The growth of the idea and understanding behind a startup can be a difficult task. Living and working the life of an entrepreneur in the startup world is really learning from mistakes, both your own and the mistakes others. So what’s the secret to establishing a successful startup learning from mistakes? And how do know what realistic goals to set for improvement and growth when launching your startup?
On today’s episode, we chat with Jeff Ready, a serial entrepreneur with years of experience as a leader and executive who has started and lead numerous companies, raising millions in venture capital for his own ventures as well as for others. Jeff is the Founder, and CEO of Scale Computing, an Indianapolis based company that is the industry-leading application platform for EDGE computing environments that covers anything from global retail and manufacturing to financial services and government.
In this episode, you’ll get to hear Jeff share his entrepreneurial journey from just a young kid to becoming the founder and CEO of Scale Computing. Along with Jeff’s thoughts on how to build a successful startup, and whether or not an entrepreneurial lifestyle is a right choice for you! Tune in for more!
In this episode with Jeff Ready, you’ll learn:
- How to build your company’s values
- What you should know before working in a startup
- What is the entrepreneurial lifestyle
- Jeff’s entrepreneurial journey
Please enjoy this conversation with Jeff Ready!
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If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.
Jeff Ready quotes from this episode of Igniting Startups:
“So, you know, one of my go-to things is to make sure that I’ve got lots of ideas, hundreds of ideas because it’s easy to become infatuated with just one idea.”— @JReady on @PowderkegHQ
“One of the biggest mistakes I think people make is that they do two things at once. One, they fall in love with their idea. And two, they’re so convinced it’s awesome. That they don’t want to tell anyone else about it.”— @JReady on @PowderkegHQ
My advice is… to tell everyone about the idea, even if they don’t want to hear it, tell everyone.” — @JReady on @PowderkegHQ
“You need to recognize that being an entrepreneur, a startup entrepreneur is a lifestyle choice. Not a career path.”— @JReady on @PowderkegHQ
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For me, it’s how to determine whether or not an entrepreneurial lifestyle is a right choice for you.
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Jeff Ready 00:00
They do two things at once. One they fall in love with their idea. And two, they’re so convinced it’s awesome. They don’t want to tell anyone else about it. Right? They’re looking to steal my my fabulous idea. Right? Right. I my advice is, is tell everyone about the idea
Matt Hunckler 00:25
Hey there paddock fans. This is episode 107 of powderkeg igniting startups the show for entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators building remarkable tech companies in areas decidedly outside of Silicon Valley. I’m your host, Matt Hunckler. And today, we will be talking with Jeff Reedy, the founder and CEO of scale computing, which is an Indianapolis based company, that is the industry leading application platform for edge computing. We’ll talk a little bit about what that is edge computing environments that covers anything from global retail, to manufacturing to financial services and government. Really cool company based right here in Indianapolis, Indiana. We are in scale headquarters right now. And Jeff is a serial entrepreneur with years of experience as a leader and executive who has started and led numerous companies. I hope we get to talk about some of your past companies as well today, raising millions in venture capital for his own ventures as well as for others, and has helped guide amazing companies from just an idea all the way through exit. Jeff, good to have you here, man.
Jeff Ready 01:23
Matt Hunckler 01:24
Thanks for agreeing to do this. Yeah, no problem. We’re grabbing beers a couple months ago at this point, probably. And I think I got your beer to the point where you said, Okay, I’ll do it.
Jeff Ready 01:35
Yeah. Well, I don’t take much I love talking about ownership. And I love beer. So as we go,
Matt Hunckler 01:40
we should have scheduled this for later in the afternoon. We could have made it made it part two. Well, I wanted to, I definitely want to talk about what’s going on a scale because I know it’s super exciting times with everything that’s going on winning awards left and right. Mostly for stuff that I don’t understand at all because it has to do edge computing. But I want to take it back first, because you’ve got a really interesting backstory. And I’m just curious, what were you like, as a child? What were you into? We always working on computers and technology?
Jeff Ready 02:11
Yeah, more or less, I would say,
Matt Hunckler 02:13
like earliest memory.
Jeff Ready 02:15
Yeah, well, I mean, I got my I got my first computer was an Atari 800 that I got for Christmas when I was in third grade. So that for me would have been December of 1982. That’s awesome. When I when I got that computer
Matt Hunckler 02:38
see when I think of Atari I think of like joystick. Yeah.
Jeff Ready 02:42
And so they obviously had that right. And then they had they had two computers one called the Atari 400, the Atari 800. They were effectively the same. But the the Atari 400 didn’t have a real keyboard it was kind of a flat mat with the little bubble. I don’t know imagine like a vinyl thing with like slight little bubbles that you couldn’t really type very well on day 100 At a real keyboard that was the big difference. So you could put cartridges in it just like you would if you had an old Atari 26 Oh really? Yeah, but it was a full with 48k of RAM system and sometimes if you try to boot you know something off of the tape drive or the floppy drive it would pop up with this error that said Please remove the cartridge if you had one in there because this this program requires all 48k of RAM so the cartridge took aid or something anyway but people today don’t appreciate ya know and I and so I you know I fell in love with the thing kind of right out the gate. And you know my dad so my dad was in what we would now call it was called Information Systems then and so you know it was his doing I’m sure that it led to that and I remember he had but it wasn’t forced upon you. It was not forced and I wanted one in fact I remember I had asked I think for a computer I don’t remember but I know I did not ask for an Atari but somehow dad had the line on people where you could pirate software from and stuff with it. So as we did by I remember he among the stuff was a photocopied book on how to program in basic that he had done yeah, I guess they had these things that is office right. So it’s on this you know, these weird spiral bound things they’d run through the company printer I’m sure enough printer for Xerox machine, right. Yeah, I’m sure and so I remember like starting to teach myself how to code out of that photocopied book right and then I’m back then, you know, there were magazines, the library I check out magazines, the library and like enter in right program. answering that and, you know, the other thing you could do, then which you really can’t do now is a lot of times you’d be running a piece of software. And if you hit the, you know, effect, you know, control break, like you would be in the code, like, you could then like, print the code. The code, right, I would sometimes go in there and like edit the game. So it would say, like, written by Jeffrey Ed, it was all BS, but yeah, so So I did that. And then
Matt Hunckler 05:24
what what was it about that that really caught your attention? I mean, were you. Alright, you know, it seemed like something that would come naturally to me being not sort of, of that engineering mindset.
Jeff Ready 05:37
Yeah, no, I Well, I mean, as a couple of things. I mean, I, you know, I love the games, right? I mean, it’s I big video, I’m still a big video game. Yeah. And, you know, I always joke when I get on now, and I’m playing Call of Duty or whatever, right? And with, you know, typically, people much younger than me, right? And sometimes I’ll get the question like, you know, how you sound older? How old are you? And my standard answer is, I’m as old as you can be to have always been playing video games, right. So there was never really a time when I didn’t have some kind of video game around. My parents had a Pong. Yeah. So
Matt Hunckler 06:13
you’ve always had some presents? So if you’re playing online, yeah, we’re playing with kids. Yeah.
Jeff Ready 06:19
And so. So like, the games, and you know, a lot of the like, compute magazine and stuff when you were coding was to, like, make games. I mean, they little games that you could like, write and yeah, you know, and at that point, right, I mean, the difference between the game that you would write just out of the back of the magazine and what you actually were buying, they weren’t that different, right. I mean, you were basically able to create, you know, quote, unquote, commercial quality games, right? And
Matt Hunckler 06:47
for what commercial was putting out at the time. Right, right. You didn’t have teams of hundreds of people working on one game?
