you know, got mad at a friend or gotten a fight or whatever and nothing serious. I didn’t never hit anyone or hurt anyone really. But I’m just saying monitor. This is all modern stuff compared to what what I was just talking about with my family. But you know, I just I got into scuffles with people, debates, arguments, etc. And I don’t think I needed to and I think part of that Definitely came. So there was negative and positive. On the flip side, I became very well aware of the issues that you can have in these situations and became much more diplomatic and political than I think I was raised to be. And I’m quite quite happy with that. Because I think I, you know, this conversation we’re having today when wouldn’t sound so normal and mature, if you will, if I was 22 or 23 years old, I just wouldn’t be able to have this conversation. Because Because I don’t think I could have said it in a way that didn’t sound terrible. I mean, I would I was so angry and bitter about why childhood was like, relative to other things, that I couldn’t talk about it in a way that was approachable to someone who didn’t have the same experiences.

Andrew Warner 25:42
You know, calgon I like how open you are. I’m gonna bring up an example that, that when I think of how open you are with me, I’m going to bring up an example that illustrates it in a moment. First, let me think I’m actually not going to do a big sponsorship message. Now I’m going to just not count this towards their ad spend. I’m just going to thank Dave Woodward and I’m going to Russell Brunson the creators of clickfunnels thank you so much for sponsoring mixergy and for understanding that in this deep conversation, I’m not going to go into the details of the features of clickfunnels anyone who wants to go check them out can go to clickfunnels comm slash mixergy. But it was this you came to my office, we had a great conversation. We were super open. Like you talked openly about your dad, you talked openly about everything your travel, you heard me out with my, my issues going on the elevator and I said, I said at one point, maybe you should do an interview with me about sprig you said. Maybe I said, that doesn’t sound so. So reassuring. Doesn’t sound like you’re gonna do it. Because Yeah, I don’t think you have a big enough audience. Actually, Andrew, I think we should be thinking more about how to grow your audience. And I really respect when people aren’t that open that you can talk like that. You know?

Gagan Biyani 26:52
Yeah, I definitely sometimes say stuff like that. I don’t know that I said it. Exactly. I think you’re you’re I think one of the challenges. I have Is that I’ve gotten better at being cryptic about what I’m saying and diplomatic, but it still comes off direct. So I prefer

Andrew Warner 27:08
from New York I now in San Francisco, where people are a little bit nicer. I like it. But I understand how it turns other people off that it not turns off, it messes with their heads. It’s intimidating. They, they find it to be,

Gagan Biyani 27:22
you know, I just spent a year in the UK. And it is the genesis of this culture, right, because they’ve had this culture for a very long time. And, you know, I felt really uncomfortable a lot of times in social situations, because there’s almost no direct conversation at all. And I started but but but in adapting to that culture, I started to appreciate why and you know, nobody really has to deal with emotional anxiety in in the way that not everyone. It’s not that people in the UK to deal with emotional anxiety. Obviously they do. But they’re There’s a lot less of it than there is if I go to India and I see what my family is like. And there’s always sort of scuffles and fighting and arguments and whatever. And I, I like a little bit of both. I think people should be direct, but be thoughtful about that directness. And I can understand why people who have had less opportunity to build their maturity in the world of India are going to be direct and not thoughtful and in the world of the UK are going to be thoughtful and not direct.

Andrew Warner 28:29
I get it, I think. All right. Let me come back to spring. Where did the idea come from for it?

Gagan Biyani 28:39
There’s so many different answers to that question. I’ll give you the two of them. One is that I obviously personally was just dealing with the challenges of eating healthy while working really hard. At you to me, I had basically worked myself into becoming overweight. I was Never before, but I was overweight, by, you know, at least 10 pounds. And I realized, when I was trying when I left you to me that I needed to fix that it was part of me getting out of my depression. And while fixing that, I learned how hard it was to eat well, and and how bad the food system was. And I was already somewhat aware everyone’s aware of it, but I really felt that pain. The other thing though, was that I looked at you to me and saw this company that I felt like I had a chip on my shoulder about the company because I never felt like people in the valley took it seriously or invested in it in the way that I wanted them to. And then I joined lift, which was a total darling child of a company. And I saw how fast lift was growing. And I started to think, wow, this is what it looks like to be inside a company that is a darling child. And, you know, and it’s growing really fast. And I started to see what that opportunity was. And I started to think about ideas that might be on the backs of that trend. And eventually, these two things collided. And I was both sort of envious flash, excited about the lived experience. And I was sort of coming, becoming much more healthy. And understanding the benefits of that. And the combination of those two things said, Okay, how do we make how do we use the lift experience to make me more healthy? And so we built the initial version of Sprague I think, fundamentally for myself.

And that’s where the idea came from.

Andrew Warner 30:38
So that’s one of the stories what’s the other

Gagan Biyani 30:41
that’s both stories, so that’s the you and me. That’s me at Lyft being envious of the type of business they had and wanting a business like that. And then that’s also me gaining weight at Udemy and being healthy. So it’s my personal and professional side and it collided with

Andrew Warner 30:57
Pittsburgh and the trend, the trend That you saw was what? How did that connected to lift?

Gagan Biyani 31:04
I call it the remote control for the world. It was this idea that you were able to open your mobile phone and do things with the real world that you weren’t able to do before. And obviously ordering a car was one of them. GPS tracking I know you’re into fitness fitness tracking is like a good example of that. And then I thought ordering food was going to be huge as well.

Andrew Warner 31:25
I didn’t you go into personalized or your own kitchens. I remember walking past and seeing your kitchen beautiful glass, am I right? Was it in Soma or something beautiful glass. You could look inside several parents tenderloin why’d you decide that you’re gonna have your own kitchen.

