Be Open To Advice

The Inventive Journey
Episode #324
Be Open To Advice
w/ Rune Hauge
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What This Episode Talks About:

Be Open To Advice

"Be open to advice from others. Listen to people. Learn from people. Find people that have done something similar and try to learn from their experience. I can't emphasize enough how much it has helped me. Not just having a mentor but having people around me. Being able to learn from people, for example: with fundraising. The first time I went out and did that I got a tremendous amount of input from a good friend of mine that has done it before or multiple friends that have done it before. With scaling operations, It's always great to get input from people who have done that before. Hiring if you don't have experience, it's tremendously difficult to find the right people to work with when you get to that stage."


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What Is The Inventive Journey?

Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.

ai generated transcription

 be open to advice from others uh listen to people uh learn from people um find people that have done something similar before and try to learn from their experiences uh i can't emphasize that enough you know how much it has helped me not just having a mentor but having people around me and being able to learn from people for example with fundraising the first time i went out and did that i got a lot of tremendous amount of input from uh from a good friend of mine who had done it before uh or multiple friends had done it before actually um and also with you know scaling operations it's always great to get input from people that have done that before with hiring if you haven't done don't have experience with that it's tremendously difficult right to find the right people to to work with [Music] everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups in the seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to and we're always here to help now today we have another great guest on the podcast uh roon hogga and i'm pretty sure i slaughtered the last name but it's my best attempt but uh roon um was from norway probably why i slaughtered his name although i slaughter lots of people's names um and was an athlete in high school but realized he wasn't gonna go pro so started getting more into business and that side of things i got into a great program in finance and economics and worked in finance for a bit and also went to business school at duke and got an mba and then from there moved to san francisco and started an apparel company which he later sold then started a uh text or then did a tech startup for streaming joined another company um as part of a the founding team a couple years uh later uh left the left to start a mentor camp with the with his co-founder um went to bali and got to the mvp i got some traction from celebrities and got a bit of attention expanded the business raised more money and then as now uh has i think a 10 person team or more and then continuing to grow so with that much as a introduction welcome on the podcast roon thanks devon thanks devin that was a great summary of almost my entire adult professional life why could i you know take in someone's life and condensing into 30 seconds is a talent in and of itself but uh no let's uh unpack that uh just a bit so i gave kind of the 30 second version but tell us a little bit about how your uh journey got started in norway as a high school athlete and where you went from there yeah yeah um so so i i uh i loved playing basketball doing all kinds of sports growing up but the basketball was where i excelled and uh you know it's a pretty marginal sport in norway and i i was good by norwegian standards but i realized pretty quickly when we were playing people from from other places that maybe i should pay a little more attention in school uh because the the the path from the norwegian basketball association to to to to going pro uh in in in the states is very long so anyway uh i uh i got a degree in finance and economics uh as an undergraduate and then in grad school as i was doing uh during my mba i did an exchange semester at duke university and uh life sort of happened uh and i ended up moving out to to san francisco instead of taking a stable job back in norway and founding this apparel company and i didn't know anything about startus at the time what what you know so you get a an mba at duke and you go through and get your degrees and coming out of school you know what made you first of all go to san francisco so from norway to duke to san francisco and then what made you land on an apparel company to do kind of what uh guided those decisions or what was the genesis for those yeah yeah so so both great questions um so there was uh there was a girl involved of course so there always is yeah she ended up getting a job at a sales force and you know i i was kind of adventurous and wanted to do something different and i've been thinking a lot about you know all these ideas i had on of bringing something norwegian to uh to the world of apparel i was always interested in design uh had his idea of doing maybe ski base layers or something that norwegians are known for uh and i realized pretty quickly that you know people are aren't that many people are skiing to begin with uh and uh we we sort of quickly became an underwear company because that was sort of the i guess the closed custom uh and and it had it had a market and it had legs uh and i kept doing it for a while and the relationship didn't work out uh as these things sometimes go but but the company was still around and um so i i stayed in san francisco for a while now you say okay follow the girl love your life that didn't work out spoiler for everybody it's not always like it is in the movies um but you then you say okay we did the apparel company for a reasonable period of time you know did that um sounds like you get your got a bit of traction and then you decided