Rod Cuthbert, Founder @Viator

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Kevin May Hello there, Good afternoon. Good evening, wherever you are. Welcome to how I got here. Now many of you will realize that it’s been a couple of weeks, it’s actually been about 10 weeks, since we had an episode of How I Got Here. Season One ended, with rather obvious timing in the first week of March, just as everything was kind of fooling around by everyone’s feed. So we thought it was around that time, it was worth taking a break for a little while while we did more important things and all the people that we wanted to interview, were busy fighting the fires and figuring out how they’re going to get through the Corona Virus outbreak. That was the beginning of March, it’s now getting towards the end of May. We’re into June in another week or so. And we’re starting to record new episodes for season two of How I Got Here. For those that don’t know How I got Here is a regular weekly podcast from Mozio and PhoocusWright looking at the backstory and innovation and startups in travel and traveling. rotation. So that’s our backstory. We’re good to be back. We’re glad to be back. And our very first guest for that will be someone who’s very well known to many of you. His name is Rod Cuthbert. He is the Co-founder, the former chairman and CEO and at Viator which is the tours and activities platform that was, I guess, born in Australia, but was eventually sold to TripAdvisor in 2014. He actually left the company in 2010 in an executive role to create Rome to Rio, which was a door to door travel search engine. He left there in 2018, ahead of its eventual sale to to Go Euro. He’s now a non exec director for another activities platform, which is Valtra. He’s an investor in brands such as Magpie, and is a frequent critic of startups that pass through the battleground and summit stages of Phocuswright. Many of you that have attended web in travel, and the focus on conference. Well over the years, we’ll know that Robert is a very voted vocal critic, but also praiser I think of startups in the travel industry. So, first of all, a very warm welcome to broads. Thank you for joining us on how I got here.

Rod Cuthbert Kevin and David, thanks so much for having me. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to talk to you.

Kevin May Okay. Right, as is tradition, and this tradition will stick within season two is that we always ask our guests a very, very simple question. And we asked you to, to respond in as succinctly as we know that you can Rod, and that’s kind of tell us briefly, how did you get here, and you can be as flamboyant or as factual as you like, but tell us how you got here to this day because

Rod Cuthbert I think the most succinct way would be to say through a series of fortunate events. I was very very lucky that I was in the right place at the right time met the right people and and the you know, the, the bowl just broke the right way. For me on a couple of different occasions, and it wasn’t certainly because of any particular good planning or amazing foresight or tremendous technology or anything like that, I was, I was simply a lucky guy.

Kevin May Right But okay, well, you’ve lifted the kind of the carrot hanging there in front of us to start kind of getting it within. So yes, lucky, very fortunate. But if we go right back to the formation of vital alongside being lucky, what were you doing at that time to allow you to create something that you eventually sold for $200 million to TripAdvisor? You must have had something more than good fortune.

Rod Cuthbert Right? Yeah, with the good fortune that got us started, I guess. With a with a friend of mine, Peter Fox, we started a company to build websites for people and we didn’t have a particular view on What type of websites or what sort of people but we won a particular customer, it was a travel company, it was one of the travel Corporation group creative holiday. And and they told the sister companies Trafalgar inside one or two hours and means that we had a bunch of different companies that we were building and managing websites for. So we managed to build a good portfolio of travel clients. And we said, Why don’t we specialize? Because travel is deep. It’s a great thing to sell on the internet because you don’t have physical goods that have to be delivered. It just seems a terrific match. And we noticed that there was money going into online travel businesses in the United States and in Europe, and we thought, well, that’s, that’s possibly a good thing too. So let’s, let’s really focus on this travel space

Kevin May and were you anticipating it being you know, you said it was a across industries? But was that a fairly quick process from when you launched it to when you realize that Okay, let’s just focus on the travel part of this?

Rod Cuthbert Yeah, it was literally a couple of weeks. From from mid August when we started, I think by mid September, we would transition from being a web development company to to a web development company for travel companies. For the travel industry, we decided to specialize that quickly. I mean, travel is a really deep space. So we saw Hey, there’s plenty of potential here.

