369. What Consumer Founders Often Get Wrong, How to Build a Culture that Breeds Creativity, and Scaling Bark to IPO (Henrik Werdelin)

Henrik Werdelin of Bark on the TFR Podcast

Henrik Werdelin of BARK joins Nate to discuss What Consumer Founders Often Get Wrong, How to Build a Culture that Breeds Creativity, and Scaling Bark to IPO. In this episode we cover:

  • Building BARK as a Defining Brand
  • Staying True While Scaling
  • How to Weather a Downturn
  • And more!

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Transcribed with AI:

Henrik, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me.
Can you tell us a bit about your childhood and experience growing up?
Yeah, sure. I grew up in Copenhagen, Denmark, and I guess I grew up with my my, I grew up with a single mom. But my dad lived not too close from us. And so I got to hang out with both and spend most of my childhood thinking that I wanted to be a journalist. And so I, I ended up kind of like doing endless amount of, of kind of like initiatives from the school magazine to interactive CD ROMs, which was like the craze back then. But Copenhagen, and then when I was about 20, I moved to London. And then when I was about, I guess, 30, I moved to New York City.
Got it. Do you recall when you first became interested in pets?
I mean, like we had a dog growing up. And so um, I think most people are in some weird form. Interested in pets. But yeah, I definitely. You know, my first furry love was my first dog.
Would you say it was an abnormal relationship with your dog? Like, do you think you had a stronger relationship with your pet than most people? I’m just curious where this is, where does this come from? I mean, we’ll talk about BARK in a moment. But I’m curious to hear where the infatuation came from.
No, I don’t think it was. I mean, like, I think like, a lot of other people. I like my dog a lot. And I kind of like, like other dogs also bought, like, the special bond is really between the dog, my dog and, and myself, not necessarily kind of like I always knew I wanted to do something with dogs. I had, you know, I ran product development for MTV, Viacom, and had done other startups before. And it was really only when I ran into my co founders, that this kind of like idea of making something for dogs materialized.
I’d be curious to hear more about that. So you met your co founders? What ultimately led to the founding of BARK, like what did you guys notice or talk about that process?
I mean, like a lot of the a lot of the inspiration was my co founder, Matt, he had a Great Dane living in New York City. And there just wasn’t a lot of cool stuff for for Hugo. And so it wasn’t necessarily like a very thought through kind of plan. It was, hey, what about we make some cool stuff for Hugo. And Carly had just started Uber in New York City. And I just come out of another startup and, and Matt had come out of another startup. And so he you know, did meet up back in the days I did media back in days, Connie, kind of like was an operation logistics person. And so I guess we just approached the space with the experience that we have brought from our, from our past experience into this.
Got it. And BARK was formerly Barkbox, right? You started with subscription boxes. What was the first subscription box? What were the products that went into it?
It was I mean, like we started, I made the first version on a WordPress template as just kind of like, hey, wouldn’t it be cool to make like a box for dogs and we started to show it to friends and went down to the dog park and showed it to people there. And when people said, Hey, I’d like to sign up when it’s ready. We responded, Well, we have square and it’s just give us your credit card right now. And we’ll take your money. And so I think the first box, were just us having like 70 accounts and colony running down to the local pet shop, buying stuff. And then just, you know, putting it in a brown box and then shipping it out.
Awesome. Love it. Definitely a resourceful approach and something that doesn’t scale. But when you reflect back to the beginning, what was that biggest challenge going zero to one.
I mean, like we I think had pretty good traction pretty early on. I mean, we, we had a concept that was easy to understand. And we are in a category that hadn’t seen a lot of innovation for a very long time. And we came around and kind of 2011 2012 when Facebook and Instagram kind of like started to really become like a bigger thing. And we had a we were in an industry where our product shows itself very well on on Instagram. And so I don’t think we had kind of like here’s the big challenge. I think we stumbled a little a little bit into something and was a little bit like, hey, wait a minute, there seems to be a lot of opportunity in this space, and was a little bit blown away by how little innovation that the category We have seen, you know, imagine, in all all the categories you have like a defining leader, you know, you have, I mentioned Uber for transportation, and you have night for running shoes, and you have all these different iconic brands. But when you think Doc, which is huge, you didn’t really have like that brand that people emotionally connected with. And, and so I think we got excited about this I dia that we could build that.