to sell it now was it the selling it because hey it was on the downward turn or you got worn out of it or you saw a different opportunity or kind of what made you to sell and decide to chase a different opportunity yes so so that that journey was definitely a grind uh we we basically didn't raise much capital all uh more or less bootstrapped got a little bit of friends and family uh in investments but we i didn't know anything about racing capital uh i did everything more on a shoestring pretty much uh barely able to get by for a while but um there was this niche following that really really uh was into it uh and uh i remember i had this one moment where i realized okay this this is interesting because i went into one of these stores that was selling that the underwear would go and visit them all the time right this big uh big thing that uh that uh you know you hear people tell founders all the time so you gotta talk to your customers talk as much to them as possible so i would go and and visit these stores that were selling the products once a month and uh this british gentleman was uh was there i just happened to be there you know this is during the day and and you know he the store owner said there's the founder ask him some questions about this and uh i didn't think much of it the guy bought some underwear i thought i'd never hear anything about it again then the next month i came back and the store owner goes like well we're out of all uh all your underwear in this particular size uh remember this british guy i'm like yeah i remember him well that was danny boyle he was here in town filming the steve jobs movie i'm like whoa yeah he came back and said this is the best underwear he's tried in his entire life uh and i really went to the on the we had a shopify uh store as well and i went on it and i realized this guy was just ordering a ton of it so i'm like okay this is kind of cool this is funny this is just one customer uh but is a loyal customer and we can find more loyal customers right and we had some of these serendipitous encounters um or i had some of these serendipitous encounters that made me realize okay this i have to keep going i have to keep doing this there is always something to motivate me um and then it got to a point where someone called me out of the blue and said hey you know i've been following your company for a little bit and uh would you be interested in selling i'm like yeah uh sure because at the time we were you know sales weren't growing tremendously much but um yeah timing worked out well and and yeah and that makes sense and you know sometimes it is in the timing saying hey you know sales are a bit stagnating you know it would be a good time to exit i have some other opportunities there are things i've always liked to chase and so i say sure money is always right and if you make a good offer i'm happy to sell so he decided to do that um and then i think from there you know after you sold it you know you started or i can't remember if you started or joined a tech company in the streaming industry but how did you kind of land going from apparel you know doing underwear you know underwear and e-commerce to going to streaming so at this point i'm about five years in in san francisco and now i have a network of of uh of people i know other founders and and i got connected to someone because of that the e-commerce component that i've been doing and with with this apparel company and uh i was connected to another norwegian founder who was playing around with the idea of doing this this live shopping streaming where basically people could log on to a live shopping event and you'd have for example a nutritional supplement company selling uh protein powder and you have a fitness influencer talking about uh the benefits of using that particular protein powder right on the livestream and then people could chat uh and it was my e-commerce background and the background with consumer packaged goods that led me to this conversation with this other founder so we uh we decided to do that together i came on as a as a co-founder a late co-founder uh i suppose with um this other person and did that company for a while we did raise a little bit of venture capital a little bit of money from professional investors but i think we were a little early uh for various reasons it didn't pan out uh i think geography was just one of them you know i was based here is based in norway um and uh so so that company uh i didn't have a successful exit from but i learned a lot and then suddenly find us to find myself in in sort of the consumer tech space they say okay hey i made the transition to the you know made the entrance into the consumer and tech space and maybe it didn't you know work out perfectly or wasn't as grand of an exit as you know the the first company but it got you into that tech space and got you going and then you know so streaming didn't necessarily work out um but it sounds like you may are continuing to make a good amount of network and then i think you know a couple years uh past or a period of time passed and you decided to with one of the other people you knew from i think one of the founding teams you started a mentorship camp was that right yeah so i i started uh i had a short pit stop at a uh another um startup through i guess my roommate at the time was doing doing y combinator and he introduced me to the founder of a startup that he did y commenter what's the startup accelerator and uh i did that for a little bit uh as part of the the early founding team i wasn't the founder of this company that i joined we were uh i think we were three we were five people and down to three people at some point and then we grew it to uh two to some 20 25 people and uh i i did that experience i did that for a little while and then i realized all right i i have that i have the founder's stitch uh i have to start something and you know i thought back on you know a lot of the things i learned uh i kept thinking about what we had done at the