Jeff Ready 06:53
Yeah. And then, you know, I think the engineering mindset, I suppose, right? I mean, I was always, I was always trying to figure out a way to use the computer for something else, right. So I like I remember, you know, I don’t know, there was some, you know, I don’t need to make classes do this anymore. But the class got in trouble, like in school, and we all like homework assignment was, we all had to write every number from like, one to 1001 to 10. I don’t know, some, there was something I had to write all these numbers out, like as punishment for whatever, the class misbehave, and something like, Oh, I’ll use the computer. So I just like wrote a little program to print. I mean, it’s the simplest program ever, right? But the printout, you know, and I just printed out like one through a million and, like, brought them in and out of the teacher, teacher, like, that’s fine, right? You know, that that worked, right. And, you know, I was, you know, such a geek, right, I was the first kid to ever turn in like a, you know, fifth grade paper that was on a dot matrix printer, because I had, like, written it on the computer, right. And again, my handwriting was horrible. So I was solving a problem. And so you know, all that kind of stuff. And then you know, about the time so, you know, around that same time, is when this world is we called BBs is right. So as a precursor to the internet, where you could like use a modem and have your computer connect to somebody else’s computer. And, you know, you could sort of do email wasn’t I don’t even know, if we, I think we just called it messages then. But, you know, if you had a computer, I could remotely log into your computer and leave you a message, and then you would get it right one to one, almost, and if but if I knew, you know, my other friend was gonna also get on your computer, I could leave a message for him, so long as he eventually got on your system. And that’s where it was, it was like a bullet. That’s why I was called a bullet. Boy, yeah. And so, you know, I got into those. And my dad and I had much later when I was probably sixth, seventh eighth grade, like, we actually ran a bulletin board and, and all that kind of stuff. And, you know, but again, again, I mean, rolling back a bit younger than that, I was always into it, I mean, my dad. So again, like an IT guy would have to go in on the weekends, because stuff would be broken, because that’s what happens in it. And, you know, this was, this was mainframes with punch cards and stuff. But I would sit there as you know, when I was six, or seven, and just play with the punch card machine, right, trying to make shapes out of the punch cards has never worked, but I was like, Oh, I wonder if I can make a diamond on the punch card or whatever. And, you know, so I just, I’ve always been around them. Right? And, you know, and I just, I just took to him the whole time. Right?
Matt Hunckler 09:26
Did you ever run into some barriers or obstacles? Or big challenges where you were really feeling frustrated with it? Or did it was it always just natural, easy, kind of smooth sailing?
Jeff Ready 09:38
I mean, I think the, you know, for at least the level of programming I was doing, right? I didn’t find it terribly difficult. What, what was difficult or for what was frustrating? It shouldn’t be difficult. What was frustrating was at the time, right? There was no, there was no way for me to get any kind of actual education in this stuff. Right. And I remember when my When my grade school I first got Apple, two computers. And, you know, that would have been when I was say in fifth grade, I don’t remember exactly. But I’d already I’d already knew how to I already knew basic programming, right? And so, you know, so they had a class Oh, come learn to program and I go into your class and this was all stuff like that was way behind me right and so, you know, I ended up helping the class and then when I was in like sixth grade they actually had me co teach the eighth grade programming class, right. It was just like it was, which was great. I mean, I got a lot of experience from doing that. But I wasn’t there was nobody to teach me right. The programming stuff.
Matt Hunckler 10:35
Yeah, the hunger for more, but there was no internet was not
Jeff Ready 10:39
no, no internet. Yeah, you know, and you could get a little bit off the BBS is and most it was the library, right. I also like I like hanging out the library. Where’d you grow up? Griffith, Indiana. Okay, so it’s up just outside of Gary. Nice. Yeah. And, yeah, I’d read books on the stuff and whatever. Anyway, I probably like many engineers, and geeks, like I wasn’t about to sit down and just, like read the programming book, like, I’m gonna, like, jump to the end and like, see if I can, like start sucking code out of it. And whatever I do, I kind of thing. And then, you know, my dad and I later, like, when I was in fourth grade, or so we started building computers for, you know, neighbors. You know, if I were in college, I’d have been like the mike perfect Michael Dell age, right? Like PCs in college, but I was younger. Right. So.
Matt Hunckler 11:26
So when did the monetary piece come into it? Well, you know,
Jeff Ready 11:29
I think so that’s a slightly different story. But when I was 11 or so 10 or 11. I, you know, the fortunate I don’t know Life is funny, right? When you look back and you think a little things that actually didn’t make a big difference. I had a neighbor. Our immediate next door neighbor asked if I was interested in mowing his lawn, right? Because I mowed our lawn? And I said, Sure. And I think he asked because they actually turned out and again, again, random circumstances right. But our our front yard and his front yard were actually adjacent the grass. It was like there was just grass between two driveways. Right? Yeah. And so you know, my mom would say well, Mr. Marin is older, like at least just cut his front yard who’s gonna take me an extra three minutes. And he’s we’re small, like suburban, you know, lots, right. So Right. So yeah, so I would just mow driveway, the driveway and and eventually, he’s like, Hey, you want to mow the backyard, too, and I’ll pay you and I did that. And I thought, well, that was fun. Like, that wasn’t really that hard. And he paid me and then, you know, pretty soon two other neighbors across the street, were interested in having me mow their lawn. And so I had a little thing going, and then, you know, I’m like, Well, you know, I can really start making some money. So I remember I like, you know, I made on my computer, of course, like I made little flyers, right, that said, Hey, this is what I would charge to mow your lawn. And I would, you know, printed out a little form and I would check the box, you know, with a manually right and drop it in the mailbox. Yeah. And, like I quote, basically, yeah, like a quote, right. I mean, this was marketing. Yeah. So, you know, I, lo and behold, I’d get some people would call right. And they would do and they were always the people who would like let their lawn go for like, two months, way high pain, but still, I would get it and then, you know, this continued, I kept doing it do and do it. And then by the time I was in high school, you know, I had 50, some lawns and three apartment complexes, and I had my friends. You know, they were making at the time $3.15 I think was minimum wage at the time. So they’re getting mad at McDonald’s. And I’m like, well, I’ll pay you five bucks to mow the lawn started building a team. Yeah, build a team and then I wasn’t mowing lawns anymore. Like they would mow the lawn? I would while they were cutting them along. I would just go to knock door to door. Yeah. Because if I could get another lawn that was right there. Right. It’s you know, super easy, right? So like that sales part of it. I did I think I mean, I you know, it’s always Intuit still intimidating. Right? The cold calling is still intimidating, but the, the exciting part of like getting the deal, right? Somebody says yes. And then it’s like, it all works. And you know, I love it. I still have I talked to customers all the time at scale. And I’m and I love talking to customers, right? And, you know, making them happy. And every, you know, it’s a win win for everybody. It should be right in the end. And so, you know, so those, those two things were happening. Right. So I was, you know, I very early caught kind of the entrepreneurial bug. Right. And I had the tech bug, right. And then perfect combination. Yeah. And then just, you know, the timing of all that is I when I went to college, I actually started a couple of companies with buddies while I was in college just for beer money effectively in Terre Haute, Indiana, and beautiful Terre Haute, Indiana. That’s right. So rose
Matt Hunckler 14:47
Hulman is a pretty pretty incredible engineering school. Were you able to actually find some education at that point? That was Yeah,
Jeff Ready 14:55
I was I found myself weighing over my head actually. So it was funny. I you know, I all through high school and everything I was, you know, we had by that point, they were starting to be like, you know, academic competitions and they were programming and it was still very, it was still very easy to me. And you know, I was always on our team. And, you know, we won all the time, like almost a few that still burned me that we didn’t win. But almost every competition I was in, we won. And so when I went to college at Rose, I thought it was be easy. Yeah, it’s gonna be more of the same. Right, right. And not so much. I. It’s funny, I very quickly learned, like, you know, I went from being like, the best programmer in the room to like, I’m not even on the same plane. Now, you know, maybe some of these guys had the quote, unquote, unfair advantage, because they were learning things along the way where I wasn’t necessarily, but be that as it may mean, they were great. And I was playing a lot of catch up.
Matt Hunckler 15:55
How did you handle that?
