My guest, Ryan Galea, is the first guest in a CEO series I’m doing with search CEOs who acquired their companies within the last 3 years and have early lessons and emotions in their very recent, or current, memory. The series aims to learn strategies and hear stories from early career CEOs about how to manage the first couple of years running a new company.
Ryan acquired VoiceFriend in August of ’21, a communications platform for nursing homes and senior living facilities. Then less than a year later acquired a second business Caremerge which offers engagement software for senior living. Ryan and I discuss managing people and tasks, internal communication, change management with an acquisition vs a merger, and what’s gone differently than expected.
Ravix Group — Ravix Group is the leading outsourced accounting, fractional CFO, advisory & orderly wind down, and HR consulting firm in Silicon Valley. Whether you are a startup, a mid-sized business, are ready to go public, or are a nonprofit, when it comes to finance, accounting and HR, Ravix will prepare you for the journey ahead. To learn more, please visit their website at https://ravixgroup.com/
Hood & Strong, LLP — Hood & Strong is a CPA firm with a long history of working with search funds and private equity firms on diligence, assurance, tax services, and more. Hood & Strong is highly skilled in working with search funds, providing quality of earnings and due diligence services during the search, along with assurance and tax services post-acquisition. They offer a unique way to approach acquisition diligence and manage costs effectively. To learn more about how Hood & Strong can help your search, acquisition, and beyond, please email one of their partners Jerry Zhou at [email protected].
Oberle Risk Strategies– Oberle is the leading specialty insurance brokerage catering to search funds and the broader ETA community, providing complimentary due diligence assessments of the target company’s commercial insurance and employee benefits programs. Over the past decade, August Felker and his team have engaged with hundreds of searchers to provide due diligence and ultimately place the most competitive insurance program at closing. Given August’s experience as a searcher himself, he and his team understand all that goes into buying a business and pride themselves on making the insurance portion of closing seamless and hassle-free.
(4:25) – Ryan’s career
(10:48) – How do you Prioritize tasks and which ones to delegate?
(11:59) – What’s your process for training someone to do a task you’ve previously done yourself?
(13:56) – How do you think about the way you phrase things given your role as CEO?
(16:01) – What made you decide to get a law degree?
(17:20) – Has your time horizon shifted as you’ve been able to delegate more of the business?
(18:37) – How has this shift affected your priorities?
(20:09) – Was there a critical point that allowed you to become more strategic as a CEO?
(22:09) – What are some of your biggest learnings in the process of integrating acquisitions?
(24:08) – What were some of the differences between the initial acquisition vs. the merger?
(28:46) – What strategies do you use to clear uncertainty?
(29:43) – What has been your best win and toughest loss during your first 2 years?
(31:33) – What kind of advice would you offer a first-year CEO?
(33:28) – In what ways has your life as CEO turned out differently than you thought it would?
(34:12) – What’s a strongly held belief that you’ve changed your mind on?
(35:23) – What are some ways you try to identify really motivated people?
(36:23) – What’s the best business you’ve ever seen?
Alex Bridgeman: I’d love to hear how the kind of first year of your business went and maybe even a little bit of background around the business you bought and your own career, too. Let’s start there.
