346. Lessons from Scaling Braze to IPO, the Importance of the Underdog Mindset, and the Future of SaaS (Mark Ghermezian)

346. Lessons from Scaling Braze to IPO, the Importance of the Underdog Mindset, and the Future of SaaS (Mark Ghermezian)

Mark Ghermezian of m]x[v Capital joins Nate to discuss Lessons from Scaling Braze to IPO, the Importance of the Underdog Mindset, and the Future of SaaS. In this episode we cover:

  • How the iPhone Led to the Inception of Braze
  • The Impact of Remote Work on Innovation
  • Becoming a Unicorn by Building for Tomorrow
  • Advice for Founders from a Unicorn Founder turned VC

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Transcribed with AI:

Mark Ghermezian joins us today from New York City. Mark is the co founder and former CEO of Braze, and also the founder and general partner at MXV Capital. Prior to founding Braze and MXV, Mark founded a number of other businesses and made early stage investments in Rubrik, ThoughtSpot, Lattice, among many others. Mark, it’s a pleasure to have you and welcome to the show.
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Yeah. So can you take us through your background and how you got involved in startups?
Yeah. Well, I’ve always been like an entrepreneur since literally my Bar Mitzvah. And I took my Bar Mitzvah money and bought a vending machine with it, and negotiated with a venue to put it in. And then I told my mom, we gotta go fill this thing up, can you drive me to Costco, so I can buy the drinks and snacks. And for like, a few years, I ran that and got it up till about five machines. So I think that was like kind of my entry into this whole world of entrepreneurship. And, and I think tech is like the most creative of entrepreneurship, which enabled me to kind of take like, kind of that mindset of being that I find myself to be creative and very visual person. So being able to take that and apply it to tech enabled me to do that. But fast forward from my bar mitzvah to in between then and school in college and started two other companies and, and then my last one was an MBA, no, in my last year of college, which was, I think, got me into this whole world of technology. We were buying minutes wholesale, from Sprint, that time it was Cingular, and knowledge, but no, but Virgin Mobile, they buy minutes at wholesale from from Sprint, and that rebrand the whole thing to be Virgin Mobile. So it’s not like they have their own network or anything. So I took that same approach, with XC Mobile, that didn’t go as well, it was just like a hard business model. But I think it was kind of my entry into this whole world of tech and just kind of learning the ins and outs of raising a little money. And then building a product, building a team, hiring a team and selling to the market, go to market strategy, and all those kind of things that come with it. And then I would say, like I got, I got married in 2008, and then moved to Houston, and was getting into oil and gas. And on the side, that’s when like, iPhone launched with, with Apple, and I have this clear image of like, Steve Jobs holding the iPhone, and I’m like, wow, this is going to be like a whole world of things coming. And in my that time, like, you know, what if I could build something that all these developers and brands that are building apps on iPhone, what if I could build some software, something that connects and can serve as that bridge between them and their users. So for a couple of years, while I was in Houston, I was tinkering on that idea, which was called App boy, and going through it and trying to figure out kind of the path and kind of what this bridge is that I’m building. And while I was doing that I heard about South by in Austin, and how it was like a festival where people are going in and raising money for their ideas. And I told my wife, look, I’m gonna go this thing in Austin, I have no idea what the hell it is. But I’m just gonna go there and see if I can meet people. And just went there with my first gen iPad, and had my deck on the iPad and, and just kind of literally walking on the sidewalk, asking people they know people that invest in startups, and eventually got introduced to Alex Lloyd, who made the first commitment to Apple, which is now praise. And he kind of took me under his wing and would through that verbal commit, I was able to raise the million dollar seed on brace. And that was kind of like my entry into the world of startups and this whole tech ecosystem.
Well, it’s very prescient of you to recognize the seminal moment of the iPhone, I don’t think too many realize the impact that that would have on technology today. I’d like to talk more about the early days of braise, and the path to success. You talked about the fundraiser bit. But for those that don’t know, Braze is a public company. Now very few founders are able to take a company from inception to IPO. So just tremendous success story. And I’m sure there’s a lot of learnings along the way. But one of those early milestones. I think most founders think about is product market fit. And I know you iterated quite a bit in the early days to find it. But I’m curious, what can founders do to maximize their chances of finding product market fit? And how much of luck do you think is involved in finding it versus following a common framework or process?