Gagan Biyani 31:46
It was sort of a process of elimination. We felt like we wanted to deliver a certain experience which was make healthy food affordable and fast. And we didn’t care that much about the number have options. So we thought, you know, three to five options was fine. We started off trying to make it a marketplace where any chef could come on and offer food for a day or a couple days, maybe we’d have the same chef come back and forth. And we quickly realized that our biggest competitor monastry, was already centralizing. And we were about a year behind them. And so we were able to watch what they were doing. And then we also realized just firsthand how hard it was to manage different shots coming in and out of the experience. And so while they were going to take up some of the costs, we were going to take on a lot of the risk. And what I think specifically happened is we had a food poisoning incident. And so we had a Yeah, we did a good job of not publicizing this, but this was before we launched the business. We had a investor actually get food poisoning from sprek because of a communication error. Essentially, our chef did not give us the right instructions to give to customers of how to heat the food. And so we were giving the wrong instructions to customers. And so they were under cooking the food at their home and the chef at par bake the food. And so someone got food poisoning, and it was an investor who actually invested in our seed round. Or she was a partner of the firm that invests in our seed round. And she was pretty upset. And we talked her down off of it, and she still invested in the cup, she’s still let the firm invest in the company. And then three to four weeks later, we went to our main, our lead at that firm, and said, Hey, and his name is Brian, I said, and I just talked to him today, actually. And we said, Hey, Brian, we need to change the model. We need to make the food in house otherwise we’re going to have this problem again, is going to be able to manage costs.

Andrew Warner 33:42
Why not restaurant? Can you want to like shut your blinds so that the light doesn’t keep going to your eye? Sure, yeah.

Gagan Biyani 33:47
Good idea.

Andrew Warner 33:49
While you do that, I’m going to tell everyone that my second sponsor is a company called the lighted here’s what they do. They create forms that you can put on your website to collect feedback from people do they want to give you a thumbs up, thumbs down and then watch they doing it? Do they want to give you our NPS Net Promoter Score rating from one to 10. And then you can follow up and ask them questions, any one of us can create those forms on our own. Here’s the beauty of using delighted, what they do is they make sense out of all the feedback that you get. So maybe you’re getting a low rating, because you’ve switched shipping options, and you hadn’t thought of that and you hadn’t connected it and your customer doesn’t know you switch shipping options. And you can go into your data and figure out that you made that change. And only these people who gave you a negative rating, were impacted by the shipping option or by whatever else is going on. Their software will plug into all of your data, suck it in, and then make sense of why people are giving you low ratings, and then allow you to follow up with people. If they’ve given you low ratings, you can have a set of follow up if they’ve given you high ratings, you can have another follow up including turn those ratings into testimonials. I’m not trying to sell you guys anything here. All I’m trying to do is tell you that the light of calm is out there. They’re trying to go after a startup audience. And as a way of going after a startup audience, they bought ads for me. I think this is the last ad that they’re getting as part of their package. But I do know this for sure they’re giving you their software. For free all you have to do right now while they’re trying to get some startups into this system is go to delighted comm slash mixergy. When you do, you’re going to see what I’m looking at on my screen right now which is zero dollars a month billed yearly, they will not charge you they’re gonna keep letting you use their software, they’re just trying to establish themselves with even more they’ve gotten themselves really nicely in the startup community to try and establish themselves even more use this as a way of understanding your customers understanding getting in their minds and understanding what makes them happy and what makes them frustrated with your software and let this delighted team and their software and analytics tell you what’s going on. beyond what people say to you. So it’s delighted calm slash mixergy because I feel feels like there’s still you’ve been a nomad? Is it weird to constantly be in different homes all the time? Is it frustrating to not have stuff where you want it to not know like how to change the blinds where the lights gonna be or do you enjoy that?

Gagan Biyani 35:53
So I spent the last three years almost as a nomad and I loved it for the three years I lived it for two years. And then the last year I only did it because I had to

Andrew Warner 36:05
because you didn’t have a home or what?

Gagan Biyani 36:07
Because I met a girl on the on the travels in the in year two of the travels and I really liked her and wanted to keep that relationship excuse me, and she went to Oxford for Business School. And so I didn’t really feel like moving to the UK and having a permanent residence or anything like that they’re doing with the visa paperwork, etc. And so I kept my home base in Austin, Texas and basically flew between the two visiting my girlfriend and then coming asked and, and back and forth. You open with her about your past.

Yeah, I think so. You are here.

Andrew Warner 36:47
You’re just not looking to broadcast everything to the world all at once. So coming back to Then why didn’t you decide to go into restaurants? Why didn’t you say we’re going to partner up with these restaurants they have their space Anyway, let’s let them make it

Gagan Biyani 37:01
Well, first, there were lots of companies doing that. And, and so obviously, we would have had to compete directly with companies that we thought were already doing it decently well. But second, that’s not a good enough reason, actually, the truth is, we should have done what you’re saying so, so I’m going to give it more credence. But the second reason was at the time, we felt like the experience wasn’t that great. We felt like restaurants weren’t taking delivery seriously. And so the food always came in Super sloppy, it was extremely expensive. It would cost $10 plus just for the delivery. And, and then on top of that, we felt like we felt like the experience we were creating was so magical. And it it was I mean, you you’ve, you’ve obviously said this before, and other people have, you know, you press the button. 15 minutes later, a hot healthy meal arrives. And the reason we were able to do that was because we built our own kitchen. So we we value the end user experience. We’re not as practical about whether or not that experience was really possible. And then we also missed Yeah, we I guess we’re going to go into what we missed later or miss you want me to go now? Well, we missed that the that eventually these restaurants were going to take delivery more and more seriously. And so the money was going to get better. And the price was going to go down because more people were going to use these delivery networks. VCs were going to fund these delivery networks for a long period of time and subsidize it. That’s another thing we didn’t totally get that was going to take that that was going to happen at the tune of billions of dollars. And then finally, we missed that the that the speed was going to get faster as they got denser and denser in their delivery network.

Andrew Warner 38:46
I’m looking for all of my like receipts of what I ordered from you guys. I’ve got these emails from 2016. I love the simplicity of it. I loved also that you included nutrition information. About what I eat, I want to know how many calories how many carbs, how much protein goes into it. And anyway, how hard was it to raise as much money as you did? That’s a ton of 57 million is the number that I heard. Is that right? That’s accurate.