Jeff Ready 15:59
Poorly at first, it was I was just not I mean, I mean, it’s not uncommon, right? If freshmen in it, especially at a, you know, it’s a very high end. Tough academic school, right? It’s known to be like, tough on academics, and it’s all technical. And so there’s a lot of kids there that sort of had it easy in high school, right? And then find themselves like, Oh, this is way harder. Right? And, but then what you find out, it’s a bell curve, right? So of the group that ends up there, there are still people there that seem to find it all incredibly easy, like, oh, differential equations to no problem. I gotta be kidding me. Right. Like, I don’t even know what we’re talking about. And so, you know, so I get that, but what I have happening, right, it’s funny, like, over the course of my time at, at Rose, I found myself being in the best position, if, you know, a group would get formed for a project, and, you know, volunteering to be the leader of the group, right? Because then I because I had, I could do things, again, going back to my knocking on doors. When I was 11. I was willing to talk to the professor and keep up. I remember my senior project group, like, I didn’t write any code, zero code in that project was for me, my job was to keep the professor from bugging the other bug in the programmers. Right? Yeah. And, you know, so and, you know, fast forward today, and I gotta keep the board of directors away from the engineers. Same kind of thing. But, you know, doing that, and, you know, that was a real project for a customer effectively. And I talked to the customer, I talked with Professor, I try and make the whole, you know, organize the meeting and all this kind of stuff. I remember I had a professor and he retired a year or two ago, Dr. laxer, and he, when I was a freshman, the first what they called CS 231, the first computer science course for computer science majors. And you have a group project, and he assigned the group leaders, right, and I am, I assumed, and maybe it’s true, I assumed it was random, right. And he picked me to be a group leader. But, you know, looking back at, you know, when I was a senior, and looking back and seeing who he picked his group leaders and kind of how he would work, like, obviously, he’s put his at that point, I don’t know, 30 years of experience, like he was picking intentionally Yeah. And, and it was great. I mean, I had some guys that were, you know, even on that team, I still remember their names. And they, you know, they were awesome programmers, again, better than me, I was still writing some code when I was a freshman and sophomore, but the, you know, it just getting in that position. And, you know, I think great teachers, you know, know how to extract or how to how to put you in a position to succeed. And that certainly, that was what was happening there. Right.
Matt Hunckler 18:43
Do you still believe in playing to your strengths as opposed to working on your weaknesses?
Jeff Ready 18:48
100% Yeah, I think that you know, I mean, everybody can, I mean, to some extent, you if you have a weakness, right, it needs to be shored up enough. Right. So that it’s not a burden. Right? I mean, if you’re not, I mean, if you’re not a public speaker don’t You don’t need to force yourself to become like a great public speaker, but you can’t be thrown into a situation where you’re going to be in like a group meeting somebody asked me to present something and you can’t do it right like you need to at least be you know, good enough there and the same same sort of thing like I I find myself like even though I learned along the way like okay, I was not going to be the best coder right of everybody that was here but I know how it works right? I got it and now I can use that and explore these other areas and that to me that that’s how we do we that’s how I try to even have my team like focus on what their strengths are and we’ve even done some of the sometimes I think these things are a little bit cheeseball but surely like Strength Finders that they do seem to be reasonably accurate right I don’t know to what extent they’re accurate like a horoscope is accurate. Like it just fits anybody but but yeah, when I’ve seen it pick out like different things within people that I No, or members of my executive team and stuff made it out, they are pretty accurate. And it’s just like, Okay, well now in the benefit of doing something like that in, you know, kind of the group publicly is that then everybody knows, right? Okay, this is the guy who’s really good at you know, being the icebreaker with a new prospect, right? Which is a different a different skill set than being the guy that closes a deal because the guy that makes the product, right, and so, you know, if everybody gets on the same page, especially early on in a startup, you got, you know, four or five people, right, it’s good to know, like, how those those roles all kind of break out. So yeah, I just I, you know, and along the way I always write, I never had a real quote unquote, real job, right. I mean, I’ve had a few jobs along the way. And they were very clean for like three months. That didn’t last but the guy couldn’t make the money. I could make mowing lawns. I thought maybe in the wintertime, I could do Dairy Queen, and I just couldn’t stand it. But the
at a certain point, he’s gonna buy your own blizzard. Exactly. I
Jeff Ready 20:55
just forget it, right. And I’m like, maybe I could just shovel snow, which I then tried to do. And I’m like, that’s way more work than mowing lawns. So I scrapped that whole project, but the, you know, I mean, but I, I started, you know, my first, quote, unquote, real company, meaning that this had to, like sustain me in life. In a while I was a senior at Rose Hulman such that when I graduated, that’s what we did. Yeah. And, and I’ve never stopped, right. So, you know, I’ve always, I’ve always, I guess it, you know, I don’t know if that’s hardwired or, or, you know, circumstantial, because of all the other things I just talked about. But you know, that’s my approach. I don’t know what else I would do. You know, and it’s it. I tell people sometimes, like when you start enough companies, and at some point, it becomes almost a curse, meaning that, like, I see problems, and I’m like, well, I could, I could figure out a way to fix that. And
Matt Hunckler 21:53
are there other unique ways that you’ve come up with startup ideas?
Jeff Ready 21:57
Yeah, no, I mean, so you know, one of my, one of my go to things is to make sure that you’ve that I’ve got right. Lots of ideas, hundreds of ideas. Because it’s easy to become infatuated with one idea. It’s almost the trap. I know, almost every first time entrepreneur, at least, I see fall into I’d call it a trap. I mean, there’s clearly people that had one idea, and it was wildly successful. And that’s awesome. Right?
I, you know, certainly the exception, not the norm. Yeah,
Jeff Ready 22:29
I mean, so you know, when I the funny thing, I kept going back to Rose Hulman, when I met the guys that became my co founders, who, you know, at least some of them are still with me today at scale. And other and most of them were involved in all of my founding stage of the companies. And like, we had decided, we were going to start a company. And we had no idea what it was gonna be like, there was there was no idea at all. It was just like, hey, what I want to do is start a company. And as Scott, I named Scott loft Miller, who, who’s my Chief Product Officer here at scale lives in San Francisco. The way I met him is he came to my dorm room. And he had a drawing of a T shirt of Barney the Dinosaur with a bullet in its in his head and said Barney must die. And he said, Hey, I’m selling T shirts. Do you want to buy a Barney must die? T shirt? And sales? Yeah, I’m like, Well, no, but and that I know what I’m like, do you have the T shirts? He’s like, No, he’s like, I was really just trying to figure out like, if enough people wanted them, then I would go order T shirts and have them made. And I’m like, I like this guy. Right? And so he and I started started talking and became obviously great friends. And, and he was one of the guys that was in this like, well, I don’t know what I want to do when I graduate, we’re gonna start a company, right? And, and so when you approach it that way, it’s very natural to say, well, we got to come up with a lot of ideas, right? So we can vet these things and see what sticks. And so that’s, you know, that’s what we did. And it helps you avoid, like, just, it’s so easy to fall in love with your idea. And, you know, a big one of the biggest mistakes I think people make is that they, they do two things at once. One they fall in love with their idea. And two, they’re so convinced that’s awesome. They don’t want to tell anyone else about it. Right? They’re looking to steal my my fabulous idea. Right? Right. I my advice is, is tell everyone about the idea, even if they don’t want to hear it. Tell everyone right? I mean, I suppose if you’ve you know, somehow come up with a new protein to kill cancer or something that’s a little bit different, right? But even then, like, if you tell me about it, what am I going to do with that information? I don’t know how to make that protein, right. I mean, I know what you’re talking. I only want to talk about right now. Right? So you know, what are you gonna do with that and you never know who is going to be able to help you or guide you or give you some feedback that that changes, you know, changes things a bit
Matt Hunckler 25:02
prevents you from following a terrible idea. Yeah, I
Jeff Ready 25:04
mean, even the founding of scale, right? And so, yeah. How did that idea come about? Well, you know, it was it started. It started in a couple of convoluted ways. So scale, to slightly contradict myself didn’t actually start, as purely one of the ideas in kind of an idea notebook, we had actually been pursuing a different idea. That was around we had to build, we built a, we’re going to do stock trading using artificial intelligence kind of before AI was a thing anyone talked about. And we had to build a effectively a supercomputer to do the AI processing. And we didn’t have it was our money. So this was not going. This was not like IBM just going to build a supercomputer, we were going to build this thing out of consumer parts, right? Yeah. And what year is this? Oh, this would have been like, 2003 2004 2004 2005 2006, kind of we worked on this for a while. Yeah. And it started, it started as like a science project, like, oh, so the company I had before kind of this thing was in the anti spam space. And we used AI to do anti spam. And so the idea was, like, oh, well, we’ll just use the same AI techniques and do stock market forecasting. And it’ll be a magic black box that makes us rich, and that’ll be great. Right? And so like this, yeah, it was just I don’t know that the science project, part of it was a lot of fun, trying to figure it out. And okay, new algorithms, new change this change that the computer kept getting more and more complicated, the physical hardware, and so we kept adding on to it and adding on to it, and I got it, there’s all kinds of stories I could tell you about that. But, you know, to we can come back to it if you want, but to jump to towards the end. We finally did it was working. And we then said, Okay, we’re going to turn this into a real business. And so that meant a hedge fund, right? So you’re gonna get