Rob Kischuk, Bellwood Labs
Rob Kischuk started his career designing video games for Facebook in the days of FarmVille. When Rob was laid off, along with 90% of his team, he asked himself, “What now?” Since then, Rob has started four software-based businesses, one of which acquired funding from Mark Cuban at a serendipitous Super Bowl Shark Tank watch party. Throughout his 10 years in the startup world, Rob has learned to take risks: you never get what you don’t ask for.
Episode 44 – Rob Kischuk, Bellwood Labs
[00:00:55] Sanjay Parekh: Rob Kischuk graduated from Georgia Tech in 2000 with a degree in computer engineering. Since then, his career path has been anything but conventional. He’s worked as a software engineer, development manager, VP, and CTO for a number of different companies. But since 2010, Rob has been on the “founder train,” starting businesses, and then starting some more. Today we’ll talk about Rob’s latest venture, Bellwood Labs, which he started in February 2021. Rob, welcome to the show!
[00:01:26] Rob Kischuk: Thank you so much Sanjay. Great to be here.
[00:01:28] Sanjay Parekh: So, I'd love for you to start us off with a little bit about your background and what got you here. Started from Georgia Tech — Go Jackets! — and then what happened after that?
[00:01:39] Rob Kischuk: Yeah, I was at Georgia Tech and like many, I was a co-op. I worked for Delta Airlines, I worked for Chick-fil-A, and then I had a job offer coming out of school to work for Chick-fil-A or to work for a startup called Air2Web. And so, I thought I had already done the corporate world for a while, so I said let me try this startup thing. And so that really set off a different direction. I was in that IT world, and we still do some work in that world now as a consulting firm, but, starting from the jump I just really enjoyed the energy, the fluidity, the ability to build something from nothing in the software world, which is still a lot of what we do. So, I started off slinging code and then building teams to build products and then building entire products. And right before I started the business, I was building games, which was a weird thing to do in the state of Georgia. But Georgia has the entertainment tax credit, which is why all the Avengers films and whatnot film here. But it also applies to video games. So, there was a special moment in time where I got to build a kids’ game, an online multiplayer kids’ game that was investor funded and followed by a Facebook gaming studio where I was the CTO and executive producer. And there was one fine day where they cut 90% of that staff, including the CTO, the CEO, the CMO, the creative director, everybody's gone. And I had, a little something I'd been building on the side that meant that I didn't work for anyone else after that.
[00:03:06] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Did those cuts happen with you, and were you a part of the cuts?
[00:03:12] Rob Kischuk: No, it was a Japanese parent company and so only the CFO knew. And so, the CFO kind of calls everybody up over Memorial Day weekend and says, don't come in on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, any day. It was just the Friday before that long weekend, he says, you don't have a job next week. So, none of us really knew. Maybe the CEO knew, but he didn't tell me.
[00:03:33] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah, that sounds like the opposite of the Happy Days theme song. Monday, Tuesday, don't come in. It's not happy days.
[00:03:39] Rob Kischuk: Not so happy days.
[00:03:42] Sanjay Parekh: Making that transition then to doing your first kind of entrepreneurial thing, what was that like? What drove you to do that instead of taking a job somewhere else?
[00:03:53] Rob Kischuk: Yeah, what had happened in the springtime was, we were building a Facebook game. We were building like Farmville, CityVille, that whole era where you had all these notifications in your feed and your notifications box, everything was blowing up your phone saying, hey, play this game. And so, what I had been messing around with on the side, because we were building a Facebook game called Zombie Match, which was based on some board game IP, which was fascinating. And we were doing all these things in that game and the thing I had questioned in my mind was, what would it look like? This is also when Foursquare was very popular. So, I said what would it look like to take some of these concepts of gamification, of viral engagement loops? What would it look like to build a product around that could be used for promoting products or brands, and not just as a game?