Kevin May Okay, last one from me for a moment, then let me I always forget that Peter was someone that you started with. I mean, you have so sewn on ministers as an individual with founding vital, how did you meet Peter and we’ll come on spaced. The follow up question is, I think he was with you for three or four years. And if you could just tell us quickly, but what was the reason why he left given, given that he did come on to have such great success?

Rod Cuthbert Well, he was the only person that made any money out of buy a tool for 19 years. He sold the bulk of his shares when he left in, I guess, 97 or 98.

for, I think, just under a million dollars or so.

And he was literally the only person that made any money besides salaries from our companies until until 2014. So he was pretty wise I think, and he did well at the end as well because he still had, you know, a few shares left that were sold to TripAdvisor when we had met when I was working for an online travel business, in Sydney, a company little like compuserve Was there for a little while, I left to join Peter to do something independently. I just, you know, I’m not a great employee. And I figured I would probably be better as an employer. Okay,

Kevin May so actually, I’m gonna follow so sorry, Dave, I’m just gonna follow up there because you did. That was good. What Why would you say you’re not a great employee?

Rod Cuthbert Well, I think that you know, I just follow my heart and my gut on things. I make decisions for reasons that sometimes I’m not even quite sure myself why I’ve made the decision to go in a certain direction or hire a certain person. And in a corporation, you have to you’ve got to justify your decisions. As an entrepreneur, particularly, you know, if, if you’re the boss and you You’ve got your own money at stake, you’re not so much in that position, once you get a lot of investors involved, you’re, but in the early stages, you can you can, you know, plot your own costs without having to, you know, justify every move that you make. And there is a lot of decision making early on this data, literally hundreds of decisions much more than when you’re in a corporate environment. Yeah.

David Litwak So right I wanna I want us to delve a little bit into some of those decisions and the kind of the the process by which you started via Tor. So I don’t think we’ve heard the full timeline yet from, you know, when you started kind of working for the travel group, I forget about the ones that don’t Trafalgar, and then how did you make the transition from deciding you want to start by at or what was the original insight, and I’ve just loved it. And I know that you guys, there was a huge amount of time between kind of, you know, when you started it, and when you actually sold it, and I think that’s something a lot of entrepreneurs can potentially sympathize, especially anyone in Traveling with you right now he’s probably not gonna build another company for years. But let’s like let’s delve a little bit into more into that timeline.

Rod Cuthbert Yeah, it’s, it’s pretty interesting. And and this is one of the lucky things that happened. We, we built websites for a couple of years, lots of websites, probably over 100 for various clients. And we got pretty good at that we had good designers. We hired a guy called Jordan DB who built some good tech for us. That allowed us to, you know, create templates and get people up and going really quickly in remember this is back in, in the mid 90s, when when the tech wasn’t all let all that flesh like flesh was a thing back then for a little while. If you remember, we hired a woman called Jill Hazel who had been working at at at Sabre in around 1997. And she heard through her connections just before Lift, save as a saver was putting together a project and looking for a third party who, who had web expertise to build them a web based system. So the travel agents could sell ground product, essentially what they were describing was via tool. It was a via tool for travel agents. And the idea being that Sabre, you know, sold that space was getting more competitive, that they would probably start to lose share to other channels, and they wanted to increase the number of products they had to sell. So an obvious one was what they called ground product tours and activities. So we, Jill organized for us the pitch for that business. They had there was there was a couple of women who worked for Sabre, who came down to to meet with us and I had a particular insight in one of them. The the meetings that we had with them. And that was these two women. They really liked Sydney. They, I mean, they loved. They come down from Dallas, Texas, which, you know, maybe you’ve got some participants on on the webinar here that are from Dallas, Texas. It’s not it’s not a tourist destination. It is a center of commerce. Sydney is is an idyllic city and I live in Bondi and we went out to the dinner, the Bondi Beach on a couple of evenings, and they really enjoyed it. And I said to them, I said, Look, if we win this contract, and you go with us, and not the company in New York, or the company in London that you’re talking to, I said, I think it would be good if you came down on a quarterly basis over the course of the year that it will take us to build it to review progress. Because if we go up to you, you know, we would only be able to afford to have one of our engineers go out but if you come down, you know, you can see the whole Team etc. It was a flimsy argument, but it it builds on the certain knowledge that I had, which was that they really really loved the idea of being in Sydney, Australia, and we won the contract.