Yeah, I think I have a saying that grit creates luck, right? So if you continue to pound and kind of keep pushing and pushing and iterating you’re gonna quit You’re on luck, if that makes sense. And I think founders need to understand what that means to get there. And to create their own luck, I think on terms of product market fit. I was working on this for about two years before we close the seed. And maybe two years before I brought on my co founders. I think the premise for me, I always think about, like founders have this thesis, right? So my thesis was build some bridge or some technology or software that connects the developers of apps with the users of apps. So that was kind of what I was trying to unlock. And then you have your equation to figure out like, what how am I going to unlock this? And there’s numerous ways to do that. But there’s only there’s usually one right way that gets you to scale. And I think for me, it was continuously listening to the customers kept her ear close to the ground, hearing what they want, hearing where the markets going. And then once we felt that we had that like, Aha moment of like, oh, my gosh, this is it. We just pushed the gas. And I think for us, like I said, I was working on it for a couple of years by myself. I then close the seed. The original concept was, it was this one system. First, it started with like this social network, almost like LinkedIn for developers of apps. And we would connect them with users of app. So it was all online, nothing mobile. And I was like, You know what, this is weird. I’m building a mobile product online. And I’m like, This doesn’t make sense, right? And we were and we were growing. I’m like, well, let’s squash this. And I started reading about SDKs. And that people building these SDK SDKs, they put into the app, I’m like, oh, cool, what if I could take what I created online, and inject it into the app, but why would they want me to be in their app. And at that time, Foursquare was what everyone was talking about. And like, oh, cool, people are checking into bars, maybe we’ll check into an app, they’ll share that they’re using the app. So developers happy because then the users are sharing this app on their social networks. And then I can give that data back to the developer around who is sharing the most who’s checking in the most who are their top users, and then I’ll let them communicate to them to award them. So we built that if you kind of hear what I’m saying. Those were like the foundational pieces of what breezes today. And when my co founders came on, Bill and John, we started building this. And then when we went to go market with this check in feature, every developer was like, you know, I love the data you’re giving me on my users. And I love that you’re helping me communicate with them. But I really don’t want this check in thing like in my app. And I remember the moment we were it was I was looking at John and Bill and like, let’s create this, literally this glossary or this address book of every user in a customer’s app or in a in a brand’s app, and then let them choose who they want to message based on their usage. So being able to segment the user base, and then being able to message that specific. And then I remember John, looking at me be like You mean, like CRM for abs? I have no idea what that acronym stands for. But yeah, I want to build that. And then I started, I turned around Google CRM and what the hell that means. But then I think my point was that, like, we just kept like pounding, pounding the ground in the pavement and like trying to figure out like, what is it that people want in terms of that thesis of like connecting you with your customers and helping you build that relationship with them? And I think we’re fortunate enough to have these customers that were giving us that feedback. And then we double down on that. And fast forward today. That’s the entire premise of brace.
Got it. I have a two parter for you: One is how long was it until you got to that inflection point? And how noticeable was it? When you hit that inflection point, you knew that the product is right. And it really started to grow.
So when when that happened, we were still early. We knew the market was going to want a product that was focused on retention, right? So when people were creating apps, it was all about acquisition, acquiring more customers attribution of how you acquire these customers, and then Analytics on your app. A lot of customers we spoke to when that happened for the next two years. Everyone was like, Well, why do I need you? I don’t I’m I’m kicking ass getting all these customers. I don’t need you yet. And we kept saying like, well, you’re spending so much money acquiring these customers, you’re going to want to retain these customers. So we were still a little early for about couple years, and we only raised a million dollar seed So once we saw, once we felt like this is it, we went back to all our investors and raise another million and a half on top of the million seed. And I think if we didn’t do that million and a half, I don’t think it would be around today. And it took a couple years. But once the market shifted from, oh my gosh, like, I have to really build a real business here, I can’t just build an app that people are downloading. And I could talk about how many downloads I had, I actually have to talk about monthly active users, I have to talk about engagement, I have to talk about conversion, I need a platform that’s going to help me do that. We were we were building this for like two years. So our competitors had nothing on us, we came to market with like the best in class product. And we were stayed ahead of the game. So it took a couple of years for us to hit that inflection point. But I think if we didn’t make that decision early on, where we were going to build CRM for apps, we wouldn’t be well positioned. When it took about a couple of years or 18 months to two, we got like those first few customers
Listening to customers has received polarizing points of view, some protests that customers are only thinking about what they want today and not tomorrow. How do you balance listening to customers and staying true to your initial thesis?
