David is the co-founder and CEO of Bump, which has acquired over 160 million users. He is an expert on low friction distribution techniques and low cognitive overhead within products. Bump Labs has also produced Bump Pay and Flock.
→ What is Bump
→ How much they spent on advertising and marketing to get to 130 million people
→ What is cognitive overhead
→ The idea for Bump while a business school student at the University of Chicago
→ The company has spent only $42 on advertising and marketing to reach that number of users
→ Growth was driven by word-of-mouth distribution
→ The app requires two people to use, which also helps increase word of mouth
→ Identify the target market, Bump targeted “everyone in the world who has a phone”
→ Build a product that people will want to share, rather than forcing them to do so
→ And a whole lot more
Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Bronson Taylor and today I have David Leeb with us. David, thanks so much for coming on the program.
David: Yeah, my pleasure. Good to be here.
Bronson: Yeah. Now, David, you are the co-founder and CEO of Bump for those that have been living under a rock for the last couple of years. Tell us what is Bump.
David: Bump as a mobile app for iPhone and Android that lets you connect to devices and share information by literally just bumping the phones together. So I came up with this idea about four years ago when I was a business school student at Chicago. So I’m an engineer by training and by practice. But I went to business school to learn how to start a company. But the first week of school, I was meeting all these new people and found it really difficult to type in their phone numbers, type in their names, get their email address right. So we built bumps basically just to solve that one little problem, put it on the App Store, and it became extremely popular. And today now it’s been downloaded by more than 130 million people. So it certainly has expanded since then. And we can talk all about that as we go forward.
Bronson: No, absolutely. So 130 million people that was my next question, because I looked online trying to find out how big you guys have gotten and you’ve increased by the millions so quick that every article was like 10 million off. And that look another article and it’s like it’s 10 million off and I’m like, All right, I have no idea how big they are now. I just have to ask him. So 130 million people using bump. So tell me, how much have you spent on advertising and marketing to get to 130 million people?
David: Yeah, that’s a really good question. And the answer is $42. And I know.
Bronson: You missed a common there or something.
David: No, no. So so the real answer is we’ve never spent anything on on distribution or user acquisition. The $42 actually was before we had launched when it was still just the three of us working on this as a side project. We wanted to film a demo video to put on YouTube so that people could like see what this looks like. And I had to go buy some black belt to put it behind the actors hands. And so I bought I bought some black velvet $22. And then I need a video tape for the rented camera that I was borrowing from the school. And the video tape packs only came in packs of three and it cost $20, so 42 bucks.
Bronson: So it could have been less if they had sold them, you know, as singles. That’s great. So how did you grow then if it wasn’t, you know, through, you know, advertising and marketing and traditional things, you know, something has to happen to get to 130 million users.
David: Absolutely. Yeah. So the answer is, is word of mouth distribution, and I can explain that a bit more. So for about 80% of people who download the app, we no bump with somebody else within 10 minutes of using the app. So that tells us it is absolutely people telling their friends, Hey, I got this new cool app like download it and I’ll show you how it works. So because the app A is really like magical and delightful, it’s it does something that you would not expect your phone to be able to do without knowing about it beforehand. And two, it requires two people to do it. So you have this natural, hey, I got this cool thing that I want to show you, but in order for me to show you, you’ve got to download the app. And that allows it to just grow really virally by word of mouth.
Bronson: Yeah, you mentioned the word magical, and it really is magical. You know, I understand engineering and understand products. And yet, when I see bump work, I’m like, wait, wait, what is it doing? Like, it’s not using near field communication. It’s not using some complicated hardware hack, like it’s doing something with an algorithm using software in the cloud and into to the end user to grandma. It doesn’t matter how complicated it is because it’s so magical in the moment that you use it. So I think that’s actually one of the few products where that word makes sense. And it’s not just marketing hype. It really is kind of magical. Is there are there any transferable lessons for startups that want to create a product that has this kind of natural virality? Do you have any words of wisdom that would lead them toward these sorts of products, or is it just random? Nothing you can do to help them?