Gagan Biyani 39:13
Yeah, I think 57 or 58. I never kept it straight. But okay, somewhere around

Andrew Warner 39:18
there. How hard was it for you to read that much?

Gagan Biyani 39:22
Well, the truth is, it wasn’t that hard.

And there’s a couple reasons for that.

First, this was my fifth through eighth fundraising round of or fifth through ninth fundraising round in my career. So I really was experienced. By the time we got to the point where where the rounds were a little harder. The second reason is that Udemy was getting more and more successful over time. And so as we were raising harder and harder rounds, I was a more credible founder. The third is that it was a very good time in the VC market. The fourth is that our traction was unbelievable. And so it was very competitive for VCs to get into the round. And finally, I would say that I had a very strong fundraising strategy that encouraged me to get what I wanted, which was fast rounds that were not necessarily at the highest valuations, but we’re still at good valuations.

Andrew Warner 40:33
What do you mean, how well is your strategy to get people to say yes, fast.

Gagan Biyani 40:39
I basically knew when the right time was to raise the round. This is the biggest mistake people make when trying to raise money is that they’re usually not ready to raise money. So first of all, I was very thoughtful about how much money I wanted to raise and what the timing was and what the metrics needs to be to get there. And I’m just amazed how often I meet founders who said I really want to raise venture capital are willing to raise a seed round. And I’m like, you aren’t even able to get into Y Combinator. Why do you think a seed seed investor is going to give you a check of half a million dollars or whatever. So that’s the first thing that I was good at. The second thing, though, is that the I ran the process very tightly. So when I did decide to raise, I followed the sort of prescribed VC fundraising process to a tee and probably took it to another level. What that means is that essentially three months out, you’re starting to socialize the deck or the ideas of fundraising with your existing investors, and potentially with other investors that are not that important to you, but that are emailing you and asking you for pitch meetings. So you take them every once in a while. Then one month out, one and a half months out, or one month out, you start building a list, and meeting taking meetings with founders who have raised money from investors that you want that are on that list and a weekend. bands of fundraising starting, you take, you send out emails to people and you say, hey, I want you to, I’m gonna we’re starting to raise a series A we’re gonna taking first meetings next week and the following week, we’d love to meet with you. You meet with those people and week one, week two, and you update people regularly along the way. And, and so I would, I built a reputation for being extremely honest. And so if I told you, if I told an investor, hey, you know, we have four meetings, and we would have four meetings. I wasn’t blessing them. If I told them I thought the round was going to get done in four weeks. I wasn’t lying to them. But that’s because I wouldn’t tell them it was going to be done in four weeks unless I knew it was going to be done in four weeks. And so I waited to provide. I didn’t oversell and I didn’t undersell, along the way but I kept them updated every couple of days, especially my top 10 targets. And so by the time we got to the end of the round Usually had three people at the table. And that usually results in a good fundraising round in a bull market.

Andrew Warner 43:08
And it was to two companies that you raised money for. Right? Udemy and Sprague?

Gagan Biyani 43:14
Correct but many rounds. Right. So right Udemy there were, there were two rounds. At Sprague, we had three seed rounds. So I raised a seed round at Udemy, a series A Udemy. us a small seed, I spread a second bigger seed at Spring, and then a top round at Spring. So that was three rounds, then a series A then a Series B. So that’s what I meant by fifth through eighth because the, the series and the Series B would have been the harder rounds and they weren’t hard because it was much further along my experience, cycle if you will.

Andrew Warner 43:50
Okay, let’s get into when you knew that things weren’t working out that I guess a year or so before you close it out. What What led you to understand that this way Wasn’t it?

Gagan Biyani 44:03
So the start of this was February the week of February 22 2015, I believe 2016 sorry. Essentially, Uber Eats launched its third iteration of its product. Okay. And we started to see the numbers. The numbers used to be going up by about one to 2% of a week. I mean, when we started it was going up four to 5% a week or 10%. But eventually it slowed to about one 2% a week. And then literally that week it reversed. So instead of going up by 2%, we were going down by 2%. And so over the course of late February, March, and by the time we got into April, we realize this is really bad. Something really bad is happening because we had been losing

Andrew Warner 44:49
revenue is coming in that clearly. It wasn’t clear your camera away just get your head out of the light. Can you move your computer or It doesn’t bother me as

Gagan Biyani 45:01
much as as much as you think my thing, but maybe I’m showing it. But anyway, so

Uber Eats. We didn’t know exactly that. That was why at the time, but in retrospect, it’s very obvious Uber Eats launched that week. And our curve, you know, looks like some of these COVID-19 curves, where you start to see the crest at the top. So our curve looked exactly like that. You know, a St. Louis St. Louis, St. Louis arch kind of look. And it started to fall. Our sales started to fall that week. And so it’s obvious in retrospect, at the time, we weren’t sure why, whether it was Uber Eats, but we definitely thought it was possible. It just felt so crazy that Uber Eats could actually have grown that quickly after having two years of basically having no effect on our sales whatsoever. And why

Andrew Warner 45:50
this, this was was this the period where Uber Eats was they had a handful of different meals that they put in cars with drivers and Let them go out there. So they were also offering a limited menu, right?