One, I think you’re right, like, customers are always thinking what they want today, not what they need tomorrow. So you got to take it with a grain of salt. And I think you have to just find that right customer base that understands where the markets going tomorrow, and, and so on. Because as a as a startup, you never want to build a product for today. You’re trying to build a product for tomorrow. And I think for today, everyone’s thinking about today, right? So like you as a founder, where you want to disrupt the space, you want to be like, Oh, I see where the eight ball is going. And I’m going to build now. So I’m really well positioned for 18 months from now when the market is going to shift. And I think like customers help you validate your thesis, going back to that thesis, right? And I think that’s how you should be thinking about is like, Am I just thinking in a in my own bubble? And I like, and I think you should use the time to speak to the power users in your in everyone’s case around like, am I thinking about this correctly, right? And take it with a grain of salt? That’s kind of how I think about it, because they’re not going to have all the answers. And at the end of the day, no one has that vision that you as a founder has, right? And that it even goes back to like when you have ideas and you’re talking to your friends and family, oh, I want to go do this. And in most cases, they’re like, That is stupid. That’s crazy. Why would you ever want to do that? And honestly, credit to them, they don’t understand how you’re thinking about it, right? They don’t understand what you know, of the market where you’re talking about this. So I always take feedback with a grain of salt. And make sure that I’m like reading between the lines of the feedback. And also not fooling myself around when I’m receiving that feedback. And just continuously thinking like I’m right, I think a lot of times we need to take feedback, digest it, think about it, and think about how it applies to what you want to do and what you want to build. And I think that goes back with current customer feedback that you get from your customers.
So you talked about raising that first million, then you go back to the same cohort of investors, you raised 1,500,000. What was that second raise like? Was it difficult to convince them to put in an additional million and a half? Or were they convicted that you found it?
I think I think the fact that that point, when I did my million I didn’t have my co founders, it was just me. Fast forward. I think about six months, it was me and my co founders, John and Bill, and we then started formulating a pretty strong engineering team. And kudos to John, Bill like that. Without them, we would not have been able to do that. And I think now we have like a real base and foundation. So it was an easier conversation. The first million to be honest, the million that half was like this is what we’re going to do isn’t we’re going to build, which need another million half to give us that run rate to get there.
How did the fundraising evolve over time from that point?
Oh, it was hard. I think we were always the underdogs in the market. At that time. There was another company that just raised from Sequoia, doing exactly what we wanted to do the pedigree of that CEO was unbelievable. We had there was another company that raised from Kleiner. And here we are me having no background in the space. And John and Bill awesome guys. This is their first startup as well. And we’re unknown in New York when New York tech ecosystem was literally just beginning. So it was hard when we got to our Series A A lot of people don’t know this story. But we’re raising our Series A we had nobody, not one person wanting to come in. And our last investor that I was talking to rally ventures Tom Peterson gave me a call and he’s like I’m sorry, Mark, but we’re gonna pass on I’m like, Whoa, we have two weeks left of payroll. And I’m looking at the team and like, holy shit, I don’t know what to do. And on the call, I’m like, Tom, are you in? Are you in SF? Can I see you tomorrow morning? He’s like, Yeah, if you’re around wanting to come into my office tomorrow morning, I’m like, okay, so I call my wife, I’m in New York. I’m like, I’m going to I’m going to Newark. I’m leaving SF, I’ll see you. I’ll come back tomorrow night, flew out there with Tom and was able to figure out the terms that made sense. Sign the term sheet that week. And then I had to flow our payroll till we closed and got everything done. So it was still crazy. There was I think about things like that. And I’m like, wow, there’s a lot of stories like this that people kind of think like braise IPO. Amazing. They’re so lucky. There’s so many stories like this, where you’re like on the edge of just like shutting down. We literally had no other option at that time. And there’s I could tell you, if we really thought about it, maybe five, six other stories like that.