So back in 2011. Were you guys wondering why I’m sure you’re asking yourself? Why is this right? Like, this is a space that is seeing little innovation, there’s not a category defining brand. What were you guys telling investors as to the why now, back in 2011? Like why was 2011 the right point to be launching a brand like bark.
I mean, like one of the things that, first off, we kind of promised ourselves that we never would raise capital, think we think that all the three of us kind of comes from a school of thought, which is, let’s just build a product where the cocktail TV makes sense. And that kind of like old school approach was something that we we fit basically, in the early days, like maybe we never have, we can bootstrap this. And historically, we haven’t raised that much cap capital, I think we raised about $50 million in total until we went public. And so we were never kind of like on the fundraising kind of like machine. It also was a category that was tough to fundraise for at the time, because it was seen as kind of like a cutesy little kind of like, you know, funny thing. And so we were lucky that we had all built companies before that had received capital and had a little bit of success and success, you know, in our in our history. And so I think that made it easier. And then we had some really incredible investors that kind of were along with us throughout the over the years.
Yeah, I know one of those investors trip trip Jones, who speaks very highly of you guys. Yeah, he’s great, especially when it comes to consumer. I mean, he’s really got his ear to the ground. I I’m curious how you think about like, you mentioned that funding back then perhaps for this type of brand was more challenging. When you think about just building a consumer brand, such as bark today? What do you think is more challenging from a timing perspective to build a company, such as bark back in 2011? Or do you think it’s more challenging today? Because I can see the pros and the cons, right, like social media marketing was less saturated back then. But capital wasn’t as abundant. I’m curious to hear like how you compare and contrast the two timelines? No, I
think it’s a good question. I think maybe also, what is relevant is to think of the market cycles, right? You know, like, I’m an old fart. So I remember 98, you know, like, I remember Oh, eight, you know, and, and so I’ve been through, you know, a few of these cycles, where suddenly the market is incredibly hot for a few years, and then you get into a period of time was really incredibly difficult to fundraise. And, and we came just out of one of those cycles. And I think in many ways, I think that’s relevant for people who are thinking about starting companies as what business do you build a watch point in the cycle? And how do you make sure that you align your fans fund cycle, kind of like fundraising strategies with the hype cycle and the product development cycle? And all those different things? And so maybe the answer a little bit different to your question. I think one thing that we were lucky slash sensible around was that we, we built a company that made sense for the period in time and the financial cycle we were at, which allowed us to kind of become robust enough to now when we see another kind of downturn, we’re kind of like over that hump where we have a real business and we have been gone public so we have real capital and all those different things.
How are you guys navigating the current environment? I mean, the markets haven’t been kind to public companies Mark included how have you guys know whether in the turbulent markets
I mean, like I think then the same I think because the we always been a sensible business and because we always kind of like we’re keen to to be able to operate a business even if financing was not available. It’s always been kind of like part of our DNA like we don’t have we don’t like have a fancy kind of like approach to most things. And and I think we’re kind of keeping in tune with that to this point of like, obviously, it’s frustrating to see your stock price go down and obviously it’s frustrating for you know, when you’re thinking you’re doing well that you don’t feel like that’s getting noticed right away. But the market I think over, you know, a period or two Time is a fair market. And so we’re keeping our heads down, we’re building good products at a fordable price, we’re making dogs and their people happy. And, and we do that in a in a sensible way. And as long as we kind of stay true to those first principles, you know, we expect to be a business is going to be around for many years and, and can kind of like a claim the crown or like being that defining dog brand that our kids will talk about.
Yeah, it sounds like you guys have kept things just look pretty simple, right? Like the products easy to understand the unit economics make sense?