And so, one weekend I'm messing around with the Twitter API back when you could do cool things on the Twitter API without asking permission. And I searched — you know, Foursquare would auto-post your Twitter feed when you got a badge. And everybody, lots of people had this turned on, which is kind of crazy today. Nobody wants to see that on your Twitter, but it was the case, it would post, I just got such and such badge by checking in here. And so, I searched for people on Twitter using their search API to find people who said the word badge, and I got a hundred people, and I hooked up to the API. It was listening. I sent each of the hundred people a tweet and I said, hey, because you said badge, you've just unlocked this special badge from, I think I might have said from Badgy at the time, and I said, if you retweet this, we will give you another badge. And then I went to the gym. And when I came back, 20%, 20 out of the hundred people, 20% had retweeted to get another badge.
And so that was what I was playing around with on the side while I was working on this Zombie Match Facebook game with a really great team. And I was iterating with that on the side. And so, when I suddenly didn't have a job, I had that, that I wanted to pursue. But then I also, actually the CEO of the company I had worked with, the company before that, had some things he needed built. And so, he said, hey, can you build, we built a Facebook game for the TV show Falling Skies, which was this alien show on TNT that was, pretty good for a little bit.
[00:06:09] Sanjay Parekh: It was a great show. I liked it.
[00:06:11] Rob Kischuk: Yeah, we built Missile Command. We built a Missile Command clone for Facebook around that game. And so, I was able to consult while also starting to build the products and iterating on what traction might look like on that.
[00:06:25] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. This is fascinating. This whole thing and the badges that people got, let's be clear that there was nothing to them other than they got this badge. It was no money, there was no prize, there was nothing they were getting other than getting a digital badge?
[00:06:42] Rob Kischuk: No. At first, it was a picture in their Twitter replies, and then we upgraded it so it also lived on a website permanently, so they could go look at it and then they could look at their badge collection. But that's what it was.
[00:06:54] Sanjay Parekh: And that's all it was? Okay. So, was this your first time doing an entrepreneurial venture or had you done things in the past? Have there been entrepreneurs in your family that you've watched and observed over time?
[00:07:09] Rob Kischuk: Yeah. I think my mom in some ways was sort of an accidental entrepreneur. She's had multiple sclerosis about as long as I've been alive which is a degenerative neurological disorder, and she's been able to fight it pretty well. But it's sometimes, really half your body might not work sometimes. Sometimes you can't walk. And so, she wasn't always in a great place to hold down a job. And so, she would pursue things that she could do for people like freelance technical writing. So, she was entrepreneurial in that sense. I don't think she's ever had ambitions to build it into something more. I think you've spoken before; I think my first entrepreneurial venture was reselling candy from the convenience store in middle school which is, I think a common path, I think I've heard you say for entrepreneurs.
But I think some of my inspiration also came through, in 2007, I believe was the first Atlanta Startup weekend. So, I had been in Atlanta startups, but I'd never talked to somebody who was in another startup unless I was interviewing for a job. And the first Atlanta Startup weekend was fascinating because it brought together, I think at least a hundred, maybe more, but a lot of them quit pretty quickly. Because the sales guys didn't think they could sell a widget for blogs, which is what we were building. But I met dozens of people, many of whom I'm still very friendly with to this day. Some of whom I've hired in companies that I've worked on and doing several startup weekends over time, some of those we kept going after the weekend, and I think it created a desire and an ambition and a possibility, but I didn't really try to turn any of those into my business. Until I had this Twitter badge thing, which we also did have a pilot client that we had worked with by the time I was cut from the company. So, we actually had some revenue behind it that helped make us believe it was possible.
[00:08:54] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. So that, that pilot client, how did you find them or how did they find you?
[00:08:59] Rob Kischuk: Yeah, it was the intersection of what I was working on and sharing it with my network. So, I shared it with a bunch of people. A lot of people thought it was weird or didn't care. They also didn't use Foursquare. But one of them was in a global marketing agency and had been working with Quilted Northern Toilet Paper, and they were looking for something to do on Twitter. And so we actually ran this campaign around bathroom taboos on Twitter using this platform that I had built, telling people who basically mentioned a certain hashtag around bathroom taboos, that we would give them a badge, but also in this case, they got a chance to win a year’s supply of toilet paper for free. So, there was some incentive. They could retweet for another chance to win to still amplify the virality of the campaign, but that was part of the substance of what made me say let's keep working on this because somebody paid us for it. So how do we evolve it?