David Litwak So take me from there to you know, establishing via Tor comm because that sounds like that was a Sabre contract. Right. Is that correct? So that that wasn’t that something that would have ended up?

Rod Cuthbert Yeah. ended up building. Yeah. Good catch. So we built it It took us a year they came and visited with us every quarter. They really enjoyed the travel. And thenlo and behold, save ahead one of what turned out over the course of Savers, you know, long history, they’ve often had a purge, where they’ve, they’ve fired a good percentage of their, their staff and around 1999 2000 I can’t remember the exact year fired an enormous number of people, including all of the people. Bow one, I think, who worked on our project, but certainly the vice president who had commissioned the project. So literally, this project, this product that we had built for them was left without an owner. So we, you know, we, we had difficulty, frankly, even communicating with them about what to do. But eventually we found the new, you know, the guy who’d taken over this division. And he said, Look, we have no interest in this product now. Take it, it’s yours. We built it for them they paid for, and they said, We really don’t want it. It’s not on our product roadmap anymore. You’re you’re welcome to go ahead and use it yourself.

Kevin May
Just as a follow up on that one, Rod, I mean,

Rod Cuthbert how think did the land how

Kevin May
different Do you think the landscape would have been Both for you and for tools and activities if Sabir hadn’t can’t that particular projects

Rod Cuthbert well, very different. I think large corporations are not good at, at the sort of innovative projects. You know, once they had gotten their hands on it, I think they would have screwed it out.

And frankly,

you know, we didn’t get we made the product available to travel agents and travel agents didn’t really sell much ground content. Yeah. So I don’t think it would have been a success for them. So I think we probably would have gone on to doing something else and you know, hotels or cruises or some other thing and we wouldn’t be talking I wouldn’t be talking to you here today.

Kevin May
Just to just to again on that though, but the way the land scape evolved, you know,

some say that, you know, viar toe pretty much pioneered that kind of tours and activities, booking space for consumer booking space. And that put that potentially would have set things back if Sabre had bought it and then that’s as you predicted, they may well have candidates that may have put the whole industry the whole CEP sector of the industry back a couple of years. Do you would you say your nose?

Rod Cuthbert
I think Kevin frankly a lot longer than that. I think as the story rolls forward, and we go out and start raising funds and talking to people about investing by at all what we discovered was that there was just there was just no interest in the tools and activities. So I will I will pick a quote from a few years forward because it’s relevant right now. You know, the name rich spot. Rich was the the founding CEO I think at Expedia, a very, very experienced and savvy guy who talked himself when he gave presentations on Expedia, his long term goals talked about wanting to be able to sell, you know, a flight to Fiji, a hotel in Fiji and surfing lessons in Fiji. So he, he understood that in 2005, Barry Seidenberg and I were out raising money and we met with rich Bob, he was a venture partner at a venture capital company in the Bay Area. And he said and I wrote it down in one of my notebooks because I, I felt it was it was something I wanted to remember perfectly well his word, he said, is tourism activities, even a thing? And I said, huh, and he said, is even a big enough market. I say Reach. What do you think people do when they get there? I mean, do they go because a flight is so great or because they really love love, you know, 20 square meter hotel rooms, the Hilton, no man, they go to do things to go to the museum and, and the tours and sightseeing and all that sort of stuff. He’s like, man, I know. But like, this is a really big market. So yeah, I think if we hadn’t done it, I think it would have taken a while for it to get the momentum that we that we created over a long period of time we did I mean, we didn’t definitely didn’t have we didn’t go from zero to 107 seconds, nothing like that.