I don’t really know. Because I think the market right now is difficult to understand. And there are so many things that kind of changes so rapidly, right? Like you, you have companies that suddenly get like very big valuations and they just look very impressive from the outside. And then suddenly, you realize that something is completely wrong, right? Like the crypto market, you can put that category right now. But you also have, you know, I saw a public company made calm in the UK went bankrupt. They were doing kind of personalized designer furniture. And I don’t know the business at all, I have no insights. But from the outside, it seems that suddenly they had a business where the unit economics kind of made sense. And then the world’s logistics kind of like just completely changed. And so suddenly, what used to cost you, I don’t know, maybe a number of like $5,000 to ship now cost $50,000 t shirt, and then the core economics of your business make no sense? Well, we tried to do is to a key very sensible on our business economics. But what we’ve also done is that and I think you alluded to that we moved from toys into treats into food into dental into other kind of verticals. And so as we acquire our customer, we have the opportunity to serve them in many different ways and does extend the LTV of that customer.
I actually want to talk about barks newest line bark food, because it feels like a slight departure from toys and play. But I’m curious how you view it as an adjacent product line. And I’m also especially curious to hear you key in on competition, because I feel as if competition in the dog food space is seen as fierce. And I’m curious how you’re thinking about differentiating bark food?
Yeah, I think we we have always thought of cell as being in the business of making dogs happy. And while that sounds very, like aloof, that has always been kind of our guiding mission. And throughout the years, we have tried to stay very kind of focus on constantly trying to find ways where we with the advantages we have, can build new ways for dogs to be happy. And sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t work. And so we started the process, you know, pretty much from the beginning, we we originally bought toys from external vendors. And then we start design at the myself. And we saw the the product that we’re delivering not as here’s a cheaper toy, but here is an experience you can have with your dog every, every month. And so with us, you see the themes, and what we what it seems a little bit kind of like simple, it has quite a lot of like dimension to it. And so we probably do, say 4050 new products every month, we’re very kind of topical and relevant with our toys, which makes the owners think they’re funny, and they get excited about them. The toys themselves. You know, we spent a great deal of time like figuring out what the best squeaker saw and like what the form factor and what the fabric and anything to make the gameplay really fun. And when you check something that is very optimal for the dog, and you layer a narrative and storytelling around it, the owner get excited and the dog and the human kind of feeds of each other and create some of that. And so the way that we look at anything we do is how do we create not just a better food, you know, we how do we create a better experience? How do we, you know, don’t just think about, you know, feeding but we think about mealtime. And so from a philosophical point of view, I think we are approaching the industry slightly different and more holistic than other people in the space. And I think from a practical point of view, we are the biggest kind of brand in DTC and so what that gives us is the ability to ask customers every month, not just what should your dog eat, but what does your dog have actually like to do and play with. And so I can give you quite a detailed answer of what does a three or a Labrador in the Texas region kind of like? How do they actually enjoy themselves? What is their play style? What are some of the different sensitivities? Do they have specific allergies and all that stuff? And taking that data and inputting into our product development process is something that few others can do.
Yeah, that’s a very interesting approach. And I have to imagine if you enjoy dogs, and you enjoy product, BARK is probably the place to be working.
I mean, like, it’s very, very fulfilling to get pictures from your customers, and it’s 30 dogs that are having a field time and, and I think we’ve invented a lot of stuff. You know, I’ll give you an example of how we think about it and experience. One of our most successful toys that’s been on the front page of reddit many times, is Consuelo, the cactus, which has a toy and toy, which is something that we kind of started to do. And so it’s a toy, you know, Consuela, she’s heavy on the on the outside, and then you’ll kind of tear her apart of the dog will and then she sat on the inside, because can swell is complicated. And that kind of like allowing you to extend the play time and having kind of multiple moments where something new kind of happened, even something as simple as a dog toy, is something that I think highlight makes us perform better than others. Interesting.
This, this is definitely going off script. But now you’re you’re just making me curious, what has been the biggest product flop? I mean, it seems like an incredibly data driven company, you guys have your ear to the ground with customers. And a lot seems to be working. But what hasn’t worked? Like I’d be curious to hear a story of a product that you launched, that you had high expectations for and it didn’t go well. And what was the learning derived from that experience?