Gagan Biyani 46:03
That was before that was great. Maybe call it 1.0 or 2.0. Did you that didn’t impact us at all, okay. And and they really had a lot of trouble with that model. They were scaling it but it wasn’t really working. And then they launched 3.0. To be clear, remember, I mean, I not remember but Uber Eats 1.0 and 2.0 was very much copy of script. So it’s literally how can we do Sprague the Uber way and from what I’ve heard from multiple people, the company even at an all hands mentioned sprigs, name. And at that point, Uber was a decent sized company. So that was a pretty big deal for us. And, and eventually, Uber launched a doordash copy or a delivery copy depending on you know, who you ask, but they basically said we’re going to have we’re going to deliver from restaurants you’re going to be able to get get it from get food from Almost any restaurant you want, we’re going to take 30% of that restaurants revenue. This is before delivery. This is when delivery took took a percentage. But doordash didn’t always take a percentage. So actually, they were sort of taking a combination of these two companies and building a model. And then we’re going to subsidize, we’re going to subsidize it so much, that we get to scale as fast as possible. So they were subsidizing Uber Eats like crazy, in order to make it so that the delivery time was under 30 minutes. So their goal was under 30 minutes under about a $4 delivery fee. You were going to get food from any restaurant in the city, or at least the restaurants that were willing to partner with them. And as soon as they launched that, I think they knew that they had something on their hands, and we started to see our traction really decline.

Andrew Warner 47:46
How did you get traction up until that point? How did people know about you?

Gagan Biyani 47:51
Mostly word of mouth. Probably 80 to 90% of our customers came because they heard about it from a friend. I mean, it was such a magical experience.

Andrew Warner 47:59
And it was So you were also saying, If you love spray here, I’m looking at the messages if you love love sprig shares with friends, so you were encouraging people to share it. But also, you have a good meal, you want to talk about it.

Gagan Biyani 48:11
Our referral program started to become a bigger part of it. And then eventually I did, I did some marketing. And the team that we did have a marketing team at some point that did did a bunch of marketing. But still the vast majority were coming through word of mouth referrals.

Andrew Warner 48:28
It’s interesting that the growth hacker was actually just counting on growth marketing. Did you create the growth hacker conference?

Gagan Biyani 48:34
I did. Yeah. That was a long time ago. All right. So in my Udemy, like after Udemy and before left

Andrew Warner 48:42
face in that period when you were when you knew that this wasn’t it? Why didn’t you close or change? It feels like there was something going on in your head that kept you from doing that.

Gagan Biyani 48:52
Well, I don’t think we knew it, wasn’t it. We just saw the numbers declining and when you have a business, I mean, our business was 22 million. dollars in run rate at the time that at its peak if you took February 22, the week of February 22, and multiply it by 50. So I usually gave myself a two week haircut because of Christmas and New Year’s and stuff, like you multiply by 50, we were on a run rate of $22 million, so or 21, or something like that. And so we didn’t know that it was going to just keep declining forever. But over time, we started to realize it. And we made a bunch of pivots. And I think the big mistake that we made was that we tried to save the existing business in some capacity. So we tried to keep the service running. We weren’t willing to shut down the service. And I’d say this was both my decision and my sort of, like, efforts to try to keep the business but also Honestly, it was a board level decision. And the board and myself together made these calls. And I don’t think we were making the right calls. We did not realize just how existential our threat was and how how how much the business was going to die and that most of the things we were doing to save it were inevitably inevitably going to fail.

Andrew Warner 50:06
And so when you say try to save the business, you mean save the kitchen, save the whole, we’re only offering three meals at a time plus some dessert type model. Is that right? Or do you mean something else?

Gagan Biyani 50:18
Yeah, I mean, we were trying to say the traction we have is probably the most accurate way to say it. So the kitchen was overhead, we had to pay anyways. And we were gonna we were willing to sort of get rid of it if we had to, or try to offload it. The you know, the the promise of the service we definitely changed a lot we were willing to, we played with longer delivery times we played with lower and higher prices. We played with more menu items. We played with unhealthy slightly less healthy meals and and played with a lot more sides and desserts and drinks. We were trying to get to profitability, essentially what we realize is as the business was declining, we tried to we thought, okay, if we can get to profitability, on the unit basis, then maybe thinking about her. The problem is that when your business is declining in a network effect in a business where network effects and scale drive a lot of your gross margin, if your business is declining, your gross margin gets harder and harder and harder to meet, right? If you take a restaurant today, and this is the problem they’re having with COVID, if you take a restaurant today and reduce their sales by 25%, their profitability goes down by something like 30 or 40%. Because they’re they still have to have a certain level of staff, they still have a certain overhead, and their margins are already so thin, that that overhead is not is cutting a greater greater percentage of their overall business as the as the business as the revenue goes down. And so that was what was happening to spread. And so the goalposts were moving, and we were you were we were unable to save the traction that we were having. We thought we could make changes to the business that would improve our traction, everyone smile, maybe we get a two or 3% bump. We get excited And then it would fade.

Andrew Warner 52:02
And if you could do it over again, what would you do?

Gagan Biyani 52:07
Well, I mean, with hindsight bias, I would have shut it down within three months of

Andrew Warner 52:12
of that.

Gagan Biyani 52:15
Launching, got it and I would have laid everyone off and maybe kept the money or return the money, depending on what my VCs wanted me to do.

Andrew Warner 52:25
Okay, so then I remember talking to max Altschuler, did you? Did he work for you? The founder of sales hacker?

Gagan Biyani 52:32
Yeah, he’s his or first business employee or first business hire at Udemy.

Andrew Warner 52:38
Okay, so at the end of the interview, he said something that I interpreted as him saying, I remember saying, Goggin is a mutual friend and he’s traveling and he said, Yes. I remember him saying that you were looking in your travels for a better understanding of the world because you had this parochial San Francisco view You have it of you were $57 million is not that hard to raise, if you were somebody is going to pay a lot of money to have food delivered. This is not what he said, this is how I took it. And that by going out and exploring the world, you had a deeper, richer understanding of what was out there that you could bring into something else. And when I think about why I traveled last year, and did all those seven marathons, every time I say I did seven marathons on seven continents, or somebody like uncor neg, Paul, the founder of teachable who, at the end of my interview with him said, you know, my investor just did seven marathons seven continents in three days ago. Everyone always does it faster than I did or whatever. The reason that I didn’t want to do the faster seven day marathon seven marathon seven days, or seven marathons, three days, whatever it is, is I wanted the same understanding that I thought you were getting from traveling in the world. And then I remember you came here to the office and you said, Andrew, you totally misunderstood what I was doing. So tell me, you you close up shop and you went out and traveled widely. Traveling, what did you get out of all this?