David Litwak
what’s what’s interesting about your story is I feel like you guys were very early to the market. And I have a question I’d like to ask later about timing and kind of how you how you viewed view that but before we get to that question, I want to just kind of Coming back on what Kevin said about like moving the industry forward. I feel like because Sabir helped you bootstrap this almost you guys remember years ahead of when a tours and activities company should have even existed. So you guys, I like I’m curious I’d love to understand a little bit more about how did you drag the industry forward like I imagine there are a lot of small tours and activities providers that we’re not selling anything online at this point. And like what amount of infrastructure did you have to build that now maybe today, like get your guide doesn’t have to because peak is building it?

Rod Cuthbert
Yeah, it’s really interesting.

Certainly, if Sabir hadn’t come up with the idea we were not going to have we would not have come up with the idea. We were not talking to you know, sightseeing tour operators anywhere in the world. It just wasn’t on our radar. We were talking to multi day tool companies like like Trafalgar and inside and intrepid and you know, Those sorts of companies who offer those multi thousand dollar you know, seven and 14 day to hear we interviewed Travis from or radar and that’s kind of his more his area right? Yeah and that didn’t really pop for a long time either. So it was definitely save as the drag this along. I guess the next you know we we went out we took that product that we built for Sabre and we went out there with a with a b2c product and a b2b product and we signed rich Barton because he wanted to sell surfing in Fiji. We signed up Expedia fairly quickly we signed Travelocity British Airways long planet. We signed up a lot of people but the volumes were quite low. It was a b2c thing because we were early. We sort of owned SEO, we didn’t have to pay for traffic at all. We just you know things to do in Barcelona. It costs us nothing and we would get in tons of trees. From that, when the 10 blue links were there and they really you know, they meant something there at the top of the page so I guess you know, two good catches my eye it’s like if it hadn’t been beside but we definitely didn’t have the idea. But they opened the dual for us.

David Litwak
Oh, yeah. Well, kind of expanding on that back to the what I said about the timing earlier. I remember my first ever focus right I was part of a young leaders you know, summit or whatever. And in that same class when he was Johannes from get your guide and I was brand new, and I kind of didn’t really know and I remember get your guys logo was kind of funky looking at the time and I was like, Who are these guys? Now, I think they’re worth over a billion dollars. And I think a lot about this for mozilo as well. As Mozilla started nine years ago and ground transportation in the last two to three years, there have been been a bunch of well funded competitors. And I almost kind of feel like I’m the via tour of the ground transportation industry at times, and that we were sometimes too Early. You know, we have we have like to like we’re been around for a long time doing a lot of the hard work back before it was sexy. So how do you think about, you know, timing like in the recent wave of kind of tours and activities, startups both on the consumer side and also on the back end with like the fair harbors and peaks and there’s been a lot of acquisitions recently.

Rod Cuthbert
I think the market makes sense the way it’s evolved. There was a few companies that came in and tried to replicate what we were doing in the early 2000s. I sango was one of the UK I can’t really remember quite a few of them failed because it was just so difficult to to raise money. I think I think the way that the marketplace is evolving now with a lot of different tech companies and some really well funded retailers. It’s starting to look like the market. Look starting to look like what the hotel market looks like, you know, back 1520 years ago, what’s that activity? I’m sure it’ll be some consolidation.

So, yeah.

Kevin May
And Raj, and how did you just go back again, when you were coming up with the you know, once you decided to go it alone? Say Brad said they weren’t interested in taking it forwards those kinds of things. Did you have problems coming up with essentially what was a business model? Did you base it on perhaps how commissions were done in hotels or air? Or did you try and come up with something completely different? And how many versions of that did you go through until you settled on something?