Ryan Galea: Yeah. So my background, I came from the finance world, very typical finance background, did investment banking, healthcare banking, and then did private equity for a few years before going back, doing my JD and MBA. I actually didn’t do the search straight out of my MBA. I went back to finance and worked in the hedge fund world. So it really [inaudible 0:40] possibly do in finance at this point. But learned about search while doing my MBA, kind of got the idea in my head and couldn’t shake it. And basically, as soon as I started the hedge fund, I was starting to dig in and thinking about more how I could do a search. So launched, very focused, wanted to do a healthcare software. Obviously, had the healthcare background and then did a lot of tech investing at the hedge fund but also just personally. Looked pretty focused actually in kind of the senior care tech space, looked at a few businesses. And then almost, I think it was literally a year to the day I launched my search. I closed the first acquisition which was a company called VoiceFriend. It was a SaaS platform that was used to manage communication with staff, families, and residents in nursing homes and senior living communities. So, think text and phone based communication that’s automated and that has some workflows wrapped around it. Tiny business when we bought it, it was less than 15 people, might have been 10. It was a really tiny group. And the CEO, bootstrapped business, CEO was doing everything himself. So jumped in, those first six months, it was a lot of blocking and tackling. It was, I would say, almost 100% true operations stuff. So, setting up the HR, setting up the CRM system, doing the accounting until we could get a bookkeeper in there. So, it was not- none of it was really high level CEO high value add stuff. It was kind of setting up the plumbing, the infrastructure and getting to know the business obviously, getting to know the people. In retrospect, it’s kind of funny, I was like, okay, I’ll do all this plumbing stuff, and then I’ll hire the experts. I’ll hire like the best sales guy I can find to do that stuff. Like, let’s get someone really solid there. And then you quickly learn it’s kind of the reverse. Get some- you do that stuff, and then get people, once you kind of have the plumbing set up, get people who are more junior, you can kind of give very direct coaching to and start running that with all that and free up your time to do this higher level stuff. It’s kind of the reverse of what I initially thought was the way to approach it, it quickly kind of flipped probably within the end of that six months. And then the crazy thing we did, which was very unique, was less than a year after the first deal, we acquired a second business that was actually slightly bigger than the first business. It was a true merger. That company is called Caremerge. They do engagement software for the senior living space. So they’re much more kind of app and web based solutions that help the resident families and staff manage their experience while in the community. So think like the life enrichment programs and so the tool will give the life enrichment director the software to manage that program. So what activities are going on? Is the programming balanced? Let the residents sign up for activities, kind of track, let the family see what the loved one in the community, what their loved one’s doing day to day. So a very complimentary product suite. Doing a merger out of the gate was definitely ambitious. I think we put a ton of thought into how we would actually execute it. And then we had the luxury of the deal taking a lot longer to close than we expected because they had a subsidiary in Pakistan. And I don’t know if you’re familiar with Pakistan regulatory authorities, but they’re not known for their speed. Everything there, anything government related there, you got to be prepared to move very, very slowly, even at the airport. You get there, like I went right after we closed the deal. It’s like you’ve got to get there hours before your flight because you have no idea how long it’s going to take to get through immigration. It was just crazy. But we spent a ton of time thinking through how are we going to combine the teams, how to message the acquisition to the employees. We brought in a lot of consultants to give us their opinions on how to approach it and kind of coach us through that. I think that period of time is when- that’s when I really learned to be much more the high level manager because I have to be, kind of forced me into it. Now, we were a much larger company. And it wasn’t possible for me to kind of have my hands in absolutely everything and being so boots on the ground and letting other people kind of run higher level stuff. And so, it’s kind of when things switched for me. And so whereas before, early on, it was all operations related stuff I was doing, now it’s like that stuff’s mostly farmed out. And I try to focus most of my time pretty deliberately on anything that is value creation related. So right now, it’s less sales and marketing stuff. But I really consciously try to make sure at the end of the day, if I look back at my schedule, like, wow, that was all spent on, I don’t know, some accounting issue. I was reviewing the financial flows all day, like, okay, that wasn’t a great use of my time. Like, let’s see if I can get someone else to focus on that and be a lot more deliberate with what I do day to day. So I think I’ve gotten a lot better at that.
Alex Bridgeman: How do you determine within your schedule and set of tasks that maybe are ongoing or you’ve done previously, how do you determine which ones you’re going to focus on versus what the next task you’re going to try to find someone else to take care of for you?
Ryan Galea: Yeah, it’s always hard letting go of something because you are always worried, oh no, it’s going to- It’s working perfectly. I don’t want anyone to screw it up. But I find it’s kind of piecemeal. So it’s things that I’m doing that aren’t really high- like, they’re kind of simple. And you give it to somebody, and if they do well on that, like, okay, let me give them something else that’s kind of I shouldn’t be doing but it’s a bit more complex. And you kind of start doing that. And gradually, once you find a couple people you can trust and you start rolling stuff off, you can start rolling off the bigger stuff, stuff that initially I wouldn’t trust many people with but I shouldn’t be doing. And then, it’s gradual and eventually you get to a point, and you’re like, wow, I finally have- I can carve out two hours and just sit down and think through strategy and long term planning. And it’s great, but it took a while to get there.