pre-play the streaming company we know what what worked what didn't work one of the things that did work well was that people wanted to pick these people's brains um on topics that they knew so i thought about something on along those lines and you know i my co-founder benjamin and i we we we met through mutual friends went to bali and then came up with with i guess the mvp for fermentercam this idea that hey there there are so many mentors out there most of us agree that having a mentor can be tremendously beneficial yet very few of us actually have a mentor so let's let's make mentorship accessible at scale let's see if we can help more people find a mentor that can ultimately help them with whatever goals they have in their careers or or their lives um where mentorship can be beneficial oh and i think that you know there's a on the one hand you know it seems like everybody is a coach or a mentor and that you always hear that's the where people get into and yet there is there is i think a large need for uh being able to get that you know have the right mentorship for the people to guide you in other words just having someone that tells you how to run your business or give you guidance doesn't make sense but if you can have somebody that's experienced that has the right mentorship and then and then to have those mentors that know what how to mentor all those kind of combined definitely makes for more successful businesses and uh think there are things along the way um and so now as you're starting the mentor or mentor camp and kind of getting that up and going was it something to where it caught you know you caught a lot of traction and it was you know or took off or was it kind of one where there was a lot of competition and fair took a time a period of time to um you know figure out your place amongst the competition or kind of as you're getting that started how'd it go yeah so so so mentor cam is is pretty much exactly a combination of the other two words that make up the name right it's mentorship and it's done with a camera right you're connecting with someone through a camera so these are the two things that we fundamentally believe in that look you you you get access to these mentors and you do it in a way that's low touch on the mentors side uh when we started out we just did asynchronous videos we now actually also launched live calls but uh you do it in an easy way to facilitate and we there weren't really anyone else doing it when we started out about two years ago thinking about the mvp and how we're going to build it uh and we've since gone on to uh take it to market to launch the beta erase some some capital we did y combinator et cetera and uh i we're now seeing that the space is getting more crowded uh there are more people coming to the table i think they're coming at it for the most part with a slightly different approach um one of the things that we found that's very i think that we're doing that is very unique is that we're honing in on this this personal development personal growth aspect of advice right because that that's the thing that will follow you over time i was lucky enough to have a mentor when i was in college and we're still in touch uh without going into how old i am but it was a while ago um so yeah i i mean the the the market is is growing the uh the number of players uh naturally as you know this this opportunity becomes apparent to more people is also growing but i think it's healthy too it's healthy because it keeps us sharp don't i think that you know it does seem like it's an area and i think that it had been flows and you know depends on you know what's a bit of the flavor but i think that the overall or the long or long lasting portion of it um definitely is here to stay and i think that the understanding that mentorship you know doing it on your own yes you can probably figure it out do it you're going to make a lot more mistakes and your likelihood of making it decrease it a lot and if you can find good mentors and people that know what they're doing you've been through it before you can avoid a lot of the mistakes and otherwise um increase your likelihood of success and and making sure the business is sustainable so definitely makes sense as you guys continue to grow and expand so well that brings us a bit to you know where we're at today and uh now one you know kind of one follow question i always have the two questions at the end but before we dive into that those two last two questions as a preemptive to those two questions kind of now looking a bit into the future kind of the next steps or then where things are headed you know if you look kind of six to 12 months out of the future where do you see things headed and what's up what's the path for you guys yeah i think for us right now is is uh really figuring out how we can make this accessible to the masses and what i mean by that is now that we have sort of started to see see product market fit and you know where where this is applicable and in terms of like what users uh are relevant and you know who are the mentors they're interested in who are the mentors that are interested in doing it uh we we we need to scale this and uh we are in a really really good position now fresh off uh a recent round of funding uh to really do so so we're we're growing the team we've added a few people uh on the on the operational and and growth side as well before that was mostly benjamin my co-founder and i and uh a handful of of uh software developers um so that's it's a really really exciting time for us we're we're also looking to grow our mentor base and we want to make sure that we have enough mentors to take on the the demand so that's also a big focus for us now in the next six months sounds like it's definitely an exciting direction to be headed and definitely a lot of opportunity so now with that is kind of bringing us a bit to where you're at today and even looking a bit into the future great time to now transition to the last two questions i had asked at the end