Rod Cuthbert
Well, I had no experience whatsoever. As a wholesaler of travel product. None whatsoever. So we hired some people from quarters holiday. Who you know, principally they sold a question All as they sold hotels, but they also sold a little bit of ground product, a little bit of the sort of product that that we would sell. And they sold it through their their travel agents and their own travel offices at the time. It was very small volume, but they they did know, some key suppliers, some key inbound tour operators, and they need to have a good idea of the sort of commission rate and the sort of terms that were standard in the industry and we took those as a starting point. I think one of the I’ll perhaps just branch here for a second to say that the business has this enormous

jump after 911

you know, the 911.

It was a tragedy on a human scale but for the online travel in the So it was amazing. It was like, it was like a step change, because in those weeks after 911 travelers in the United States and Europe just to set an example, certainly in the United States, they couldn’t get through to their, their airline or their hotel on the phone. And they, they were forced to go on the internet. And what they discovered on the internet was good. They discovered that they could, they could find out whether their flight was going or like it might get changed. They could make a booking, they could get a refund, they could make a hotel reservation, they could actually look at hotel rooms, they could actually be a travel agent for themselves. And there was this just this massive shift away from the old way of buying travel to this new online way, in a very short period of time. What that meant for for us was really interesting. We were there and people started to discover We started to get bookings. And we were able to take those bookings. In the months after 911, when travel industry was depressed, we’re able to take those bookings to operators who were in a bad way. Because they hadn’t had bookings for a little while and this gap because the whole 911 event. And so we were like, they loved us. They absolutely adored us. And we did. We, we knew how people in the travel industry paid in the traditional travel industry, and that was slowly you know, travel wholesalers and agents didn’t have a reputation as being good payers. So we decided we would pay people on time that every month on the 15th of the month, we would pay our operators and we would pay them not only on time that we pay them directly into their bank account, which this is 2000 a month. 2002 this was this was new stuff. The combination of those two things laid a sort of a foundation for our business where universally our suppliers really liked doing business with us. So that was a really critical time for a couple of decisions. They weren’t lucky decisions. I think they were actually thought through decisions that we made, but they turned out to be small but really crucial things that we did. Okay,

David Litwak
once I kind of asked her opinion about something, so I heard that something like 20 to 30% a lot of these these sites, these tours, activity sites are actually selling super shuttle or limousines and then I heard another big chunk of them are selling hop on hop off buses and segway tours and this was sent to me by someone telling me why all of these kind of you know, the one was viable back in the day there’s about like a lot of kind of these you know, Airbnb for tours and experiences. Now obviously Airbnb is now currently Airbnb for tours, experiences. But there were a lot of people who tried to kind of diversify. And I was told that a lot of reason why a lot, a lot of them failed was because people misunderstood what people did in destination. It was usually the people from Dallas. He said, going to Australia and hopping on the hop on hop off bus. It wasn’t the person looking for Fiji tour. So I’d love to understand a little bit more about your market discovery process. How did you guys you know, realize what to settle on and how have you viewed other companies as having maybe missed the point of like, where the big tourism activities chunk of businesses?

Rod Cuthbert
Yeah, this is a really, it’s an interesting

topic, or at least the way I understand you, I’ve asked the question. It’s an interesting topic. We always, you know, we love finding new and interesting products. The example that I would use would be The chocolate lovers walking tour of Paris. It’s really good tour I’ve done and it’s really cool. And we have this theory that we going to prosper because we’re going to have all these cool things that we’ve discovered that are sort of on the ages there you know, like the graffiti tour of Barcelona, etc, etc. And that’s going to drive our business forward and and you know why they did. The fact that we had those things was important, but I can tell you that when people go to Paris, they don’t do the chocolate lovers walking tour, they do the hop on hop off fast. They do the the Eiffel Tower, they do the luge, and Versailles etc, that there’s a small core products that they do. It always amuses me, because I still hear it now about, you know, tick is going to use AI and pattern matching and some other cool stuff to figure out exactly the right things for a particular customers do when they visit Barcelona. I can tell you what they’re going to do when they visit Barcelona. I already know what they’re going to do. Everybody does a certain set of things. They didn’t know they, when they come to Sydney, they do the bridge clock, etc. There’s just like, there’s no need for all that cool tech. Once you’ve got those cool products, the other things are like icing on the cake. Yeah, really answer your question. And yeah, just go off on my own tangent.