Alex Bridgeman: Do you have any- What’s your process for training somebody else to do a task that you’ve been running for a while? Do you sit side by side with them for a period of time and then slowly let them go off? Or what’s kind of your- What’s the best way you found to hand tasks off to other folks?
Ryan Galea: Yeah, so initially, this kind of a running trend with how I approach things early on was I wanted to- I didn’t want to feel like I was over micromanaging. And so I would give like, hey, this is what I did. I’d explain it to them once and say, hey, run with it, and I thought that was for the person like oh, that’s like a respectful way to do it. He’s not disrespecting my intelligence. And that’s actually not the way to do it because they’re not going to speak up. Because I’ve approached it that way that I tried to make it sound simple, they think if they ask the question that they’re not going to come off smart. So it’s kind of like a self fulfilling prophecy. So, exactly, you find out pretty early on, like oh crap, they clearly didn’t understand what I explained. And so, yeah, it is a lot of, during that first period, a lot of check ins. So, explain it, I always type it up afterwards and send it in an email just so it’s clear on text, and then let them give it a shot. And then we’ll check in that week and say, hey, did you take care of this, did you run into any roadblocks. Like, I always try to be like really, I might not have explained this issue too well, I’m kind of thinking through it again the other day, like, how did you- And so usually that, more check ins, always following up with email, I found that the repetition is the biggest thing in anything, I found it is a lot of repetition, whether it’s the company message, the visions, the goals, what I value in the team. I sound like a broken record a lot of time, I think, or at least I feel that, maybe it doesn’t come off that way. But I find that’s the most effective.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, one thing you kind of touched on is that style of messaging or how you phrase something. We had Carl Streck on the podcast, he’s the CEO of MountainSeed. And he was talking about how when he says something to his team, he needs to be very careful of how he phrases it because coming from the CEO, it has much more meaning. Like a whisper sounds like a yell is I think the terminology he used. How do you think about phrasing questions or requests and whatnot as CEO, knowing that folks are going to interpret it in a certain way?
Ryan Galea: Yeah, I still don’t think I’m great at it. But I do think, when I was on the other end of it, I was like a person who was particularly sensitive to how things were messaged. Like, I would read into everything. It’s just a natural tendency of mine. So I think having that perspective of being on the other end and doing that, I always try to think, okay, how would I have responded to this if I was in their shoes, and taking a step back, oh, well, this might have come off a little aggressive. The key is trying, to what I was saying earlier, like saying it in person and then sending an email, instead of just sending an email, I think is super important. Because emails, no matter how hard you try, someone’s going to misinterpret something in there. That’s a big one. And then the other one is just being very clear about expectations. So, I mentioned my JD, my law degree. And I remember before that, it’s actually interesting, I didn’t fully appreciate the gravity of the exact words you use. And when you do law school, you realize just- and that’s all you do. A different word before another word can change the meaning of absolutely the entire provision in an agreement. And so I became very hyper focused after that, like total 180 from where I was on like how I position words or what words I use. And I think being super deliberate like that is what you have to do as a CEO. So at least that, although I’ve never practiced law, that skill has come in handy in one way.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, certainly. What made you get a law degree? Like, were you thinking of becoming a lawyer and then decided, oh, hedge funds are actually more interesting or search?
Ryan Galea: Not really. I mean, I had a few reasons for doing it. One, I mean, my mom’s a lawyer, she always wanted me to be a lawyer, or to at least get my law degree. She always said that, only get your MBA, you got to get your JD. And so I was like- that was the main reason. I was like, okay, make mom happy. It was only one extra year, so I figured. But no, there’s a couple of reasons. One was I’m from Canada originally. And when I moved to the US after college to work, I always felt like I was at a big disadvantage because everyone knew each other, they knew the schools that the others went to, and I felt left out of the conversation. So I figured, alright, well the best way to meet people is to go to two schools at once. And I’ll build my network up a lot more quickly that way. And then I actually, when I was in private equity, we did a lot of team [inaudible 14:30] JD MBAs at the partner level. And they did a lot of- we did a lot of like financial structuring stuff and I enjoyed it quite a bit. And so that was a big driver too. The first hedge fund job, actually our entire team was JD MBAs because we did a lot of merger arbitrage or trades related to legal issues. That was the one job you really needed both degrees, although I didn’t stay too long.