David: Well, certainly having a product that requires two people to use it lends itself to virality. Not like I really don’t like the word virality, because I think it’s way overused. But what I mean is a product that when one user has it, basically he’s forced to touch other users and he likes it. And that last part is a big difference because a lot of products kind of force you to spam your friends or trick you into checking all of the list of your contacts and accidentally inviting everybody. And what we try to do is just build stuff that people actually like. And so nobody likes it when apps do that. So we don’t do any of that. And we’re fortunate in that our app just inherently requires two people to use it. But but I think the other thing that you can do, and this is my main advice to people when they’re talking about building products, is figure out who your market is. And for us, our market was everybody in the world that has a phone. That was our aspirational market. And so we decided, well, in order to build a product for that market, it’s got to be a product that can satisfy the mass market, which is people who are not technophiles, people who are people who are not technophiles, people who don’t look at products all day long for a living, which is what we do. So you have to design things in a very different way. And so the big idea there is try to keep things really simple. And we can, you know, we can talk more about this idea of simplicity, but that the big thing that I think Bump really nails is that it’s very cognitively simple. You can explain how it works to somebody in 5 minutes or 5 seconds, and they really understand how it works, even though they don’t know the the back end workings of like what’s happening on the server, how it actually works. But the mental model of, oh, I select something on this phone, I bump this phone and it appears on this phone that’s really simple. And it puts the user kind of in the middle of that flows that he really sees it. And I think that makes it something that people want to show off because they’re kind of part of the experience.
Bronson: Yeah, you mentioned the phrase cognitive simplicity and recently you wrote an article for TechCrunch called Arose about cognitive overhead. So let’s dove into that a little bit. What is cognitive overhead? Because I think this article is brilliant. So let’s let’s delve into it a little bit.
David: Yeah. So this is a topic that kind of emerged for us because we were trying to figure out why is Bomp so popular? You know, we know why it’s viral. We know why people talk about it. But there was this other element that we were, you know, dancing around for a while and we think we finally figured it out. And it’s this notion of cognitive simplicity. So the idea of cognitive overhead, the definition that I think is the best one is basically the number of logical jumps that your brain has to make for you to understand what a product or a service is actually doing for you. So when you look at products, some products are very low cognitive overhead. It’s very clear exactly what’s happening. The user doesn’t have to think about, Oh, what’s going on? The user doesn’t have to experiment to use the product to see how it works. Those products tend, in my opinion, to resonate with the mass market much better than products that that lack that cognitive simplicity.
Bronson: Yeah. What are some key ways to lower the cognitive overhead of a product? Is it just ripping out buttons and features? Is it more nuanced than that? I mean, how do you achieve cognitive simplicity?
David: Yeah, it’s very different from what people talk about when they talk about simplicity generally. So the way I think about it is there’s this word called simplicity and there are a lot of vectors along which you can optimize simplicity. One is number of buttons on your interface. For example, fewer buttons are simpler. One is amount of time it takes to complete a task inside of your product. You can minimize that, and that might be simpler. Another might be minimize the time it takes to do some sort of action that might be deemed simpler. But what we believe is that the thing you should optimize for first is cognitive simplicity, which often comes contrary to the other ideas of simplicity. So, for example, a product might be cognitively simpler if you make the user go through more steps to complete the task rather than fewer steps. So make the user click along with you. One of the ways to lower the cognitive overhead make your product more cognitively simple is actually to make it take longer to get the result for the user then then make it shorter, which which seems contrary to what you would imagine. But for example, imagine you’re a travel website and you’re a travel search website actually slowing down the process of returning the results and maybe making the user click more things along the way to get to the results can make it more clear to the user exactly what’s happening and what work the service is doing on the user’s behalf. Compare that to maybe a more simple version, which you type in what you want, hit search and instantly it comes back with some search results. It’s more difficult for people to understand What did it do? Did it search everything that I wanted it to search? Did it really take into account my preferences that I wanted to tell it? So that’s one example is a pretty simple example of how sometimes optimizing for cognitive simplicity runs contrary to what you might in general think of a simple product.
Bronson: Yeah, and in the article you mention some companies or products that kind of promised cognitive simplicity and didn’t really deliver. What were some of those examples of like we thought it was going to be, but it wasn’t?