other people’s money invested and skim off the top right is effectively the hedge fund does, right. And so really, okay, it works like this. And so we went around and raised the money or we’re pursuing so I didn’t know anything about hedge funds, right. A lot of smaller hedge funds are actually get funded by bigger hedge funds, kind of like VCs invest in startups and sort of the same sort of thing. And so you know, we finally got a fund that was willing to put in a lot of money not not as an investment an equity investment but actually money we were going to then use to buy and sell stock principal amount. Exactly. Right. And you know, then so I mean, the guys were just sitting around, literally, I mean, were you and I are sat around this wooden table, it was a table very similar to this in a garage and said, Okay, do you know this is gonna get this is gonna get real if we take other people’s money, right, our money in there is one thing, right? And so we took a vote, there were six of us. We took a vote, one of the guys was literally wearing a hat, a baseball hat. And so it was that people like write on a piece of paper, yes or no? Do we want to take the money and proceed? Throw it in the hat pass around? We had six noes. Wow. And, and the reason was the business the business wasn’t fun, right? The science project was fun trying to like beat the stock market and beat the other traders was fun. The idea of like, someone’s gonna give us money, we invest it, either we’re the hero or the goat. You know, depending on if you made or lost money. Like it wasn’t. I didn’t, yeah, learn a little bit about myself in that, like, there was no, there was no product, there was no service that made anything better. It was just purely financial. And it’s okay. Right. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It just for me, personally, it was not very exciting. Yeah. And, and for the other guys, too. And so you got to follow what excites you? Yeah. Right. Exactly. And it was just a science project start was super cool, right? I mean, it was like, yeah, we can make this work. And then when we had it would kind of work. And it’s like, nevermind, right. So, so we scrapped it, and we decided we’re not going to do it. And Did you
Matt Hunckler 29:05
at least, like sell it off to someone? Oh, license it? Oh, it
Jeff Ready 29:09
was stupid, right? Because it was working. Right. And it’s, but this was this was before the 2008 stock market crash? Yeah, my joke is always like, we would have gone to jail either way, because it was a highly leveraged model. So either it would have predicted the stock market crash, and we would have made a ton of money and no one would have believed us, or it would have completely would have lost all the money like in one day, like that kind of, you know, 10% move or whatever the stock market was that day with us being all leveraged and like we would have lost all the money if we bet wrong, and that would have been bad too. So either way, we didn’t do it. But as we were thinking about it, we said okay, well what are we going to do next? And so we had our idea notebook right then plus that thing out again, looking through that, and one of the guys like, well, you know, this, this computer system that we built for us is Pretty cool, right? You know, not the AI part, right. But the parts of the AI but not not the stock trading part, but just the way that the system was built, it was built because the way the thing happened is that we started with, Okay, there’s one computer run an algorithm, then it was too slow. And so then we had to have other computers kind of network together running the algorithm, and it kept going go until we had hundreds of processors like running this thing, and which now isn’t that big a deal at the time, though, it was a major undertaking. And we’re like, Well, surely other people would benefit from that type of scalable, hence the name of the company scalable architecture. Right. And so we decided, well, let’s, let’s find out, right, so again, it wasn’t even a wasn’t really like that. We’re just running with that idea. It just went into the notebook. Right? Okay, we could do this is where you’re collecting all your startup ideas, correct? Yeah, that’s right. So I had all kinds of ideas. And then I wrote a business I wrote, you know, sometimes I write these kind of mini business plans is, is I don’t know, hobbies or online airplane or something about some idea. And I just file it away. Right. And so, you know, I’ve written a business plan for a brewery, we wrote a business plan for a chain of Irish pubs, right? I mean, these are the games or whatever. These are the Catholics working on these work. These were legitimately competing, like, we really liked the idea of the brewery. Yeah. And so it was like, we were pursuing it, like along with what became scale computing. But in the in the notebook. scale computing was written down as, you know, whatever idea number 60 Fall or whatever it was compete with VMware. So VMware is a is a is a company that makes software that basically runs data centers is a software that runs the other software. Right. So that’s something consumers would typically be familiar with, if you’re an IT guy, 100%. You know what VMware is, right? So that makes
cloud computing possible, right? Yeah, effectively, right? It’s
Jeff Ready 31:51
the idea that I’ve got one server, but I need to run like six servers, where the stuff so it sort of creates a virtual server on top of the physical server. And that’s that that’s the, that’s their original idea. Now, it’s evolved well beyond that, but that’s what it was. And so they had so at the time that we were screwing around with this, this supercomputer thing, VMware had just gone public. And they went public. And I watched these things again, because a lot of times I’ll see companies go public, I’m like, That’s a good idea. And I just put it in the notebook. Right. And that was basically what happened here, like compete with VMware. And that stock was, you know, doing extremely well. And they had something like 98% market share in this virtualization space that as it’s called, and they need a competitor, right? 98% market share. And so when a notebook and then we’re like, Okay, we’ve kind of put two and two together, like this architecture we built is pretty cool. VMware needs a competitor, what if we merge those two things together, and come up with this cool solution? And so, so that was a neat idea. And so then our next step is, oh, let’s let’s find out if anyone cares, right? I mean, before we’ve noticed not write any code, let’s just see if anyone cares. And so I very cleverly, went to the VMware website. And they have a list of some of their case studies, right? So here are their favorite customers. Yep. I made a list of their 15 or 20 favorite customers, and then we started calling them. And I said, I love that. Yeah, no, I’m sure VMware wasn’t happy about it. But that’s what we did. And so I get folks on the phone and cold calling. Yeah, it was called back to cold calling. Yeah, back to cold calling. And
Matt Hunckler 33:29
I printed a hand handwritten quote, and yeah.
Jeff Ready 33:34
Throw in the mailbox, right. I throw that thing out there any, you know, what, what my pitch was, was very simple. Like, hey, you know, I’m thinking of starting a company. I don’t have anything to sell you think of sorry, company. If I could do everything that VMware does for 30% Less? Would you buy it? Right now that that was the pitch? Yeah. And much to my surprise, and a bit to my dismay, I was getting a lot of No, not really, like, okay, and so you’re adjusting, right? And so I’m like, Okay, make a couple of calls. And I’m getting that feedback universally, right? I had another one, one of my other guys who kind of runs. The other guy is more on the sales side, like me, less technical than me, but more salesy than any word that we’re the two that are making these calls, right? And he’s getting the same feedback. And what to ask him 50% 60% 70% less, and I’m telling you, I’m like 70%, less than VMware. Now. Not really. And I’m like, What the hell right as like, whatever, it’s fine. I get some guy on the phone, and he was kind of engaged. And if you’ve ever made these kinds of calls, which I encourage anyone who’s starting a company, like talk to a customer, like step one, should we talk to those who wouldn’t be customers before you do anything else? Yeah. And, you know, this guy was engaging, right? And so instead of being a two minute call, it was we were 10 minutes into the call and finally said, Well, what if it were free? Right? What if I did everything VMware could do Whoo. And it was free. And he still was like now I don’t know if I maybe but I don’t know. And so now now my brain is like going like I don’t know, like, what is the deal here? And so I asked the guy, and it was it was a law firm out of California called Fenwick and west. I like share it all around. Yeah. And so he was the head of it for Fenwick and west. And I said, and he’s like, No, and he’s like, Well, he’s like, and I said, Well, I the question I had for him was like, Well, how much do you spend on VMware? He’s like, Oh, that’s a great question. Because we just built a new data center. And it was and I know exactly, it was about $500,000. We spent on VMware. And I, you know, I’m a little mystified, right, because I’m like, if I could save you half a million dollars, and it cost you nothing, like that’s not interesting. And he says, Well, in reality, that data center, that was a $10 million project. And but VMware has only half a million dollars of that project. And then the light bulb went off. And I’m like, oh, like I, right. I, what I heard myself asking was $500,000 versus zero, would you take zero, what he heard was $10 million versus $9.5 million. If I go with a startup I’ve never heard of the answer is no. Right? And I’m like, Aha, and so I get it. Right. And so VMware is not it’s not an independent purchase in that way. It’s part of the bigger project. And so I said, Well, when that data center, what what’s the most expensive component and as a time, and this is probably still true, actually, by the time he said, Well, by far the data storage, yeah. And he said, that was 7 million of the 10 million. And I said, What if I could save you 30% on the data storage? He said, I’d write you a check right now. It’s like, okay, right now we’re getting so so we went back and changed our plans and data storage was always part because again, we had this kind of compete with VMware component as well as this hardware aspect in terms of the the architecture and so we just re reprioritize and said, Okay, we’re getting a little well, first thing, just start asking other people. Okay, let’s stop asking about VM orange. Just start as people, we can save 30% on storage. And now we’re getting to yes, yes, yes. Yes. Coming back, like, Okay, well, now we’ve got something right. So then, together, right, the right thing, and this is, take a pause on that. But this is exactly what I’m talking about, if you get infatuated with your idea. And I go and spend years and maybe 10s of millions of dollars of venture capital building the VMware competitor, and no one cares. Like that’s a total waste of everybody’s time and money. Right. Yeah. And so and this was, you know, this was cut off in an afternoon of making phone calls. Is that
Matt Hunckler 37:41
still in the DNA of the culture at scale today?