[00:09:50] Sanjay Parekh: Man, if you'd run that campaign in 2019 when you couldn't find toilet paper anywhere, I think it would've broken the internet.
[00:09:58] Rob Kischuk: We should have brought it back.
[00:10:00] Sanjay Parekh: It's all about, like so many things in entrepreneurial ventures, it's all about timing. And that timing you were just maybe a little bit too, or maybe Northern Quilted was a little bit too early for the apocalypse that happened in 2019.
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[00:10:39] Sanjay Parekh: So, let's talk about, one of the things. You basically jumped in from working full-time into starting this first full-time venture. And I know it's iterated since then. But a lot of people that are in that same situation, they won't make that jump because they're scared of things or they're fearful of what might happen, or they're fearful that they don't know enough to be able to do this. What scared you in starting that very first business, and how did you overcome that fear?
[00:11:08] Rob Kischuk: Yeah, I think it did create a very special found opportunity in my career, because I had always very intentionally moved from one job to the next to the next. So, I had never really had this. Nobody ever fired me, nobody ever laid me off. It took a Japanese parent company laying off 80, 90% of a gaming studio for me to say, oh, I don't know what I'm doing right now. I would say I had actually spent at least the 10 years prior in that fearful mode, right? Waiting for permission to start a company, waiting for the opportunity. In some ways, waiting for the blessing of some investor to say, oh, what you are working on is so amazing that I will give you some money to — and it's not ‘give’ — but I will invest some money to see that vision continue. So, I think I felt like I had to work my way up. And at that point where I had been the CTO of one company, I'd been executive producer as well on these games. Combined with the forced opportunity of that moment, I think that's where I felt like I needed to at least take a chance.
And I really, at that point, the fear of not knowing the next time I would have a chance took over. I accidentally happened into enough consulting revenue to feed my family. And at that time, I think we just had, yeah, we just had our one, our first child, our oldest daughter. And it was enough to sustain and to pursue, and I was more afraid of getting a job and I wouldn't be able to get back out again.
[00:12:39] Sanjay Parekh: Right. Okay. So, you situationally overcame the fear then. What about now? What is it that you fear, you've been doing this now for a few years. You've pivoted, you're not doing digital badges for toilet paper anymore. You've pivoted away from that. What do you fear now?
[00:13:03] Rob Kischuk: There's always fear of the things you don't know. The uncertainty. We're in a consulting context, so a lot of our deals are still relatively chunky and granular. What we're not is a SaaS company where we have tens of thousands of people paying us two or three digits or four digits a month. We are selling consulting services. We're selling work a person at a time and a month at a time, and if it goes away… We hire software developers, so they're expensive people, and we don't typically have just extra months of work lying around. So, there's certainly, there's a pressure to build the pipeline of opportunity and to grow. So, I certainly fear that, but I might also just fear having to take a job again. And so that's a good motivation behind all of it, is, it's really hard for me to see myself jumping back, especially into a full-time enterprise opportunity. But a lot of different situations.
I've certainly realized, and it took a long time to realize this, that the opportunity of creating what I want to see in the world, I can pursue that, and I can learn a lot of lessons of doing really dumb things along the way. But if I don't make the same mistake again and again and again, we can keep getting better and we can build something that other people also enjoy working on. I think that's part of my motivation is, I went through a variety of different software jobs, and I come from a software development background. I know what a job looks like that a software developer loves and that they don't love. And so, the more I can create… My first manager out of school actually taught me a lot of what it looked like to protect an engineering team from the things that would freak them out. And that would make them want to leave and that would make them, just feel unsafe. And unproductive, for that matter. A lot of what we do now is, how do I think about creating an opportunity where software developers can do their best in a way that creates something from nothing. It just turns out I don't have to build the sales team and the marketing team to sell the SaaS product. We can build it and then allow that company, for somebody who has that understanding, to thrive on their go-to-market. I think I've learned I'm not your go-to-market guy for a SaaS product.