I was just gonna ask is that the most stressful time being a founder throughout the Braze journey?
Yeah, as a founder, and especially as a CEO, you have such a sense of responsibility to your team, that that’s first to your investors. You don’t want to let them down and, and for yourself, I think it’s like such a mental roller coaster to make sure that you’re executing on all fronts, whether that’s fundraising, whether that’s getting customers, whether that’s hiring, pushing product out, like it’s all on you. And I think that a lot of people may underestimate that in terms of the stressful illness. But absolutely, when you’re looking at your whole team, and you’re like, oh, my gosh, we have two weeks left the payroll. And we don’t have a term sheet for our a, I would say that was probably one of the most stressful times. And then I would say maybe around our series, see, when the SAS market, the macro economy in the public markets kind of crashed for a few months. And we just begun, like we started fundraising, our seriousIy when everything was okay, and then we’re talking to a few funds, and we’re just expecting term sheets, and then the market dips, and everyone pulls back. And we’re like, what the hell just happened? Here we go again. And even then we’re still competing with these other players. But we’re starting to like gain traction and start outpacing them. But still, we’re unknowns in the market as the underdogs. And thankfully, we prevailed. And we were able in that time, we got battery ventures to come in, which I think was awesome.
Yeah, I wanted to circle back to that. So there are few other challengers in the market, a lot more pedigree backed by some of the best names I mean, Sequoia and Kleiner, two iconic names in the industry, what allowed you guys to ultimately prevail and win the market versus the others that by all means, most would think those would be the winners in the market, given the optics. Do you think about what ultimately allowed you guys to win?
I think it’s that underdog mentality. I tweeted about this, that we were the underdogs. And I think that’s why we want that underdog mentality where you’re coming in and you have nothing to lose and you’re just like, I’m going to just like take over the space. I’m gonna do whatever it takes that culture and that mentality goes right into your whole team. Right. And we I’m you’re like the things we did to wit customer flying out to meet them, listening to what they need. And it’s not it’s not that we won by undercutting on price. We never did that we won because we had the best product. And I think the team knew that we were building the best product. So I think that underdog mentality of just like, like I was I was listening to a podcast with Tom Brady. I think it was Oprah. And he’s like, I go in every season thinking I’m the worst player coming into this league. And I’m going to, I’m going to win this year, I’m going to prove people wrong. And he does that year after year after year. And I think that that really resonated with me is like, I’m going in here thinking we’re the underdogs. These other guys are coming at us, but we’re gonna win. I also have this one thesis that maybe others may not agree with. But I think what happened with us in terms of me getting my first customer my first 10 customers, we weren’t getting those intros. We weren’t getting like customer intros on a silver platter we had to like fight tooth and nail to sell brace into these first customers and to sell into these first customers. We then learned our go to market we learned what the customer wanted. We learned about pricing, were lurking around how to retain them. Were I think at that can be totally wrong. But I think these other players, when they have such high profile investors, they literally just go and say like, the investors are making those intros where they’re like putting like five customer intros on on a silver platter. They didn’t have to sell into them. They didn’t have to understand how to sell. They didn’t, they didn’t understand or price it. And they know what the people that are doing favors and using their product probably never been used it so they never got any customer feedback. They didn’t understand the product to build. And I think I think that that really kind of shot themselves in the foot themselves in the foot. And that’s kind of my own thesis on like, how why we won, versus these other players?
How do you build a culture that maintains that hunger and that underdog mentality? I mean, when you’re sub 20 employees, that makes sense, you’re still a small village. At that point, you probably know everyone on the team. But when you get to Series C, and you’re greater than 100 employees, how do you ensure that from top to bottom, everyone has that mindset and that hunger to go out, fly to the customer win the deal? go that extra mile when you aggregate all these employees, not extra effort that makes a difference between winning and losing? Yeah, I can imagine it’s a difficult thing to maintain.