Gagan Biyani 54:04
There’s a myriad of reasons but I think the short answer is I was trying to. I was trying to enjoy the moment, because I had made enough money even though Sprague was a failure, I made enough money that I could. So that’s the first reason Okay, I’m gonna write I’m going to shut up and let you go through the list. And this is your obviously a bigger impact on me than you imagine. And I’m, I’m talking way too freakin much. Go ahead. Yes. Okay. So, so I was trying to enjoy the moment. Okay. I was trying to recover from burnout. Okay. And I was trying to learn, deepen my understanding of what the world was like. And I think that the challenge, obviously, I’ve seen this, you know, on my Twitter, and I’ve seen this when I meet people, and in this interview, people assume something about me that I think is a little bit inaccurate, which is that I already had traveled and been to poor places a lot as a kid. So I did not I did not live in the San Francisco bubble the way that other people did. I don’t think I did. And but I was in the San Francisco bubble in the sense that I was bored by the bubble. And I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t think that the hustle of it was what I wanted. At that time in my life. I still love San Francisco. I mean, San Francisco will always be a sort of very important place in my life. I grew up, you know, one hour south of it, etc. But I, I knew that I wanted to get another perspective. And there are all these places I hadn’t traveled to. And so I went and decided to go and explore, and it was well worth it.

Andrew Warner 55:44
Alright, let me ask you. I’ve written a list of everything you’ve said here so I could follow up one by one made enough money how the company lost 50 some odd million dollars. How did you end up with enough money to travel

Gagan Biyani 55:57
somewhere along the way, Udemy had a secondary We had a couple of secondary opportunities, I think I took advantage of one of them. And so I had sold about a million bucks roughly a little less, maybe a little more, I can’t remember. And so and because I was very frugal, I’ve never just as an example of frugality. I’ve never paid more than $1,000 a month in rent, until this house that I’m currently talking to you and in COVID-19. So this is the most rent I’ve ever paid in my life. It’s a $3,000 apartment place in Austin. And I’m sharing it with someone else. Someone else helps pay the rent, but my girlfriend but yeah, this is the most so I’ve never paid more than $1,000 a month in rent while I was in San Francisco that whole time. So I’d saved most of my money. I had not I bought a home. But I and that was the only investment I made. I had no advisory commitments. I had no boards that I was on. I wasn’t someone who wanted to do anything other than Sprague and so as a result, it was gone. I I had enough money even though and I I paid myself a notch. Great salary in spring, so I was essentially breakeven or maybe losing like 20 K a year or something like that. But 20 K a year of losses is not the same, as you know, is not, it’s not enough to have made a dent on the million dollars I’d made. And so I had like, I don’t know, a few hundred grand, it wasn’t a ton of money, but it wasn’t

Andrew Warner 57:19

Gagan Biyani 57:22
Um, actually, most of it was in cash, more than anything, because I was lazy, and I just didn’t have time to figure out I was so focused on sprig. I just didn’t have time to figure out where to invest it. So I put money into a house that I bought, which basically my mom convinced me to buy and it’s why I was able to pay such low rent because I bought a house with three bedrooms and then I rented out to the bedrooms and so my effective monthly cost was pretty low. Okay,

and you’re still you still

I still have I don’t own the place anymore. I’ve given it to my my family members, but yeah, I still, you know,

Andrew Warner 57:58
my name is still on it. Still in the family, okay. Yeah. Which family members? Your brothers? My mother? Oh, you do, brother? I do. Yeah. Okay, um, recover from burnout. I backpacked through Europe after my first company. It was so nice to just leave it all behind to be nothing but a backpack to go where you feel like to actually have to sit with people who try to figure out how they can have enough money to go get a McDonald’s burger, you know, such a relief, and then to talk to strangers as a new person to become a new person in every country until I found myself properly. What did you experience out of traveling as much as you did?

Gagan Biyani 58:40
Yeah, I mean, I think I think this actually goes back to the first part and less about burnout, but I’ll talk about burnout in a second. So I grew up traveling a lot. My parents made an annual trip or a bi annual so once every two year trip to India and I you know, I went with them. And so since I was a baby, basically, since I was a couple months old, maybe 10 months, I don’t know the first trip, I was traveling to India. And then on top of that, and my parent, my family in India was not very well off. So we, you know, had a squatty potty and we Bade, growing up in a bucket with water, you know, whose hot water Luckily, but it was very nice. We lived in concrete houses in the dense Old Delhi part of the city. So, I grew up with that. And then I grew up doing that in my summers, and I loved it. And then along the way my parents would take us to places like Thailand, or Philippines or Europe or whatever. And so we always travel. And so for me, you know, I’d already been to 40 plus countries before I went on this trip. Wow. So I really knew a lot about the world I thought, and I wanted to go deeper. This was a real benefit because I didn’t have to do the things that I think most people do when they do their first big backpacking trip, which is they go everywhere and see everything. I think that’s exactly what you should do if it’s your first or second time on a long journey, you know, three months, six months or whatever. But I didn’t do that. And so instead, I actually spent a lot of time in some specific places, my favorite travel experiences, or when I played, I stayed in place for over a month, and got to know local people and became friends with them, and built sort of like a very normal local life there. And that was what I realized it was going to make me happy. And so within the first month or two of traveling, I realized I was going to travel a little bit and then I was going to plop myself down in a place for a couple months and then I was going to travel a little bit and then plop myself down. And that enabled me to go deep with a certain set of cities where I really got to know people I have friends that I still communicate with To this day, in eight cities around the world. In fact, in the last week, I probably communicated with, with someone from at least five of those Eight cities. And then on top of that I built, you know, I also did a lot of my bucket list travel. So I went to the Amazon, I went to Antarctica, I went to the Okavango Delta and, and Africa, and I, you know, I did some

Andrew Warner 1:01:15
get out of this. What if it wasn’t? Did you get the understanding of the world or of yourself?