Alex Bridgeman: Certainly. So you mentioned kind of over time certain tasks you’ve been able to hand off to other folks and your focus and time has shifted elsewhere. Do you feel like your time focus has lengthened as well, where maybe early on it felt like you can only- you’re so operationally focused, it’s hard to think in longer term, like quarters or years or whatnot, do you feel like it’s become easier to do that and that’s now more of where your focus is?
Ryan Galea: Yeah, I think that’s exactly it. Before, it felt like I was always being pulled into doing something. I wasn’t actively seeking out the task I was doing, like an email would come in or a customer issue. It was always like you get to the end of the day, you go in with no plan, but you’d have something pulling you every minute of the day. And now, there’s just a lot more time where it’s like me going into the week, going into the day saying, okay, these are a couple things I want to spend time on and think through. And they have nothing to do with what’s going on this given day within the business but it’s for the quarter. I think we built our three year vision. And I think you’re right, it went from most myopic focus of let’s get through the next 24 hours, and I have no plan for how that day is going to go, to this is what I want to accomplish this quarter, these like the three key things. And I think, yeah, it’s becoming increasingly more longer term.
Alex Bridgeman: Do you feel like your priorities have shifted then as well, like as your time horizon has evolved, the kind of key priorities and things you focus on has also evolved too?
Ryan Galea: Yeah, I totally think so. I think early on, and going back to what I was saying about bringing the experts and let them run with it in certain domain areas, I felt like sales and marketing was maybe 10% of my time early on. I let the sales team run with it, gave high level input, but didn’t get like right into the nitty gritty of positioning and everything and spent a lot more time on the financial management pieces. And then now it’s kind of totally flipped. I try to spend most of my time on sales and marketing. And I am a lot more in the weeds. And like being- with representing customer deals, being very involved in that. I think it was- it felt like that stuff’s a lot harder. And if you’re doing the project based operations stuff, it’s easy to feel like you’re accomplishing something. You’re just, yeah, I rolled out this, I did that. And then you like look back and you realize, did that have any impact? Or could it be maybe a little bit more efficient? Like did I need to do that? Probably not. So I think the gratification from some of this more strategic stuff isn’t as immediate. But I think ultimately, that’s where you create value, and that’s why you’re the CEO.
Alex Bridgeman: You mentioned that after the merger is when you really felt like you became a much more strategic CEO. Is there anything particular you can point to about that experience that really helped catapult you into a more strategic role? Is it something with team size or just having more resources? Like, is there anything in particular that you can point to that the merger enabled for you?
Ryan Galea: Yeah. And it’s interesting, so we brought in these consultants help us, they’re like merger consultants, to help us with the merger, and they’ve done this quite a bit. And so when they came in, and they started talking, because they’re kind of like McKinsey guys, they start talking about the business like how we would have talked about it. And like it made me take a step back, whoa, I’m so in the weeds, and they’re really focused on how are we going to- what wording do we use on this slide? Like, when should we time certain conversations? How do we get buy in? This much more like qualitative, soft thinking that comes with being a leader. And they really were focused because they’ve seen this and the importance of success of a merger being dependent on the acquired business kind of buying into the new vision and getting behind the leadership. And so, when they started talking about all that stuff, I think it led me take a step back. And those things that you might think are more wishy washy that you hear leaders do in the books, when you’re kind of forced to do it, because I’m not like the most wishy washy kind of guy, but when you’re forced to do it and you see the impact, like, wow, okay, now I get it. And those are the things that make a leader. And so, I’ve never- I was always a little reserved to bring consultants in. I mean, consultants have a certain reputation. But it was actually a good forcing mechanism to cause me to kind of reevaluate my priorities and I think I’m better for it.
Alex Bridgeman: So we just went through an acquisition. I remember having a call with you, and they were super helpful in thinking through how to plan for it and design communication plans and work with the different teams. How do you feel like the preparation and execution during that process went for you? Is there things you wish you’d done better or things you feel like you did really well?