David: Yeah, I think the best example is QR codes. So QR codes are like heralded as, Oh, it’s so simple. It’s just a little 2D square that you scan with an app and boom, it takes you to whatever website you want to go to. It has information behind it. It sounds really simple. To us in the tech field. But the idea that that it’s a barcode but it’s not a traditional barcode that I have to take a picture of it, but I can’t use my camera. I have to use another separate app. And then by taking a picture of this thing, it takes me to a website. When in my life I like to go to websites, either click links or I type in a U, r, l or search on Google. All of these things just layer on like cognitive overhead after cognitive overhead. And the result is that nobody uses them. And I think there’s a really good Tumblr, which is called pictures of people taking pictures of people scanning QR codes dot com. And it’s just a blank page because no one does it.
Bronson: Yeah. Talking about memes like that, I read a tweet the other day. It said a little known fact. All QR codes point to MySpace, but nobody knows this because nobody’s ever used one. That’s great. So you’re right, though. It’s almost like you can be simple in the wrong ways and completely fail. So simplicity is not the main thing where cognitive simplicity is more of a primary thing. What are some examples of companies that you think do it well that are really, you know, obviously BOP is an example that beyond bomb.
David: Yeah you know there’s there’s a lot of companies you can look at and say whether it’s good or bad. I think one of the most interesting examples, I think, is the Nintendo Wii. So it’s not not like a web or mobile product, but a physical product or a video game. And what’s interesting about the Wii is that if you transport yourself back in time to when that first launched, it’s a lot more complicated. If you actually examine the product. There’s a sensor bar that you have to calibrate that you put on top of your TV. There’s this idea that you have to hold this thing in my hand and do things, and it’s very different from what I’m used to where I type a tap on my my controller. But what they nailed was that. Yeah, it’s a little more complex. Yeah, it takes a little bit more time to set up. Yeah, you have to explain it a little bit to somebody, but once you do, it just makes a lot of sense to people. I move my hand this way and the thing on the screen moves his hand that way. And I think they really like there’s little touches that they use that that increase the kind of simplicity. They always show an avatar on the screen. So you see a little body and it doesn’t look like you, but you can tell that it’s a little person instead of ever using it as a first person thing where you don’t see that body. So it allows you to connect to your emotions in the real world with the avatars motions on in the virtual world. And then that just makes it really, really simple. And as a result, you see kids who are three years old using the way you see grandparents who are 75, 80, using the WI with their four year old grandsons. So that allows it to be a really massive product and it’s been really successful. Yeah.
Bronson: Now that’s a great example. I’m so glad you wrote that article because I’m a proponent of minimalism and simplicity, but this adds a new kind of texture to the whole discussion in my own mind that I’m going to start using with my own products. So I’m really glad you put that out there recently. Now let’s go back and talk about the growth of Bump a little bit. You know, not recently, but as you guys were growing in the middle there, you translated the product, the app into Korean and Chinese, and it led to really strong growth. Was that growth just an accident or was it primarily because you translated into their native language? What’s the real reason it grew there?
David: I wish I could tell you. Usually these things, there’s so many variables playing at once that to be able to kind of decon involve your actions versus the actions that your users are taking or what’s going on in the market is really difficult. So in practice, like what actually happened there, we saw some initial growth in those markets and we thought, well, we shouldn’t, you know, they’re growing. We should look at their languages, they can speak the language, right. And so that probably accelerated it. It’s really hard to know for sure which things worked with which things didn’t. We could have done AB tests where we, you know, maybe tested and translated for some people don’t translate it for others and try to measure the differences. But when something’s working, you want to go 100% to the AB test. So. So generally when when things are working, you don’t get as much good data, which is a weird thing. So, so for us, you know, growth and distribution has always been really good. So we haven’t spent a lot of time understanding what drives growth. We know that is word of mouth, but beyond that, we haven’t spent a lot of time on it. We spend more of our time on how do we get people to use the app more often, how do we get them to really love it? How do we get them to rate five stars every time that they they see a rating?