[00:15:21] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. And it's good to know what you aren't, as well as what you are. Because that really helps get you in the right place to succeed. So, I do want to ask you a question here, because I think this is the opposite of fear of what you did. And we hadn't talked about this before, but I'd love for you to share the Super Bowl story and what ended up happening there. I don't want to pre-forecast what the story is about. But I'd love for you to tell this story.
[00:15:52] Rob Kischuk: Yeah. I think I had learned over time sort of this escalating opportunity of not asking permission. And you don't ask permission when you sell candy in middle school because they'll tell you no. And so, you do find these opportunities and you learn, and when I was in high school, I would walk around the high school like I owned the place without a hall pass because you build trust and people know. So, I did learn some lessons in that over time that led up to the Super Bowl.
Right before the Super Bowl, this was probably then, let's say 10 months maybe after the big old job cuts at the game studio. And so, I had been in a startup accelerator, and I had kind of learned a little bit how to pitch what we were doing, a little bit how to validate it with the market. We had just had our demo day. So, my point is, maybe as good as my pitch ever was on that business, I had just come from that at our demo day. Concurrent with that, my wife, because she knows I was born in Indiana, and she knows I like football. She decided to send me to the Super Bowl that year and I said with who? She said, no, just you. It's expensive. So, I rented an Airbnb in Indianapolis which was pretty early for Airbnb’s, which was cool. It was actually walking distance from the Super Bowl. A couple miles, but still, you try and park in a city in the Super Bowl and that's good enough. And so, I'm just enjoying the festivities around it, but I'm never really content in that sort of environment. I don't, I can't chill. I have to chase what's going on there. So, I've got my Super Bowl pitch, my startup accelerator pitch and someone tells me, hey, there's a pitch competition for startups. And everybody was, the pitch slots were taken, so I couldn't pitch in it, but I just show up. That's not what most people do when they go to the Super Bowl, but it's what I did two days before the Super Bowl and turns out Scott Case, the founding CTO of Priceline, was on this big national tour helping startups everywhere show up what they're doing, met some other folks. Somebody says, hey, we're having a Shark Tank watching party tonight. It's Friday. And we invited Mark Cuban. Do you want to go? And I had actually seen on the plane, I was like looking on Twitter. I might have had a badge to monitor, I don't recall. And I had seen that Mark was at Indiana University, so in shooting distance from Indie. So, I figured it was plausible. He might show up.
So, I said sure. And I showed up that night and sure enough, Mark shows up. He comes strutting down the hall of the Westin in Indie with Scott Case. And we watch Shark Tank on these TVs. And Shula's there. And he doesn't want to talk to people when Shark Tank's on, because at that point, he's never seen the cut of the episode before it airs.
So, he really wants to see how he's being perceived. People are like, can I get a picture with you? He's like no, shut up, I'm watching my show and seeing what my public image is. But when the show was done, the two companies, Scott took the two companies that had won the competition and put them in front of Mark. And so, I'm standing there, I'm listening, I'm just watching and at the time there's was that famous Guy Kawasaki 10, 20, 30 PowerPoint deck thing. There's a lot of angel investors I felt like, especially in the local angel community, have been trained on. These are the 10 questions you ask. And if you met up with them, they would ask you those 10 questions in that order, even if you had already answered them. And so, I could just see Mark. Mark was connecting the dots. Mark, if you implicitly answered one thing, he was skipping over that and going to the other proof points in the conversation.