Jeff Ready 37:44
I hope so. It certainly isn’t mine, I still I still make a lot of customer prospect calls and ask them questions. And, you know, it’s, I mean, you know, in a big company, it’s a product management question, but, but you need to, you need to embrace it culturally, more than that, because if you just, you know, product management almost by definition, ask questions that tend to be more incremental in nature, like we have this product, like, do you want these features, those features, etc, versus something way off the wall? Right? When you’re a brand new startup, it’s easy to think way off the wall? Because you have no if you do it before you’ve written any code, you have nothing. So what’s the difference? Yeah. And so in the end, we did launch originally with this kind of date. So scale computing. We were incorporated with this vision of competing with VMware and VMware plus, right, VMware plus the architecture. But the product that we shipped was data storage. And so we had like the world’s most badly named storage company called scale computing, right, which doesn’t make any sense. But that’s what it was for the first three years. And then, as the market started to change, sometimes how we wanted sometimes not how we wanted, but eventually, it came around where the world was starting to open up to, effectively a more direct competitor to VMware. And that’s when we started take the company that direction. And so today, I consider VMware to be my number one competitor. Now, not just VMware, but we do data storage. We do lots of different things. Right. And
was it like a decade long journey to get there? Yeah. 13 years? 13 years? Yeah. Wow. Jr. Oh,
Jeff Ready 39:23
happy birthday. Yeah. Right. Yeah, it’s a 13 year old startup, which is is crazy. Yeah. But But yeah, I mean, it just these this is how it works. Right. And I love it, right. I mean, I hate it. And I love it. It’s a pain. But I always say if if you’re having fun 60 to 70% of the time, you’re doing better than most people. So go for it. Right? Absolutely. Still work sometimes. But
Matt Hunckler 39:46
one, how much capital Have you raised is different than a SASS company in terms of the capital?
Jeff Ready 39:50
No, now? Yeah, because we ship hardware. Yeah. So we’ve raised almost $100 million. Wow. over 13 years.
Matt Hunckler 39:57
Can you give me an idea of the scale of scale? So at this point,
yeah, I mean, well, without giving away proprietary, right?
Jeff Ready 40:05
I know, I gotta we gotta get my investors get, you know, yell at me, but you know, we are we are on track, at least from a revenue standpoint that, you know, by this time next year we could be talking about an IPO. Awesome, right. So you never know a lot can happen in, you know, macroeconomic conditions you can’t control right. So it’s, you know, it’s I’m gunning to be a company that’s capable of going public whether or not we ended up going public insurance story, but, but that’s, you know, so we’re, you know, that’s great. Congratulations. We’re approaching 200 employees. So yeah, it’s got it’s a lot bigger than it was me and you know, three guys at a table making phone calls right at one point, but
Matt Hunckler 40:48
Well, I want to give you a heads up, we did hit our time. Do you have another meeting? Or can you go another five? No, I’m good. All right, cool. Good. Awesome. Awesome. Cuz I certainly have more questions. Yeah. You’re at a, you’re at a scale now a scale where you’ve seen a lot, you’ve learned a lot, and it’s certainly not your first technology startup. Yep. But when you come into the office here, you can feel a certain vibe. And I feel like it’s a very unique culture. When you talk about a tech startup tech culture and 13 year old startup, you know, it’s very different than, you know, 13 month old startup or 13 week old startup,
Jeff Ready 41:29
ya know, I, you know, again, I mean, I’m a startup guy. So I think so Scott and I, who I mentioned earlier, you know, again, we’ve been together since we were 19. At this point, I mean, literally, we’ve been quote, unquote, married longer than I’ve actually been married. The, you know, so we always done this. And I’ve one thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t, like as founders, you sort of set the tone of the culture. But that can’t be done artificially, right? There’s no like, Oh, we’re going to be this kind of company. Like, if you’re not actually that kind of person, or you’re not whatever we’re not, you’re not willing to embrace those specific values, like, deep down, it’ll never stick. It’s just words on paper, it has to be authentic. It has to be authentic. Right. And so
Matt Hunckler 42:22
otherwise, it’s a ton of energy to try to be that person. Yeah, it’s and fake it. Yeah. And
Jeff Ready 42:27
so we, you know, so then, you know, for us, it’s like, well, you start off hiring employees that like you want to work with, because I’m expecting to spend a lot of time with these people. And so and if you do that successfully, and they see that and they start to do it, well, then as the company grows, it’s sort of building on that culture. Not with no one ever having written down. This is the culture. Yep. Right, in fact, and that’s what well, that kind of wait a second, that that’s what you see at scale today, right? I mean, my I don’t even have an office, right. My desk sits in with everybody. i My desk is in the corner, I give myself that privilege. Mostly because my voice is so booming that it’s you know, I’m on everybody’s phone calls one way or the other anyway, but we’re all out there. And yeah, it looks sometimes it’s the open floor plan concept, but that again, not really intentionally. I mean, I never thought, well, we’re gonna do open floor plan, it was just like, Well, it started off because it was me in a room. And then he added a few more people in a room. And then we just kept adding more desks in the room. And we’re like, well, that works. So just just keep doing that. It was like natural. I didn’t even think twice about it. And we you got almost two years ago, a year and a half ago. There was a group within scale, and they wanted to prepare a presentation for our annual kind of all hands meeting and it was around company culture. And I didn’t I didn’t hear about this at first. And then I caught wind of it probably after I’d already spent a few cycles, worrying about it. And I thought to myself, Oh my lord, like this sounds like a train wreck to me, like, I guess gonna be some cheeseball mission statement and all this garbage. Corporate garbage is what I thought, right? Ironically, that it’s like, it’s coming from the middle up, right? Not from like, some top down like go do this. And so so I was just talking with Scott and, and Scott’s a big believer in corporate culture and he also was like, I could I could feel the groan maybe even actually groaned when I told him that I heard this was happening. He’s like, Well, I’m gonna He’s like it. I’ve learned over the years a certain thing like as a CEO, there’s certain things like that. It’s harder to like get in and and do because I’ll say something. Everyone just like blesses it. Like it’s the Pope’s holy truth, right? And it’s not even though I’m just kind of making it a comment. And so like, I don’t want to, like if I go in there and say, Well, I think the culture should be this everyone’s just gonna be like, sir, yes, sir. And that’s where they that’s not what I want. Right. So So Scott’s like, well, I’ll get in there and I’ll I’ll do this and, and he was just sort of Serving, right and his, the people who were putting this together didn’t even know his whole role was was to hit the kill button. Like if this thing is going to turn into corporate stupidity, just kill it off
Matt Hunckler 45:11
corporate stupidity to you means something contrived something.