Bronson: Yeah, I think that’s a great insight right there because a lot of entrepreneurs and startups, they’ll spend, you know, 1% of their time on the idea and then 9% of their time trying to market the idea after it’s built, where you’re almost the opposite. Let’s spend all our time creating a product that wants itself to go viral. And then the marketing is, you know, 40 something dollars, you know, from Home Depot or whatever. So it’s like you. You know, if you spend more time on the front end of things thinking about growth, you actually spend less time on the back end of things having to think about growth. So it’s interesting thing that you’re this massive company with 130 million users and you actually don’t have a lot of good data because it just worked. So that’s interesting on so many levels. Have you guys continue to try to translate it into other languages or is that kind of the only ones you’ve done that for?
David: Oh, you know, we’ve translated into most of the popular languages in the world.
Bronson: Yeah, yeah, that’s perfect. How do you think? Go ahead.
David: Mobile for mobile developers. It’s so easy to do that that you really should do it as soon as you think you can handle whatever additional usage you’re going to get because of it. So you always want to deliver a good user experience to people. But, you know, literally it is maybe $25 to translate your entire app another language, and it takes maybe 20 minutes to incorporate that language into your code. And boom, because we have these App Store global app stores now. You get distribution immediately. And so when we first launched Bump, it was it was English only when we first launched, but on the first day it was used in 30 different countries. And that just speaks to the power of this new world that we live in, where everybody’s got a mobile phone and they’re all connected to the App Store or the Google play market, and boom, your stuff can get out there immediately.
Bronson: That’s great. I’ve yet to release anything in other languages, so to know that it’s so cheap and so easy, that’s good to know. Now, since the bump has come out, you know, since the initial release, you’ve expanded the functionality of it quite a bit. How is the product different today than it was, you know, out of a Y Combinator, I believe, when you guys came out of there.
David: Yeah. You know, the core philosophy is identical. Really. When I was a business school student in Chicago, standing there in this big atrium typing in people’s phone numbers. The problem that I saw was there should be an easier way to connect with other people or with other people’s devices. Like I’ve got all the information here in my phone that you want and how do I get it to you in a really easy way. That’s quick and fast and simple. That idea has stayed the same. Yeah, we’ve added additional features. You can now bump photos, you can bump videos. I can you a PowerPoint presentation. I can pick up a file that I have on my PC, put it on my phone, walk over to your PC, bump it onto your PC. So what you can do with Pop has really expanded, but the core idea is the same. It’s how do we make it really easy to create these simple connections in the real world.
Bronson: And have these new features where you add the ability to do photos and PowerPoints? Have they increase the usage or does the growth kind of look the same? You know, same trajectory was on already?
David: Oh, yeah. We can certainly see, you know, which users are using which features. And that’s been really interesting to look at. You know, we’ve kind of gone in a couple of directions. We had a big spurt where we added a lot of features and then took a look at usage and realized, you know, maybe all of these features aren’t actually helping. Maybe we’ve made the product a little more complex than it should be. And then we have a little reduction where we took out some features. And so we’ve actually made some decisions that run contrary to growth where we would ax a feature that we know a lot of people are downloading the app to try out. But we also know that they’re not continuing to use it at the levels that they are. Other features in the app. So it would actually make the app better for people by removing those features, even though it may negatively impact our distribution and our growth. And those are decisions that I think every product has to make. And these things are all tradeoffs. You know, I can I can make an app that gets incredible distribution but doesn’t actually satisfy any needs that people have. And that might be great for growth, but it’s probably bad for the long term prospects of the product and users. So.
Bronson: Yeah, I was gonna say something. The people that come on here that have real growth, like the numbers you have, the product is very genuine at the end of the day. There’s no gimmicks, there’s no tricks. They’ll take out things that are actually not helping them, even if they think it is. And that’s I’ve heard it so much now that I actually believe it. Like, I actually believe that building a great product is what matters at the end of the day and other things they help. They can accelerate, they can improve. But at the essence is the experience, is the cognitive overhead. It’s the value proposition. It’s the main thing is always gonna be the main thing. So I’m so glad to hear you echo the exact same sentiments.
David: Yeah. Yeah. My main, you know, we go to these hacker conferences and talk to people in the field. And there’s usually this idea of how do we leverage whatever the new platforms for distribution are. So maybe that was Facebook three years ago, Twitter two years ago, maybe now I’m using the address book and SMS is one of the main ways, the main channels that people use email as a huge channel for distribution. And I think that we realize is that whenever a new platform emerges, you can really leverage it. And because the signal of signal to noise ratio is very high. And those channels initially people will. Pay attention to. The communications are getting there. But over time, as soon as people realize that those are good channels to communicate on, the effectiveness goes away. And the thing that we’ve noticed is that there’s one channel that’s very unique that never loses its signal to noise ratio and never gets overwhelmed by other communications. And that’s word of mouth. That’s me telling you as my friend, Hey, check out this cool app I’m using. Like, let me show you how it how it works. I really love it. Like, you should download it. If your friend says that to you, especially in person when you’re standing next to them, it’s really difficult to not go check out that app. And so that’s the thing that I think that that’s the tie in to making products that are actually useful and delightful and make people happy is that if you can really achieve that and become one of the top five or ten apps that they can think of or products that they can think of, they’re going to tell their friends about it. And that’s how you get this really sustainable growth.
Bronson: Yeah, what a great insight. You know, we all hear about word of mouth and we all hear about leveraging platforms. But when you bring in the signal, a noise is kind of the the glue that holds it together. Now we can compare apples to apples because before it’s just like they’re in their own world, you know, and it’s hard to compare the two and you just want both. But now it’s like, Oh, there’s actually this higher order thing where we see why a word of mouth actually wins because a signal is just through the roof. So I love that insight. Now, since Bump, your team has also released a few more apps through Bump Labs. So one of those is Floc and it almost seems to have a similar thesis, but a very different use case all at the same time. So what is Floc?
David: Yeah, so? So Floc is an app that helps you get the photos that your friends take when you’re with them. So so we all feel the frustration of telling our family or our friends, and everybody takes pictures, or maybe everybody except you takes pictures and then you never see the photos because people forget to share them. When they try to share them, they share them on some website that you have to log into that you don’t want to log into, or the photos are small and you can’t see them very well. So there’s always problems that we face. And we decided our philosophy is helping people create these simple connections and do what they want to do in the real world in an easier way. That was right in our wheelhouse. And so we knew that people were doing this with bumps. People were bumping, you know, 20 photos at a time from the weekend to their to their wife or their husband or their sister or something. And we saw people really do this. How can we make it little bit easier for them that maybe if they’re not in the same place anymore, they can still do it? So we built a block as kind of a proving ground to have these ideas. We build an app that that accomplishes all of this in a really great user experience, and that’s what it is. And it comes out of this effort at our company that we pop up labs, which basically is a place for us to to try out some new, you know, maybe more futuristic ideas and work out the kinks before we maybe decide to put it into the bumper app or decide to scale up the effort on one of those other apps.
Bronson: Yeah. What kind of consumer adoption has fluoxetine? Or maybe first one, was it released? And then what kind of adoption have you seen?
David: So we released it on iOS at the end of July last year and we released it on Android just at the end of the year. And yeah, the reception has been really great. What we wanted to do was kind of test out basically two core pieces that we had. The first thesis, was there a big demand to share the other 90% of photos that you take? So 10% of them go to Facebook or Instagram, but the rest just sit there locked on your phone. We wanted to prove out that people actually do want to share those and they get value out of viewing them. That was the first thing we wanted to prove. And then the second thing we wanted to prove was, can this interaction modality that we created with Floc where you don’t open the app, the app kind of tracks where you are and where your friends are and who your friends are. And when people take pictures and does all this computation on your behalf in the background, and then sends you an alert saying, hey, you know, Dave, you’ve got five photos that you took with your friend. Do you want to share them with them? Those two ideas we wanted to test out and see if they work. And what we found with Floc is that they are true. People do want to share more than just the one or two photos that they put on Instagram, but they don’t want to share it with with 500 followers. They want to share it with five people. And then the second idea was, can we build an app that you don’t have to think about but still provides you value? And we’ve figured out that that is actually true also with Floc. So those two things are proven out and we’re really happy with that. We haven’t really focused on getting it to 130 million installs. If the question is, do we do that with this app? Do we do that in conjunction with the Bump app? And these are things that we’re we’re working on right now.