Gagan Biyani 1:01:21
Both, I think I really grew as a person. Look, when you’re, you know, in your when you’re, when you

start your first business, when you’re 13 years old, it’s, you know, you only have a certain amount of time for your social life. And so between 13 and 30, which is when I started this journey, I’d spent more than half of my life working something like or around half of my life because I had some breaks in between, but around half of my life, working somewhere around 70 plus hours a week, and where my brain was working on whatever business I was working on our project I was working on, probably another 10 to 20 hours a week. So you’re talking about just non stop For a long time, now I took breaks college was largely a break. And, you know, I took a break between Udemy and Sprague and stuff but, and I took a break after college. So there were breaks. But generally speaking, I was working, I was working really hard. And so I think I think people who do that lose a little bit and their social maturity. And I think that I basically said 30 to 32 making up for lost time. And I will Apple,

Andrew Warner 1:02:26
you know, give an example of how you became more socially mature from traveling like that.

Gagan Biyani 1:02:32
Yeah, let me think. I mean, I think I became much more aware romantically of what I liked and didn’t like, I think for people who are in their sort of tea who don’t ever really, you know, I was bracing in American and so dating wasn’t a thing until college. And I basically did not really know how to take and I was kind of an idiot about it a lot of

Andrew Warner 1:02:57
times, well, you’re an idiot, like

Gagan Biyani 1:03:01
Just either too interested and therefore I would turn girls off for two. Yeah, I was mostly too interested and turn girls off. Or I’d like to interrogate girls a lot of times because I’d like want to know everything about them. I often just wasn’t chill enough. And I think like, Yeah,

Andrew Warner 1:03:16
me too. So I remember telling this one woman, I would be the type of boyfriend who would be like the cat who would bring you a mouse, like the dead mouse, so eager to please. And at the time, I thought that was a good thing to say. And that is reflective of who I was, but nobody wants that. And so that that’s not who I was to.

Gagan Biyani 1:03:37
It’s both the nobody wants it. But it’s also that the people who want it are not going to be sufficiently. I do believe there is a pyramid if you will, or some sort of like some very loose hierarchy in terms of dating. And those hierarchies are all in all directions. So there’s a hierarchy on intellect. There’s a hierarchy on looks, there’s a hierarchy and ultimately, if You have a certain level of standards, you have to be, really, you have to be mature enough on those standards yourself in order to get that standard back. And so you have to be, you know, let’s say empathetic if you, if you’re attracted to women who are really socially competent and socially empathetic, then you need to be sufficiently empathetic that that woman doesn’t find you to be paying. Yes. And so I, during these travels, I had many social situations, not just dating, but honestly a lot of them were just friends, you know, with men and with women, where I had to be socially on my game, because most people didn’t care or didn’t know what I did for a living. And so I didn’t have that crutch anymore. And so I forced myself essentially to be and if I wasn’t socially engaging, or interesting enough, then people weren’t going to hang out with me. And so I could constantly deal with this, like, you know, and so I learned how to You know, the, I think I already had some of it in me, obviously, some of this is just discovering what you already know and putting it into practice.

Andrew Warner 1:05:07
What was a social thing? If you knew that you’re with someone and you want it to be interesting, what was yours mine was, I could always go find another thing for all of us to do that you couldn’t believe that you’re doing and I could always talk to a stranger who would be amazed that someone was talking to them and bringing them into this new party. And then the first people were like, where does people come from? How are there so many people around all the time? That was my thing? What’s your thing if you needed to?

Gagan Biyani 1:05:29
Yeah, I mean, that’s,

that resonates really well. I mean, I’ve always thought you and I had a lot in common. I’m not surprised that we both have this, especially on this side. I’m not surprised at all. And I would say that, that that’s definitely but I don’t think I had tricks in that way.

Andrew Warner 1:05:45
I think it was definitely like a thing that by the way, this is what’s hard for me with COVID. I can’t go out and talk to people. I can’t talk to strangers. When I’m out with my kids. We’re not allowed to talk to strangers. Otherwise, I would have a five year old and a three year old. If there’s another five year old and three year old within a block of us. I would have brought them into play with my kids can’t do that. Though, that’s clearly me.

Gagan Biyani 1:06:05
With you, I totally agree COVID can be tough for a lot of people who would? I mean, I think for everyone, it’s tough on some level, you know, and we’re in a better situation than 90% of people. So I generally let that sink in whenever I whenever I complain, but it is it is. It has been tough. I mean, it’s tough to be indoors all the time, and not to have social life. But I think my social thing, honestly, was that I was very curious and very adaptable. So I was a solo traveler. I cared about other people’s culture and what they wanted to do, and I was willing to do whatever they wanted to do, so they wouldn’t go to the mall. Uh huh. So I go to the mall. I was in meta gene with friends and I had a friend who was like, you want to go to the mall and hang out? I think we smoked some weed. We went to the mall, and we like went go karting in the basement of a ball like never in a million years in San Francisco, would I ever go to a All period but then I certainly wouldn’t expect to like go and have fun with friends there. But that’s what these guys did. I really like this group of people. And so I just tagged along and I you could tag me along on anything, and I would do it. Got it.

Unknown Speaker 1:07:13
Yes, I know

Gagan Biyani 1:07:13
exactly when safety limitations.

Andrew Warner 1:07:18
Remember the other thing that you said when you’re here at the office, we were just having a drink catching up one time anyway in San Francisco. I said you look really good. You learn to dress in that in between period. You were never a bad dresser but you learn to dress and he said, Andrew, this is just h&m stuff I’ve learned whenever I come to a new country, I go to their stores and I buy clothes that are within the culture. And I remember thinking about that it seems such a small thing but it is a big thing. To not be the American coming in to not be the Goggin coming in but to be in the environment.