Jeff Ready 45:16
Yeah contrived, fake, like people are gonna see it and it’s just gonna feel like confetti and garbage. Yeah, and it just like, I don’t want people wasting their time on it, I just felt so unauthentic. And so And I’d been in companies, I’ve seen companies where this is like, you know, they list like, you know, honesty and integrity is there to top cultural values and the CEO is getting hauled off to prison for like, you know, faking the books, right? Like, oh, okay, that didn’t really happen. And so went through this whole thing and ended up doing a survey and in the end, and on the side, Scott and I had written down like, Okay, well, what, you know, what are the things that we, you know, believe in here? And there was things like fun and innovation, right? I mean, yeah, it was, effectively, Jeff and Scott, thinking back when we hire those first employees, what are we looking for? Right, and we’re looking to do cool stuff with people we like, right, and to have fun doing it. Right, and hopefully to, you know, make some money along the way. Right. Yeah. You know, it’s not rocket science, right. It’s trying to do and, and effectively, right. That’s what came out of the process. Right. And it was, it was actually it was fairly moving to me, I probably formed more moving to me that was the other people within the company, just because what what came out of this whole process was, was what the culture actually was. Yeah. As opposed to, like, it wasn’t forced, it was just like, that is what the culture is. And that’s what people voluntarily said the culture was and, and to me, that, that, that sort of proof that you don’t need to do these kinds of exercises, right. I mean, it was cool to see. But, you know, the culture is what the culture is. And, you know, you’ve got to embrace it. And, you know, as the company has gotten bigger, different departments, they’re slightly different versions of that culture within departments. I mean, report and sales don’t work the same way. Yeah, there’s but there’s a foundational element. Right. And that’s, that’s really important. And that’s what keeps it exciting for me to come in here and do stuff. Yeah. You know, I think that you, before we started, you mentioned, like, soft skills. Yeah, it’s something and I think, you know, if somebody’s looking to get into a startup, you know, there’s a number of things that I think make for a great startup and do actually cause some challenges as the company gets bigger. But one of the things that that really makes for a great startup team is, you know, what I call the propensity of everybody to jump on the grenade, like a grenade rolls in the room and everybody jumps on it. Right? That’s, that’s what you’re looking for. Right? There’s a problem. Everyone’s gonna fix it, right. And it’s sort of the whole team, it’s not anybody’s job, right to fix it, because there’s a million things that have to get done in a startup, and you got a half a dozen people do it. Right. So there is no Oh, that’s not my job. That’s this guy. There’s none of that right. Now. There’s the there’s so there’s the, the negative version of that, which is it’s not my job, so I’m not doing it. Right. The positive version is, this person is it is their job, they want to do it. And now if I stay back, I’m not in their way. Right? So and so as the company grows, it’s a balance, right? I mean, you can’t have a 200 person company where a tech support call comes in, and everybody jumps on the call, right? And so, you know, that’s where you get into the, you know, to going from a military analogy to a sports analogy, but you know, okay, everybody do your job, right? Like it, and by do your job, it means you trust that your teammates are gonna do their job, and they will ask for help when they need it. You’re never it’s not binary, right? You’re not 100% in either camp, you have to be willing to do both. Because you know, people will see different things. So that so that’s one thing, right? Is it just a willingness, almost a psychotic willingness to pick up anything you see and run with it? Yeah, right. As well, as you know, to kind of go back to my earlier point is a willingness to make the uncomfortable phone call to the prospect to an existing customer to whoever and ask stupid questions. You learn so much on one conversation that later that one conversation with the guy from Fenwick and West changed the entire direction of where we would have had a year of searching on Google for what we should do would have never unveiled that. In fact, it was basically the searching on Google that suggested we should just compete with VMware, right, right, market share market percentage, all that stuff, and nobody would have ever bought it. Right. You know, it apparently was a good idea, because now 13 years later, well, probably by that point, seven years later, people were buying it and that’s what we do now. But yeah, it’s still you had to get time for the market to get sure exactly how to get from A to B. And I think that’s from a technology entrepreneurship standpoint, certainly has been in my track record is, you tend to see where the markets going before the market gets there. And it’s a real pain when you’re there early, and what seems like we’re always there early across all my company, even when we’re like making decisions intentionally to try to not be there early, you end up being early. We’re going to be cognizant of that, right? And asking some of these questions helps you, you know, kind of deal with that. But I always tell when you’re writing a business plan, write all of your business plan can be written by interviewing prospects, right? Because eventually that those conversations I had with Fenwick and West in data storage, and he said he’d spend 30% less well, then that now I’m establishing the price, like, what should we charge? Well, he just told me, right? Well, I told him 30% less, but then he’s alright. What if it was 20%? Was what if it was 50? Now you start figuring out what the real price is, you figure out the roles of the people who make the buying decision, you’d ask question, oh, when you do buy storage, who do you buy it from? Do you buy that direct from us? Or do you go through, you know, CW or one of these big vendors, and you start to figure all that out? And then when they say, oh, yeah, we use a particular reseller. Well, who’s that? Oh, it’s this guy, you should call him he’d be really interested in hearing about this, right? You just kind of, you know, you can build the whole thing. And then you know, if not every company is suitable for like venture capital or raising money at all. But when you do come to raise money, having been on both sides, have these kinds of pitches, made the pitch at pitches and heard pitches. Having those little anecdotes like me going in and saying the reason that we’re pricing it this way is because I talked to Fenwick and West, and they’re the ones that told me to sell data storage, like that’s worth, infinite. Your credibility just went through the roof, right? It’s a
Matt Hunckler 51:51
lot better than I went on Google and looked up Google trackers, you know, DARPA and other
Jeff Ready 51:54
ADC research says, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Right. And, you know, if you’ve been in in the business, at least in tech, I assume other industries work the same way. I mean, all these analyst research reports are basically the amalgamation of the analysts talking to companies who are already in the space. Yes. And so of course, those companies are going to feed them information that makes them look best feel in the best position, you know, it may well all be 100% accurate, right? But they’re not going to, you know, the data storage company is never gonna say, Well, you know, the market would really open up if somebody sold it for 30%. Less, like, that’s never gonna show up in an analyst report, right? So you have to get that stuff firsthand. And by the way, firsthand, is free. And, you know, takes way less, it feels like it’s a lot of work takes way less time. And those little anecdotes are just, I mean, that’s the gold of how you sell an investment in an early stage company, right? What What
Matt Hunckler 52:49
should other people know, before working in a startup?