Bronson: I gotcha. Okay. So this is almost more of a really trying to prove the thesis than it is let’s make a play here and see how big we can get something overnight. This is a larger thing going on in the background.
David: But when we launched it, people, people said, Oh, I’m pivoting the lock and. It more is, you know, I forget who said it. It might have been Steve Jobs, but it’s much better to obsolete yourself than to have your competition obsolete. So when we look at what we’re doing, we’ve been very successful with Bump, but what next after that? What would be what could be better than bump in some for some use case? And so we want to get ahead of ourselves and prove those out and know where we’re going before it gets too late and somebody else figures it out.
Bronson: So you mentioned, you know, that the iPhone app came out in July and the Android app came out in December of last year for Floc. And I know you said you’re not trying to grow Floc, you know, real quick or anything like that. But I’m sure you’ve seen the usage numbers like how people are actually using it in those timeframes. And I’m interested in this because, you know, Android obviously has more activations. I think I heard yesterday that they’re going to have like a billion activations or something soon. I mean, just some crazy number. How many they’re activating a day now? I mean, no, we’re iPhone obviously has a lot less activations, but. You know, I know people with Android devices that don’t even install a single app and that almost seems to be normal for Android, at least in the people I see. Have you guys seen that with the data that iPhone usage is just way higher? Or do you actually see Android usage as a major thing?
David: It depends how you slice it. If you look at usage per user that already has the app, users actually are quite active and in certain areas and for certain uses of bump, they’re more active on the iPhone than their iPhone counterparts. But for other regions and other types of usage. IPhone beats Android. So the answer is it really depends what we see in terms of installations, people downloading the app. We do still get slightly more downloads per day on iOS. We do on Android and our user base on iOS is much bigger because we’ve had that for such a long time. But but yeah, I mean, I think things are changing a lot and it really depends on where you are and especially what product you’re building. So if you’re building a product that maybe targets more high end usage, you’re probably going to see more iPhone usage. If you’re targeting a product for regions that don’t have as much iPhone penetration, you’ll see more Android.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s great. Now out of Bump Labs, one of the other products that you’ve come out with is called Bump Pay. Tell us what is Bump Bump?
David: Really simple. It does what it says. It’s an app you pay people by bumping. And that’s another example of a product where we wanted to test out some ideas in a in a proving ground where we could separate all the variables out and not be confused by other things that are happening in the world with Bump to really get some real data about whether we’ve built a feature that people like. And so that’s what it is. You know, we haven’t updated it in a little bit. We are still kind of working on this idea of how do you make it easier to pay people in the real world? And, you know, this is another frustration that people feel on a daily basis are, I wish I could pay you back for those movie tickets, but I don’t know any cash in. There’s no ATM around. And so, you know, we may do something in our space going forward. We may not. But pay was a place to kind of test out and understand what’s going to work, what’s not going to work if we do really put our put the pedal down on that.
Bronson: Yeah. Now with with bump labs, you know, with bump on Floc. I know these are theses, but you know, earlier you said with bump itself that 80% of people, you know, share it with somebody else within 10 minutes or so. Do you see anything comparable to that with any of the things in Bump Labs right now? Maybe not that many percentage, maybe of that sort of time period, but do you see that kind of, hey, word of mouth, look at this. I need to pay you. Download it on the issue of photos, download it kind of same use case we do.
David: You know, it differs a lot by the product, but I’ll give you an example with Floc. We certainly see people who get the app and they see, oh, you know, there’s going to be a lot better if I get my three or four friends to install the app. So we see that somebody will download the app and it’s not always the case, but sometimes that person says, Oh, I’ve got to get my wife to download it. And so we see like one of that person’s friends joins immediately. And generally those folks are the ones who have a good experience because they’ve gotten all their friends to get on the product and they start getting photos that they want to see. So you see similar patterns, but they’re all very different. With Bump. It is, you know, within 10 seconds, somebody somebody tries to get somebody else to bump with. So you can see the value of the product with that. That takes a little bit longer because you have to go. You know, it’s not just any person that you can use it with. It’s a few key people that you want to use it with. So you have to your wife to get home work and then you talk to her about it. But the general idea is the same. And I think for any product that we build, because what we do is help people connect with other people or other devices, we’re always going to see this natural mode where somebody gets the app or any of our apps. They decide who I want to use this, and then they go find a way to use it with somebody else.