Ryan Galea: I think we definitely over prepared. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. I think it’s always good to be over prepared. That’s always- it’s nice going in feeling like you’ve thought of everything and you thought of things that didn’t even matter. It’s a good feeling. I think we were in retrospect maybe almost on the too far end of the spectrum of we really want to make sure the employee base is meshing, and the most important thing is preventing turnover. I think we were so sensitive to that that it kind of led us to take our eye a little bit off the ball initially on the day to day business or the- it led us to make decisions or postpone decisions under the guise of okay, if we make this decision now, it might ruffle a few feathers. We don’t want to ruffle feathers, so let’s just hold off on doing it. Kind of let us- because we’re going to make decisions anyways. And if we made them sooner, we’d be three months ahead of where we are right now. But I think- I don’t think- you still got to toe that line. But I think we probably went too far on the let’s make this be Kumbaya, let’s make sure everyone feels really good about things. I think we could have achieved that same impact but with a bit more of a decisive approach with making some other tough decisions sooner than we ultimately did.
Alex Bridgeman: I think in many ways it sounds like that merger is similar to the initial acquisition in your search in that you’re bringing on this new team, new products. It sounds like on the surface really similar. What were some differences for you in that initial acquisition from your search versus the merger in terms of how you acclimated to the team and got to know everybody and found your place in the business?
Ryan Galea: Yeah, and one portion of why things I think were different was the first business was very a traditional search type business, founder led company, the second one had been a VC backed business. So, I think what comes with that is a very different culture. And a culture that I think the search community is less used to walking into. And so that was an interesting dynamic. But I think that had nothing to do with the merger; it is unique to the type of company we bought. But I think the biggest difference is, when it came to the first company, it was, alright, sit down with all the employees, kind of hear what they like, what they don’t like about the business, try to get some easy wins, early wins with them, and kind of get that buy in, show credibility, and start moving things forward. The second one, you kind of walk in with some credibility since you’re already running the business. So like, okay, who’s this guy who’s just kind of being slotted in. It’s a lot more around being the arbiter of someone will come to you and they’ll say, hey, I think so and so is doing X, and I’m not happy about it, and I think somebody needs to do something about this. Because there’s always a fear when you merge two companies, like someone’s going to take my responsibilities, and I don’t want to lose that, or I want more control, or I want to run this team. And so there’s all this jostling that happens, which I did not fully appreciate until I was in the thick of it, where you’re having all your one on one calls turn into oh, she said this, he said that, and someone’s boxing me out, or just stuff along those lines. And so, it’s not so much about like the first time around is hear to people out, what they like, don’t like. It’s more how do I make everybody get along and align behind the same vision and feel like a team? Because naturally, people at the one company are going to start kind of grouping. It’s kind of like high school. They group, and they talk about the other team behind their back and same thing. And so it’s very different. Like you still do the what do you like about the company, what you don’t like about the company, but that’s not what’s going to get you the support of the team like the last time around. This time to get the support of the team, you need to basically somehow get all these people to get along, feel like they’re part of the same company when they weren’t a month ago. So that is a different challenge.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, that’s a good point, especially with folks who don’t know each other, like that’s something that- I think the jostling piece is kind of interesting. Like, the jostling is pretty interesting. What do you think is the root cause of some of that concern over who’s doing what or taking over what responsibilities?
Ryan Galea: Yeah, so I think part of it is just in a merger, every time people hear the word merger, they assume there’s going to be some layoffs or cuts of duplicate of functions. And I mean, we made a really concerted effort to drive on the point that this was about growth and we’re not going to lay anyone off, so that’s not something you need to worry about. But I think it’s a natural tendency to fall into that, especially when you have two people coming in who are doing the same job and naturally one wants to best the other and be the de facto leader of that team. I also think there’s a bit of a, going back to kind of cliques that form, it’s a bit of like a vacuum chamber kind of issue where these employees from the one company, and you’re not privy to this typically, might be saying, like kind of talking back and forth among themselves with the other team and getting each other riled up and they start assuming the worst. And it just- I think that is part of the issue. People kind of confirm their biases when they’re both concerned about the same thing. So both of them have the same concern, they hear something that reaffirms the other person’s belief, and it just spirals out of control instead of just talking in an open forum. I think that’s what leads to the jostling. I think it’s just uncertainty makes people do weird things.