David Litwak
No, I mean, we encourage tangents here. But no, like, that’s exactly kind of part of what I was getting at is I feel like very often in the travel industry, people build a product they want as opposed to listen to the market and what the market needs. And I we all like to think of ourselves as not average normal, doing the Segway tour or what everyone else is doing. But I think we you know, I found this a lot with a lot of different companies that start in the travel industry, they kind of end up you know, just fantasizing And going off of you know, their experience backpacking around Europe, not, you know, listening to what the normal person is going to do. So now I think you, you answered it. Yeah, specifically, I want to kind of move on here before we run out of time a little bit towards you have ended up transitioning away. And there was a long period between you until you got an exit. And I think this is something I’m hearing a lot from travel industry entrepreneurs, I know a lot of friends who are looking to exit in the next six to 12 months. Those people that might have bought them are now either borderline bankrupt or definitely don’t have the cash to, to outlay and Avaya tours actually come up all the times is like yeah, those guys waited like 20 years for an exit. And we’re really early and I’d love to just understand that you at some point stepped down and ended up joining Rome to Rio and I forget the exact timing of that if you joined from trio before viceroys even sold, but you moved on at some point. How did you psychologically make that jump and what was your thinking at the time?

Rod Cuthbert
Well, I mean All those helped me. I think it is absolutely the case that businesses go through stages where certain types of founders do well. And then they, you know, they may enter a stage to be specific. You know, some people are risk averse. I’m not risk averse at all, I’m happy with risk. I’m happy with taking some chances and getting something started and seeing what happens. But then when the business becomes bigger, and you know, this couple of hundred staff and you’ve got maybe $15 million of, well $50 million investors found at work, you know, that, that that same attitude that you would use to get things started is not quite so applicable. And that’s what I came to realize. And certainly my board of directors helped me realize that that I probably wasn’t the right person. We very fortunately when we when we founded the business with Carlyle in 2005, we had hired a woman called Barry Seidenberg. She was a Stanford MBA with work to preview travel and she was exactly the right person to to take the company forward as as CEO, so I didn’t mind that it’ll work out really well for me. It’s one of those things you got to do.

Kevin May
But just sorry just on that road I mean, it’s your and Peters baby. It’s almost like you weren’t there to see it. Move on to its new adoptive parents. Do you? Was that difficult to do? What were you quite happy with leaving it to Barry to

dot the i’s and cross the T’s and you end up Okay, anyway.

Rod Cuthbert
Oh, yeah. Yeah, I would never have been able to get it. You know, I think we were doing you know, 40 or $50 million annual revenue in 2010 when I left and it was four times that and I would not have been the right person to take the company on that part of the journey. That’s a very spreadsheet driven part of the journey. And I’m not a spreadsheet guy at all. I want to

David Litwak
talk a little future looking here in our last few minutes. You know, hey, to set you on your favorite subject of Google and everything, but I, there was, you know, there’s a lot that’s going to change in the challenges you just mentioned 911 about how, you know, despite the human tragedy was actually good for the travel industry, or the online travel industry specifically. I’m curious, what are you seeing, you know, going forward for us now?

Rod Cuthbert
Well,

yeah, I just wonder how valuable anybody’s insights at all, you know, we’re in such a space of not knowing when this is going to end and I think One of the key determinants of how it looks after it’s all over is how long the lockdown lasts. I mean, if we were able to all get everything started again this year, then we may just have a six to 12 month period with a bit of a shakeout and then things, get back to normal after that, but if we have a bunch of second wave infections, or whatever, we call them a big second wave and the third wave and the fourth fourth wave and countries open up and then shut back down again. And we’re in this in this tunnel for two or three years and it’s a different kettle of fish altogether. So I’m whilst I appreciate your question, David, I don’t think prognosticating about the future. I think we’re just on shaky ground trying to do that right now.