Bronson: Yeah. With the labs in general, I think it’s such a good idea to have the labs for all the reasons we talked about to absolutely yourself or if nothing else, to roll new things into the product. They get traction, things like that. What have you learned about kind of running a labs with inside a company? Because there’s a number of companies that try it. I don’t know how many do it. Well, maybe. What are some of the pitfalls of trying to run a labs? Because I’m sure there’s resource, you know, problems and all those things. What are some of things that maybe, you know, you could say, hey, do it this way, it works. Any insights on that in general?
David: Yeah, certainly all of those are concerns and things you got to think about. I think the biggest pitfall or thing you need to think about is focus. And it’s focus doesn’t mean resources or number of people working on one thing or what it looks like in the press or any of that. It’s really, what are you focused on and what like what things are really getting your attention. And you want to you want to devote some attention to these new. That hurts, but you can’t take your eye off the ball on your your main thing. And so that that’s, I think, the biggest pitfall and that has all these repercussions. Also internally, you have to really communicate well exactly what the intentions are, what each of your, you know, experimental project so that your team understands, okay, you know, I’m working on this and this is the reason why. But if we see that, you know, if this doesn’t get continued, it doesn’t mean that I did that work or the product.
David: Yeah. So those sorts of things are definitely things you have to manage. And I think that the big advantage of doing this is, you know, it’s, it’s fun. Like, it’s fun to work on new cutting edge ideas and ideas where the probability of failure is higher. Like that’s often more fun because it’s like pioneer or something new. And so it’s a great way to just keep people in the company engaged in thinking and having their brains be working on What’s the future? And we do this. It’s the same reason companies do hackathons. We do hackathons fairly often, and it’s the same idea is just cultivating this this mindset of innovation where everything we’ve built is great, let’s keep working on it, but like what’s better than what we have today? And so you’ll find a real gem in there.
Bronson: Yeah. And I think labs, like you said, it’s a great way to keep an entrepreneur interested in their own company, because so many entrepreneurs are serial entrepreneurs, they want to go on to the next thing. They’re excited about something else where, you know, as a startup becomes a business, it finds its business model, it finds its tracks and all those things. Then, you know, you can turn to the labs and become an entrepreneur and really start doing the same kinds of things in a smaller way within their own company. And that can, you know, keep them around because I’m sure, you know, Bump Without David is a very different ball. Like it’s your vision, it’s your baby is your thing. And so I think more entrepreneurs might consider trying to labs instead of trying a new startup this my my tidbit of advice there.
David: Yeah yeah if you can pull it off I think it’s a great thing to do it. The key though I think another thing to watch out for is you don’t want to stray too far from your vision. So so if your company’s vision, ours is helping people connect in a really easy way. If it strays too far from that, then you start to have these, like identity issues of, wait, I thought our company was this announced this are we changing? Are we going to split the company in half? What’s going on? You’ve got to be careful for that.
Bronson: Yeah. And you can’t really compact the return on investment. Like, you know, if something works in the labs, you may not be able to roll it into the main thing. It may not have any, you know, a crossover there. So you’re going to lose a lot if you get, you know, too far off of mission there. Well, David, this has been an awesome interview for so many reasons. One last question for you here before we end. What’s the best advice that you can give to anyone that is trying to grow their startup? No pressure.
David: Yeah, I think so. As anyone who’s an entrepreneur knows, it is a rollercoaster ride. And you hear people say that and you think, okay, I’ll prepare for it. It’s going to be a rollercoaster, but you really don’t understand what that means until you’re in it. And so I think the number one thing to combat all of the bad things that could happen from being on that roller coaster is to build something that you really believe in and that you enjoy working on a product that you want to exist in the world. And if you do that, then you’ll be able to get through all of the ups and downs in a really long, I guess, long lasting way. And so that’s the main thing. I wouldn’t build something because you think there’s like a business opportunity there. I wouldn’t build something because somebody else might want it, build something that you really believe in. And then, you know, everything else will just be the day to day execution of that vision.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s great advice then. David, again, thank you so much for coming on the program.
David: My pleasure.
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