Absolutely. I think for me, I always had this thing, it was like staying humble, and celebrating our wins. But also, understanding why we lost I always told the sales team, I want to know why we lost the deal. Like, like winnings, great, we’re going to celebrate those. But I have to know why we lost a deal. And I think that was important. But I think like the the humbleness and was said like hands together when I was at Braves like we were all in this together, leaning on each other. This isn’t I did this, I did that we’re all winning this together, we’re doing it together. And I think we made our customers feel part of that too. It’s it goes definitely goes from the top down. Like if you have this like sense of humbleness for yourself, we’re like, okay, we won, but we got the next one to go after now, we’re not the greatest, and we still have a lot to do. I think that’s what really makes a difference. It’s just like, you just never have like, keep your Keep your chin up and so on. But I think just a sense of humbleness is I think is really important for you to grow and become a strong company.
Is there any tactical advice you would give founders out there in terms of scaling culture?
I’m a very feedback oriented person. And I love learning from everybody. And I think that’s something that keeps people humble. Right? So it’s like, what did I do wrong? How can I do better? Everyone having a say around the table, I think like founders need to surround themselves with people that they’ll learn from, right. I think as founders, we have the great ideas, and we can bring the right people around us. But I think the right people are people that you can learn from that have done this before, that you can also be humble enough to take feedback from and delegate to, right. And I think delegation is like one of the hardest things for founders because it’s like their baby, and they’re like, How can I let this person do this for me with my baby. And I think that was a hard thing for me personally, at the start was delegating. But once we were able to delegate and scale, I think that’s kind of made the difference for us.
Got it. I want to switch gears a bit and talk about your career as an investor. And a polarizing topic, especially within the investing community is founders also investing in startups, and you’ve angel invested and more recently started MXV Capital. I’m curious how you think about founders, also angel investing? And both sides of the coin on that?
Obviously, I’m okay with it. But I think founders investing, it continues to build their network, right? It continues to keep them I guess, on the top of like, what’s going on in the market? What are people thinking? What are people raising money around? What are the latest things that people are doing? They’re doing the angel investing, they’re able to do that? I think that makes sense. I think if they can do it, why not? I think there’s no difference between that and someone investing in the public markets and just having a portfolio of investments. I think it pays dividends potentially even for their own company. Right.
And on the MXV side, why with all the success that you’ve had as a founder, why start a venture capital firm?
Yeah, I think, for me, it was more about like, I love starting companies. I love the early days. Personally, I think I’m really good at starting companies in the early days. And I want to bring my 1015 years of experience to the table for other founders. I genuinely enjoy reliving these moments. Every founder we invest in talking about their go to market, their product market fit their hiring, pricing, how they’re thinking about building their team. Like we have monthly brainstorming sessions with each of our founders. And it’s, I tell them, like local can spend two minutes of that time to talk about the update on the company. But let’s identify one item that you want to us to dig into and zone into. And I just love it. Enjoy that. So with MX V, we’re completely focused on pre seed and seed b2b enterprise SAS. So the areas I know and it enables me to almost be like a co founder with all these founders, and I generally feel like that with all of them. So I would say like, Would I do like a growth fund, I don’t think I’m the best growth investor. And I don’t think that’s for me, I’ll leave that to the Ikonics of the world. But I think I can be an amazing asset on the cap table for b2b SaaS, early stage. Because just think about the story with brands and everything I just spoke about like, like, literally, I’m taking a lot of that experience and applying it to the founders we invest in. I also like found that being the founder and operator on the cap table, I’m able to provide one a different point of view to these founders. But I’m also like someone that they can confide to and talk to, we spoke about briefly some of the mental rollercoaster and the struggles you go through as a founder, I think a lot of these founders may not want to speak to their board member about that made me not want to speak to someone else about that. But I think for me, they find that I am someone they can talk to about this. And typically in those conversations, I have the founder hat on that my investor hat on. And I think that’s important. And that’s why with that makes me like, again, it’s all precede See, early stage, we’ll do half a million $2 million checks, we’re not looking to lead, we’re not looking for a board See, we’re willing to be a partner and an extension of their team, which I really love.