So, I watched how those two conversations proceeded, and then he was sitting by himself. Nobody was talking to Mark Cuban in a bar with a hundred people. And everybody knows he's there and they're there to watch Shark Tank. So, at that point I just say, Mark, can I get your feedback on my business? And he says, sure. And so, I, spend kind of five minutes riffing through Q&A back and forth and he says, well, I'd like to stay in touch. Here's my email. And so, then the next night actually, I found out at the time, I don't know if he does anymore, because I think he doesn't own the TV station anymore. He used to own Access TV. I don't think he does. I think he divested it. But the night before the Super Bowl, they used to throw a big party, every year in conjunction with Direct TV. So, they had Katie Perry singing. I knew where it was. I didn't have access, but I managed to tailgate a group of people into that event after Katie was done singing and ran into him there as well.
And the amazing part to me was, I didn't reintroduce myself to him. He saw me and he said, Rob, I'm really interested in what you're doing. Be sure you follow up with me. And so, I send him an email the following week. Lots of back and forth, almost blew up the deal just by being stupid and not really thinking. He's a very concise person in his emails, he'll really ask one question or answer one question per email, and I was sending him essays and quizzes. And the guy who ran the startup accelerator, I went to him, and I said, look, I think, I don't know what to do here. He said, I think you screwed this up, but if you're going to get it back on, here’s what to do. And he said, just ask one question at a time and one answer at a time. And we got it back on track. And so around July of that year, we were able to close a seed funding round led by Mark.
[00:21:01] Sanjay Parekh: There you go. If you don't ask, you don't get, and sometimes you just got to take the opportunity that's there in front of you.
[00:21:10] Rob Kischuk: And not very much to lose, because unless you're an entire jerk or tremendously bad, he's not going to remember. I'm sure he's heard so many bad pitches. What was the worst pitch he's ever heard from a reasonable person who was trying? I don't think he cares. I think he cares about the jerks, or the objectively terrible. Taking your best shot doesn't hurt.
[00:21:31] Sanjay Parekh: Just be better than the absolute worst. And if he doesn't invest, then he is not probably going to remember you. And it's fine. Okay. I love that story. I love what it epitomizes about the entrepreneurial journey too, in that sometimes you just got to take a chance and go do things. But along with that, it's really stressful doing these things and you, I know, have had a lot of stress over the years in starting these things and managing the demands of it. How do you balance that with your family life? You were talking about having your first child and now you have more, and that's a lot to deal with.
[00:22:10] Rob Kischuk: Yeah. Something I learned over time, and it took us a while to actually run a healthy business. And once I learned to run a healthy business, I think having a decent profit margin, having decent cash reserves. Those things really do help because it creates, maybe it's good that it creates fear when you're spending a funding round and trying to raise the next one. But it's easier to be balanced when you don't have that sort of existential fear for your family. But one of the things that I've kept a pretty good balance on when I was working for other people that I was able to keep, is just, unless I am directly participating in some event for the evening. If there's some meetup, if there is some conference, then I might not be home for dinner, and I'll communicate that ahead of time. We have, every Sunday of every week, what's the schedule look like this week? When are we home, when are we not? And if it, obviously I don't announce that I'm going on a trip for the week on Sunday night. We talk about that earlier. It's proportional. But for an average local meetup, we'll talk about those things the week before. We share calendars, longer trips, we talk about further months in advance. So those things help, but when there's not something going on in the evening, I keep a very, very steady family dinner time. And it helps set a boundary in the day where, you know, now that we have three kids and our kids are 13, 11, and 8 now. I'm home for dinner and I don't go to work again until everybody's in bed. Yeah, barring something very, very unusual. So, there's a time in the day that's just held, it's there. I don't dive back in and write out some emails or try and finish out a presentation that didn't get done during the day. That part of the day, at least, is held sacred and weekends are pretty similar. I don't plan, I don't plan work blocks in the middle of the weekends.