Kevin May
I just just last one for me really well, it’s I mean, you and I go back a long time. And we’ve crossed swords and been on panels and I’ve interviewed you many times over the years. And maybe I’ve maybe I’ve just never been making excellent notes or remembered but I never quite heard you say how lucky you say you’ve been over the years. I wonder whether that’s something that you’ve decided you’ve been lucky as the years have advanced and you’ve gone through the the entrepreneur phase, and you’ve gone through another couple of businesses now, it’s now that you consider yourself lucky. And second of all, I mean, what are the kind of lucky moments? would you would you identify two, so that you can categorize yourself as being a lucky person?

Rod Cuthbert
Or lucky? I think I’ve always all the way along. I’ve, I believe two things, my sort of personal motto in life is that anything can happen and often does. So I’m prepared for anything. I’m not going to be surprised. So let me give you another example of how I think we were we were incredibly lucky. We were raising money in 2005. And we didn’t have a lot of money left. We needed to raise funds, our Australian investors have been very patient. And it followed on a couple of times, but they were sort of tapped out. We needed a US investor to come in with 10 million bucks, which at the time was a fair bit of money. We saw Barry and I probably saw 25 or 30 venture capital firms. And it was always the same they liked it, but travel was an activity and not a thing. So we would literally down to the last name on our lists, which is a company called Carlyle ventures, which Intel didn’t even really have a venture fund. They’re a private equity firm that usually does like oil and armaments and all sorts of other stuff much bigger than then what we were looking for. But we took a meeting with this dude I’m in San Francisco. And the meeting went just like almost all of the 25 meetings before that, and at the end said, Yeah, great. I’m going to talk to my partner. And I’ll come back to you, which I knew at that stage meant, I’m not coming back to you. Or if I do, it’ll be to say, We’re not going ahead with this. So we got up to leave. And I picked up this dude’s card. And I looked at his name and his his name, lm Tizen. He’s at Google Now. And I thought it was a you know, I thought, this is a Danish name. And I said to him, are you Danish? And he said, Yeah, why? And I said, Man, sit down. We’re almost related. And he said, What are you talking about? And I said, Mary Donaldson. Mary Donaldson, who is that I said she’s going to be the next Queen of Denmark. The back story is that it Tasmania and a Tasmanian girls had fallen in love with a married priest. It would have Denmark a few years earlier. She had met him at the Olympic Games in Sydney. By chance at a bar I and I knew the whole story. And this guy, this cow in VISTA alums, like most times, was a monarchist at heart and really wanted to know the story but was starved for the details because in America, he just wasn’t hearing. He wasn’t seeing the Danish Chris. So he sat down, he said, Tell me everything. And we spoke for another 30 or 40 minutes, and we developed a rapport right there, around the subject of the, the end of the Danish throne, a commoner from Tasmania, just like me, another commoner from Tasmania. And at the end of the meeting, he says, this was fun. This is fun. I get to talk to my partners and maybe we’ll see you again and He did. And we did. And they invested, I think 1115 something like that million dollars. And it all worked out. That was really lucky.

Kevin May
So the moral of the story is to come up with a backstory that you can kind of woo your investors in. There’s absolutely nothing to do with the business, and maybe to do with their hometown or their home country. Really? That’s it, right.

Rod Cuthbert
Um, look, I think in 99 cases out of 100, it just wouldn’t have been relevant. It just, it was just there. You know, it was like, Oh, my God, you’re from Denmark, and I contest mania. Yeah. What a Wi Fi connection. This is

the thing. David?

David Litwak
Yeah. Well, I think our Time’s up. So you know, thanks a lot, Rod. I think this has been a great interview to kick us off for our season two. So, to recap for everyone listening, this is how I got here mozilo and focus wires, weekly, again, weekly podcasts. about the future of transportation and travel, and thank you very much for your time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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