You talked about being an operator and how that allows you to connect with founders have more empathy for them, would you recommend all founders to have an operator on their board?
100%. Like, it’s a such a different rodeo, when you have someone on the cap table that built a company, that operator and a company, it’s so different. And I think you shut everybody, I think it’s goes back to like having like a diverse group. Right? I don’t think like I don’t have all the answers that a true VC would have that wasn’t an operator or wasn’t a founder. Right? I think they have a different perspective than I would. But the two together are very complementary. Right? So I think it’s all about a diverse cap table the same way they should be thinking about their own team of having a diverse executive team and diverse team in general. So 100%, like I would say, you must and you should have a founder operator under cap table. And I think someone that has the domain expertise and in the market that you’re going after, is is a huge plus.
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I’m also interested in how you make investment decisions. And you alluded to the tweet earlier. But for the audience’s edification, I’ll read it. And I’m curious how you look for these qualities within a founder. So you tweeted when me and my co founder started braze. We were the unknowns in the market, the underdogs. There were many other founders and players with much more credit than us being the underdogs is what allowed us to win. As a founder, you always want to keep that underdog mentality. So I’m assuming you’re looking for this mentality as an investor. And I’m curious, how do you know if a founder has it or not?
I think it goes back to one the grit, right? I’m a big believer in grit. We spoke about it before the grit creates luck. So that’s one thing I look for. And I think grit to have grit. Sometimes you have to think that you’re the underdog, right? I think to kind of go hand in hand. Separately, I think the humbleness is important, because the founder is not going to have all the answers. Usually they don’t. But they’re but they’re smart in that they can surround themselves with people that do have the answers, whether that’s executives, from other companies that have gone from zero to 5050, to 100, and so on. So I think but for me, I typically look for founders that one understand this concept of iteration on their product. So going back to that, again, that thesis, then you have your equation of how you want to solve for it. founders that can take feedback from me from other investors from the market, and aren’t kind of like stuck in their ways around like this is what I’m going to do and I know all the answers like i That’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for someone that can take feed Back, can iterate, understand what continuous integration means to understand to figure out the product market fit. And then separately it’s Is this someone that people will be inspired to be working with? Is this someone that can attract strong talent? And then And then, and then one of the other things we think about is like, Is it someone that like growth investors will be excited to invest into. And obviously, the founder, you see today will not be the founder, you see, 234 years from now, you, I would expect that they mature a lot through that lifecycle of the pains and the growing. But you could typically kind of see like, who this person is today and where they’re going to be. And that’s separate from like, the market that they’re going after the market size, who the power user is, where does it fit in the stack and all the other due diligence that we would want to do that I would do? Again, I think the number one thing is that founder, in the early days, I think a smart founder can really figure out how to unlock product market fit, if they raise one enough capital and surround themselves with the right people.
So if a founder has this mentality, but you’re not sold on the idea, or the market opportunity, are you still investing?
I’d rather invest in a strong founder than a mediocre idea than than a strong idea with a mediocre founder. So obviously, I have to be really excited about the market and idea. But if I’m really jazzed up about the founder, or the founders, it would be hard to say n.
Have you had any misses in your investing career that you look back and you surely regret?
Without saying names, I think one thing that I learned was like, there were maybe two or three investment opportunities, where I looked at them, I’m like, I don’t know if I can be friends with the CEO, you know, or, like, I don’t know, if I can connect with the CEO. And I passed, and then they went on to, like, take off. And that’s something with MXV, I’m like, thinking about a lot is like, I’m not looking to be best friends with these people. Right? Obviously, I’m coming in to build a relationship, but I don’t know how to say this in the right way. But I’m not looking to like, hang out with them and be best friends with them. But and I think I’m trying to learn that like everyone’s coming from different backgrounds in different parts of the world. And, and looking at them in a different lens is kind of something that I’m trying to like take myself. And I think that’s kind of a my learnings from maybe those two or three that I missed where I was just kind of like I don’t know about the CEO, like, and I was completely wrong. Yeah.
Yeah, that’s interesting. Would you say that you’re enjoying the investing side as much as you’d hoped compared to just being an operator?