Yeah, I mean, like, we do look at our business, physical business, as we’re building software. And so we are very fast to kind of like, try something and see kind of, like, if it works. A long time ago, we made something called bark care, which were supposed to be kind of like a telemedicine kind of thing. And this was many years ago, and we were very excited about it. And it was both telemedicine, but it’s also what’s kind of vets on wheels. So if you’re in New York, or San Francisco and your dog was to kind of like big to be taken to the subway, or just like, you know, dogs get really scared when they go to the vet, often, you could call us and we would have like a vet, jump on a scooter and then kind of come to you. And then we just for the amount of investment it would take us we couldn’t get the the unit economics to really work for us. And so we close that down. Now, we still kept a lot of the learning and like part of what that kind of like, got us on to was bok bok Brite, which is kind of our dental product, which is kind of like a monthly subscription where you mix a kind of a dental stick with some specific develop enzymes, toothpaste that allow the dog to basically chew on this stuff, and the active ingredients and the enzymes will make your, your dog’s mouth kind of like more clean. And so. So I don’t think you know, like, I mean, like as many thing is that if you see these things as failures, then you end up not trying to do stuff. If you see them as kind of risk adjusted experiments, then I think you get a lot of good afternoon, I got another one which might be cooler for actually now that I thought about. So we I got obsessed with this I in our office, we obviously have done tons of dog toys and tons of dogs. And one day I noticed that every day I came in there was like the specific dogs have come in. And it would go to like a pile of dog toys. And it wouldn’t just take a dog toy you kind of go for like, it was like it had like a specific thing that this dog wanted every day. Like, hey, wait a minute, like maybe dogs have preferences. And wouldn’t it be cool if dogs could do the shopping themselves. So we created a store in Manhattan where dogs would come in, we would give them a vest on with sensors, and we put RFIDs and all the dog toys in the store. And then the dogs could run can run around and just play with the toys themself. And then the owner would get like a notification on their mobile phone of what is the toy that the dogs really want. What I learned was that the owner then you know, like looked at that data and then bought the toy they thought was the most funny. So like dog didn’t get to choose at all. But what happened after that was we got a lot of attention around that and while that specific concept by itself didn’t work, is really launch kind of adventures into retail talk at them had seen it they called us and said hey, these guys seem to want to do something really different in retail. And then we started like a long relationship with them based on like making the I’d experiment that I guess, didn’t really seem to be a, a viable kind of long term have own stores kind of business.
Very interesting. I I’m learning more and more I dog best was sensors on it that is something I didn’t even think was possible. But I love it. Yeah. How do you how do you think about creation in general? And Where Where does your inspiration come from? I mean, you mentioned this concept of IDEA flow to me. And I was curious if you can tell us more about what idea flow is, how do you ingrain it in the business to produce these products at such rapid pace.
I mean, like, the word idea flow I’ve stolen from, from two people from Stanford University called Jeremy oddly and Terry clay bond, and they bought this book recently called Idea flow and the premise of the it is really, that you need to get a lot of ideas, and so that most people kind of get stuck when they get one. And then they can only run down with that, but often, you should just wait a little bit and come up with more. And Barak, we kind of have built that into the business because we personalized a lot of the toys based on the play style. And so while you subscribe to a BarkBox, what you’re really getting is a box that’s tailor made for your dog. And for you to be able to design that foster be able to do that in a scalable way, you have to kind of design towards like a matrix of, you know, like, what are the different, let’s say some dogs don’t like rope toys, and some dogs are allergic to chicken, then you need to be able to create a box that is still on theme, but that have those different properties. And so we are already in the habit of just kind of like churning out ideas all the time. And so that’s something that you just build process around and kind of become good at. In terms of inspiration, it’s pretty easy. We all have our dogs and we got to stay around them all the time. And and one thing I always find is that while ideas might be difficult, sometimes problems easy to get hold off. And so we tried to kind of look around the our world with our dogs and find sentences, the thoughts with its sucks that and if we say it sucks that a lot of times, then it’s probably because there’s some opportunity to be able to service our product for it.
You talked about the process around creation, but what about the culture? Is there anything you do differently to empower people to fail, I guess for lack of better way to put it, I’m sure putting idea after idea out and trying to find something that sticks, you have to have a culture with people that have thick skin, right, like they need to be okay, failing, they need to be empowered to make those decisions. Is there anything you guys do that’s unique from that perspective? Yeah, I
think you’re completely right. Like, you know, the cultural elements are super important for that. And we definitely tried to build that, I think we have the the benefit that in the early days, everybody thought it was kind of a cute little funny business. And so we’ve always kind of like had the don’t take yourself too serious kind of approach internally. A few example, to kind of like promote culture. A very immature cultural element that still is an office is that if you forget to log out of your computer, somebody will write I love farts, and in the subject line and send it to the whole company. And then what will happen is that people will then start to discuss why this specific person might love farts. Now, it sounds a little bit immature, which is totally is. But if you still kind of encourage people to make it okay, in a serious big company to make fun of farts, and a few things will happen first, for security, people will never forget to log out of their computers. I mean, like it is the best IT security kind of like a method ever invented. And second, I think people are more relaxed when they come into a meeting. And you know, like they’ve just kind of seen one of those stupid emails it, it lightens the mood, and I think give people permission to go like, Hey, this is a dumb idea. But what if blah, blah, blah. And office, we have a toilet where there’s two toilets in the same kind of stool. And it has no other effect than just having people go like, Oh, this is weird. But if you’ve just been through the process of deciding that you wanted to loot use the left or the right toilet, or if you should have invited somebody, then I think you go back to your desk and you think about whatever you’re doing a little bit in different way. And so we’re definitely a company that really tried to in a very purposeful way. Try to create structures, designs and kind of like breadcrumbs that empower and promote kind Unlike a different way of thinking,
would you say developing those systems and processes has been more difficult than, you know, scaling from zero to one or one to 10. And you guys are definitely in the 10 to end stage now. And as you think about those three stages, specifically, which, which has been the most challenging from your perspective,
I think a lot of the stuff a lot of that DNA is kind of made very early on, you know, I see, you might be too young, but there’s this movie called Revenge of the Nerds that was going to Vic when I grew up. And it was this kind of beautiful story of basically all the most nerdy, geeky people from college basically, kind of winning. I think, you know, along the way, a lot of us at bark just felt that all these quirky people who wanted to take a job just to make dogs happy, kind of suddenly kind of had momentum, and it was kind of beautiful, that, that they kind of be successful, too. And what did that have created, I feel is a place where being quirky is not frowned upon, it’s something that’s very much celebrated. And people through serendipity, and through kind of, like the network of, of the people that are working at bark, I think attract more people like that. And so, so I think, you know, now these things kind of, like gets embedded Yeah, in the DNA of the organization pretty early on, and then it just builds from there.
So where do you where do you see bark going over the next five years? Like, how will bark stay the same? How will it advance? Where were you taking the business,
I mean, like, the vision stays the same, we want to make dogs and their people happy. And we want to be the defining brand for dogs. And that means that we will keep building products and services to make dogs happy. And so that gives us endless amount of runway for, you know, things that we can do. And we see ourselves pretty broad in that, you know, aspects, you know, like I, I know, my co founder always kind of like, like, make the kind of like the statement, well, you know, you shouldn’t be too surprised if you suddenly start to see like a dog airline from us. But that is really how we think internally is that for anybody who has a dog or listen to this podcast, they’ll know that travel, for example, is really freaking annoying if you have a big dog. And so it sucks that right, you know, in same way that when we built the dental product we started with it sucks that you have to brush the teeth of your dog, but you don’t want to. And so in five years, we are in our continues journey to build a company that cares a great deal about these furry animals and, and hopefully we’re having a good time doing it. And the reason why that’s important is because that sparkle and that energy, you know needs to be embedded into the products that we make.
Are there any areas that you specifically are keying in on for short term growth and or long term growth?
I mean, like in the we’ve been very clear on us kind of like moving aggressively into things that dogs can eat. We’re already a very big supplier of treats, because we have millions of customers that are getting a box every month. And they’re to treat backs and chew in those boxes. So we have quite a lot of experience in that field. And we have initiated our kind of move into kibble breed based kibble and, and the whole experience around how do you feed Labrador that as I have in the best way. And so you’ll see more of around that for us. But to the point like you know, we’re now in fun food kind of home and health, and those are pretty full. Those are four pretty large categories that we’ll just continue to build in.
Got it. Do angels invest right now at all? Hmm. Do Angel invest at all?
Yeah, sure. Aye. Aye. I throw my random seed check.
What do you is it mostly consumer businesses? Or will you invest in anything?
