Uprise Talks Podcast | Episode Five | Brendan Rogers of 2AM & Wag App
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Brendan Rogers is currently the Founder & Managing Partner of 2 a.m. [Ventures x Talent]. 2.a.m. is a pre-seed, industry-agnostic micro fund investing in ambitious founders from all over the world, as well as placing 10x talent in early-stage, high growth startups.
Previously, Brendan Co-Founded Wag! the mobile dog walking app that disrupted the global pet service space. Wag! has raised over $360 million in venture capital, most recently $300 million from Softbank's Vision Fund.
Brendan is an active advisor and mentors many companies, accelerators, and universities in the LA/Silicon Valley/South Korea. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, a speaker at national conferences, and has appeared on some of the top podcasts in the industry.
Before Wag!, Brendan co-founded a social discovery service to meet new people, which grew to over 50 million users in over 10 countries and was acquired by IAC in 2014.
On The Importance Of Transparency For Company Culture
“I think that a lot of times you have your co-founders talking to each other 24-7. But as you hire the first couple of people, being transparent, I think is something that not a lot of companies do from day one. Either they're afraid to talk about losses or talk about maybe features that don't work. You know, or maybe a fund funding fell through or something like that.
But having that open dialogue where your employees, their managers, and then the founders really trust the employees and it's like a two way street. I think that's a great recipe for success with culture.
Also really including everyone from day one. Like, you know, if you have Software engineers and maybe their expertise is not operations or product, but including everybody in all-hands meetings or including everybody in daily scrums, whatever it is. I think having those principles from day one can really set your company up for success from a cultural perspective.”
On The Qualities That Make A Great Entrepreneur or Founder
"For me, I try to look at [things like], can they work well together? Can they communicate well together? Are they super scrappy? Are they willing to like have their current idea go to zero and then get back up and do something else?
I didn't have a business network. I didn't come from that world. I really had to work well with people to get to the next level. So I really look at founders and how they communicate, how they work together."
On The Lean-Startup Trend
“I think that the just grow, grow, grow at all costs era is pretty much winding down. I think that understanding and having a business model that actually generates revenue and [not having] to go raise mega rounds and [knowing] you may not need all that capital.
There's a lot of things that go with raising all that capital and I think like the name of the game is really staying lean. You don't need to hire a ton of people if it's not aligned with your product roadmap or actually providing value to the core product.
I think that's probably going to be the trend as we kind of go into the next quarter and into the new year.”
On A Sustainable Approach To Work
“I think a lot of things are getting slow. Like a lot of things are going to slow down. I feel like when I came to Silicon Valley and my mindset was: you have to work 24/7, you have to not leave the office. You saw a bunch of other companies that had that mentality and you definitely had to work hard.
It's not a sprint. It's a marathon. Right.
People need to have life balance and they need to not just focus 100% of their energy and time on this one thing. Cause that's not healthy and that's not long-term sustainable.
One thing that drives me is just being active and that I like to work out. And that could be working out, or if that's reading it, or meditating, or painting.
I think that you can burn out super quickly If you don't have some sort of outlet to really recalibrate and rebalance your mind.”
On Joining A Startup Out Of College/University
“[It’s important to] figure out what you like and what you don't like.
I recommend joining a startup because you could be a Jack of all trades at an early stage startup and do a little bit of everything. Maybe you find out that you love to do design, or you love to do product, or whatever it is.”
On Advice For People Thinking Of Founding A Company
“The hardest thing is just taking that first step and doing it. There's a lot of things in life where people are like: no, it's not the right time.
The advice that I would give is if you don't try, we'll never know. The last thing you want is to be older and [think]: I wish I did that
If you are thinking about starting a business, go for it and just let it happen and it will work out.
If you work hard, if you add positivity in the world, if you help people, if you're super passionate about what you're doing. Things will work out. They may not work out when you want them to work out. But if you have that mindset, it's almost like manifesting it.”
On How To Maintain A Positive Mindset
“I think like having a great team is great cause you go through the lows together.
I had this theory, and I'm sure a lot of people also have this theory, but I personally think everybody should create their own imaginary board of directors where you have specific people that you go for, for specific things.
For example, my girlfriend's father is a real estate genius, and whenever I have real estate questions, they go right to him. I don't go to anyone else.
Over the years I just created this like group of people where like if I am going through something. Or if I need advice or if I need guidance or if I need motivation, I'll go to people that I trust in, that I really care about.
And that has really helped me kind of either get me out of a mindset or really just kind of give me that extra push when things are low.
I think it's just, you know, surrounding yourself with people that can really help guide you during those times is super key.”
On The Importance Of Building Your Network
“I can't stress enough how important it is to build your network because you are essentially planting all of the seeds and maybe they don't blossom right away, but they will blossom into some sort of positive return to some degree.
If you're starting a business you should definitely be building your network because you never know when you'll need to rely on it.
I think that a lot of people underestimate that.
I can't tell you the amount of doors that have opened for me, for me just by telling my story on LinkedIn for the last year. So I encourage everybody to continuously build their brand.”
On Books, Podcasts, & Content He Recommends
“I would say the book that really motivated me and that really changed who I am is The Startup of You by Reid Hoffman. [He] really talks about how everybody, no matter what you do, where you are in the world: your life is a startup. You're always growing. You're going through ups and downs. I’d say that’s my number one book.”
On Building Relationships In The Startup World
“When I was in Silicon Valley, I would find information or I would find key points that that person would say and then I would keep talking about that key point.
So if somebody was like: I love the gig economy. Something would go off my head, I know all the gig economy companies, I can have a 25 minute conversation about gig economy companies. Eventually you develop a bond [with that person].”
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