The App Guy Podcast is the show where we interview entrepreneurs that inspire us. On another episode of The App Guy Podcast, Paul Kemp talks with Seth Gold, the founder & CEO of Entro -someone whose company solves a genuine problem that Paul himself had with his business and network.
The interview begins with the essentials of what Entro is and what problem it solves.
Seth, the founder and CEO of Entro, starts the interview with a backstory of how he came up with the idea of Entro. He used to be in a business development/sales role and had to do a fair bit of cold-calling, which we all know is one the hardest things on the planet. It started with a realization that he could make a pretty good introduction for his friend, Adam. But after the introduction, not only does Adam thank him he sends three introductions back. These three introductions lead Seth directly to the decision makers and give him a more trusted image.
“It was a complete 180.”
After this turning moment he decides that he needs to start getting and giving as MANY introductions as possible in order to create value for his network. A similar scenario happens again where he made a perfect introduction for a friend. The thank yous kept pouring in!
“I just had the dopamine drop.”
He vowed he would no longer be doing cold calls.
The main goal for this entrepreneur was to figure out who the best people were in his network to keep connecting and who to stop connecting. That’s when Entro was born. Entro sits right in your Gmail or Chrome browser.
“We found out that the two biggest pain points people had were the double opt-in introduction, so the time waste of going back and forth,
“Hey Jim, would you like to meet Lia?”
“Hey Lia, would you like to meet Jim?”
and then sending the introduction. It’s a three-step process, asking everyone if they’d like to meet. Someone could be on vacation, someone could just be super-busy, etc., so trying to minimize the back and forth there, and then what happens after you connect two people.”
After you connect two people it should be their responsibility to follow up and let you know what happened, but we all know that doesn’t happen. So now we send an automatic follow-up that says,
“Hey Jim, how was the introduction with Lia?”
“Hey Lia, how was the introduction with Jim?”
and we also send a reminder to let you know to follow up if you want to do it personally.
So we’re basically focused around removing the back and forth with the double opt-in, and helping people understand what happens after they connect their network.
It is at this moment that I realized that I don’t ever hear back from or even track my introductions. Our guest went on to explain the easy to use follow up option where one can be sent automatically or receive a reminder to send a personalized one.
This is when I realized that I had been followed up by Jonathan, who introduced Seth and myself via Entro’s automatic message.
He explained they found that follow ups are important to all entrepreneurs. After someone signs up, they sent them an email asking “what are your biggest frustrations from email introductions?”, and the most common response was not knowing what happened after they sent an introduction, because they wanted to know how to be better at introductions. His recommendation for all entrepreneurs still in the finding a product/market fit phase is asking consumers what their biggest frustrations are. Whatever the problem is you want to solve, it’s a great way to get the most powerful information from the earliest adopters.
What I found inspirational in this start up’s journey was that no matter how big the market players, for example LinkedIn, they still have not been able to tackle the whole process of introductions. Entro has cracked the code for introductions, showing us that we can find small gaps amongst huge companies that are out there dominating the space.
The founder stresses that entrepreneurs should be singularly focused on onething. He talks about how Entro wants to be the best solution in the world for connectors who want to introduce two people.
“If you can find that one thing, devote the time, really care and love it, it’s definitely possible.”
Our interview continued with deconstructing Entro’s success and their process on accumulating feedback, which I learned was not just physically sitting down with people, but a combination of quantitative and qualitative. In fact, the first iteration of the app was actually on LinkedIn, where they used LinkedIn’s API. It was beautiful and simple, pulling up your contacts, including their profile pictures, and simply sending the introduction. It would be sent to their LinkedIn inbox and people seemed to enjoy it. However, one morning Seth received an email stating that LinkedIn would be cutting off their API access to startups…
But that didn’t stop him. He knew that people primarily used email for introducing others. This is when they built the first version in Gmail. He’s a Yesware and Sidekick user and really enjoyed how seamlessly they fit. He knew he wanted Entro to be similar.
During the first version, the team at Entro knew they had to research to see what really bugged people about making introductions. People love complaining about things through blog posts and on Twitter, so, of course, that is where you could find the founder spending his time, listening to consumers. He connected this with the Gary Vaynerchuk approach of “just go to Twitter and listen.” By doing this qualitative feedback, they were able to collect enough data on what frustrated people and what solutions they were looking for. Cue Entro’s entrance…
In terms of quantitative, he’s using Mixpanel and Google Analytics. Mixpanel allowed him to see what was working on Entro and what was not. By knowing these two things he was able to find the core sweet spots of the product. It never gets old to have people emailing to say that the follow up really worked. When your consumers are letting you know of that magic moment and other people are complaining about that problem — that’s what you should be focused on.
My next question was about one of the challenges I face: Getting the short bio of the two people I’m introducing and their social media profiles.
Seth: At the moment we have two different ways of sending entros. One way of sending allows you to do a single, double or no opt-in. When you type someone’s name, we’ll pull it from Gmail, from your contact list, and then show you a photo including their LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. This way when you’re connecting two people, you can have as much context behind who the person is, what they like, etc.
Paul: How important is networking in adding value to your business?
Seth: There are too many quotes on this topic. “Your network is your net worth.”
The biggest thing is if you want to help, if you want people to help you out, you need to be consistently giving value to them, creating value.
You need to think about others, create value, and invoke the power of reciprocity. People want to help, and that’s how we’re talking now, it’s through networking.
In fact, this is demonstrably true. Seth and I were introduced via a mutual connection.
Everyone enters the start up world in a different way. My next question was how he became involved in this world and became a founder of his own company.
“I grew up in a business household — my dad was a CPA and my mom knew a lot about investment. We were always discussing successful businesses and why they were successful. I actually started a start up previously, but it had so many moving parts to it that it took three years to get the tech off the ground. This is where I learned that you don’t want to try for something super big — you want to focus on nailing one product and being the best in the world at that product. People will then give you more ideas and more problems that they want solved.”
There are a lot of problems out there, so just focus at being the best at one thing and take it from there.
Paul: We have a lot of listeners who have quit corporate jobs and gone on to start their own thing. What is your typical day like as an entrepreneur of your own company?
Seth: I wake up between 7 and 8 am, when my mornings usually begin with checking Mixpanel, figuring out how people are using our product. Since our launch on ProductHunt, our inbound has been very big, so right now there are a lot of emails coming in for customer support. My day continues with a meeting with our development team, where we discuss the features we want to implement next. I have been scheduling three to four calls a day. Face-to-face is still the most important thing, so if it’s someone you really want to build a relationship with and really value, it’s definitely worth doing.”
Paul: Do you have your own offices? Are you going for funding soon, or do you feel like that it’s too early?
“We’re bootstrapped, we’re a distributed team. We’re working out of my house, but we have people from all over, including San Francisco, Toronto and India.”
Through past experience, money doesn’t come to you when you go looking for it. Money comes to you when you don’t need it.
We have New York Times bestsellers using the product, local VC celebrities, a number one overall NCA college using the product. We’ve even had an escort service using the product…
It is one of those products with the tendency for viral word-of-mouth. It is definitely a cross multiply type of product, where a person might send five introductions and ten new people will see it. Malcolm Gladwell once said that the connector is someone who helps ideas spread, so we’re seeing a lot of word-of-mouth and pretty good viral growth.