Alex Bridgeman: How do you clear that uncertainty? Is that a matter of several meetings that you lead in establishing centric goals that everyone is getting behind? Or is there something- what are some other strategies you’ve found that work in kind of breaking that?
Ryan Galea: That’s a good one. Honestly, getting people in person both for work but also for non work stuff, grabbing a meal, getting to know each other on a social basis. I think the other one that seemed to work pretty well is getting people from the opposite companies to jointly work on specific projects early on. So, you have all these merger related activities, and oftentimes, they might be cross functional. And so, you try to get them to kind of co-lead a certain project and get that win together and get that work dynamic going, it kind of forces it. It doesn’t always work; it can backfire. In one case, it did where the two just didn’t get along. But I would say in 95% of cases, that was the most effective thing we did was making sure that everyone was involved in something related to the merger. And working together to do that.
Alex Bridgeman: Switching gears a little bit, within your first two years, what do you think has been the best win and the toughest loss in terms of experience? Like the episode I was talking about, the highs are higher as CEO but the lows are also lower. I’d love to hear is there an experience on either end that you can think of?
Ryan Galea: Yeah, I mean, I think one of them was this week. So we did our first all company off site holiday party on Friday. I gave- I started since the merger, and this is one of the things the consultants, because of them, was like you’ve got to go in and give that like motivational talk or like vision talk that’s more aspirational. Like they pushed that on me. I did that early on and it was really successful. And I actually had one employee come up to me afterwards and be like, oh, I’m so inspired by that, like this is the type of company I want to work for. I was like, oh, wow, that is rewarding. And so, the same thing after this is call, this one we did on Friday. The feedback this week, it’s been like- sometimes you don’t know when you’re up there how people are reacting to it. And the feedback this week, everyone’s like, wow, we’re so excited about the year ahead. Like we love the team. This vision is great. We’re happy working for such a mission driven company. Like that feedback where you’re like, wow, people are bought into what we’re doing, we have momentum, that’s super rewarding. I think the lows are always when you lose- I think when you lose a good employee. That always hurts. And we lost a guy. I really liked him. I thought he was super solid. It wasn’t- I think he got a great opportunity. It made sense for him. But it’s always- it always hurts. It’s like you’re losing- it’s like a family and someone from the family is leaving and they want to do something else. It’s like a bit of a break up feeling you get. It’s always a bit of a low.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, that definitely doesn’t always feel good. What kind of advice would you offer for CEOs stepping into their first year or moving into their second year?
Ryan Galea: I think for the first one, first moving into it, I think it’s to recognize and be okay with the fact that like the first 90 days or 180 days are going to be chaotic in a sense. I went in and I had like overstressed myself, focusing on the wrong stuff or not doing the right things or this isn’t working or that’s not working yet. And realizing that the first thing you try, although you might think it’s the obvious and the right thing to do, might not necessarily work. Like, we made some small bets early on that seemed so obvious, it was like this has to work. But then it didn’t. And so, it’s humbling. You’re going to get knocked a bunch in that first bit, and it’s just being able to take it on the chin and be like, alright, well, that didn’t work, let’s move on to the next thing. And we learned something in that process, and so that was a win. I think that mentality is what you need to have. And then, yeah, when you’re moving into the second year, I think that’s the time where you really got to be, going back to time management, you really got to be deliberate about your time and make sure that you’re focused on value creating activities. And if you’re not, try to hire or figure out a way to offload the things that are taking up your time. And actually, one final thing I would say is, for the first year people, is try to do all the functions yourself or get pretty heavily involved in each before you start making any big hires to learn it, so you have a really good feel for it because that’ll make hiring a heck of a lot easier.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, that last piece is a good piece of advice too. In what ways do you feel like your life as CEO has turned out differently than you thought it might?