Gagan Biyani 1:07:49
That makes it I mean, you and I are both also

Andrew Warner 1:07:51
lucky we talked about this that we have skin pigmentation that is very neutral, and so we can fit in in a lot of places. Not perfect. For me it’s not perfect in all places. Like there are people here in in California even who, who will say welcome to the country still, but much more adaptable to more the world. My wife who’s super blonde and super white, we were living in Argentina people would keep asking her where she was from.

Gagan Biyani 1:08:18
Right totally helps you So yeah, I mean, look, I’ve experienced a bit of a bit of racism in America, although very little honestly. I’ve been very lucky. But abroad, I would say that I blend in and in some places, obviously in Asia, East Asia, I didn’t blend in and Africa didn’t blend in. But in India, in the Middle East, and even in southern Europe, I blend in pretty well and and South America and Latin America blended in. And so in those places I blend in then the other thing, but I buy clothes that look like what the people dress like so I wore all white in Havana like I literally had a white t shirt with white jeans. Actually This was from Nordstrom. So it was a little bit fancier than what I did later. And I was dressing like, like someone who lived in Cuba now did I look exactly like them that way. But I didn’t look completely out of place. I looked comfortable. I also got to know the neighborhoods. And so I acted and sort of, I got to know the place and oftentimes by the end of it, I was giving people tours of their own neighborhoods. So I gave people tours in Seoul, in Havana in meta gene. And almost every place I was, I gave tours to locals.

Andrew Warner 1:09:31
Alright, let me listen. I see how we’re both much better adjusted human beings now happier and more comfortable with ourselves. Aren’t we making a mistake being this comfortable? If I think about when I was most productive? It’s when I wasn’t as comfortable when I was more anxious about my place in the world when you felt like the need to do something was so so hard that I caught you at one point in this conversation saying I was a workaholic, then you stopped yourself halfway through people can go check the transcripts and see and you were workaholic. And it was because you were fighting some back round of family that had a had a divorce of people who didn’t have much money. Have you tried to prove yourself to Aaron Have you tried to do right? Where are we better as entrepreneurs then and frankly, who gives a rat’s ass about being better human beings who are more adjusted when I’m dead? That doesn’t really matter. But if you could leave a legacy of a business that outlives you, it’s way better. It’s better for your family, your kids do better. It’s better for yourself. It’s better for it’s better for the world. Who cares? And we’re so happy now.

Gagan Biyani 1:10:31
Yeah, I totally get it. But it’s just like one of those things where when you’re happy, it just seems like such a silly argument, because I’ve been unhappy for many years of my life. And I know that this is better. And I think the real question and what what you’re really asking is, can you do both? And and or do you need to do both? And the answer is a little bit of both and I’m still figuring it out.

Andrew Warner 1:10:55
Loud their happiness is is almost like a virus that it spreads to other people makes them happy. too and then we all get frickin lazy and we stay at home and we don’t do stuff that there’s things when you’re not happy. There’s a sense of anxiety that fires you up to do stuff. There’s a sense of you have to because every part of your well being depends on you building a successful company. That that’s a that’s a big motivator that’s the world was built by people like that not exclusively, but are we missing something? I know that I’m missing an edge from not from being happy now from knowing that when I get home after this conversation, I’m gonna go hug my kids. We’re going to sit around and eat dinner together. We’re going to smile. I’m going to read them a Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory book and who gives a rat’s ass?

Unknown Speaker 1:11:40
JOHN, good, good book, by the way. It is.

Gagan Biyani 1:11:45
I definitely disagree with you.

Andrew Warner 1:11:49
I think that it’s

Gagan Biyani 1:11:50
great to be happy and great that people are and I think that you’re there’s a lot of truth to what you’re saying. But it doesn’t change the fact that there are plenty of people who are happy Continue to do amazing work. I mean, and I

Andrew Warner 1:12:02
think you’ll be more successful now that you’re happy. I’m,

Gagan Biyani 1:12:07
I’m, I’d say I don’t. So look you to me is is actually entering its second sort of decade right now. And it’s doing really well. So it’s hard to say whether or not I’ll create something as meaningful as you to me ever in my life. You can’t say that because the odds of it happening in the first place are pretty low. But I will say that I’m very optimistic about the next, you know, 1030 years of my life, being far more productive, from a output to the world perspective, and being happier than the last 10 years of my life

Andrew Warner 1:12:39
more productive now that you’re happier.

Gagan Biyani 1:12:44
Yeah, because now I can connect with more people. I have much more clarity about what’s good and what’s smart to do. And I think like, you know, I will have more. I’ll have more balance and how I look at things I’m able to be more peaceful outside observer of the of the of the world and therefore identify more accurately the opportunities. I think that if you have 20, anxious, pissed off whatever people like I was 18 of them will fail and two of them will succeed. And I think if you have 20 of me right now 10 of them will succeed, and 10 of them will fail. And so that’s what I think the difference is, I think that

Andrew Warner 1:13:24
yes, you get a lot out of the anxiety for those two people who succeed, but for most everyone else, it sucks. And the reason that you got to this place is is it because Udemy did well is it because sprig did not do well? Is it because of the travel? Is it something else?

Gagan Biyani 1:13:39
I think it’s all the above.

Andrew Warner 1:13:41
It’s all of it. It’s all those experiences. Do you think that sprig not doing well led you to find this sense of self right now?

Gagan Biyani 1:13:49
I think the crisis would have happened anyways, whether it was spread or something else

Andrew Warner 1:13:53
crisis would have happened and you would have needed to go do something like travel to get yourself back

Gagan Biyani 1:14:00
Right, and I see it with so many of my friends who are at that stage in their business with their businesses nearing 100 million or half half a billion dollars or whatever in valuation, and they’re doing really well. And I don’t think that they’re struggling any less than I, I did when I shut down my company, it’s, it’s about the same at some point. You’ve managed all your financial stuff, and everything else is just, you’re just dealing with what’s going on in your own head.

Andrew Warner 1:14:24
Do you feel envious of people who are doing better than you?