of each episode so we'll jump to those now so the first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made what'd you learn from it the worst business decision i made was my first company where i thought i had to develop the entire product from scratch i didn't understand the concept of building an mvp just doing something very very simple and testing it i built out a full product line all kinds of different colors all kinds of different variations uh and it just took a tremendous amount of time um so i i think that's something that i encourage everyone to do just to build the same most simple version that you that you can and see if people actually want this stuff uh we ended up with a warehouse full of boxer briefs that uh that took a while to sell but um i think that would be the one thing that i would advise that and perhaps also you know not don't don't try to do everything yourself you can only do so much focus on one thing and do that really well don't i think that that's a great you know pizza advice and i always excuse me i always joke with our team you know i always tell them i hate the terminology mvp because in my mind it was always you know whenever i heard it is let's put out the crappiest product as quick as we can and see if anybody happens to pay us for it and so we always use a minimally viable skateboard in other words before you build a car you build a skateboard you build the bike and then you build a vehicle and you get progressively more intricate or you know improve the product the next generation and so i think that you know not necessarily starting with put out a crappy product but look and see do you have to build it all from scratch can you do something off the shelf is there a simpler product is there a way to get it out into the marketplace so have a good representation of your what your product is or your service or whatever you're providing but at the same time not have to invest at all get all the way to the end and say well i hope this works because i have no idea and not having any of that feedback and having all that investment so i think that's a definitely great piece of advice second question i was asked oh yeah second question i always ask is um along your now if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup or small business what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them um be [Music] be uh to advice from others uh listen to people uh learn from people um [Music] find people that have done something similar before and try to learn from their experiences uh i can't emphasize that enough you know how how much it has helped me not just having a mentor but having people around me and being able to learn from people for example with fundraising the first time i went out and did that i got a lot of tremendous amount of input from uh from a good friend of mine who had done it before uh or multiple friends have done before actually and also with you know scaling operations it's always great to get input from people that have done that before with hiring if you haven't done don't have experience with that it's tremendously difficult right to find the right people to to work with when you when you get to that stage so i think that's the one piece of advice that i would give is just you know don't don't be shy about finding uh or asking people around you for for help no and i think that that's a great night you know it it sounds simple and it's not like oh of course you know ask people for help and yet a lot of times i think you get into a small business or startup and you figure one you know i gotta figure this out on my own or i gotta prove people i can do it or two people wanna invest their time or their effort or you know i can't afford it or any number of things and you make up excuses i mean most of the time when you get into it you actually ask for people that for that help most time people are pretty willing to give it to you and they're wanting to help you along their way and they're wanting to see other people succeed and make those connections and all those things and so i think it's definitely a great you know thing for to ask for that help and also to get it because i think it can make a again have a big impact on that with that if people are wanting to reach out to you they're wanting to find out more they're wanting to be a customer they're wanting to be a client they're wanting to be an investor they're wanting to be an employee they're wanting to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out contact you or find out more well coincidentally there is this this platform called mentor cam so you can go to mentor dot cam slash rooney how are you n e h a u g e you can find me there uh and uh you can also hit me up on linkedin if you uh if you prefer a different approach but those are probably the best ways to to reach me all right well i definitely encourage uh everybody to reach out whether it's on linkedin whether it's via the website find out more support them and if you're looking to to get involved with mentorship definitely a a great place to to connect well thank you again for coming on the podcast room it's been a fun it's been a pleasure now for all of you that are listeners you have your own journey to tell and you'd like to be a guest on the podcast we'd love to have you just go to and apply to be on the show a couple more things uh make sure to listen or click go subscribe make sure to share make sure to leave us a review because we want to make sure that everybody finds out about all these awesome episodes and help all the entrepreneurs and startups along their way to success and with that if you ever need help with your patents trademarks or anything else with your business feel free to go to grab some time with me to chat and i'm always here to help thank you again rooney for coming on the podcast and uh wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thanks devin thanks for having me it was great

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