What also helps, I learned this actually when my kids started getting a little bit older. I used to stay up really late and work. And then I learned that my children were not going to allow me to sleep all the time. So, I learned that if I went to bed early, I could still wake up relatively early or very early, depending on whether or not they let me sleep. So really, I would say about five years ago, I established a very new habit, which is most days I'll wake up at 5:30 in the morning and I learn, then I get two or three solid hours of focus time, so that when they get up, I can engage and I'm not trying to put myself out of whack and be exhausted the next day ‘cause I stayed up too late working on something and then somebody was sick, somebody was sad, somebody was scared of thunder. That's me. But not really. But I just learned how to not disrupt my routine and how to, you can get grumpy when you're like, I need the sleep. But when you know you don't need the sleep and you have a little bit of extra margin, that's a place I had to learn to build margin in.
[00:25:09] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. In terms of dinnertime, is it dinnertime is always at the same time every day, or is it just the fact that dinnertime is sacred and whenever it happens, nothing else is going on.
[00:25:22] Rob Kischuk: Dinnertime is pretty much 6:30, set a clock by it. So it's later than a lot of people, but we're used to it, and that's the time. And if I'm going to be at 6:40, I'm dropping a text or a phone call and it's rare. I plan a lot of my day around being home at that time, unless I've predetermined I'm not, like something like the Venture Atlanta venture conference. That week I say, pretend I'm traveling this week, but the rest of the time.
[00:25:48] Sanjay Parekh: Or a big accident on Atlanta's highways, which is known to happen very frequently. Some things like that you can't control. Thinking now about the journey that you've been on all of this time and what you're working on now, if you could go back in time. and do something differently, what would you do differently, if anything?
[00:26:12] Rob Kischuk: Yeah, I would certainly, I would want to tell myself to, number one, stop waiting for permission. Because I spent a lot of years waiting for permission to start a company and then I spent several more years. I guess the other thing I would say is stop pretending to be who they want you to be. And it's funny because I don't even know, I don't think ‘they’ are a real person. I think there is an expectation that you decide there is some group of people that they want you to be, and you have to fit into that mold. So, I spent a lot of time, certainly. We took our product company, our SaaS side, through three different iterations. We had three different products that were evolutions of one another but targeted at a different ideal customer. But after the first two years, we ran out of the investor money. So, we were always consulting, but we were always pretending under the surface. And I still wanted to be that great SaaS entrepreneur. I still wanted to figure out, here's my SDRs and my other acronyms about selling things. All of that and what I didn't really realize until the past couple of years was, say, what I had been good at all along the way, which is building teams to build great software products. And if I can align a business around that true strength, and I don't have to pretend to be a SaaS entrepreneur, I don't have to care what people think about my next round. It's a little bit weird being a consulting firm with a cap table, but I'm content with it and really some of that, I think the other thing, and I had a conversation with someone else recently on the same topic, is, there's a point, depending on what you've raised in from investors and how you've invested it, where you still have optionality and there was a point that I wanted to pursue, that would've been a point of no return. It would've been if you raise that A round, you raise that venture money, it gets really hard unless you're, I think creative and cash rich. Like Buffer managed their way out of this. But that was a very creative firm, cash rich and they still had a founder breakup over it and one of the founders exited the business, because I think maybe they still wanted to build a venture scale business. So, there's a point where it's really hard to get off the bus that I don't think I realized at the time, and I accidentally got off the rails before that happened.
[00:28:28] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah, yeah. Interesting. Okay. So, two last questions for you. One, what would you tell somebody that is thinking of taking that leap to turning their side hustle, either starting their side hustle or taking their side hustle into a full-time business?
[00:28:48] Rob Kischuk: I don't think there's any reason to delay on the side hustle. Most jobs I've been in, I've worked a lot and I've still had time for extra things before I had kids. I'll have that caveat. I think there's a little season with young children where that is your side hustle and maybe you just need to realize that's the side hustle and keeping the day job, is it. But there's people who work their way through that too. And there were certainly times where, I would literally, before kids I would work straight through from seven or eight until midnight or 2:00 AM on what I wanted to work on.