Gagan Biyani 1:14:30
At times, sure. Right now, like in this moment, in this exact moment in conversation now, like now, I’m pretty happy. But you know, we’re spending time reflecting on life. And that’s probably one of the things that makes me most happy is when I reflect on what’s happened in my life. And I’m pretty grateful for it. So when I’m, you know, thinking about what’s next, I get a little bit more envious of other people when I’m working. I might get more envious of people who have skills that I don’t have or work related things and I think it’s impossible. You know, I’m 32 years old, I don’t think I’m, I’ve had enough years behind me or enough gray hair on my head to be as mature as what you’re, you know, as well, you might be insinuating there. And so I think maybe in 10 years, I might be, but I do think, you know, I very much am a believer in the stuff that navall raava Khan, for example, speaks about, and I think he’s totally right, I come to a lot of those conclusions independently. And then I’ve also learned way more from him from reading his stuff. And then, you know, getting to know him a little bit Personally, I don’t know very well. And I’ll say, I think that everything he says is accurate and that ultimately you can be happy and be successful at the same time.

Andrew Warner 1:15:43
He does say this is navall raava Khan, the founder of angellist. He does say, if you’re well, if you’re if you’re not happy, it’s your own fault. If you’re successful and not happy, it’s your own fault. Why can’t you work on that it’s almost like he treats it the way that some people treat over being obese. If you’re obese. It’s your action that’s leading to that he feels the same way about happiness. If you’re not there, you’re not working on it.

Gagan Biyani 1:16:07
It’s a very tough message in the modern world. Because people are taught by our involvement in democratic politics, we’re essentially taught the statistics of likelihood of success and are taught that certain people are worse off than others. And that is accurate. And at the same time, you have to hold that belief, while also realizing that you are completely in control of your own destiny. And it’s very difficult for people to both understand that the statistics are one way but that the opportunity is not one way it’s actually all everyone has. has the opportunity. What’s your girlfriend like?

My girlfriend is

warm. She’s so like, even and practical and low. She’s pretty low key. She doesn’t, you know, scream attacks. But she also certainly not someone who would be ignored in a room either. I think that’s really a great she’s a Midwestern, you know, she’s a she’s a white girl from the Midwest and she very much has those values. She is extremely insightful about people and about and I think she sees the world fairly clearly we have very similar beliefs about you know, everything from politics to valued cultural values, etc. And she’s really fun. I think the ultimate thing is that, you know, I I’m stuck here all day long with her and at least four to five times a day I’ll be laughing because it’s something silly. She’s doing I’m doing that’s just an incredible feeling.

Andrew Warner 1:17:46
I did a backyard date with Olivia. I got this hibachi that we bought for like 20 bucks. So a while back for some experiment that was gonna do with the kids. I put some wood into it. We lit it. And we had some wine and we did. Date Night in the backyard. You do Anything like that?

Gagan Biyani 1:18:02
We’re going to assume I mean, we haven’t been in quarantine as long as you have. Oh, yeah. We moved from the UK to Austin, sort of at the very last minute. So it’s been about a week and a half for us. I mean, we were quarantined in the UK, but it was in a dorm room and we had no options. So that was that was a tough situation. And and then we moved here. And so yeah, we’re talking about, I think in the next couple days, we’re going to do something like that. But we’ve already talked about it.

Andrew Warner 1:18:29
All right. There’s no website for me to give at the end of this interview. Usually I tell people how they can go and connect with with my guests. I think the best place to connect with you his Twitter,

Gagan Biyani 1:18:38
my website goggan biani. Calm, which is very early and still a beta beta version, but you can definitely send people there but yeah, Twitter, Goggin. biani. I bought both of those. And I’ve got I’m starting to build a mailing list. If enough people sign up, I’ll probably start sending some interesting content and a lot of the questions that you’ve asked me today that I’ve made answered I, some of which I’ve answered and some of which I’ve decided not to answer will get answered on an email list at some point.

Andrew Warner 1:19:05
I think the ones he didn’t answer it’s about your family. Which, but also like

Gagan Biyani 1:19:10
how and I, Aaron and I split up. Yeah. And also just so I’m sure people will have a lot of secondary questions after this interview, at least to be the few people who actually care who is obviously going to be a small percentage of your audience, but the few people who care are going to want to know a bunch of other things and I’ll talk about a lot of those things on that email.

Andrew Warner 1:19:29
enough to do something. What are you reading up to do?

Gagan Biyani 1:19:33
Well, I don’t know yet but I’m definitely reading

Andrew Warner 1:19:36
ready No, I don’t know what you’re just getting ready and you’re ready to connect with people. All right, it’s Goggin biani, calm google it we’re of course have his name in the in the show title and the notes and all that will link out but garden biani calm I’ve been enjoying getting to know you over the years I’ve been enjoying watching you evolve and I’m curious in 10 years, we’ll do an interview and then we’ll see did being happy later. lead to more productivity or did you and your girlfriend end up just having good date nights?

Gagan Biyani 1:20:06
Yeah, that’s a great question. I don’t know the answer. I think I gave you an answer but I think you’re right to

Andrew Warner 1:20:12
be pushing on it. We’ll see in the end and this was a good whiskey for me to drink Talisker, but it did make like this weird sound I’m like listen like Oh, yeah. All right. Thank you so much again and I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen the first if you’re looking to build a website that will turn strangers into customers go check out Click Funnels, they will make it easy step by step you know I said I wasn’t gonna promote them too heavily. This is not a paid ad for them. I’m actually not gonna charge them for it. I’m just gonna say thank you to the to to the people who I know over there at Click Funnels. Thank you Russell. Thank you Dave for sponsoring mixergy and delighted is no longer a sponsor their ads it just finished so you better go and use their the free thing that they’re giving you right now which is surveys you can put on your site that they will make sense of for you. It’s completely free. If you go and sign up right now at the lighted comm slash mixergy And finally, if you liked this interview and you want more tactics, check out Traffic Secrets. It’s a podcast by Russell Brunson where he gets super tactical, and it’s Traffic Secrets and whatever podcast app you’re listening to me on. Bye, everyone.

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