Ryan Galea: I think it ends up being, I’m sure everyone says this, it is a lot more of the like human emotional, high touch side of things. A lot of coaching, a lot of trying to figure out what makes people tick. It’s the softer stuff that, especially coming from finance, I don’t think I fully appreciated as much. I actually enjoy it quite a bit and it’s definitely something I feel like I wasn’t getting in my past role and what motivated this move. But I just didn’t realize how much time ends up being this softer part of the job.
Alex Bridgeman: Moving into some closing questions. What’s a strongly held belief that you’ve changed your mind on?
Ryan Galea: So one, and this one’s kind of funny because it’s kind of the whole search, the whole belief for search model kind of is predicated on this belief. But I don’t know how I didn’t recognize it myself. The whole thing with search is you get an inexperienced CEO but who has high horsepower, we slot him in, and then he does great. My belief early on was, alright, let’s hire the most experienced guy who’s done it and can do it again and wasn’t as much focused on that grit and character side of it. And that’s totally flopped. I would much rather hire a go getter who might not know everything but wants to learn than the guy who’s done it already. Because the guy who’s done it already, when he hits a stumbling block, he’s not going to reset. He thinks he knows it and he thinks what he’s doing is going to work even though it might not. The guy who has grit will step back, reassess, try something new, not quit. I’d much rather that than the experience.
Alex Bridgeman: How do you- Is there a- What are some ways you try to identify that person either during the recruiting process or in interviews or even after they’re hired? How do you feel like you pick out those folks and identify them?
Ryan Galea: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think we’ve implemented it fully yet. But some of it is the kind of top grading or who interviewing approach, really trying to understand people’s motivations for certain decisions, consistently asking the like follow up, the why, the how, and what questions to what they say. I’ve been doing that a lot more. And it’s fascinating some stuff people will say if you just keep asking them, why did you do that? Or what motivated you to do this? And you get- it’s kind of you’re pulling it out. But eventually, you get a really good picture of how people are going to react in certain situations and what their character is going to be like on the job day to day. And I think we’re getting pretty good at it. There’s still work to be done. But yeah, we’re getting there.
Alex Bridgeman: That’s awesome. What’s the best business you’ve ever seen?
Ryan Galea: Yeah, no, I always- I was going to be cliché, Amazon is great. So I’m going to say something different than Amazon because I do think, I mean, they’re taking over the world. Some of the Alexa stuff, maybe they have a master plan behind the scenes that I’m not privy to, and that’s why they’re doing it. But neither here nor there. I love businesses that make money in unique ways. So, businesses where the customer is getting the product for free and someone else is paying for it, so it’s a win-win. So something like Venmo, I love it. It’s a brilliant model. I mean, now they’re doing other ways to make money. It’s not just they’re clipping interest on the cash they have in the Venmo accounts. That’s a great product. Like why wouldn’t I use that? It makes my life easier and it’s free. Those business models are the best. And so I always try to think of ways for our product, like how can I get win-wins, like how can I implement something where it’s a no brainer for the customer. So like b2b2c things sometimes are good. You help them sell something of yours, the customer payments, like implementing transaction into your products so that they can charge their customers and you can put transaction fees on it. Love that kind of stuff.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, those are great businesses. Is there one you came across in their search or elsewhere or a friend acquired that you think is a pretty good fit for something like that, like that type of business within the search world?
Ryan Galea: Yeah, there was one where it was a- I didn’t acquire it, they were growing way too fast, but it was like a for contract or something for the software. And they would facilitate, like they would set you up with the [inaudible 42:06] all the parts, they’d basically set you up to do it, but then they wouldn’t- I was like, we could easily just add the payments on top of this thing you’re giving them and then be making a bunch of money off of just connecting the contractors or the suppliers with the homeowners. So, I like that for this kind of model. That’s probably the best one I saw. No one else- I don’t think I saw anyone who was actually doing it already though. That’s always something I’d love to do. It’s like oh, how can I add payments to this?
Alex Bridgeman: I’d be curious eventually how you start to add those to your own products. I’d love to follow along more.
Ryan Galea: We have some ideas.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, I’m excited to see you work on them. But thank you, Ryan, so much for sharing a bit of your time. I really enjoyed getting to know you a little bit more, and I hope we get to do another episode here pretty soon.
Ryan Galea: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.