Jeff Ready 52:55
So I would say, so let me let me answer that by first telling you what I tell entrepreneurs they should think about before they even start a startup, which is that you need to recognize that a being an entrepreneur, startup entrepreneur is a lifestyle choice, not a career path. And there is no such thing as work life balance, there is only one thing which is your life, which also happens to be your work because it’s you like you are the company you are whatever it’s going to, it’s going to touch everything. There’s no tracking hours, the work, you know, now, this is my perspective, right? I have seen guys that are pretty good at that. Okay, well, I can take they can take a vacation. I even now I’ve been doing this for 25 years, I I find that I can go away from the office for four days, maybe five days and decompress. And by the end of that fifth day, I’m starting to get antsy because I want to know what’s going on. Right? Even though I don’t want to be antsy. It’s just like I, you know, and I’m not I’m not a controlling guy. Like I’m not a micromanager in the least. It just like I feel like a responsibility to the customer. I just like want to know, like, I need to keep things going to, you know, know what’s going on. And, you know, some guys don’t do it that way. But but I do. And so you have to know that and early on, you’re not going to be a lot of weekends. You know, I used to remember when I was first starting scale and I at the time I was active on Facebook, I’m not anymore, but I remember I would always sit down and like I would, you know I’d work all day on scale. And then I go home, I’d eat dinner with the family. I had I had the time I little kids, I’d put the kids to bed and you know about 815 I would log in I just got on Facebook, I’d say Starting second shift, and I would work from 815 to midnight or whatever and I get up the next day and do it all over again. Just how it is right and so that’s the that’s the lifestyle right? And if if it’s all if it all feels like work, no good. And if you’re the kind of person that likes to compartmentalize like this is my work life, my home life, my family life, you I would just avoid it just not for you, right? There’s nothing, there’s 100% Nothing wrong with leading your life that way, like this would just be a bad choice, right? It’d be like, you know, I decide I’m going to become a professional surfer and I have bad balance. Like, that’s a bad idea. Right? So. So that so then now it’s back to your question. Right? If you’re, if you’re not the founding team, or the founding governors, you’re not, you’re not necessarily taking on that same level of responsibility. But on a spectrum of punching it in from nine to five every day and going home. Versus I’m the there is no work life balance, you’re going to be sliding toward the no work life balance, right? Yeah, jump on the grenade, the customer call comes in at 8pm. And, sorry, everyone, I gotta jump in and do this thing. And it if that feels too much, like, again, like work or like something that’s unnatural. Maybe not for you. Right? Yeah. You know, because, like I said, I wouldn’t hand one of my soft pieces of advice, soft skill advice is to say, when the grenade rolls in the room, you know, go out of your way to jump on it. Right? Yep. And, again, you’re probably not going to fake it. Right? Not not more than a couple of times, right? Where it’s, like, unnatural for me to jump on. If you don’t like it. You don’t like it? You know, I do think though that, you know, the if you’re the kind of person and that a lot of you fall into this category is what draws a lot of people to earlier stage companies, which is they, they can see the direct connection between their work and the outcome of the company, you’re for the customers and so forth. Right? Again, that’s going back to that that’s what was no fun with the hedge fund. Right? I mean, I could see their bank account changing, but that was that was not bad. Exciting, right? So some people like that otherwise, you know, sometimes they work in big, you know, fortune 500. And they say I work on this stuff, and nothing ever happens with it. I’ve never seen anything like you know, I wrote engineers, I wrote code three years ago, it hasn’t made its way into the product yet. It’s frustrating. That won’t happen at a startup, right? I mean, a startup, if you’re an unpaid intern, during your sophomore year, your CO is probably going into the product, right? So that’s really rewarding. The and it all goes hand in hand, though, write your code don’t like sell us the engineering, but your code going into the product also means when the code breaks and the grenade rolls in the room. You gotta jump right back on that thing. Right. And that’s got to be okay. So, you know, there’s an appealing aspect, which is yes, I like the idea of my work being I mean, who wouldn’t try like my did my work being more connected? Comes with the territory. Yeah. But that’s, that is what is like, there’s also
Matt Hunckler 57:36
you can make a bigger impact, but also your actions or inactions have. Yeah,
Jeff Ready 57:41
exactly. That’s a good way to put it, your actions and actions have a bigger impact. And you’re, you’re shouldering a greater responsibility, regardless of what your job title says, or anything like that. Yeah. Right. And the
Matt Hunckler 57:52
upside of that, too, is, well, at least for a lot of early stage companies is sharing in the upside, as a co owner,
Jeff Ready 57:59
correct? Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, that’s, that’s part of it. And, you know, we’ve taken the approach, always at scale that, you know, everybody has some kind of stock options, like up and down the board. And it’s been very important to now pretty
Matt Hunckler 58:11
ahead of the game with that here in the Midwest. Yeah, well,
Jeff Ready 58:15
I mean, I started a couple companies in Silicon Valley. And so you know, that’s like, how it got structured. And I carried that over. It’s interesting. I’ve seen in more some recent trends, there’s, there’s a bit less of that now happening, even in Silicon Valley, where they’re sort of concentrating equity ownership only among kind of executives, or so forth. You know, so I’m either ahead of the game or old school, depending on your viewpoint, where we still kind of spread it around, you know, again, to me, it’s it to me that’s natural with this jump on the grenade kind of aspect. And I think that there’s, again, I would jumping on the gray can get in people’s way, like I said, as far as culture at scale computing goes, we lean more to the it’s better to jump and not jump yet. Right. Try not to jump unnecessarily. But if you didn’t, no one else is jumping on that grenade. Jump on. Yeah. And we’ll we’ll we’ll kind of, you know, work from there. So. So yeah, the other thing I think is probably obvious is that, you know, startups have a lot of emotional ups and downs, right? It Yeah, the obvious thing is money, right? So you can join an unfunded startup or a newly funded startup, but like, I started to always running out of money, right, in some way, shape, or form. So you might get lucky, right? Might might be something but I mean, you look at something I mean, you know, I mean, Uber, the fastest growing company of all time is still losing money, right? So, you know, not every business works that way. But, but that happens, because you have that direct, you know, seeing your work being put to use also means you’re going to see when worked out when your work, didn’t work and other people’s work didn’t work or the sales guy didn’t sell something. There’s probably only one sales guy and it’s probably also the CEO or whatever, right? I mean, you’re gonna see a lot of this stuff and that that can be emotionally challenging, right. You know that There’s a lot of people think they want to know everything that’s going on in a business they work for few of them probably really want to know everything that’s going on, right? Because there’s going to be, there’s a lot more uncertainty than they probably would expect, you know, your work at, I mean, look out the window at Eli Lilly, I’m not throwing him under the bus, but you work the I Lily, you probably don’t have any real idea unless you’re in the finance office at the high level, like, is Eli Lilly, you know, about the bust through some kind of debt covenant or something? Who knows? Yeah. You know, in a startup, you can be doing tech support and five person startup and you’re gonna know, right, and that that’s challenging, but then it’s, you know, you also get to live on that upside. So if the, if the upside, if the the rush you get out of being on the upside outweighs the downside, right. I think that helps. I think, you know, it’s funny I am, I consider myself a fairly emotionally stable guy. You know, I’m kind of even keeled I think that helps me. You know, on the other hand, I’ve seen, you know, very, I mean, some notoriously very successful entrepreneurs are, like, wildly unstable emotionally. Right. So, so I don’t think it’s necessarily just that right. But there’s a certain to have an effect on culture is 100%. It does, right and represented does. I mean, yeah, we all get this point, you know, read all the stories about Steve Jobs. And you know, I know guys that work at Apple. And, you know, I know, one guy won’t name him. But you know, he was in a meeting. And the first thing Steve did in the meeting was pulled a coffee cart as old school coffee maker, right where you had, like, the glass carafe you like, pull the thing off and throw it at him? In the meeting? Right. So, so yeah, that’s not gonna have that? Well, I hope that doesn’t happen at scale, right? That is not my approach. And obviously, very successful with that, right. So it, you know, it can all work, right. And again, companies have wildly different cultures have success. One thing I would say, if you are looking at joining a startup, you know, go in there and interview them. And just if it’s a smaller company, just feel feel the vibe, right? And see if it might, if it fits, interview, the startup interview, 100% interview of startup because you’re gonna be heavily invested in it. And yes, maybe your stock options become worth $100 million dollar it can happen, right? We know those stories, but you know, the, the odds are, that won’t happen, right? You want some upside, we all have to get some upside, but the other one happens. So put yourself in the mind, if it doesn’t happen. Was this still worth doing? Right? Right? I think that’s the best way to look at it. Because if you’re like, Oh, well, but I love that I love the product and the people in the culture, whatever that culture might be, right? Because not everyone fits in every culture, whatever that is, if it’s, again, if you’re having fun 5060 70% of the time, it’s, it’s not bad, right? So yeah, it’s funny, I get you see, you know, one of the things when when we’re doing this, this could go back to the culture thing. So Scott did a little bit of research on what other companies said about their cultures, right? To compare, but mostly because we’re gonna check in to see this is all bunch of BS or not, but nobody’s
very skeptical. Yeah, employer branders. Exactly. Right.
Jeff Ready 1:03:23
And so, so Scott, one of the one, one of them, I remember, he had a few little bits, but for Uber, one of the stated cultural values was they use the word fierce. And I’m like, Yeah, I guess so. Right, that actually shows up right in compared to like, I don’t know what Lyft said. But I mean, now they I mean, at least back before the CEO change, like they kind of took on this persona of like, bad guys. Good guys. Right? And fierce was took on that kind of weight in there. And, you know, the culture of Amazon versus the culture of Google. They’re not the same Google sorry, it’s not the same thing. Right? Yeah. They’re both wildly successful, both great places to work, if it’s the right fit for you. I would be very skeptical that somebody would work at Amazon and work at Google and say they were a fit for both. I don’t think my understanding of those cultures is that they don’t overlap all that much. Right? So again, nothing wrong with it, but just interview that startup and get a sense for it. You know, talk to some people who work there. You know, you can learn a lot by talking to people who may use don’t work there anymore with a grain of salt that maybe they got fired and you know, whatever. But, you know, if if you hear things that are interesting and appealing from people who don’t work there anymore, that’s a pretty good sign. It’s probably still it’s probably what’s going on in there. Yep. So and there is all the other thing is, in my experience, companies go through very numb rule changes like a company that is 10 People feels different than a company of 30 people. And I pick those numbers, specifically, there’s a change that happens after 10. In my experience, there’s another change that happens after about 30. And then a 30 person company seems to ride out to around 100 or so. Yep. And then it changes again, right? So if you, you know, if you come in and you’re like, I love this like eight person company, and they show you the business plan that says is going to grow, and I have no growth is exciting, right? There’s nothing wrong with that, but it is going to change. Yeah, and be ready for that and be ready for that change. And you know, try to embrace the change. And if you find out, it’s not for you, well, there’s plenty of other 10 person startups that need help, right? You haven’t switched to them. And hey, if you find out later that you really liked the 30 person to the 100 person feel better, those are still early stage companies. Favorite lows, right? They all do feel a little bit different. So yeah,
Matt Hunckler 1:05:59
that’s that’s good perspective. I’ve definitely experienced that myself at various tech startups. What are you most last question for you? Before we break in? I think we’re gonna have to do a part two here, because I know we’re only scratching the surface. Yeah. What are you most excited about at scale right now? Or in tech in general?
Jeff Ready 1:06:18
Well, yeah. So at scale? Well, my view is going to be basically, one in the same. There’s other things in tech, not related to scale. I’m also excited about but it scales specifically. So we now we’ve evolved the business and in 13 years in it effectively, that’s a multi generations of stuff. Yeah, and so the business evolved into what’s now called edge computing, which you had mentioned earlier. And edge computing is a fancy way of saying, anywhere I need to run applications outside of the data center, right? So you know, so and I’m gonna, I’m gonna group the cloud into the data center, right? So the joke all of us in the industry have is the cloud is just another word for somebody else’s computer. So it’s still there’s still a data center stuff is running there, it’s managed a little differently, right? But it’s there. The Edge means it’s outside of those, when you think about a data center, a data center has, whether it’s a regional data center, or the cloud, there are certain things that you can take for granted, right, which is, oh, it’s got redundant power, and it’s got good internet connectivity, and it has people there to do stuff, and it’s got cooling, and, you know, nobody who starts a datacenter, because they’re trying to, you know, save the environment with low utility bills, right? It’s like the opposite of that. So you’ve got, you’ve got a certain framework to work in, when you start talking about, I’m going to run these applications outside of that environment. So as an example, we do a lot in retail, right? So you get grocery stores, coffee shops, gas stations, et cetera, that now need to run applications locally. For a number of reasons, right? Which I can get to, but they’re gonna run those applications locally on stuff that’s running locally. Well, guess what, they don’t have their there’s no IT administrator in the back of the McDonald’s. Right? The physical size of servers, which makes almost no difference in the data center suddenly makes a tremendous difference, right, you can’t put a rack of gear in the back of a coffee shop, not going to work, right? The power consumption, the noise, that it makes the heat, all these things these matter a lot. And so, scale. So you know, we play in all all these markets, datacenter, clouds, some an edge, but where we’re very strongly positioned is that, as we kind of alluded to, on the way some of them so my background is in artificial intelligence, and machine intelligence. And so there’s a foundational element of the scale product built around machine intelligence, which shows up as it’s really easy to use, but but what’s really happening is when when things break, which they break in it all the time. That’s why you have it people, right? When things break, the system is designed to detect that and fix it by itself. Which is now Korea, it was really cool when we were selling into data centers, especially if it were a smaller company that may have had only three or five IT people because that automation enhanced there. It was like a six or seven person right? When you go out into the edge where there’s no IT people that automation is is the killer app. Yeah. And so
Matt Hunckler 1:09:31
we’ll get that installed and all of our mom’s laptops.
Jeff Ready 1:09:33
Yeah, exactly. Right. So he might have to carry around like three laptops, but I can make it work. So yeah, it’s funny you say cuz I still do tech support for all my family and as you scale but also like the family tech support. So
the you know, but but our moms and dads alike, yeah, of course. So being
Jeff Ready 1:09:49
able to run those applications and know right, so if it’s the if it’s the applications running the cash register at the grocery store, like and the server goes down like then you can take people’s money. That’s bad, right? So. So that means a lot about the cloud. Well, what if the grocery store loses its connection to the Internet, right? We’re not talking about a data center here, we’re talking about a grocery store that probably has a Comcast Cable modem connection to the internet, it might lose that connection, you know. And then the other reason that this stuff runs locally tends to be speed. So you know, the joke we use the industry is if you have a Tesla, or some other self driving car, and an animal runs out in front of you in the road, you don’t want the Tesla asking Google if it should stop, right? That decision needs to be made locally. And part of it’s a matter of physics, right? That if you are if you’re in New York, and you’re hitting a San Francisco based data center, at the speed of light, that’s going to take 50 to 100 milliseconds, I don’t know what the exact number is, right? But it’s in that range. If you’re going 7080 miles an hour, you’ve gone 15 feet by the time that data packet comes too late, right? Yeah, that decision we made locally. And there’s a lot of that, right, you’re seeing cameras get deployed everywhere. Cameras generate a lot of data, which can easily saturate, right. I mean, putting a drop cam in your house is one thing. But if you’re, you know, I’m a factory, and I put in 1000 cameras to look at all kinds of stuff in the factory, right? There’s a lot of data there. You’re trying to make decisions locally. And so that, so this big rise now of edge computing, it’s effectively the next, you know, Everyone now knows the cloud. This is the next thing, right? So you had, you know, you had mainframes, then you had client server infrastructures, then you had data centers, the cloud, now you’re getting edge computing, right. And when you look at what I’m most excited about, as it relates to scale, is if you look at each of those different generations, the company that you think of when I say mainframes, you think IBM, right? If you’re a tech person, maybe if you have no idea what I’m talking about anything, but if you’re a tech person, you think IBM shares, that’s because IBM wrote the software that made the mainframe work, they also built mainframes, but it was the IBM software that kind of made it all work. When you think client server architecture, if you’re an IT person, you think Microsoft, right? So that’s my Microsoft Word, you start running Exchange servers in the back, your office and so forth. When you think data centers, you think VMware, right, and the opportunity for scale is when you think edge computing, you think scale computing, right, and so big upside to be effectively the operating system that runs everything. And that that’s, you know, I did not predict when I when I wrote down in that notebook compete with VMware, I did not predict edge computing is a thing that’s evolved, it’s evolved. And we’ve been changed. And, you know, and it’s, it’s fortunate that we’re in the place that we are, but it’s not completely by happenstance, right. I mean, we were evolving and adjusting, and it happens to be like, all of a sudden, our product in the market, like perfectly aligned, right. But VMware was the previous generation of that software. And now we’ve, you know, here we sit with something that fits this next generation much, much better. And that’s what I’m most excited about. And, you know, some of the other things we say about in tech, you know, are, are really unrelated areas. I mean, you know, the, you know, automation robots, well, you know, the, you know, all this stuff, all this stuff effectively, are we’re talking about the athletes to do tie in to the edge. Yeah, totally. You know, I just know that we have a grocery store customer, and they have some of their kind of beta stores, if you will do have robots that stock shelves and stuff. And at the scale thing goes offline, they’re going to start killing people go rogue, but, you know, so so there’s a lot of really cool stuff happening. I think that, you know, if I think about where we are today, I think that, you know, drones and, you know, robotic automation using cameras and laser based radar, and that kind of thing that that, to me is where to that, to me today is where I was with kind of that that Atari and that bulletin board system back in 1982. Right, I think we’re at the very beginning of where all that stuff is and, you know, and the, you know, the kids who are getting into that stuff now. You know, they’re the ones that are going to put old guys like me, like, you have to retire, right? Because I’m like, wait, I’m too far too far separated, just like a mainframe guy. And all of a sudden, these guys are showing up with this other stuff. Right? It’s, you know, that that I think is a really cool area. You know, we’ll see, so the world’s
Matt Hunckler 1:14:16
gonna be shaped along the way. That’s it for today’s show. Thank you so much for listening. A huge thank you to Jeff Brady for coming on the show today. Be sure to check out Jeff and his company scale computing at scale computing.com For links to scale computing, and all the social profiles and all that good stuff. Sounds like Jeff’s not on Facebook anymore, but we’ll get all the other ones on there. Head on over to powderkeg.com Check out the show notes. You could subscribe at powderkeg.com/itunes. And then finally, to be among the first to hear about the stories about entrepreneurs, investors and other tech leaders outside of Silicon Valley. Continue to subscribe. Pay attention for the next episode. We would love a review and we’ll catch you next time on powderkeg igniting startups