I think the biggest thing I would say from taking it and converting it into a full-time business, is, figure out how you're going to pay yourself. You don't have to match. It took six years to match whatever benefits I had in my full-time job. So, you're not going to match everything. But I think it's helpful to be content, like know whatever mode you're going to be in and know that you can live there for a while and be content in it. And you don't need to, you should be pursuing whatever vision and grandeur you want, but know you're going to hit some obstacles along the way. And so, it has to be sustainable. And I think it has to be sustainable from a personal effort perspective, which is what I've sought to do in every company I've been in, even full-time in a startup. I just don't believe you tell everybody it's crunch time and you crunch time, and you crunch time. That has to be sustainable. So does your side hustle to your full-time business, but it also has to be financially sustainable. I think maybe that's what I'm trying to say. Rather than talking about what do you need, like how do you make it financially sustainable so you're not making a bet with a clock on it that when it runs out, you have to surrender and surrender back into, if you want to keep doing your small business or your growing business, you're not going back into the corporate job that's going to be hard to eject from. Those paychecks can be addictive. I see it a lot.
[00:30:42] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Yes, absolutely. And I think implicit in your answer too is that you did this for six years before matching what you had before, so you weren't doing it for the money. You were doing it for the satisfaction. Like that was an equal component that maybe made up for the fact that you weren't making the same amount in terms of cash, comp and benefits before. Is that true?
[00:31:07] Rob Kischuk: Yeah, and I think I certainly had to enjoy the journey, right? If I were someone who was extremely discouraged by every little failure, every little thing I was wrong about. I really enjoyed learning what could be more right each day on that journey. We kind of incubated a consulting firm and we even tried to take it back one time. So, we did some services that we licensed into IP that we put back into the market as a SaaS product. But then I was still incubating two full-time developers under that as a consulting firm. So, we actually were kind of iterating on both models at the same time. But it all came from curiosity of what is it that the market wants that we can provide well and be different.
[00:31:50] Sanjay Parekh: Last question for you. Your firm, you help people that have ideas, and they need software developers to develop this. What is the biggest mistake that people make before engaging firmly or even going about and trying to build something? What is the biggest mistake that you see done, time and time again?
[00:32:13] Rob Kischuk: I think the biggest mistake is building a product in an ivory tower. There's a lot of talk around lean startup, around agile. A lot of that is rooted in not really having a pulse on a market need. And so, I say that with conviction because that's what we did. I was coming from gaming. I was coming from an online predictive chat startup that sold out to Live Person, which is a public company. I didn't really know marketing tech, and part of my challenge was as a developer, I'd never been exposed to any industry enough to really understand their problems. So, I took what we were doing in gaming, and I posited a hypothetical about what the marketing community needed, and I really didn't know. So, what I see from our clients and the ones who succeed the best, a lot of them are actually coming from a business domain where they know a lot. So, whether it's a client who's an attorney who knows a lot about the legalities of gambling in different places, knows how to build a gambling platform that's differentiated, from that knowledge. Or it's somebody who's in the court reporting world. and they know so much about the software that's out there, they can actually build a product from conviction. So, you can learn by iterating, bonking your head into the wall, customer discovery. But I think coming from an industry where you have a depth of conviction about what the market needs, puts you that much closer to the truth of what the market needs. Because you know the competitors, you know the gaps. I see that work out a lot better.
[00:33:39] Sanjay Parekh: I like it. I like it. Okay Rob, where can our listeners find and connect with you online?
[00:33:45] Rob Kischuk: I'm still hanging on at Twitter. Some of us still are. You can find me @rkischuk on Twitter. I'm probably more on LinkedIn because on LinkedIn we can just talk about things that keep us all a little calmer. And so those are probably the two best places to find me. I'm on Instagram. I don't post that much. But LinkedIn and secondarily Twitter, I think are probably best. And then at our website, Bellwood.io. So that's the firm.
[00:34:14] Sanjay Parekh: Bellwood.io. There you go. Okay, Rob, thanks for coming on today.
[00:34:18] Rob Kischuk: Thanks, Sanjay. Appreciate it.