Oh, I love it. Yeah, like, you’re meeting so many smart people every day. And you know, it’s so exciting because every single person you meet, they all believe that they’re building the next unicorn. So it’s like, you have to admire these people, right? It’s like holy cow, like and what’s funny is you think, sometimes you’re like, No way. This is like a crazy idea. But on the flip side, on the other side of the coin, you have a founder that’s sitting there telling you how this is the best thing since sliced bread, right? So you have to respect that. And I’m learning something every on every call. So every every time I meet a founder, I’m learning something new. I’m learning something, one around who they are, where they come from, and about the market they’re going after. And a lot of times, I just love digging into pieces. So absolutely, I’m loving every moment of it.
Yeah. What’s your feeling on remote work? Are you investing in companies that are purely remote?
First, I’ll say I’m terrible at remote managing, like I tell my team, like, I thought I would be good at it. It’s hard for me, it’s very transactional. So like, we’re only talking when there’s a set meeting. And the call ends when the meeting is over. And I’m a very personable person where I like seeing people talking to them, seeing how they’re doing, how’s life, what’s going on. And then and then through that you build relationships. And through that you build a really awesome culture and company. I will say again, going I do think there’s definitely a hybrid approach. I’m not specifically looking to invest only in remote companies. I personally think it’s hard to do that in the early days. I think so much of what we built up raised in the early days was because we were all in the same office and like spinning our chairs around and talking to each other. Once I got off a call with the customer. I would talk to John and bill to be like, I just spoke to this customer. This is what they’re talking about this what they ask this what they need. It just like I think ideas and things get created by being there in person. And on the flip side, I’m sure there’s an argument where people still feel they can do that through their own culture because they’re starting from the ground up as a remote company. But for me, I think it’s harder but that being said, I I think a hybrid approach is something that’s very workable, and something that has to be part of your culture moving forward, just given the world that we’re in now.
Yeah, I think it’s difficult at times to put a 30 minute block on the calendar and say, we’re going to be creative during these 30 minutes versus having those serendipitous conversations that come up, whether it’s a an issue with a customer, or whether it’s an engineering challenge. And the team’s able to just quickly connect and talk about what’s top of mind at that moment in time versus calling a meeting. And some of that magic is lost, in addition to you know, the time that’s induced as well.
There’s just so much comes out of it, right? You’re like even if you read about a competitor, you would just want to like go get a coffee and like talk to your team about like, what they think about this, right? It’s like off the cuff. It’s not, let’s sit up in the lemonade to talk about this tomorrow. By that time, you’ve already lost all the intuition that you had that came to mind in that moment, which I think is like super hard. Look, I could be wrong, and you’re seeing companies that are fully remote be extremely successful, and that I think everything works for every company. For me personally, I think the hybrid approach is something that I prefer, and I definitely love the in persons a lot more.
Yeah, agreed. Mark, if we could feature anyone on the show, who should we interview and what topic would you like to hear them speak about?
A couple mentors also give you to Doug Pepper with Iconic Capital and Bipul Sinha with Rubrik Bipul, to me was my mentor. And one of my best friends, he actually helped me find, he found my two co founders, Bill and John, and Doug Pepper Iconic. He became a close friend through the whole starting of braze. And I met him right after I closed my seed. And we got introduced. And he was one of those guys that looked at the other companies from Kleiner and Sequoia. And he saw the underdog mentality in me, Bill and John. He saw how much our customers loved us. And he took a big bet when he was at Interwest to lead our series B. And through that it’s built an amazing friendship with him and someone I look up to a lot. So I would say those two guys are people I would love to hear from and hear what they have to say.
I’m sure he’s happy he made that series B but Mark, what do you know that you need to get better at?
Man, I’m not a morning person. And it’s like my pet peeve. And I think it’s more because I just go to sleep too late every night. So and I tell him I’ve complained about it every morning.
And Mark what’s the best way for listeners to connect with you?
LinkedIn and Twitter My Twitter handle is marker markgher and then you could find me on LinkedIn.
Awesome. Well, Mark, this was a real pleasure. Thanks again for coming on. And looking forward to seeing where Brave and MVX goes next.
Thank you.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai