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007: Entrepreneurial Lessons Learned While Founding the World’s Largest Startup Launch Platform

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter

Founder & CEO, StartUps.co

Wil Schroter is a serial entrepreneur and the Founder of Startups.co, the world’s largest startup launch platform.

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WIL SCHROTER’s JOURNEY:

2:29 – Wil grabs the mic and tells us a little bit about his personal and professional journey thats led to the success of where he is today and his company StartUps.co

  • Will talks about how he “grew up with no intention of ever being in business” and how it never even occurred to him that he would become an Entrepreneur.
  • It “never even occurred to him that he would even go to college”… much less become an incredibly successful serial Entrepreneur.

3:10 – Growing up his first plan was to become a carpenter because most of his family was in some version of a similar trade. For Will this felt like a natural option he was excited about the idea of being able to build houses.

KEY TAKE AWAY – While Wil may not have naturally chosen the path of Entrepreneurship from an early age, note that there was still this inner desire to “BUILD” something with his hands from the ground up. I’ve heard people act as if you haven’t wanted to be an Entrepreneur your whole life or started out early “hustling” lemonade on the street corner then you’re not a pure bread Entrepreneur BUT I would say that if you’re starting out and trying to figure out if Entrepreneurship is for you, start out asking yourself whether you’ve always had a burning desire to create and build something from nothing. If your answer is YES, then I would encourage you to continue pursuing your journey of Entrepreneurship.

3:20 – Wil learns that he’s “terrible” at carpentry. As a result he moves on to study theater through his brief stint in college, as his new goals was to become an actor.

3:31 – Getting shot down again, Wil also figures out that he’s also terrible at acting

KEY TAKE AWAY – SELF-AWARENESS is crucial, as is your ability to not get romantic about the direction you “want” your life to go.

  • Rather then sulk or get hung up on the fact that his first or even second plan of becoming a Carpenter and Actor wasn’t going to pan out, he took his lose, pivoted and started down a new path.
  • Note that in life, the directions you often plan on going don’t always work out and you need to become both flexible enough and practical enough to not get hung up on the closed doors and instead continue moving forward to find the doors of opportunity that are open.

3:36 – Leading into his business career… Wil’s decision to step into the business world had nothing to do with his excitement for business, instead his journey started with an opportunity that he was not only capable of seeing but more importantly capable of executing on.

KEY TAKE AWAY – When you deploy self-awareness and refuse to get romantic about the direction “you want” your life or business to go, your vision will become open enough to recognize and capitalize on the right opportunities.

3:45 – Wil talks about seeing the dawn of the web era come about.

4:22 – As this new age of information through the Internet began to come about, Wil recognized an abundance of opportunities that very few were capitalizing on. He recognized that companies were going to need to have a web presence, which now seems obvious but during the dawn of the Internet was an untapped well of potential and growth that very few recognized.

4:38 – Wil talks about getting his idea to create one of the first “Digital Agencies”, to not only build these commercial and company websites but also just to disseminate and help explain to the world what the Internet even was.

4:56 – Wil talks about having to get as rudimentary in his website presentations with companies and CEOs, to the point where he had explain what a hyperlink was, as many of them were looking what a web page was for the very first time on Wil’s laptop.

5:25 – Pursuing a business through his Digital Agency wasn’t exactly the master plan for his life, rather it was a means to pay the bills back during that time. However, continued down this path, more and more people kept telling him how knowledge and great he was at it… this is when things started to change.

5:40 – Wil talks about how in 1995 a Venture Capitalist asked him for his business plan and he responded by giving the VC “a half sheet of paper basically explaining how much he owed his roommate.” He talks about how his beginnings were not even as low as “humble beginnings” rather they were just “non-existent”

KEY TAKE AWAY – I love this part of Wil’s story because it illustrates the beautiful point that if you’re great at what you do and you add value to others… regardless of whether you have “it all together” – doors will open up.

6:08 – Wil talks about how his Digital Agency ended up doing really well and how later down the road he ended up merging his Agency with another company.

6:20 – Wil shares an incredible story that was one for the record books as he details a massive and “lopsided” win his company pulled off by landing a 9 figure $250 Million dollar contract with a pharmaceutical company! After this deal, the Agency went on to grow to about a $750 million dollar company with all of the ensuing contracts and companies it was able to work with.

  • Note that this Agency/Company that Wil helped build just sold for about $4 Billion – yes thats with a “B” – dollars.

KEY TAKE AWAY – You never know when that life changing opportunity is going to come along BUT what you can do is make sure that you’re prepared to seize it and run with it when it does, so wherever you are and in everything you do… continue putting in the work, knowing that your chance is right around the corner!

7:06 – Growing this massive company is where Wil attributes gaining his startup education from, as he was put in a position where couldn’t “fake it” and instead was pushed to learn and grow at an incredibly accelerated pace.

7:35 – After leaving that company Wil talks about how in 2001-2002 he went on to create an Incubator to work on his own projects. From this incubator Wil was able to build around 8 companies.

  • Wil talks about a huge mistake he made during this time was founding 8 companies in completely different markets because it “fractured his time and his focus”.
  • During this period is also when Wil learned the most about how to start companies and achieve success.

KEY TAKE AWAY – Remember you have a limited amount of time and resources, so be sure not to spread yourself thing. Theres a great acronym I love to use to remind me of this:

  • F.O.C.U.S – Follow Once Course Until Success

8:12 – After doing this all for about 15-16 years, this is when Wil realized that the “thing” he was most good at was starting companies.

  • Will caveats this by pointing out that this doesn’t imply that he’s great at growing or scaling companies… it simply means he knew he was great at starting companies.

KEY TAKE AWAY – While it took some time to figure out… Wil recognized there was a key area of business that he was incredibly great at and started to maximize his time and effort around those strengths.

  • My only caution here is recognize that it took will almost 15 years to recognize what he was great at, so if you’re just starting out, don’t think that just because you’re “not great” at certain things now doesn’t mean that it’s “not your thing”.
  • Be sure to deploy the time and patience necessary to discover and develop your strengths before you just write off an area of business as one you disregard or ignore because “it’s not your strength”.

8:30 – Wil’s desire to pursue his passion for creating and funding startups at massive scale globally, is what’s led to his current venture and company at StartUps.co

9:38 – Wil talks about how he and his company StartUps.co are building an incredibly powerful platform for Entrepreneurs to successfully create and build their startups. Placing education at the forefront Wil and his massive platform are focused on helping Entrepreneurs through all of the places they typically get stuck, with the end goal being their ability to help them successfully take the next step in their Entrepreneurial journey to success.

10:43 – Wil goes into some the fears, self-doubts, and challenges that he’s learned to overcome throughout his crazy journey of entrepreneurship.

10:56 – One of the biggest mental hurdles Wil learned to overcome was the mindset and thought process that said, “everyone else has the answers, except for him.”

11:12 – Wil talks about overcoming the mindset that said, “there’s some Yoda out there that has all the answers… and that if he were just to find that person that all of his questions would be answered and all of his problems would be solved”.

KEY TAKE AWAY – The notion that there is some “Yoda” or Guru that will solve all of your problems is not only a myth but also one “destructive (mindsets) to entrepreneurs”.

12:05 – Wil hammers this point home by pointing out that over his 20 years of founding startups and working with thousands of Entrepreneurs, there is no singular person who “has all of the answers”.

KEY TAKE AWAY – When you realize that there is no person who has all of the answers, you’ll find a new level of freedom in your ability to understand that it’s “ok” to take chances and that you’re going to have to get used what Wil calls “Running Into The Abyss”.

  • “Running Into The Abyss” – Will talks about “Running Into The Abyss” as his ability to run into problems and admit to himself that he has no idea what the answer is and that the only thing he’s likely sure of is that no one else in the room does either… and it’s in these moments, where he acknowledges the only thing everyone can likely agree on is that they have no idea whats coming”. Going further, he talks about how once you’re able to settle on this level of uncertainty, generally speaking, there is a change in everyone’s outlook on the problem and subsequent solution, which also helps remove some level of stress.

13:33 – Wil walks us through he tipping point where he recognized his ability to succeed was greater then his fear of failure when around the time he was 21 years old he owed around $100k in debt.

14:10 – Wil’s epiphany about the stress and overwhelming debt he was facing.

  • Wil quotes something a friend told him during this troubling time, which was that “at this point in your life it really doesn’t matter how much debt you have because you started at zero, so being in the negative, doesn’t really take you anywhere different then a different version of zero.”
  • Wil remembers thinking about how that was such a “bizarre” way of looking at debt and it didn’t necessarily make him feel better but it actually indirectly put him on a different path, which involved him thinking to himself, “WOW, I actually don’t have anything to lose because I actually have nothing”.
  • As Wil truly reflected on this idea of “having nothing to lose”, in hindsight he talks about it almost became like “a superpower”. He also explicitly says that it didn’t feel like that at the time and he’s not trying to down play or glorify the stress of debt. Instead he’s simply talking about how this concept of “nothing to lose” actually gave him the ability to continue pressing forward and further gave him the courage to start stepping out and becoming more bold in his pursuit to acquire customers and get business.

KEY TAKE AWAY – Instead of worrying about where you are now, instead worry about whether you’re moving the meter forward.

18:04 – Wil offers some perspective on receiving the right advice at the wrong time…

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19:42 – Wil walks us through the mindset shift that occurred, where he truly realized the value of his services and how he started to price his services differently to earn an income that was more commiserate with the skill, ability, and service/product quality that he offered his customers.

20:06 – Wil walks us through what it took back in the mid-90’s to understand price elasticity, testing, pivoting, etc… you had to go to college, so he just had to figure it out, as this was before the age of Google and powerful search engines and digital content, like we have today.

KEY TAKE AWAY – #1 Mistake people often make starting out is “Relative Pricing”, which is where you price your service and products relative to your level of expenses, instead of relative to the value you provide or the industry standard of your market.

KEY TAKE AWAY – The KEY to pricing is understanding that you have to constantly test your pricing, as it’s not something that is ever “known”.

22:26 – Wil gives us a real world example of where he learned first hand the power of testing your price point and how it earned him 5X in generated revenue.

KEY TAKE AWAY – “Whatever you think you can charge, is just what you think you can charge… there are 5 other price points you haven’t even gotten to yet…” and the worst thing you can do is build a business getting paid less then the value you provide.

25:10 – Corey’s asks Wil about whether his clientele changed as he price points went higher?

25:35 – Wil talks about how when you’re starting out theres not romantic notion about having to sometimes take on clients you may not want to but need to just to pay the bills, at least until you grow to place where you can be more picky about who you work with.

KEY TAKE AWAY – It’s not necessarily about the price point as much as it making sure that if you’re going to have to deal with crap from a client, just make sure that you’re getting paid for it.

27:56 – Wil talks about being militant with his time and learning how to templatize the systems he was implementing for each company he was either starting or acquiring. By templatizing the system for each startup and company and distilling each process down into small steps, Wil is able to maximize his efforts and work within the ecosystem of each business in a seamless and efficient way that minimizes his effort and maximize his impact.

28:39 – Wil talks about displaced effort and how one of the biggest problems he sees Entrepreneurs and Businesses making when they’re starting out is that they try to focus on getting to say $30k/mo, instead of just focusing on getting to $2k/mo.

KEY TAKE AWAY – Often times people don’t achieve their goals because they’re so focused on “the big goal” that they fail to ever move the needle towards it because of how “big” it is… instead come up with your “big goal” but then map out the little micro goals that it takes to navigate your way from point-to-point up your mountain of success to actually reach you end “big goal”.

31:50 – Wil talks about how we should approach the concept of growing our business, as well as giving us a few key business indicators that we should be monitoring to help us understand and know when we should start thinking about growth.

KEY TAKE AWAY – Start focusing on and thinking about how you can grow revenue as quickly as possible and how can you compress or mitigate cost as much as possible.

32:37 – Wil points out that many times Entrepreneurs and Companies are far too quick to respond with a checkbook, when they should instead answer with creativity.

33:32 – One of the most key aspects to the success or demise of any business is it’s ability to monitor and track it’s resources being used, specifically when it comes to input versus output.

34:33 – Understanding the actual metrics of your business is crucial to it’s success. Often times we need to take more then just a single look at our metrics because it may take a more then just a few looks to truly understand the cost to value ratio.

FINAL 5 THOUGHTS OF THE DAY:

  1. 37:28 – What does good leadership mean to you and in your eyes what does it look like?
    • Most of good leadership has to do with communication.
  2. 38:30 – Who are your favorite people to follow on-line and why?
    • Robert Greene, who wrote the The 48 Laws of Power because he’s so opinionated and entertaining.
    • Dan Carlin’s, Hardcore History because he provides such an entertaining show that provides a wealth of value and information regarding history.
  3. 39:50 – What tools either on-line or off-line do yo use to help you continually learn and grow both in your personal and business life?
    • Google Keep which is a simple, yet effective Google app that Wil uses for jotting down notes and ideas.
    • A morning ritual of Wil’s is to open a blank document every morning and just start writing down as fast as he can his thoughts and ideas, which in many ways acts as a way for him to clean out his mental hard drive.
  4. 41:37 – What does success mean to you and in your eyes what does it look like?
    • For Wil, success is a moving target that changes over the course of one’s career. A lot of times success can mean just surviving and paying the bills, then move into being able to grow and scale a business that can generate an income to live on, and shift still yet again to the position he’s in today where he simply wants to enjoy the fruits of his labor from all of the years and hard-work he put in to get to where he is today.
    • Wil also talks about learning to be in a place to appreciate what you have, while you have.
  5. 44:30 – What strategies, tactics, or changes have you implemented in your own life that have helped contribute to and accelerate your own business or professional growth?
    • Wil talks about one of the biggest things that has contributed and continues to contribute to his success is the fact that he’s always been “wildly competitive with himself”.

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