I’ll invest in anything where I feel there’s a founder that has a idea of something that I also feel the world needs to, to kind of see. And so that range is very, very far I’ve invested in 3d printed space rockets to bio like bio companies that are making plastic eating enzymes over to a company that make binders for people who are gender fluid, and so I am, I fall in love with founders that have you know, sparkle in their eye eyes and have something that they really want the world to, to kind of like buy. And then I tried to give both my money and my experience to them to see if I can help them be helpful.
What do you see early stage, consumer founders most often getting wrong?
I think I think you have to realize that it takes a long time. And so you hear the stories of people who are around for a few years, and then they sell and those stories are there, but most don’t like they slog around for a long time. And so I think what they get wrong is that they don’t, they don’t make it clear for themselves. Who is the customer that they really want to serve? Like, who do you want to? Who do you want to answer the phone from every Sunday for the next 10 years, when you have other things that you also would like to do? And so having people who love dogs calling you every Sunday, you know, figure living nativity, and an answering them is something that is very meaningful. And I think sometimes people go like, alright, right now. Things are, crypto is exciting. So I’ll should build something crypto. But there’s customers on the other side of everything. And those are the one that you should be passionate about serving.
Yeah, it sounds like having that intense connection, you know, that truly authentic obsession with the problem is a key for you to writing an angel check.
Yeah, and I think your point, like, I like problems much better than ideas. If you have a founder that has a specific affinity group that they really care about, and they have a very clearly defined problem, then, then all the features and the products, you throw that problem, just thesis statements. And sometimes you might be wrong, and sometimes might be wrong, right. And sometimes you might get the timing wrong, but your idea was right. But if you if you care about that user group, and the problem is big enough, then you have the ability to kind of keep trying. Otherwise, if it’s just a deal, and it doesn’t work, you know, you have to pivot or you have to close down.
One of the other challenges that you mentioned me was the importance of building the right crew. So let’s say you know, you have the right problem, you have a solution that’s working, you need to scale. How have you advise founders on picking the right team around them? Like, Have you learned anything on that front, from your experience scaling bark?
I mean, like one of the most, I guess, not controversial, but counterintuitive, kind of like sauce that I have is that I really think about hiring people that I that I like, I want to hang with them. Because you hang with them a lot in startup land, right? And it’s endless. And you have to there will be you know, a lot of different times when things are difficult, and where you’ll have to have difficult conversations. But if there’s good chemistry, then those conversations are much easier. So I used to make the joke that I’d rather hire somebody like that somebody who was smart, which is not necessarily true. But I definitely think that chemistry specifically in the early crews are important.
Have you I’m curious to get your perspective on this. What do you think separates an A player from a plus? And how what percentage of people are truly a plus?
I don’t know what percentage it is. I would align that question with what I think is an intrapreneur URL. And I think as somebody who is built from zero to one quite a bit, and who likes that process a lot. I think I gravitate a little bit to people who have some of those characteristics. And for me, a good entrepreneurial person is somebody who is a pretty real rounded in their ability to do stuff. And so I think I tend to like people who have more than one specific skill, like somebody who can, you know, like move projects down the field, being you know, with a sense of resourcefulness and that is often a little bit of a specific character. I do think that people will have a little bit of agitation. I interesting, somebody will have something to prove something that kind of keeps you up at night there. They have urgency and agency I think is found very attractive. I do find good storytellers to be important. So somebody who can craft the narrative, whatever they do, it’s a feature or a new financial model. And then also and this is maybe a little bit more to the for elders necessary staff, somebody who have a little bit of gravity, somebody who, who feels that a lot of people kind of like, will, will kind of follow them. And I think that’s important both when you do when you do start saying. Sorry. So I think you know, like that is important, very specifically when you’re looking at our founder, but I think even for early team members, because these are the team members will end up become the leaders, often in the organization. It’s one of the things that we don’t talk enough about is how many, how much we should celebrate the early staff members in, in the companies that become something right, because the founders get a lot of the kind of like the glory. But you have a first, second, third and fourth hire. And they are just incredibly important. And they take a lot of anxiety on their shoulder and a lot of risk too. And I think all of us was kind of like had a little bit of success with what we did. Oh, and a great deal of gratitude to them.
Who are some of the unspoken heroes a bark, like any, any of the employees that have really stood out, and, you know,
there’s many, so like, I think I, I’m gonna use one of those, when I start to mention people, there’s 10, I don’t but like, give me an example of somebody has been with us from the start, like, there’s a woman called Stacy who, who I basically kind of like, learned to come and join us by saying she should read our content. But she also kind of had a need to do the customer service, and so much else. And so she’s still in the organization is still kind of like doing all our content or running the teams to do all that. But she was there like, we were just like a few people sitting around a table. Right? And you don’t hear a lot about that. But, you know, there’s, there’s many people and I, you know, you know, Becky was the first engineer and like, there’s like a lot of people who kind of like, have been part of that, that journey that you don’t often kind of like here at airports as often.
What do you miss most about those early days? Call it like sub 10? People, you know, you’re in some rundown office, what stands out in terms of what you really enjoyed about that time period, and what you missed the most.
I mean, like, for us, it was just a very good time, because we were a lot of people who would like to hang out together. And we, you know, we had early momentum. And so there’s kind of good energy going on. I mean, like, it’s a little bit like getting older, as an individual, I don’t necessarily have some friends who go like, Oh, don’t you just miss being in college. And, I mean, like, I like being a college. But I also really liked my life now. And so I think I’m probably a little bit more of a person who kind of who really chairs the different moments in time for what they were. But I don’t necessarily want to go back and kind of like, do that right now. I also really enjoy where we are now and trying to kind of bring a lot of the the approach that we had back then and keep that in our organization.
And if we could feature anyone on the show, who should we interview on what topic would you like to hear them speak about?
That is a good question. I mentioned the just because they’ve we talked about SSI checks. And so that is kind of like what’s present in my mind. There’s a person called Kyla Freeman who build a product for a gender fluid people. And, and they have really spent a great deal of time figuring out like, how do you build like a new product for an emerging kind of like, peer group. They’re very, very fascinating. So like, I think you’ll enjoy having a conversation with Kylo. There’s also this guy called Max who built this 3d printed rocket company. And I think what I have never really talked too much about him is he used to be in media, he built like a like, like a video platform. Kind of blanking on what the name is, right? It’s a big one that people will know. And he built like Camera meevo Camera, I think was called. And then he completely pivoted and said, You know, I think we should 3d printed rockets to send them into low orbit space. And he did that eight years ago. And so the subject matter I thought would be interesting is like, how do you really go from, you know, how is it that we as entrepreneur, allow ourselves to go from something that is completely, you know, from one side to another, where I think in established businesses, obviously, somebody who worked in media would never get, you know, get a job in a rocket company.
Yeah, it’d be difficult to think of two markets that are more out Boston orange. What’s one thing that you’d like to see change about either the startup or venture ecosystem today?
I mean, like, I think we live in a very kind of like, we live in a time that’s a little bit more kind of uncertain that I think we did 10 years ago, it feels a little bit more kind of like uncertain. And it seems that people are more anxious. And so I think, I think having people be a little bit kinda shoot each other as probably something that I think would be beneficial. I think building companies are incredibly difficult and super emotional, everybody have, like some levels of mental health issue, because like, it’s just uphill all the way. And there’s this kind of I feel very, both very harsh, and also overly celebratory kind of narratives running around. And the reality is that we’re all just trying to make something cool for the world to see. And so I don’t know, maybe just because of my Twitter, Twitter feed off today, but I think a little bit of kindness would be good.
Yeah, Twitter feels like a dark place as Hendrick, what do you know that you need to get better at?
You know, I think I’ve always I created this thing I called the eight plus one framework, which is the ambition of trying to become not just good at one thing, but balance being, you know, good. Be a good dad and be a good friend and be good at my job and be a good investor and be good at understanding what my output is and figuring out better ways to scale that and and be good of, you know, my mind and my body and all that stuff. I think what I always aspire to is to become more efficient of, of balancing all those different things. And so how, yeah, so use experimentation to yield better outputs for my inputs across all those different vectors.
And Henrik, what is the best way for listeners to connect with you?
I am very open. I’ve open door policy on LinkedIn. So for kind of one to one relationship, that’s probably like the best way but I’m on all social media channels. And so I’m sure that I’m very findable.
Awesome, well, Henrik, this was a real pleasure. Best of luck with navigating the current markets. And thanks again for the time.
Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed it. You bet.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai